Use the Frustration

For the Conscious Writer

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I understand the frustration that comes with wanting to write. I understand that sometimes things don’t feel right. That frustration can cause a spiral. It can cause negative reactions but as conscious writers, it’s important that we focus this energy into our art and creativity. Use it in the story.

But first, encouragement! Because I know how that frustration can really bring you down.

Encouragement

You are a creative. You have boundless creative ideas that flow from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes. You bleed new ideas. You sweat stories that remain for centuries. You are here to listen, to observe, and to learn then to write it down. That may seem like an easy task, but it isn’t. Conscious writing is complex and layered and universel in ways that others will never understand, but they’ll want to. They will never know what you sacrificed to find these words. They will never know a lot of things you’ve gone through, and that’s ok. You know. I understand. So, let’s get back to writing.

Frustration is no fun

I envision tossing my computer on a regular basis. It sits between my heart and my stomach and bubbles over my entire body. If this feeling comes up with something I’m not committed to, I just walk away. But when it’s something I’m committed to (like writing), the tears well up and I push to adjust. It took time to learn to stay put even when I’m frustrated. But over time, I’ve learned a few techniques that help me use my frustration as an advantage rather than a hindrance.

What to Do With Our Frustration?

First things first. Figure out where the frustration is coming from. In the Harvard Gazette article titled Soothing Advice for Mad America, Dr. David H. Rosmarin explains that during the pandemic, frustrations are heightened and people are reacting with more anger than usual. Instead of reacting in anger, he suggests that we voice what really worries us about the things that make us angry. He suggested that,

we grow in our emotional strength when we admit and acknowledge [our] weakness.

So, the first thing to do is find the root to your frustration. What is frustrating you? What are you not getting that you wish or need to have? How can we fill this gap?

The second thing to do. Use your struggles to connect with other writers. Admit you’re struggling to writers. We are story machines, but it isn’t always easy and it’s important to admit that. In the same article mentioned above, Dr. Rosmarin said,

As attachment theory teaches us, what we really need is not to be strong, but to be close and connected to the people around us.

Connecting with like minds in a respectful manner is important me all the time. More important than I often admit. So, when I’m struggling I like to reach out for support. I appreciate the small group of people who have supported me through my struggles. Connecting with them mean more to me than the story

The third thing to do. Use what you have. Now that you’ve gotten to the bottom of your frustration, use that in your story. Use it in a poem. Use it as an idea for your next book. Journal about it.

This routine is what separates you from other writers. This is what makes you conscious and aware of who you are. I think the most challenging part of these tips for me is getting to the bottom of my frustrations. Figuring out where it is all coming from, but in the end it’s always worth it.

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Blessed is She Who Mourned

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

A poem (published on Genius in a Bottle)

They told her she’d be healed
Over and Over
We believed.

Oh, we believed

We prayed

We fasted

We drowned ourselves in the mysteries of faith
we turned the lights off at sunrise
knowing it’s the body that falls
not the word

We gathered her broken pieces
into our childish hands
and wrapped them into our
white night gowns

While they turned up their…..

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Blocked? There’s a Way Out

Encouragement For the Conscious Writer

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Writer’s block’ is an emotional or logical incoherence in a future work slowly working its way through our unconscious. — Alain de Botton

So you’ve hit it, the emotional block. It grows. That block grows and grows until you’ve spent the day avoiding the one thing you love doing. It then turns into doubt and fear and all sorts of negative thoughts. So you shift your focus some more. It can turn into a vicious cycle gnashing at the little bit of confidence you have left.

I’m here to shed some light.

What is a writer’s block? More importantly what is a writer’s block for conscious writers?

Well, let’s start by discussing the fact that you are an amazing writer and you having a block does not make you any less or any more of a writer. It makes you a healthy functioning human being. If you’ve written to the point of a writer’s block, you are doing a phenomenal job. You have gotten past the hardest part and that’s being consistent enough to reach a block. On top of that, you are reading a post about how to unblock that block, which means, you are actively seeking to fix the problem instead of just walking away when it got hard. This is progress. This is maturity. Seriously. You are doing a great job. Do not let negative thoughts make you think for one second that you are not cut out for this, because let me tell you, if there’s anything you’re good at, it’s this.

