3 Ways to Make Your Fear of Writing Melt Away Like a August Creamsicle

1,400.

That’s how many pages are in War & Peace.

Making it one of the longest novels in the history of literature.

This little piece of trivia isn’t exactly obscure. Anyone with access to Google, Amazon or Wikipedia could figure that out in about seven seconds.

But what you might NOT have discovered in your Internet search about author Leo Tolstoy is that during the time it took him to write War & Peace…

…He had 12 children!!!

So.

What’s YOUR excuse for not writing?

Now, I know.

Tolstoy probably wasn’t a great father.
Tolstoy had affairs with his two female serfs.
Tolstoy had an incredibly devoted, caring wife.
Tolstoy lost five of his youngest children to poor health.

Fine.

Stop justifying. Stop making excuses. Stop getting defensive.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS: You’re not writing.

For example: What did you write today?

ANSWER: Not enough.

If you’re attributing your lack of wring to “lack of time,” then you’re only lying to yourself…

Because it’s not lack of TIME – it’s lack of COURAGE.

And that’s totally cool. Every writer goes through it, myself included.

Look, writing is a scary thing. One of the scariest. As my mentor Bill Jenkins says, “Good writing is like walking across a stage naked.”

And, as Tolstoy himself said, “You write only with your pen dipped in your own blood.”

Even as a professional writer myself, I still get zapped with impulses of creative fear on a daily basis.

And those little buggers hurt.

But “sticking yourself out there” isn’t just something you do in person or on your business card.

It’s something you do on The Page. That blank sheet of paper staring back at you.

So, today I’m going to share three exercises to help you enhance your creative courage.

NOTE: These practices come straight from my own writing experience, all of which have been revolutionary in my own career. They DO work, if you stick ‘em out.

1. Give yourself permission. Permission to write something totally irrational, weird, odd, silly or ridiculous. Permission to capture, express and say ANYTHING, no matter how outrageous, stupid or idiotic it sounds. You don’t have to publish it on your blog or share it with your spouse. You just need to write it.

By doing so, the idea will become public in your mind. This cleansing process will broaden your acceptance of otherwise crazy notions and lay a foundation of confidence in even the most absurd notions. Ultimately, by embracing your creative ridiculousness, you’ll surrender the need to appraise and evaluate everything you write.

EXERCISE: Learn to write Morning Pages.

Coined by one of my writing heroes, Julia Cameron, here’s how they work: You sit down, first thing in the morning, and just PUKE for three pages. No stopping. No editing. No thinking. Just writing. It’s stream of consciousness meditation. It’s a check-in with yourself.

“A psychological holding environment that becomes a gateway to your inner and higher selves,” Cameron says. And these “gripe sessions,” where you work out your grudges, become moments of free association and celebration.

If you’d like to learn more about this invaluable tool (WHICH, I’ve been doing daily for several years and TO which I attribute 90% of my creative success), email scott@hellomynameisscott.com and I’ll send you an article that will change your writing practice forever.

REMEMBER: When you work out your mental shanks, you bring forth your creative gold.

2. Remove the threat of rejection. “Nobody will like my writing. Nobody will relate to my writing. Nobody will want to read my writing.”

Sadly, these excuses prevent many writers from EVER putting their work out there. So, I often ask my coaching clients the following:

“Well, what if it wasn’t YOUR writing?”

(At which point they look at me like I’m nuts.)

And I explain: “What I mean is, if your name wasn’t attached to your writing, would you be more likely to share it?”

90% of the time, they say yes.

By writing anonymously (or under a pseudonym), you take yourself out of the equation. You remove the threat of rejection. And this disassociation prevents you from becoming overly defensive when someone reacts negatively (or worse yet, not at all!) to your writing.

EXERCISE: Blog anonymously everyday for six months.

