6 Tricks in Getting Past Writer’s Block

A few days ago, I completed the magnificent milestone of completing the first draft of my upcoming book, #UnleashTalent, that will be released this summer. Although my journey still continues and editing still remains, I have learned more than I could have ever anticipated. During the process, I had many moments of beautiful writing fury, where I could not type fast enough to get all of my ideas on the page. Yet, on the other hand, I had times where I would daze into my computer screen and struggle with articulating to find the right words. I have blogged for the last 3 years and these writing feelings are not new to me, but when you write a book, the highs and lows of writing are felt and noticed to a whole new scale.

Therefore, through my love of writing and all of its trials and tribulations, I have found the following tricks that have helped me throughout the continuous process. Whether you write for fun, blog, write books or share in the writing process with your staff and students, I hope these tips and tricks can bring an extra level of joy and dimension to you and those around you.

Trick 1: Create or locate a space to write that is inviting and comfortable

I will literally write anywhere. I write in airports, in hotel lobbies, at family gatherings, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, and in my home. Through trial and error, I have found out the mix of environmental and physical factors that I personally like when I am writing. I have found that, for me, my ideal workspace is by a fire, with my essential oil diffuser on, while sitting in a comfy chair. Although this is not always doable, I have adapted some of the conditions around me to make it work. For example, I love feeling the warmth from the feeling of an authentic fireplace. Within our current home, we cannot build a fireplace, so I purchased an inexpensive electrical fireplace in our living room to help give me the vibes I was aiming for.

With that said, I do like to mix things up, too. I regularly go to the public library and read in any available chair, or check-out a room in the library for free. Some writers love to work in silence, some with minimal noise or others thrive with music or a variety of background noises around them. It is crucial that you find your personal preference, but also work to adapt yourself to different surroundings as well. Many writers and bloggers also like to go to Starbucks, Panera, or a local bakery, coffee shops, or eateries. Although I will write at these places, for me it is not ideal. It is crucial that you play around with different spots, locations, if you can, to find the best space for you.

Trick 2: Surround yourself with inspiration

At my home, the chair I sit in to write in our living room is directly next to a bookshelf filled with my favorite books and authors. When I am writing elsewhere, I throw in a few of my favorite books into my purse or backpack to take with me. For me, being able to be surrounded by my writing mentors give me the inspiration to keep going, to keep writing.

Do you have a favorite quote or book that you can keep nearby your writing area to lift you up when you need it? What inspires you? 

Trick 3: Read, read, read!

The most avid writers are the most avid readers. During your writing growth, continue to find the time to read, listen to podcasts, listen to audiobooks, and to learn. Continually shifting your thought process and growing from other authors and experts will do everything to make you better, not only as a writer but as a person. All-in-all, a commitment to reading will help you become an even better and more fulfilled writer.

Trick 4: Start collecting journals, paper, and post-its

Although I love typing in the digital world, there is something to be said about writing on paper; it is an understated art. I keep a journal around me at all times, so I can write down anything that comes to mind: Quotes that I see or hear, the advice I learn from others, bible scriptures I read, stories I want to share, and more. Having a journal keeps me in touch with my own life while having a working document that I can always refer to in order to gain more motivation for future things to write about or to weave pieces of my life together. I also use Google Keep in a pinch to add in photos, thoughts, or other tidbits that I want to look at another time. Also, when in doubt, use a post-it, or twenty. Post-its never lose their luster.

Trick 5: Dedicate times to write and commit to it

One of the best tricks of all is to purposefully set times to write and to follow through on them. I build in writing times like I build in time for my fitness workouts. Each week, I look at my Google Calendar and plug in a few times (or more) to write, based on my current goals and projects. On most days, my schedule is completely booked, early morning to evening, so on weekdays, if I can plan for a few 15-30 minutes of writing, I am over the moon. On weekends, I know I have more time, so I will plan accordingly. The important thing is to be realistic. Start planning for a few 10-minute writing sessions a week to get yourself into the routine. You will find on some days, those 10 minutes will turn into much longer periods of writing, and you could get swept away for hours. While on other days, you may have a difficult time writing at all, even if it is just for ten minutes. That is okay. Start the habit, and commit to it.

