Blunt Conversations with Myself

I spent the whole day like I was in the wrong gear, engine making a grinding sound. I couldn’t get anything done, though it was so URGENT to do so, though I kept reaching out for things to do…

Irritating, but I knew that I just hadn’t asked the right question yet.

So I kept going for walks. Putting on my EOs. Journalling and reading and…

Big Magic tripped the switch. Elizabeth Gilbert was describing how she worked part time as she wrote. I sagely nodded my head. She noted that she’s seen artists burn out trying to make their living off their art. Oh, yes, I also…

:screeching breaks sound effects:

I had made a point of not doing that to writing–but then I’d given myself a near impossible goal-expectation in my coaching business. THAT’S why I couldn’t get traction on my to-dos.

The best thing, though, was that my process to question my paralysis worked. It took longer than I wanted it to, but it worked.

I asked, “Why am I afraid? What am I making this about?”

I went for walks, journaled, and read books that seemed likely to shake loose thoughts about it.

What are you stuck on lately? Have you asked those hard questions of yourself?

That’s not the end of the story, so check in again on Friday!

The Weight of My Life in Notebooks

I am attacking the last bastion of UnTidied Stuff–I cleared out my storage to sort through at home, which was at this last point all mementos, old manuscripts, and journals.

This has been a trip. Oh, and a trip down memory lane as well.

One thing that stood out to me is that my writing used to be terrible.

It didn’t FEEL terrible. It felt easy, natural. I knew what I wanted on the page and assumed it was there. I wasn’t really sure what happened when I lost interest in a novel before finishing it, and it bothered me, but… I was ready to work on the next thing. (I finished the bulk of my novel projects, so the few unfinished ones really did get on my nerves.)

It is also good to be reminded that my spelling was not good even so late as my mid-teens. :humble pie:

The really constructive thing is definitely seeing that I’ve been learning. At times it’s easy to feel that you’ve been just going around in circles, relearning all the same things. Dialogue doesn’t feel as easy anymore because it wasn’t that great back when I was so confident of it.

I knew this about my childhood stuff.

But even as recently as 7, 5, 3 years ago (when I thought I was ready to be a pro) I wasn’t writing with the knowledge I have now. I have to believe right now that I’m doing well, but could do better.

That’s what kept me writing for the last 18, after all. (Not counting baby journals.)

I don’t regret any of them. But some I’m ready to let go of as keepsakes, because your first few novels are cute. Keeping them all may verge on a mania.

Right, Bethany?



Sugar Drama – or, how I coach myself

To be honest, I miss having a drama-diary.

You know, the kind you keep when you’re young or upset, usually both? The kind that chronicles the super-important events of angst and feeling.

I’ve never been very good at that kind of diary (I am the sort of person who writes to reason with myself, and left most of the interesting bits out of any given diary entry even during those days) but Morning Pages aren’t at all like that.

I have been on the move the last several days, between cities and in the car for the better part of 4 days. 2 out of those four I didn’t do my Morning Pages. I’m advanced enough in my practice while I may make the choice to do that, I don’t forget. I may remember throughout the day, even just because of my lack of focus.

Then again, I’ve had enough of a practice that I can also have the conversations in my head that I started to learn to have on paper.

While I was away, feeling the heat of 100+ weather that the car AC was catching up from for the fifth time that day, I started thinking about the fitness/health issue that’s been bothering me.

And I realized: I have been not quitting sugar when I know it’s a huge problem for me–for no good reason. Only to have a reason to not be well.




I look forward to starting off tomorrow with nowhere to go and a proper morning with some journaling in it. Maybe we can have a good talk about how I’m going to stay on the bandwagon beyond just “WE’RE DONE, SUGAR, I DON’T NEED YOU ANYMORE.”

I guess my journals are still a little dramatic.


Interested in weaponizing your own diary? Or getting into the practice of journaling?

Get Back Your MOJO closes registration today!


Serial Moving: a Writer Trait?

I accidentally bought the recording of The Thalia Bookclub on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, instead of the audiobook, many moons ago. After disparaging my intelligence, I then figured out how to actually get the book.

It’s actually mainly an interview of the author Susanna Clarke with Neil Gaiman, so the other day I turned it on to listen to as I went on my morning walk. (Turns out it’s great and my money was not wholly wasted!)

Something that struck me in her bio is that she’s another writer who grew up moving around. In her case, as the child of a Methodist minister. But be it as an Army Brat, pastor’s kid, or just a dad moving ahead of “restructuring” in his company (me), a lot of writers seem to have grown up on the fringes.

Maybe not even because of moves. Books are a shelter because they take you into their world unstintingly.

I played Little League baseball and soccer in one house, became a Scottish Highland dancer after a move, then moved somewhere there were no teachers. Went to Japan and joined the softball club, came back to the US and eventually took up yoga. I couldn’t find my identity in these location-based pastimes.

But my journals and books? They moved with me.

I think that’s why I loved fantasy and eventually realized it’s what I wrote. People were in motion, and their lives were changing. That life I understood.

