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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Are You a Trustworthy Writer?

trustTo an editor, a trustworthy writer is one who delivers what s/he promised by the due date, has confirmed the accuracy of the content and skillfully crafted it.

To readers, a trustworthy writer is one who delivers what they expect.

But what does it mean to trust yourself as a writer? You need confidence in your skill and ability. You need to be willing to keep learning and developing your craft.

Most importantly, you must have integrity. You have to be able to trust that when you make a writing commitment, you can and will honor it.Trust-Yourself

You can’t have that trust if you’ve broken promises to yourself (including New Year Resolutions). You can’t have that trust if you make more excuses than progress or fail to meet your writing commitments.

If you don’t even make commitments, chances are you don’t trust yourself.

Distrust Disguised as Writing Resistance

What might feel like writing resistance could very well be a sign that you simply don’t trust yourself. Behind all resistance is fear and you can’t move through fear if you can’t trust. 

In The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing, Norman Mailer describes the costs of mistrust:

normal mailer“If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material…

“You have to maintain trustworthy relations. If you wake up in the morning with a hangover and cannot get to literary work, your unconscious, after a few such failures to appear, will withdraw.”

Four Steps to Restore Trust

Step 1. Forgive yourself. Let go of former failed promises. Cancel any outstanding resolutions or promises.

Step 2. Carefully select which commitments you will reinstate or create. Any new commitment you make about your writing must be honored. No excuses, no exceptions. So it’s vital that you make only a few, small, do-able commitments. In other words, stop making promises you can’t or won’t keep.

Step 3. Honor the commitments you make by showing up when you say you will – No Matter What!

Step 4. Repeat until habit is formed.

As you repeatedly honor your commitment, you slowly build writing habits. Until the habit is established, you have to rely on will power. Because will power is limited, you want to build the habit as quickly as possible.

My next post will give you tips for quickly converting commitments into sustainable habits. My online Brain Science for Writers class will give you encouragement, accountability, insight and brain-based information to help you create or reinforce writing habits. Class starts Jan 26, 2015.

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