Writing as Invitation, Not Expectation

writing cards to unlock creativity

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

As a writer, when you’re stuck, do you play tricks on your mind to get yourself writing? Do they work, or do you remain stuck? Maybe “stuck” endures because we tend to approach the same problems with the same forced solutions: internal negotiation, mental bribery, emotional begging, doing anything we can to force a stubborn, fearful mind into “creative” submission. I’ve applied every one of these tactics. Sometimes they sort-of work; other times, not so much.

As a writing coach and retreat guide, a lot of my focus is directed toward unlocking a writer’s creativity. Or maybe better put, helping the writer find inspiration through any number of “commonplace” things that happen in our day-to-day lives. Describe the snowfall on a Sunday morning. Read a poem and react — through your writing. Open your fridge. Pick an item. What does it have to say?

Finding writing inspiration

These creative avenues and various writing prompts led me to create what I believe is an effective, permanent solution to reaching writing freedom born from embracing the struggles of the hundreds of people I’ve worked with.

But more importantly, this is a solution I manifested as a writer who gets stuck. I call it the “Writing Freedom Forever” three-deck card system.

While what’s shared may seem self-promoting, that’s not the intent. This isn’t meant to be an infomercial. I’m all for finding simple yet effective ways for making progress happen, by any means or tools that actually work, and maybe this will spark something in you. Whether you use these cards or not, there are relevant points you can apply to your own writing struggles.

The motivation and undeniable success I’ve had with clients through my unique approach of writing as an invitation was the catalyst for creating these writing decks. I’m using these cards as a clear example of a more salient point: the effectiveness of invitations. I wish I would have had something like this during my dark days of writing struggle.

Writing as an invitation

The simple idea here is rather than seeing writing as expectation, something you have/need/must do with a goal or result hanging in the balance, allow writing to be an invitation. Expectations come with a lot of baggage, potential stress, and almost a built-in scale of judgment. An invitation is an opportunity, a chance to engage, with you as a willing and eager contributor.

deck 1 igniteWhat I think is wonderful about these invitation cards as a tool for inspiration is there’s no major expectation or time commitment, no rules to follow, no set way of interacting. You can get in and get out; five minutes here or there, pick a card and engage while having coffee or tea in the morning. Or use the cards to help build an entire world of characters or stories. The writing freedom comes from how you interact with the cards.

Each deck in the Writing Freedom Forever system is designed to address — and then bypass — an element of procrastination. I call these “snares,” and they include mental, tactical, emotional, and spiritual roadblocks.

At any given time in our writing process, we tend to get stuck in one or all of these places. We think too much, we stress too much, we worry too much, we question too much. No writing happens when we’re stuck in loops of self-judgement or criticism.

Breaking free of writing snares

Typically, when a client comes to me, they’re seeking something permanent to break through barriers that prevent writing. They hope I will creatively, tactically, or mentally jar things. What most refer to as “writing prompts” help do this. Again, I call them “invitations,” which is different, and there are specific distinctions that matter.

deck 2 inviteAn invitation can be a random word, visual cue, music, your surrounding environment, a photograph, a movie, food, overheard conversations, or objects within reach. Any of these things can invite you into what I call a “conversation with your Self.” In my world of writing exploration, everything is an invitation. In contrast, a “prompt” infers there’s something you have to do. This “expectation” frame of reference is totally counter-productive.

I may offer a client a “neutral” invitation: broom, clock, candle, kite, rocket, sponge, cottage cheese. The words are ideas that, in and of themselves, have no specific emotional energy or charge. What’s so incredible about invitations by way of neutral words is that, however innocuous, people have individual associations to words. They are then inspired to respond. There’s a feeling, thought, or memory that’s evoked. It makes room for whatever the word means, feels, or implies to them, thereby opening up a Self-conversation.

With images, you can react through writing and create a story related to the person or object depicted. You can describe what you’re looking at. You can express the feelings evoked. You can imagine the situation and things outside the frame. Visual prompts are powerful. I’ve witnessed creative breakthroughs every single time I use them. That’s why these cards include dynamic images to be used for response.

Why invitations work

Writing invitations bypass logic and the expectation of results and allow an intuitive response. This is where our freest creativity comes from. There’s no time to get in our own way and indulge in overthinking.

As humans, we have millions of moments accrued over a lifetime. We have millions of mental associations accumulated consciously and unconsciously which filter into our knowledge, expression, and ways we show up in the world.

An invitation simply ignites unfettered access to your experience library by way of an object, word, or memory association. The inherent spontaneity of a writing invitation diverts a mind’s struggle with expectation of results.

Invitations ensure we’re free from form, structure, rules, and mental conflict. The idea with invitations is to eliminate preconceptions. Be present. Don’t over-solve or over-analyze what you see, hear, feel, or know. Let your writing carry you away through expression from another place — your heart, spirit, memories. (I call this place your You-ness — where words are fertile and freely flow.)

writing freedom forever decks

The Writing Freedom Forever decks

Most writers want ways beyond their retreat or coaching time with me to continue writing conversations with themselves. They want more invitations for continued freedom. This is precisely why I created the Writing Freedom Forever decks. I’m a writer too, so I know easy, spirited reminders are essential to a continued path forward.

Writers need emotional, spiritual, and tactical diversion to move beyond being stuck. Our personal barriers ebb and flow, and so should your creative solutions. These cards are designed to be spontaneous, flexible, and ever-changing. Each deck has 33 cards to engage with; each individual card has four possible invitations: an image on the front, an image on the back, a word or concept, and a small drawing.

deck 3 insightDeck one is the “Ignite” deck. This deck has images and messages meant to connect with struggles experienced on a spiritual level. Some snares might be, Why am I writing? What do I have to say? What is my creative purpose?

Deck two is the “Invite” deck, designed to address emotional snares, and create invitations no matter what you want to write: be it fiction, nonfiction, poetry, free-writing, etc. Some writers feel inadequate or angry or sad if they feel they’ve let themselves down by not meeting writing expectations. This deck moves procrastination around these snares.

Deck three is the “Insight” deck. Mental snares are persistent and include intrusive thoughts about what writing should be, what kind of writer we are (or aren’t), how we compare against false measuring sticks of others’ work, what we think we should be writing versus what we actually want to write, and ping-ponging between realizing deep desires and struggling with deep doubt.

Find your freedom

These decks were created to appeal to the mind’s inherent gnawing need for structure and productivity. It incorporates some of my core lessons and teachings, so if you’re stuck, and your mind won’t leave you alone, the deck offers tips and reminders to appease the mental struggles of writing.

Writing struggles suck, but they’re a real part of the process and lead to procrastination. Invitations are effective for bypassing the critical, judgmental mind to open up expression. Invitations are everywhere and can derive from anything at any time.

Writing as an invitation, instead of an expectation, changes the writing game. Invitations are available anywhere — outside your window, in the magazine on your table, in the lyrics from a song on the radio — I just created a compact, easy-to-access solution through these invitation cards to take out the guess work and pressure of conjuring them up.

Whatever works for you to open up writing freedom — use it! Invite yourself to start a conversation with your writing and let the words flow.

Click here to purchase the Writing Freedom Forever Deck, which comes with a five-video instructional course and 20-page work booklet.

Grow your author brand with eBooks


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.