Creativity, writing

Can Your Dreams Help You Write Better Stories?

Trust yourself and your dream messages.


We have all been there — ensnared in the middle of a cinematic dream that feels so real you think you’ve actually experienced it, even after waking. Maybe it was a nightmare that left you in a chilled sweat, heart racing. Or if you are anything like me, you’ve awoken deeply disturbed following a dark lucid dream. On the other hand, perhaps you’re fortunate enough to have returned from a romantic liaison with your favorite rock star — we should all be so lucky. Right? At least in our dreams.

Sigmund Freud believed that our dreams were the gateway toward unlocking the unconscious mind. Indeed, interpreting our dreams has long been an important technique used in psychoanalysis.

From Frontiers in Psychology:

“According to Freud, sources of dreams include stimuli from the external world, subjective experiences, organic stimuli within the body, and mental activities during sleep. Empirical evidence has supported some of these assertions. The self-organization theory of dreaming posits that memory consolidation, emotion regulation, and reception of external stimuli can contribute to dream content; hence, dream content can contain important information about the dreamer.”

Very interesting. But what exactly are dreams?

Basically, dreams are images and imagery, thoughts, sounds and voices, and subjective sensations experienced when we sleep.

Although science knows what dreams are, just like our imaginative mind, dreams essentially remain a large part of the great mystery of humanity, continuing to intrigue and enchant us.

We all dream.

And through our dreams, we discover a limitless realm of warped realities and private fantasy worlds. We dream about people we know or don’t know; or those who we’ve yet to meet or haven’t seen in eons— dreams even offer the dead a medium by which to make contact with the living.

Our dreams are mystical, orchestrated or disorganized glimpses into sacred secrets and repressed desires. Conjured from the inner-most parts of our minds to embody unusual and strange situations; peculiar feelings; a recalling of events. To forcing us to face our deepest and darkest fears; to premonitions of a future yet to unfold.

Dreams are our link into an alchemistic dimension — they are a convoluted part of us in some way. The sweet labyrinthine in our mind.

There is no limit to what the mind can experience during a dream, and there isn’t always sense or reason to what you end up dreaming about. Sometimes we remember them. Other times, we forget. Some hold significance and are meaningful. Others, are more like a random jumble of meaningless imagery with an underlying feeling.

That’s what makes our dreams so utterly fascinating.

Dream Theories

Scientists have hypothesized six major theories in attempt to explain why we dream. Jodie Tyley provides a brief summary in her article; The Six Leading Theories on Why We Dream.

Here’s a quick rundown…

  • Encoding our Day — Dreaming is an amalgamation of what we have seen in the passing day. Our brain has passed through so much information since its last sleep, dreaming is a way of it deciding what to keep and what to forget.
  • Emotions — Dreams could be tied to our emotions. If you’re feeling happy, you’ll have a more positive dream and if you’re stressed you may have a nightmare and so on. With less to think about at night, your brain processes slow down and your emotions come to the fore.
  • Emotions II — Conversely, some believe that your dreams are usually the opposite of your emotions. If you’ve had a hard day for instance, you’ll have a happy dream to lift your spirits.
  • Completely Random — Some say that rather than having any sort of function, dreams are just completely random impulses that happen while we’re asleep and aren’t meant to make any sense at all.
  • Memory Reboot — You may have only briefly glanced at something while awake but when you’re asleep your brain will investigate it further.
  • Freudian dreams — Freud claimed that when you were awake, your unconscious (urges, desires, wishes and dreams) was suppressed but when asleep, your primal impulses gained the chance to express itself and that is what dreams are made of; our unsuppressed and unconscious desires and dreams.

Personally, I’m down with Swiss Psychoanalyst, Carl Jung’s ideas about why we dream, he said that dreams reveal more than they conceal. Jung rejected Freud’s theory of dream interpretation that dreams are designed to be secretive, disbelieving that dream formation is a product of discharging our tabooed sexual impulses.

Jung’s dream belief states that dreams are a natural expression of our imagination and use the most straightforward language at our disposal: mythic narratives. His dream theory is still thriving in contemporary psychoanalytic circles.

“This mythic world of Jung’s is the realm of the archetypes, which are the universal energies of every human who is not only in conflict with society but also with him or herself.” — Ryan Hurd


If driving conflict is one of the most vital components of storytelling, then imagination is the foundation on which all stories balance — great storytelling lies first and foremost within the mystical realm of an author’s imagination, followed by their skill to execute their vision to story.

What comes out is what’s on the inside.

Reading a story is like entering someone else’s secretive world; a rare revelation into an author’s mind —hidden parts of their soul and snippets of their dreams spill onto the page for us to devour. What comes out is what’s on the inside. I’m certain that someone like Wayne Dyer once said something similar, only he was referring to our reactive impulses toward the outer world.

The thing is, the same is true about our dreams and words — written, spoken or otherwise — and every facet of our manifesting lives, experiences.

The Writer’s Dream World

I have dreamed of circumstances and events that have come to pass. I’ve dreamed of a love and a tender touch I may never feel. I’ve received visitors and messages from the long and recently dead; and I have dreamed of scenes and characters that are now forever inked in my books.

Dreams are a precious gift to a creative soul. As writers, we can learn to use the mysterious time during our sleep to connect with our creativity and the deepest parts of our imagination.

Did you know that some of the world’s most prolific writer’s have dreamt of their most famous creations?

Author of Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, Mary Shelly famously dreamt of monsters the evening before she sat down to write the book which became the blueprint of Gothic horror. And authors like Steven King, Stephanie Myers, H.P Lovecraft, Charlotte Brontë, and Robert Louis Stephenson have reportedly told of their slumbering bouts of inspiration that made it into their creative projects.

But why are dreams so creative?

From How sleeping and afternoon naps make you more creative:

“Sleep and dreams are some of the most researched aspects of neuroscience and psychology, but still some of the least understood. The ideas behind dreams and creativity come from the function of sleep in memory and the fact that, while we are asleep, our brains are free from the usual sensations and can, frankly, go crazy.”

Is it just me, or does the notion of getting a little a crazy in a way-too-serious-world sound appealing — even if only in our dreams?

Prince might have agreed. I wonder if his dreams influenced his very unique and fearless creative gifts he gave to the world; his very memorable legacy…

Aside from getting dream-crazy with funk-rock musicians, our dreams can open our minds to major creative breakthroughs and new ways of thinking. They are a manifestation of our experiences, inner-most thoughts, desires and troubles; and with a little TLC, they can help us tap into our imaginative minds to create scenes and characters in our fictional worlds.

Create With Your Dreams

Our dreams are fleeting. In general, the more time that has passed since you woke up from a dream, the more difficult it will be to remember what that dream was about. Keeping a dream journal is a great way to record what happens in your mind while you are sleeping so you don’t forget those little creative dream-nuggets when they come calling.

Keeping a Dream Journal will:

  • Help solve creative problems
  • Help you control lucid dreams
  • Help you to better understand your thoughts, creative ideas and emotions
  • Improve and strengthen your memory in general
  • Provide new perspectives and insights on a current creative project
  • Offer you actual scenes for your book
  • Provide a sense of creative direction

It can be helpful to fall asleep with your intentions set firm by talking to your inner-self and asking for creative direction. We often take our final thoughts to sleep with us, so choose them intentionally.

