My office desk in 2009. A rare sight that you can see the actual desk.

Most people are not like me. Most people are responsible, upright, law-abiding citizens. I’m very jealous of you. You seem to have things much more put together than I.

I, on the other hand, put things off.

If it can be done tomorrow, I do it tomorrow.

Or the next day.

I am the procrastination QUEEN.

But not about what you think.

I love my job. I love helping authors write incredible books. I love talking to creatives about their art, about how they can put their biggest dreams to work for them. How they can make their impossible todo lists actionable.

I just tend to put off haircuts.

Oil changes.

Checking my PO Box regularly.

Cleaning off my TiVo.

Watching the Netflix dvds (yes, I’m old school; I love dvds still).

I never can find the container for the collection of orphan lids I have in my cupboard. Organizing plastic is so not interesting to me.

I buy too many books. But I don’t read them right away; I savor them. I love knowing I have any number of new books waiting for me.

I have discovered something. Procrastination is my friend in many situations.


Because I am ACTIVELY choosing the things I am spending my time on. I can put my hair in a ponytail. I don’t need to stress about it.

From my research with creatives, I think there’s a lot of us out there who prefer doing creative stuff rather than keeping up to date on things that may or may not mean anything. I can go a year without going to my hairdresser. She likes me to come at least twice a year, so I’m trying, but I can’t bear any more than that. I don’t see the point. Because it DOES NOT MATTER that much to me.

It can matter to others. I’m sorta jealous it does, actually. But it does not matter to me.

Procrastination is a signal to you about what MATTERS.

What do you do first thing when you settle down to your work? Check Facebook?

We need to be honest with ourselves. Facebook matters to us. If you don’t check it, good for you!

If I don’t write something each day, I feel lost. I feel empty. I feel as if there’s too much building up inside and I am going to burst. I MUST WRITE. It MATTERS to me.

If I really cared about my hair, I would go bananas knowing it was growing while I was sleeping.


Maybe that will be me when I’m 89. I have no idea what I’m going to grow up to be quite yet.

PS I cannot wait.

So, if you’re procrastinating on something, does it mean you just don’t care about it yet?


Or, you’re not quite ready.

What is the one thing you’re procrastinating about TODAY?

(If it’s getting a haircut, call me. We’ll be BFFs.)

Is it the book you’ve been telling yourself you want to write?

Is it trying for a new job that would mean more money?

Is it a new creative venture that just seems out of reach?

Does it feel clumsy?

Does it feel awkward?

Is it easier to just wait?

OR . . .

Are you scared?

Are you anxious?

Are you listening to the wrong voices? (aka, people who have no bearing on your efforts or results)

I call FULL STOP on the dithering.

If you are procrastinating, what exactly is it for? What purpose does it serve?

Let’s unpack it some more.

  1. We procrastinate because we’re afraid or we’re anxious.

    Because we’re not sure about this direction, we’re not sure it will work, we’re not sure we can do it. Those are all valid reasons for FEELINGS, but not valid reasons for WAITING aka PROCRASTINATION.

  2. We procrastinate because were clumsy or we’re awkward and we want more information.

    Now we’re getting somewhere. Procrastination = MORE INFORMATION NEEDED. Still not a reason to stall. Go find the info.

  3. We procrastinate because we’re not ready, we don’t think we can afford it, we don’t have time for it.

    Again, THERE WE ARE. The truth. What is next? What will we need to feel ready? How can we afford it? How to find the time for it? Does it align with your goals? If not, maybe procrastination is telling you you’re onto the wrong SOLUTION. If it does, what can you do in the next 30 days to MAKE IT HAPPEN?

  4. We procrastinate because we just don’t care.

    THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER. I don’t get more than two haircuts a year (if that!) because I just don’t care that much about my hair. I wish I did. I wish I lived in Milan and walked around all Italian and gorgeous on runways. Then I would care about my hair. It’s just not my focus.

  5. And because I have to have an odd number of bullets in all my lists (yes, I’m weird; look what DOES matter to me!), we procrastinate because we are on Facebook too much. When I want to clear my brain, I look on social media. I do not look at social media when I’m just settling down to focus. Well, I SHOULDN’T.

Time for a story: I, as a wordy person, tend to procrastinate when dealing with numbers, my taxes, accounting, etc. My default is to let my lovely CPA handle it. My default is to only think about it when I have to.

This is NOT a wise use of procrastination. This is me confessing to the Internets that I have to quit doing this sort of procrastination. C’mon! I should be gazing lovingly at my bank accounts. I should be talking sweet nothings to my check book and debit card.

Get the difference? When you procrastinate on something that really doesn’t matter to you, you’re good. Procrastination is helping you focus.

But if you’re NOT dealing with what really has to be something important to you, this is when procrastination is biting you in the . . . rear.

I am always taking measures to improve my interactions with my money, taxes, accounts, bank statements, even my bankers. They give me lollipops. I should love them more.


Because EXTRA EFFORT is required for me to keep at it. And because it surely matters. What good is a business owner who really hates the numbers part of her business? I have a CPA, sure, but I also have to educate myself, pay attention to tax law changes, be strategic. Being a procrastinator doesn’t get me anywhere. And when I procrastinate with my numbers, it’s usually because of #2.

MORE INFORMATION NEEDED. I’ve been a subscriber to several newsletters and magazines to gain MORE information. I now pay a bit more attention. I don’t want to, but procrastination here is an excuse. More information keeps me moving forward.

So . . .

What is the one thing you’re procrastinating about TODAY?

If you have a comment, or want to leave feedback, check in at the Facebook page.

If you’d like help creating more ideas you absolutely love, contact me about creative consulting services.



It’s available!

I never knew.

About the creative anxiety thing.

I was told by my great-grandmother that we were just high strung.


Ya think?

That’s four generations of “high strung,” which can pretty much qualify my paternal line as having something akin to generalized anxiety disorder.

It’s something I live with.

A few years ago, I had no idea why I would get so wired about things. Why trying new things as a writer, or pushing myself on a writing project would make me feel so jittery.

Even this morning, as I sent out an email that made me nervous, I realized that now, TODAY, I finally notice when my generalized anxiety shows up in my life. Took me awhile to catch on, as those things go.

It happens when I’m VISIBLE.

Why does visibility bother me so much?

It bothers me when it’s MY writing, MY ideas, MY stuff out there, hanging out for all to see.

It’s so easy for me to pitch other people’s projects. “NOT MY BOOK.”

That’s been a mantra of mine since the mid-1990s.

“Not my book. Not my book. Not my book.” It allowed for distance, for me to be the copyeditor, the proofreader, the marketer, the consultant, the agent.

But when I’m visible?


And I have to realize why that makes me quake in my boots.

I don’t expect it. I send out dozens of pitches each week, I pitch my client projects while having a normal conversation about the weather. I can completely mark up a page of someone’s academic journal article in 30 minutes. No anxiety. But I know I can add value. I can help. I can do something.

But I go all anxious when it’s my own. I shrink. I don’t think of it in terms of adding value. I think of it as “will they accept it? Is it good enough?”

I’m sure many of the writers reading this get what I mean.

It’s not second nature to pitch MY OWN WORK. It’s my first impulse to pitch my clients, to help writers, to be of service.

Until it’s mine. Until it’s me.

It’s this anxiety thing. It changes my brain, makes me forget how to show value, how to be of value, how to be in the moment, because I’m so terrified of being visible.

I wish I could do better. I am, actually. I used to have zero knowledge that this was happening. Now I am aware. I know it happens. I catch myself doing it. Slipping into anxiety when I need to be present.

And it shows up at the strangest times. Times when I think I’ve covered all my bases, and lo and behold, I didn’t. I worried too much about being visible and forgot about being of value.

So imagine my horror when folks asked me if they could see a sample of my new LIGHT YOU UP 2016 Creativity Planner.

I hadn’t even thought of it.

And I thought of a lot of things.

I made sure there were videos, made sure everyone got emails, wrote blog posts, wrote one heck of a product, made sure my payment server was up and running.

Even tried to dissuade my anxiety from showing up and stopping the entire launch process by taking up a running regimen (with an accountability partner) and not eating ANY Halloween candy.

Thing is, I missed the most important piece: showing the value of my product. Being of value to you, my wonderful readers.

I’m sorry.

And I’ve got something to make it up to you.

A sample. Go here to get access.

While you’re doing that, I’ll keep talking to you about creative anxiety.

It’s a real thing. Lest you think you are just “high strung” like my great-grandmother told me my family is.