In 2004 when I noticed waning confidence in my writing abilities, I started an anonymous blog. My goal was to write simply for the sake writing. To get better. To have fun. No pressure. No expectations. And, to post ideas, stories and thoughts that I otherwise wouldn’t have wanted to take credit for on my regular blog. (That anonymous blog has since been deleted. Sorry.)

As a result, several cool things happened:

FIRST, I became a more confident writer, simply by writing every day.
SECOND, I became a more comfortable writer, sharing even my craziest thoughts, knowing that nobody knew it was me.
THIRD, I became a more desirable writer, as I slowly attracted readers, comments and support from complete strangers who connected with and enjoyed reading my work.

If you’d like to learn more about the psychology of writing anonymously, email scott@hellomynameisscott.com and I’ll send you an article that will change your writing confidence forever.

REMEMBER: When you expect nothing, failure is impossible.

3. Find (the right) people to validate your writing. We writers crave validation. We THRIVE on it. We need people to say, “Great article!” or “I loved your book!” or “This post really got me thinking…” Otherwise, our writing is in vain. May as well be to a brick wall.

The challenge is, we need validation from unbiased sources. Not our parents. Not our friends. Not our partners. But rather, people who have no personal stake in our creative success.

EXERCISE: Today, spend fifteen minutes searching online for writing events in your local community. Pick two or three events to attend each month for the next twelve months. Think of this as your Validation Plan. Your goal is to surround yourself with other successful Creative Professionals who will offer honest, helpful feedback on your work.

Ultimately, whether you choose artists groups, publishing associations or writer’s guilds, just concentrate on finding other people who do what you do and ask them help you do what you do better. Period.

REMEMBER: Decide (wisely) whom you want to listen to.

– – –

Look. As a writer, fear comes with the territory.

Fear of failing.
Fear of being judged.
Fear of exposing your Truth to the world.

MY SUGGESTION: Deal with it. You’re a writer. It’s part of your job description. And if you’re not a writer, it still applies. If you’re a HUMAN, it’s part of your life description.

So, love it that fear. Because it means that you are awakening.
So, channel that fear. Into the words and onto the page.

Ultimately, if you can learn to give yourself permission, find a way to remove the threat of rejection and successfully seek out credible validation for your writing, your creative fears will slowly fade away.

But.

Only if you stop lying to yourself.
Only if you stop making the excuse that you don’t “have time” time write.

REMEMBER: It’s not lack of time – it’s lack of courage.

Even Tolstoy, who had enough children to outfit his own football team, still MADE time to write War & Peace.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What did you write today?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “9 Things Every Write Needs to Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Terrified to face the page?

Bummer. Perhaps my monthly coaching program for writers would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!


18 Myths about Creativity That Are Holding Your Inner Artist Hostage

MYTH #1: Creativity is about making something out of nothing.
REALITY: Creativity is about making connections between existing things.

MYTH #2: Creativity is something you DO and HAVE
REALITY: Creativity is something you ARE.

MYTH #3: Creativity is about making the material come to you.
REALITY: Creativity is about unblocking the flow of what’s already there. (For the best way to relieve artistic consipation, read this.)

MYTH #4: Writer’s block is the greatest enemy to creativity.
REALITY: Thinker’s block is the greatest enemy to creativity. (If you want to avoid Thinker’s Block, read this.)

MYTH #5: There is an official “process” to creativity.
REALITY: There are many processes to creativity, each of which has many different layers.

MYTH #6: Creativity comes (primarily) from hard work and (partially) from inspiration.
REALITY: Creativity comes equally from forcing yourself to create AND harnessing inspiration when it crosses your path. (Read more on The Paradox of Inspiration.)

MYTH #7: You can teach people to become more creative.
REALITY: You can ONLY teach people how to harness their inherent creativity AND create an environment that fosters creativity. (To create that environment, check this out.)

MYTH #8: Creativity is a skill.
REALITY: Creativity is a skill AND an attitude AND a lifestyle AND a thought process AND a way of being.

