Julie Artz | author, editor, book coach, dragon

[Wyrd Words Weekly] - A weapon in the war on doubt

Published 18 days ago • 3 min read

Hello Reader,

What's the best gift you've ever received? When we think of gifts, we often think of things that come in shiny packages with beautiful ribbons and bows. Or a birthday cake with candles and delicious icing. And I love those too (who doesn't?). But the best gift I got for my birthday this past week was one I gave myself: Time.

That's right. I gifted myself a writing retreat. Three whole days to write with no other responsibilities or agendas. This particular retreat came with an amazing cook, so I didn't even have to prepare food. And it was just what I needed to jump-start my momentum on this story, which had been lagging since the one-two punch of the holidays and a family emergency.

I finished a first draft of Act 1. Added so many new characters and twists and turns. And learned a few unexpected things about where this story is headed that have me even more excited to write it than I already was. But it took carving out the time and intentionally sitting down to write.

So my challenge for you this week is to give yourself the gift of time. Time to write. Time to think. Time to refill the creative well. Whatever you need, YOU have the power to gift it to yourself.

A Weapon in the War on Doubt

I've got a gift for you this week. I know, I know, it's MY birth week, so why am I giving YOU a present? Well, another fun thing I did recently was to co-host an afternoon of writerly introspection with a couple of my favorite local writing pals. We took a past, present, future approach, with activities to acknowledge past writing disappointments, be present in the moment, and look forward to a fulfilling creative future.

I thought I'd share my part of the afternoon, an exercise I often do with writing clients who are feeling really stuck. I gave everyone a piece of paper (not just any piece of paper, mind you, because I'm extra...I made a doubt-demon themed sheet that you can use to play along at home: Don’t let the doubt demons get in your way!) and asked them to take 10-15 minutes to free write about their creative disappointments, doubts, and fears. This could take the form of a letter to doubt, a laundry list going back the past twenty years, or simply the things from 2023 that didn't go the way you wanted them to.

My list included that anthology that's still languishing on submission, the verse novel that doesn't seem to be getting picked up, the six months I spent stuck, spinning my wheels as I tried to find my next story, to name just a few. Acknowledging the disappointments is an important first step in letting them go, so don't skimp here. Really dig into the hurt and disappointment, shed light on it, speak the things you've written out loud if you need to. They are a real and often unacknowledged part of a creative life.

This is tender work. Don't be surprised, if you feel a bit heavy, a bit down, after doing it. I definitely noticed some frowns, some furrowed brows as we completed this part of the exercise together. But then we went out back to my fire pit and we burned our doubts together, releasing them into the air as the fire consumed them.

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It was powerful in the group setting, but I've also done this one-on-one with clients who have something painful they'd like to release with wonderful results. I felt lighter the moment all those doubts and disappointments left my fingertips, and so did my friends.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

What I'm Reading

I absolutely flew through Charmaine Wilkerson's gripping dual-timeline masterpiece, Black Cake. It had everything I love in a book--family secrets, a mystery full of unexpected twists, excellent voice, immigration/displacement x2, and a setting and time period I don't know much about. And at the center of it all, a family recipe for the Black Cake that leant this story its title.

Seemed like the perfect read for my birthday week and it did not disappoint. And of course I had to read it before I could watch the much-anticipated television series on Hulu. I listened to this one on audio (on the drive to and from my retreat) and really enjoyed it in that format because of the broad cast of POV characters.

Hope you find some time for your writing this week!



PS - This is your final reminder that this month's Craft Magic Webinar, Creating Unforgettable Characters, is tomorrow! Join us live at 4pm Pacific Monday, February 12, or watch the recording for just $25:

Julie Artz | author, editor, book coach, dragon

Julie Artz helps writers who dream of a life spent telling stories that matter slay their doubt demons so they can send their work out into the world with confidence. An active member of the writing community, she has volunteered for SCBWI, TeenPit, and Pitch Wars and is a member of EFA, the Authors Guild, and AWP. A social and environmental justice minded story geek, Julie lives in an enchanted forest outside of Seattle, Washington, with her husband, two strong-willed teenagers, and a couple of naughty furry familiars. Check out her weekly newsletter, Wyrd Words Weekly, and subscribe today.

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