5 Limiting Writing Beliefs to Let Go

Today is Ash Wednesday.  I am by no stretch of the imagination an authority on this or any other Christian holiday, seeing as how I was raised in the Unitarian church, and in Sunday School we learned about needy children of other cultures, mostly Africa.  (Which is no doubt why, to this day, I have a burning desire to visit that continent.) As a child, I don't recall ever hearing much about Ash Wednesday, let alone participating in it.

However, in the church I currently attend, Unity (note subtle difference from the name of the denomination in which I grew up)  Ash Wednesday is a day to think about, and let go of, your limiting beliefs.  Now this is a ritual I can wrap my brain around.  What I'm talking about here are internal limiting beliefs.  You know–those pesky little devils that stop you from moving forward with your writing.  Water_drop_drops_224824_l

I've identified several common limiting beliefs that I encounter with students and clients over and over again.  And, in the spirit of repentance, I thought I'd first confess my own biggest problem in this area.  Here it is: I bump up against myself.  Put in other words, I rebel.  Against my self.  Which is really stupid, I know.  So, if I've scheduled a morning to work on a product I want to create, I'll end up cleaning out a closet.  Or, if I've decide the single most important thing I can do is to work on my novel, I'll work on the products.  How does this rebellion translate to a limiting belief? Ah, that's the tricky part.  But I think its like this: somewhere buried deep in my self-conscious is a limiting belief that I don't take myself seriously enough.  Thus, I don't uphold my schedule.  (If there's a psychiatrist out there who has a different view on this, please weigh in.)

But that's enough about me.  Herewith, the five most common limiting beliefs I see in my clients:

1. I don't have any thing to write about.  Of course you do.  You're alive, aren't you? When first you start to write, the getting of ideas takes a bit of massaging.  You have to work at it, even fake it a bit.  You have to generate energy by jumping in.  How to let go: Using prompts is a great way to deal with this, because they are pre-supplied starting points.  And most often, you start out writing about the prompt, and then end up writing about that incident when you were 21 that changed your life forever.  Which you'd totally forgotten about.  But are now writing about.

2. It won't get published.  Maybe it won't, at least by those lumbering old traditional publishers.  But you can still give it a try.  Because you'll never know until you try.  And thank your lucky stars you live in a time when other options abound.  How to let go: If you want to expound at length on a regular basis, you can start a blog.  If you want to write articles, you can submit them to Ezinearticles or write for Associated Content.  If you want to write a book, you can publish a digital edition or let people buy it through Lulu.  And yeah, lots of those old-timey publishers exist, too, both book and magazine.  You can still submit to them.  And who knows what will happen?

3. I can't finish it. This limiting belief comes up most often in relationship to writing a book-length project, such as a memoir or novel.  Because,  writing a whole book is quite an undertaking.  A worthy undertaking, but an undertaking nonetheless.  How to let go:  Make sure you have the right mindset in place.  Choose an idea that makes your heart beat faster, so  you'll stay interested.  And mostly, know that you can do it.  Because you can.  And will.

4. It's a waste of time.  In our success-based culture, we're all about doing.  And thus if we're doing something that isn't a means to an end, we think its a waste of time.  But creativity is important in and of itself.  Even if you're writing just for yourself, its a valuable experience, because it is meaningful to you.  How to let go: Develop familiarity with the stats that reveal just how important creativity is, not only on a personal, but a societal level.  Start by reading the information Whitney Ferre has collected on her site, or read last summer's Newsweek article.

5. I'm not good enough.  The grandmother of all limiting beliefs for writers.  I'm not good enough.  Or its various permutations:  I'll never be as good as ______.  It's already been done.  And so on and so forth, all of which are just your ego being afraid of change.  How to let go: Write.  And then write more.  Because, you get better the more you write.  And, you gain confidence the more you write.  Confidence to banish these silly limiting thoughts.

So, what limiting writing belief are you going to let go of for Lent?  Feel free to share in the comments.

 Photo by Magstefan, from Everystockphoto.

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18 Comments on "5 Limiting Writing Beliefs to Let Go"

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Sarah Allen
Guest

Its kind of unfortunate how many of these I have faced and am facing. But being aware of them is a good start to overcoming them, and you have some great ideas. Thanks for this!

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Suzanne
Guest
Suzanne

You are a mind-reader, Charlotte. Another limiting belief is “there is not enough time.” I don’t have time to finish even a small thought, so why start? I’m not saying I will give this thinking up for Lent (I might fall down without my crutch!), but it’s something to ponder. Even writing THIS down is helpful to being aware of what I’m really doing: a high (and well-developed, thank you very much) form of procrastination. :-/

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Sarah, No worries, we all face them! Which is why I’m so intimately familiar with them. And yes, being aware is the first step

Suzanne, another excellent limiting belief! Again, pondering is a great place to start…as long as it doesn’t turn into another way to procrastinate. Because, I know that one well: I’m just going to sit here and ponder my novel, and then I wake up half an hour later.

