My writing process so far

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I am near the end of my first-drafting a novel journey and learning, growth, inspiration and genuinely rich experiences that have come out of it so far are bursting out of me. I didn’t have specific expectations going into this process of what it is like to start and complete a work of fiction. All I knew that it was time and I needed to do it. I have written non-fiction and poetry before and writing fiction has proven to be a very different experience. Poetry was a unique, completely spiritual and intuition-based experience and non-fiction is something that I enjoy and approach with a different attitude. I enjoy experiencing and researching and putting my findings into words. I have learnt a lot about myself as a person, as a writer, as a woman undertaking a novel writing and many things have been re-affirmed for me. I have a bit longer to go and currently taking a break and reflecting on the journey so far. Many writers would relate to some of my lessons, I am sure, as I found hearing the old wisdom coming through with each experience I was having and nodding my head. I have read and listened to many authors’ lives and experiences by this point. Many nuances of the journey are my own, and unique, however, and finding a personal creative path and voice, to me, is absolutely necessary and the most exciting part of the process.

Here is a summary of things that I have learnt so far on my journey of writing long fiction:

You will hear this many times and it is a life-saver advice for sure. Do not edit as you write. Just write without going back and editing and re-writing. Keep moving forward. Editing comes later on. The first draft (there will be many) is just telling a story to yourself. This will help you progress, eliminate doubt, self-critique, etc., which is not what the first draft about.

It is possible to write anywhere, anytime and allowing for a needed process on any given day to unfold is important. Nothing should be forced. Drop preconceptions, unhelpful advice, expectations put on yourself or through others’ experiences. Do it your way. Daily I would make a decision where I wanted to write and on what device depending on how I felt. I experimented a lot and it was so interesting. For example, I asked myself or rather tuned into my feelings on the day what feels good whether it is my sofa with a laptop in the middle of afternoon or would it be on my phone while I was out for a walk or as my regular set-up at my desk in the morning. More often than not I just knew what I wanted. Intuition again is your friend no matter what you do. When I first started I wrote early in the morning every day and it worked wonderfully for me. I am productive and eager during mornings, but as time went on I allowed myself to experiment with other devices other than my desktop computer and other places. I also found the second spurt of energy or a clear space in my head often appeared between 2.00 and 3.00pm in the afternoon, so I took that. Another way for me to write that transpired was in the evening with noise going on around me, TV in the background and people in the room. I wrote on my phone a lot. At the end it was wonderful to know I could do it anywhere, at any time. I also feel that when it comes to the editing stage that is where my handwriting will come in. So far I haven’t used it in this process.

Things can’t be forced and breaks are allowed and you will know when you need a break. I went through days when I felt upset by what I was writing, or my character would hide away from a conflict that needed to happen, or towards the end I just didn’t want to think, read, write and do anything. It all happened. It took sometime before my story began living within me and characters really came forward. Then there was another period of time before they started communicating. Becoming aware of the characters was great and it helped me progress as they took over and story began to be told through their wishes and needs. I gave over control and proceeded according to what characters were saying and how they would answer questions I would ask of them.

I love, love, love intuitive downloads or inspiration flashes, as many would call it. When it comes it comes in this complete, clear form and writing is easy. This happened to me during this process too and I was glad it did.

I enjoyed setting a schedule and managing my time. It plays very well into productivity, results and increase in your writing speed over time. It is good and I found writing something every day is a great tool no matter how many words and in however many sittings. Focusing and commitment are definitely very important parts to a writing process. A balance between order, structure, routine and intuition/inspiration is a winning combo.

I learnt that I do not enjoy making things up when I intentionally do it (intuitive writing is a different thing) and prefer writing non-fiction on the whole, but this might change over time as I experience fiction writing more. I trust it will become clearer and for now it is too soon to tell.I am a visual, sensory that needs to see, touch and smell ‘a scene’, ‘an image’, etc. before I can talk about it. This is probably quite common. You can’t write what you can’t see clearly is true for me.