So what is writer’s block?

It isn’t just a part of the story you can’t figure out. It is a psychological barrier that is holding you back. Before you can work on the block you’ve get to get yourself back into that creative space. Some things that help me step back into my creative space are to:

walk
talk it out
put away the story
edit parts I’m not stuck on
do something else creative
focus on something else I’m interested in like research, empowering friends, or whatever else will take my mind off of it.
write an unrelated poem or short story

These things really loosen up my brain space from tension. Once you get relaxed you can return to the writing space.

When you get back to that space it doesn’t mean the block is gone. It means you’re ready to figure out why it’s there so you can continue. Is the block emotional? Is something in this scene or idea triggering you? It seems at surface value that you’re fresh out of ideas but this isn’t true because you are an idea machine. You are made of amazing ideas sparked by infinite creativity.

How to get to the block.

Look at what you’re adding to your story. Is it something directly related to your life? Is there something you feel limited from in your life. If it is, how can you change your perception to use what’s limiting you in a positive way?

Another way I’ve learned to look at a block is what’s going on outside of my writing. Am I exhausted? Have I been pushing yourself too hard? Am I getting too comfortable or eating too much junk. Now, don’t let your head spin from all these questions. These are good questions to ask regularly whether you have a writers block or not.

When I first started writing, I’d walk away and say I can’t write or I don’t know what to write. I’d have all sorts of writers block excuses but the truth was I was frustrated about something else. The longer I tried to ignore it, the longer I couldn’t write. So when I was ready to face the reason why I couldn’t write, things would begin to fall back into place.

Even if you’re not going through the dreaded writer’s block, these questions will help you learn who you are.

Keep Writing. You got this.

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The Writer’s Den

Jayne.PressOct 22 · 3 min read

For the Conscious Writer

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Now when you first hear the writers den, you might think of Roald Dahl’s writing hut (which can be found here). A place where a writer goes to find solace so they can write novels, think, daydream, and nap. This is not the writers den I’m referring to. I’m referring to the writer’s den where writers are thrown to the lions. This is where their only option is to have faith.

There is a biblical story about a man of God named Daniel. I respect this story because so many times we roll over on our true beliefs or dreams or endeavors to bow to someone who doesn’t understand our vision. In this story, Daniel was demanded to stop with his religious practices of praying to God. Instead of having religious freedom, he was ordered to pray only to the king. Daniel, knowing his faith is where it needed to be, refused to obey this law, and continued to pray to his God. So, they totally saw Daniel pray and snitched on him to the King who was friends with Daniel.

So now, the king has to be a man of his word because he’s the king and it’s a written decree. When they bring Daniel to the king, he doesn’t waiver in his own belief. He stands tall for his beliefs and allows himself to be thrown into a lion’s den per order of the decree.

The king is friends with Daniel so the next morning, he runs with angst and worry to the lion’s den and finds that God sent an angel to shut the mouths of the lions.

The point here isn’t to question whether this story is true or if the lions were well fed before he was thrown in there. The point is that Daniel stood his ground in a time of great trial.

So, as writers, who are consciously writing (which means we are writing for more than just a story, we’re writing to grow) there are going to come times of great trial when it comes to your writing. People are going to speak ill of your belief and faith in writing. People are going to have great and logical reasons for you to stop writing, but you are going to be resilient. Like Daniel worked on and invested in his relationship with God, you have work on and invested in your relationship with your writing. Not only will you survive but you will have an even stronger ability to trust your work as an artist and as a conscious writer.

When someone mentions the writers den, I’d like you to think of it as a strong commitment to your craft. Not a place of solace away from the world, but a place in the world where you are doing exactly what you are called to do.

