Writer's doubts and levels of imporance: Let's stop judging our ideas before they even hit the paper, shall we?

When I started writing my spoken word poetry collection earlier this year, I had this constant nagging feeling that due to everything going on, it wasn't right for me to finish it.

It was about heartbreak - something that just didn't seem important enough compared to everything else that was going on in the world then, and now...like, not even in the top ten. 

I tried to Google the issue, as if Google would give me some kind of magical measuring stick or some perfect timeline for when things would feel stable again. I typed in, "Is my work important right now?" which, as smart as Google is, it had no clear answer for.

I suppose what I was looking for was permission to complete it.

As a black, female, member of the LGBT community, there's almost always something I could be angry about if I wanted to be. There are countless injustices happening; and so many people, voiceless, disempowered and suffering. But there comes a time where most people will realise that we can't always carry all of this pain on our shoulders, because frankly, it is exhausting. 

I know that for me personally, it could put me and my art into a box that I don't necessarily want to be in; contributing to a stereotype that most people tune out unless it's presented to them in different ways these days. I feel that sometimes it is more powerful to be a role model and to lead by example, in order to get into a position where you will actually be listened to, instead of ranting at a lower level forever and playing into people's hands.

So what I realised was that yes, there were more important things I could be protest about or champion or fight for in that moment -but to even have the energy to take on those battles, you sometimes have to create for yourself first; create things that sets your soul on fire, and that make you happy, or you'll burn out from all the stress (and that helps no one).

It's okay to create something even if the only reason you have to do it is because your heart tells you to.

Do it simply because your heart tells you to, because in doing so, you will open up your greatest revelations. And here's another great thing about all this:

You simply don't know how "important" your work might actually become until you do it. 

Heartbreak might not seem all that important to write about in relation to other issues that were going on at the time in the world. Not even in the top #10. But at the time, when I was going through it? And to someone who is currently going through it right now? It is #1: the most important issue in the world. 

I would never go up to someone and minimise their pain, or compare it to other issues that I believed were more important...so I have vowed not to do that to myself, or my art. I recognise now that importance is a completely subjective concept, and there is room for it all. I also recognised that:

"Not important enough" is simply another translation of the fear of actually creating something -- the fear of wasting time and failing. 

But who knows where it could take you though if just this one time you ignored those fears that prevent you from even trying, and actually completed it? Because your work only has the potential to be worth anything if you, y'know, actually make it.

Most artists will tell you that it was the things they throw together in frustration that often turn out to become one their most popular pieces, treasured and loved by their fans. 

It's not really your duty to analyse the thing you're being told to create by the Universe. Ridiculous or serious, fiction or non, art is a bold statement in the world about your personal freedom, about the way you are choosing to express yourself, and about your power to speak out.

So, this is me, giving you permission to create the art you want.

Your latest work might be the single piece of work that changes your life.

You literally, simply don't know...but this is your permission to try.

Everything you love today was once nothing but a doubtful idea in the mind of a neurotic creator.

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Stephanie Lennox
What your soul is really trying to tell you when you get side-tracked by other people's successes

I've never in the history of my life, ever, wanted to climb a mountain.

That is, until I saw a bold, brave, beautiful woman rockin' it in a fitness magazine the other day. I stared mouth agape at the picture of her, completely confident and smiling into my soul, and suddenly I heard a voice inside myself whisper: "I need to climb a mountain."

Now of course, that's ridiculous, isn't it? Climbing a mountain wouldn't make me any happier, more beautiful, or confident. (At least, I don't think it would). It certainly wouldn't allow be to BE that beautiful confident woman within the pages of this glossy magazine. So why? What was this compulsion to be someone I'm not and where did it come from?

If you've ever aimed to do anything in your life, you will know this feeling.

You're chugging along nicely with your own ideas and goals, when suddenly a wild new concept appears that completely shakes your world upside down. And now all you can think about is that new concept, your ideas be damned. 

Sometimes it's because the new idea looks so much better than you feel yours could ever be. 

Sometimes it's because it ignites your insecurities and makes you want to take the easy way out of the emotional pain. 

Other times, it's because the person seems so confident and sure of themselves and their new idea that you start to think it must be the right thing.

But when this happens, you need to take a good hard look at what exactly it is you're jealous of. 99.9% of the time, it's not the actual "thing". It's the confidence surrounding the person and their thing. 

You don't necessarily want to do the "thing", but you want to feel the feeling. 

Another example of this is when I see dancers, I get instantly jealous and want to become a dancer. When in reality, I have no passion to do that, I'd probably suck at it, and it isn't my calling. But I'm jealous because what they do looks so fun and I can see their best selves shining through their moves. 

Now, stop worrying about what other people are doing and focus on cultivating YOUR thing to provide the happiness that you want. That kind of happiness won't come from you putting your own destiny off in lieu of looking for an alternative or easier option that totally isn't suited to you. 

You have your own thing. Go do it.

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#AskStephanie: What affirmation(s) can I use to reduce being so overwhelmed?

If there are no physical or physiological reasons for your lack of creative work, then all it takes is a mindset shift.