When I was a child. I thought it meant we used to be in the circus.

There’s more to it than that.

You can have anxiety about anything. It doesn’t need to be strictly creative.

It just needs to be something that makes you worry, even a little bit.

We’re weird humans, creatures of habit. Perhaps it’s changing your habit, changing one thing in your life and suddenly, anxiety rears its ugly head.

But where does creative anxiety come from?

Anywhere, really.

Fear of failure. The fear that you aren’t going to be able to stick the landing.

Fear of success. The fear that you will stick the landing and then not be the same. You’ll change and you’ll be a terrible person, for getting a book deal, having more money, or gaining a lot of fame.

Perfectionism. This anxiety is so hard to shake off. It can make us forget the value we ARE, how we give so much to the world, how we share, and bring joy. It forces us to focus only on if we’ve done it according to some ridiculous protocol. Usually picked up unconsciously somewhere a long time ago.

Not good enough. This is what gets me every time. I want everything I create to be good. I want it to be helpful, but I get so focused on how that affects ME that I forget how it affects OTHERS. I am determined to work on this one.

The mindset. Living and being creative with anxiety is learning to stop in the middle of the action (in media res) to take a deep breath, to reflect, to step forward with courage, with determination to try again.

Does that help?

So, if we’re anxious, what do we DO about it? You know, after you stop, take the deep breath, reflect, and step forward with courage and determination.

A couple of scenarios:

A gal I know, Eva, has always wanted to be a writer, ever since she was a little girl. She’s won awards, wrote stories in notebooks, was on staff at her high school’s paper, took every journalism class she could, and then graduated from college, got married, had a kid, and up until last year, thought everything in her life was hunky dory. And then she read a book that moved her, or met someone that reminded her of the little girl she used to be. She’s reminded of her dream: to write. But anxiety rears up quite fast. But to write what? What does she want to write and if she did write it, who would buy it? And if someone could buy it, is it good? Does it need work? How does Eva even know where to begin?

Greg, a technical writer, has made a living from his writing. He’s good at it, but it’s not all he wants to do with his life. He has always thought he would be excellent at writing science fiction. He’s attended a couple of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America meetings, surfed a few scifi author websites, and thinks he could do a decent job at a novel, if he knew how to start. He’s decided to go to his local independent bookstore and ask for a book on writing fiction. But he’s anxious to really DO something. Is this the right thing?

Molly, a young mom, spends her days watching her rambunctious twins and stopping them from putting anything and everything into their mouths. She thinks “there has to be a book in here somewhere” and does a quick search online. She finds a self-published book about raising twins, a bunch of picture books that sound hilarious, about crayons quitting and dragons loving tacos, but she thinks she could write a picture book for toddlers about being toddlers. Right? She feels a little burst of excitement and then a bunch of anxiety all at the same time.

What do these writers do first?

How does their next step alleviate creative anxiety?

  1. Action. Any sort of action. Buying a book on writing fiction and reading it is one action. But a better action for Greg would be to buy the book, read it, and then start writing a book of his own. Use the exercises and the inspiration from the howto book on writing fiction. WHAT? Before he knows anything about anything? Before he even understands the business? Yup.

  2. Action. Reaching out to ask questions, get coffee, with that someone Eva ran into who reminded her of her dream. Asking around: “Does anyone know a writer? Do you know anyone who writes novels?” WHAT? Before she knows anything? Before she even understands the business? Yup.

  3. Action. Molly should get back on Google and keep looking for more information. She should find out about a picture book writing class that’s happening in her area in the next few months. She should join a reading group at the library where her twins refuse to sit still, but she runs into someone who knows about an organization that could help her learn to write picture books. WHAT? Before she knows anything? Before she even understands the business? Yup.

Yes, there’s a message here. Yes, it’s deliberate.

When I’m feeling anxious, especially about my creativity, I try to do one thing to push myself forward. I read, do Internet research, reach out and talk to someone. I don’t put it off for another day. I do it then. Right then.

Action. It’s part awareness, part forward motion. Together, it changes the game. And that disarms anxiety. While you’re moving, anxiety has to move with you.


Make it tough for you to sit still, to continue to let anxiety rule over you. Make it hard for anxiety to win.

Again, to grab a sample of my LIGHT YOU UP 2016 Creativity Planner, go here. You’ll love it!

If you have a comment, or want to leave feedback, check in at the Facebook page.

If you’d like help creating more ideas you absolutely love, contact me about creative consulting services.



There are lessons everywhere, trust me.

I was recently in Disneyland.

It was really fun. The last time I was there was when I was 13, and I’m . . . well, older now. So, a few things were exactly the same as they were in 1988, but a LOT of things were different.

The lines are horrendous and we had fastpasses for many things, but you go on Space Mountain once, you sorta want to go again without waiting for the fastpass hours. It’s not a very long ride, but oh the rush.

Space Mountain was my favorite ride in 1988, but in 2015, California Screamin’ has dethroned it. Of course, this is over in the other park, but it’s all Disney.

And I love it. I wish I could put a roller coaster with a upside-down loop in my backyard, that is how much I loved it. I stood in line for nearly 90 minutes just to ride it one more time. It is 45 seconds of thrill, I’ll tell ya.

Why did I willingly stand in line for over an hour in sweltering California fall heat? For that 45 seconds. And I would do it again and again and again.

It reminds me of the Elizabeth Gilbert podcast (the one I referenced last week) when she interviewed Brene Brown. It reminds me of inspiration bending down to whisper in a creative’s ear: “When can we do that again?”

An hour of waiting for 45 seconds of sheer inspiration.

That’s about right.

We can liken it to our creative lives. There’s a lot of uncertainty, waiting, perspiring, inching along in a slow-moving line, more waiting, more wondering, more anxiety, all for that 45-second rush.

So, what do we do?

Do we refuse to get in line for the ride any more? Are we afraid that we can’t handle it? Are we afraid that we’ll wait in the line, and then give up halfway through as we inch closer to the front?

I watched people (in fact, I did it once myself) wind their way backward through a long line of people to get out of line (only because we found our family member and wanted them to be with us on the ride). Everyone you pass has this sort of panicked look on their face and asked us: “Is it broken? What happened?”

You learn to say the excuses you usually say, “Nothing’s wrong. Lost our family member. The ride is not broken.” And you say it all the way through the winding line until you are at the end of the line.

I feel as if this is an exact replica of what fear of failure does to creative thinkers.

First, the line is insurmountably long. It’s at least an hour’s wait in the hot sun; even in the shade it’s way too hot. And you wonder why the line won’t move faster, why things aren’t working like you expected. You realize you should have peed first, you think you might be hungry, you get thirsty. You start to consider all things that could go wrong.

“We could get to the front and the ride COULD break. We could to the front and they would have to put us in separate cars. What if it’s boring? What if it’s too scary? What if I get soaked and then have to walk around in wet clothes all day (if it’s that hot, who cares?)? What if I slip and hurt myself? What if I scream like a banshee and people think I’m weird?”

I’m totally adding to the drama here. Riding Splash Mountain at Disneyland is not nearly fraught with as many fears as this.

But neither is the creative work you’re doing. And we get hung up on the smallest things with that, don’t we?

“We could get to art show and the electricity could go out. We could get to the publisher and they send us to somewhere else. What if I’m not a good artist? What if people think my crafts are dumb? What if I get embarrassed by sending my work to a crit group? What I get hurt? What if people think I’m weird?”

See what I mean?

And then when I was in line for California Screamin’, for the rush, for that 45 seconds of awesomeness, I’m not thinking to myself, oh, this line is long, this line is too long.

Because I LOVE the rush, the inspiration.

People, we’ve got to LOVE the inspiration more than we love the fear of failure.

We’ve got to love the 45-second rush more than we love the angst of standing in a long line.

Recently, I went through a bit of a long Disney line with a project that I started a long, long, long time ago. It feels as if I’ve been standing in this line for almost my entire life. And now, I’ve just gotten back in line all over again.

I fear a lot of things. Failure, big time. All the worries (that I called boring last week) are rushing back in. This is not something most of you would consider creative, but it’s the most creative, most cathartic work I’ve ever embarked upon.

And I’m scared. Shitless.

Sometimes I’m frozen in place, watching all of this play yet again in my life. I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think I can handle the pressure all over again.

I worry that I will faint. I worry that I will get to a point in this line where I can no longer endure. I worry I am too weak, too cowardly, too NEW.

Ah-ha, you say.

Trish does have a breaking point.

Yes, I do. In fact, I have many, many, many breaking points.

