junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183

29 Jan

8 Reasons Why Some People Would Rather Do Anything But Write

frustrated-boy

Let me ask you something. It might sound strange coming from me, but do you hate writing? Does the mere thought of it make you cringe? Do you ever wonder how it is that so many people seem to actually enjoy the process? They talk about their journals as if they’re the Holy Grail! Do you ask yourself, what do they actually get from it and if it’s so great, why is it so distasteful to you? If so, you’re not alone! Here are 8 reasons why some people would rather do anything but write:

Reason #1: Shame

One of the most common reasons is because they were shamed in school. Their essays or short stories got marked up with red pens—they weren’t in the right order, their grammar was poor, and so on. They learned that in order to write, they had to do it perfectly. Imagine toddlers saying their first words and being criticized for not pronouncing them correctly! Yes it’s ludicrous, but that’s what happens to children when they write their imaginative stories for the first time and they get ripped to shreds. Mark Twain said, “If we taught our children to speak the way we teach them to write, everyone would stutter.” Many adults are still plagued with shame from their youth for not doing it right.

Writing Exercise

If you have had an experience like that, throw out the rules and write about it. Write an angry blaming letter to the teacher or whoever it was that put you down. Get it out of your system. You are not what that person said about you. Feel compassion for your younger self and let her/him have their day in court! Let go of perfection and go for the jugular! Don’t be surprised at what might get released in this one piece. Note: this letter is not to be sent!

Reason #2: Afraid of thoughts and feelings

Everyone judges themselves and others. Often the judgment comes from those described above who shamed us in the first place, and we end up thinking we can never do anything write. Oops, I meant “right.” See? Judging ourselves is the biggest crippler in our lives. “How can I think that? It’s not nice of me.”

While writing, if we’re afraid of our angry, less-than-loving thoughts, we’ll want to cover them over with flowery words, make it sound pretty and poetic. We may succeed. It may sound poetic. But it won’t be authentic and we won’t reach the deeper parts of us that want a voice. That part may be angry, frustrated and rebellious or somewhere between bored and apathetic because of our betrayal of her/him. Whatever s/he is, there’s deeper energy inside awaiting expression. Follow it compassionately. This is what the page is for.

Writing Prompt

Right now I am feeling….

Reason #3: Afraid someone will discover what they wrote and read it

This can be a legitimate fear when you’re writing a journal or anything else you’ve written. You want to protect its sacredness. Our writings are our babies. Protecting them is protecting your most innocent, creative voice. Besides, if you think someone may be reading what you’ve written, it will inhibit what you write. In your journals you can write on the front page, “Please do not read this. Put it down. It is personal.” Or, if you prefer, write, “Read at your own risk!”

Don’t leave your writing on your coffee table. If you do, you might as well surrender to the fact that it’s probably going to happen. And if it does, can you really blame that person? After all, you’ve opened up the temptation. Of course you can share it with whomever you like. But here’s the key: Be discerning. You don’t want to share it with someone whose approval you’re looking for. Share your fledgling pieces with people whom you trust and who support you.

Writing Tip

Do not leave your journal on the coffee table!

Reason #4: Can’t spell, don’t know proper grammar and punctuation

An amazing number of people won’t write because they’re not good spellers and feel embarrassed and feel the same way about punctuation, grammar and style. Stream of conscious thought doesn’t care if you can’t spell, you don’t use grammatically correct speech or punctuation. Or use any punctuation at all. Me bee in countree hole bunch long time. I bet you understood that. Do I really care if it’s not written well or it’s got a bunch of spelling mistakes? No, I don’t. And I don’t want you to either. Not during the creative process. Find an editor later. Creativity demands that you do not try to stop it with rules. Kids paint outside the lines. We get to write outside the margins if you know what I mean.

Writing Exercise

Deliberately write a few sentences with bad grammar, spell things wrong even when you can spell them right and at the end of it, have a good laugh. It’s not that serious, right? Remember that during the creative process. Laugh when you can’t spell something instead of judging it. Your judge will throw away the pen and you’ll inevitably go find a donut to munch on.

Reason #5: Afraid if they put it in writing, they’re bound by it

There’s always been an aura around the written word. It’s like a law or contract that can’t be changed. “Gee, I wrote it this way so how can I say it that way now?” Well, you can. That’s poetic license. It’s also being human. We change our thoughts, our minds, our perceptions as we learn and grow. You can write something and stand by it today and change it tomorrow if it no longer resonates with your truth.