Trick 6: Find your workflow

All of these tricks together will create your unique workflow. The space, the noise, the time allotment, the environment around you, and beyond. Piecing each of these parts together, and finding what works for you, and what does not, will help you gain more of a confidence in writing. This, paired with the ability to persevere when conditions are tough, will assist you in focusing more on the writing itself, and less on the writing block. Writing blocks will still happen, but to know your triggers and to how to get yourself out of it can bring more joy to the adventure.

 

What tricks do you use to get into a writing flow? What other pieces could I add below? Share your thoughts in the comment section. 

My upcoming book, Unleash Talent, will be released in the Summer of 2018 by IMpress and DBC (Dave Burgess Publishing), Inc.  Stay tuned for future blog posts to get more sneak peeks of ideas within my book.

When my book is released, I will share more information here regarding book resources, materials, book study information, and where to purchase my book. #UnleashTalent

4 Hard Things I Realized in 2017

This year was a life-changing year for me. It was one of the hardest and best years of my life, all wrapped up into one. Through these blessings and obstacles, I learned a great deal about myself and how to continue to push myself to think differently, while learning more about the world around me.

In a nutshell, in 2017, I moved across the state, planned our wedding, got married, moved into a new place, started a new position as an administrator, and started and finished writing my upcoming book, Unleash Talent. Ironically enough, many of these huge life changes all happened at the same time, which bestowed on me many of the stressors that come along with it. I must say, all of these things together are complete blessings from God that I am eternally grateful for. But, as we know as educators and family people, we can tend to get pulled in a multitude of directions with many pressures, some that we even put on ourselves, that can weigh even the best blessings down if we allow them to.

With that said, here are 4 of the hard things I realized in 2017. These lessons have and will continue to be at the forefront of my mind as I lead this upcoming year with, what I hope is, even more, wisdom than I had the year before.

1. Value your talents and what you have to offer

Many times in my life I have almost self-sabotaged my own talents due to my fears of not being good enough or being judged. Although writing a book has been a life-long goal, there have been countless times when writing the book where I had writer’s block, not because I do not know what ideas to share, but because I personally got in my own way. Once I am able to get past this feeling, I am able to truly unleash my talent and to be proud of who I am. Therefore, when my self-doubt haunts me, I continue to tell myself: “I am talented. My story matters. People need to hear my story. My story will positively change people.” Although it sounds cheesy, these self-affirmations help me realize that I matter, just as much as everyone else, and they help me to keep sharing who I am to the world.

2. Know when to say yes, and when to say no

With all of the life changes this year, I have learned more of when it is okay to say yes and when to say the opposite. I used to think that I needed to say “yes” to any opportunity and to any request that people sent my way. I am a hard worker and tend to find more worth in myself through giving back to others, which makes it even harder to say “no.” This can be a blessing, but it can also wear me down if am not careful. Therefore, when people in my personal life or in my career have asked me to do things or to be a part of something, I now purposefully think before answering:

  • Am I even interested in this opportunity?
  • What projects am I currently already apart of at work?
  • What commitments do I need better to prioritize at home?
  • What talents of mine do I have to offer to this potential project/activity? 
  • What could my experience or learning be if I did dedicate my time to this?
  • What time do what I have to dedicate to something new?

Although these are 6 heavy questions, it helps me become realistic to the idea of what I have time for, the resources and gifts I am able to provide, and to what capacity so I am a fulfilled worker AND family member. I continually seek ways to build my talents and to bring more purpose in my life, but I also am mindful that I do so without bringing down other areas in my life as well. It is okay to say yes, and it is definitely okay to say no, too.

