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Being Out of Balance Stifles Creativity

January 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

Do you ever feel out of balance in your life? Where you find your days lopsided in your to-do’s, and you aren’t able to dig into your well to do what you really want to do? Have you found yourself with the desire to create stuffed inside but no way to come out? Am I the only one who needed a mental and creative break at the end of last year?

Blog header with rocks stacked on top of each other and words Being Out of Balance Stifles Creativity by Denise M. Colby

When I say creative break, what I really mean is giving my brain a chance to catch up with itself. Taking the time to organize thoughts, goals, wins, and losses, and get out of the funk I found myself in.

Time to conduct a Sacred Rest Assessment

Susan May Warren added the Sacred Rest assessment in her 2022 Brilliant Writer Planner (that I love!). It’s a way to determine the rest you are lacking (and what you are not). It’s all about balance. And she organizes our needs into these buckets:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Creative
  • Spirutal
  • Social
  • Sensory
  • Mental.

When you find your life is out of harmony

For me, my mental and creative areas are sorely lacking. And taking time over the last two weeks to purge through some to-do piles, evaulate my year, and write out thoughts, made me realize I don’t schedule this type of downtime for my brain enough. 

And that’s exactly what the assesment is supposed to do. 

Help you figure out areas you should focus on this year.

For me, I like time to let my mind catch up with my inputs. Let my mind wander. With my scheduled life, I don’t get a lot of time to do that. Yet when I did recently, I found the creative juice I’ve been missing.

Ideas began to pop into my thoughts. Energy to dive in and get to work.

Finding Symmetry

And that what was so exciting, because WORK is my word for 2022. Something I chose because God isn’t finished with me yet. And I am not finished with this writing journey. 

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. Philippians 1:6.  

Noun: exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something

Dreams don’t work, unless you do.

My manuscript is a work in progress

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart….Colossions 3:24-25

Which is exactly what I plan to do for 2022.

I process my thoughts by writing. I explore what’s in my brain by writing. And what I found myself not doing at the end of 2021 was writing.

It takes work to write. And I’m now ready to get to work.

Figuring Out Balance

In her Sacred Rest Assessment, Susie May asks three questions at the end 

1. What areas do you need to focus more on this year?

2. Why do you feel you are depleted in those particular areas?

3. What activities can you pursue to refresh your life with Sacred Rest?

And just like that I figured out how and what to schedule (what I need to bring balance back to my life) into my week.

How about you? Are you in balance with your Sacred Rest?

You may want to schedule some time to assess to help you bring yourself back into balance this year and together, maybe we can help each other do just that!

Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, & engage. Every year, she chooses a word to focus on. Her word in 2021 was Wisdom. If you’d like to see more of Denise’s posts on this blog, you can check out her archives.

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Four Steps To Face Your Fears

October 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

I wanted to write something encouraging this month and decided to repost one of my earliest posts from this blog titled Face Your Fear, which I wrote in 2017. I have found throughout my writing journey, I’ve had some type of fear hold me back, which manifests itself in taking a hit on my productivity and confidence in my writing. So I thought I would repost and share the four steps to help face your fears.

Four Steps to Face your Fear includes going from emotional to analytical response

Because I truly believe taking time to understand your fears each time they rear their ugly heads, can help you overcome them.

And I need the reminder myself these days.

So without further ado, here is the post.

What’s your biggest fear as a writer?  For some of you, it might be putting the ideas swirling in your mind into actual words on the paper.  For others, it might be pitching your manuscript or creating social media posts.  Whatever it is, we all have them.  And all that fear causes anxiety, worry, tension, panic, despair…you get the idea (we all write characters who struggle with these, right?). If you’re anything like me, my fears prevent me from accomplishing or completing some of my writing goals.

Four Steps To Help Face Our Fears

First, you must identify it.  Write it down.  What’s your biggest fear? Stare it straight in the face.  It’s not so scary once you look at it written out.