Whether you jot down a few quick takeaways during the night, record a detailed dream scene, or even sketch down your visions, you’ll be surprised at what your subconscious mind reveals and how you can incorporate your mystical dream elements into your creative work. It’s like turning an internal hidden lock and working with another part of yourself that is very much available to you.

Dreams can help you write better stories.

You’ve just got to trust yourself and your dream messages. Added bonus? By keeping track of your dreams for creative purposes, you may even discover something new about yourself. Maybe, you’ll even want to get your “Prince” on and get a little dream-crazy while you’re at it.


Originally published by Publishous on Medium

Standard
Creativity, writing

Value Distractions to Be More Productive and Creative

Make conscious connections.


Why do you get your best ideas in the shower?

I don’t need to talk to you directly to know that there are days when you spend an embarrassing amount of time in front of expensive equipment staring blankly at the screen, only to later get your best ideas in the shower.

Right? We think that we need more focus, that we’re not motivated or talented enough. We begin to chide ourselves for our lack of productivity which can then fast lead into a negative feedback loop.

We think “If I just tried harder, worked harder, focused harder” then the ideas will flow and productivity will resume. Only, your brain feels like a dried-up prune with nothing left to give — it’s your biased brain signals that now have you suppressing ideas you see as unrelated.

By trying to force the ideas and creativity, you’re essentially shutting down new thoughts and ideas and hindering your productivity.

You are focusing too hard and it’s paradoxical. You need to be able to shut off distractions so you can focus and get your work done, but now you’re stuck.

Mark Fenske, co-author of The Winner’s Brain explains that some of our best ideas happen in the shower because “shampooing hair and lathering up doesn’t take a lot of cognitive focus — Other parts of the brain can start to contribute.’’

This means we engage in more free association and mind wandering: “And that’s really critical for innovation.’’

I get it. You want to be able to fulfill your creative potential and productivity during your working hours. But when you try to dig in and focus, you find yourself back at the start, frustratingly staring at a blank screen.

So, if you are stuck on a problem, or want to improve your productivity and creativity, an interruption is what you need to free up your mind and force an incubation period.

Shelley H. Carson, author of Your Creative Brain says: “A distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.”

The Blue Mind Concept

Wallace. J. Nichols is the author of Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do — Nichols reinforces Carson’s observations about distractions: “When a person gets distracted, his mind gets a break and the dopamine released during this time helps a person to create some new creative ideas.”

I am a writer. My income is solely based on my words — whether it be through client work or writing my own articles and projects. This means that if I don’t sit down and write each day, I won’t create revenue. I won’t get paid. Sometimes, I get stuck and feel as if I have no more words left in me to produce, or that everything I write is rubbish.

I used to feel guilty when I had an unproductive or uncreative day. But I learned to shift my mindset around both productivity and creativity. Now, I choose to appreciate and value the “distraction” times rather than resisting them.

These are the times when I might feel an urge to get to the water. Being around water helps to clear my mind, balance and ground me. So that when I get back to my desk, I’m ready to get back into it.

Being present with water does something to you — as a person and creative. Here’s why:

Time for Distractions

“A wide-open landscape of wild water is a beautiful, involved, intimate connection — it is something larger than ourselves.”- Nathan Oldfield

We were all born with the potential to create beautiful and meaningful things. It’s just we sometimes need to get distracted from the complex tasks from our daily life. Water and creativity have many things in common and are intertwined.

Nichols:

“Our body has a larger part made up of water and that makes sense when we talk about the correlation between water and creativity. More focus, energy, and our mental and physical fitness are a gift of water.”

We want to reach our full creative potential. We feel better when we’ve put in a productive day. But here’s the thing: If we don’t create blocks of time to self-care, we will never be able to realize and achieve all that we can.

Being near the ocean greatly affects mental well-being. You don’t even need to swim. Just being near the water naturally enables a meditative state. The visual stimuli your brain receives from viewing the water literally opens your mind to new thought experiences — creativity.

If you are fortunate enough to live near a body of water like I am, then you’ll have access to its many benefits such as:

Fresh Air: Air exposed to water, and especially seawater is charged with a good number of negative ions, this fresh air helps your body absorb oxygen.

Strengthened Immune System: Increased relaxation and decreased stress means a strengthened immune system.

Better Sleep: Exposure to water is known to relax the mind and body unlike anything else.

Greater Happiness: Scientists have determined that looking at and enjoying water floods the brain with feel-good hormones. This means that people exposed to water are often more relaxed and happier in general.


But you don’t necessarily have to live near water to gain the benefits of water. You can swim in pools, take baths or sit near a fountain so that you can hear the running water. It’s about finding a way to use water to distract away from your desk, replenish and connect with yourself.

Nichols Blue Mind Concept States:

“When you get into the water, your body doesn’t need stout muscles that uphold your body. Water itself will hold it and help you feel more relaxed. And when this happens your brain areas taking care of this muscles get a break.

Somatically, auditorily, and visually your body is getting a break, actually the rest. And the brain goes to its default mode, a contemplative and self-referential perspective. The freed-up brain areas now can work on other things, let say your creative thinking, and you feel a different way.”


Water is the great sustainer of life and can also be the great sustainer of your productivity and creativity. Even when you are at your workplace and busy going at it, take a break and drink pure water. As Nichols reminds us: “That’s what flow is — relaxing into what you know well and letting creativity happen. Water, literally and metaphorically, allows us to do that and allows you to move in all different directions.”

Water bodies resonate with each other — valuing distractions and consciously connecting with water can change your life for the better and will have a positive effect on your creative and productive output.

You just have to be open to it.


Originally published by Publishous 06/02/2020

Standard
Creative Writing Energy Podcast, Uncategorized

Creative Writing Energy: Understanding the Mind for Creativity

The mind has many layers.


Creativity is one of the most fascinating challenges in contemporary neuroscience. In fact, very little about the nature of creativity is known. I like to think of it as a mystifying and wonderful complex side of our minds awaiting exploration.

Our capacity to create, produce new concepts and ideas is one of the most vital attributes of the human brain, and yet its neural basis largely remains a mystery – creativity and imagination cannot necessarily be defined or measured. 

I am not a neuroscientist, but I am a creative who often ponders the gift of imagination and creativity. It’s sure to be one of our most valued human traits, and has given us the tools to change the world through innovative ingenuity and insightful visualization. Creativity is also responsible for our ability to adapt to changes beyond our control.

But is creativity a conscious or unconscious process?  

In their attempts to understand creativity in the human brain, cognitive neuroscientists are led to the conclusion that the creative process arises from the unconsciousness rather than occurring as a conscious process, claiming that only 5 percent of our brain is conscious while the rest lies beyond our awareness.

The human mind has many layers.

Sigmund Freud believed that behavior and personality were driven by the constant and unique interaction of conflicting psychological forces that operate at three different levels of awareness: the preconscious, conscious, and unconscious or subconscious.

