To pursue our dreams writers usually give up the comfort zone of a conventional lifestyle.
Maybe we said no to an office job, a house in the suburbs, or a college degree. Or we decided that a traditional marriage and having children just wasn’t for us. Or maybe we wanted all of these things and now we’re trying to balance job, house, and kids, and write a book (or a series!) at the same time.
Successful writers have to build new comfort zones in their lives. And these new comfort zones often do not include a ridiculous amount of free time, or a 401K plan.
When we leave our conventional comfort zones behind, we enter into an area of freedom where we can decide for ourselves specifically what is going to work for us. This is really cool, until we realize that whenever we start anything new and challenging our ego goes into full-scale attack mode.
If you leave a well-paying corporate job that’s killing your creative soul, your ego will use money-fear to try to drag you back to it. If you sink considerable time and energy into self-publishing your novel, your ego will use need-for-approval-worries to try to hold you back. If you start writing the book you have always been afraid to write, your ego will use your own self-worth issues to try to slap you down.
Any time you move out of your comfort zone your ego will start twitching its tail. If the comfort zone surrounds something you care deeply about—like your writing—your ego will coil and then strike.
The ego is always rooted in fear. That’s why it always tries to push you into a scarcity mindset. The ego believes that there is not enough, and there will never be enough. It also believes that the world is unfair, the deck is stacked against you, and it’s all someone else’s fault.
There is only way to drain the ego of its power. When you find yourself in the scarcity mindset, you’ve got to make the choice to shift.
Take five minutes to sit by yourself and breathe into your heart. Mentally list everything in your writing life for which you are grateful. Even if the only thing you can come up with is that you’re grateful you know how to read, it will still work. A five-minute gratitude exercise roots you back into the mindset of abundance. It is one of the fastest ways to shift into love.
When you operate from an energy of love it opens everything up.
Start consciously bringing in thoughts that will encourage you to play and experiment with life. Thoughts like: There is enough for everyone. I can have everything I need. I have the power to make my life what I want it to be. This kind of mental energy encourages creativity, flow, and personal discovery.
Another easy way to notice when you’re in the grip of the ego is to check in with your body, which only takes about five minutes too. The scarcity-driven, fear-based thoughts of the ego will cause many different areas to tighten and constrict. Headaches, shortness of breath and anxiety are all symptoms of the ego using your own fears against you to attack.
You can also start at the most basic level and work on your body language. One of my all-time favorite TED Talks is by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist from Harvard. She explains that anyone can spend five minutes on changing their body language to “fake it until we make it.” You can watch the video here.
Learning to find comfort as we move into new uncomfortable areas is one of the most valuable skills a writer can cultivate. But we’ve got to take responsibility for learning this skill and it begins with what’s going on inside our own head. Check your thoughts at the door and only let the ones that best serve you into your creative party. It only takes five minutes. What have you got to lose?
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