During my process I had a critique group going where the beginning chapters were being reviewed. I found it helpful, motivational and helped me self-reflect. Criticism is good and healthy.Reading on writing is very helpful and so is reading books in your genre. I finally understood the importance of reading in order to write and writing in order to know what your reading preferences are. Again, I came to a conclusion that I like a particular genre and prefer reading non-fiction.

Writing as a therapeutic process. I started this project with the intention of it being for myself, as a process of learning the craft, releasing a story that had been waiting for many years to be told and putting something to rest. I did just that through my heroine’s voice and her intentions she re-defined her journey and told me a different ending to the one I conceptualised before. Changing the ending of something is very powerful I can tell you. At the moment though, as she is very satisfied with how things ended and she loves it she doesn’t want to go back and look over parts of the story that still need her attention. So partly, I wait and partly I employ some tools to convince her to tell me more. Writing a novel is a great opportunity to re-write the ending of whatever story you might have been holding on to for whatever reason. It is also therapeutic because you are finding and using your own voice either as a narrator or through your characters. You hear yourself for the first time, as I did. It was revelatory and strange, but again, powerful.

Alternating writing with a physical activity, walking in my case, always walking, works for me. I would write for two hours and then I need to get out. Switching up activities kept the routine going and just felt containing and balanced.

This one is more for the future, as I plan my next step and it is beginning to write as ideas come through, not putting it off. Writing continuously is important in order to improve the craft and define your voice more with each book or a project.

I found the process incredibly rich, fascinating and so inspiring on many levels that I can say I am in love with the process, not necessarily with my book or the idea, but the process itself. It opens up so many avenues for growth and improvement and makes self-awareness and aspirations for the future clear. It is an organic and alive process too, which, if allowed to unfold and live, will bring a lot more insights.

Image: a mock cover for my novel that I created with a few others and found it helpful in my creative process. Goes back to the point about seeing things in images. 

Comparing lands’ signatures and emotional healing

North Wales, Snowdonia. So peaceful here. The land lulls you gently into comfort and quiet, soothingly singing a gentle tune. The land’s signature is of a simple life, uncomplicated by any depth of emotion or tragedy, I feel. It is an old land with ancient roots, no doubt, steeped in tradition, but it feels like whatever conflict there might have been it is resolved and the land enjoys a life of simple pleasures. Spirit here is pure and gentle of a colour white. It is felt all around, but ever so slightly. It is in the background and not at all overwhelming. Mostly in the mountains and rocks one would meet the land’s spirits and they are all of a vibration of support and nurture. They continuously tell a story, always talking and if you sit quietly you can clearly hear a narration, which again, like a lullaby, sends you to a place of peace and comfort.

In contrast Scotland’s spirit is rich and troubled, one might say. It carries the land’s history through its glens, mountains and lakes and the strength and power of it can’t be denied. It is in your face penetrating through skin. I am deeply affected emotionally and get sensory overwhelm every time I am in the land. It taps into my shadow signature of violence, loss, grief and bloodshed. Even madness, I’d say, is present in the mixture of what is the land’s spiritual heritage. It stands proudly in its stunning beauty, very protective and wary of strangers. It is anything, but peaceful.

Perhaps, I sometimes reflect it is not a place I ought to be as I align with my past pain addiction when there. I get thirsty for the sensation of attachment to all that the land’s spirit represents. Over the years I certainly understood why I feel the way I do when I am there and why my spiritual awakening had to occur in Scotland. I remember it vividly when all my senses shut down and a strange mixture of deep grief and pure ecstasy entered my awareness all at the same time. I was then given a task to start working it all out and an incredible process of awakening began.