Second, define it a bit more.  Add another layer of thought to it.  What specifically about it makes you have fear.  Is it the entire thing or just a part or two.  And then ask yourself, why is it scary for you?

Third, debunk it.  Discover counter arguments to your fear.  Find out from other authors if they have experienced the same fear.  Soon you might realize this is a normal reaction to the process and you might even learn ideas to overcome your fear.

Fourth, push through it. Do one task which causes fear. Ask yourself —what’s the worst that can happen?  Find a writing partner who can encourage you and help challenge you to follow through. Note: You may have to do this part more than once.

My own experiment with facing my writing fears

Step #1

I decided to take a 4 x 6 index card and ask myself what my greatest fear was.  What I wrote surprised me.  In my mind, I had a general overall fear, but when I wrote it down I saw something more specific.

I don’t always sit my butt in the chair and on the surface I tell myself it’s because I don’t have time, but deep down I’m seeing now it might be because I’m afraid.  What if I sit down for an hour session and it isn’t any better than when I started?  What if I only edit through a 600 word block in that time?  I will never finish. And so on and so on….

So, for me, my fear is getting it wrong.  I want to hit the mark and soar with my writing.  I’ve entered a lot of contests and shown my work, and although I get encouraging feedback, I’m still missing the mark.  And I’m afraid it will always be that way.

Step #2

I had to ask myself what specifically about getting it wrong meant. Was it failure? Afraid of what people think?

I don’t think I’m afraid of what people think so much (although I want people to like my work), as I am wondering if what I write will ever be ready to publish. I have lots of ideas, but when I write them down, they don’t sound as great as I thought they were. And I’m afraid no matter how much time I put in, I may never achieve my goal of getting published.

All this fear and doubt affects what I do day to day. How I spend my time. My mental state when I’m writing. And I don’t want it to.

Step #3

Fight back. Who decides if it’s wrong anyway? And how do they decide? Look at how many published authors sent in their manuscript numerous times before it was accepted. It’s just part of the process.

See, by writing it down, I can find counter arguments to what my fear is telling me. And it helps calm down the panic that wants to creep in. It keeps me from letting my fear stop me completely.

Step #4

Step four says to do something to face your fear, so I need to take risks and not be so afraid of doing so. Write a blog post even if it’s not perfect and post it. Write a new scene and show someone. Get feedback and keep trying. If I don’t do any of these things, I let the fear win. There is always going to be more I can add, more to improve, so why am I waiting to hit send? Waiting doesn’t do anything but feed my fear.

Fear keeps us from our goals. Something none of us wants.

For fun, I came up with this acronym. As we know, fear is an emotional response. We need to stop reacting to our fear and work on ways to work through it. So, FACE your FEAR. Fix And Change Every Fear from Emotional to an Analytical Response.

All so we can meet our goals. We all have goals we want to achieve, right?

So take some time and write down what your fear is and then face it. You just might work through that writer’s block you’ve been struggling with.

Hugs & Blessings,

Denise

Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, & engage. Every year, she chooses a word to focus on. This year her word is Wisdom. If you’d like to see more of Denise’s posts on this blog, you can check out her archives.

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The Wisdom of This Year’s Focus Word

August 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

As I’ve mentioned in my January post, my word for 2021 is Wisdom. And as usual, I realize now how perfect this word has been for me this year. That there was wisdom in selecting wisdom as this year’s focus word.

The Wisdom of My Focus Word 2021 Blog post Title page by Denise M. Colby

I selected this word because this was the year. The turning point year where I’d apply the wisdom I’ve learned thus far, and also seek out others’ input for my next step in my writing journey.

Wisdom, I’ve learned, encompasses the integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding; and how you apply those three in your decisions.

This is exactly what I wanted to explore in my writing. To make final decisions about how it’s written and get it published.

And that has given me focus.

I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten my manuscript to a point where I’ve shared the entire thing with a select few. And have received positive feedback. That’s a huge step for me!

So as I reflect on this year so far, I think choosing the word Wisdom has helped me reach that goal.

Which is the entire point of choosing a focus word for the year.