The writer must learn to accept that and trust that they are where they are for some reason. – Scott Myers from “Trust the Process”

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Sources

The bible https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-stories/daniel-in-the-lion-s-den.html

Not Your Worries

For the Conscious Writer

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You’re going to the edge and leaping over it. No one is going to understand that and don’t expect anyone to. Not even the few that have known you and understood you you’re entire life. Conscious writing leads you to new horizons. Conscious writing is going to take you to places you want and then it’s going to show you the places where you need to go. These are often two different things. But first, know that people are going to place their own fears and insecurities on you. They are going to make you question things you didn’t even think of doubting the minute you made this commitment. Just know, deep down in that beautiful soul of yours that those are not your worries to carry.

I’m excited to share this piece of mine published by An Idea (By Ingenious Piece) on Medium Read more here

Dear Author

A letter from your characters

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Dear author,

I am a living breathing human being. I’m not your show horse! I need thoughts and some external stimulation. I need you to give me something to solve or avoid solving by solving something else until I realize the true importance of what I was supposed to be solving. Those ah ha moments, I like those. When all the different things finally come together to make a bigger picture, it feels good. I’m not here to stroke your ego. I’m not here to gain you awards. I’m here to be like you in ways you don’t quite understand until you write in order to understand me better. Don’t change me simply because I point out your flaws. I heard Toni Morrison say the slave was important to the white man because it defined his freeness. So I ask that you don’t take away my freeness in order to know you are free. You are free to write me in worlds with clothes and people and situations and thoughts as you choose. You are in control of my story. You are in control of my ending. So let me be entirely myself. Let me be who I become in the unfolding of this particular story. Don’t just develop my thoughts, give me some way to share them. Don’t give me everything I could ever imagine with no internal dialogue. I want to think and to grow and to develop new perspectives. Don’t tell me why I’m here, give me reasons to be here.

Sincerely,

Your Character

Sources

Toni Morrison From Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the literary Imagination in the Critical Tradition pg 1791

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Can literature Act as a Preparation for Inexperience?

Literature Theory

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Spoiler Alert Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

I vividly remember when I finished reading Charlotte’s Web in fourth grade. I cried when Charlotte died. Her loss left me in a strange place where I was contemplating death for days. I also remember the day my grandmother died. These two experiences are not the same. The loss of Charlotte did not prepare me for the loss of my grandmother. There is no book that can prepare you for some life experiences.

Literature supports in experiences we are going through or have gone through. When I thought of death without the real life experience of losing someone, the understanding felt distant. It was something foreign to me that I wanted to grasp without gaining it through my own experience. I was left with a world full of uncertainty and hugged my mom a little tighter after reading it.

Trying to prepare someone for a new experience is like describing what an orange tastes like to someone who’s never tasted an orange. We can explain how to eat it and that the peel isn’t the good part. We can even tell them the juicy fruity part is on the inside, but we can’t tell them if they will enjoy it or how much they will enjoy it. They may even find a different way to eat it than we taught them. That’s how I feel about literature. It can explain what to do and give some insight on how to do it, but an individual can not be prepared for how they will feel in new experiences using literature.

I do believe seeing how characters react to an experience can suggest the right thing to do and it may even give some insight on how someone else is feeling. I don’t think literature can prepare us for how we will feel going through our own life experiences. I do feel it can help readers learn to use understanding and empathy toward someone else’s experience by seeing the world from another characters point of view.

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A Writing Woman’s Space

Inspired Virginia Woolf’s “A room of her own.”

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Photographer: James Futrell of Strictly Digital Photography Creative Director: Saschia Johnson Model: Tessa Dipalina

What genius and integrity it is for female writers today to write with all the criticism they receive, not just from men but also from other women. Not just about writing but for the way they choose to live.

