How to become a writer

Is the way you feel about yourself holding you back as a writer? This is an NLP exercise about creating inner alignment, about reducing the gap between the person (and writer) you’d like to be and the way you behave and think now. It can help you see how to reach your ideal future, what you already have that will help you to get there and what you need to do differently.

So if you dream of winning a booker prize but haven’t opened your notebook for 6 months, if you just struggle to take your writing seriously or if the voices in your head saying it’s all rubbish have won the battle, this is for you. It’s an exercise we do on the 4 Week Get Writing! Bootcamp.

 

Find a quiet space with enough room to walk a few paces forwards. Think about your vision for your future, what you would like your life to be like in a year, taking time to think in particular about yourself as a writer. Where would you like to be with your writing and what would you like to have achieved?

I’m going to ask you to imagine various things (you may find this easier with your eyes closed). Although you’re imagining your life as you’d like it to be in the future, try to imagine the scenarios as if they are actually happening to you (as if you are actually in the future, if that’s an easier way to look at it). Spend some time on the first stage of the exercise, fully immersing yourself in the detail of your ideal writing life, then take your time fully exploring each of the levels. I’ve adapted this for writers from on a more general exercise I learned from the wonderful people at Pegasus NLP, who I can’t recommend highly enough if you want to explore how you use your brain and how to do it better.

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  • Look at the floor in front of you and imagine that the patch on the floor represents a time a year from now. This is your ideal future. What have you achieved? What have you written? How has that changed your life? Make sure this is YOUR vision of your ideal writing life, not what you think you should want. Imagine yourself as you really wish you could be, in as much detail as possible.

Take a step forward into the picture, so that you are standing right in this ideal future.

  • When you’re in it, imagine this ideal life in as much detail and colour as you can. Where are you? What is your daily routine? Who are you with? Follow yourself through the day – what is your routine and who are you with? What success have you had? What are you writing? How do you feel about your writing?

Now we’re going to get more specific. Take one step forward.

  • In your one-year-from-now fantasy, what is different about your behaviour from the ‘old days’? What specifically has changed or is new? What are you doing differently as a successful writer? What is different in your behaviour on a day-to-day level? What do you do when you hit a snag? What is your routine? How much time are you spending writing? How does it feel?

Take one step forward.

  • What skills or inner resources are you drawing on to engage in the new/changed behaviours you just saw? Were the skills there already or have you recently developed them? If you had to learn new skills or develop new routines, how did you do that?

Take one step forward

  • In this new future, what is different about what you believe about writing and about your own abilities? What has become more important or less important? Do you believe different things about other people (whether that’s family or professionals) and their part in or relationship to your writing?

Take one step forward

  • How do you now think and feel differently about yourself? What does the new way of being and behaving say about you as a person? Who do you feel like now? Do you have a new opinion of yourself? What do you say to or about yourself? How do you treat yourself that’s different?

Take one step forward

  • Still living in your ideal life, how does this new way of being change how you think about the future, your life goals, and where you’re going or your purpose in your life? How does it change how you think about others?

Step forward and open your eyes.

Take a minute to think of a simple phrase that is a mission statement for the new you, a statement that describes/encapsulates who you are and what matters to you.

Then turn around so you are facing the way you came.

What message would this future self give the current you?

Now take one step forward (i.e. back down the path of steps).

  • With your new mission statement and this future self in mind, how do you think and feel about yourself? Is it any different?

Take one step forward.

  • With this mission and your new feelings about yourself, what do you now believe about the situation, about your writing/you as a writer and your abilities?

Take one step forward.

  • With your new mission, feelings and beliefs, think about what inner qualities and resources you are able to access, and what skills you are able to draw on to engage in new behaviours? What skills and behaviours can you learn to help?

Take one step forward.

  • If you act in accordance with your mission, feelings, beliefs and capabilities, what are you now able to do differently? How are you able to change your behaviour? How does it feel? How can you approach your writing differently? This one is important so be as specific as possible about what you can do differently to make your ideal future a reality.

Take one step forward.

  • With these new ways of being, how are you able to relate differently to people (again, this might be family or professionals) and situations (from social situations to getting stuck) you might encounter in your writing process?

Step back out and open your eyes.

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How do you feel now about your writing? Can you see new ways of getting to where you want to be? Write down the message from your future self, and as much as you can about the new behaviours, feelings and beliefs you saw in that future as well as changes you can make right now to make it happen.

Now go make those changes!

You can find a downloadable pdf version of this exercise here. This is an exercise we do in the 4 Week Get Writing! Bootcamp, but you can use it for any area of your life to help you see how to get where you want to be and what you already have to help you get there.

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