Amidst Snowdonian mountains and forests I feel good. I always had in a way I never do when in Scotland. That place is hard to describe even now, it simply goes beyond me. There I don’t feel safe necessarily, well, perhaps only when on an Isle away from the main land (recent discovery). I feel on guard and bereft but also so incredibly touched and moved in a way I can’t put into words. I feel like my heart breaks when I am there and when I am away from it, both. You can read my other posts about my feelings for the land and my difficulties staying away from it.

Perhaps, I thought this time round while in Snowdonia is that I am aligning more and more these days with the signature of light and peace without needing or wanting to be anywhere else emotionally or spiritually. Perhaps, my light is no longer in the shadow and I have found and settled into the oasis that I had always sought – inner peace.

I can see myself returning to Wales over and over again just to be what I am when I am there, living in the moment with no rush of any kind and a slower way of being in peace and tranquility.

Perhaps, Scotland will remain a mystery for a little while longer and the role of it in my life will become clearer as I continue my exploration and relationship with the land…

 

When pain finds a home within your soul

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In psychological circles this is referred to as pain addiction. This is real, lived experience for many. It is a state of being where separating pain from anything that we encounter in life becomes impossible. It merges with our being in a way that becomes familiar, safe, even sweet and impossible to imagine not feeling it. It becomes one of the personal signature of an individual, which brings all sorts of distortions with it. The process of unravelling is needed, deep diving into dark places, but mostly reintroduction of the light into a personal experience, as the light often goes into a personal shadow.

This is what it looks like when I tap into that part of myself still present although it no longer affects my life in ways it used to. It is now fully in my awareness and I know this character well, hence able to communicate with it and meet its needs if and when.

Ugly, dripping poison from its finger tips, so wrapped in its own pain it is second nature. This creature outgrown the most excruciating suffering that it feels at home with it, it’s learnt not just to be with it, it is inseparable from her being. It is very old, with bent and crooked limbs, long nails and grey hair or is it fur – both. It is animal-like with human eyes and deep intelligence. There is kindness somewhere there, but it is not apparent. It wants to be bad, it thinks it is a good thing, as it will fill up the cup of pain even more. It seeks the ritual and any opportunity to refill it. Like an addict it is constantly in search of the next fix.

Grown into my flesh it wears deer-skins and smells of wet mud and berries. Like an animal it claws into me holding on with a scowl scary and disturbing. 

I know it well and these days all that is needed of me is the acknowledgement it is there when I begin to feel its warm breath on the back of my neck. It is often present around my shoulder/neck area. It is very warm, sometimes feeling like a burn, but it also shows me some compassion these days and often sweeps away mud and moss pieces when it feels it made a mess. It is a child and an old creature all at the same time. It is deeply broken, but not unlovable and it likes to spread itself on rocks (I love rocks) and roll off them into a wet grass.

I often work with clients in ways of looking at different parts of them. I would ask when they begin to describe an energy that takes over them and affects their life. I seek to bring it to life with my client in a way of seeing what it looks like, what it sounds like and what is its behaviour before moving to what that part of us need. Many find this very useful and become curious about what else is within them that affects their everyday behaviour. When we make those characters real it is easier to relate whether we choose an object representing it, or we do a drawing or find a drawing that most reminds us of them or we relate to them through colours, sounds. However we connect with parts of ourselves it is about becoming conscious/aware of what takes place within our psyches and why.

Is fear always bad?

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Does fear need to be bad, always?

Yes, it is tarrying, yes it is a terrible vibration to hold and hard to shake off. I know it well. But it is also a messenger, it is a pointer towards something that is asking for help, or it can also serve a purpose of a propeller into action just like fire qualities.

Presence of fear can point towards a past trauma – yes. In that it is linked with an association of what had once been scary and threatening to us. We attach to that vibration, which gets activated when we are reminded of similar scenarios or have similar interactions. This is one part of what occurred for me, which I later became aware of, but what it also made me think of is another way of reaction to it. It is about relating to this particular emotion in a different way. I don’t feel like it would be serving its purpose if I always react to it in the same way. If one continues to do the same thing, results will always be the same. Something new needs to come through here to facilitate change and growth in me. There is a decision and a choice involved here again just like in my previous post, one can choose to continue aligning with something indefinitely or we can switch our perception of what it can be rather than what it had always been.