The irony is, as soon as we write the truth of where we are in the moment, the energy shifts and allows for another truth to seep in. We’re not frozen in our fury, for example. Most often once we’ve spilled it all onto the pages, we hit a deeper emotion—hurt, for example. We discover that under the rage lies a hurt inner child who hasn’t had his or her needs met. With this awareness we can then do some nurturing—we can write ourselves a love letter. Sometimes this process takes several days. You may just need to stay with the anger for a while. Write it out and let it rest on the page. Read it out loud so you can feel the full impact of your feelings. Then go do something physical. Go for a walk. Turn on some up-beat music, dance. Exercise. Breathe. Get the endorphins flowing. And feel proud that you have released what you’ve been wanting to say for weeks!

Writing Tip

Allow your writing to teach you things. Learn as you write. Grow as you learn. Let it be a progression, not a fact. There is an endless well of wisdom that can come to us from invisible places that the pen just seems to know how to locate. Nothing’s written in stone. And if it is, eventually someone will pick up the stone and skip it in the water and something new will get invented in its place. It’s called creativity, imagination, and freedom!

Reason # 6: Don’t know what to say—afraid of the blank page

Sometimes not knowing where to begin can seem like an insurmountable task. Just begin to write where you are. Describe where you are, your environment, the colours, the sounds, the people, or lack of them, and let this be a beginning. Or give your editor a voice: if it’s saying “I don’t have anything to say…” write that. Write it again and again. Eventually it will change. Stay with it and stay focussed on your intention. At the same time keep your hand moving across the page.

Writing Prompt

The last time I had nothing to say, I…

Reason #7: Afraid of what you might learn about yourself

Writing takes you into the deeper recesses of your mind, turning over the soil of the unconscious and bringing light to what’s been buried for a long time. If there are things you don’t want to face, don’t want to deal with, you will avoid writing about them because the truth usually surfaces and makes you look at it. Don’t be afraid. Be curious instead. When you stay with it and write to the other side, you will gain clarity, answers, healing and release.

Writing Exercise

What I want you to know about me is… (you are writing this to yourself… it’s about you getting to know yourself) ☺

Reason #8: Competition

You’re afraid to do anything because you’re always comparing yourself to others. You’ll never get the novel, play, article, song published. “So and so graduated at the same time as me and they’re already way ahead and even famous. It’s stupid to even bother.” Comparing ourselves is very damaging because it stops us from moving forward. We ask ourselves the wrong questions, and so we get the wrong answers. We say, “How come she can do it?” or say, “No wonder he’s successful; he has a rich father”, instead of asking ourselves, “What are my goals and what can I do today towards them?”

Writing Exercise & Tip

Take one writing project that you have on the go—or want to have—and get to it! There are no tricks. Just roll up your sleeves and write. Once you have started, you will know the sheer joy of moving forward and it will motivate you to come back tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that. And when you get stuck, write your truth about it in your journal. It will free you and you’ll be able to continue.

If you haven’t been writing and the above reasons don’t apply to you, or you have other reasons why you are stuck, please tell us your reasons below. If I can help you find a solution, and it’s likely that I will, you’ll be writing again in no time!

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21 Jan

21-Day Writing Challenge (Part 3)

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This is it! The last seven writing prompts of January’s 21-Day Writing Challenge. Congratulations to everyone who took up the challenge, even if it was for a day or two. And it’s never too late to start! All 21 of the writing prompts will be here for you on the blog whenever you need inspiration. As always, please leave a comment below or join us at Junie’s Writing Sanctuary.

Day 15: SHE TURNED THE CORNER AND…
Set your timer for 20 minutes, put on your sleuth hat, and follow her around that corner.

Day 16: PICK A SENTENCE FROM A BOOK
Today’s idea: grab a book off the shelf, open it to a random page, and copy down the first sentence you see into your journal. Let that sentence be your writing prompt. Write for five minutes, then, as you read over your writing, underline a sentence that speaks to you and let that be the starting sentence for your next five minutes of writing. Continue! Let us know where it takes you…

Day 17: THE FOX
Here is a stanza from the Mary Oliver poem October. Please take it from here:

“One morning, the fox came down the hill, glittering and confident, and didn’t see me—and I thought… “:

Day 18: DO YOU HAVE THE DISCIPLINE TO BE A FREE SPIRIT?
(Gabrielle Roth in Sweat Your Prayers). It’s an interesting question Gabrielle Roth poses. Where does it take you?