Lest you think this blog is written by someone who has all the answers, let me set the record straight. I don’t know much, but what I do know makes me realize how brave it is when anyone of us puts a foot forward on a creative journey, any creative journey.

To breathe is to be creative.

Sometimes, it feels as if my past failings are once again winning. And then it gets hard to breathe.

This is when I lean in, get back into my creative process. I gather materials (today, I’m pulling books from bookshelves and piling them everywhere; a sign I’m in the midst of a creative conundrum; when I feel more courageous, I’ll start putting them back on my bookshelves) and I digest them.


Of course I’m feeling fear of failure. Of course, the voices are back, taunting me, taunting this work I am doing all over again, so fresh from a work that I thought was already done.

Of course I’m feeling weak and afraid and scared to death.

Especially in the wee hours of the night, when we should not listen to our lizard brain, when everything seems lost, when everything seems as if it will never be right again.

Of course, I’m fighting the fears of “who do you think you are?” and standing up straight (or sitting up straight) and replying OUT LOUD, “I matter!”

I matter!

I am the source of all of this fear. I swear.

I try to discount myself.

I shove my needs to the side and take care of others.

I back down when someone insists I give them more than I give myself.

And then I have to remind myself.

I matter!

I do!

The second thing shows up as fear of success. This is the big one. This physically hurts. This is the heat, the hunger, the thirst, the need to pee and you’ve been in line for an hour, and like have an hour to go. You so wish it was your turn for the 45-second rush.

But it’s not. First, you have to understand there is a value exchange going on here. You’ve got your willingness to give up something that matters in order to get something that matters more.

Stand in line; get a 45-second rush.

In a creative journey, when you experience fear of success (as I am right now), you’re exchanging what mattered before, what you still thought mattered for something that you had no idea would matter so much, that you now realize matters so much more.

All this talk about what matters.

Value exchange, am I right?

In a nutshell, I will stay in line for my 45-second rush, just like I will hang in on this creative journey I’m on and know that it will be good. The inspiration, the hope, the lovely LEAPING, the RUSH will keep me going.

I will not give up.

Will you?

If you have a comment, or want to leave feedback, check in at the Facebook page.

If you’d like help creating more ideas you absolutely love, contact me about creative consulting services.



So true, right?

Sometimes there’s very little light.

In a world in which stepping out and asking “Wait, why are we doing this again?” is seen as being troublesome, as stirring up trouble, as making mountains out of molehills.

You know what I mean. It’s very hard to live in this world and keep a growth mindset, to keep in mind that just because we can’t see everything, doesn’t mean we have to shut down and operate from a place of fear, or as Carol Dweck describes it, a “fixed mindset.”

Sure, we have to be sure in our thinking, determined to see things through, but having a growth mindset, being whole-hearted (as Brene Brown challenges us) is the ability to stop, change course, stop, start again, and generally, operate as if you know you’re going to succeed, even if you don’t.

Just thinking about that makes me stress.

I don’t like not sticking my landings.

I’m a Type A, after all. I’m strong, I’m courageous, I’m sure.

And when I don’t stick the landing, I feel small, insecure, and usually completely lose all ability, at least momentarily, to keep pushing forward.

I think mindset is the most important piece of a creative process.


I know, I’m preaching to the choir.

But bear with me, please?

We’ve got to get this. This is the pinnacle of existential scaffolding. This is why I have started this site, why I blog, why I develop products. The point of all of this is to help creatives embrace the right mindset so that they can become more successful, better at their creative goals, and begin to set bigger and bigger goals every single time.

I know.

Everyone says that.

But I’m going to say it again and again and again.

First though, listen to this podcast episode hosted by Elizabeth Gilbert with special guest, Brene Brown.

I’ll wait.

Are you back? Wasn’t that amazing? Talk about mindset. Talk about the RIGHT mindset.

Did you hear when Brene answered the question about the women who was angry at inspiration?

That our inspiration is THE THING that must guide us through.

That’s the right mindset.

You can say, “No, Trish, the right mindset is when you are calm and centered and handle things in a methodical manner.”

Um, bored. <ensue snoring>

If we don’t have inspiration, DIVINE INSPIRATION, we are done. DONE!

And what I mean by divine inspiration, is that we are feeling like we want to stretch, we want to try something we’ve never tried before and it was given to just us, JUST US, divinely, and to no one else. It was embedded into our DNA in this way for us to try.

Sure, Elizabeth Gilbert talked about in her book, BIG MAGIC, that she had an idea and that if she wasn’t open to it, someone else would be. She had a great example.

I’m totally okay with that working for her, but I have ideas that are MINE. I REPEAT, MINE. They have been a piece of me since birth, and it is my job to send them out to the universe.

But what if I have an idea that someone else should be writing?

I don’t think it was mine to begin with. That’s the issue I have with Elizabeth’s story. Here’s the thing. I do not disagree with her, but I choose to view the ideas in the universe in a different way. And guess what?

That’s a growth mindset!

<Happy, Snoopy dancing ensues!>

I love how Brene talked about about inspiration.

My childhood was hijacked by people who talked a lot about divine inspiration, but never about their ideas, about ideas from God. Ideas that are given to us in the Bible.

That’s the only scenario in my childhood in which divine inspiration was celebrated. The prophets, the biblical scribes, they all were divinely inspired.

Great! But that does not mean that no one else was.

I believe in divine inspiration. I believe I was handed a message to deliver and not that I’m a prophet/prophetess, or a savior, or a biblical writer.

Nope. NO. NO.

I am not interested in starting another cult, trust me. Been there, done that.

I just believe that God speaks to me, through Sophia, or wisdom, the Holy Spirit, who before those divinely inspired biblical writers got a hold of her, was a big piece of our culture. I LOVE the idea that the one voice that has never gone silent, has never guided me wrong, is translated as wisdom, as Sophia. (If you want to learn more about this, see Sue Monk Kidd’s DANCE OF THE DISSIDENT DAUGHTER.)

I believe whole-heartedly in divine inspiration. And I believe this leads us to the mindset we must have in order to thrive as creatives.

The right mindset is not one in which there’s only one way to our goal. There are lots of ways.

The right mindset is not one in which there’s only one creative process. There are lots of differing processes.

The right mindset is learning to not stick the landing, and then get back up again anyway.

It’s learning to trust inspiration. To trust that your muse/inspiration has great plans for you. It’s what gets you to move, to try, to stretch.

Inspiration is the thing to guide us through.

Now, there are a few potholes. See if you have fallen into any (or all) of them.

  • If I don’t repeat the exact environment from my first attempt, I’ll fail.

  • If I could just pretend I am writing my first novel all over again.

  • I am such a stickler for a better story; why won’t it come together faster?

  • I’ll just keep doing what has always worked; no pushing forward.

  • It’s the editor/publisher/agent’s fault my last book didn’t make a bigger splash.

Any of them sound familiar?

And I’m not picking on anyone, really. I think these to myself too. I get weary, lose my mojo, and blame the mailman for being on time when I’m running to get something in the mail.

I blame my poor dog when he gets in my way when I’m trying to answer the phone.

So, saying this from a position of having fallen into all of the above potholes and . . .true confession, just sitting there for awhile, in the mud and rain. I’m human. I like to feel sorry for myself.

We do this, right? We let go of the mindset and put our brains on neutral. But it’s not really neutral. It’s sliding back into a self-talk that is going to direct us right back to the fear of failure. And we’re so sick of that story. <boring>

Neutral mindset feels like rest. Except it isn’t. It’s never neutral. It’s always, oh crap, look at what you’re not doing. We’ve got to quit resting in neutral and learn to rest in a wholehearted growth mindset.

And we’ve got to start ASAP. This is killing our creative juices, people.

We can’t keep doing this to ourselves.

If we are still trying to rest while giving ourselves the above excuses, we’re just self-talking right back to square one. There is no other way to say it.

And self-talk about fear of failure is pitiful, dull, brain-splitting boring, and stale. Like so stale. As in, you bite into an Oreo and it’s been sitting out on the counter for a week. Ew.

So what do we do when we fall into these little pity party holes, when we’re in neutral, when we think we’re resting?

We use the “reframe to rest” technique (yes, I made it up; got a better title? Tell me!).

  • I have done as much as I can do for today/this week/on this project. I’ll get back to it on Monday/tomorrow/next week, because if I don’t push myself to do something better, I’ll fail.

  • I’ve made lists and planned and my inspiration is so happy right now. I’ve got my notebook and will keep it with me 24/7. I know inspiration is with me; this is going to blow people’s minds!

