Writing is a Relationship and an Invitation

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

It’s an honor to offer inspiration, tips, and writing strategies as a webinar presenter. As an experienced writing coach, I help writers ignite clarity, confidence, and connection to their book-writing journeys, forge new pathways toward completion, and realize major dreams.

Creating new writing outcomes requires fresh ideas and new approaches to writing. I’ve talked (and written) about how we need to unlearn what we know about writing and re-learn what writing can be — and how this changes the way we connect with words.

Such was the case with the webinar I co-hosted with BookBaby in February. Nearly 1,100 excited writers registered, and we covered a lot of ground in the hour-long program. Many attendees shared comments via chat and email about how the webinar inspired them — and that means a lot! You can view the webinar replay below, and I’d like to offer some key takeaways.

Writing is a relationship

One of my marquee teachings is to view writing as a relationship — one that takes time, trust, and being present. Your words are waiting for you. Like any relationship, they need to know that you’ll be there, paying full attention and not checking a watch or scrolling cat videos when they have something substantial to share with you.

Your words know when you’re invested in listening or when you’re there merely out of obligation. They have no incentive to plumb their deepest wounds, worries, or brilliance if you’re disengaged. Trust: that’s what a freedom-filled writing relationship invites. When you accept that writing is a relationship that requires nourishment, attention, patience, and love, you might experience a fundamental shift in the way you view your connection to the craft.

Writing is an invitation — not an expectation

There’s no inspiration when writing becomes an expectation. I talk about writing as an invitation. If you’re demanding you write a certain number of words a day, or to write at specific, unyielding times, that may not be the most inspired place to create from.

Sure, we get stuff done if we set our minds to it, but most people get stuck because larger-than-life expectations about outcomes overshadow incentive. When you invite yourself to write, as opposed to expecting yourself to write, it changes the creative dynamic.

Lack of time

One of the most frequent struggles I hear as a writing coach is about the lack of time people have available to devote to writing. And while I understand the dilemma, two things are true: We will always want more time, and we will not get more time.

It’s also true that the more time passes, the easier it is to lose connection to your work. The passage of time festers negative talk, which hinders forward motion and is no inspiration for writing. Procrastination yields self-judgment and doubt.

If you could have finished your book by now, you would have. Places you’re stuck will keep you stuck. Therefore, no matter how much you try to ignore them, whatever content, concept, or context struggles you have, figure them out now so you can move past them.

Self-judgment and self-criticism

Self-judgment and self-criticism are terrible expression foes. They shatter the joy of creation, even
though your words are your own. Judgment and criticism appear when you disparage your own work, either to yourself or to others: This sucks, no one will read it; I can’t write, why do I bother?; What’s the point? I should just trash it.

For some, these cold-hearted culprits come from haunted memories of teacher critiques, red pens, and unkind feedback . Don’t let past contexts stop you from exploring, creating, and expressing yourself now.

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Writing for perceived audiences

Over time, we learn that to further personal or professional goals through writing, we have to “package” words in ways we imagine others want to hear them. This is stifling. Thinking ahead to all the people who may or may not read your work and what they’ll want to hear or read is exhausting. Bending words to cater to pre-conceived audiences may inhibit the richness of what you really have to say, who you really are, or the magic of what you are capable of creating.

Procrastination and snares

What is writing procrastination and what causes it? No one enjoys the agitation and self-judgment that comes from procrastination. No one wants to be caught in an endless mental loop of what’s-wrong-with-me? I need to … have to … should have by now.

The reason why many quick-fix writing programs don’t work — Write a best-seller in 30 days! — is because they’re superficial; they impose unrealistic promises to psychologically target procrastination pain points.

What’s more, they don’t address the underlying struggles of why you might be stuck in the first place. Root causes for procrastination are real and complex. Some believe the act of writing comes from our will — our mental discipline to impose ideas onto a page. Yet, expression involves much more. Procrastination and writing blocks derive from four primary snares: mental, emotional, spiritual, and tactical.

Mental snares

Mental snares include persistent, intrusive, or unrealistic thoughts about what writing is, what it should be, what kind of writers we are or aren’t, how we compare against false measuring sticks of others, writing for projected audiences that may or may not exist, and ping-ponging between realizing deep desires and struggling with deep doubt. With all these thoughts parading through a mind before putting words onto a page, who’d want to even try?

Emotional snares

I invite clients to examine how they feel about writing. Some feel inadequate. Others worry about emotions related to painful or challenging topics. Anger or sadness are common if they feel they’ve let themselves down by not meeting false writing expectations. Doubt might persist over a story’s worthiness.

Questions of worth, value, impact, or even the accomplishment of realizing a major dream — such as publishing a book — dwell in emotional aquifers. If you’re attempting to write while conflicted feelings run amok in your subconscious, there could be too much overwhelm to identify. There would be no incentive to begin writing when emotional stakes are embedded. Thus, the procrastination web.

Spiritual snares

Yes, there are many forms of writing we do each day. Professional emails, proposals, letters, articles, blog posts… Not all writing comes from our deepest creative expression. Sometimes, it’s a matter of function over form.

Yet, no matter the function, through the creative process of writing, we’re allowing a part of ourselves to go from hidden to seen, from imagined to realized, from thought to expression. There’s something magical at work here. The contemplation of ideas, the search for imagery and the corresponding formation of words is, in fact, a spiritual process. Where are you in connection to your writing’s true purpose? Is that clear?

Tactical snares

Another procrastination culprit is tactical overwhelm. These are logistical questions that drown out incentive: How to outline ideas; how to organize what you want to say; where to begin; should you write during the day or at night? Does there need to be a strict formula? Sometimes there are so many tactical elements surrounding writing, they stop expression from moving forward.

One invitation to offset tactical procrastination is to identify what kind of writer you are. Just because there are a million experts out there, a million methods, a million ways of being told how writing should be done, none of them may work for you. You may not be a morning writer or an every-day writer. Trying to follow an incongruent approach will spur procrastination. If you can’t tactically feel it, or it doesn’t resonate, that’s worth knowing.

You are worth seeing through

In addition to reminding everyone that writing is a relationship and labeling some of the issues and reasons why people get stuck, the “Finish Your Book” webinar also provided solutions for how to address them. I tried my best to offer comfort in the fact that you’re not alone in the struggles that come with a writing journey.

As writers, it’s not uncommon that we put ourselves last. Let today be your day for you! Let the progress or completion of your book be a declaration of self-love and self-designation. Your vision, dream, and expression deserve your time and attention now, not later. You and your creativity are worth seeing through!

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