You've got to take matters into your own hands and remind yourself, “I have the power to change this.

If you’re not living an intentional life, you’re living an unintentional one.Your entire lifestyle is a choice you’re making (or not making) every single day. As Lewis Howes once said:

@@“Every moment you get to choose how you show up in the world, and how the world shows up to you.”@@

So here is the question you need to meditate on if you're not making the impact you want to during the day:

How do I need to prepare?

How do I need to prepare? How do I need to prepare for this work? How do I need to prepare for this day?

Close your computer.

Grab a pen.

Take five minutes to write down the answers to those questions, and you will turn your whole day around. Because often that's all it takes to stop the endless chatter in your mind; the overwhelm, the confusion and despair.

Just one step at a time, one simple practice at a time, that's all it takes.

Being intentional is all about, well…the intention. There needs to be an expectation and intention behind every day. Without that, it’s too easy to fall back into the mediocre life that has already carved out for you.

Stop letting the worries rattle around in your head and get it all out on paper. Make a plan.

Prepare for more.

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#AskStephanie: Why have I been comparing myself to others so much recently?

When you're comparing yourself to others, you're receiving a direct message from The Universe. So it's time for you to start listening to your emotions.

When we compare ourselves or envy others, it's actually not for the reasons we assume. It's actually not because they have better looks, more talent, or more money.

We compare ourselves to others when we feel they have something more that we believe is out of reach for us.

We're really admiring the intangibles. Their courage, their perseverance, their willingness to show up in the world. And we're wondering to ourselves whether we have what it takes to be like them, to exhibit those qualities for ourselves.

The #wholewriter within you knows that these qualities are inside you...but you're just not allowing yourself to use them. That's why seeing these qualities in others is becoming a negative experience.

Comparison is a reflection of what you are not allowing yourself to do.

I repeat:

@@Comparison is a reflection of what you are not allowing yourself to do.@@

You can become more skilled in any area of expertise if you make the conscious decision to do so. There's nothing stopping you - except, of course, the fear you might fail. Or the worry that it might be hard. Or the struggle because right now, your favourite TV show is on.

Every day, in every moment, this is how you actively discourage yourself from living your dreams.

I know you want it, but you're afraid. Which is why it's much easier to hate on others, or throw a big ol' pity party for yourself, instead of facing up to the fact that to be like this person you admire, something has to change.

The only difference between you and them is the choices they've made.

The Universe is challenging you to face up to your biggest fears.

It's challenging you start giving yourself more chances. 

It's challenging you to become the person others compare themselves to.

Are you up for the challenge?

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#AskStephanie: How can I get through my half-finished creative project?

There's nothing more tempting than giving up a project half-way through...

You don't have to tell me. I have about a million unfinished works that may never see the light of day, ever. I have the ones I'm uncaring about getting finished, but then I have the big ones that I feel gut-wrenchingly guilty about because of how much I believe they would benefit and entertain the world.

I'm guessing the project you're talking about now is one of those projects. Unfortunately, no matter what project it is, it takes the same amount of work to complete - but here's what you need to remember when you've been in a project for so long the magic has faded (and how to get it back).

You’re not in the honeymoon period anymore, and that's okay. 

It wasn't always that way, but things change. Sooner or later you have to accept the new circumstances so you can adapt, and start making changes.

The grass isn't greener on the other side; the grass is greener where you water it. 

I don't know who first said that quote, but it's stuck with me since I first heard it. Even if you feel you're struggling, it doesn't mean it's time to look for a new, shinier project and throw all your hard work away. Things can get better if you put the effort into making it happen.

You believed in yourself and the project once, never forget that.

It’s impossible to finish a creative work without belief in yourself, but it's possible to restore it. Just because you're not at the bright-eyed infatuation stage of your creative work doesn't mean that where you are right now isn't okay.

It doesn't mean you can't make it better.

It doesn't mean you're not exactly where you're supposed to be.

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The other human beings (or, why you should ignore everybody and write what you were meant to write)

Typically, writing comes easily to me... 

It's just a streaming set of thoughts that flow from my mind through my forearms and wrists, and into this weird computerised machine that collects my thoughts and makes them readable for other human beings to enjoy. It's a simple process, a random and often mystical one.

All of that comes to a halt, however, when I think about the "other human beings". 

All the people in my life that have ever read something of mine and criticised. The people who love to give "helpful suggestions" on what you should have done, or could have done better. The people who always have something to say.

As soon as I do that, the words get stunted and stuck. It's like they're not coming from me anymore, they start coming from my insecurities and desire to please. 

But what I've learnt from past experience is that you can't force yourself into conformity or ban yourself from creating what your #wholewriter really wants to create, because you're just doing yourself a massive disservice.

Writing for others only starts a downward spiral that drags everything courageous and brilliant about you to its depths. And before you know it, you’ll have settled into a boring, mediocre writing life based on all the things everyone else wanted from you.

@@If you create something to please others and succeed, it won't feel like success to you.@@

Worst of all, you lose the ones that would have loved it in your original voice, the way you crafted it in the first place. 