Day 19: WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Everything. Tell us what your name means to you. Some of us like our names; some of us change them. I chose to go from “June” to “Junie” because my mom called me “Junie” when she was in a good mood, and guess what she called me when she wasn’t? Now when people call me “June”, I don’t get upset. My mom loved me even if her tone of voice didn’t always sound warm and fuzzy. Tell us what your name means to you. Also, my last name was Schwadron; we hailed from Austria and five generations of orthodox rabbis. Our family broke the mold!

Day 20: I CHOOSE LOVE
Here’s a treat. Enjoy the music video “I Choose Love” by Shawn Gallaway, and then, you know the drill… write from wherever it takes you:

Day 21: SHALL WE DANCE?
We did it! Congratulations! I wish to thank all of you who participated in our 21-Day Writing Challenge. Whether you wrote consistently for 21 days or not, even if this exercise got you writing just a little bit, it has done its job. I celebrate your efforts. The 21st prompt is: Shall we dance?

And that’s a wrap! Remember you can always come over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to join us in our private Facebook group to keep the momentum going. All you need to do is request to join and I will open the gates for you. Join the fun, the audacity, the vulnerability, the creativity, the daring and hopefulness, the challenges… everything we writers go through when putting pen to paper.

Writing can be a lonely activity, but not at the Sanctuary. It’s a place to share your writing, your process… to be seen and heard. At the Sanctuary we all show up wherever we are, fledgling or seasoned writer, blocked and frustrated or flowing with personality, creativity, and magic. Let’s interact and be part of a community that writers and all artists crave.

Also, I’d love it if you would leave comments below to let me know how the writing challenge worked for you.

All blessings,
Junie

 

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15 Jan

21-Day Writing Challenge (Part 2)

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We are well into the 21-day writing challenge now, at the end of week 2. Below you’ll find the writing prompts for days 8-14. Enjoy, and see you next week! As always, please leave a comment below or join us at Junie’s Writing Sanctuary.

Day 8: Time out

What are your favourite ways to keep your cool, stay sane, balanced and healthy when the demands of the day want to take over?

Here’s my entry for Day 8:

It’s hard to believe that we are finished our first week! That we are eight days into our 21-Day Writing Challenge. Wasn’t it just Christmas? Weren’t we just planning the holidays?

Time is so mysterious. There are still 24 hours in each day, yet every week seems to fly by faster than the one before. So much gets packed into one day. Surely there must be more time for time out. Well, not if we don’t make time.

Yesterday, I downloaded Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness bell app onto my smartphone. I have programmed it to ring every hour as a reminder to stop whatever I am doing and B R E A T H E.

There is another thing I have done to honour my time to stop and breathe. I have opened my home every weekday morning from 8:15-9:00 for a silent drop-in morning meditation and writing practice.

It’s something I do most days anyway but I thought how wonderful and rich it would be to experience this practice with others. For me there is nothing like having the energy of a prayerful group filling the spaces we are in. So, on Monday morning, I woke at six o’clock and prepared my living room with candles, lavender in my essential oil diffuser, and soft meditative music. I boiled the kettle for tea in preparation. The doorbell did not ring. No one came. Nor did they on Tuesday, Wednesday, nor today.

It is a joy to notice how far I have come over the years. At one time I would be terribly disappointed that no one showed up. Not now. I love doing this for me. On one hand, it’s a stretch; I would rather linger in bed another hour or so. Yet, having made this commitment, I am motivated to show up, and frankly, making my home warm and lovely, cozying up on the sofa with a candles burning, ready to meditate and write this way, is a wonderful thing to do.

Up until now, my practice was writing in bed in the morning but it didn’t always happen in spite of my best intentions. I’d fall back to sleep and deny myself the most important staple for my daily soul diet: pen and paper.

Opening my home for others to join me is a sure way to inspire me to stay true to my practice. And I would love for you to join me. You will find me on my sofa, sipping tea, pen in hand, devotedly awaiting your arrival.

Day 9: Lover of leaving

Wow, we’re already into week 2! Congratulations to those of you who are still on board. And for all of us, wherever we are in the writing process, let it be OK.

Here’s one of my favourite Rumi quotes:
“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper or lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.”

Write whatever shows up after reading the quote. It could apply to your writing practice or it could be, as I imagine Rumi intended it…a returning to The Beloved.

Day 10: Self love—how can I serve you?

Today, and every day, put your hand on your heart and ask your heart, your beautiful innocence, “How can I serve you?” Then, listen to what the whispers of your heart wish to tell you. This is definitely, for me, a light my candle moment as I take out my journal and pen.