Here’s a quick overview:

The conscious mind

Rules thoughts, memories and feelings of which we are aware at any given moment. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally.

The preconscious mind

Consists of anything that could potentially be brought into the conscious mind. It exists just below the level of consciousness.

The unconscious or subconscious mind

A reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that are outside of our conscious awareness. The unconscious mind thinks in the expression of form such as images, memories, underlying desires and creativity.

It is our subconscious minds that influences our actions to fit a pattern consistent with our self-concept. It’s like an inbuilt master program. This is why our thoughts are so critical – we can actually reprogram our lives and self-concepts through the thoughts we create and believe.

Positive affirmations are a wonderful way to kick-start change through kind, motivational and prosperous-oriented bites of sound. That’s why we at Creative Writing Energy created a series of positive creativity prompts – to help instil positive thoughts and encourage writers to believe in themselves and their creativity.

The unconscious or subconscious mind is a fascinating part of the human brain because it holds much of the mysterious aspects about humans, our perceptions and our experiences. It also holds the key to our creativity and shines a light over the path leading toward higher states of consciousness; the Higher-Self.

Your Higher-Self is where dwells your higher-creative mind.

From Wikipedia:

“Higher consciousness is the consciousness of a god or “the part of the human mind that is capable of transcending animal instincts”.

Concepts of higher conscious has ancient roots dating back to the Bhagavad Gita and Indian Vedas. It is a belief held by Hindus and New Age thought alike.

In his Theory of Consciousness, Gerald Edelman makes the distinction:

“The higher consciousness or secondary consciousness from primary consciousness, defined as simple awareness that includes perception and emotion. Higher consciousness in contrast “involves the ability to be conscious of being conscious” and allows the recognition by a thinking subject of his or her own acts and affections.”

Basically, our higher consciousness is the eternal essence in each of us that is everything divine, perfect and love – It is our bond connecting us to the higher-universal intelligence.

The source of all light and life within you.

Becoming aware of and building a relationship with your higher-self is like opening a door to parts of yourself that you always sensed was there but you couldn’t quite grasp it.

Yes, it might sound a little on the abstract side, and that’s because it is. There is a reason why neuroscience and quantum physics cannot solve the mystery of life, creativity and imagination.

Analytics, scientific data and a logical brain can only take you so far. The rest has to be learned through intuition, faith and connection.

Connecting with your higher-creative mind takes deliberate practice and intention through creating the space within yourself and your life to get there. You must possess the desire to reach for more if you are reap the divine rewards.

Creativity and imagination abound within these higher spaces, as does a sense of tranquillity, profound connection, wondrous revelations and well-being.

Here’s a few methods and tools you can use to begin the journey toward the higher-creative mind:

  • Meditation
  • Reading Spiritual Text  
  • Earth-grounding
  • The Tarot
  • Oracle Cards
  • Yoga
  • Shamanic Medicine Drumming
  • Free-form Writing for Self-Exploration
  • Crystals
  • Yoga

Catherine Evans and I are going to discuss all of this and more during our Creative Writing Energy presentation in next month’s WriteHive 2020 convention, where we hope to help you pave a way to connect with and honor your higher-creative mind.

WriteHive 2020 is a free online writing convention featuring everyone from huge names in the literary industry to brand-new writers, and will be live across the world from April 18th - 19th.  

Check it out here: https://www.writehive.org/

We hope to see you there.


Creative Writing Energy will be presenting their panel on Saturday April 18th at 3pm EST!

We’ll be around to answer comments – come say hello!

Standard
Uncategorized, Whispers

Beating Imposter Syndrome

by Rosie Wylor-Owen


Ambition isn’t simple. It’s a glorious hope of a better life, a contented life; maybe the ideal life that we’ve always wanted to lead, but it isn’t simple.

It feels that way when we first set out pursuing whichever dream we have latched onto with gusto. Isn’t it just a case of setting goals, taking a deep breath and diving right in?

I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember and the path to success seemed straightforward at first. Write a book and plonk it on Amazon, just like everyone else did. But before long, I realised that there was much more to self-publishing than I initially thought – I needed newsletters, advertising, a tantalising social media presence complete with engaging posts and hilarious tweets.

One thing was clear as time went on: the more I learned, the more I realised how little I knew.

Before I released my first full-length novel, Scorpio’s Grace in November 2019, I tested the waters by publishing a short story The Witch’s Touch. That soul-crunching combination of flinging my first piece of work out to the world for everyone to see, plus the realisation that I was woefully new to the industry, created a feeling I was all too familiar with. The feeling of unearned praise and bewilderment that someone might enjoy reading what I wrote: imposter syndrome.

My first 5-star reviews of The Witch’s Touch really sealed the deal. I was plagued with thoughts that the reviewers were just being nice or that their standards were so low that even my books looked good to them. From then on, every smidgeon of praise came with the same light elation and a side helping of despair. Because someone, somewhere was going to realise that every book I ever wrote was an overrated pile of garbage.

When I finished work on Scorpio’s Grace, my nerves were shot. This wasn’t just some short story; this was a full-blown novel. Over 6x the size, which would surely give everyone 6x the chance to realise that I was a fraud.

But as release day approached, the feelings of inadequacy got pushed to one side. Who had time for that when there was release parties to plan, newsletters to send and those side-tickling tweets to post?

By the time Scorpio’s Grace was released and had seen its first 5-star review, I had forgotten all about being an imposter. An occupied mind has little time to worry.

Two things happened when I finally took a moment to consider my self-worth again.

Firstly, I got a chance to reflect on what an amazing experience the release of Scorpio’s Grace had been. Organising the release and celebrating with author friends powered me through the process of publishing and scattered all thoughts of insignificance to the wind.

Secondly, I realised that if I hadn’t had the time to remember to feel like a fraud, perhaps I had worked hard enough to have earned just a little of my own self-respect.

Just like that, the 5-star reviews started to feel a little more deserved, and I began asking myself more positive questions. Questions like: are you really that bad an author if this many people enjoy your books?

Imposter syndrome affects a lot of creatives and it isn’t easily fought. For many of us, imposter syndrome will always be a factor in our lives, but we have a medium of control over how it affects us. Remembering past successes and taking a brief moment to enjoy some of those good reviews are crucial to building self-esteem based on realistic feelings of achievement.

As sure as the sky is blue, there will be a 1-star review on its way sooner or later to test our self-confidence without us constantly questioning our own abilities.

So, if Imposter Syndrome is preparing to strike, give yourself some credit. Remember a crowning achievement, read that good review or maybe, just maybe, gift yourself an unexpected compliment.

The battle to recognise our self-worth is never-ending, so our efforts to combat our doubts must be relentless. Grab a cookie, we’ve earned it!


Rosie Wylor-Owen is a book blogger at The Secret Library Book Blog and an urban fantasy author. Her books include Scorpio’s Grace, The Witch’s Touch and A Druid’s Secret, an upcoming novel in the Darkness Rising boxed set.

These are the best places to keep up to date on all Rosie’s magical antics:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosiewylorowenauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rosiewylorowen

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rouli91/?hl=en

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/rosiewylorowen/

Her website: https://rosiewylor-owen.com/


Standard
Author

Write with Feeling: How Relationships Bring Depth to Our Characters


Do you struggle to create full-bodied characters?