Oh, because didn't you know? There will be some absolutely perfect people out there; people who your words will be a complete revelation to. Because The Universe didn't create you in a vaccuum, unrelatable to absolutely no one else out there on the planet. No, you have a tribe - a big one. And what you have to say is in your mind for a reason. You just have to keep out putting your authentic voice and style out there, and shooing all the "other human beings" away with a broom, until you find them.

It's your responsibility to create. It's a reader's responsibility to like it or dislike it. But it's never your responsibility to tailor what you create to anyone else's likes or dislikes.

Never compromise your creativity for people who can go back to their own lives if the opinions they give you don't work out. There's no risk for them, and everything at risk for you. 

So stop thinking about the other human beings, and focus on what's in your heart.

It'll find the right "other human beings" in the end.

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They are cool, and so are you (a spiritual solution to comparison, insecurity, and doubting your life path)

Have you ever felt pressured to change after seeing someone who seems cooler than you?

Hip. On trend. Hashtag popular.

Last week you were secure in yourself and in what you wanted to do, rocking with your #wholewriter...today, you're confused because what this other person is doing looks so cool that now you can't even remember what you wanted or who you were before.

“I’ve always wanted to be a writer, they say, but I saw this person doing X so now I want to do that!”

You're not truly interested in this new passion or hobby, but you've seen someone else doing well with it, so now you're suddenly convinced that this is the way.

It’s all about seeking the easier option, the faster option, the path that’s already been travelled these days. The one that seems simple because there's a stick to measure ourselves against.

Taking influence from someone else is so much easier and faster than developing your own purpose, mission and goals, and devoting ourselves to them, isn't it?

How quickly we discard our talents for fear that it won’t work out, or that it’s not cool enough.

Your path, your identity and your image of yourself will always be growing and expanding, and it WILL be swayed and influenced by different things as you continue to live your life.

But sometimes, when you get lit up by someone else’s fire, you subconsciously forget your own.

We're pulled around and influenced by new things everyday - some good, some bad, some completely wrong for us - when all The Universe wants is to do is to pull us back and scream:

You don’t need to change yourself, no matter how shiny other people appear, or how cool the next big thing appears to be.

The Universe has its own unique plans for you.

Best believe it.

So take a deep breath, and trust that inner voice that knows exactly what would be best for you. And whenever you feel fear trying to take you off your path in the form of someone else's new product or video or latest instagram pic, you need to say to yourself:

“Wow, this is amazing, just like my future self/work/mission is going to be”.

Admire others, and be influenced by others, but don’t forget who you are.

No one on this earth is so amazing that you should overwrite yourself trying to become them.

Yes they are cool, and so are you.

Yes they’ve found their way, and so will you.

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The world needs you to be yourself (and by that I mean, to not hold back.)

 

A lot of people will tell you throughout your life to "be yourself", which is cliche, and I don't do cliche...

Plus we are being ourselves, at all times, aren't we? Unless we're intentionally lying or deceiving. We are all here, right now, in our bodies, in our shells - we are here, we are present, and the only thing we can be is ourselves. 

People said it to me when I was younger and all it left me thinking was, "Okay, how? What do I specifically need to do?" 

(I was a very results-oriented child.)

"Be yourself" doesn't come with any further guidance on the matter. It has no before and after, and just doesn't mean much to anyone.

I'd like to propose a better alternative...don't hold back.

That's where your story lies.

We are always ourselves, but we can all remember a time where we've held back out of fear, am I right? "Don't hold back" because when you don't, that can be measured, noticed, expanded upon. Here's how to put this into action:

  • Don't do anything that you don't like, just because you think it'll impress.
  • Don't be ashamed of the things you love.
  • Don't be afraid to say what you really feel, and believe that you truly believe.
  • Forget about wanting people to agree with you.
  • Forget that you might be writing in a way that the experts might not agree with.

There is something powerful in not holding back, for every single one of us.

We all have this sense of knowing when someone isn't being themselves, whether we're aware of it or not. There will be a lack of true connection - a cavern of unease between us and the people overflowing with insecurities, or the person trying to deceive us by acting like something they're not. Don't be that person.

You wouldn't believe how much better it feels, too. The moment you're ready and willing to say to the world, "I am who I am"? That's the moment that things will radically change for you. The moment your brand emerges. The moment your version of success truly becomes possible for you.

The people you meet, the places you go and the opportunities that arise will become more relevant than ever, and will take you closer to your ultimate goals than a lifetime of imitation or dishonesty ever could.

Don't hold back.

The Universe will respond.

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What really holds you back from using your writing voice

Never start a sentence with "and" or "because". Never write prologues, or epilogues. Never start a novel with your main character waking up. Never say "never" and always avoid "always". You know, stuff like that.

These are the rules of writing you must never break otherwise you'll never become an upstanding member of the writing community and all your writing will fail. 

Just kidding.

The rules were created with good intentions, but it's time to rethink them - because your fear of doing something that might be "wrong" is what’s holding you back from finding your real writing voice.