  • Whew. That was a lot of hard work. Nice job! I am tired, but I will give this creative work the time it needs and I’ll accept that it needs it.

  • When I look back on everything I’ve accomplished already with my creativity, I’m floored. Look at all this awesome stuff that’s now in the world. But I don’t want to rest on my laurels! I want to fly.

  • This past year has been really tough. The thing is, the power is with me, not with others, because I can always write a new book to get back into the game.

Today, for instance, is Friday. I’m really tired. I’ve pushed all week long.

And I want to feel rested and ready for Monday, so I will use the “reframe to rest” in order to not use self-talk that reverts me back to fear of failure. I so have fear of failure’s number!

For me:

  • I have done as much as I can do for today/this week/on this project. I’ll get back to it on Monday/tomorrow/next week, because if I don’t push myself to do something better, I’ll fail.

  • I’ve made lists and planned and my inspiration is so happy right now. I’ve got my notebook and will keep it with me 24/7. I know inspiration is with me; this is going to blow people’s minds!

  • Whew. That was a lot of hard work. Nice job! I am tired, but I will give this creative work the time it needs and I’ll accept that it needs it.

  • When I look back on everything I’ve accomplished already with my creativity, I’m floored. Look at all this awesome stuff that’s now in the world. But I don’t want to rest on my laurels! I want to fly.

  • This past year has been really tough. The thing is, the power is with me, not with others, because I can always write a new book to get back into the game.

You got it. Now steal these five bullets for you. What did you get done this week? How much have you accomplished? Has the past year been just dreadful?

Reframe to rest.

It’s the mindset.

It’s divine inspiration at its best.

If you have a comment, or want to leave feedback, check in at the Facebook page.

If you’d like help creating more ideas you absolutely love, contact me about creative consulting services.




Photo credit: Danielle Laporte

I think something that successful creatives can agree on: no matter how many books we’ve published or art pieces we’ve sold, or how successful of an Etsy shop we have, there’s still a piece of us that wonders if we’re just winging it.

I’m taking a deep breath and raising my hand too.

I think when we all started on this creative journey, BEFORE we had any books published, or art sold, or Etsy shop, we were SO DANG LUCKY.

And naive.

Thank goodness.

Naivete is nectar of the gods, because as we all know, just because you have some success, doesn’t mean you suddenly are skipping down the yellow brick road alongside Dorothy and Toto.

Why is it so hard for successful creatives (published writers, professional artists, solopreneurs who make money from what they make with their own hands) to believe they will be successful again?

This is the million-dollar question.

I wish someone would just tell us and we could quit feeling like imposters.

If only it were that easy.

We know that other people’s opinions of us are only going to get us so far. Like a grandma in a motorized wheelchair-scooter who is not in a hurry, that’s how far.

Bump into said granny in a wheelchair-scooter while riding your skateboard?

That’s the power we need, folks. That’s our rocket engines firing.

Mad granny chasing after a kid on a skateboard! Watch out, kid!

That’s how far we can get when we accept that we just might belong.

If I were that skateboard kid, I would be feeling so afraid for my safety and wishing I had left the little old lady alone!

So, here’s a few thoughts about recognizing imposter syndrome and what do to about it.

When does imposter syndrome show up?

Imposter syndrome lives in our expectations.

Say, you expect to revise a manuscript this coming week. You anticipate it to be easy. You even tell yourself (and others), “I’ve got this.”

And then when you sit down to revise, you realize it’s not as easy as you originally thought and while you had a plan, you now are not sure it’s the greatest plan, or you’re not exactly sure how this “plan” will come about.

Or, say you have a hard time at your significant other’s office party each year because you don’t get all the corporate slang and the idea that quarterly earning reports are interesting make you wonder why you’re even there.

Or you show up at a creative function and you just can’t bear the thought of rubbing shoulders with other “more famous” creatives.

It’s all about expectations.

You “expect” a revision plan to work. And it has to work flawlessly. When it doesn’t, you doubt your place doing it.

You “expect” that you will be the odd person out at a corporate party. You don’t expect to run into other “closeted creatives” there, because they are all nursing their half-sipped wine glass too and trying not to stand out at all. Because you don’t know they are also there, you feel like crawling into a heating duct to hide.

You “expect” that you will be the least successful creative at this event and that everyone will know it. As if you have a poster board around your neck that lists all your sales figures for books/art/made products. Because you feel so conspicuous as “not successful enough” and you are RECITING your sales figures to yourself, you seem distant, not really listening, lost in your own head.

Think about this. Everyone is an imposter at one time of their life or another. We won’t ever completely fit in or wonderfully revise or be able to stay with creatives at our level every single time. There’s a reason for all this discomfort, a reason for the expectations.

We’re upleveling.

Urban Dictionary defines upleveling like this: “To transform and grow in an area previously stagnant.”


Even the word stagnant hurts me a little.

So I am an imposter. I AM!

This proves it.

Why do I have to uplevel anyway?

You don’t. But it’s not a conscious thing. You will uplevel even if you’re not paying attention.

Suddenly, your spouse’s boss comes over and asks you about your art show in a month. You stare at her, shocked. “How did you know?” She replies that your partner told her, and that she’d like to come. She ends up BUYING two of your pieces.

Suddenly, as you’re sitting and staring at a giant corkboard full of notecards, which in the future will be a finished book, even if you can’t quite see it yet, you decide to check Facebook, and lo and behold, a story on the news flashes by on your newsfeed and it solves the missing plot hole. Your cards rearrange themselves it seems, and you’re there.

Suddenly, you’re in the lobby of said creative conference, having a glass of wine and two people tell you that this is their first conference and how many times have you attended? You find out out later this is the interior design blog team who have two books out and are so famous, you’re a bit shocked you didn’t recognize them. They tell you they are not sure quite what to do first at this conference, so you become their buddy and you all end up becoming fast friends and supporting each other in the years to come.

Imposter syndrome or not-good-enough-itis is just bullshit.

It’s you thinking you can predict the future …WHEN YOU CAN’T.

Knock it off, creatives!

Aren’t we bored of this yet?

This “okay, so I’ll do this and then this will happen and then this will happen.”

How about we try “Okay, so I’ll do this and see what happens. What could happen? I’m so excited to see what will happen.”

We’re short-circuiting our ability to change our self-talk, with this little sneaky thing called imposter syndrome.

Or as I call it because I like to call imposter syndrome names: Not-Good-Enough-Itis

Not-Good-Enough-Itis has issues. Severe, really quite severe issues.

And he preys on creatives all the time. It’s like when he hooks into one of us, he is so happy. He’s got one of us separated from the pack. And he’ll try to take us down.

How do we fight back?

We remember how fear of failure tried to waylay us with all that crappy self-talk.

“See, we told you. This is you failing. You did a terrible job. You didn’t think it through. You didn’t research enough. You reached too high.”

When you get targeted by Not-Good-Enough-Itis, you’re going back into your closet, the very back, into an old shoebox you hid underneath all the other shoeboxes, and you’re digging in it, until you find a cassette tape. This tape is dusty, it’s old, you’ve been able to live without it for awhile now, but here you are, trying to find it.

You’re going to put it back in the tape player. You’re going to roll tape.

You’re going to listen to that crappy tape and believe it.



That’s all we are?

The first moment things get tough and we go crawling back to where we came from.


And don’t judge. You’ll just be next.

I can’t tell you how many creatives say to me “I don’t think there is anyone else who understands this.”

Or “Every time I try to tell the truth to myself, I just don’t believe it.”

Or, and this is the best, “My critique group looks at me like I’m crazy.”

Can we get over this brave face stuff? Can we call it what it is?

Brave is turning Facebook into Realbook. (Yes, I say we rename it. Mark Zuckerberg, are you listening?)

Or you’re the one trying to revise a manuscript. “Great, I’ve stared at this board for so long. I don’t see how I can make this change. I see how it improves it, but I don’t see it yet.”

Facebook would be: “Am revising. Send wine.”

Realbook would be: “I am taking the wine away from my Muse. I don’t know how yet, but I know I can do this! Time for the magic sauce.”

You’re having a crappy day just anticipating your wife’s work party. “Great, I’ve got to show up and try to pretend I care. No one cares about me!”

Facebook would be: “I have to go drink wine with a bunch of suits!”

Realbook would be: “I think I might run into a secret creative tonight. Wish me luck!”

Or you show up in the lobby of the creative conference hotel, take one look around and say to yourself, “This place has bad vibes. I am going to drink away my sorrows.”