MYTH #9: Creativity is about getting your “one big idea.”
REALITY: Creativity is about constantly having lots of ideas, big and small; good and bad.

MYTH #10: Creativity is something you apply to your work.
REALITY: Creativity is something you apply to EVERYTHING, as it is a way of approaching and encountering the world.

MYTH #11: Creativity is about thinking.
REALITY: Creativity is about thinking AND listening AND observing AND watching AND surrendering AND noticing patterns AND combining AND asking AND plucking AND scanning AND receiving.

MYTH #12: Creativity is something you control.
REALITY: Creativity is something that you received from a higher power because you selflessly listened and surrendered to it.

MYTH #13: Creativity comes from chaotic, unstructured, non-linear thinking.
REALITY: Creativity comes from chaotic, unstructured, non-linear thinking COMBINED with small touches of occasional structure.

MYTH #14: Creativity is something you just turn on when needed.
REALITY: Creativity is a muscle that gets stronger with increased use and must be practiced as a daily non-negotiable that is as regular and normal as breathing.

MYTH #15: Creativity is about completing specific pieces.
REALITY: Creativity is about contributing to a lifelong body of work. (To see some HOT bodies – of work, that is – read this.)

MYTH #16: Creativity is about coming up with lots of ideas all the time.
REALITY: Creativity is about maintaining a healthy balance between idea creation AND idea judgment.

MYTH #17: Creativity is about making something nobody else has ever made.
REALITY: Creativity is about giving people new eyes, not new landscapes.

MYTH #18: The purpose of creativity is to make stuff.
REALITY: The purpose is to grow your soul.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s holding YOUR Inner Artist hostage?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called “The 10 Best Books on Creativity You’ve Never Heard Of,” send an email to scott@hellomynameisscott.com and I’ll gladly motivate your melon 😉

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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How to become your own consultant

You probably don’t have the money to hire McKinsey.

But you still want to make your company more equitable, more profitable and more successful, right?

Cool.

Well then, if you’re willing to invest your time and mental energy (but not so much money!) consider this option:

What if you became your OWN consultant?

I know. It sounds impossible.

After all, the whole point of hiring a consultant is to bring someone ELSE into your company, right?

Well, to a certain extent, yes.

However, the word “consultant” stems from the Latin consultare, which means, “To deliberate or consider.”

And you don’t necessarily need some MBA in a suit to do that for you.

Now, sure, I believe in The Outsider Advantage. And I believe there are lots of AMAZING consultants out there.

Heck, I even have a consulting department myself.

But I also believe that successful entrepreneurs learn how to practice objective deliberation on their own.

Because (most of) the answers lie within.

– – –

So, even though it’s not the same thing as brining in some suit from a Fortune 500, your company still can reap the benefits from a little self-consulting.

Especially if you do it regularly.

NOTE: I’m not suggesting you abandon your relationships with mentors, advisors and other members of your professional support system. Nor am I suggesting that self-consulting is a replacement for that support system.

I merely implore you to consider yourself as your company’s most valuable consultative resource.

That being said, let’s explore a list of five practices to help you become your own consultant.

1. Begin with objectivity. The primary value of hiring an outside consultant is BECAUSE she comes from The Outside. This means she has little or no bias. This means she can deliver independent thought. And this means she can recognize patterns immediately.

Obviously, this is a LOT harder to do when it’s just you. Especially since you’re so close to the situation.

So, your challenge is to operate on multiple planes of consciousness. To avoid emotional reactivity. To detach yourself so you can objectively and honestly consider your own criticism.

Kind of like Michael Gerber suggests in The E-Myth: “You need to be the creator, the manager and the technician … simultaneously.”

ASK YOURSELF: Are you willing to step back and examine your company’s challenges calmly and objectively?

2. U-NEED-2-READ. Every single day, spend at least fifteen minutes reading, annotating and studying books that facilitate self-exploration. Books that ask you questions. Books that challenge you. Books that make you sit back and think.