So, I asked myself a question ‘Is fear always bad? Does it have to be’? No

What came to me, as I walked through the forest touching my trusted trees, was the feeling of caring about something, caring a lot, too much one might say. When fear grips you it is an indication that you care about something or someone. We are all familiar with that. However, instead of working against it what if we worked with it? What we chose to channel it into something productive, beneficial and full of love? I am seeing it as an opportunity to do something different, to change something or take a different attitude or a route in order to express that care and love that we feel with the help of our fear as a guiding force.

It is a switch in perception or rather an extension of what fear means. It is allowing for fear to tell us more, to show us more, to align with its voice, because often fear comes in the moment and not always connected to anything in the past. It can simply be a vibration seeking its expression to point us towards a certain action or behaviour. The key here is to listen to the emotion, which is manifesting within you, not running away and rejecting your own voice, but quietly listen.

Someone pointed out fear within me earlier this week and yes, they are correct and on reflection I know where it came from and what it means, but rather than focusing on where it came from I am choosing to focus what I can do with it and what it really feels like when I sit with it. When we sit with an emotion giving it full acceptance and love it begins to tell a story, its vibration changes and something new gets introduced into the mix. I find emotions are not solid or static or one-dimensional. They flow, they are present one minute and gone the next, they are fleeting and if caught can be valuable to us.

My fear represents my determination and drive. The reason I scared is because my dream is big and meaningful. If it wasn’t I wouldn’t be scared. Have you ever experienced wanting something or someone so much you feel terrified it would slip through your fingers or something would take it away from you? Yes. Me too. That’s the indication, firstly, of how much you care. Secondly, it is an opportunity to do something with that in way of expressing your care whether it is manifesting love or achieving a goal with absolute certainty. Then, at least you are not surrendered to fear alone, you are journeying with what the fear means and acts as a catalyst towards. Direct it in the direction of positive intention, meaningful relationship, success through hard work or caretaking someone with the most open heart you have. Fear then turns to love and love conquers all. The choice is yours, fear can stop us, but fear can also propel us and transform into love ultimately.

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Lessons in the ‘neutral’

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Having difficulty in communicating? Coming up against conflicts?

Take up a neutral position. You might know it all, but you might know nothing at all. It is polar opposites that cause problems and when you notice you have taken either one or the other position you can bring your attention to the mid-point. What if you are about to know everything and know nothing all at the same time?

Communication changes when instead of engaging in an argument you pause and observe what your body is doing. Is it pushing and pulling? Does it feel uncomfortable? Stay with that without going either way and allow for energies to settle. Actively listen to the other, observe their struggle in that moment. Energies travel from one to the other in the moment when one is still the other will also begin to slow down. Watch it in action the next time something prickly arises between you and someone else. What is the outcome? Disengagement from ‘being right’ and ‘knowing it all’ will empower the other to slow their vibration and energies settle for both. It is not disempowering you it is bringing the focus on what is grinding in the moment. Speak if you must, but use softer language, pause, let the other speak, engage with a smile, a nod, ask for a moment to speak. Engage in exchange of equals where both come from a position of their perception. Let your attachment to outcomes go, actively listen and participate rather than dictate. See if communication improves and both engage in the flow from the beginning, middle and end. Let it become an exploration rather than a perceived outcome.
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Understanding sacrifice 

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I have rejected the idea of self-sacrifice especially after my being got fragmented post stepping into motherhood, which now is clear only came from a point of not fully understanding its meaning and purpose. It always felt like ‘what about me’? The position of a wounded part within, which always felt unseen and unheard, the part, which felt her needs were ignored and not met. Limited perspective.