Churning out words, outlining and wrapping your brain around plot twists, story themes and arcs can often be mentally exhausting, and then we have to make sure our characters have depth enough to resonate with our readers.

“I know the feelings but I don’t know how to express them in words.”

That’s what my new client said during a recent meeting. She had reached out for assistance after reading some of my work. She has an important story to tell.

After an extraordinary experience, her quest to bring her unique story into the world fell short when it came to expressing high-level concepts and deep emotion through the written word.

Enter, me.

It is true that I write about love, relationships and soul connections in addition to my fiction work. I post these articles regularly on Medium and my blog. When the year is out, the articles are then culminated into a book - a keepsake documenting both my nonfiction writing pieces along with my own personal journey.

Life lessons and personal growth.

Some people baulk at the idea of sharing their personal experiences publicly. There was probably a time when I might’ve reacted the same way. It’s different now. I feel different now. I’m not the same person I was when I first began writing.

I realized that by sharing our experiences and perspectives, and then expressing the lessons we’ve learned from those fragments in our lives is one of the most powerful ways we can impact the world and help one another.

Obviously, not all of us are writers. There are many other ways to make a positive difference in the world. Humanitarians and those in service occupations seek to promote human welfare. The magical paint strokes of gifted artists have the capacity to uplifts spirits; thereby raising vibrations through the loving energy invested in the creation.

The same is true for words.

Yehuda Berg said:

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”

As a word smith, and whether you write nonfiction, fiction or both, it is vital to have a firm understanding of the power literally at your fingertips.

Not every writer has the desire to burrow into their deepest selves to divvy up those experience-gems publicly. I can understand that. There is a certain amount of vulnerability and courage required when you begin the deep, meaningful work - and make no mistake, releasing messages into the world at an intimate level takes a brave heart (and maybe a firm set of balls).

Either that, or those of us who journey through the murky territory are just plain crazy.

Psyche.

The good news is that we don’t necessarily have to roll up our sleeves and get gritty (and maybe a bit soppy) by revealing our inner-most selves in order to make real connections and benefit the human experience through our words.

The fact that you write is gift enough. Throw in some passion, a generous side of imagination and the beautiful resources existing within the fabric of your past experiences, and you are a potential change-maker.

Smile.

You just felt the little tingles ignite at the base of your spine, right?

At least, I hope you did.

Those zingy feelings are more than just confirmation that a draft is blowing from the window you left open in the other room - they are a part of your inbuilt intuitive system and appear as way of confirmation when the truth rings true.

Learn to trust your tingles.

Grab your cape and give yourself a pat on the back, too. You, dear writer, are a gift to the world and your words have power. Used with intent, love and courage our words become a force to be reckoned with. We have the capacity to influence, create waves and stir the pot to bring meaning to the lives of those who read our work - particularly when created with the breadth of our hearts.

We can achieve this through delving deep within; stripping the layers to extract the nuggets from past and present relationships; looking back on memorable experiences and reflecting on our most intimate feelings to examine the way we relate, perceive life and love others.

After all, love is the ultimate source of emotional resonation. It is the most profound emotion we will ever experience.

Whether romantic or platonic, whirlwind and complicated or long term and lifelong, it is love that has the power to nourish meaningful relationships, crush our hearts and teach us important lessons.

“When Love speaks, the voice of all the gods,

Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.”

– William Shakespeare  -  From Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Is it no wonder that the greatest writers in history explored love in all its forms through their literature?

There was only one Shakespeare. There is only one you.

Love in literature is boundless because it defies barriers by appearing across all genres and age groups, as well as periods in history. The presence of love in our stories has the ability to bring acutely heartfelt and memorable moments to the page, regardless of the outcome.

We all know about love and relationships to some degree. Even hate is love turned upside down. Honestly, we learn so much and gather bucket loads of personal data through the relationships we form; and we can use these insights when developing our characters to bring authenticity into their worlds and connect with readers.

To help get you into reflection mode, let’s take a deeper look into what Greek philosopher, Aristotle had to say about relationships. He described three kinds of relationships, with only one of which is built to bring true happiness.

First: The Relationships of Pleasure.

These are the romantic interludes fueled by passionate sex, a possible side of drugs and a generous helping of ego. Insert a playlist that looks like Metallica’s Master of Puppets and Bulletboys Smooth up in Ya, and you get the drift. These affairs are more about body and less about soul and connecting - never a great recipe for lasting happiness.

Second: The Relationships of Utility.

These types of relationships may be grounded in materialism or hopes of gathering status of some sort. They can also include relationships that involve a need for each other for the “necessities of life” and raising children. Aristotle describes the friendship of utility as shallow, easily dissolved, and for the old.

Keep in mind that even though he may have been coined “the father of philosophy” he was just one Greek guy who liked to explore high-level concepts … with a very thick beard.

Third: The Relationship of Shared Virtue.

Like a classic Rod Stewart song, Aristotle firmly advised hauling up your sails over stormy waters in search of what he called Relationships of Shared Virtue. This is where you arrive on the shores to find a partner who truly gets you in soul - your core self.

It’s that real-connection love who will ignite change, challenge and inspire you to grow into your highest potential.

Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good as It Gets said it best when he said: “You make me want to be a better man.”

Of course, the above relationship examples described by Aristotle are brief summaries of the complex bonds and emotions that we experience through those who touch our lives. Yet, taking a look at what some of the world’s greatest philosophers had to say about the human condition can act as a springboard to unlocking parts of our past when creating full-bodied and dynamic characters - ones that imprint a lasting memory on our readers.

Deep reflection is a muscle you can strengthen to bring the essence of your story to a place where the power of your words has the potential to positively influence and improve the lives of your readers. Even if only an inch at a time.

Keep it real.

It’s worth investing the time to reflect on your past and present loves to give your characters depth and relatable complexities. Aim for the Kindle highlights.

Just like love, your words can change lives forever.


Originally published by The Ascent at Medium.


Standard
Uncategorized

Writers Are More Prone to Depression

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Last night, I attended a Shamanic Drumming circle. It had been a few months since I had joined circle. When my friend Catherine mentioned the upcoming session, I didn’t hesitate — something inside me recognized the need for the soul-cleansing and inner-healing these sacred drumming circles bring to my psyche.

It was the black dog.

I knew that spending two hours in a sacramental environment listening to our Shaman teachers speak of shedding, soul-growth and revitalization would provide the perfect outlet to get away from myself; away from thought, feelings and the depression shadowing me.

I have battled bouts of depression in the past as well as anxiety on occasion. As much as I have tried to deny how I’m feeling is as much as it produces feelings of failure — admitting to a decline in happiness seems to equate with being an epic screw-up.

The thing is, I know better. I know how to identify the triggers. I have studied philosophical teachings offered by the great ancient masters of Buddhism; Stoicism; Shamanism and the like. I have spent years learning, practicing and seeing the results produced by raising my awareness through meditation and deliberate pondering, as well as the benefits achieved by controlling my thoughts.