There are no rules in writing.

At best the rules are but feeble suggestions, which didn’t hold back any of the most successful authors of all time - like Shakespeare whose works were filled with almost entirely his own lexicon of words and phrases; or writers like E.L. James, who may not have conformed to the standards of traditional writing, but still gained a raving fan base worldwide.

There are no rules in writing.

No list of rules will ever make your novel famous, or save you from critical comments. No formula will determine how people will feel about your story, or how well the world receives your characters. No one can teach you how to write. Teach yourself, through courageous expression and experimentation.

There are no rules in writing.

No one will ever be able to bring the same perspective or insight to the blank page as you. Not now, not in the future, not EVER, unless they actively copied you. Do you realise who incredible that is?

There are only 26 letters in the English alphabet, and you have the power to sculpt, rearrange, and touch people's souls with them in a way that is as unique as your fingerprint! Why stifle that with regulations?

There are no rules in writing.

There are no limitations.

Write your novel even if you're worried it might not be in fashion at the moment. It might have never been in fashion before. It might be so experimental you don't even have a name for it yet. It doesn't matter, just write.

You don't know what the next big novel will be, no one does, so there’s nothing to say it won’t be yours.

There are no rules in writing.

Stop colouring within the lines, stop worrying about what other people will think of you. You already have everything you need to create the work you want to bring into this world.

Don’t allow the “rules” to hold you back, because there are none.

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The "Mina Schwartz" effect (or, how to stop comparison from destroying your writing career.)

@@Frankly, I’m quite sick of women like Mina Schwartz.@@

She (or, insert other highly enlightened author/speaker/guru whose blog you follow here) represents something unintentionally daunting for the everyday writer: the idea that if you're not at her level of success, you're not a success.

She represents the plague of comparison that is sweeping across the nation due to the idea of “insta-success” that's being shoved down our throats at every turn.

I’m sick of writers coming to me believing that success is something they can buy. As if just by finding the right professional photographer or attending the right seminar, everything will fall into place, and they'll become successful by default. "That's what Mina Schwartz is doing," they say, "so it must be how I should do it".

Mina (and people like her) are probably the reason you're feeling so helpless about your writing career right now, and why, when the going gets tough, your first instinct is to throw in the towel.

You might have just realised that the dream they sold you isn’t exactly as advertised, so now you want to take it back to the store.

Like the time you published your first blog post? It was meant to go viral, right? Well, it didn’t - and now you’re all confused, thinking to yourself: “This was not how it was supposed to work. This is not how I was supposed to feel.”

@@The idea that you need to become “big” overnight is exactly what’s keeping you small.@@

Just because Mina Schwartz released 3 blog posts in the last hour complete with worksheets and an audiobook, doesn't mean that you should get all unmotivated, and not write the one or two blog posts you intended to write today.

And if it only reaches 15 people? Don't let that make you feel like a failure, or damage your ego. No one is judging you, comparing you, or assessing your achievements alongside Mina Schwartz, except you.

@@Your dream is something you have to grow into.@@

I know they say you should “fake it 'til you make it”, but that doesn’t mean wiping yourself out trying to keep up with your idols, getting into debt or losing your own sense of identity in the process.

You’re forgetting that they’ve been where you are. They’ve experienced their fair share of the failure and self-doubt that you’re experiencing right now. But they didn’t try to cheat, take the easy road, or sacrifice their authenticity. They fought hard to be the people you admire so much today.

You need to be at peace with the fact that you are where you are. That might mean that there are lessons still to be learned, or that you just haven’t figured out what your authentic rhythm is. Perhaps because you haven’t been listening.

What would make you happy to create today, regardless of what everyone else in the world is doing? Do this every day and share it with the world. That's all it takes for you to leave comparison behind, and to start enjoying the process again.

Do you have a story about comparison that you can share with me (without using names)? I'd love to hear it over on Facebook.

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You're way closer to becoming your "best self" than you think.

We creatives strive so hard to succeed.

I know I have in the past - worked day and night on a goal without coming up for air like my life depended on it - but I never realised how crazy it looked until I saw my other friends doing the same.

Changing and updating things that don't need to be updated. Fixing things about themselves that didn't need to be fixed. Pushing themselves to the point of exhaustion and burnout.

But we really don't need to stress out so much. It's gotten to the point where I think we all need to relaaaax.

We expect too much of ourselves, and I'd like to propose a change.Because here's what you should know:

Your success isn't the impossible standard you hold yourself to in your dreams...It's how you show up in the everyday. 

I promise you this: no singular accomplishment, no matter how badly you want it right now, will ever make you say: 

"AHH Great! I've finally reached my greatest potential.

The goal posts from The Universe would shift, and you'd soon find another goal to attach your self-worth to. So that's not what it's all about. It's not about goals, it's not about what you want, it's about who you are and what you're doing with your life in the everyday moments.

  • Your best self is not the person on the bestseller list - your best self is the person who wrote a page today, even when they didn’t want to.
  • Your best self isn’t the person who “needs” to lose thirty pounds - they are the person who chose to buy gluten-free desserts instead of defaulting to donuts.
  • Your best self isn't the person on a writer's panel, they are the person who works 9-5 but is still fighting hard every weekend for their dream.

