April 26, 2016
Note From Rochelle
For years, I’ve helped clients beat writer’s block and establish a regular writing schedule.
Most of my clients would not characterize themselves as writers. Instead, they identify as helping professionals, coaches, and business leaders who want to share their messages with the world. I’ve been able to help them overcome their fears, stay accountable, and share their ideas.
Save the dates! This summer, I’ll be launching Write-A-Thon coaching groups to help you overcome your fears and stay accountable to accomplishing your writing goal. Groups start June 8 (through July 13) and will meet at 12:00 PM noon and 5:30 PM CT.
Today’s tip is the third in my series to help you overcome obstacles. It will help you find and use your writing strengths!
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
Use Your Strengths and Write Now!
By Rochelle Melander
When we recognize and appreciate our assets, we transform our thinking. Instead of seeing needs and deficiencies, we see gifts and strengths. We transform negatives into positives. We see our cup as half-full. —Luther Snow (The Power of Asset Mapping by Luther Snow, p. 46)
One of my teaching mentors gave me this advice about managing a challenging class, “Encourage and reward the positives. Even if they’re small.”
I’ve sat with these words for a few weeks, and they’re shifting my approach to life and writing. In school, I learned key critical thinking skills. They’ve helped me earn degrees, master new topics, and write books. These same critical thinking skills support me in helping clients overcome obstacles and write more. But sometimes, my analyzing gets me stuck in a critical mindset. Instead of writing, I analyze every single problem and misstep in my writing and life. I can barely get a few words on paper before my inner lizard is launching an attack.
After hearing how important it is for students to hear what they’re doing right, I realized that any of us engaged in the challenging task of writing has the same need. I wondered: What might happen if we paid attention to what went well and did more of that? What if we noticed, encouraged, and rewarded our own positive steps forward?
My guess? Noticing the positive would help us write more and do it with ease.
Here’s an exercise to help you notice what you do well.
Take your journal to a coffee shop, library or park bench. Pull out your journal and reflect on the following questions. As you do, think about writing sessions or projects that went well. When you jot down your answers, use as much detail as possible.
*When was I engaged with my work?
*When was I passionate about my work?
*What writing tasks do I find to be easy or do well (or both)? (Structure, interviews, anecdotes, storytelling, persuasion, research, rough drafts, revision, etc.)
Review your answers to the above questions and reflect on the following questions:
*What emerged as my writing strengths? (A strength might be a trait like curiosity, a skill like research, drafting, or editing, or a knowledge base, like health.)
*What practices added to my productivity? (Please define productivity in any way that works for you: writing more words, beginning and completing pieces, putting in a certain amount of time, etc.)
*What practices or situations challenged my ability to be productive?
Change happens when we allow what we do well to transform our writing and lives.
*Based on the above data and analysis, what kinds of projects would you like to do more of? Less of?
*How can your strengths and positive practices improve your writing sessions?
*How can these strengths and practices support you in overcoming your challenges? (For example, I’m great at drafting scenes but often struggle to revise them. One way this strength can help me to revise is to first note the elements that need to added or changed in the current scene. Then, to draft a new scene with those elements in it.)
One of my library students struggles with the technical skills of writing and because of that, he’s often reluctant to join us at the Dream Keeper’s writing table. But this young man loves to draw. We were writing about how we’d change our community for the better, and I invited him to draw his idea. He dove in, sketching out the details of how he’d have police officers collect guns from criminals. I asked him to write a few sentences about what he’d told me. After drawing and explaining his idea, he easily wrote the sentences. Of course, his sentences still had some technical errors—but I could see his pride in finishing an assignment. I’m certain this student will approach his next assignment with a little less fear—partly because he knows he can organize his ideas by drawing them.