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Is the Pandemic Blocking Your Writing?

Hello, and welcome my fellow creatives. I thought I’d talk a little bit about productivity, writers block, burnout and of course self care. Mostly because that is what’s coming up for me this week.

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We’re five-ish months into this pandemic, finding ourselves in varying stages of Lockdown. Stepping outside the front door, we find ourselves in a very different world. Full of alcohol laced hand-gel, masks and public distancing. Here in Wales, coming out of Lockdown has been painfully slow compared to the rest of the UK, and I’m glad for it. We currently have low case numbers, which is good, considering school starts soon.

While the world has capitulated under the demand of the virus, I’ve kept my head down and worked, worked, worked. It has been my coping mechanism. However, I’m reaching the end of that wave, and burnout is on the horizon. In the past, I’ve charged into the fray, pen scribbling, fingers tapping, eyes blurring as I’ve written to the bitter end. Not helpful!

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This time I’ve taken a pause. A whole week off of writing to procrastinate. To read a little, play mouse trap, watch the finale of Star Wars and prepare for the next phase of my journey. And so I’d like to share some of my good news... I’ve been accepted to begin training as a Transactional Analysis psychotherapist, shifting from being a client into the role of trainee. This next year is going to be full of introspection, growth, and challenges.

Don’t panic fellow writers, I still aspire to be traditionally published, to get an agent, but it would appear a fork in the road has opened up for me. As exciting as this is, I’m also truthfully a little terrified of the unknown. My inner-world is echoing the state of the world at the moment. It’s no wonder my writing flow has faltered.

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It would seem we’re all being asked to sit with the unfamiliar. To tread the line between staying safe, and not allowing our fears to overwhelm us. My life has become Groundhog Day: a never ending treadmill with no destination. And yet everything is constantly changing.

So, while burnout and writers block lurk in the background, I’m taking a break. Refueling, visiting family (at long last), and refilling my empty cup. Productivity can wait a few days. I’ll leave you with a quote that truly resonated with me this week:

For a while I was looking for a person but I didn’t find them and after that I was looking for myself. Now that I have found me I’m back to exploring, which is what I was doing in the first place before I was doing anything else and I think I was supposed to be exploring along.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.
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What are your fears at the moment? And how do you soothing them? We’re all on this crazy journey together, so please share your story with me. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by. until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Writing (or not writing) During A Pandemic

Being creative during a pandemic can be a struggle. Not only is the world full of fear, but it’s also loaded with stress. If you can’t write, don’t beat yourself up about it. We’re living in uncertain times, making sure you take care of yourself and your family is the main priority. But to ease the burden, here’s a lighthearted post about how I’m dealing with the situation.

Keep active.

This translates to hoovering in my pajamas, washing the dishes while staring out of the window and daydreaming. I like to let the lemon-fresh soapy suds lull me into a peaceful bliss while I conjure up new plots.

Keeping the kids busy.

Signed up to Disney+ so we can all watch our favorite films. I’m taking advantage of being emotionally carried away by Marvel magic. Sigh! Chris Pratt. Besides, endless games of monopoly and Uno are getting old fast. It’s like an extended Christmas holiday with less booze.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Keep expectations realistic

I now understand that two ‘family sized bars of chocolate’ are supposed to last a full week. Apparently, stocking up on treats does not count as essential shopping. BUT, when I next make the perilous ‘social distancing’ trip around the supermarket – I’ll buy more chocolate (and maybe booze).

It seems everyone else has gone baking mad, meaning bags of flour, paracetamol and loo roll has suddenly become rarer than gold dust (who would have guessed). Thankfully, I can’t bake!

Take some ME time.

This means hiding in the bathroom; to either have an emotional break down, or to read a chapter (or three) in peace. Suddenly, I understand why my husband takes so long on the loo. Sneaky!

Draw strength from the situation

Sometimes we need to pull on our inner reserves, knowing that we will get through this madness. A good tip is to call upon your Spirit Animal. I have called upon a hamster: I like to eat, hibernate, gaze at the world side and then do as little house keeping as possible.

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Humor can be a great way to cope with difficult situations. So why not get creative and share your spirit animal with me. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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How to Overcome self-doubt as a Writer

A lack of faith or confidence in our ability as an artist is something all writers struggle with. Sometimes it’s fleeting like a summer breeze, other times, it lingers like a winter  frost. So how do we navigate the storm and overcome self-doubt?

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We’ve all heard the little gremlins, but what makes us carry on despite the crippling fear. One of my favourite quotes is by Suzy Kassem. She hits the proverbial nail on the head with her wise words. 

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem.

Sometimes it’s the shove I need to keep going, to keep trying. I cling to the hope that tomorrow I’ll believe in myself once again.