3. Limit the guilt and pressures that you put on yourself

My initial reaction when typing this lesson was to write “stop the guilt.” But, then, I realized that if I told you to stop the guilt, I would be asking you to become inhuman. Therefore, let us make the goal to limit the guilt and pressures that we put on ourselves, rather than to stop them fully, which would be merely impossible. Ironically enough, the pressures we place on ourselves can help us to be bolder and to be better overall. But, just like with anything else, too much of anything is unhealthy for you and those around you. Continue to seek progress and growth, but take the time to reflect and realize when you did something right, too! If we continue to place guilt on ourselves for not doing enough, especially when we are putting our best foot ahead of us, we can get in a looped train of thinking that forces us to focus on feelings of worry, anxiety, and negativity. Find an accountability partner who will not be afraid to call you out when you get stuck in this thinking and will help you to be proud of the choices you have made, not guilty; This has made all the difference for me.

4. Find comfort in the discomfort

With all of this said, tides and shifts in your life can make you feel uneasy and weary. When things change, you naturally want them to go back to the way they were, or for the change to de-escalate in its speed. But, as one of my new favorite quotes and ideas by Lilly Singh says, “Think of discomfort as currency- it is the price you pay to learn some pretty crucial things.” Discomfort is temporary and is proof that you are pushing yourself. Discomfort is life’s way of showing you that you’re making efforts to forge ahead. Embrace that feeling and move towards it, rather than exerting just as much effort to run away from it. If you find a way to work alongside discomfort, you will be more apt to complete your goals and to live the life of your dreams.

Discomfort is life's way of showing you that you're making efforts to forge ahead. Embrace that feeling and move towards it, rather than exerting just as much effort to run away from it. Click To Tweet

My upcoming book, Unleash Talent, will be released in the Summer of 2018 by IMpress and DBC (Dave Burgess Publishing), Inc.  Stay tuned for future blog posts to get more sneak peeks of ideas within my book.

When my book is released, I will share more information here regarding book resources, materials, book study information, and where to purchase my book. #UnleashTalent

10 Questions Principals Should Ask Their Staff

In my upcoming book, #UnleashTalent, a major element that I discuss is supporting your staff. Whether you are a principal, teacher, custodian, nurse, secretary, or superintendent, we must support each other as adults to support our kids. Everything trickles down. Happy and supported staff equal happy and supported students.

Happy and supported staff equal happy and supported students. Click To Tweet

If we want to model a culture of support- We first have to LIVE it as adults first with one another, especially if you are a school leader and administrator. What we model becomes our school culture, whether we like it or not. Thought: Is what you are modeling worth catching?

As a school administrator, it is too easy to think you understand the pulse of your building. But, one should never assume anything. In order to get in touch, we must do more than be present. We need to ask more thoughtful questions that can help us, as leaders, gain a variety of perspectives from staff members in various roles. Sometimes, it may feel that some questions you want to ask staff seem silly or redundant. You may even worry that you may be bothering them by asking.

But, the truth is that your colleagues WANT you to ask these questions. Then, most importantly, they want you to take action as a result of what you learned.

Therefore, here are 10 questions to ask staff and colleagues to grow more in your position and to gain more insight on how the pulse of your school is. The feedback you receive due to these questions can be the beginning points of transformation in your school. Be vulnerable, be brave, and start by asking staff members 1:1 a few of these questions and see what happens. Your staff members will appreciate your efforts more than I can even state.

  1. What do you love most about the work you do?
  2. What has been a highlight of something that has happened at work within the last week?
  3. What are your biggest hurdles at work?
  4. How can I support you during these hurdles?
  5. Is there any feedback you can give me on how I am doing in my role?
  6. What am I doing well in? What am I overlooking? How do I need to grow to best meet our staff and students?
  7. What do you feel is the biggest obstacle for our organization as a whole right now?
  8. Do we have an elephant in the room? If so, how might we address it?
  9. Do you believe you have an opportunity to use your talents at work?
  10. How can I help you unleash your talents with students, staff, and the community?