Yet, I am still not immune to depression. Have I failed in my quest for inner-peace and happiness? Did I do something wrong?

Honestly, it is my belief that not many of us manage to avoid experiencing some form of mental dysfunction during our lifetimes — no matter how aware we become or how informed we are. Especially in this day and age.

There is so much going on all the time. Lifestyle has become a fast blur. People have become disconnected; replaceable. We treat one another as if exchangeable goods, never really seeing or acknowledging the precious soul behind the flesh. Never really holding one another.

Internet-based relationships for business and social purposes means we are able to engage with others without actually becoming invested in their authenticity. It means we can pretend that the person on the other side of the screen isn’t real. Feelings become invalidated; people become a dime-a-dozen and avoiding the hook is as easy as deactivating your account or hitting the “block” icon.

Only the joke is on us.

We are losing sight of the importance of connection. Our sense of self becomes tainted by behaving like strangers, ditching good manners, ghosting and treating others less than they deserve.

Where is the organic connection? Where is the love?

Writers are among the most prone to depression, but I wasn’t always a writer and I’m not sure that I was always prone to depression. I’ve always had a solid grasp on my feelings for the most part.

The writing life does something to you. It changes you. We delve into the deepest parts of ourselves, get vulnerable and share our inner-most layers with the world. Writing becomes a channel of self-discovery; a passage of growth and exploration. Sometimes, we soar. Other times, we bleed.

Creating stories has the ability to make you fly.

It is when I am working on my fiction that I’m at my happiest. Yet, there are so many elements about the writing business that can leave us feeling utterly deflated.

Kay Redfield Jamison, who is a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore and author of Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament has reported that writers experience depression more often than non-writers.

It is thought this is due to several reasons.

For one, some writers desire to be familiar with misery, suffering and pain to guide the writing process and give their work authenticity. They may have not experienced the deep sense of trials and tribulations as their characters, so they seek to gain insight by manifesting similar emotions.

Extended hours of isolation, lack of exercise and natural light is another factor to influence depression in writers.

There is also the emotional roller coaster associated with rejection, which is an element familiar to just about every writer — Rejection in the form of editor’s, publishers, agents, readers and peers.

Clinical psychiatrist Alan Manevitz says: “A large part of a writer’s success depends on how other people think of him or approve.”

How many times have you emailed another writer who is further along the path than yourself only to be ignored?

And all you said was thank you.

How often has one of your peers deliberately inserted a subliminal swipe at your work or future project ideas? How many times have you read some trivial heated debate among writers on social media, or heard authors in a position of influence publicly slam the works of others?

I am not sure how success has assimilated a superior attitude.

I don’t understand why some people behave in ways that breed contempt.

I cannot fathom why we feel the need to judge, ridicule or perceive a sense threat toward one another when we’re all in it together — there are readers aplenty. There are words abundance. Limitation is an illusion.

So is separateness.

They say that depression lies in the past; anxiety waits in the future. But I think those blue feelings can strike for other reasons as well. Sometimes, even the thickest skin becomes porous enough for negativity to seep through. Sometimes, people and situations hurt like hell.

If only members of the writing community could see past their own egos long enough to get real, we might be able to hold and support each other long enough to feel the authenticity on the other side of the screen — to acknowledge that the person beyond the screen is a real human with real feelings.

Last night, my Shaman teacher concluded the circle by suggesting we all hug each other. My first reaction was to baulk at the idea. I’m not a hugger of strangers, even when bonding over a sacred alter and making medicine together.

Yet, as the other circle members approached me with their arms wide open and I stepped into their embrace, I realized how symbolic the gesture was and found myself in a state of appreciation — acts of kindness and affection go a long way to healing the invisible threads connecting us.

We may not be able to physically embrace all of the time, but our energy is as tangible as anything in the physical world. Perhaps if writers practiced hugging one another on the energetic level instead of looking for ways to get outraged or feel threatened, our community will become less hostile and more loving; more supportive.

Even if it stretches our comfort zone. Especially if it stretches our comfort zone.


Also published by Curiosity Never Killed the Writer via Medium

Standard
Uncategorized

Creation and Creativity: A Radical Change in Perspective


“Looking at beauty in the world is the first step of purifying the mind.” — Amit Ray

According to mystic philosopher Neville Goddard, creation is finished. Creativeness is but a deep perceptiveness of the entire contents of all of time and space co-existing simultaneously. In other words, all that you have ever been or ever will be exists right now. When we create, we are becoming aware of what already is. Therefore, creation is really the art of manifesting that which already exists.

Consider this statement pulled from the wonderful teachings of The “I Am” Discourses:

“There is nothing which comes into physical form which is not first perfected on the invisible or higher planes.”

Ancient and spiritual gurus have been aware of the concept of the time-space continuum co-existing in the infinitely eternal now for eons, and many of their teachings reflect this knowledge. So, what does this mean and how can we use this information in our endeavor to create our stories?

When we contemplate the notion of an eternal existence and that all events are taking place in the now, it requires a certain amount of shedding on our part. We must first unravel old thinking patterns, concepts and beliefs in order to comprehend the profound importance of this truth. We can then charge forth to accept a radical new idea — that there is a plane of awareness that you can opt to live at; an extraordinary space existing in the higher regions which you have the ability to access, and it is within these rich realms that we discover our higher-creative minds.

I love the way Wayne Dyer put it when he said, “You begin this exciting adventure of changing your concept of yourself by being willing to die to your present self.”

Think about it; accepting that all things and events exist simultaneously explains the experience of that acute feeling of having met someone previously when meeting them for the first time, or even sensing that you’ve heard or seen a thing or a place before having experienced it physically. Some call it déjà vu while others recognize it for what it is — co-existing events strung along an invisible timeline.

As we go through the motions of navigating our lives, we experience and become aware of portions of what already exists. It is our self-concepts that determine the events that we encounter and experience along the timeline.

For the storyteller this is an exciting revelation. All those brilliant story ideas that have been vaguely sifting around in your head already exist; all you need to do is to become aware of them to bring them into fruition. We all have a creative fire that lives inside of us and is expressed in different ways. Our creativity is limitless and as discussed throughout Creative Writing Energy, holds great significance when it comes to connecting to our authentic selves. By tuning into our higher-creative minds where the fire of creativity burns strong within us, we begin to nurture the path to self-discovery and connect in a more powerful way to our soul — and your soul purpose is creativity.

The scripts, alternative practices and tools offered in Creative Writing Energy are intended to demonstrate the importance of your creativity and provide suggestions on how you can nurture this wondrous part of yourself. By lifting the mental fog long enough to access your higher-creative mind, you’ll never find yourself out of a muse. Instead, you’ll discover that you are all the muse needed to fuel the stories burning in your super-conscious mind.

We are born to create.

Accepting that you are a deliberate creator brings a sense of inner-freedom and liberation to your life and experiences. Aside from your writing life, grasping and appreciating the flow of creativity can bring many benefits to your world. Here is just a little taste of how creativity can enrich your life:

Strengthen a deeper connection with your soul.

Provides an outlet for your emotions.

Nurtures and strengthens your intuition.

