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Positive Affirmations to Combat Writer’s Block

 

As I was telling my husband about the 3-Day Novel Contest when he turned to me and said, “This weekend is going to take a lot of discipline for you.”

 

My next thoughts were telling: Oh crap! What have I got myself into?

 

Immediately, the negative self-talk began – but I caught myself mid thought. Why am I telling myself that this challenge is going to be too hard and that I don’t think I can do it? Why am I already scheming an exit strategy to get out of it?

 

What I really need to be doing is encouraging myself, saying good and uplifting messages to my inner artist. Being a creative individual is trying enough, why not be my own best supporter instead?

 

My husband and I brainstormed phrases of encouragement that I can use when writer’s block catches me in a downward cycle of negativity. I love these phrases and wish they were all 100% true of myself – but sometimes we need to speak our hopes into being, like a self-fulfilling prophesy or a pep talk to a sports team. There is power in positive-self talk. If you don’t believe me, try these phrases out for a week and see if your circumstances or at least your mental state does not receive a pick-me-up.

 

Positive Affirmations for Writers:

  • “I am a brilliant creative mind and I will accomplish whatever I set out to do.”
  • “I don’t need to feel lonely; my family and friends support me in my pursuits and will be there for me when I need them.”
  • “Only those who try have the chance of success.”
  • “My ideas are creative.”
  • “My characters are dynamic.”
  • “My plot has depth.”
  • “I am in control.”
  • “I am the bully of my own writer’s block.”
  • “I have the power to write writer’s block out of my story and my head.”
  • “This time to write is a gift I give myself.”
  • “I will not sabotage or be afraid of my own success.”
  • “I believe in myself and my work.”
  • “I will get through this tough stretch. This too shall pass.”
  • “What I write will make a difference.”
  • “My audience is out there. I am writing for them.”
  • “Anything is possible for me.”

 

Specific encouragements for the 3-Day Novel Contest:

  • “I think of myself as an Olympic athlete. This contest is my race. It’s only three days. The end is in sight.”
  • “This is going to be fun.”
  • “If the challenge was easy it wouldn’t be worthwhile.”
  • “No matter the outcome, I will be proud of myself.”
  • “The journey of this experience will be a catalyst for even greater creativity.”
  • “I can sleep tomorrow.”

 

Repeating these positive phrases to yourself will shift you from negativity to a more positive outlook. Who doesn’t want that transition when stuck in a rut? I will be practicing speaking these sayings to myself as I embark on the 3-Day challenge and also as I continue my work as a writer. Try it for yourself and let me know if it makes a difference for you.

Put Writer’s Block in its Place

 

Here are a few little tricks can you do to overcome writer’s block. First of all, don’t freak out. Try these techniques instead. With the 3-Day Novel Contest only days away, these are the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” I will be utilizing when caught in a block.

 

Do’s

  • Run the stairs of your home or apartment.
  • Eat a healthy snack or meal. Nothing too heavy. Fruit and veggies are great for snacks.
  • Look out the window and let your mind wander. Watch cars go by, day dream about the shape of clouds.  Breath deeply and allow yourself to simply be for a moment.
  • Draw a picture or doodle.
  • Shift mental gears by doing something (besides typing) with your hands. For me, this would be work on my wood sculpture for 10 minutes. For others, this could be laundry, taking out the garbage, vacuuming a room, peeling potatoes for dinner.
  • Do a word search.
  • Lay on the floor and stair up at the ceiling while calming yourself.
  • Go outside and take a few deep breaths of fresh air.
  • Take a short nap.
  • Go for a brisk walk or run – a sprint even.
  • Take a cold shower (not just reserved for hormone filled teenage boys!).
  • Change your clothes; get out of your pyjamas and into clothes that gear you up for work.
  • Drink a whole glass of water.
  • Stretch out your muscles (yes, I would suggest getting out of your desk chair to do this).
  • Set the mood of your writing area: lighting, music, a photo on your desk of your favourite vacation spot (your happy place), and a scented candle.
  • Get away from your computer. Leave your office. Change scenery for a brief period of time.