We as women are expected to follow suit in terms of patriarchy. What does this mean? Well, when you first think of this, you think of a male-run household and a stay at home mom who knits and raises children. And yes, this is still very much an idea we are fighting against. But today our fight has evolved. Women are now leading their households on top of what they were already doing. Even with our forward movement, women still underhandedly and blatantly bash other women for staying home to raise children instead of taking advantage of a world where women can work. Stay at home moms bash working women for not being there for their kids in a world where suicide in children is far higher than it’s ever been. I’m going with the cliché here and saying raising children is hard. It doesn’t matter what path you choose in life. How is it that patriarchy has a hand in this? According to Webster’s dictionary, patriarchy in a broad sense is control by men of a disproportionately large share of power. Men have been in power for so long now that women are gaining power, they are living in a way to prove that they are as capable as men, rather than living and working in their own natural state. I say natural state as in an acceptance of what they want to do, not to overpower but because this is precisely what they want to do. This working to prove comes with its own sense of superiority toward other women. Which in turn, makes stay-at-home moms feel as if they must prove to both men and working women, they are in fact pulling their way.

Ok, so that’s for moms who write. Now let’s brush over the idea of writing women who do not have children. There’s this strange and quiet awkwardness among women when you don’t have children. It’s like women feel as if they are less because they don’t have children. To be honest, I’ve never seen or heard of a woman bashing another woman for not having children, but there’s this sense of failure that looms when children aren’t created by a certain age.

That is just two of the biggest adversities’ women face within our community of women. There’s significantly more but let’s just stick with these. So, we see that among women we have vastly different ideas on what womanhood looks like. As writers, it’s our job to face adversity. It’s our job to approach the elephant in the room and then talk about it. So, let’s talk about it.

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According to Virginia Woolf, the women writers of the past wrote even without a room of their own. Jane Austin without a room of her own wrote an entire novel in secret. She hid her passion to write from even her servants. Do I think we are still fighting for the space to write in peace? Absolutely. Why? Why would we be fighting this in a world where women are allowed the space to write and pursue their passions? Why would a female writer keep her passions hidden under her successful job or her ability to keep a clean house and have well-dressed children walking around? Because as a woman, with the ability to sit undisturbed at the kitchen table, we are still shamed for the lifestyles we choose regardless of the rights we are given.

I’ve felt it. I’ve heard over and over about how my writing isn’t a real job and that I have nothing going for me. Or how as a novelist, I’m not a real writer. I’ve been shamed for the way I cook or don’t cook. I’ve been shamed for the way I tend or don’t tend to my husband. Pish, I’ve been shamed for going away for two weeks to focus on my writing. This is why we hide it. This is why women hide their passions and write in the closet.

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Today, it is still a relevant metaphor when Virginia Woolf suggests that women need a room of their own. We need the space and support from fellow women. Not only from men. Not only from our parents but from other women. I’d like to end with a quote from Virginia Woolf.

What genius, what integrity it must have required in face of all the criticism, in the midst of that purely patriarchal society, to hold fast to the thing as they saw it without shrinking.” -Virginia Woolf

Sources

Woolf, Virginia. “Austen-Brontë-Eliot” In The Critical Tradition, pp. 602–10

Photography Credit: James Futrell from Strictly Digital Photography

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Overcompensating From Fear of Loss

For the Conscious Writer

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Impending loss has an aura of grief around it. It stalks the ones closest to it and it has not one ounce of sympathy for our very fragile emotions. -Saschia Johnson

When writing a character who feels like they are losing the one they love, they should overcompensate. They might think that going above and beyond will help them keep what they love. This isn’t just in romantic relationships. This is parenting, friendship, and loss, maybe even a job someone is passionate about.

We hang tight to the things we love, it’s natural for us. Some think it’s even romantic. Whatever it is, if your character is losing the one they love, it’d feel right and believable to have them overcompensating in some way.

All you need is one safe anchor to keep you grounded when the rest of your life spins out of control. -KATIE KACVINSKY

In what ways can our characters overcompensate as human beings?

They can become overly controlling.

When we feel like we are losing control of the things we love, we tend to try and control everything around us. It makes this illusion of having more control over the loss.

Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried. –MEGAN DEVINE

They can become overly generous

They give. They bake and clean. They do other people’s work with a smile and an oppressed heart. They justify the oppression with the idea that this is better than losing the person or the job. They’d give the shirt off their back if that meant they’d be together for just a tad longer.