Promotes deeper passion, inspiration and motivation.

Aligns you with your life purpose.

Raises your vibration and energy.

Helps to release stagnant and negative energy.

A Moment to Ponder Creativity:

Can you recognize how your creativity has impacted your life in positive ways?

Make a list as you think about it. Contemplating these positive effects will produce more of the same results and help to strengthen the pathways to your higher-creative mind and keep you uplifted.


Also published by Curiosity Never Killed the Writer at Medium

Standard
Uncategorized

Connecting with your Higher Creative Self by Judy Sweeney


You often hear about people being in the zone. Painters being in another place, the paintbrush seeming to have a mind of its own; musicians so engrossed in the music they are creating. You only have to look at some of the great guitarists to see what I mean; writers sitting at the keyboard for hours without a break, not wanting to stop because the words just keep coming.

If only it was like that all of the time. Alas, that is not always how it is. Sometimes, we just sit and look at the screen, the empty sheet music page or canvas and nothing flows.

I am not a writer, artist or musician. I am a Clairvoyant and, in my work, I have to go to my highest self and above every time I connect to Spirit. The principals are the same. The following are some of the practices I use to centre and reconnect to my higher creative self.

  • Drink water, without hydration you cannot work to your highest potential.
  • Breathe. The breath is one of the most important and easiest tools we can use to open to our highest creative self.

Close your eyes and take in a deep breath, breathing in through your crown and into your heart.

Take another deep breath, in through your feet and into your heart. Take another deep breath in of love from the universe and feel your heart expand.

Breathe in love from the earth and feel your heart expand.

Breathe in the I AM love from the universe into your heart, breathe in the I AM love from the earth into your heart.

Feel your heart expand, the energy in your heart is your creative essence, let it expand.

Feel the love for the I AM self that is you, feel it, sit with it, be one with it and allow it to expand and flow through you to every cell of your being.

Opening your eyes when you are ready.


Affirmations are such a wonderful way of instilling self-belief.

  • I am a Creative Being
  • I know who I am and I know how I serve
  • I am open to my joy
  • I am peace and allow my joy to flow

Acknowledging Blocks

We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. I also believe that we can change something by looking at the emotion that you are feeling. Sit with it, bring it into your heart, not your mind.

How does it feel?

What emotion are you experiencing?

Fear, anger, frustration, not good enough, fraud? All emotions are valid, even it they are not real.  i.e. you are always good enough etc.

Feel the emotion, hold it in your heart and say this until it lessens or goes away.

I CLEANSE YOU.   I CLEAR YOU.    I LOVE YOU

I CLEANSE YOU.   I CLEAR YOU.    I LOVE YOU

I CLEANSE YOU.   I CLEAR YOU.    I LOVE YOU


Prayer or Invocation

I always use a simple invocation before every reading, or healing. You can do the same thing. It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out prayer it can be very simple. As I work with Spirit, I always ask for God and the angels to be with me. You don’t have to do that if you don’t want to, but I will say asking your angels for help is one thing that you can do and the angels love helping you.

You can say something simple like:

“Thank you, angels for being with me while I write

Thank you, angels for helping me through this block

I call on all the Angels of Creativity to be with me today.”


About Judy Sweeney:

Psychic Medium, Reiki-Seichem Master & Spiritual Teacher

Judy is a well-known Psychic Medium and Workshop facilitator who is now in the beautiful and tranquil Tanilba Bay, Port Stephens.

With the move to Port Stephens she will be concentrating more on her Reading and Healing work with a focus on Light Language.

Skype and phone sessions are available for my overseas, interstate and distant clients, or if you just can’t get to me in person. Distances makes no difference to the quality of the session as everything is done with Spirit and your higher self.

With a quirky sense of humour and many years’ experience, including reading at festivals, the Mind Body Spirit, New Age Shops and her private rooms, you are guaranteed a high degree of accuracy, empathy, integrity and confidentiality.

Judy’s Website: https://www.lightworkerworkshops.com.au



Standard
Uncategorized

Balance Your Solar Plexus to Combat Imposter Syndrome

Turn highly sensitive characteristics into a power tool for your writing career.


“I’m a fraud!”

“I’m not a good enough writer.”

“What am I thinking? No one will be interested in reading my work.”

Any of these self-deprecating mantras resonate with you?

Mantra. There’s a word. If you’re thinking it’s one that doesn’t quite gel with the negative connotation preceding it, then you’d be right. Words like ‘self-deprecating’. A quick squiz at Wikipedia will inform you that the word “mantra” denotes a sacred meaning, a numinous sound or utterance — ‘A group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and/or spiritual powers’.

No, I’m not delusional (yet!) nor am I messing around with your head. I’m not attempting to spin a dark twist on an ancient practice rooted in the divine, either, but I did choose the word ‘mantra’ for a reason.

Still uncertain about my intentions? Read on, skeptic creatives, as I attempt to dissect our self-sabotaging inner-demons and pave a way to eliminate those bad boys forever.

Imposter syndrome (IS) is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. In a nutshell, IS boils down to lack of self-belief and self-confidence. This upbeat, feel-good phenomenon isn’t just reserved for the creatives of the world. We’re not so special in that regard. It affects people in all walks of life. However, are you aware that creatives are almost always highly sensitive people who respond to the world in a more reactive way? Nuances like IS are always lingering beneath the surface, ready to pounce.

The nature of writing is an extremely personal practice. Through our words we purge our souls, bleed our hearts, drown in our experiences and flirt with our innermost fears and desires.

We draw on those cards; writers write about what obsesses them.

But finding the courage to go there doesn’t always equate with the fearlessness required when the time comes to share our gift with the world. For highly sensitive people, this is the moment when imposter syndrome strikes like an old relic you cannot shake.

You know what I’m saying. It’s that moment of truth. You’ve just spent countless hours banging on the keyboard and drinking endless cups coffee. You are a writer — committed to story and dedicated to producing your best work and all that entails as you’ve persevered through the long journey. You’ve plotted and outlined. You’ve developed and argued with your characters; you’ve spent more time procrastinating than you’ll admit, and there were times when you succumbed to resistance. Afterwards, you probably paid with a hefty side of guilt. You’ve gnawed, screamed and knuckled down. Then you’ve pushed through the creative blocks and rejoiced when those sweet, magical bouts of inspiration arrived to flow into your words.

Ah, the life of a writer — fascinating yet frustrating all at the same time. And rewarding, because all those hours accumulated to produce your baby, and now that you’ve cleaned, pampered and typed the last words on your preciousness, other people are going to read your work. People are going to judge your intellectual labor too. Cringe.

Brace yourself, dear writer, as you battle those rancid nerves and sometimes forget that you need to breathe. I’m not sure this feeling will ever completely subside but I can offer you a few tools to combat those inner brutes as well as provide suggestions for turning highly sensitive characteristics into a power tool for your writing career.

So, take a deep breath as we get into the guts of this article.

High Sensitivity is a Superpower

Science has confirmed the existence of high sensitivity (did we really need it validated?). In fact, research has showed about 20% of the population are highly sensitive by default. What I mean is that people don’t choose to respond to the world in a sensitive way, they just do.

