About Me

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I still feel like a teenager on the inside, unfortunately my children do remind me how old I am!! I have lived for 20+ years as an Irish expat in The Netherlands. My favourite city here has to be Amsterdam.

Writing, reading, authentic living. It's all here at The Writing Process

Welcome to my blog. Let me start by telling you that I love writing. I love the sense of vitality it gives me. I love that it helps me to make sense of the world and to the people in it. I love that it helps me become wiser, more intuitive, empathic, and most of all autonomous.

All aspects - reading, writing and observing - are what make the process complete. The essence is storytelling, and learning about
life and yourself.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Start again

Don't be like Gaudi! You finished your novel, now move on.

You are still deeply involved with your completed novel, and if you add the disappointment of rejection to your already sombre mood at having to put the characters you’ve spent so long getting to know and love, to rest, then you may be feeling ungrounded, and unfocussed.

How do you counter this? The best way to reconnect with the world and your creativity is to get started on your next project.

But allow for that period of grieving. Take the time to say goodbye to your previous work. Distance yourself from it. Continue to send it out to publishers and agents by all means, but accept that emotionally, it is done. Recognise what you are feeling and integrate it. Denying it, or trivialising it will not help. Just as writing the novel brought you to new levels of awareness, so too will saying goodbye. Every emotion is a valid emotion. And each one has its place in your consciousness.

Completing a novel is a huge achievement. In order to get to this point you learned to take yourself seriously. You faced your demons, listened to the subconscious voices, and embraced them. Well, the completion of the novel, and the farewell to the characters you’ve nurtured for some months, demands the same level of consciousness and the same commitment to your emotional world. Using exactly the same tools as were employed in reaching your authenticity, the journal (posted in the blog archive), the time management, the solitude where appropriate, you can say goodbye.

Say goodbye, accept it, and take the rejection by agents and publishers and remember that these days that does not reflect on the value of your work. These days, self publishing, POD publishing and other avenues for showcasing your work, are acceptable and respectable. If, for you, the novel is only complete when it is out there, then pursue that, but, at the same time, make use of the emotional and psychological space you have created through this mourning phase, to start soaking up new ideas, new inspirations.

If writing a novel took solitude and a retreating into self, then this period should have you reconnecting with the outside world; it should have you observing and participating all at the same time. Your notebook should be close at hand, and all and any observations should be written down. Remember nothing is too silly, too insignificant, or too trivial. As I illustrated way back in my first article (posted in the blog archive), the mundane is only mundane when not used properly. Washing dishes, doing housework, talking to your local grocer, browsing the DIY store, observing fellow drivers while stuck in a traffic jam, can all be incorporated into your novel. Or, think about how you might process the difficulties that you have faced in life. Sometimes writing about them, or using the emotion you felt to drive another story, can take you to the next level in your strive for autonomy and peace of mind, as well as helping you make your writing more significant. Be aware, be fully conscious, because the next novel might be just around the corner.

And the most important thing to remember is, that you can be working this new project, while winding down the old one. My own experience has taught me that moving on and allowing the seed of a new story to take root in your head and heart is probably the healthiest thing you can do while you wait for your previous work to be published. If you ‘get stuck’ on only finding a publisher then being a writer will be a cause for frustration and disappointment. Even self-publishing, though taking time and determination, will not give the same satisfaction and peace of mind that writing itself does. So, combine the two, by all means. Or at least, give yourself permission to do both, even if the new project is no more than jotting down notes, and journaling. This is your mental well-being.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Discovering your Strengths - Living your Best Life

How many of us, well into our careers, still live with the mistaken idea that the purpose of most of our activities is to work on those weaknesses and somehow turn them into strengths? I would venture to say, the majority of us, certainly those of us who grew up with post war parents who themselves believed that success in working life and achievement can be measured by the extent to which his has been accomplished.

In the meantime, strengths, natural aptitudes, and in most cases the activities that enhance our well being are almost ignored, simply because so much energy goes into working on those weaknesses.

When put this simply, none of us should be surprised at the level of unhappiness sustained by a lot of people in their jobs.

So, in the face of this general discontent, Marcus Buckingham comes along to shake us up and wake us up. With the help of his, dare I say it, easy to understand theory, we can turn our professional and personal lives around.

What you need to do, is rediscover the strengths that are an integral part of your own personality, and by strengths he means, not only the things you excel at but that also give a sense of satisfaction and contentment. Then to increase well being it is essential to take these discoveries seriously and ensure they can be put to use to either help you choose a new career path or to improve your situation in your current job.

Bosses, he says, must be aware of the natural strengths of employees and work on finding ways of utilising these instead of regularly planning training programmes to help them identify weaknesses that subsequently should be worked on to transform them into strengths because that just isn’t about to happen. It takes much more energy and investment to work on weaknesses than it does to enhance strengths.

Simple, yet it took Marcus Buckingham to point it out. A definite eye opener.