Facebook would be: “3 pm and I’m drinking. Who’s in?”

Realbook would be: “I’m going to see if I can find one person who might be more afraid of this conference than me. Hey, you two, what’s the name of your blog?”

It’s all about expectations. It’s all about the self-talk tape we play, on a loop, on our head.

Not-good-enough-itis and imposter syndrome wear masks and sometimes smell bad. They might drink too much, but they definitely know how to shut the work down.

“Watch Real Housewives! Not Master Chef, that’s too inspiring. Not The Voice, you’ll just get ideas.”

So, where are we now? I think you now have met the rude man, Mr. Itis. Isn’t he a treat? And you’ve met his wily sidekick, Imposter.

Not that impressive, however.

I’m much more impressed with what you will do in the next few days.

Promise me something?

Can you identify just ONE expectation and can you try to create some magic around it? Turn on the positive self-talk radio station, look for the luck, and don’t beat yourself up when you fall.


I can’t wait to hear what sort of magic shows up for you. It’s going to be EPIC!

And now I must go deal with Not-Good-Enough and Imposter. The two of them are going to take a long walk off a short pier . . .

If you have a comment, or want to leave feedback, check in at the Facebook page.

If you’d like help creating more ideas you absolutely love, contact me about creative consulting services.




Perfect piano scales. Perfect smiles. Perfectly dusted knickknacks. Perfectly balanced checkbooks.

Have we lost our souls striving for perfect?

I have no problems with excellence, experience, doing something WELL.

All together now: Full hearts, clear eyes, can’t lose!

I have big problems with perfect.

We know perfect doesn’t exist, right?

We know we made it up somewhere along the way and now we reject it, fight against it, and still struggle to live up to the false paradigm it creates.

It’s all LIES.

A facade.

Built in the air, with ZERO existential scaffolding. Built up so that WE can believe a LIE.

We all know this.

And yet, we still believe it.

I still believe it.

This is where it gets REALLY personal for me.

My name is Trish and I’m a perfectionist.

I do treat it like an addiction. It IS an addiction.

Too many of us suffer from it, are wounded because of it, and have shut off too many lovely things as a result of it.

Most of my childhood was devoted to play, playing dress up, Legos, having tea parties, the usual stuff. It was so much fun!

As I grew older, the peer pressure got really intense. And it told me to be perfect. Perfect hair, clothes, friends, grades, even down to the right school bag.

Normal, right?

Sure. Until I let it start to guide my soul.

It didn’t help that my family was becoming more religiously conservative and every action, word, and thought was subsequently placed through the ringer.

“But a lot of people grow up under strict family or cultural rules and are just fine.”

Maybe they are.

But I bet a lot more than we know struggle deeply in their heart and soul about whether or not they do things perfectly.

I bet a lot of us who grew up with this way could stand to loosen up a bit more. To let it go.

No, I’m not going to break into song here. I’ve never even seen Frozen.

It’s one thing to be raised with rules and to use them wisely, to use it for good. It’s another thing to use it to torture yourself until your back is metaphorically breaking under the pressure.

No human being is going to do it all correctly. No human being should be giving themselves a butt load of guilt because they did not do it correctly.

It’s like Elizabeth Gilbert talks about in her book, EAT, PRAY, LOVE, how hard it was for her to meditate while in India. Her brain would just not shut off.


She is very vocal about why. Because she was kicking herself for not being perfect, for not doing it better, for not keeping up with the Joneses, for hurting people, for failing at things she couldn’t possibly do.

And sure, there are times when we need to feel guilt about these things, but shame?

Oh hell no.

If something is keeping me so amped up that I can’t take care of myself, it’s gotta go. I matter too!

But perfectionism teaches me that I do not matter, only what I do perfectly, matters.

So, now you know. This is my secret shame. This is what it all comes down to, for me, in my life.

The pursuit of perfect.

I carry it around like a yoke, bending me toward the ground. I spend too much of my waking moments thinking about what I’m not doing perfectly. In fact, I’m so worried I’m not perfect, I’ve discovered, that I spend time thinking through what I should have done, what I should have said, how should I have responded.

It’s like keeping track of a bunch of armchair quarterbacks.

“Throw it!”

“No, run it!”

“Throw it, you loser!”

“What is wrong with you? Run the damn ball!”

Lovely, eh?

No wonder we’re so tired all the time. It’s a marathon trying to keep up with the voices in our head.

And the voice of perfectionism is so stinking loud and obnoxious. And other times, it’s cruel, vengeful, and bitter.

“Why didn’t you do that better?”

“Why did you make that mistake?”

“Can’t you do anything right?”

“You really are worthless, aren’t you?”

It makes my blood boil.

And at the same time, I believe every word of it.

Deep down in my secret soul.

I will march against this. I will wave banners. I will scream as loud as I can at this perfectionism.

But unlike real marchers (I am only marching in my head, mind you!), I still believe every single lie that perfectionism feeds me. I can yell and scream all I want, but I’m addicted to this. I need it.

So, what am I supposed to do?

What are we all supposed to do?

Quit playing so small.

What does that have to do with perfectionism?


Remember me? The perfectionist?

I took part in a book proposal boot camp about six months ago. Cool, right?


We took eight weeks to work through all the pieces of a book proposal and to post weekly assignments to a private boot camp forum. I was in the group with 25 other women, and all of us were working on proposals.

All was going swimmingly until I had to post a rough draft of a section of my proposal. In my head, I’m thinking rough draft. And I was working on not being such a perfectionist, so I threw up a very first drafty chunk of what I thought my proposal would be, what I thought my book would be, and waited for feedback.

I did not have the full details of what this boot camp was about. A lot of the boot camp members had well-thought-out proposals already in process (I was starting from scratch), and they posted these beautiful and well-written pieces that made my heart pound.

Perfectionism was rearing its old ugly head.


I kept at it though, and the next week, posted another very rough section of my book proposal, still thinking in my head, well, I’m starting from scratch, right?

This time, the writing posted by other members of the boot camp was even MORE beautiful. Like, they had been working on their project for YEARS.

And it wasn’t a case of false advertising. I was perfectly valid to post rough drafts. That was not the point.

I got challenged to revise. But I only could see the beautiful work by others. I couldn’t see how mine could ever be beautiful.

The point was that other people’s beautiful work in progress made my ugly work in progress look so much less than perfect.

It’s a common scenario, I think.

We perfectionists are walking right along, having an ordinary day, and someone one-ups us when we’re not expecting it.

Talk about stress.

I leaked vulnerability. I felt exposed, raw, and wounded.

I hate feeling like this. My perfectionist tendencies despise being surprised like this.

I want to be ahead of the game. I want to know what I’m getting into. I want to be prepared. Perfect.

Truth: I lost it.

Full on, backed up, told the boot camp leader that I needed to restructure the book proposal idea, and basically did not post any more writing for the rest of it.

In other words, I responded by playing small.

I am triggered so harshly by situations like this.

It seemed right and natural at the time.

Six months later, I know playing small was not the right choice.

Here I am again right now, not in a book proposal boot camp, but in more of a real-world boot camp, you might say.

Others are posting their progress and I’m triggered.

As usual.

Rather than retrench and spend yet another six months nursing my wounds…

(I’m not really restructuring anything when I do this anyway; I am literally replaying everything over and over in my head, armchair quarterbacking my life rather than actually LIVING it)

…I’m going to try something new. I’m going to play BIG.

I will fall down. I have already so many times even today.

I will make mistakes. Yippee! I’ve got to get proud of my mistake moments.

It is a sign of playing big! Not making a mistake is a sign of playing small, remember.

You see, when we pay so much attention to the pursuit of perfectionism, we’re not actually expanding. We’re are shrinking to fit into our own perceptions of what perfect means. Or we’re shrinking down to fit into what other people consider to be acceptable. Not perfect. Acceptable.

That’s the other problem with our perceived ideas of perfectionism.

When we think we’re perfect, and look like it to others, we’re actually only conforming to them. And they are not perfect either.

Trust me. I’ve lived this for far too long. When someone calls me out ruthlessly and I’m drawn into a perfectionism loop (which is what it is), I would often notice a lack of perfect in that person’s life. I wasn’t judging. But it made me curious. If what I was doing was so vital, why didn’t it matter what they were doing?

I noticed this often in the lives of people who were freakishly tough on me. They oozed condescension at me, and then would quickly overlook GLARING errors in someone else.

I finally figured it out.

Some people are not born to be our friends on this planet.