Before you go brushing this trait away as a sign of weakness, think again. Studies reveal that highly sensitive people (HSP) are often intellectually gifted and are extremely empathetic creatures. They have a heightened sense of awareness too, with an uncanny ability to pick up on the emotions and vibes of those around them. Additionally, highly sensitive people are more likely to cultivate and trust their ability to become attuned and communicate with their higher-mind, AKA their inner-guidance system. Superpowers!

Being a highly sensitive person can mean pain. Quite literally. You may experience acute physical, mental or emotional responses to many situations. These triggers may be external or internal (damned those intrapersonal feedback loops!) While some people want to accredit high sensitivity to the shy at heart, this is not always the case. They can be introverted, extroverted or somewhere in between. However, the traits making you highly sensitive can also be a magical gift for being an amazing writer. Let’s look at how we can use sensitivity to enrich our creative writing.

Embrace your Super-Sensitive Qualities.

Observant

HSPs are aware of details. This characteristic is invaluable as a writer. Often, the small details in our stories can be overlooked or drowned in the bigger global story. Whether it’s story structure and plot or character development, paying attention to detail can provide the qualities and insights that will enable our manuscripts to shine.

Imagination

This mystical resource is critical to the success of every fiction writer. However, the best fiction taps into the minute details that brings characters and scenes to life.For example: An unexpected character thought, reaction, oddity or flaw; the paint flaking as a door opens; the slight limp in his swagger; the way her eyes glaze when she becomes whimsical. You get the drift. Without extreme sensitivity, these details might be impossible to capture.

Generosity

Writing is sharing information and giving to the world. This is particularly true for non-fiction writers. Our true intentions stretch beyond literal recognition or other desires. The act of being an author is generous. Non-fiction authors spend hours tapping into their most sensitive parts — downloading their brain, coordinating and cataloging their thoughts to produce their most useful information to benefit others.

Now that we’ve plunged into why imposter syndrome may be a prominent factor affecting writers and covered a few ways high sensitivity can positively impact our creative work, it’s time to break open the shell, reach within and circle back to those mantras. It’s time to explore the Solar Plexus, discover its key characteristics and how we can make the most of this powerful energy center.

The Solar Plexus is part of the sympathetic nervous system.

This complex system of radiating nerves and ganglia is found in the pit of the stomach. While it plays a vital role in the functioning of the stomach, kidneys, liver, and adrenal glands, this bunch of nerves is also responsible for anxiety symptoms.

That’s right; after the initial rush of excitement accompanying a book release, how often does that high suddenly fade into an internal slide into self-doubt and belief? If this scenario sounds familiar to you, then you’ll know it’s a bad case of imposter syndrome that’s making you feel like a walking scam.

Considering it is the Solar Plexus in our physical bodies that lies at the center of these discordant feelings, we’re going to push beyond the flesh, nerves and ganglia to explore this part of ourselves in a somewhat intangible sense. We’re going to get a little esoteric and discuss the Solar Plexus Chakra.

You’ve probably heard about the seven chakras that exist in our subtle etheric bodies. They are often referenced in the context of emotional healing or meditation. However, you may have found the concept confusing, or not quite figured out what place it might have in your life. But don’t fret, it’s not just the experts that can work with chakras; you can too.

The Solar Plexus Chakra is the third chakra. It is located just above your navel, resonating with the color yellow. This is the energy center associated with self-belief, self-worth, ego, courage, confidence, and personal power. It is vital for this energy center to be balanced so that we don’t experience negative emotional issues.

Let’s examine some of the main elements correlating with the third chakra before moving on to talk about a few alternative approaches we can take to ease our anxiety when it comes to those jarring feelings imposter syndrome can produce.

Key Meanings Associated with the Solar Plexus Chakra.

· Willpower and personal power

· Taking responsibility for one’s life, accepting self-control

· Mental abilities — the intellect

· Forming personal opinions and beliefs

· Making decisions, setting the direction

· Clarity of judgment

· Personal identity

· Personality

· Self-assurance, self-confidence

· Self-discipline

· Independence

Signs your Solar Plexus Chakra may be Imbalanced.

· Excessive control and authority over your environment and people

· Or the opposite in case of blocked energy: Feelings of helplessness.

· Being obsessed with minute details, seeing life through a filter of negativity which may cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture

· Being manipulative

· Misusing your power

· Lack of clear direction, purpose or ambition

· Self-sabotaging behavior and feelings

The Solar Plexus Chakra plays an important role in our self-confidence and self-worth. When this area is out of balance or blocked, we can experience feelings of depression or anxiety, lack of self-control and low self-esteem. These symptoms can also manifest physically and may include:

· Constipation

· Irritable bowel problems

· Reflux problems

· Binge eating

· Addiction

· Overweight or underweight issues

· Diabetes and stomach ulcers

As we move through life, it is important for us to maintain our health in all facets — mind, body and soul. Given the nature of our hyper-connected world, sometimes this can be a challenging state to achieve. If your personality leans toward the highly sensitive side, events like book releases can become overwhelming, particularly when facing deep-seated, self-worth issues fanned by the frenetic flames of imposter syndrome.

By focusing on clearing the Solar Plexus chakra, we can find balance in those moments when dissonance becomes a prominent emotion. Here are a few tools to get you back on track and back to the page.

Crystals for Third Chakra Balance.

Did you know that crystals vibrate with specific frequencies of color and light? There are many crystals and gemstones that help to balance and clear the Solar Plexus Chakra of blockages. Solar Plexus Chakra crystals include:

Citrine

Happiness and confidence, emits large amounts of positive energy. This crystal encourages you to maintain a positive state of mind to attract everything you want in life.

Pyrite

A crystal of positive energy. Helpful for negative thoughts fixed on misfortune and despair.

Yellow Calcite

Helps to increase your vitality and strength. It can give one new hope and a renewed sense of optimism.

Tiger Eye

Helps to release fears and anxieties. It is a great stone for giving courage and self-confidence. Particularly helpful for those who experience lack of self-worth.

Now that we’ve lined up a few crystals, you may be wondering how we’re going to use these gem-babies to help balance our energy center. I have two words for you — meditation and mantras. Yes, this is the part we turn those self-deprecating “mantras” into something positive. So, grab your crystals and let’s get started!

Meditation and Crystals for Third Chakra Balance.

Meditation is an extremely effective way to balance and clear your chakras. The following is an example of how to combine crystals with meditation and mantras when your Solar Plexus Chakra feels out of balance.

1. Hold your crystals in your non-dominant hand while sitting or place them on your body above the naval while lying down.

2. Inhale deeply and imagine a white light coming into the top of your head, allow the light to fill your entire body.

3. When you exhale, imagine any negative energy releasing from your body through your breath — consciously release any low energy vibes and stress.

4. Envision a golden ball of light below your naval spinning clockwise. Every time you inhale, imagine this light growing bigger and brighter. As you breathe out imagine all the blockages and negative energy leaving your being.

Mantras for Third Chakra Balance.