Day 11: Life’s unsuspecting gifts

It’s impossible to live on this earth without undergoing challenges. Some are heart crushing and we wonder how we will ever survive them. But somehow we did. Somehow we were stronger than we thought and hopefully the justice in the pain and despair is the wisdom that came afterward.

What do you consider the most unsuspecting gift you’ve unwrapped (although it didn’t come with a pretty ribbon and bow) from one of your greatest challenges? What did you learn, and have you been able to share your learnings with others who may going through similar struggles?

Day 12: A song of the heart

Is there a special song you have in your heart and when hear it, it brings you back to that person, that event or “the good ol” days? Please tell us all about it.

My favourite song for many years was “Smile”, sung by Nat King Cole. It was the song my best friend Suki and I sang together when were children. Suki and I were inseparable until we were 20 and travelled to Europe together where we had our very first argument ever and it separated us for 43 years. Over the many years we were apart, whenever I heard that song, it made me feel so sad. Now, I can’t stop myself from smiling! I published our story on my blog; if you would like to read more, here it is:

Day 13: City lights

City lights…where does this take you?

Day 14: Home

My friend Tim Morley sent me the following poem today. The poet lives on Whidbey Island near Tim’s home. What does this poem evoke in you? I challenge you to write a poem about home: Your home today, or a home you once lived in. A home that turned out to be a house devoid of the essence of home, or the home that only exists in your heart.

HOME
by Judith Adams

It is the resting place from impermanence,
asylum for authentic conversation,
for reconstructing heaven,
for unraveling from the world.
Our pots and the art that moves us
are only the archeologist’s proof of
existence, of how long the
apprenticeship lasts until we surrender.
The tyrannical self tires of the
uncompromising honesty of a true home.
In the end we give away everything
that saps our energy.
At the window the feminine moon
is slowing down, and at the sink
we survive our mistakes, our grief,
our joy, with robust
celebration, the door open,
the kettle on.

Remember to come on over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to join us in our private Facebook group and jump into the challenge! All you need to do is request to join and I will open the gates for you. You will see what the others have been writing. Join the fun, the audacity, the vulnerability, the creativity, the daring and hopefulness, the challenges… everything we writers go through when putting pen to paper.

Writing can be a lonely activity, but not at the Sanctuary. It’s a place to share your writing, your process… to be seen and heard. At the Sanctuary we all show up wherever we are, fledgling or seasoned writer, blocked and frustrated or flowing with personality, creativity, and magic. Let’s interact and be part of a community that writers and all artists crave. Let’s come out of the cave where the lone wolf resides.

ALSO, I’d love it if you would leave comments below to let me know how this is working for you.

All blessings,
Junie

 

 

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06 Jan

21-Day Writing Challenge (Part 1)

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Happy New Year! For the next three weeks, my readers get a bonus: not just one writing prompt per week, but seven, as we work our way through the 21-day writing challenge in Junie’s Writing Sanctuary. Please join us at the Sanctuary (our private Facebook group) and jump into the challenge! All you need to do is request to join and I will open the gates for you. Or, scroll through the first seven days below and find something that gets you writing. I’d love it if you’d leave comments below to let me know how this works for you.

Day 1: January 1, 2016

As you enter this brand new year, I thought I would begin by offering you four questions. This is a favourite exercise of mine; it can help us become crystal clear about how we want to bring writing into our hearts and lives this year.

Write each of the following four questions down and answer each question ten times. Take the time to listen deeply and write down what you hear. If the same answer comes up for you more than once, it just means that it is indeed important to you.

Although these questions may seem straightforward, your answers may surprise you:

Regarding writing, what do I want?
Regarding writing, what do I need?
Regarding writing, what do I fear?
Regarding writing, what do I hope for?

If you have any questions, be sure to ask me and feel free to share your answers below or comment about how the process worked for you.

Day 2: Don’t go back to sleep

Did you remember to create a sacred writing space, one that beckons and seduces you into the parlour of your muse? Did you light a candle, are you playing soft music or do you simply reach for your pen and your journal, your eyes still sticky with slumber, knowing no matter what, the magic is about to begin?

Today’s prompt is from Rumi: “The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell. Don’t go back to sleep.”

When I read this, I thought it would be a good thing for me to frame on my wall for its literal meaning.

How often I have wanted to rise early in the morning and walk along the rocks and sand on Dallas Road beach but I do not. Even when I am conscious enough to have that thought float through my mind, even though I know how much I would benefit from the secrets I’d be told by the breezes and the sea lions gracefully swimming by, I am seduced by the warmth of my bed, its down comforter and another invitation to dreamtime.