“See ya in another life, brother.” (Yes, that was a tv show LOST reference.)

But what it really boiled down to was that I was under their CONTROL. Perfectionism TOWARD me was a control mechanism. I was being changed to fit someone else’s idea of acceptable.

Perfectionism TOWARD us is never actually about perfect. It’s all an illusion.

Perfectionism TOWARD ourselves is a side effect of other people’s control, but the core reason is because WE BELIEVE THEM.

We can fight against it, yell at it, rage against it, but if we still BELIEVE it, we’re not actually accomplishing anything.

If you have ever been looked down on, or treated as less than human, likely, someone was projecting onto you. Likely, they have never asked themselves why they do that.

That’s okay.

This is not about them playing too small.

This is about US playing too small.

In the next few days you’re likely to experience a trigger event on social media, or in real life, and my challenge to you is this:

Am I going to quit playing small?

If you have a comment, or want to leave feedback, check in at the Facebook page.

If you’d like help creating more ideas you absolutely love, contact me about creative consulting services.



An oldie, but goodie.

It’s so easy for me to fear failure.

I envision failure.

“Oh, I’m so not going to stick that landing right there.”

“Oh, what will they think of me? I should really rethink this.”

For me, and for many of you, this fear of failure shows up at the beginning of the process.

For instance, I’m researching a book proposal right now (mine; I do not give up!) and I’m reading and writing on note cards (a la Elizabeth Gilbert) a lot of factoids about creativity. I’ve read Sarah Lewis’s AMAZING AND MARVELOUS book, THE RISE, and am in the middle of both Ed Catmull’s CREATIVITY, INC. and Dr. Shelly Carson’s YOUR CREATIVE BRAIN.

I swear, every day I take notes, I think to myself at least more than once, “there is nothing new for me to say about this topic, is there?”

Anyone out there raising their hand with me?

First of all, this is fear of failure talking.

Good grief, I”m so bored with this. Is there nothing new my self-talk can say TO ME about my own work besides, “I don’t think you have an original idea here”?

Who does have a truly original idea anyway? It’s all about repositioning, looking at old things with new eyes, and resurrecting time-worn ideas that still work.

VOILA, enter James Webb Young. Yesterday, I shared how I discovered his methodology and how it changed my creative approach.

I also talked about how I ran up against creative blocks through each step of his creative process.

Fear of failure.
Fear of success.
Not good enough.
The mindset.

Today, I want to talk about the process I’ve been in lately.

I don’t think what I’m experiencing is fear of failure. I think I’m dealing with something else.

Remember when I said that Young’s steps:

Young’s Step 1: Gathering Raw Material
Young’s Step 2: Digesting the Material
Young’s Step 3: Unconscious Processing
Young’s Step 4: The A-Ha Moment
Young’s Step 5: Idea Meets Reality

might actually bring up very unique blocks for you. It may be fear of failure, but it may also be something else completely.

Each of these blocks are valid.

I don’t hand you Young’s methodology with my framework in order to stress you out!

I am trying to help creatives to be more self-aware.

What is the block I’m experiencing at this moment? What does it mean? How can I move past this block and get back to my creative work?

Segue back to my proposal anxiety and block.

I’m not so much worrying about fear of failure (I mean, yes, it’s there too; big time), but rather fear of success.

Once you get bored with the fear of failure self-talk (and I am so bored, because I recognize it for what it is—same old, same old bullshit I always tell myself), you will just come up against another block.

For me, it’s fear of success. The thing about fear of success is that what’s required now is not more hard work, but an energy exchange. A release of the old self-talk toward an adoption of brand-new self-talk.

As I face this fear of success, I have to stay self-aware even more than when I was fearing failure. That’s the thing about this framework. It eases you in. You finally get around one block, you have to work harder to get around the second one and on it goes.

I don’t say this to quell the enthusiasm. In fact, you deserve to know the truth.

But sometimes you can work so hard, but still hold onto the old paradigms, the old beliefs. My fear of success is me going through this process of letting go of what hasn’t worked or served me. I’m going to keep going, not because I’m trying to just change my self-talk, but because I’m trying to change how I view the world.

For instance: Being creative is effort. It’s work. It’s fun! And then you, like me, decide to push yourself and have goals around your creative efforts and it gets harder.

It surprised me too!

In my view of the world, doing something like writing a book should be easy, effortless, and always fun.

In reality, writing a book, making art, selling products on Etsy, while fun (because you aren’t creative without inspiration, which is the fun part), is more about pushing yourself to the next level. Not settling on your laurels.

You’re inspired to do what you do for a reason. When you’re facing fear of success, it’s so much more than self-talk, it’s ingrained self-worth.

“Do you deserve this?”

“Have you earned this?”

Fear of success sees that you’re doing an end run past the self-talking peeps AND that you are going to make it.

So they turn on the pressure. Start reminding you of all the times you HAVE FAILED. They get a megaphone and start blasting you with louder accusations.

“Don’t you dare!”

“No. No. No. No.”

“Don’t even THINK about it.”

You are MUCH easier to deal with when you’re just afraid to fail. But when you start to create kinetic power, you’re a whole new ballgame, and your self-talk knows it.

You know it! The energies are stirring and something’s changed.

So, the block HAS to show up. It has to stop you.

I’ve read Steven Pressfield’s THE WAR OF ART so many times and this is his main premise. The more pressure you exert to become a better version of yourself, the more resistance you will get. His example was something about Mother Teresa and a used car salesman, but get the book. You’ll be glad you did.


The next step.

As I work through my fear of success, I have to keep repeating to myself, “I’m letting go of old ways that no longer serve me.” I no longer wish to kowtow to someone or blend in anymore. I’m going to stand out. I’m going to chuck the dimmer switch in the garbage.

Full blast. This is me.

Hello, world!

Easier said than done.

I’m changing up my old patterns:

  • I used to think I couldn’t run anymore. I run every other day.

  • I used to think I couldn’t give up eating sugary treats. I did. I also even juice veggies and get those wonderful micronutrients instead.

  • I used to think I could never write a memoir. I’m writing one and it feels good.

  • I used to think I needed an MFA before submitting a novel to an agent/editor. I’m going to submit my novel sometime in 2016 to an agent (I still want an MFA).

  • I used to think I wasn’t anything because I never went to college. I know now that I can give myself the gift of college and I am SOMETHING <strutting my stuff>.

  • I used to think I was a terrible money manager. I’m actually a BRILLIANT money manager. I just want to be better than before.

  • I used to think I had to have tons of clients in my freelancing work. I now know that I want a handful of clients that I adore and that adore me.

  • I used to think I had to bend myself into something others wanted. I refuse to bend. I will flex, and I mean FLEX, but I’m not turning myself inside out any more.

  • I used to think I deserved the shame. I refuse to be shamed ever again.

  • I used to think I was the only one. I’m in a community. We’re all in this together.

So, how do you deal with fear of success?

  • Remember back to the moment you asked yourself, “Who am I?” Creatives can often go back into their art, their writing, their scrapbooking, and find that EXACT moment in time when they asked that question. Or they remember the book, or the creative project, or the art they created as an ANSWER to that question.

  • Go find that moment. Dig through journals, find a quiet place and think back in your mind’s eye, or ask a most trusted friend. When did I ask the question, “Who am I?” And what was that answer?

  • When was the last time I actually did something creative that supported and nurtured that answer? Seriously.

When we fear success, we’re usually still believing something somewhere that got through, that is a lie. We’re letting it lead us around by the nose STILL. I may have kicked the fear of failure in the hindquarters, but fear of success shows me that I still am living up to the paradigm that I am actively trying to kick.

It could be family, cultural, even peer pressure. Heck, sometimes I find that I’m trying to be too many things in a day (I’m an entrepreneur and I like all the clients, remember?).

Beating fear of success is watching to see what else is hiding in the shadows. It could be a resurgence of fear of failure, with all the threats you received from people when “you got too big for your britches.” It could be someone warning you that if you “dare to do what you’re trying to do, you’ll die.” Or “It’s a slippery slope right down to hell.”

That last one is a personal favorite. I’ve been haunted by that one. I had a delightful time in a patriarchal church, can’t you tell? <blarg>

I’m going after it. Enough is enough.

The best way to know if you’re fearing success is if you are able to pinpoint the moment you decided “Who am I?” and you still notice that your thoughts and willpower around that moment don’t match up.