I read Robin McKinley’s bio of books she read where, and saw myself, currently working through the Silmarillion in Japan.

My two favorite releases from this year (so far–I’m not ahead on my reading) are two books that involve girls on the move:

Rebel of the Sands and Girl from Everywhere


Both different in tone and subgenre, I loved them not only for reflecting a reality I knew. Their writers clearly knew what it was to be the girl on the fringes, too.

Maybe someday our peregrinations will cross.

Do you share traits with people you admire, who do the work you want to do? Make this your journalling prompt for the day!

And then sign up for MoJo, with daily journalling prompts like this to help you look into your creative process and history, before registration closes on Friday.


Dead Air – the dangers of reprogramming your thought-life

It’s pretty risky to start changing your ideas of your self-worth, and emotional baseline. It means having to relearn skills, like basic conversation. Recently, I’ve been having moments of awkwardness in conversations unusual to me.

Not that awkwardness is unusual to me. But I’ve grown in confidence and comfort in my own skin, lately, so I’ve been feeling less consistently awkward. And that’s made it more obvious.

There was something about where this short-out was landing in the conversation. Weirder still, it didn’t feel embarrassing, just …silent.

And then embarrassing because I fumble the recovery, but laugh it off.

What is going on? I wonder, as I stare into the eyes of friend, trying to figure out where I lost the thread of how to converse.

I had an epiphany this week. I was sitting, talking a workshop idea in a pleasantly low-clatter cafe, having a gorgeous spiced cold-brew and being pleasantly blinded by reflected sunset. It was a great conversation with rapport and world-domination dripping from every word. Something was said, I smiled, and…dead air.

“This is where I am silently shy,” I joked. I tend to wear out quick when having intense conversation, but this wasn’t that.

And later, it hit me: my friend had said something nice. No, wait, this was a pattern!

Person says something nice, and I…

Don’t deprecate it. :instant brainshort:

THIS IS HUGE, FOLKS, I thought to myself.  Because I’ve been journaling and studying emotional health, trying to change my patterns just like this.

A friend once told me off for always putting myself down (startling me to no end). The last several years I’ve been hard at work to find those kernels of thought that made me feel the need to tear myself down, to reject compliments.

For one thing, it’s rude. People giving compliments may or may not be sincere, but it’s strikingly antisocial to contradict them.

So, I smile, and…now what?

I mean, skewering myself with a humorous self-knowledge, that’s an asset to any writer. Not going away.

But when you get rid of the reflex to laugh someone off, to tell them, “Oh no, I’m actually terrible”, what then?


“Thank you.” “I appreciate you saying that.”

Time to continue improving my social skills, I guess. (<– that? That is honest skewering. Not self-flagellation.)

Now I know what’s going on, though, I know I can work it out. (<–and that is honest confidence.)


Do you find yourself contradicting people who say nice things about you?

Have you had to reprogram your thoughts to be more confidence? Tell me all about it! Here in the comments, or on Unlock Coaching’s FB page

~ Bethany, Your Friendly Neighborhood Health Coach


Interested in reprogramming yourself for more creativity and less self-sabotaging trash talk?

The MoJo workshop, launching in July, will guide you through a month of meaty journaling. Get Back Your MoJo

Better yet, sign up for my newsletter AND get a steep discount on MoJo: Unlock My Best

Eavesdropping – On Your Own Mind

Lately I’ve been joining my mom on her walks in the morning. It’s a great opportunity to share what we’re thinking about while in motion and therefore not neglecting some other task!

Sometimes, though, she gets important calls from friends while we’re out walking. I try to get ahead to let her have privacy, but I can’t help listening in a little.

I grew up eavesdropping on my mom’s phone calls. The 90s were a great time for phones, in my memory, and rather than women talking around a kitchen table, most important conversations happened via landline.

I found these a source of great information and interesting ideas–though I had to infer the other side of the conversation.

One of the greatest things was hearing what my mom thought of me and my siblings, things she might not say directly to us. She’s always been fascinated by personality (I come by that one honestly), so I sometimes got to hear breakdowns of our behavior from an external perspective.

I’m sure she knew at least one of us had big ears, and didn’t often express her frustrations. (She recently told me it was a nightmare trying to get me enough reading material–something that doesn’t surprise me, but was successfully hidden from young Bethany!)

Sometimes you need to get things outside of your own head, for perspective on yourself. That can involve talking to someone and saying your thoughts out loud, like my Mom hearing me out on our walks. (We talk directly now about how awesome, or frustrating, I am!)

Or it can mean writing it out. Journaling is a perfect way to make your thoughts become real outside yourself. You can look at them more directly that way.

And it’s more reliable than what you’re willing to say others.

(Thanks for not telling your friends I was a chocolate thief, Mom!)

Have you ever discovered something by journaling? Tell me about it in the comments here or on my Unlock page!

Interested in journaling your way to greatness? Not sure where to start?

Check out Get Back Your MOJO, my new online workshop coming up in July!