[June] Jen’s Monthly Round-Up

Jun 26, 2018

From time to time I’ll share what I’m learning from writing my new book. Not excerpts, at least not yet, but peeks into what I’m discovering.

I have a lifetime habit of starting easily and strong – my first book remains my biggest seller, my first foray into art was the most satisfying, my first keynote got a standing ovation, that sort of thing  – but then, I hit a wall. I grow frustrated and stymied with how to progress until I dig a big hole for myself.

Which is where I often quit.

Or if not quit (cause I have written eight books!) get frustrated and turn in circles.

I used to think growing & learning was a kind of magic: it either happened or it didn’t. Some of this was my fixed mindset, some my learning “differences”, and some is most certainly my impatient nature.

Whatever the causes, it’s become increasingly clear to me over the last couple of years: I never learned how to learn.

I never learned in ways that work for me. And the more I learn about how to learn, the more I am floored by how much not knowing this hobbled me.

I believed I couldn’t learn! Which is understandable given I didn’t learn I had learning disabilities until the end of college.

  • How do I learn best? (In small bits I can apply immediately.)
  • How do I work with my kind of brain?  (Repetition and no straight auditory learning.)
  • How do I gently turn away from craving what Bob calls “silver bullets” or magic shortcuts? (Mindfulness and journaling like we do every week at The Writer’s Oasis.)
  • From getting overwhelmed and then downhearted because there’s so much to learn and I feel so far behind? (Conditions of Enoughness.)

Here’s a few more details on how I’m learning to learn:

  • Focusing on learning a tiny bit at a time and focusing on getting help for what’s bugging me right now. For example, I didn’t know how to mix colors. Before when I tried to learn, I’d panic because OH MY GOD IT’S SUCH A VAST SUBJECT, and I’d shut down. Now, I go looking for the smallest interesting bit I can learn. I stumbled upon the concept of a limited palette. I mixed three colors. Put those in a painting.  Oh I see! A little light bulb goes off about color combinations and now I’m naturally excited to try more color mixing. See the difference?
  • Using my Conditions of Enoughness to make a very simple practice plan so I keep moving forward. Because I can just consume info without practicing and then it disappears and wonder, “What’s the point?.” This week my plan includes “watch the same painting video during lunch” and “read Bird by Bird to notice how she handles learning something without sounding preachy.”
  • Being a satisficer about who I learn from. I don’t have to find the VERY best source, just a good enough source for now. Stop the restless searching for the new, the better, the best.
  • Having “mindset checks” where I scan to see where I’ve fallen into a fixed mindset. I notice where I’ve been whining about something being too hard or thinking I can’t. Then I remind myself I can learn. Nothing is fixed!
  • Goof off! Too much learning makes me learngry (it’s like hangry). Today I took a nap and read a silly historical romance. Enough stretching.

I would love to hear about your learning style. Come here on Facebook and tell me how you learn. Love to hear!

Recently On my Blog (in case you missed any posts)…

How to Write if You Hate to Write But Have to

Making Space for New Voices – Guest Post with Nnenna Kalu Makanjuola

When the News is so Bad it’s Impossible to Concentrate on Your Creative Work

What I’m Reading / Listening To / Watching

I love Jane Davies’ videos about painting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83XVt0bOpDw

The Four Noble Truths of Love by Susan Piver – A must read by my lovely friend. Glorious, raw, true.

The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman  – I recommend this to my private writer’s mastermind and at all of my retreats. It’s an essential reference book for any working writer, as is her website.

The Courage Habit by Kate Swoboda  – I’ve known Kate for years, and I was blown away by her comprehensive approach to working with fear.

Old School by Tobias Wolff – I don’t know why I never read this classic before now. As I try to write the chapter in my new book about why following my dreams was so tricky, this helped me understand myself a bit better. Also what a writer. Glory be.

What I’m Excited About


Deciding if my new book is a go or not. How can learning help me make it work?!?

Setting up a better painting space in my basement (I need better lighting and another table… )

Calling my representatives to respectfully request they reunite children taken from their parents at the border, among other things.

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.

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