It has recently grown into a wider understanding through looking at my mother’s life. I find it’s always valuable to look outwards for examples of self-sacrifice and what that shows and teaches us. There’s one crucial key to self-sacrifice and that is a firm personal choice and from there what follows is meaning making. They go together to be more precise.
On the surface it looks like she completely sacrificed her life for her husband and kids. It often begged a question ‘but what about her’. I am sure she asked that enough times herself in moments of despair and uncertainty, however, she always remained firm in her choice to self-sacrifice. We might ask why? And the answer is for the greater good, for better outcome all around, for happiness on a wider scale, which she could contribute to. It is her contribution to the wider good and her choice in sacrificing if necessary that carried her through life and, guess what, she remained happy throughout. It is from seeing others happy and content she drew her own happiness and contentment. That always remained her personal choice and one might even say her life purpose.

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Existential…

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We are born, we bloom and we die. What of those in-between spaces? That is day-to-day living, those are the moments, of which life consists.

Today, it feels like the past is gone and the future is doubtful and uncertain. There is death anxiety present and struggles with staying in the present moment. ‘What if, if only, can I, when this and that’, how will I, what if I don’t, I suppose I will have to’, etc. – these phrases run through the mind over and over.

Yesterday I had a vision of my life going forward. I have seen what is there potentially on offer in the next 20 years and it felt good, comforting, grounding and certain, as opposed to feeling very unsettled and doubtful in the last week. It looked contained, structured with challenges and transitional points clearly outlined, but what it didn’t outline was the way one would deal with it and what the actual outcome would be. That is life and no one knows for certain. There weren’t that many things out there, to be honest, it felt clean, clear and peaceful and would present a good life path for anyone, in my opinion. I like that existential language, which often sounds harsh and direct, which goes ‘this is your lot, this is what you’ve got at your disposal, what are you going to do with it or about it?’. I used this with my own clients a few times and it has that vibration of ‘wake up and smell the coffee’. It is startling, but refreshing if allowed to be present with. It is calling to look at life and present circumstances in a very real way (reality check) and see what can be done and how and be aware of the feelings. It is very ‘present moment’, life here and now and what can we do now in order to feel alive and really living. It is calling us to define in a way what we are about and what we want from however many years we might have. I like the idea of knowing what your purpose is and living it out, so to speak, similar to making a decision and sticking to it. I like that vibration of decisiveness and clarity of route.

I haven’t been in this place before, I don’t think, and if I have been it didn’t come through in the same way. This is really existential. Having gone through a spiritual journey and revival of my soul nature (transpersonal approach), which continues every day, and having looked at childhood set-up and my past (psychodynamic psychotherapy) and worked on self-growth and potential (humanistic approach) what is coming up now is the look at life as it is currently with all there is there, facing cross-roads and defining meaning (humanistic) going forward. It offers options and when one can see a potential path of how things could play out. It gives you certainty to a degree providing one is happy with the vision of their future. I am happy with it for now, as who knows what tomorrow will bring. There is safety in knowing, for sure, and fear in not knowing, absolutely. Both are very valuable. Security and certainty provides a good feeling and so does a vibe of adventure, freedom in a sense of not knowing anything at all. Providing I make it through the years and those around me make it there is a strong chance we make the vision a reality and what a lovely picture that is. In the meantime we live every day as if it is the last doing our best and feeling present and meaningful in our interactions and activities we partake in and feeling ok on the inside. Notice how ‘I’ became ‘we’ in the last few sentences, as I write completely intuitively. There is some meaning in there somewhere pointing towards a collective, community purpose with myself playing a role.

This phase can be scary and they don’t call it an existential crisis for nothing, as one of the most common descriptions. This, however, really resonates with my personality in terms of questioning, finding meaning and certainty within and following a natural course of life with a few challenges and hardships, but also bagging joyful and precious moments of any day like a beautiful sunrise and a good night sleep, a good meal and a smile of a child. It is all in that in-between space of life, in between we are born, we bloom and we die.