You KNOW you can write… so why does your inner voice insist nothing you do is good enough?

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YOU THOUGHT THAT WHEN YOU:

– Had a book published

– Won that prize

– Finished that draft

– Got an agent

– Got a 3-book deal

– Finished an MA in creative writing

You’d feel like a ‘real’ writer. Like you’d made it. Like you belong.

 

BUT INSTEAD YOUR INNER CRITIC NEVER SHUTS UP AND YOU’RE CONSTANTLY FILLED WITH DOUBT

 You’ve had good feedback and it should be getting easier, but somehow you don’t believe the praise, and the more you push the harder it feels until writing starts to feel impossible.

 

OR MAYBE YOU’VE NEVER GOT THAT FAR 

You know you want to write, and a small part of you deep inside is sure that you can do it, that you’re meant to write… but you keep yourself stuck, miserable and never finishing anything.

I’d like to invite you to come on an exploration with me. Introducing the guinea-pig (beta testing) round of…

This is Not a Course About Writing

 

 Time to finally get out of your own way and stop making your life so hard.

Sat 7th November – Friday 18th December 2020

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What’s It All About?

Retraining your critical inner voice

The way we talk to ourselves is so important to our quality of life, but we often just accept it. If you’re constantly telling yourself you aren’t good enough though, it’s no wonder that you don’t have confidence in your work.

Breaking these habits and retraining that voice takes repetition, so you’ll have a small daily journal task where we’ll test out different prompts to help you talk kindly to yourself and wire the change in.

Getting Unstuck

Sometimes the ways we respond to the world don’t make sense, and we don’t know why we experience such strong emotions about such small things (like sitting to write, or receiving only mildly positive feedback).

When we start to explore we can see that our response likely made sense at one point, but it’s as though we’re still running the computers in our brains on Windows 95 and the old programming won’t update.

The things that help are different for different people, so we’ll explore a different tool each week to help start shifting these thoughts and patterns

Taking A Break

Has it occurred to you that maybe you just… need a break?

How would it feel to just let go, put all of those expectations about your writing down for a bit? To stop writing, let yourself rest and not even feel guilty about it.

This is optional (I appreciate you may have deadlines), but I’ll encourage you to take at least 2 weeks, ideally more, off any current projects. 

Then you’ll be able to come back to writing refreshed and from a new perspective in the last couple of weeks.

Looking Both Ways

You’ve probably tried logical things like productivity techniques. But they don’t address the underlying thoughts and feelings that drive your behaviour.

On the other hand, only looking back and exploring the past doesn’t help you create new writing habits and coping tools for the future.

You need both.

Learning (And Practising) Habits Of Self-Kindness

Can you imagine how different your writing life would be if you always treated yourself as well as you’d treat your best friend?

It’s easy to dismiss, but developing the habit of treating yourself with compassion and kindness is the most important thing we will learn. Carrots are far more powerful than sticks. You’ll start to truly support and encourage yourself before setting yourself up with routines that will nurture your writing and creativity.

 

Prioritising Creative Play

Small, silly creative exercises will help you take the pressure off and abandon perfectionism so you can begin to enjoy being creative for its own sake again.

For the last two weeks you’ll choose a creative project that fills you with joy and excitement and just… play in the mud bath. For most people this will be a writing project, but it doesn’t have to be ‘creative writing’ (honestly it might not be writing at all).

 

Actually Doing The Work (With Tons Of Support And Encouragement)

Even if we know doing the inner work of rummaging around our brains and trying to change habitual thoughts and patterns could change the game, we put it off. It just feels too hard, too uncomfortable, and anyway how do you even know what to do?

It takes effort to change and you may need to try a few different things, so this is an exploratory journey where I provide structure, a range of exercises and try it all out alongside you. 

I’ll also be your cheerleader, encouraging you to actually do it by walking you through a number of the exercises in video workshops (which you can do any time) to make them easier.  Please note: this is an exploration, not therapy. If you need clinical support there are a lot of great therapists out there – please take responsibility for your mental health and seek one instead of doing this if that’s what you need at the moment.

 

How it Works (the Guinea Pig Edition)

It’s important to say that I don’t have all the answers. What I’ve discovered though, is that (shockingly), it’s hard to make lasting change if you just read something and don’t do the work, so I’ve gathered mindset tools that all lead away from judgement and fear toward learning to treat yourself better and support your creativity for us to try out, together with doses of quick, lighthearted creative play. This is not therapy and I am not a therapist – if that’s what you need, please do that instead!

Since this is the guinea pig round things are  likely to shift a bit, but in the first four weeks we’ll focus on mindset, trying a number of different approaches. In the last two weeks you’ll put it into practice by choosing a project that really excites you (probably a writing one, but you can make anything) to dive into. 