But as always, choosing this focus word has not just been applicable to my writing.

I’ve thought a lot about how I apply wisdom in my decision making skills in my life too.

And in my search for quotes and phrases and wisdom about wisdom, I realized some things.

Quote about wisdom from dictionary.com

Each word I’ve selected has been building on each other.  Hope, believe, strength, steadfast, purposeful, courage, and now wisdom. I needed to glean the knowledge of the other words first before I could truly embrace the word wisdom. 

That was a huge aha moment for me. A small dash of wisdom, which has altered how I look at myself, my writing journey, and my life.

That’s why choosing the word that fits where you are and where you want to go is so helpful.

Other thoughts about my word Wisdom

Did you know that my name Denise means wisdom?

Photo of card that states Denise means wise discerner with bible verse on it

When I found these cards amongst some old papers, it was quite the aha moment. The timing was right for me to select the word wisdom as my focus word.

Denise M. Colby

Because quotes are all about invoking wisdom, I have had to purposely search for quotes and phrases using the actual word wisdom in it, vs finding quotes related to wisdom itself. 

It took some time, but I found some. And they have helped me explore this word further.

I really like to study words and share what I learn.

And I’m excited to have a few more months to explore my focus word, wisdom.

I’m never really ready to let go of my words, which is why I’m thankful to have learned that the words you choose don’t really go away. They are a part of you, like building blocks, helping you grow into the person you are meant to be.

Last year I had so much on the word Courage, that I built a page dedicated to the word to put everything in one place.

I’d love to hear what have you learned about your focus word this year. Please share in the comments.

Blessings,

Denise

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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone And Challenge Yourself

July 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

Have you ever done something out of turn? Just you – where you had to depend on yourself completely? Step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself?

Blog header with title Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Challenge Yourself by Denise M. Colby, brown with cream text over old wood background

Not necessarily with your writing, but with yourself.

Possibly going on a trip, or learning a new hobby.

Over the fourth of July, I got this opportunity.

I traveled for six hours by myself, driving to meet my sister to go camping. It’s been a long time since I have been in a car by myself for that much time.

What I found out about myself, was that at first it was uncomfortable. I wasn’t necessarily worried, but it didn’t feel natural. Since Covid hit, my husband and I have run errands or picked up food together. Most of the time, he drives. Rarely have I gone out by myself.

So it felt a little strange and exciting to be loading up and heading out all on my own.

There were moments on my drive where I felt unsure and maybe a little weak. 

But as I kept driving, those unsure moments turned into empowering moments. I sang at the top of my lungs to music I love, and found my mind swelling with creative ideas and thoughts related to my writing and other things I haven’t thought of in a long time.

It was such the confidence boost I needed.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and grew more confident with myself

I found it interesting to have the freedom to allow my thoughts to grow and flourish. Because I wasn’t reacting to anyone else or anyone else reacting to me, I could do that. The time was my own the entire time. 

Which I found very interesting. 

When was the last time, I could finish a thought for myself and see where it led? 

The rest of the weekend was much of the same. Camping, hiking, biking and enjoying nature. I allowed myself to experience as much as possible and when it was time to drive back another six hours, there was more confidence, more thoughts, and more positive emotions coming out of the experience.

Denise M. Colby stepped out of her comfort zone and challenged herself by driving to Mammoth to camp with her sister and hiked Sherwin Lake Trail at 8,269 feet
Camping & Hiking in Mammoth with my sister, was a great challenge that helped my creative side

So many great rewards reaped from the entire experience.

Much like I have gained from this writing experience I’ve embarked on all these years.

I stepped out my comfort zone and learned something about my writing

And a thought occured to me that much like the emotions I experienced on this trip, it was not dissimilar to my writing journey. 

There are many times I feel scared or unsure of what I’m writing or doing with my writing. Where will it all lead? Am I cut out for this? Should I stay or should I go? But like embarking on a new experience, trying something new, builds confidence and empowers us to do more. I have definitely felt that with each blog post I’ve posted, contest I’ve entered, goal or milestone I’ve achieved.

This year I have mostly stopped writing on a regular basis. This is due to the full time day work I’ve been doing, juggling my family, and trying to find balance. Mentally, my creative side was spent. But in stopping, I’m not moving forward and the scary, unsure, and weak moments (i.e. doubts) have popped up again.

And a correlation appeared. Similar to each mile I drove onward during this trip, I need to keep moving forward with my writing so that I can once again be empowered and confident in what I am doing.

So I asked myself…

What was it about the journey that was so empowering?

One of the things I liked about the journey was getting from one position to another. Moving forward. I also liked knowing the rules.

  • Traveling with other vehicles going in the same direction
    • I love sharing the writing journey with other writers
  • Showing courtesy and kindness and friendliness with each vehicle I passed or passed me
    • Cheering on my fellow writers in their own journey encourages me
  • Moving right alongside others
    • Buying a book, writing a review, providing a critique, and checking in on goals means I support you and we are in this together
  • The art of the drive
    • There is much to learn in the art of writing and it’s fun to use what I’ve learned, too
  • The game of counting down miles till I reached my destination
    • Setting milestones and reaching them encourages me to do more
  • Memories of learning by my dads side with how to read maps, understand the road, and know the codes
    • Learning from other writers helps me be a better writer and we have a shared investment in how my journey continues

And last but not least:

  • It’s all about the journey, not just the destination
    • It’s all about the journey – enjoy it and make the most of it – and embrace the little things along the way

I hope you can be encouraged to keep going on your writing journey. I know after this trip, I’m jumping back in and enjoying where I’m at and what I can still accomplish.

Blessings,

Denise

I like to write words to encourage, enrich, and engage. Check out my other posts related to Finding Motivation to Accomplish Your Goals or Why I chose Wisdom for #Myword2021.

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Challenging Myself To Write A Book Review

June 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as ,

I have found writing book reviews a little intimidating. Even though I know as a expectant published author they are important and help with book sales. I’m not one to share my opinion on something unless asked. And I tend to stress over the words I choose for explaining what I mean.  I mean, what if what I say misses the mark? Or offends someone? And I’m not as eloquent as someone else. Have you read some great reviews on a story and wish you could phrase things like that?

Yet, a book review is just that.

An opinion.

And someone might be interested to hear about it from my point of vew.

I have to remember that.

And then when I decided I would try, my kindle only lets me select a star count, not write words, so I’d have to go downstairs to my computer, log-in and find the purchase and write the review. It makes an already reluctant book review writer want to scream.

Yet, don’t I read reviews when making purchases to see if it’s something that fits my interests? I need to at least try.

So now I have a notebook on my ottomon so that when I finish a story I can practice writing a review. 

Writing a Book Review

I recently took the time to type up one of them and post it. 

I also see that sometimes people review books in blog posts, and that’s a new challenge for me.

So, in the essence of practice, I wanted to post a review in a blog post as well.

Here I go;

Sing in the Sunlight by Kathleen Denly Cover for writing a book review

Sing in the Sunlight by Kathleen Denly

This is book 2 in her Chaparral Hearts series, published by Wild Heart Books (and yes I’ve read book 1 and looking forward to book #3). The historical setting is in California, mostly in the San Diego area.

Sing in the Sunlight by Kathleen Denly is a special story of love, kindness, & patience.

I loved the characters, their interactions with each other, and the way God’s words were woven throughout the story naturally. 

The historical context was rich with details and I felt right there in the story. 

The struggles of doubt and longing and the lies we believe were very easy to identify with. 

It’s amazing what can happen when one continuously seeks God’s wisdom and stays on the path of doing what’s right. I want to be a better person after reading this. 

I wanted to disclose that I received a free copy from the author but was not required to review it. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share.

It’s not a large review, but it came from the heart. Maybe I will get more comfortable with this and learn to expand a bit more. 

Are you comfortable writing book reviews? For those more experienced, any words of wisdom?


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