Cherie Reich
Guest

These are definitely great things to keep in mind and let go.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Thanks for dropping by, Cherie.

Trisha
Guest

Great post! I completely agree with all your points.

I don’t see any point in being negative – it won’t get you anywhere. 😉

Rachel Walsh
Guest

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. I’ve thought all of those thoughts, at one time or another. Number five is my particular bugbear, but I’m more than ready to give it up for Lent (and for the looming re-writes of my WIP!)

Thanks for a very thought-provoking post, Charlotte.

Christina NIchols
Guest
Christina NIchols

Thank you for this. I’ve been wrestling with the self-sabotage lately, and after a lot of journalling and soul-searching, can lay it squarely at the door of #5.

And you are absolutely right. The only way to beat this thought is to write, then write some more!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Trisha, you are so correct! Being negative never got anyone anywhere, quite the opposite in fact. And, its so much more pleasant to be positive.

Rachel, I am loving the idea of giving up these self-limiting beliefs for Lent. It is a new one for me, but feels very right and empowering.

Christina, I don’t know a writer on the planet who doesn’t wrestle with #5. And truly writing more is the best antidote.

Maryse
Guest

Mine is: It’s not meant to happen. As I’m getting better at letting things flow I find myself thinking, ‘and what if it’s not meant to happen?’. But that’s just another mind trick. Because if what I dream of is not meant to happen it’s only because something better will take its place. 🙂

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Oh wow, Maryse, that’s a good one! It is a fabulous mind trick to play on yourself. And your answer to it is right one: who are we to say that something bigger and better isn’t going to happen?

Lauri
Guest

Oh yeah. Hmm… what limiting beliefs can I can up? That I don’t have time. Time is a constant for me.And that it’s not good enough. Time is a constant for me. And I read somewhere that it’s not the writer’s job to judge the work, only to finish. I have to tell myself that a few times a day. I will work on those limiting beliefs. Thanks for the push in the right direction.

DAvid Paine
Guest
Loved this post, sweetie! So right about everything, as usual. And your Ash Wednesday experience overlaps with mine. Being on the rather loose (not to say louche, exactly, but that might be fun to try) end of the Episcopalian spectrum, I view Lent as a season of self improvement – so I can be a better person/Christian/whatever – rather than a season of giving up things I love. Why torture oneself when life does such a good job of that anyway? So, for Lent, I try to give up behaviors that hold me back, or keep me unhappy or feed… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Oh God, David, I just love you so much! And I love that we are on the same wavelength about Lent. So, do those certain specific habits have to do with alcohol? Yikes! I’m trying to be more productive as well, and thinking it is going to have to happen by getting up an hour earlier….congrats for making it nearly 5 days already!

David Paine
Guest
The habits have to do with allowing myself to distract myself and/or avoid work mostly during the day. I’m keeping drinks in the wait-and-see category. I’ve never been good at getting a lot of work done at night, but these days it’s nearly impossible. What I’m hoping is that I give myself enough time to get things done during the day so I can go into cocktails and dinner without anything hanging over me. If that works, fine. Otherwise I may need to look at slimming down the cocktail part of the menu to see if I can emerge from… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest

David, I’ve been working on that very same thing–getting so much done during the day that I can have a glass of wine at night. Or watch TV. Or just sit and read. Anything except returning to work. It is the best feeling ever when I accomplish and know that I can relax. And, it doesn’t always happen. Which is okay. Congrats on the 4 + days and keep me posted.

LynnH
Guest
Hmm, I was raised by a Unitarian mother… we didn’t hear about Africa but one of my best friends ever is from Ethiopia. I spent 38 days with her in 3 east African countries about 6 yrs ago. It was world-changing for me. I don’t have problems with most of those numbered/listed items. I do understand how appointments with others are easy to honor and dates/appointments with and for myself, are the first to ignore. Not sure why, but it’s a constant issue. I also have a sense that there are not enough resources to handle some of my dreams.… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest
Oh Lynn, I’m so jealous, as going to Africa is tops on my wish list. Its funny, I was just meeting with a woman last night who said the same thing as you–she has no problem working on her husband’s business, but when it came time to work on her writing, she couldn’t keep her commitment. Common issue for women, we’re innate nurturers. Love your questions about supplies. I, too, look at artists who create things out of steel and what not and wonder how they manage to find that stuff. Maybe they wouldn’t dream it up if they didn’t… Read more »
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