Ain’t You or Your Project. It’s All About Your Process.

Jun 14, 2023

There is a pesky phenomenon rearing its pesky head fairly often for my coaching clients and my artist pals.

It shows up whining and lamenting:

“I’m a has-been, a dud, I can’t pull this off. I don’t have what it takes.”


“My project is doomed, doomed I tell you, and I’m giving up.”

Any time we craft anything – from a digital course, a watercolor series, a juicy non-fiction book, to a thriving marriage or a flourishing garden, we’re bound to trip hit bumps.

And some days, bigger than bumps. Mountains! The Rockies!

But here’s where we make that very natural occurrence a bigger ding-dang-do than it needs to be.

Too often we mistake the normal ebb and flow, the stop-start, the delete-redraft aspect of creating as us lacking some magical creative pixie dust or picking the wrong project.

Enter Stage Left: The Importance of Understanding Your Creative Process.

What if it’s not you or your project but it’s about your process?

One vacation, while I was hammering away at a deadline early in the morning, my then-husband Chris strolled out onto the porch and asked how it was going.

“Awful,” I retorted.

“I’m sorry,” Chris offered.

I shot him a puzzled look. Then it dawned on me: I’d come to expect creating a lousy first draft. It was my norm. There was nothing wrong, and definitely nothing to apologize for.

But if I hadn’t been up to my ears in understanding my creative process for two decades, I might have spiralled into panic, ditched my column, or spent our vacation fretting.

Rewind another six years: I was wrestling with my fourth book, The Woman’s Retreat Book. Feeling defeated, I called my agent, Barbara, to say I was throwing in the towel. But she retorted, “This is when you usually freak out.”

I was taken aback, “I do?” I was clueless about my patterns, my process. But Barbara, who’d worked with me through all my books, knew my MO.

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So, here’s the takeaway…

The next time you feel rough about what you are making or how the process is going or both get inquisitive.

What stories are you spinning about your work or how it should be progressing?

I can dig myself into an abyss of self-doubt if I start believing I should be further along than I am.

Where are you forgetting what works best for you?

Even though you’re way too clever to do this, I can get a major bout of “my book is garbage” if I compare it to whatever masterpiece I’m currently reading. It’s like sizing up a violin beginner to Yo-Yo Ma. Not fair, right?

Got any nuggets of wisdom from past hiccups that might come in handy now?

For me, it’s always a return to my meditation practice. It helps me realize there’s no problem that needs to be fixed.

Need to fine-tune how or when you work?

Different stages or types of projects often call for different strategies. What worked for your book’s first draft might not cut it when you’re near the end, sick of your own words to the point of nausea. Maybe you need to switch up your environment, shorten your work sessions, or team up with a pal for that final stretch.

Has there been any shakeup in your sleep pattern, work schedule, or family obligations?

Are you still trying to create as if everything’s the same? That alone can sink you without you even knowing it. Life changes, please let yourself adapt.

Are you taking breaks? Filling your creative well?

The fastest way to burn out as a writer or creator is always pushing, always feeling behind, always trying to catch up, always working.

Bottom line: don’t abandon your work or be mean to yourself when writing or creating feels wonky.

Tweak your process, tweak your mindset, take a break, and remember you get to do this. You choose this!

Jettison Self-Doubt and Lose the Itty-Bitty-Shitty Committee and Make Your Thing Now

From the national best-selling author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and Why Bother.

Made for writers, artists, mail art makers, knitters of sock puppets, creative entrepreneurs, photographers, Tarot readers, and anybody who needs to make stuff they love.

I’m not one of those creepy people who make it hard to unsubscribe or email you again nine years after you’ve unsubscribed. Giving me your email is like a coffee date, not a marriage proposal.