Don’t force yourself forward all the time, because all that does is stop you from appreciating the now.

In this moment, you have all you have been and all you will be inside of you. In this moment, you have it all.

So you don't have to bully yourself into doing more, or throw yourself desperately at whatever it is you THINK is "success"...because you're on a journey right now, and the most important thing in this world is that you fully live it.

Success isn't attached to a single, tangible achievement or object. 

It's in how you feel and what you do.

Tweetables:

  • @@Success isn't attached to a single, tangible achievement or object. It's in how you feel and what you do.@@
  • @@Your success isn't the impossible standard you hold yourself to in your dreams...it's how you show up in the everyday.@@ 

 

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The ultimate writer's block pep-talk (to be read in every creative emergency)

We've all experienced "writer's block" at one time or another, right?

You know, that feeling that all your best ideas have been stolen away by "the boogeyman".

Where you can't remember your writing voice and everything you spit out seems stale and unoriginal. That is, if you're spitting out anything at all. A lot of the time you're just in the staring phase, paralysed by the blank page and the thought of defiling it is making you a little sick, to be honest. Right?

This feeling has been annoying, frustrating and even debilitating for me in the past, so I can relate if you feel like this is where you are right now...but I also have some ultra-fantastic news for you.

"Writer's block" is curable, you've just got to stop acting like it's not.

And I don't mean that in some fluffy woo-woo, "The Secret" kind of way. This is a fact:

If you freak out every time you get stuck on your latest writing project and convince yourself that it is forever instead of just a season, you'll turn something that was really only a small setback into a hideous, debilitating long-term issue.

You are not blocked forever. You're not going to suffer forever. And in fact, the suffering can end exactly when YOU decide.

"Writers' Block" is simply a type of fear that gets stronger every time you call it by this name.

@@"Writers' Block" is simply a type of fear that gets stronger every time you call it this name.@@

In The Authorship Program®, we discuss the importance of knowing that some beliefs are limited, and some are unlimited. Some beliefs are useful, and others are detrimental. Writer's block is the most detrimental belief of all.

Feeding into the idea of it and giving it more strength and weight in your life than it should have is only keeping it around longer than it needs to be.

So, how long is it going to take you to gather the courage to turn on the lights and peer under the bed, only to find that "the boogeyman" is just a pair of old socks?

How long will you let fear eat away at everything that was fun and good about writing, instead of plunging in and remembering that it isn't so bad after all?

There's no physical reason you can't pick up a pen and start writing whenever you want to.

Don't tell yourself you can't - you can.

And you will when you're ready.

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Your negative emotions are your muse in disguise

If there's one thing I've learnt in my creative life, it's that you just can't sit around waiting for the right feeling to hit.

Sometimes it will be there, sometimes not.

Sometimes the feeling that does manifest will be negative, but none of that means you aren't still as creative, wonderful and useful as you were yesterday. In fact, now, you're bringing something new to the table. 

Your negative emotions are your muse in disguise

We put too much pressure on ourselves to put on a show, where we pretend to be happy and empowered all the time, because we assume that's what the world wants from us. But what the world really needs is your vulnerability and authenticity, no matter what form it takes. There is as much power in creating something using your negative emotions, as there are in your positive ones.

@@The next time you're feeling stressed or frustrated, consider that perhaps, you have the perfect set of circumstances to make great art.@@

You're allowed to show up in sadness or exhaustion.

Sometimes that's all you have to give to the world.

It is only by showing up, in all your frustration and anger and sadness, that you finally start to heal. Let your desperate, creative, artistic soul put its energy to good use, because it just wants to be heard and validated, too. 

Even in your darkness, even in the depths of your struggles, you deserve to be seen and heard. You are a force, an overflowing chalice of creativity, a vessel of truth, and your voice deserves it's pedestal.

Today is the day it matters most.

It doesn't matter that you're not feeling your best.

It doesn't matter that you're not feeling all that courageous.

This might just be the time in your life where you are the most creative.

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10 spiritual lessons that will make you a better writer

There will be times in your writing life where traditional writing advice just won't be enough.

There will be times where you'll need the sweet pearls of wisdom that can only be gleaned from the non-corporeal, the meta-physical, the emotional, and the holistic. This is the advice that will stick with you, that will soothe your soul, and get your back on your rightful creative path again.

I have ten pieces of that special kind of wisdom for you right now.

Lesson #1: You were born to write.

No matter how bad it gets, no matter how hard, or how discouraged the creative process might make you feel at times - the worst you've ever felt while writing will never compare to what you'd feel if you gave it up. So write, powerful one. Because you were born to do this. It isn't a choice, it's a destiny; and if you can't go a day without writing, or thinking about writing, it's your destiny.

Lesson #2: You are more than enough.

