I work with a lot of writers who have a big problem. They have a million ideas for stories and lots of different characters running through their head at any given moment, and they start so many different projects with the wildest of hopes and a fiery burst of enthusiasm. But they never finish anything. These writers have a drawerful of unfinished stories (or a folder on their laptop) and every time they think about all the stories they’ve started—or thought about starting—and never finished, it instantly triggers a tidal wave of shame and self-loathing.
Almost all of these writers have assumptions and theories about why they are this way. They get bored too easily, they’re too “ADD” with projects, they can’t follow through, they’re spacey or flaky or scattered. And the very worst: they just aren’t cut out to be writers.
None of these are true. Every single one is a self-deprecating illusion that the writer’s inner critic is using to manipulate and control them so that the writer never, ever makes the ego uncomfortable by taking an actual creative risk.
What happens though is that, over time, the writer comes to identify with this “failing” they see in themselves. Their identity as a writer becomes that of “the writer who never finishes anything,” and then the brain emotionally attaches to this identity and becomes resistant and defiant whenever the writer tries to move outside of that constricting (and untrue) label. Because a lot of the time our brains would rather be right than be happy. The ego wants to feel safe and it clings on to what’s familiar, even if that familiar “safe” thing is holding us back in life and causing us pain in the long run.
Something like NaNoWriMo can definitely help writers with this, because if they throw themselves into the challenge, they start to see evidence that they CAN show up, they CAN do it. They start to build a new identity as a writer who walks their talk and follows through on their commitments. However, it can be hard to build and sustain this new identity—and keep it intact in its oh-so-delicate infancy—all alone. It’s the same concept as recovery support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Sure, a person can quit drinking on their own. It IS theoretically possible for people to deactivate and detach from dysfunctional behavior patterns without outside help, but studies have shown that a person’s chances of success when making big behavioral shifts increase astronomically if they have the support of others behind them, especially if those others are on the exact same journey.
This is what my new, live class, the Creative Commitment Challenge, is all about. We’re going to be doing 30 days of live, silent writing sessions over Zoom for the entire month of November. So whether you’re doing NaNo—or you’re not doing NaNo but you’re still ready to stop thinking and start actually DOING something about your writing—this class provides the support and community structure you need to shift your behavior, and ultimately your identity, as a writer.
I talk more about this concept, and the class itself, in the video below:
If you missed the first two videos in the series, you can find them here:
I’ll be opening up registration for the Creative Commitment Challenge on Tuesday, Oct 27. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter HERE to get all the updates and announcements as I release them. And if you have any questions, about the schedule or pricing or any of it, please send them my way via the contact form HERE.
It looks like we’re going to have a nice-sized group, so many people have contacted me and told me they’re definitely in and they’re super excited. I am too. Let’s kick off this November right my fellow writers!
Lauren Sapala is the author of The INFJ Writer, The INFJ Revolution, and the creator of Intuitive Writing, a six-step online video course for INFJ and INFP writers who struggle with writing. She is also currently offering a free copy of her book on creative marketing for INFJ and INFP writers to anyone who signs up for her newsletter. SIGN UP HERE to get your free copy of Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers.