Hi friends. with this post, I just wanted to let you know that my WriteNOW Cards, the project I've been working on for nearly a year, are now available to order. They're for you if you want to write more. They're for you if you want to start writing regularly. They're for you if you find writing harder than you would like. They're for you if you want to really understand just how brave you are to pursue your love of writing. They're for all writers, of all projects, of all backgrounds and levels of experience. I hope you love them and use them as much as I do...
The previous post about affirmation hopefully explains why affirmation works, why it's important and why I practise affirmation myself.
Writing is hard...
I've been writing regularly for pleasure for nearly ten years. Firstly as a blogger, then as the author of contemporary fiction. I have published five books and a total of thirty stories. I have also made writing my professional career, and have been a freelance content creator for companies, brands and individuals for the last five years. I love writing. I'm very lucky that I have made it my career, but I still find writing hard - especially the writing I do for pleasure, which is my fiction, poetry and more personal non-fiction.
The hardest part of my writing fiction journey, is thankfully over... I think.
Writing is hardest when you don't do it. Writing is hardest when it's a mostly unknown, daunting, tormenting, scary activity that you resist even though it's something you've always wanted to do, or once used to do. Writing certainly became a lot easier once I took the plunge and committed to a project. That was five years ago. I feel very fortunate to have overcome that initial hurdle of just starting because I know it's nowhere near as easy as that sounds. I like to think that if I had found and bought a pack of WriteNOW Cards I would have found just starting a lot easier, less angst-ridden and much more enjoyable. More than anyone I created these affirmation cards for writers for all the people out there who want to write but are yet to begin.
Writing isn't just hard...
When I did finally begin writing fiction regularly - kicked off by a successful NaNoWriMo in 2012 - something happened that I never expected. I had A LOT of fun. I laughed out loud during that first draft of Shy Feet: Short Stories Inspired by Travel. I cried with my characters when bad things happened to them as I edited London Eyes: Short Stories. I smiled at the strength of the women I wrote about in Nine Women: Short Stories. I felt my heart fill with many different emotions as I finished The Pink Flowers, the sequel to my first short story (See the Amalfi Coast). I loved writing these stories. From planning, to drafting, to editing to preparing for publication, I love working on my stories. And once they are out there, I felt a sense of achievement that nothing else in my life can really compare to - except maybe birthing and raising my son, but it depends just how much food he's thrown at me that day...
In many ways I have come to learn that writing is part of me. Writing makes me happy. Writing is the way I express myself. Writing leaves me feeling clearer and sometimes calmer about things. Through writing I have learned so much - not just about grammar or the places and themes I write about, but about myself, about life and about issues I've often actively battled with. Writing enlightens me. It makes me a better person.
So if writing is so much fun, and so fulfilling, and so good for me, why do I struggle to sit down and get on with it? Why do I make excuses? Why do I procrastinate? Why do I beat myself up about what I write, or what I don't write? Why does it become a battle?
So, why is writing hard?
Call it what you want - resistance, a battle, procrastination, avoidance - even for people who write regularly, even for people who need to write in order to pay their bills and feed their children, there are times when writing is hard and daunting and they can easily think of one hundred reasons not to write. Every day I could write a list of one hundred things I "need" to do before I write. And yet, I know I enjoy writing. I know I enjoy having written. My life - in almost all aspects, apart from maybe my waistline and body - is greatly improved by writing. So why do I still resist doing it?
There are a number of theories. You can read about some of them in Steven Pressfield's The War of Art or in Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, and because they've done the research and the writing on this, I won't repeat their ideas. Instead I'll offer up my own which actually complements rather than replaces theirs.
I believe that in the last fifty years, maybe more, we have devalued the worth of creative work. The value of art has decreased in our society and culture. Not just monetarily speaking but to the individual. The rise of consumerism and the huge technological strides made in the last half of the 20th century have led to us becoming more consumers than creators. Before television we would entertain ourselves through reading, listening to music or playing musical instruments, and doing other things with our hands - crafts, woodwork, painting, sewing, MAKING ART. Before machines we made and fixed things with our hands. Before computers, the internet, social media feeds and email, we would read books, take photos that you waited a week to develop, write letters to friends on the other side of the country or world. Before Google we looked up information in a library or in a volume of an encyclopedia that took up half your house. These days, our hours and minutes are dominated by activities that are immediate and instant. Writing is NOT immediate or instant... It's contradictory to the things we fill our time with.