Too many people live their lives worrying that they're missing something, and they worry that they're not complete, or worthy, or qualified enough to fulfil their life purpose until they obtain that "something". Nothing physical can satisfy this sense of lack you're feeling, because all you need to fill this hole is an increase in confidence. You are more than enough, and once you truly appreciate that, you'll be free.

Lesson #3: You mean so much to this world.

The things you do everyday don't even have to be big in order to change people's lives. Your smile might be the only one someone sees today. Your compliment on someone's work might be the most flattering they've ever received. And your novel might be the one that inspires someone else to finally tell their own story.

Lesson #4: You are part of something so much BIGGER than yourself.

You, writer, are contributing to the entertainment and education of human beings. You are influencing a generation. What you do today is contributing to a much larger story. A piece of you will live on long after you go, changing the world as we know it forever, cementing your legacy.

Lesson #5: The Universe is on your side.

Even though it may not seem like it at times, spirituality teaches us that The Universe is always on your side, even when "The World" is not. We all have bills, and insecurities, and fears - but none of that will matter when you decide that you're ready to fulfil your destiny. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Lesson #6: Nothing is permanent.

Charlie Chaplin once said that nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles. So don't let embarrassment stop you from taking a risk. Don't let failure stop you from trying again. And don't allow pain to scare you away. Nothing is permanent - which can always be a good thing if you make it.

Lesson #7: The better you treat yourself, the better the world will treat you.

Tell me: what is the point of trying to destroy someone who thinks so confident in themselves that it is impossible to do so? What's the point of laughing at someone who laughs at themselves? There is no point...and that IS the point. 

Don't take life too seriously. Be courageous and unapologetic in your pursuit of happiness. Laugh in the face of setbacks, give people a reason to cheer you on, and just watch what happens.

Lesson #8: Your happiness contributes to the spiritual wealth of the world.

Does it ever make you feel bad that you're always striving to make yourself happy while so many others in the world are hurting? If it does, you are a good person. The best thing someone can do for the world though, spiritually, is to find happiness for yourself first. Why? Because happiness is contagious. 

You can't help anyone else find happiness unless you have found yours first. Then, and only then, will you have the option to help others find their happiness too.

Lesson #9: The logical choice isn't always the right choice.

Ask any successful person who they became successful, and I bet you $1000 that you will never get an answer like this:

"Well, I just figured out what was the most logical thing to do with my life, and I went and did that!" or this: "I planned my entire life logically, and everything went exactly to plan!"

There are times to be logical, but in aiming to become the best writer you can be, it's all about taking risks. Changing direction. Listening to your heart.

Lesson #10: Some people will just never get it.

This lesson goes for writing and spirituality. People who don't have a passion for these things will look at you as if you are insane if you try to talk to them about it, in the same way you'd react if someone wanted to talk to you about underwater basket weaving for a couple of hours.

It's not your job to convince anyone of anything. It's not your job to preach.

Everyone has their own destiny to fulfil, and they will discover the lessons they need in life in their own time.

You don't need to worry about their destinies. 

You've just got to focus on yours.

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Stop aspiring, start writing: Why you need to start TODAY to nab your choice literary agent this month

I get a lot of "aspiring" writers coming to me to tell me all about their dreams of becoming authors and making a living from writing.

It usually sounds something like this:

I would just LOVE to be a writer! Sososososmuch!

When I tell them that there are many, many solutions to this issue, however - some that require effort over money, others that require money over effort - it's like I'm speaking another language. 

What do you mean I actually have to put some effort in to make this dream work? I'm out. 

I don't know what other people have been telling you, but you can't just have "aspiring" anything in your bio and not be putting in the work.

What you're saying is you want to be an artist, author, painter (like 90% of everyone else in the world) but aren't prepared to give it a real shot (like 90% of everyone else in the world), so please stop wasting everyone's time.

You're not doing yourself any favours. You're just highlighting the fact that not only are you one of the 90% percent, but also deluded about it.

There's just too much preening in this industry. Too much waiting for something to happen. Too much dreaming...when all you really need to get started is to take a little bit of initiative for yourself.

It's like standing on a street corner with a sign, wholly unqualified, with nothing to show for yourself in the field that you claim to be interested in...yet still expecting someone to discover you and give you a job. 

It's like demanding that someone hire you first, before you've started practicing the craft. Who wants to employ someone like that?

Aspiring is losing.

Aspiring is being offended by offers who want to help you out in exchange for your money - because even though you want it, you don't want it THAT much. 

It's giving up before you've even begun because you feel it would take too much time.

So what is there to do about this situation?

Write. Write today, write now. Because then you're not aspiring, you're writing, and that's what makes you a writer. 

You don't have to deny yourself the title of "writer" because you don't have any works out there yet, or because you're not making money from it yet. 

You'll have a lot better chance of getting someone interested in you (if that's what you want) by calling yourself a writer and actually doing the work, than calling yourself an "aspiring author" which is like trying to get something for nothing.

"Writer" is not a title someone gives you, it's a lifestyle, and you're free to live it. - Tweet this!

So start creating your body of work today - you won't regret it. 

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Stephanie Lennox
How I find my strength in times of doubt and fear

Have you ever shared your dreams with friends and family, only for them to respond with objections that make you question your entire life? 

