What’s Stopping You?

Is it workshop-a-phobia?

I’ve been surprised to learn recently that many new writers break into a sweat when they think about turning up and attending a writing workshop. So they put it off and put it off again. Hard to believe?

Meet Dave. He’s the director of creative and hard-working Ad Agency Hot Butter that creates video content for Digital Channels. He describes himself as a funny guy who loves life and thrives on the magic we learn from life’s challenges. No slouch, right? And yet…

Dave attended one of my workshops recently and it took him 8 years to get there! He’d been receiving my newsletter for 8 years! Looking at everything I had on offer and thinking how much he’d like to attend. When he told me this it blew my mind.

Why, I asked, did you wait so long? And this is what Dave told me.

” I think there was probably a sense of fear that I wouldn’t be good enough. That I didn’t have a guaranteed good idea for a new show at the tips of my fingers.”

Whaaat? How is that possible? But then I realised I hear the following all the time…

“I won’t be as good as everyone else in the room.”

“I don’t want to share my work in front of people.”

“I’m really new – and worried that I’ll make a fool of myself.”

I know writers and I’m familiar with that yearning aspiring writers have to get their stories down on paper so it makes me sad that fear is stopping them enjoying, not to mention learning about, something they love to do.

So it made me really happy to have Dave tell me that it was worth the wait.

“It was great to meet you for the first time and realise how down to earth, encouraging and funny you are! It was reassuring to meet other writers who are finding their way and looking for structure to bring their ideas to life.”

Dave Munn – Hot Butter Productions

Dave Munn - Hot Butter Productions

Staying on Track…

Hey, we’re halfway through 2019 – so what better time to check in with ourselves and see where we’re at with our current writing project?

So at this juncture – where are you at?

Are you further along than you hoped or not quite where you wanted to be? If you’re where you hoped you’d be – excellent!  And well done on maintaining momentum and being so goddamn awesome.

If you’re less than happy with where you are I have some thoughts about how you can get back on track and stay there.

Something you probably don’t know about me is that I really hate housework.  Don’t get me wrong, I love clean and tidy I just have to force myself to do it and then tend to stop halfway because I’m bored.   Sound vaguely familiar?

I hear this same kind of talk about writing all the time. We love and want the outcome – so what’s the big deal? Why is it sometimes so hard to start and go after what we desire?  (The answer to that question is a whole other post, probably a book…)

So how do we get ourselves motivated and working?  Some tips for you…

Getting to Work Tip #1 – Take Small Steps
Here’s how I force myself to do housework (I wish I was joking – I’m not.) I set the alarm on my phone for 15-minute blocks – and try to get as much done as I can in that time.  Here’s my rationale – I don’t want to do it but I know I can bear 15 minutes of tedium.  And then I just rinse and repeat until I’ve done 15 minutes in every room.  And it works.  Squalor avoided – phew!
How about applying that technique (or a variation thereof) to your writing task every day?  Little and often is surprisingly effective.
My housework trick is essentially my own variation of the Pomodoro Technique which you may also find useful. 

Getting to Work Tip #2 – Choose a deadline and stick to it.
The world is awash with competitions and submission opportunities – my monthly newsletter is always full of them.  Choose one that suits you and your medium – and then work towards it.  A deadline is fantastic – otherwise, there’s the temptation to meander forever. (I know, I’m in that place right now on a particular project.)   And it is SO satisfying sending off that entry or application.  Notice how whether you are successful or not – just entering/submitting has forced you to move your project forward.

Getting to Work Tip #3 – Get a Writing Buddy
Being held accountable to someone makes your writing life easier.  If you have to show up, you probably will.  If someone is waiting for you to show them your work – you’ll probably do it.  

Getting to Work Tip #4 – Consider a Writing Group
As you may know, I’m a big fan of the writing group as a mechanism to help you move your project forward.  Company, motivation and regular accountability. These are exactly the guiding principles, the very point of The Writing Room that I run in Auckland – check it out.

7 Step Spring Detox for Writers

By Kathryn Burnett


Okay, buckaroos – Spring is here and brings with it all that optimism and promise of new growth. So what better time to regroup, reassess and creatively replenish?

Last month is so very last month so let’s look ahead – and to help you do that here’s your 7 day Spring Detox especially for writers.  And it’s not some gruesome regime but rather 7 small steps that encourage focus, self-care and gentle introspection about where you are right now and where you want to go.  Take one step a day over a week and observe the lift in your creative energy…


Day 1: Declutter

No, not your house, your mind.  Refocus on your primary goal for the remainder of the year.  We’ve all got lots of project ideas – how about we park the ones we’re not currently working on until next year? How about we stop angsting over the niggly, detail stuff?  Take some time out to just sit in silence and really focus on what it is that you want.  What does YOUR writing dream look like? Once you know – write it down.

Day 2: Spring Clean #1

Again, not your house.  Think about whether you’ve been holding onto any limiting self-belief or negative self-talk this year.  If so, write them down and throw them away. (Burn them!)  They don’t serve you AND they take up valuable brain space that could be put to better use.

Day 3: Springclean #2

Okay NOW you can clean house.  Do a quick declutter of your writing space.  Throw out all the old stuff you’re no longer interested in or no longer need.  The junk that’s in your eye line but for no good reason. (Honestly, I have a dead plant that I just keep looking at and thinking – I should do something about that.)

Day 4: Pamper

Buy yourself something that makes your process more pleasurable.  It might be flowers for your workspace, new stationery, a new printer or a meditation app – it doesn’t really matter as long as it makes you feel good.

Day 5: Diet

Go on a screen diet.  I’m not saying cut screens out completely, I’m not crazy, but how about cutting back?  How about regularly carving out some time where you’re not looking at a screen?  Amazing how when you turn everything off you start to really look at other things.  Which leads me to…

Day 6: Replenish 

Cut out toxic brain junk for a day and consciously feed your mind with creatively rich and stimulating content.  Go to an art gallery, do something creative you’ve never tried before, read a new book, walk somewhere you’ve never been before. It doesn’t need to cost a lot  – there is a world of free art spaces, workshops and lectures out there.  Not to mention libraries and hospice shops heaving with pre-loved books.

Day 7: Breathe

Life stress been getting in the way of your writing process?  Creating stress by buying into your own personal self-doubt loop?  Start the daily habit of breathing deeply and often – it promotes better blood flow, re-energises you and calms the nervous system.  A personal trainer told me recently that 20 “belly” breaths a day is SO the business.  AND it has to be the easiest and cheapest anxiety busting habit you can adopt this Spring.

So here’s to productive final months in 2018 – I know you can smash it.