I’m ready to start writing for an audience again (aka YOU) after taking exactly four and a half months off since writing anything for public consumption (not that I’ve been counting).
It’s not that I wasn’t writing. Over the never-ending, snowy winter of 2023, I wrote pages and pages and filled journal after journal with any and every thought, emotion, and memory that came to me.
I’ve always written in my journal, but last fall, I discovered the work of Dr. John Sarno and his theories of the mind-body connection, and my personal writing got intense.
As a chronic migraine sufferer for the past fifteen years, I began his healing protocol which involves deep soul writing (a deep form of journaling).
Lots and lots of soul writing.
I also read every book I could find on the mind-body connection and TMS (more on that in another email), and I ultimately ended up hiring a therapist who specializes in chronic pain.
Happily, this work has led to healing. I’m down from eight to twelve migraine days a month to two. TWO!!
Healing happened but “audience” writing halted
For whatever reason, during this time, I could not write a blog post, newsletter, or a single page on my book project after I’d pulled so many words from the depths of my soul and written deeply for an audience of one. Me.
As a long-time deep-soul writer and consistent blogger and newsletter writer, I didn’t understand what was wrong.
I had to dive into my own creative process and figure it out.
This is a bit ironic considering that I taught a program last fall to support writers in discovering their own best writing processes and practices.
I thought I knew what worked for me. Ha! The universe laughs.
Steps I Took to Start Writing for an Audience Again
If, like me, you’d like to either restart or establish a writing habit, the following steps might help. Here’s what I did:
- Asked for help and some external accountability – I shared my goal of wanting to start writing for an audience with a good friend (who’s also a fellow book coach) and asked her to help me hold myself accountable. We set a deadline, and she’s followed up and cheered me on (because that’s what coaches & friends do!).
- Set a small goal – my book coach suggested that I write for ten minutes a day every day which is funny because though I’ve recommended this, it didn’t occur to me to do it for myself. Even though I avoided it for the first two days, and it felt hard for the next few, I did it and slowly began the habit of writing for an audience again.
- Didn’t focus on writing at first – when tried avoiding my ten-minute commitment yet again, I decided to sort through old files and notes to find inspiration rather than write. I found my inspiration which happily kickstarted my first successful ten-minute writing session.
- Put my journal down during the week and focused on “audience” writing and NOT “me” writing. I only wrote in my journal for longer weekend sessions or when I needed it if I felt a migraine “twinge.”
It took a solid week of not much writing during my “ten minutes of writing,” but finally after about five days, for the first time in months, ideas for my newsletter, blog, and book flowed through me. They just kept coming!
Writing pieces for an audience no longer felt hard or heavy [insert happy dance].
Perhaps it was the long pause from “audience writing” that refreshed me, or perhaps right now my migraine-healing, peri-menopausal brain just can’t handle writing for myself at a deep level AND writing for an audience on the same day.
I’ve written in my journal for years and never struggled to do both types of writing on the same day…until now.
I mean, we’ve all heard of Julia Cameron’s morning pages, right? She recommends three pages of nonstop writing to get the creativity to flow.
My own mentor, Janet Conner who wrote Writing Down Your Soul, also espouses deep soul writing in the morning to connect and find your compass.
It’s worked for me in the past, but it doesn’t right now.
You gotta explore and do what works for you
When it comes to our creative work and our writing practice, I’ve always said (and I’m sure I’ll continue beating this drum), you have to do the work to discover what works for you in any given moment or phase of life and trust in that.
Right now, my brain can’t do both on the same day…so I won’t.
I invite you to explore the intersection between your own soul writing/journaling practice and any writing you do for an audience.
- Does your personal writing inspire the writing your do for others?
- Or does it use up your writing “juice” for the day?
- Have you ever even tried “me” writing to prime your creativity?
- What time of day does your personal writing work best for you or impact the writing you’re doing for your book?
- If you soul write in the morning vs. the evening does that impact your creative output or work on your book?
I’ll be continuing to explore this intersection in my own life, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments.