On Saturday, 4th Feb, I attended the Motivation Masterclass: Staying Motivated and Beating Procrastination All Year Long by Bekki Hill hosted by SCBWI British Isles.
There were many familiar faces, but also some new faces, which was exciting. We all settled in at the Bullfrog, our usual haunt and chatted whilst Bekki set up her equipment. We had been warned to “bring along a lot of paper as you will be working hard”. I broke out a new moleskine for this. I know, any excuse.
Bekki started us off on our first slide.
It looked daunting, but it formed the framework of her class.
One of the first things she did to get us started is to make a list of our goals, dreams and ambitions. She gave us around ten minutes to come up with as many as we could, spread across various aspects of our lives – we covered writing/illustrating; career; finances; leisure; travel; personal growth; family; health; etc. I managed 56 and out of that 56 about 30 of them were related to my writing.
My mind boggled.
I know some on the group managed near a hundred goals and ambitions but I found it really difficult to come to terms with thinking so big. And it would seem I’m not the only one. How often do we sit and think about US, ourselves? What we would love and want, for real in our lives? Not very often, I’d say. So thinking about something like this, even as an “opener” excercise really brought it home, how little time we spend on ourselves and what matters to us.
We did a set of affirmations by choosing our top three goals/dreams which again was very uncomfortable making, before we moved on to concentrating solely on our writing. Bekki had us speak to assigned partners about values and again, deeply uncomfortable questions were asked.
What do you enjoy about the act of writing?
What do you enjoy about being a writer?
What is it you want to achieve with your writing?
What is important about what you write?
What is important about being a writer?
Again, all of us were goggle-eyed. These were of course on the surface easy enough questions to ask, and no doubt we ask them of ourselves often, but how many of us actually answer them and do it truthfully?
My partner for the class (Linda) and I turned to each other in this helpless way and blinked. Then we bent to the task of answering these questions. It was really interesting to see how closely our answers correlated and how we could encourage the other to be more honest, more open about these big asks.
Bekki touched on Habits – helpful and unhelpful habits and I think almost everyone agreed that the biggest unhelpful habit was the internet, allowing us access to Facebook / Twitter / Email and Bekki gave us strategies how to compartamentalise these unhelpful habits and how to deal with them. We also got to work with our partners again to discuss our habits and it turns out Linda is a giant star, for turning one of my habits (my love for research) into a possible positive thing.
The day wound down with Bekki taking us through a very strict self-talk and addressing external influences and how important it is for us to make time for ourselves and our writing and to ensure that we start using a diary, giving ourselves deadlines and making sure that our nearest and dearest remain aware of our private writing times.
All in all, it was a very useful workshop and class. And frightening and a bit of an eye-opener. I learned loads and realised that although I am luckier than most, with Mark understanding about my writing, being an aspiring writer himself, that my journey to self-actualisation (how American, darling!) is still a loooong way off. And I better get climbing otherwise it is never going to happen.
Do visit Bekki’s site and if you’re on twitter, she is @bekkiwritecoach. Her book – Coach Yourself to Writing Success – is the kick in the pants we all need occasionally, with lots of common sense advice, that most of the time we’re too wrapped up to think about, but also with a suitcase full of tools to overcome things like procrastination, self-doubt and fear.