Wanna know how I got to Paris, the dream land of writers?
There are 9 steps. Today we will go over the first two.
Rediscover You, the original.
Statistics show that 81% of Americans want to write a book. 60% of Brits want to be an author. And yet, only 5% ever attempt it. Of those that actually start to write, a mere 3% complete one. Why?
According to Picasso,
“All children are born artists. The trick is to remain one once they grow up.”
We’ve lost the magic to believe in our dreams. We’ve lost touch with that person inside.
To begin and finish your book you need to reawaken that that belief that what you long to do is possible. Not only possible, but doable.
And most importantly, you are so confident of its viability you condescend to anyone who doubts you.
My son, at age 4, after watching “Peter Pan”, climbed up on our kitchen island, fully convinced he could fly. (He had after all tied one of my scarves around his neck to serve as a cape.) He was sure his sincere and fervent desire to fly would launch him into the air the same way it had Peter and Wendy.
Fortunately, I happened in at just the right time. I gently lowered him, and his dream to the ground, explaining, as lovingly as I could, there was a little more to it than that.
Undaunted, he glared at me, narrowed his eyes and said, in his small determined voice, “How do you know?”
Now, I am not suggesting you can fly by jumping off a counter, BUT, that belief, that steely determination is what you must reconnect to as you begin your book. And you can.
Let’s look at step two.
Repurposing Your Calendar
Putting appointments with yourself on your calendar, BEFORE you put everyone else’s on.
One hour per day.
You can break it down into 10 minute segments if you need to. Much like physical exercise, every minute spent moving toward your dreams adds up.
I work with my clients to start every morning with 15 to 20 minutes of free writing, by hand, with pen and paper.
Writing long hand slows down the brain and uses far more motor skills than writing on a keyboard. Not only that, it serves as a “brain dump” if you will for the myriad of thoughts bouncing around from the night before.
So, before you open your computer or look at your calendar, make a cup of coffee, go to a quiet place and allow your brain the freedom of releasing all the tiny tidbits you don’t know where to file; freeing up that grey matter to be a more efficient machine.
You can write anything. Just write, without stopping for at least 15 minutes. And then close the notebook. No re-reading or editing. Done.
Then, for the remainder of the day, block off time adding up to at least an hour. One hour per day devoted to pursuing your dreams.
Another small step, a great exercise I use with clients, a la Julia Cameron. *An artist date.
Once per week, take yourself to a place that evokes joy and/or a sense of wonder. It can be anywhere that stirs your creative longings, an art supply store, a free concert, a funky coffee shop, a park bench with crayons and paper..
The key: It must be done alone.
Outside your home or office.
Just you and your five senses.
… to relish and enjoy.
These two small, but vital steps will begin to peel back the layers that have accumulated like dust on your soul. Before you know it, your mind will start clicking away with possibility.
*(For a more detailed explanation of the Artist Date, check out “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.)
Bonus writing prompts:
Take out a book, open to any page and circle 3 to 5 words. Using just those words, write a short, one paragraph story. Don’t overthink it, just write. It can be about anything.
Use one of the images below to describe to someone you’ve never met where or what it is, without using the title, for example you can’t say Paris, or Eiffel Tower.
Your phone rings. It is a number you don’t recognize, so you ignore it. But then the same number calls again, and again, five times total.
Describe what you are feeling in 5 lines or less,
using at least 5 different adverbs.
Write about something you dread doing. Why do you dread it?
Write about seeing two people reconnecting at an airport.