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They don’t hold their love accountable

In fear of losing what they love, they allow things to slide. Over time this snowballs. They mention here and there that something isn’t right or that things need to change but there is no action behind it. Their boundaries become gray. Then they become doormats.

They can become overly critical and judgy

This is the opposite of the last one. Instead of being walked over, they become overly rigid. They don’t allow anyone else to replace their love. They don’t allow themselves to feel weak about losing their love which in turn makes them critical about others who show weakness. They turn their noses up in disgust at the mere suggestion that they may be weak to the situation.

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They flee

Instead of facing a smooth ending. Instead of allowing things to end civilly, they run away from having to face an ending at all.

These behaviors can happen to any person. Even mature individuals who are dealing with losing what they love are changed by that loss. I say that because it would be a good idea to use loss in your story as a way to show your character’s growth from not being themselves for a time.

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you’ll learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.

-ELISABETH KUBLER-ROSS

source

A little bit about For the Conscious Writer

There’s different types of writers out there. I prefer to speak to the writers on an inward journey. I prefer to speak to writers who write to become better human beings and who write to survive this insanely beautiful and chaotic world.

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Medium For the Conscious Writer

Unchecked Passion and Your Characters

“it wasn’t what I was resentful about that I needed to let go of but what I was passionate about.”

For the Conscious Writer

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“There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

Passionate characters can drive the story forward. Passion can drive us as writers forward and make us do things we never thought possible. In my last post Resentment and Passion, I explained that in order to help me let go of resentment, I had to change my perspective. (You can read more about it here.) What I figured out from changing my perspective is that it wasn’t what I was resentful about that I needed to let go of but what I was passionate about.

So, let’s talk about passion.

I said in that post I was passionate about mothering my children. It’s something I hold dear to my heart. The passion I have for mothering comes with intentionally investing in the relationship I have with my children. It comes with creating moments for them to engage in self-discipline and self-discovery. It comes with snuggles, tears, hugs, frustration and so much more.

So, when writing a passionate character these are the actions and emotions you want your character to engage in. But we can’t stop there. This is just a character with their passions in check.

A character with unchecked passion ultimately turns into a villain. One of my most favorite characters with unchecked passion is King Pin from the Marvel comic books. Creating a great character with unbridled passion should start with a checked passion that grows out of control. I think we can relate to those characters better. Which helps us to better understand the bad in this world.

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Unbridled passion is often brushed off and claimed as just mindless evil but that’s just not enough for us conscious writers. We need to understand. The answer to some of the most misunderstood villains is passion.

“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” -Benjamin Franklin

How can we keep a character’s passion in check?

Take who or what they’re passionate about away, you might think.

Ah, but this is where you must know your character. Is your character mature enough to grow from that loss or will removing that passion will bring them into villainy?

The best way to round your character with a passion in check is to mature the character in other areas of their life. Give them a sense of something outside of their passion.

When a character loses something, they were passionate about and doesn’t have the maturity in other areas of their life, they should plummet into an existential crisis because they don’t have any other thing driving them forward. (Besides what you throw at them.)

As conscious writers, we should take note of that. If we want to be well-rounded writers, we must keep our passions in check. We should rule our passions, not let our passions rule us.

Some ways we, as real living humans, can keep our passions in check.

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Have hobbies outside of what we’re passionate about

Have healthy relationships with peers and family

Work to live don’t live to work or Write to live don’t live to write

Self-love

Understand that without your gifts and talents you are enough

Create things perfect, imperfect, doesn’t matter just create things

Invest in your physical health

Focus on growth and forward movement

Having passion is a good thing and a great tool. I think we should all invest in our passions. It might rule from time to time, but like Ben Franklin said, allow reason to reel you back in.

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Sources

https://www.inc.com/dave-kerpen/15-quotes-on-passion-to-inspire-a-better-life.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingpin_%28character%29