It's hard enough not to doubt your abilities/qualifications/potential as it is, and so, if you weren't thinking about their objections as issues before, the slightest critique or doubting comment probably means you're thinking about it now.

Here's the thing about objections: they suggest that we're not good enough right now, as we are. They suggest that the knowledge and experience we've gained throughout our lives so far is worth nothing, or isn't worth enough, and there has to be more, more, more. 

You are perfect exactly how you are right now, and you are absolutely enough. This blog post is about helping you realise and remember that for yourself, without having to be told. I'm going to teach you how to overcome these objections with five simple but powerful affirmations.

1. “This is my legacy.”

I don't want to wake up at 73 years old and realise that I never got around to doing what I truly wanted in life because I spent most of the time preparing instead of actually living.

Do you? Where does it end?

You've got to draw the line somewhere if you're ever going to get started.

Once you've dedicated your life to something you can learn along the way. It might not give you a qualification or title, but it gives you the best chance of becoming who you want to become.

2. "Life is short."

If you're feeling called to create, it's because you're meant to do it. The sooner you realise this, the better.

You don't get advanced notice when it's time for the final curtain call of your life, so don't waste time or make the show boring by dedicating the first half an hour with random umming and ahhing. So much of the creation process is asking yourself whether or not it'll be worth it before you actually do it! And I really think that needs to change.

3. "There are people out there who need me right now."

Your true fans are out there in the world, and they won't sit around waiting for you.

There will always be something you can do to make yourself appear more capable, experienced or qualified, but nothing will excite your true fans more than helping them with what you've got right now. This doesn't mean you screw people over who trust you to provide them with whatever quality you promise them, but it does mean that there is something you know right now that may be of value to others.

4. "I must share my knowledge."

Whether you have just one fan or one hundred thousand, you must share your knowledge.

I've never regretted creating a piece of work, no matter how terrible it was when it first came out. The act of creating something and putting it out there isn't just for your fans, but it is also for you. As you share, you grow.

5. "Nobody cares about all the things I DON'T have."

The value you provide is worth so much more than your writing qualifications.

Has anyone actually interrogated you on your writing qualifications? Told you that you weren't good enough, or not "allowed" to do what you do? It really doesn’t happen all that often, but despite that, it’s one of the main things writers worry about (see: impostor syndrome).

The fact of the matter is, unless you're a full-out scammer or plagiarist, most people are not dedicated to taking you down - if they don't like your stuff they'll generally just move on to someone better suited to them, so it's nothing you really need to worry about. No one is lurking in the shadows, waiting to "out" you. And if by some weird reason they are, they are in need of a qualification in being a better person. For every one person that might doubt you, there are hundreds that will actually really appreciate what you do.

A person's qualifications are almost never what make me like a person, personally. As long as they can tell me something I didn't know before, they have a place in my life - and I promise that your tribe have the same attitude towards you.

A final note: you are perfect exactly as you are right now.

You are enough, always have been.

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Why are you waiting to be handed your dream writing career?

Have you ever felt as if you're just waiting to be handed success by somebody? 

Waiting for that agent to discover you on Twitter, or for that celebrity journalist to feature you in a magazine, or a publisher to seek you out and sail your works all over the world?

This is for you. Because I don't want you to get discourage when you struggle your way through the marathon of creating a publishable novel...only to find that the magnificent agent, publisher or book deal you dreamt about isn't simply there for you right away on the other side. (And to pose the question, whether that's even the best option for you at all...)

Do you know what most authors who manage to get a book deal are actually rewarded with? A huge lack of creative control, a template to have to fit or else they lose the opportunity, a lot of decisions made for them and their work that they wouldn't have chosen for themselves, and an advance or book sales that are usually not enough to leave the day job. That, after years of hard work, isn't what most authors expect.

So what else is there for a writer to do these days?

There has to be a better way to continue on your creative path than simply waiting for a rescue, a golden ticket, or an "out" that may never come, right? But of course.

You have to define success for yourself.

Your version of success doesn't have to be the cookie-cutter version everyone else is striving for.

Your ideal version of success may just be getting your novel in the hands of friends and family and the people you really care about. It might be simply to do it for yourself. Or it could be to make large amounts of money (but do you really need a publisher to do that?)

Your idea of success might simply be to teach, entertain, or inspire, and if it is - don't wait around while your message gets stale, waiting for some magical deal to come and make it happen for you. Don't let your ego trick you into believing that your success always has to be something granted to you by others to be worthwhile.

Your version of success should not have to depend on other people handing it to you.

@@If your current version of success is based on trying to impress other people, rethink your version of success.@@

If your version of success really really is to get that publishing deal with a top company, then by all means pursue it with all your heart. But do you want it because you want it, or is it something you've been led to believe you want?

(Because "self-publishing is lame" and "the real money is in the deal", right? Please!)

Tell that to people like the wonderful Regina Anaejionu, who used her books as essential tools to build credibility, then create the ultimate infopreneurial empire.