 

Don’t

  • Answer the phone if you are in the middle of a thought. Better yet, turn the ringer off. That’s what answering machines are for.
  • Update social media.
  • Check and respond to e-mail.
  • Watch TV (It could turn into a longer break than you had anticipated).
  • Eat junk food. Avoid artificial sugars and salts.
  • Give in to negative self-talk.

 

I will very likely refer back to this list myself in the heat of the moment as I participate in the 3-Day Novel Contest while battling the block. If I come up with any more ideas I will be sure to post again.

 

Do you know any good techniques you’d like to add?

 

When trying to overcome writer’s block, the most important point of both the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” is to not give in to negative self talk. It truly is in the fragile ground of our mind where the batter over blockages is either won or lost. Maybe you do not even recognize your negative thoughts. They are subtle for sure.

 

Be attentive and listen to the messages you tell yourself. If you are genuinely a self-nurturing and self-encouraging person – good for you! If not and you start to realize the words you use that defeat your own mojo, come back to Artist Reborn tomorrow. I will be posting an uplifting list of positive affirmations for writers.

3 Day Novel Contest

The 2012 Olympics will be followed up with another competition requiring the highest form of mental athleticism; it is the 35th Annual 3-Day Novel Contest which will take place over the September long weekend. It is called “The World’s Most Notorious Literary Marathon” and I have registered and paid my dues. The contest is less than a month away and my mind is already swimming with characters, lost in in exotic locations, and formulating an ambitious plot for the 72 hour race.

The challenge: write a complete novel in three days.

Challenge: accepted.

How am I feeling about this intense competition? Nervous but excited. I am antsy to begin and am already visualizing how the long weekend will play out. Will I sleep in my desk chair? Have a reserve of non-perishables and water mere arms reach away? The biggest challenge will be my newborn.

Yes, that’s right; I am embarking on this grueling competition with a two month old. He may get the best of me while I am in the grove of a scene OR could provide the needed break every two hours forcing me to stretch my legs and take a breath. I foresee us both spending the weekend in the office and doing the dance of feeding, sleeping and writing together. He may offer valuable advice at 4 in the morning. It’s a good thing I am already accustomed to waking at all hours to feed him. All I can say, we’ll see how it goes!

I will be tweeting as the contest progresses so follow me on Twitter (@_Alexis_Marie) to stay abreast of the action.

You can learn more about the 3-Day Novel Contest at: http://www.3daynovel.com/

Wish me luck! Hopefully I can finish and share my completed work in the not too distant future!

The Quiet Rebuild

This post was first seen on my blog Wanted Chosen Planned as it relates to the rebuilding of my life after the loss of my son Zachary. I featured it there to encourage those who have lost a child to experiment with art (of all kinds: painting, photography, journal writing, etc.) as a means to find healing. I re-post it here as my hope for this blog is to bolster the weary creative spirit within us and to turn our frustration, fear, and failure into the artwork and creative writing that we were born to bring forth. 

“The Quiet Rebuild” © Alexis Marie Chute, Wood Sculpture 2012

I have been making sculpture although I am not primarily a sculptural artist. I find the use of my hands in the tactile nature of my recent artwork very soothing. My art has been focusing on the idea that we create our understanding of the world in many ways. When my son Zachary died, my world crashed down. Like a forest burn by fire, I was brought to ash, literally. It is fitting that my artwork uses wood, both natural and manmade. I find this particular piece, “Quiet Rebuild” particularly therapeutic to look at. It reminds me of where I am at, rebuilding my life in a different time, a simpler, basic time where my expectations of the world have been brought into check.

I rebuild my life and my understanding of the world from the burnt forest, atop a humble piece of wood. What I make of my life at this stage is truly of my own invention and each fragment of my understanding of the world comes together in an awkward balance but feels right in the face of everything I have endured.