Consider these titles to get your success library started. I’ve personally had breakthrough moments of company knowledge with each one:

o The Aladdin Factor
o Flight Plan
o The Mentor’s Spirit
o Ordering Your Private World
o Questions that Work
o Thinking for a Change

Also, once you’ve marked up your books, the next step is to customize a personal system for transcribing your thoughts. I suggest recopying or summarizing your notes, keeping them in a folder – physically or virtually – and revisiting them regularly. This will keep those self-consultative thoughts fresh in your mind.

ASK YOURSELF: How many books did you read last month?

3. Ask the right questions. Questions are the basis of all knowledge, understanding and creativity. And if you want to be your own consultant, remember that questions are the answer.

So, I suggest doing three things.

First, consider 3-5 vital areas of your business. Everything from marketing to sales to blogging to managing employees.

Next, make a list of pointed, specific and penetrating questions that correspond to each “department.”

Then, ask away!

Now, each book mentioned in the previous example has a WEALTH of great questions. But, if you’re still not sure what to ask, no worries! Here are a few mini lists to get you started:

LEADERSHIP QUESTIONS
o How much are you promoting your own personal agenda?
o Can you clearly define what you are a steward of?
o Have you considered other alternatives to this value and explored them fully?

MANAGEMENT QUESTIONS
o How are you creating a non-threatening workplace?
o How are you creating a question-friendly atmosphere?
o How do you create an environment in the workplace that encourages the generation and application of your best ideas?

MARKETING QUESTIONS
o How are you allowing customers to participate in your brand?
o How are you building a following?
o How are you building a permission asset?

SALES QUESTIONS
o Are you using informational, value-added follow-up?
o Do you know where your leads are coming from?
o Are you spending more time educating potential customers on the benefits of your service, or telling them why you are better than the competition?

ENTREPRENEUR QUESTIONS
o What “little things” made a big impact on your business?
o What are the best people in your field doing?
o What are the most important things for you to work on that will grow your business the fastest?

4. Hit the page. If you are TRULY serious about becoming your own consultant, the most important practice you can undertake is writing. Especially since you’ve already been reading great books and asking great questions, writing is the logical next step!

“Yeah, but I’m not a writer,” you say.

Yes you are. Everyone is a writer. Writing is the basis of all wealth.

So, here are my three best suggestions for using the practice of writing to become your own consultant:

o Learn to do Morning Pages, the best writing/creativity exercise in the world!

o After asking your questions from example #3, put each your answers in writing. Store your document according to topic in a folder called, “Consulting Me.”

o For any other form of writing you do (as it pertains to consulting yourself), make lists. Lists for everything! And why? Well, consider these 43 reasons.

ASK YOURSELF: What did you write today?

5. Let everything mentor you. OK, we’ve talked about detachment, reading, questioning and writing as four effective practices to help you become your own consultant. For our final example, here’s another self-consultative exercise you can use throughout your day when you’re NOT reading, writing or questioning.

Let’s go back to that list of books for a sec. One in particular, The Mentor’s Spirit, has a FANTASTIC philosophy about self-consulting. Author Marsha Sinetar suggests that you “search out the mentor’s spirit in everyone and everything.” A few other great keepers from her book include:

o “Don’t be afraid of being a little unreasonable with yourself.”
o “Value silence for creative discovery and personal renewal.”
o “We grow by living with our questions, not by having all the answers.”
o “Search each current and particle of existence for truth.”

ASK YOURSELF: How can I let this experience, person or thing mentor me?

– – –

REMEMBER: If you’re willing to invest your time and mental energy, acting as your own consulting CAN pay off BIG time.

It will increase your self-knowledge.
Which will increase your confidence.
Which will increase your company’s equity.
Which will increase your company’s profitability.

And you won’t even need to hire someone from McKinsey!

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How do serve as your own consultant?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a copy of my Top 100 Self-Consultative Questions, send an email to scott@hellomynameisscott.com and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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