· I am a great writer

· Through my words, I have much to offer the world

· I can make a difference

· I believe in myself

· I am confident

· I am worthy of success, happiness, love (or insert desirable outcome here)

· I am grateful for the opportunities presented to me

· I am a creative writer

· I have the courage to keep going and conquer my fears

· I am everything I wish to bring forth

I’m certain you’ll agree these affirmations sound more like the sacred mantras Wikipedia told us about earlier, right? The greatest thing about practicing mantras is that you can offer yourself any positive outcome you desire. Your thoughts and words have power beyond the ones you release to the world in the form of your stories. They also form the essence of who you are, so choose them wisely.

Now that you’ve become more acquainted with imposter syndrome and high sensitivity and discovered ways to balance your all-powerful Solar Plexus Chakra, it’s worth remembering how important it is to practice self-care.

When you balance your Solar Plexus center, you will feel lighter and confident, and recognize your true potential. You are a creative being, here to spread love into the world through your words and creations. Keeping yourself balanced and cultivating your self-belief will not only improve your quality of life, but also reflect in your work.

Give it a shot sometime; what have you got to lose other than the demonic imposter syndrome?


Originally Published by The Ascent on Medium


Standard
Uncategorized

Is Giving Up An option?

Some days I just want to pack it all in. I could do that. I could choose to walk away from the world of writing and publishing and grab a “normal” job with a dependable source of income. It is a real option; a path diverting from a journey begun a few years ago exists, and one that I’ve discussed with author friends who have toyed with similar thoughts. But is it really an option? And when do you know when it’s time to call it a day?

From the start, I made many mistakes that have accumulated into thousands of lost dollars. I wrote my first book, Millie’s Angel, without adhering to any one firm genre, resulting in “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” kind of novel. Which might work if you’re someone like Norah Jones, but I wasn’t someone like that. I’m still not someone like that.

It didn’t matter that that title attracted an award or a whole bunch of five-star reviews from reputable review services (that I’d paid for). It didn’t matter that I went ahead and invested a whole bunch of my savings into promoting the book because at the end of the day, I’d screwed up my target audience – and this was before I could get them to actually buy the book. I had totally failed on the original cover too.

It was a beautiful, award-winning cover created by a talented artist. I shelled out a good chunk of coin for the creation and I loved it. Turned out, I could love it till the end of rainbows and back, but that fact didn’t move the book into the right hands and generate sales.

The universe has a way of throwing the right people on your path when you need them. Think about it; there are billions of people in the world doing their thing – how is it not orchestrated by some stroke of higher intelligence when you encounter the important ones? The ones meant to touch your life in some way … for a particular reason.

He might blush when working on these words before you see them, but my editor Paul Vander Loos is a part of an intimate body of people to have influenced my creative world. I learned a ton early on during his work on Millie. He went above and beyond to clean up that first manuscript when most editors would have thrown it back at me in disgust.

Not Paul. He rolled up his sleeves and got down and dirty with my words, and probably wanted to throw me off a cliff on more than one occasion. When it was all done and delivered, I could barely believe how much patience this man must have possessed to have persevered through my manuscript. The lessons were invaluable, the appreciation more than he could ever realize.    

I’m probably going to regret telling you this, but I was so wet-behind-the-ears and excited when releasing Millie, that I went ahead and made the DUMBEST decision ever and hired a publicist. Yes. As I write these words, I can still feel the sting of that one.

I invested about a thousand dollars without much of a result in return. She snagged me one radio appearance and an article in a magazine about balancing writing with a big family. She had wanted to use my background in domestic abuse as a publicity angle; a fact that didn’t sit well with me (but I went with it anyway). When a few of the bigger magazines sniffed around for my story, they had to bolt when they discovered I’d never chosen to press charges against my ex-husband.

It wasn’t long before I realized that brand new, unknown fiction authors do not need publicists. Unless they have a surplus budget and money to burn. I didn’t.

Not all was lost, though, because it was through that publicist that I was introduced to a lovely woman who would become one of my most solid author friends to date, Beth Prentice.

Beth knew more than me. I found myself engaged in weekly phone conversations, picking her brain about the industry and spending hours talking shop. It was through Beth that I’d learned the ropes that had eluded me, and, in the process, I discovered a true friend. She gave me the encouragement I needed to keep going, keep writing and keep believing in myself. As dumb as it was, I’d pay that publicist again in a heartbeat for Beth.

I then started to wrap my head around the industry a little more. It was enough to write my follow-up title to genre, deciding to hinge the series on the most prominent genre to flavor my first book: paranormal romance. Despite falling short on the original cover, the book fared well and attracted great reviews from readers, making an even deeper niche when I revamped the cover art some months later.

That’s another thing that had stumped me in the beginning – who were my readers, how do I find them, and most importantly, how do I keep them engaged between releases?

It started out pretty cheesy. I did what I saw most other authors were doing with their newsletters, delivering the generic style email every other week or so. I organized dozens of swaps, signed up for author cross-promotions, newsletter builders, author giveaways.

I thought that if I didn’t have something like the above-mentioned options to offer my readers, then I didn’t have an email to send. The problem with that is that your emails become ordinary pretty fast.

Since releasing those first two books, I’ve gone on to work with some wonderful people, collaborate and learn from some of the best in the Indie publishing industry, make a couple of strong connections and publish more titles. Yet, it wasn’t until recently that I really began to grow into myself as an author, and as a woman. I’ve discovered a part of myself I never knew was missing.

There is something about creating stories that strengthens your inner world. It’s like a journey of self-discovery and self-realization. Our deepest truths seem to spill onto the page through our stories, creating more than just a fictional tale, but a personal learning experience that fosters insight and growth.  

I currently have two completed manuscripts in a series banked on the hard drive and ready to go; the third underway (well, somewhat). I find myself caught in the “undecided” zone with this series, unsure about which way is best to let it fly. That’s the thing about this game; sometimes it’s hard to know which way to roll the dice – the place where we circle back to the question: do I keep going and invest more into the books or do I call it quits?

My readers, the ones that have stuck around, still receive my fortnightly emails. Only, these days I rarely offer them other book deals or giveaway opportunities. I’m offering them something different; something they can’t get in a builder-giveaway or another book sale lighting up their screen. I’m offering more of me.

As a result, I’ve weeded out the “easily offended” and stuffy variety of readers as well as the ones hanging around for the freebie or 99 cent deals, managing to forge an authentic relationship with others. This is despite offering them little in the way of new release fiction for the duration of 2019. I figure these readers are the ones I want around for the long haul, the ones that like who I am behind the shiny book covers and deals.

I had no idea if consistently creating newsletters without the offers would work, but I’ve found that approaching my readers in this way continues to pay off. I can feel their loyalty, their interest in the content I’m delivering to their inbox and their support through their responses.

Hopefully, when I’ve reached a place where I can breathe long enough to make a solid decision about what to do with my new series, these folks will be just as interested in the fiction I have to offer them. And all being well, I’ll arrive at a place where I no longer question if I’m on the right path, because writing has become a large part of who I am and I can’t imagine a life without creating books.

I guess I just answered the question most of us writers periodically ask themselves: is giving up really an option?

It’s not if you stay true to yourself, do what you are passionate about and honor your soul.   

Standard