Art is a personal and unique expression. It may not bring you the answers you search for but it can help you understand the questions you are asking. I encourage you to experiment, play and create like a child. Healing often does not arrive in the way we expect.

“The Quiet Rebuild” – When death comes and takes, it changes us who live. When we see this life as it is, the impermanence of all we hold dear and yet our ability to continue on, to love and value what truly matters, then we rebuild our soul with these lessons, changed yet whole.

Never Give Up

The saying goes:

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” – Anonymous

My version, and you can quote me on this:

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try again a thousand times. If then, you still have not succeeded, try again a thousand times more.” – Alexis. Marie Chute

What Carolyn See and the Labyrinth can teach us about responding to Rejection Letters

One of the most challenging aspects of being an artist and writer is getting your work out there. Submitting to galleries or publications, followed by the torturous wait, is certainly more stressful than actually creating the work in the first place. Add to the struggle the subjectivity of creative art fields and the fact that you could catch the curator or editor on a bad day thereby cementing the likelihood of them mailing back to you the generic rejection letter that makes us all cringe. Or better yet, the rejection email. I am blown away by a response to a submission via email – Where is professionalism these days? Are not the laborious hours that go into a submission worth one piece of paper and a stamp?

No matter how many times you chant to yourself, “Thick skin, thick skin, thick skin,” each rejection cuts deeply and wounds our artist heart. Somehow it feels like a rejection of not only the art but the artist as well. It is easy to get discouraged, mope around the house, polish off a pail of ice cream and mourn the opportunity like a relationship.

“You are really great, but there are lots of fish in the sea and I just don’t think you are right for me. Can we still be friends?”

AKA

“We have received an unprecedented number of quality submissions and unfortunately you have not been selected. This does not reflect your work. Please visit the gallery again soon.”

I do have a plan for dealing with these unpleasant rejection letters. What is my secret weapon? It’s as profound as it is simple and holds the power to completely change the vibe upon rejection.

Simple answer:

Carolyn See’s charming notes combined with the movie the Labyrinth.

Long answer:

In the book, “Making a Literary Life, Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers” by Carolyn See, there are many useful tips, but one of the best is See’s admonition to write charming notes. She has a whole chapter on what she recommends be a daily practice of writing a charming note to an individual that inspires you or to professionals in your field, but later in her book she talks specifically about rejection.

See suggest that we immediately, within the very hour of reading the rejection letter, write and mail a charming note back to the person who sent it to us. It is a simple note, something like, “Thank you for your rejection letter. I appreciate the time you took to review my submission. I wish my work had worked for you right now but I will send along more shortly.”

The important part of this process is the shifting of power. When the rejecter sends you their form letter, the power rests in their hands. It’s almost like them having the last word. No one should have the final word on your art but you – that is my firm belief. What See suggests is that writing a charming note back immediately shifts the power, a highly spiritual act that puts you back in a good state mentally and emotionally.

I have done this for my last handful of rejection letters. Upon first reading the words “Unfortunately your work has not been chosen,” the whole physiology of my being seemed to deflate, but once I sat down and wrote out a response, even if words were hard to find, I instantly felt like I could breathe again. It was as if I could let it go once I took the power back into my own hands.

“I have the final say on my artwork, I believe in myself, I create the life I wish for myself.” This is my personal mantra.

Remember the movie Labyrinth from 1986 starring Jennifer Connelly as Sarah? It’s an oldie but a goodie.  The basic plot is that Sarah must run through a nonsensical labyrinth to save her baby brother Toby from Jareth, the Goblin King, played by David Bowie. Close to the end of the movie the glass shatters on the Goblin King’s pretty illusions when Sarah comes to the great revelation, “You have no power over me.”

I have watched the Labyrinth a hundred times and will never forget Sarah’s realization and in a silly yet intentional way I say it to myself once I read a rejection letter, I say it to myself upon filing it away, I say it to myself as I write a charming note back to the sender and I say it to myself every day as I choose the life I wish to lead. “You have no power over me” and they don’t.