Where do Rumi’s words take you? Set your timer for 20 minutes and feel free to share your process or what you have written.

Day 3: Are you feeling reticent?

Are you still feeling reticent about starting the challenge? Do you feel that if you didn’t start on Day 1, it’s too late? Well, please let me help you lay down your burdens of self-doubt and recrimination.

Even if you are reading this on day 5 or 9 or 15, it’s still not too late. It’s not too late until we’ve taken our last breath!

So I invite you, wherever you are, to jump in or simply tiptoe in. Just start from wherever you are.

Think of a time when you made a commitment to something you wanted to have happen. You weren’t sure how you were going to stay the course. There were circumstances, obstacles, hardships that showed up which made it almost impossible for you to continue, but you did. You did it!

Remember that time and begin to write about it. Bring in all the details. Remember, one of the first rules in writing is show us, don’t tell us. So describe the circumstances.

Where were you? Do you remember the year? What was it you wanted so much you could almost taste it? What was happening in your life at the time? What made you feel so passionate about it? Were there people there who were supporting you? Who were they? What was their role and their relationship to you?

Maybe there were naysayers, wet blankets, the people who said, “Forget it. It’s impossible. Or, it’s impractical or…” Who were they? How did you deal with it? Describe the challenges you faced? How did you manage? What strengths did you draw on? Bring in your feelings, your fears. No holding back. And write what it was like for you when you stepped over the finish line. Then write how it feels for you as you recall that story today. Have fun!

Here is one of my favourite passages written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

The Power of Commitment
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth—the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans—the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events, issues and decisions, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no one could have dreamed, would have come their way… Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now…”

Day 4: Write from “I Am Divine Mystery”

Today I decided to pull a card from a deck called “I Am Divine—Affirming Our Divine Nature in Everyday Life” created by Barbara Burke Luminous Creations. The card says, “I Am Divine Mystery. If you receive this card today you are being invited into a very powerful space, that of Divine Mystery. Being in the mystery allows for limitless possibilities. Allow yourself to be open to total surrender and know that in that place is where you access your true power.”

As always, set your timer for 20 minutes and write where this passage takes you.

Day 5: A handwritten letter of love

Are you old enough to remember when writing letters was what we did in order to communicate with friends and lovers far away? Emails? Skype? Texts? Excuse me? There weren’t men on the moon yet either! Well, just.

For me, letter writing was a sacred ritual that spawned intimacy and connection. I took the time to carefully craft each letter from my heart. As I wrote I could almost feel that person sitting beside me, and my heart opened even more. It felt private and beautiful.

The sweetness didn’t stop after placing the letter in the post box. No, after that came the fantasy of my dear one opening my letter and being moved by it, possibly even enchanted. Next was the wait. The delicious anticipation followed by the immeasurable joy of receiving his or her letter in return.

Today’s writing challenge is to write a special handwritten letter to a certain loved one who you know would absolutely adore receiving such a gift. One letter, one envelope and one stamp, from your heart to their heart that becomes a sacred keepsake forever more.

Please share your process with us. Or, if you like, write us too about a particular letter you once wrote or that you received that is still a precious memory.

Day 6: Your sacred self

Imagine that you are a baby kissing yourself in the mirror, and beside you sit the sacred scrolls, written through your pure heart. What does your unfettered heart of love say? As always, please share.

Day 7: “I remember…”

This is one of my favourite writing prompts, as we never know what is going to show up. Of all the gazillion experiences we have had over our lifetimes, what will the pen reveal when we give ourselves over to 20 minutes of “I remember…”? Have fun and please share!

Remember to come on over to Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to join us in our private Facebook group and jump into the challenge! All you need to do is request to join and I will open the gates for you. You will see what the others have been writing. Join the fun, the audacity, the vulnerability, the creativity, the daring and hopefulness, the challenges… everything we writers go through when putting pen to paper.

Writing can be a lonely activity, but not at the Sanctuary. It’s a place to share your writing, your process… to be seen and heard. At the Sanctuary we all show up wherever we are, fledgling or seasoned writer, blocked and frustrated or flowing with personality, creativity, and magic. Let’s interact and be part of a community that writers and all artists crave. Let’s come out of the cave where the lone wolf resides.

ALSO, I’d love it if you would leave comments below to let me know how this is working for you.

All blessings,
Junie

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junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183