Turning Frowns Upside Down - writercize #69

Thoughts are powerful.  Negative thoughts have the ability to stifle creativity and success in an all-consuming manner.  Positive ones have the power to make it happen.  "Yes, we can."  A simple phrase that boosted one man on a presidential path.

It is important to reflect for a moment on the idea that we can control our thoughts rather than allowing them to control us.  

A few weeks ago, I attended a workshop with the Torrance Children's Book Writing Group run by the lovely Nutschell Windsor, aka The Writing Nut, called Re-energizing Your Writing.  Nutschell (pronounced new-shell, not nut-shell, in case you were trying to figure it out!) asked the group how many were having trouble with their writing, and several raised their hands.  She then pointed out that generally writer's block is instigated by a fear.  The key to getting back to writing is to identify that fear, address it in a sentence, and turn it around into a positive.

Fear: I am afraid that my character will take me outside of my story's outline and I won't know what to do.
Positive Statement: I am glad that my character has developed enough to take me on his/her journey and am excited to see what adventures s/he takes me on.

Nutschell gave us all a few minutes to identify the fear, and I have to admit I was wary.  I really just recently came to the realization that writing is a plausible career path.  I am enjoying this blog and doing some freelance journalism.  However, it is true that I am interested in eventually writing something that will have a longer shelf-life than a weekly paper, so it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to work towards that point.  I pointed to "time" in my mind, but I'm the first to say that's a shoddy excuse - we make the time that we prioritize.  Though I wish there were more hours in the day and admittedly terrible at e-mail correspondence, the way I choose to spend my time is entirely on me.

At any rate, I was feeling pretty fear-free at the moment, but wanted to be a good participant so I gave it a shot.

I wrote down, "Writing is exposing myself, and that is a scary thing.  Even if I am writing something that is not personal, my brain is the conduit and it may leave me feeling vulnerable."

As I said it, it didn't really ring true.  It would have, several months ago, but that was no longer the case.  When I began this blog, I posted an entry called "Why Write?" and addressed that vulnerability.  Through blogging and frequent writing, that fearful ship had sailed.

On my way home in the car, I mulled over the question and realized that there are two writing fears that I grapple with (well, if we're being totally honest, let's go with 2 1/2). I then turned them around in my head to make them shining, happy, smiley thoughts.  I invite you to do the same. 

writing exercise:  Think of something that you wish you were doing right now, but are not.  Once you have dismissed all those surface-level excuses from your mind about why you're not doing it, dig deeper to identify the fear holding you back.  Write it down.  Now examine the sentence and decide how you can turn it around into something positive.

This does not need to be writing related - it could be taking the next step in a relationship, learning to surf, admitting an end to something, making a large purchase, traveling alone, anything you wish you were doing but are holding back. 

Click "read more" for writercizer's sample response about fears of being pigeon-holed, the family-work balance and understanding the business side of the writing industry.
writercizer sample response:

As indicated above, I identified 2 (1/2) fears when it comes to writing beyond this blog and newspaper assignments.  Basically, building a base for a writing future with income potential that will allow me to work from home with a flexible schedule.  I am most attracted to (read: comfortable with) non-fiction writing for myself, but love the concept of fiction with threads of truth woven through.

Here are the fears that hold me back, along with their happy counterparts.

Fear #1:  I am afraid to start writing one thing because I do not want to pick a genre I don't love in the end and be pigeon-holed.
Happy Thought:  I have the freedom to play with genres.  Several of my favorite authors have successfully written for both children and adults during their long writing careers.  Diversity and longevity can go hand-in-hand.

Fear #2:  I will get so lost in my writing that I will not be present for my children.
Happy Thought:  As they grow, they will be out of the house more hours and I can dedicate those hours to writing.  I can keep a notebook to quickly jot down ideas in short-hand that can't wait while I'm with them.  I will be proud to show them that a woman can find balance between passions - a love for children and a love for intellectual challenges of the writing sort.

Fear #2.5:  Breaking into the industry will be overwhelming.
Happy Thought:  Groups such as the Torrance Children's Writing Group are there to allow me to ask questions and network, and involvement will help me understand the web of agents and publishers.  Since I love research, I will turn to resources such as the Writer's Market book series and Writer's Digest magazine to understand proper terminology and the publishing process.  Many authors have been published and they all had to start somewhere!


  1. Writing, and allowing others to read what you have written, leaves me feeling exposed. It is the same rush I got before stepping out on stage. house lights down, silence , first words spoken. Will I be regected, critized, or accepted, and meet the appoval of my audience....??..Exposed, open, vunerable (sp) .I really like your thoughts on writing down what is really keeping me from doing, what it is I really want to do. ~very inspiring~. Thank you !

  2. I think most writers feel that fear of exposure. 'Will people read 'me' in my stories, my characters?' The answer is yes, they will, because no matter what you write, the thoughts come from your head and that is where you live. There will always be a little of you in everything you write, and that's no bad thing. Thoughtful piece :)

  3. This is great!

    I've been told before that when feeling afraid just to think of it as excitement...

    Wonderful blog!

  4. Fear: I wish I were working my book right now, but I keep putting it off. Why? I'm afraid, as I get closer to finishing it, that I will screw it all up and all the momentum will end in a flop. As the story gets tighter and starts to all come together, I am worried I will ruin it.

    BTW, Glad you like the snail photo! You can email me yours (see my profile) or post on your blog.

  5. Good writing is very baring. Scary stuff, to be sure. Sometimes, at least for me, the way to go is just to strip right down and go, no second-guessing.

  6. writer's block is instigated by a fear. WOW .. guess i haven't written enough...as word nerd said "good writing" STRIP DOWN and go..luv it

    i guess scary would be NO INTERNET

    love your spunk! thank you for sharing this!!

  7. spark - great analogy. very similar to heading out onstage! though i never had stage fright in plays - which in turn freaked me out that i didn't have stage fright, thought something was odd! ;) however, if i had to speak about myself or do improv, my knees were a-shakin'.

    beth - that's one thing i love about blogging. no time for a lot of editing, so you just write and go for it! never know quite what will come out.

    gil - so true. the funny thing is i'm more comfortable with "strangers" reading me than my own friends and family. my sister was the one to out my blog on facebook - i didn't know if i was really ready to let people see but i'm so glad she did it.

    dawn - i completely understand that fear. endings terrify me much more than beginnings. now you have to figure out the happy thought to counteract the fear! will send you the snail pic!

    thanks so much all others!!! i so appreciate all the comments. :)

  8. Hi! I found you through SheWrites and now am a follower.

  9. OMG, you read my mind!

    I've been trying to figure out how to turn some negative things into positive thoughts within the last week or two. While writing has been among one of my joys, a recent doctor's visit that was relatively unhelpful has taken a toll on my self-esteem. Add to that some phobias that are making my living circumstances very difficult to bear and boy do I need to learn how to flip a negative thought into a positive one right now!

    Marian's suggestion of thinking of fear as excitement may be very useful to many of us experiencing writer's block or other challenges that life brings.

    Thanks for writing this, Alana :)

  10. Hi Alana!
    Thanks for the mention! I'm so glad you enjoyed that last session we had. I hope you got something good out of it. :) The road to publication is long and difficult and so I always try to impart the ways of positive thinking to our members. :)looking forward to seeing you again at our meetups.


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