How to Let Go of What Others Think

Throughout our lives, we are trained to care more about others than ourselves. Being selfless and compassionate becomes a marker of who we are. It is a beautiful thing; It is what life is all about.

The dilemma within this arrives when we put ourselves last and/or on the back burner altogether. We become so focused not only on others, but what they think and how they will perceive us. When this occurs, we can lose sight of our positive values, our good intentions, and who we are. These results can isolate us within our minds while disengaging us from making the impact we know we can make in our lives.

Therefore, this is not to say “stop caring about what others think,” because that is equally unhealthy as it is unproductive. What the bigger idea is to not let others change who you are as a person, deep within. We can and should grow as individuals, but we should definitely not lose sight from who we are.

In the social media age, this is increasingly more and more difficult for kids and adults to do. We all are constantly worrying about the number of likes we have on posts, who is commenting on what we post, what our influence is, and who likes the person we are.

The better question we should be asking ourselves is: Do I like who I am as a person? What do I like about myself? What positive attributes do I bring and share?

Building and improving upon our self-concept must be a priority we all gain and teach others in order thrive in and out of the digital world we live in.

Here are some ways to do this:

 

  • Accept who you are

What makes you, “you?” Embrace that and love yourself because of that. When you are having days of doubt, write self-affirmations down either on paper, on your phone, or on a dry erase/chalkboard hanging within your office or home. At my house, I write down self-affirmations on a dry erase board (almost) every day. At first it feels strange acknowledging the greatness you have, but over time you will see that what you write and say about yourself is what you will begin to believe.

Alex Elle, author of Words of a Wanderer, inspired me to begin this journey almost a year ago. She posts her daily affirmations on Twitter and Instagram, like the picture below where she says, “Today I affirm my worth is not contingent on how others choose to love me, but how I choose to love myself.”

Image Credit: @_alexelle on Twitter
  • Focus on your strengths and talents

What are talents that you have in life? We all have strengths and talents. Whether it is personal or professional talents, we each have areas in which we shine. Focus on those first, rather than your weaknesses. If we focus on our strengths, we will grow at much more rapid rates than diminishing our self-worth based on weaknesses.

  • Remain authentic

How often are you living your most authentic life? How much do you represent who you are as a person? 

The answer is, probably not enough. We all owe it to ourselves to step up our game and to show ourselves and the world what makes us “US” and what we have to offer. Grow to who you are, do not shrink into someone you are scared of becoming.

I love this quote that depicts this idea perfectly: “I’m not on this earth by chance. I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand.” -O.M.

  • Set boundaries on what matters and what does not

This one is especially tough. We see a million things that need our love, care, and assistance, and can default to “GO” mode where we want to positively impact anything and everything. But, this is impossible. Instead, focus on what matters. Do not get bogged down or stressed with items that will not make an impact in 1 year, 5 years, or 10+ years. When every situation arises, ensure that you are setting boundaries to focus time in areas with the most significance and influence.

  • Worry about what YOU think, not others/Let the negativity GO

We spend hours and hours worrying about what others think, but how often do we think about what we are thinking? Be in tune with your thoughts, your opinions, and your dreams. Go after those, not what you think others want you do. Stay away from negativity within your mind at all costs; Negativity can be such a brain drain. As I mentioned in an earlier post, 10 Habits of Positive EducatorsBe a fountain, not a drain. Spread positivity, after all, it is FREE.

Takeaway: If we want to unleash talent in ourselves, we have to begin to accept and love who we are as individuals first. Do not focus on what others may think of you. Talent cannot thrive in environments filled of negativity and self-doubt. We all have something special that can make ourselves and the world better because of it. #UnleashTalent

My book, Unleash Talent, will be released in the Summer of 2018 by IMpress and DBC (Dave Burgess Publishing), Inc. Stay tuned to future blog posts here to get more sneak peeks of ideas within my book.