Friends!! I am beyond excited to introduce this February series.
In honor of Valentine's Day and heart-shaped everything, we're going to focus on love this month.
To be specific: Falling in love with our writing lives.
As in: Meeting each other again for the first time. Reigniting that spark that made you love each other in the first place. And then, dating your writing life.
Yes, really. Yes, you.
For those of you who think that this is an incredibly weird metaphor: I understand. Really.
But when you think about it, it makes sense to think of having a relationship with writing, with the writing life. Because it acts like a true relationship in so many ways.
There are emotions. There's a trajectory of growth. There are even kids/books, if you'd like to go there.
Best of all, there's an ability to love writing more. And there's an ability to feel loved and accepted as the writers we are, in return.
Which is exactly what I'm aiming for by the end of this month, for all of us.
This daily, love-your-writing-life challenge is especially for you if:
- You feel like you and your writing life have been at odds lately.
- If you have all kinds of EMOTIONS about your writing life. Feeling guilty, stressed, tired, uncreative.
- If things have just felt dry lately. Like you've lost your spark.
- Or, if everything's going along swimmingly. Why not dive even deeper?
(Did I mention I'm super excited about this??)
Details: I'll post on Mondays and Thursdays like usual, and I'll have prompts listed for each day. Most will just take fifteen minutes or less.
Feel free to tweak them: If you don't have fifteen minutes, do a five-minute version. If the prompt says to go out and you can't, use the Internet. These prompts can be as flexible as you like.
The main point is: Just show up. Try these exercises, these new ways of thinking.
Let's be willing to be a little "out there," in the hopes that we all find a warmer, kinder, healthier, and HAPPIER writing life.
That's what I want. All us lionhearts just incredibly happy with our writing lives.
Does that sound good? Sound like a plan?
Roll up your sleeves, find a blank notebook or a blank document, take a deep breath, and let's dive in.
February 1: Releasing expectations.
Any relationship can get cluttered with unrealistic expectations. They shape how we interpret behavior, they influence our demands, and—they make us really grumpy.
What are your hidden expectations for the writing life?
And what do you think the writing life has been expecting of you?
I used to expect that the writing life would: Make me lots of money, help me become more confident, and get me some nice splashy attention. (If it made me somehow look more amazing, that would be fine too.)
WHOOPS. That's not what the writing life does.
What the writing life actually promises is this: You will be surrounded by words, by reading and writing. And you will discover parts of yourself and the world around you through writing about them. That is the deal.
What I was looking for was more like a finishing school, a business degree, a public relations consultant, and a really great salon visit rolled into one.
Meanwhile, I felt like the writing life expected certain things from me.
I thought it wanted me to be a lot smarter than I am, more prone to writing poems. I thought it wanted me to have better taste in what I read. And I should belong to at least two writing groups where we give each other really insightful critiques on these novels that we'll take twenty years to write, and which will eventually be honored for all time.
WHOOPS. What the writing life actually got was: Me. Plain old Lucy.
With all my quirks, and all my loves, my absence of chic writing groups, no poems for years now, very messy drafts, very messy filing system, very messy desk. (I'm looking at you, stack of unwashed dishes!!)
Here's what I've learned: We writers don't have to be any different than who we actually are.
You don't have to be any nerdier or smarter or more intrepid. You don't have to have had a better childhood or a worse one. You didn't need to have perfect grades or terrible ones. Your teachers might have loved your work or hated it.
The Writing Life doesn't need you to be anything other than who you are. It just wants you to be honest about yourself, your life, your experiences, your perspective.
And willing to show up, using words.
In return, it can't promise money, splashy publishing deals, or fame.
But it does offer an incredible life of chasing ideas and images through words. Of describing the world around you, and creating whole new worlds together.
Which is a really lovely promise.
TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Take ten to fifteen minutes, and write down what you feel like you've expected from the writing life. Maybe you didn't realize you were expecting it, or maybe you did. But write down everything that you thought would happen to you and for you, just because you were writing.
Also, if you feel like the whole image of "the Writing Life" meant that you had to be a different kind of person: write down all those things, those expectations, too.
And then: Release them. Release them all.
Write down your statement of release: that you are going to let the writing life be exactly what it is. And that the writing life is THRILLED to see you show up as exactly who you are.
February 2: Forgive the past.
This is tied to yesterday's challenge, but with a slightly different flavor.
If you've been doing this writing thing for a little while, there are probably some hurts in the past.
There are drafts you never fixed, which sit in drawers, in closets, like little shipwrecks, taunting you.
Maybe there were times when you turned your back on the writing life for a month, or three, or whole years. Maybe you've had times where it felt like it was the writing that abandoned you.
Maybe you've had some fights. (I've had three biggies.) Maybe there were threats. Words you didn't take back.
Maybe you even felt betrayed by an absence of creativity, by an idea that died halfway through the project.
Maybe you leaned hard on those false expectations, and then felt horribly let down. Maybe it even felt very realistic at the time.
Here's my embarrassing story: I once wrote an essay to enter a competition where the award was—I kid you not—a house.
I thought: Perfect. My writing prowess will solve this little housing issue I have.
... I didn't win.
It's ridiculous, but I was so mad at writing for a while. Never mind that the house probably went to someone with a much, much bigger need for it than I had.
I blamed writing, and I had a hard time working for a while.
What does this look like for you? What past hurts are there that still need to be dealt with? Do you feel bitter about writing? Angry toward it?
TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Forgiveness is this amazing thing. It's a debt canceler. It means that you take something that you feel like you are owed, and you decide to tear it up.
You're no longer going to demand payment. You aren't going to bring it up anymore. Not even through little snide references, or allusions, or teasing.
It's the end of the debt. Period.
You're starting a new chapter now.
Write out a statement of forgiveness for writing. Cancel all the debts.
Forgive it for all the times when it was inexplicable, when you felt like it left you, when you didn't understand it and you blamed it for that.
And then write out how it forgives you, for the times when you shrugged it off, when you didn't take it seriously, when you gave up on it, when you weren't as committed as you could have been.
Sometimes, we need to re-forgive, and that's totally okay. But really sit with this today, and practice letting go all the hurts you have around writing. Let 'em all go.
There are better times ahead.
February 3: Let's change our language.
One way our expectations and bitterness leak out of us is in our spoken words. In how we talk.
Today, all I want us to do is to focus on our language. On how we talk about writing. What we say about it behind its back. How we talk about it to other people.
What we say about our progress (or lack of it) on drafts. How we refer to past projects, past revisions, future prospects.
TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Let's give ourselves a language makeover. Let's watch how we talk about writing, how we talk to writing, how we talk about our works-in-progress.
Practice being super aware of the tone of voice you use. Catch yourself before you roll your eyes.
Instead, let's talk about our writing in a really constructive way. Even if it's just what we say, to ourselves, in our own heads. (Writing can hear all that, you know.)
Fill your head, your writing desk, your speech, with really constructive words. With accepting language.
Try to talk to and about writing as if you're talking about someone you really, really love. Even if they're being difficult right now. Even if they're really hard to figure out.
Let's replace "Oh my gosh I HATE this and it's KILLING me" with "This is really difficult, and it's a big challenge, but I'm here, and we are going to figure it out, somehow."
And there you go!! By all means, let me know how it goes in the comments. Here's to releasing the negativity around our writing lives, so that we can love them more than ever.
... And if this has been valuable or exciting for you, spread the word!! Let's transform as many writing lives as possible this February!
Ready for the next batch of prompts? Click here!