It’s when you know that you’re fighting so hard against the patriarchy, but you’re still haunted by their horribleness and threats. It’s when you know you’re so over that rejection, but you keep replaying key pieces of the actual rejection letter/email in your head. It’s when you are waiting to hear a good vibe from an art studio you really like and you’re willing to become whatever they want just so they’ll post your art.

Fear of success is a giant blinking arrow pointing to anything you missed when you told fear of failure that you were enough, that you did matter.

Fear of success spurs you to keep digging, to keep up with the self-awareness, to continue challenging that self-talk, and most important, to fully stand in “Who am I?” and to live it to the limit.

It’s not just hard work that gets you there, it’s realizing that this journey has creative blocks the entire way. Ask any creative.

Every time any creative, no matter what they did before, gets started, they still notice something. Success may be success, but it also is a giant blinking arrow. You can get it before you fear it, but once you notice it, well, it’s part of your daily landscape.

What is the giant blinking arrow pointing to in your creative life?

Paying attention to it and remembering “Who am I?” as a response to whatever the arrow is pointing to will guide you through it.

A Bit More Than You Wanted To Know, But It Might Be Helpful To Someone

To deal with some of this in my own life, I went and got professional therapy, from a psychiatry and counseling center attached to hospital system. It works. It’s so helpful. It changes your life.

I have also used a life coach. If you’d like a personal recommendation, use the contact form.

I now regularly use tapping or the emotional freedom technique (EFT). It’s accupressure work. It does similar work on your energy and stress as acupuncture, without the needles. (I love acupuncture, but a lot of people don’t.) A book I recommend: THE TAPPING SOLUTION by Nick Ortner.

If you have a comment, or want to leave feedback, check in at the Facebook page.

If you’d like help creating more ideas you absolutely love, contact me about creative consulting services.



Buy this book!

Years ago, I found a teeny, tiny book. I loved the title, A TECHNIQUE FOR PRODUCING IDEAS.

How cool is that? I’m a writer, I need loads of ideas.

Bring it on.

But then I read this teeny 48-page book. (Didn’t take me long.)

And my mind was blown.

For all of my creative life, I’ve thought that my work process, my creative process, how I got ideas, was haphazard and zany. I used to pose with a fresh notebook and pencil in my room at my desk, trying to “catch” a new idea.

My youngest memories of writing were done with my grandmother’s ancient typewriter. I loved that creative work so much (I was editor of my family’s newspaper, “The Family Flyer”) that I went right out and bought myself a typewriter as soon as I could afford it. This was in 1990 or so.

Before that I would hand write everything or even type it on my family’s Commodore 64 or Apple 2e (I now cannot remember which one we had), but buying my own typewriter (a Brother that I picked out mostly based on its appearance; I was such a teenager) was my pinnacle moment. It’s when I took control of my creative process, or at least I thought I had.

Little did I know that fifty years before I bought myself a typewriter (thinking foolishly that it would help me catch any and all ideas safely and securely), James Webb Young had come up with a creative process on paper, a list of five steps that encompassed what the vast majority of creatives go through when embarking on a creative project.

In a nutshell, Young’s five-step list is (gleaned from Maria Popova’s brilliant article on Young earlier this year):

1.    Gather Materials
2.    Digest Materials
3.    Unconscious Processing
4.    The A-Ha Moment
5.    Taking Your Idea Into Reality

The A-ha moment for me?

This is me.

On paper, set out in a logical order, by someone who never knew me.
By someone who had no idea that there was a teenager coming of age in 1990 and that he knew me better than I knew myself.

I’m bummed I will never get to meet him. I would shake his hand and say thanks. And I would tell him how his steps often were exchanged, or often two steps would happen at the same time. 
I think he would nod his head and then ask me for more information, and use me as his research guinea pig. I think people were fascinating to him.
I’m okay if my steps don’t always go in traditional order. Sometimes one step spills over into the next two steps or a previous one, but I could see myself on this list. And sometimes, in a different order of this list.


I found Young’s book in like 2004, 2005 and ever since than have breathed a bit easier, felt a bit more sure about my creative process, even sunk down into said creative process with a bit more flair and confidence.

I also almost immediately came up against massive blocks.

Namely, writer’s block, procrastination, and while these blocks were how I noticed I still was having issues with my creative process, I knew it had nothing to do with Young’s methodology. His process mirrors human nature, how we encounter the world and all of its wonders.

No, what I was encountering was much more sinister.

All in all, I was emotionally unable to grapple with Young’s five steps because, like all of us, I have issues.

Serious issues.

But I loved having Young’s steps to guide me, and I adored the fact that I wasn’t as haphazard and zany as I thought (oh, the tortured creative syndrome is a siren call, isn’t it?), but why were Young’s steps just as difficult as before?

Why couldn’t I just march down his lovely list of steps and voila, out came a masterpiece?

I think Young would smile at me, nod in knowing wisdom, and reply, “It just doesn’t work that way.”

So, why do I think Young’s methodology is so great?

Because it made me aware.

This is half the battle, folks.

If you want to get better ideas, you’ve got to become self-aware.

If you want to write a book that sells, you have to know what you’re up against.

If you want to paint a picture that moves people, you have to be able to move yourself.

You have to know what moves you, what doesn’t, and why.

Self-awareness began so long ago for me, and it’s been a gradual uphill climb ever since.

I don’t know why I don’t like to stay self-aware and why I was so afraid of it for so long, but I was.

In fact, I was terrified of me. I was so afraid that if the real me ever got out, people would beat it with sticks.

I was so frightened that if the real me popped up in front of me while I was working, I would become instantly paralyzed, and unable to work any longer.

So, we creatives have a lovely creative way to deal with this.

We let it beat us.

I noticed that in step 1, for instance, my fear of failure stopped me from doing any productive work on my projects. I was still amassing materials, still reading and doing research on a book project. I often would find myself lost in side tangents, looking with jealousy at other writers and how they had already found success.

What if I couldn’t do it? What if I did all this research and I failed?


But this was, to me, how creative pursuits go.

You dabble here, you create a bit over here, then you walk away and do something else, right?

I had published (actually was paid to write) two series of books in 1998 and 1999, but here I was in 2006 and I was nowhere near writing anything that anyone would want to publish. What was going on here?

I call this now (almost 10 years later) a lack of existential scaffolding.

What do I mean by that?

Existential scaffolding is better self-talk.

It’s self-empathy, self-worth, belief in self-efficacy.

And back then, I had zero ability to self-talk my way through this paralyzing fear of failure.

I tortured my way through it, beating myself up right and left, and pitched a book to a publisher.

I forced it so much that the book was rejected almost instantly. Too many book ideas in one, the rejection said. I was dejected by this news. I put the proposal away in a desk drawer and tried not to think about it.

I really tried.

But it haunted me. All my ghosts and demons came out to play in my head (living there rent-free, you notice!), “See, we told you. This is you failing. You did a terrible job. You didn’t think it through. You didn’t research enough. You reached too high.”

They are not quite as nice when you give in to their siren call. Meanies!

I was tortured by this. I listened to them. I BELIEVED them. I couldn’t even begin to fight back.

Definitely a lack of existential scaffolding at play.

And I had no idea how to build any.

I read Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD again and again. I studied dozens of books on writing book proposals. I made money helping other people write their book proposals (and they sold them!) and I felt lost.

I just didn’t matter. My voice was just not strong enough to matter.

It’s so hard to believe anything good about you when everything fear of failure tells you is so loud and RIGHT IN YOUR FACE!

But I’m stubborn like that.

A few years later, I pitched another proposal and got great feedback on it from a top agent in the biz. Cool, right?


Without any support system to handle the criticism, and without any positive self-talk, I fell flat on my face even worse this time.

In fact, it was the same scenario even more times: a book accepted by a publisher and then the editor told my agent (at the time) that I was the worst writer she had ever encountered and she pulled the plug on the project.

Did that help my self-talk?

Hella no! A writing book publisher told my agent that was a terrible writer. It just helped me dig a deeper hole. So much deeper.

In fact, by the time I actually got a win (a deal that would change my life), I was so full of negative self-talk that nothing anyone would have said would really make much difference.

You, see I had zero existential scaffolding.

I gave myself:

1.    ZERO support
2.    ZERO kind words
3.    ZERO pats on the back
4.    ZERO percent in believing I could do what I most wanted
5.    and on and on it went.

This is not how a creative deserves to exist.

Heck, this is not how anyone deserves to exist.

But we all struggle with our existential scaffolding. All of us. If you don’t think you do, bully on you. Now go help someone else!

I believe there are five steps to Young’s creative process.

I believe that in each of those steps, we as creatives encounter five equally strong blocks.