I feel it's also true that the same developments have placed less value on The Arts - in which I include literature and creative writing - within the education system, certainly in Western and developed countries. Education focuses on academic and money-making skills. Less priority, time and money is invested in giving children and young people access and encouragement to be creative, both for fun and as a profession.
For this latter reason, I personally grew up thinking, nay, believing, that I could never make money by writing or acting, which was actually more of a passion of mine as a teenager. I was actively told this by teachers, my parents and others around me. I'm not saying they were wrong, but I can't remember anybody talking to me about keeping writing or acting as a hobby to be pursued and cherished. And in more recent years, the immediacy of everyday life made me wonder "What the point?" was in writing. If I was never going to make money; if I was never going to be a "success" writing fiction; if there were one hundred other ways I could make money, one hundred times quicker, why write?
I totally ignored the weighty and very valid fact that I ENJOY WRITING. My experience of writing has taught me that's reason enough to write, and affirmation helps remind me so I beat any resistance before it sets in.
Writing doesn't have to be that hard...
Just before I gave birth to my son in July 2015, I realised I wasn't going to meet a few of the self-imposed deadlines for a number of my ongoing works in progress. My energy levels were low. I was tired all the time, and increasingly preoccupied with what I needed to do to get ready for becoming a mother. After a few days worrying about not getting my books finished in time, I just decided to give myself permission to let the deadlines go, to not feel bad about it all, and to remember that it didn't make me less of a writer or less of a person.
There was something liberating in that decision. Within a few weeks of my son being born, I was back writing again, and because of our erratic (or non-existent!) sleep pattern, and his demands on my time, I didn't set anymore deadlines or goals, I just wrote what I could, when I could. That's pretty much how I've been writing ever since, apart from doing NaNoWriMo twice and taking on the recent challenge of writing 100 poems in 100 days, While my productivity and output has plummeted, my love of writing has persisted, and my kinder approach to it all has benefitted my mental health, which has had its ups and downs over the last few years for other reasons.
In actual fact, writing was one of the few things that I did almost consistently while unwell with post-natal depression. This is because it really helped me. It offered escapism. It kept my mind and hands busy. It offered me some relief from my own anxieties. I wrote to feel better, not to finish a novel. I wrote in search of pleasure. Again, this shifted my mindset about writing. If I focus on writing for pleasure, then the resistance was reduced.
I talk alot about my first experience of affirmation in this post, but to summarise I discovered affirmation cards designed for women and mothers, and once I bought my first pack, I was hooked. It was so simple, so easy, so affordable, so uncomplicated. You just read a sentence, out loud or even in a whisper, and you repeated it. The brain took some notice of what I was saying and it began to believe the words I was relaying. I began to acknowledge that I was enough. That I was doing my best as a mother. That I was capable, and strong, and prepared for the challenges to come.
At some point I began to realise that this was exactly how I wanted to feel about my writing. Perhaps more importantly, it was also how I wanted other people to feel about their writing. And thus the idea for WriteNOW Cards was born...
Give yourself the gift of affirmation
Over the years I've met or been contacted by many writers at various stages of their writing journeys. Some have several books to their names, others are yet to type a word. All have the desire to write, but also feel the undeniable resistance and struggle to do as much as they want. I wish I had had these cards to send to them back when I replied to their emails or answered their questions about how I got started, how I keep going, what I do on hard days. Because now these cards are my first step in getting started, keeping going and battling hard days. I honestly use them all the time. They're scattered around my house, in my wallet, in several handbags and I've found at least two washed up at the bottom of the washing machine because they were in my jeans' back pocket.
If you're a writer and you want to start practising affirmation, start today with WriteNOW Cards. Follow WriteNOW Card's Instagram account or Twitter for daily affirmations and inspiration. If you want a more personal and special introduction to affirmation, get your own pack of WriteNOW Cards.
I read the same affirmations again and again, but they still hold their weight and their impact. They still make me pause. They still help my brain to focus on the good and the true, not the resistance and the useless, time-wasting worry.
Let me be honest. They're no magic bullet. You still have to put in the work. You still have to sit at your desk for hours and hours. You still have to work through the obstacles - mental or otherwise. But I like to think that when you have a pack of WriteNOW Cards by your side, you're no longer alone in doing this.
Frances M. Thompson
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