Or Mariah Coz, who didn't sit around waiting for anyone to publish her works - she published them herself and went on to make millions with her incredible e-books + courses.

Then there's my good friend Kayla Hollatz, the community-building superstar who fulfilled a goal of hers by publishing a personal poetry book that is touching thousands of people's hearts around the world, right now. 

You don't have to wait for anyone's permission. 

Times are changing, the lie of there being authority over our creativity is crumbling before our very eyes.

These days, the right author with the right mindset can make money from their living room; with no one breathing down their backs from a publishing house, telling them what is appropriate and what is not, stifling their creativity with their outdated laws and practices. No one dumbing down their message for fear of limiting their target audience, or blaming the lack of sales on them, despite providing little to no support with marketing. 

I don't know about you, but that sounds like the real "vanity publishing" these days.

I honestly don't have anything against publishers - but for the majority of authors, being published by one of the top five is an empty fantasy, and charging blindly towards it causes nothing but large amounts of stress, frustration and resentment in your creative life where it doesn't need to be. It's like striving to obtain the perfect bikini body: it doesn't just solve all of your life's problems once you get it.

So if there's anything I can tell you, to save you from that...it would be to think outside the box and realise that there are SO many other opportunities out there for you.

Your ideal version of success may be way closer than you think - just around the corner, or within arm's reach. And the more personal it is to you, the happier you'll be when you achieve it.

Go get it.

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Why you've been denying your call to write

You know what's more painful than going all out and trying to achieve your creative dreams?

Not doing so.

Because your soul will never stop wanting it, and your fingers will never stop aching for it.

There's nothing more damaging to the soul than not being who you were meant to be - and nothing more damaging than not writing, when your calling is to write. So if you haven't giving it your all so far in your creative life, these thoughts and feelings are at the heart of the problem.

You think you have time (haha, hahaha.)

Are you so busy pushing your writing career into the future, and thinking about it in future terms, that you haven't even started on it in the present? Have you ever noticed that when you talk about publishing your first book, it's always "later" or "tomorrow" or "next week"?

Sacrificing real work for daydreaming is a classic sign that you’re scared of using the power you have to change your own destiny. But here's the thing:

There's nothing riskier than waiting on tomorrow to make a start on your dreams.

The situation you were in today may never be the same again. The opportunities you had today may never come around again. Your life, your dreams, your health, your options could all change at any time - for better or for worse. No time will ever be perfect, so stop waiting and start now.

You're scared that you might fail (so you're holding back.)

As a coach, it never fails to amaze me how people self-sabotage themselves. Clients tell me that they want to write more than anything in the world, but when I set them a task, they find every excuse under the sun to not do it.

They're usually afraid of making a real effort, in case their work doesn't turn out as brilliant as they imagined it would. But here's the thing about that:

If you're not working to the best of your ability, you have no one but yourself to blame when it fails.

When you do your absolute best, you won't feel any shame, even if you fail. You would grow from the experience, you'd realise failure was not the end of the world, and you could try again with your head held high. But if you don't try your best, you're wasting your time. It won't feel good, it won't deliver results, and you'll always wonder: "What if I'd given it my best shot?"

You're overwhelmed (I hear you.)

We're all overwhelmed. If the pressures we all carry on our shoulders every day were physical, we'd all be pretty ripped right now - flat stomachs and six pack abs from carrying it all.

When you're feeling overwhelmed, it just means you need to take a break.

You'll find inspiration soon enough. You'll feel the urge to get started on something right away, and when it happens, attack with full force.

No matter how much you think you'll want to do it later, nothing can compare to the excitement and drive you get in that first moment. Use it!

You're waiting for "God in the machine" (but he's not in there.)

If you're waiting for "God in the machine," it means you're waiting for a solution to your struggles to appear one day, by magic. Like a pen, for instance, that downloads your manuscript from your brain right onto the page! (Okay, that's a little over the top, but a girl can dream...)

You may not be waiting for something quite as unrealistic, but even waiting for "inspiration" and "motivation" are examples of god in the machine.

You're not in a novel, finding a magical item is highly unlikely, and happy endings just aren't guaranteed...by any measure.

The only way you can secure a fulfilling future is if you set out to create one for yourself.

Your entire success depends on you and the choices you make, and on being responsible for your own actions. It might be scary at first, but it's way better than leaving it to The Universe to determine your success or failure in life.

You've given up already (and you shouldn't have.)

You may not have said it out loud, and you might never say it out loud, but that doesn't mean you haven't had some thoughts.

It may be that your subconscious has convinced you that you're not ready for greatness yet, or that the creative life just isn't a possibility in your life right now. Or it may be that at some point you concluded that you're just an "ordinary" person, and that your vision is just too big. And so, it ends up that everything you do is half-hearted, or you stop trying at all.

If you do have any of these thoughts, there's nothing I can do to change them for you. If you believe you're ordinary and can't do it, that's your truth - and no one will ever be able to change that besides you. But that's actually the good news. Because at any time in your life, you can decide not to be simply ordinary anymore. You can raise your own standards, and answer the call.

The world is waiting.

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