Of course, just like Young’s methodology, we can encounter any of these at any step, but I think that my research and work with creatives has narrowed it down enough to set up some comparisons.

It goes as follows:

1.    Gather Materials => Fear of Failure
2.    Digest Materials => Fear of Success
3.    Unconscious Processing => Perfectionism
4.    The A-Ha Moment => Not Good Enough
5.    Taking Your Idea Into Reality => The Mindset

I created this framework in 2014, when I was trying to figure out all the separate pieces that creatives feel when they attempt the Young methodology.

Through my past 20 years of working with creatives (on book proposals, editorial work, developmental editing, representing authors and illustrators), every single step in Young’s methodology comes with a block or three.

Perhaps, several steps have the same or similar blocks. Perhaps, all five steps bring with it the same block.

I believe, just like Young’s methodology, that my framework is also flexible.

I have no doubt that someone will come to me and say “I actually have perfectionist tendencies right from step one through step five!”

Yes, 100 percent, yes!

Each of us is unique as a creative. Each of us struggle with very unique lacks of existential scaffolding.

But just as all those years ago, Young’s method on paper helped me to see how I could be more self-aware, I hope my framework will also help you.

This framework is a sign to all of us that we need more existential scaffolding in our creative journey and over the next week, we’ll be talking each step more specifically, and how my advice to creatives on how to build up their scaffolding and support systems.

If you have a comment, or want to leave feedback, check in at the Facebook page.

If you’d like help creating more ideas you absolutely love, contact me about creative consulting services.



Old-school Jawbone Up

This was my birthday present in 2013. It was a GENIUS idea. TRUTH!

This little bracelet could keep track of my steps, let me know when I hadn’t moved in 90 minutes (this is really hard for me to accept; but yes, my work often engages me for hours at a time), and in general, make me look COOL.

Yes, I live in the Pacific Northwest. We’re not hipsters this far north (Seattle), but we’re definitely cool-junkies. We want to look the part, play the part, and for the most part (hahahaha), this works.

Enter MOI.

I love the idea of fitness, exercise, the great outdoors.

I am a gym rat. I can go on a tear where I’m at the gym every single day of the week, doing cardio, weightlifting, you name it.

And then, works piles up and I am such a workaholic. Yes, I love my work. I love being creative and challenging others and being challenged. And I get out of the habit of the gym. Like, fast. Super fast. Supersonic fast.

To add to the drama, recently, the Jawbone pictured above died. Actually, the replacement for that Jawbone died. And I totally got out of the habit. I walk the dogs, do my planks at home, we go to group workouts at hubby’s sports rehab place here and there, but it was time to get serious.

How hard was it for me to get serious?

Soooooo hard.

No Jawbone. Bored with the gym. I settled on Couch to 5k (C25k), an iPhone app that you use to slowly ramp up your running time in order to, you guessed it, get from the couch (or in my case, my comfy chair) to running a 5k.

Note to the world: I have zero interest in running a 5k.


But I decided I to go for it. I would start this month with C25k. I then mentioned it to a author client of mine who lives on the other side of the country, in lovely Connecticut (Hi, Debbi!), and she decided to join me. This is where it gets fun.

And we’ve now completed two weeks. Whaaaaa?

The other day, we compared notes.

This is what I learned:

  1. My brain doesn’t like physical exercise at all. My brain is bored easily. Television, movies, even sporting events, and I’m hankering for something to really think about. Try running/walking for 30 minutes. My brain revolts.

  2. My body, on the other hand, craves activity. Through all the aches and pains, my body wants to do it MORE. How in the world is that possible? Surprise. Our bodies are meant for physical activity.

  3. The two, brain and body, war between themselves often about interest in a C25k day. My brain will complain that there is much more interesting things to be found on Facebook and Twitter and in my email inbox, whereas my body is needing to move, out of the chair and into the real world. The two spar. It gets ugly.

Thank goodness for accountability buddies in Connecticut (who are three hours ahead of Seattle). Debbi is often done with her C25k day by the time I check my email each morning.


Alas, no. We’re NOT competing. But it is peer pressure. The pressure to be cool, not just to look cool. It’s one thing to wear a Jawbone Up; it’s quite another to have actually done something about it.

Are you making time for exercise as a creative? Tell it to me in the comments below or head to the Facebook page.

If you’d like help creating more ideas you absolutely love, contact me about creative consulting services.



The latest writing notebook addiction.
The latest writing notebook addiction.


I am so stuck up. I am so exclusive. I really don’t give any others a chance.

I’m talking writing notebooks.

I have been a rabid Moleskine fan for years. I use a the Evernote version of a Moleskine hardcover for daily jottings, but the siren call of a new notebook, well, it’s hard to resist.

Target, late July/early August in 2014. The annual school supplies section pops up and I’m drawn to it, like, I can hear its call from the front door. I actually enjoy the smell of pencils and pens and notebooks and paper and pencil pouches and glue (okay, I do not sniff THAT!) and I’m so happy, happy, and I see the display. A new eco-friendly notebook in bright colors, a thick notebook (three subjects) with lovely dividers. Oh it just called to me. Three of those notebooks in my signature color (hot pink) end up in my cart.

I’m in Alaska for a work/vacation and I’m in a Target in Anchorage. The notebooks I adore, in a lovely turquoise color are like 800% off. I turn to hubby. “Do you have room in your suitcase?” He’s like, No, do you? And I’m like darn. There are four of those notebooks for like pennies and I leave them in Anchorage.

I fly home, check my local Target. No notebooks left. These are obviously a school supply season special only.


I go home to my latest Moleskine and tell it how much I love it.


Fast forward one year. I’m back in Target, it’s late July/early August, and suddenly, I realize, I’ve gotten exclusive all over again. I want to buy more of those notebooks. The three pink ones I bought last year are full, of jottings, of scribblings, full of ideas.

I have lots more ideas. So I need lots more notebooks. Logical? Yes!

My local store shows them in stock. But no one can find them, not even Target staff. They tell me to check back as all the school supplies are not out yet.

I’m back the next week. Same story. I want the notebooks. I find ONE (in bright purple) and grab it like it’s gold plated. Just one. Target staff can’t find any others. They tell me to come back.

I do, like four times. What is wrong with me? Why this notebook? Why is this such a big deal?

I get exclusive fast with writing notebooks, apparently.

Hubby saves the day. We’re out on a dinner date one night in August and he says, let’s check out this other Target instead, which I had been meaning to do, but I’m busy, I get distracted, I get laser-focused on one solution (at least with writing notebooks!): they would be at MY Target eventually.

We walk into this new-to-me Target, walk to the school supplies section, and voila, there’s an entire bin of these notebooks, just waiting for me. I grab a few bright pink, a purple, some turquoise, and that’s the end of the story.

Or is it?

I don’t think this is a simple situation.

I think I focused on the writing notebook so much because I was feeling a bit insecure about other things.

1. If I could just get my writing notebook, THE writing notebook, my next 12 months of writing plans and work would go well.

A bit over the top, but essentially yes.

2. If my local Target didn’t have them, I wouldn’t be able to get them.

It took my dear husband to shake me out of my siren call of wanting to repeat the exact environmental conditions for when I first found my writing notebooks. Not every creative pursuit is going to get replicated. It was a sign of something else.

3. I was feeling quite vulnerable about the writing I was about to do. TRUTH!

I figured if I could get my writing notebook, THE only writing notebook that could help me, and if I could get it at the same Target, just like the year before, it would be like signs pointing that I was going the right way.

Which is ridiculous. Why do I need those signs anyway?

Because I’m that way. I’m creative. I think that way. What has worked for me before HAS to work for me again.

And if it doesn’t?

I started to fall apart a bit. I was at my Target five or six times to find those notebooks. It was someone outside of me, pushing me out of my focus zone who took me to another Target to get them.

I think there’s something more here, yes?

What do we do to secure ourselves against our fears? What do we hang onto as talismans so that we will replicate our previous success?

It made me stop and think, that’s for sure. What did I learn? I’ll be sharing more in days to come.

Care to share with me? Leave a comment below or on the Facebook page.

Quick update: I’m still here. I mean I’ve always been here, in and around this site, not posting, but updating, adding an ecourse (are you subscribed?), adding a product in Fall 2014 (interested?), and now am ready to add another couple of products this fall. I’m so glad to be here and so excited to share more with you about creativity, and of course, how to create more, how to up level your ideas, and how to do it with JOY!

If you’d like help creating more ideas you absolutely love, contact me about creative consulting services.