Hello beautiful writers. Remember how in The Hero’s Journey, the protagonist must go deep into a dark and scary cave? He or she lingers at the mouth for as long as possible, debating, trying to avoid it. It’s not only dark in there, there are rabid animals, and fear, and NO LIGHT.
A few weeks ago I sent out a survey to find out your top writing challenge. Guess what it was?
Basically, you’re standing at the mouth of the cave, freaking out, and do you know what’s in that dark hole? That’s right. The treasure.
Your voice. Your writing gift. Your pages.
Here’s what you’re saying at the mouth of the cave…
“Oh my God, I’m so scared. My ideas are worthless. I’m going to spend all that time writing and then will either fail or never finish. Why bother going into that scary hole when I know there’s nothing in there!”
“I do not have time to go into that freaking cave. I am BUSY. I have a full time job and that full time job takes up all my time. I don’t even have a minute to take two steps inside that thing.” Pulls out phone from purse, holds it out as proof, “Look, that’s my boss texting me right now.”
“I do not have the discipline to go in there. I have ADHD. My hormones are crazy and I can’t even concentrate. How can I possibly find that damn treasure in there? I’m practically blind. I have cave blindness.”
“I would go in there, but I don’t have the right tools. I don’t have a flashlight or crampons. Do I need crampons? See, I don’t even know if I NEED CRAMPONS!”
“I really need to go into that cave. But first I have to pick up my kid after soccer practice and then I need to do that PTA thing. Oh crap! I forgot! I have to make three batches of homemade cookies. I’m not even getting back here until 10pm and by then there’s no way I can even think about going into that cave. Just forget it. These people are killing me.”
That’s what you’re saying. Want to know the REAL REASON you’re not writing/stepping into the cave?
Your Survival Patterns. Somehow, in the most reptilian part of your brain, you believe that if you go into that cave and work on your book or screenplay, your family won’t love you, or that if you’re “seen,” you will die.
I know, it sounds crazy. But stop. Think about it. Writing is your PASSION. If you really wanted to do it, couldn’t you make the time?
As children, we get messages about who we need to be to get love. And often, our writing breaks these tacit “rules” of behavior. If we had a traumatic event where we were “seen” in a negative way (for example, by someone who molested or assaulted us,) we learn to hide, to protect ourselves. What if we were parented by a narcissist and learned the best way to stay safe was to keep under the radar? Can you see how this holds us back from stepping out into the light with our work?
Your brain created this pattern so you could survive. How amazing!
But what if this pattern is no longer serving you? And is, in fact, stopping you from accessing your deepest heart’s desire?
In order to access the treasure (your writing) you have to step into the cave, and acknowledge these patterns. And you need only one tool. The flashlight of your own willingness to let go of the false “reasons” you are not sitting at your desk and face the real ones.
Take Action. Stop looking at the surface reasons you’ve created for not writing (lack of time, discipline, volunteering, etc.) They are not real. Go deeper into the cave. The real reasons have far more to do with the survival patterns you’ve learned and have used to get through life. What did you have to do to get love in your family? Does your writing somehow make you break these “rules” of behavior? Did a traumatic event create a fear of being seen that’s triggered by the thought of publishing your work and having to step out into the limelight? Did you come to believe somehow that you are deficient? And that if people find out they will abandon you?
How, by being aware of these patterns, can you neutralize them?
Shine a light.
Be aware of them.
Then step beyond them into the cave so you can touch the treasure.
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