Dream Big and Let Nothing Hold You Back
Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

For me, perseverance is the only option. In the past, I’ve buried myself in a double quilt, hidden in Netflix series whilst gorging on chocolate: The ultimate self-pity, self-sabotage, procrastination. If you catch yourself in this place, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What do you fear the most? Failure? Ridicule? Or is it success and living in your own power?
  • What’s Holding you back? Is it a lack of knowledge, practice, or feedback? And how can you change that?
  • What would you do differently if you believed in myself? 

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“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  – Vincent Van Gogh

And so we should continue to paint with our words, dream up characters, learn our trade, and most importantly, let your joy and passion lead you. Forget the outside world, the setbacks, the criticism and write

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Remember we have the right to nurture ourselves, to take a step back, regroup and reconnect to those we care about. As a suffer of Complex PTSD, I understand that sometimes the inner voice is the cruelest one of all. I now know, self-care and self-love are important for me to be able to create. Occasionally, I need to step back from a project and recharge my creativity. I no longer allow guilt to weigh me down, it’s all part of the process. Me time, strengthens my writing. 

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.” – William Shakespeare.

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What helps you navigate the choppy waters of self-doubt? Please share your experiences to help other writers, and to help me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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The Incredible Power of Journaling in Six Simple Steps

I’ve written a lot about the importance of selfcare and how writing can be an incredible way to manage your emotions. Even though we know it helps reduce stress and improve our mental health, have you ever considered how to get the most benefit from it? In this post, I’ll walk you through my process of journaling, and then show you how to reflect upon what you’ve written, and how to use it to your advantage as a self-reflective tool in six simple steps.

I journaled for many years, sometimes on a regular basis and sometimes not so regular. And in all that time, do you know what I learnt about myself? Nothing! While it was a great tool for me to understand my emotions and allowed me to dig deep into how they affected me, I never developed any inner awareness, or learnt how to resolve problems.

My mum died when I was a teenager and journaling became my confidant. It enabled me to escape the overwhelming grief and gave my consuming thoughts an outlet. This period of my life has now become my greatest tool as a writer. It taught me how to portray emotions effectively, becoming my first training ground for developing characters. With time, my life improved and my journaling become infrequent and patchy. This was my first big mistake.

The Little Journal Company

Be Consistent.

To gain the most out of journaling it is essential to use it consistently. It doesn’t have to be every day, which can seem daunting, it could be once a week, but sticking to it on a regular basis . Otherwise, like me, you’ll find yourself journaling sporadically and I can’t tell you how ineffective this will be.

Get out of a rut.

Sometimes journaling can become a chore, perhaps you simply don’t know  what to write about. Journal about the mundane, the stuck place, the difficult work colleague, the wonderful summer, or about how flattered you were by a passing compliment. Just keep it going.

Use some of these prompts to get you going:

  • What was the most challenging part of your day?
  • Write 3 affirmations that help you align with your goals.
  • Write a special memory, then write about how this has influenced your life.
  • Use your favourite motivational quote and expand on it… why is it relevant to you and your life, how does it help?
  • What is you goal, what steps are you taking towards it, and most importantly what has the journey so far taught you?
  • Write 5 things about yourself that you love? Now write about what thoughts and feelings came up as you did this exercise.
Daily affirmations

Add gratitude.

Why?  Because it pushes positivity into your journal and therefore into our minds. It brightens patches of our lives that perhaps we’re struggling with. It gives hope! Taking a different perspective of your life can help you appreciate the things you take for granted. Add one thing you’re grateful for into each entry, and see the difference it makes.

Problem solve.

We encounter many problems in life, and some seem insurmountable. By journaling consistently, you’ll begin to clearly see the issues you face, therefore, you can begin to find solutions. Do you need to have an awkward conversation with a friend? Write about what you plan to say, and about your desired outcome. This should bring clarity and relief. Maybe the problem can’t be fixed, maybe it’s something you have to come to terms with like an illness or a loss. Instead, write about how you plan to take care of yourself. Consider areas where you’re being to hard on yourself and practise self-love, allowing yourself to lessen the burdens that hail you.

Self-reflect and review your process.

It’s important to read back, or skim, your journal. Look at everything that’s transpired over the last, week, month or even year – depending on when you choose to review. Imagine you’re the author, and that each entry has been made by your main character. What journey have you been on? What patterns can you see arising? What problems have you resolved and what can you learn from the process. Are you coping with a difficult situation? Are you happier than you’ve previously been? View everything with curiosity and wonder, turn off the self-criticism and really allow yourself compassion and understanding. Keep exploring, and remember you’ll discover far more about yourself if you’re kind.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance

Do you Journal? If so, do you have any other tips to share? Or, maybe you’ve never journaled, but you’re toying with the idea; are you ready to give it a go? Don’t be shy, share your journey with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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