19 September 2013

I Was Co-Dependent on My Writing

She speaks the simple line while recounting the layers she's had to heal while writing her first book to arrive where she is now, ready to embark on writing her second book. On the other end of the line while attempting to hold steady the vessel for her brilliant insights and wild creativity, I had witnessed what writing her first book demanded of her. As layers disintegrated, pain and muck and gore were revealed. No matter how difficult the journey, she never quit. In her healing, I see how miraculous the attempt to write one's truth is.

She's not the first writer I've worked with who has suffered enormous physical, spiritual and emotional challenges in the midst of writing her story. The push and pull of fear and courage needed to show up for hours on end preforming an activity with absolutely no guarantee of success often brings up every single one of our negative self-talk and frustration at our own limitations and bad critiques. Rejection and even innocent passing comments often exacerbate self-loathing.

The writer's co-dependent comment led me to PsychCentral where Darlene Lancer writes that "...researchers revealed that the characteristics of codependents were much more prevalent in the general population than had been imagined. In fact, they found that if you were raised in a dysfunctional family or had an ill parent, you’re likely codependent. Don’t feel bad if that includes you. Most American families are dysfunctional. You’re in the majority!"

Following is a Darlene's list of symptoms of codependents. You needn’t have them all to qualify as codependent.
1) Low self-esteem
Self-doubts about your writing, the fear you're not good enough or smart enough to write a worthy book, especially not compared to other writers you know, distract you from writing your story and lure you to give up.

2) People-pleasing
You spend inordinate time rewriting scenes to please others in your critique group sometimes even when doing so requires that you give-up parts of your own unique vision to fit other people's expectations.

3) Poor boundaries
You spend inordinate time rewriting scenes to please others in your critique group sometimes even when to do so requires that you give-up parts of your own unique vision to fit other people's expectations.

4) Reactivity
You receive a negative critique from a family member, friend, critique partner, yourself and you "either believe it or become defensive" and stop writing for days, months, sometimes even for years.

5) Caretaking
You put everyone and everything else ahead of your writing.

6) Control
You resist taking risks with your writing and attempt to control your characters from sharing the real truth of your feelings and emotions.

7) Dysfunctional communication
"Codependents have trouble when it comes to communicating their thoughts, feelings and needs." Writing then becomes a constant struggle between skimming the surface of your character's emotional lives and digging for the truth. "You’re afraid to be truthful, because you don’t want to upset someone else."

8) Obsessions
You spend all your time talking and thinking and worrying about your story, always shrinking away from writing those really big scenes afraid of making a mistake

For the complete list of symptoms of co-dependents, read Darlene's entire article.

Many of the writers I work with are to some degree co-dependent on their writing.

Does writing bring pain to the surface or does internal pain drive us to write?

Changing of the Seasons Transition
In the energy swirling around the transition from summer later this week, your 2013 writing goal spins a bit faster in anticipation of year's end. It's not too late to start/finish that novel, memoir, screenplay of yours and successfully achieve your 2013 writing goal.

Join me from the comfort of your own home for my live PLOT WORKSHOP Webinar hosted by Writers Digest on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 1p.m. ET.

Learn more and sign up: How to Pre-Plot and Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month: The Benefits of Writing a Fast Draft from Beginning to End.


Take the PLOTWRIMO Pre-Challenge:
You have 2 Months and 2 weeks to get a draft written in time for PlotWriMo. Beginning December 1st, follow the exercises on the Plot Whisperer blog to re"vision" and redefine the plot arc of your story. PlotWriMo is custom designed to ensure your success even during the busiest time of the year.
Begin 2014 ready for a powerful rewrite.

The following resources support you in your pre-challenge:
1) Plot your story step-by-step with the help of
The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

2) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
named BEST BOOKS FOR WRITERS by Poets&Writers. The author provides insight on how to create works of fiction with powerful stories and focuses on how to devise a Universal Plot, plot lines and subplots, compelling scenes, and character transformation.
3) Refer to The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing
for writing prompts for scene #1 to the very The End, one prompt at a time.

4) Watch the Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. Scroll down on the left of this post for a directory of all the steps to the series. 27-step tutorial on Youtube

5) Watch the Monday Morning Plot Book Group Series on YouTube. Scroll down on the right of this post for a directory the book examples and plot elements discussed.

For more tips about how to use plot and the Universal Story in your novel, memoir or screenplay, visit:
Plot Whisperer on Pinterest 

***** Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot reinforces daily writing practice and allows for more productivity in your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today, I write.