As a beta tester, you’ll not only be committing to making positive changes you’ve been longing for (this could be anything from giving you more awareness of your behaviours to completely changing your writing life and beyond so that you feel great – obviously we’re aiming for this second outcome), you’ll be getting this at a much lower price than it will be in the future.

You’ll also have the opportunity to do a couple of the workshops as live calls with me, which future rounds probably won’t include. It’s all online and delivered in batches (supported with emails) though so that you can do it in your own time. Any live calls will be recorded and put up on the website, so if you can’t be there at the allotted time that’s no problem. At the moment I am thinking the live calls will be late Saturday mornings UK time.

As part of being a guinea pig and having access to the live calls/lower price, you’ll be giving me detailed feedback on the exercises and the journey that will shape this into the absolute best course I can make in the future. You’ll also get access to any future iterations so you can benefit from the improvements you help me make!

PDF worksheets

This is the core. Most of your exercises and journalling prompts will be on worksheets. They’ll be released weekly onto the course website so you can do them any time that suits you.

They also include 5-minute prompts for your daily journal/mindset work.

Video workshops

Weekly videos support the worksheets, explain what we’re doing and walk you through some of the exercises (although if it’s better for you, you can do most of them just from the PDF).

For this round, some of the workshops will be live (11am Sat UK time) BUT you don’t have to be there live as they will be recorded and uploaded to the website.

Emails

I’ll email you to know when things go live each week (and practical stuff like making sure you have call details and the link to the course website).

I’ll also send emails nudging you to do the work and with food for thought and cheerleading along the way.

A Weekly Guide

(things may shift a little, but this will give you an idea)

Week 1

Taking stock of where you are now, investigating the feelings holding you back,  letting go, remembering your creative dreams and setting up a supportive daily/weekly journal.

Week 2

Digging into your past, looking for memories and hidden assumptions, forgiveness, meeting your inner mentor.

Week 3

Looking at how you sabotage yourself and benefit from staying stuck, examining your stories and writing yourself new ones, setting yourself up for future success.

Week 4

Looking to the future, dreaming big, getting help from your future self, picking a project for the coming weeks. 

Week 5

Play joyfully in the mud while you explore your own writing project, continually supporting yourself with the daily/weekly journal exercises

Week 6

Continue with your own project and journalling, and make plans for the next step, declutter your space to make way for the future.

Bonuses

Emergency Toolkit

A collection of quick (10 minutes or less) tools, strategies and journalling questions you can use to re-set and change course whenever life throws you off-kilter and writing looks hard.

In The Zone Rituals

Quick visualisations and breathing rituals you can do at the start of your writing sessions, on video or downloadable audio to use anywhere.

Live Calls (optional)

In the future it’s likely that most of the workshops will be pre-recorded videos. For the guinea-pig round, a couple of them will be live so you can ask questions and enjoy the power of doing the exercises as part of an uplifting, supportive group. Don’t worry if you can’t make the calls, because they’ll be recorded for anyone who can’t make it and you can still submit questions.

Plus! More Secret Gifts

Because this all so new things aren’t 100% set yet, but I’ve got a couple more gifts up my sleeve. No promises yet, but there might even be a little thing I physically send out too. 

I’m Charlie, your guide for the next six weeks.

I’ve always been fascinated by procrastination/motivation and how writing can be both the best and the worst thing in the world.

Running writing retreats since 2008, I’ve chatted to hundreds of writers about how they feel about their work, and it’s clear that there’s a big mindset gap between the people who just get on with it and, well, the rest of us.

We must be all able to learn to be more like the first group, I thought. I kept seeing people talk about ‘doing the inner work’, but… how? How do we change? And what does ‘inner work’ even mean?

I set out to find the answer, and this course is the result of that journey.

 

This is for writers who…

  • Are their own harshest critic
  • Feel stuck and frustrated that everyone else seems to find this easier
  • Find starting and getting focused impossible, like every writing session is a battle against their own will
  • Secretly wonder if there’s something wrong with them, or if maybe they just aren’t meant to be a writer if they hate it this much
  • Have probably tried productivity tricks, or taking craft courses, but none of it really works
  • You could be any type of writer (fiction, non-fiction, poets, copywriters). We play creative games, but there’s no creative writing teaching.

JOIN NOW

Saturday 7th November – Friday 18th December 

We kick off with a live Zoom call at 11am UK time Saturday 7th November (don’t worry, the call will be recorded if you can’t make it)

Got Questions?

 

When does all this happen?

It’s 6 weeks, from Saturday 7th November to Friday 18th December, 2020

We start on a Saturday because that’s when people have their free time, and it makes sense to be sending the weekly exercises then so that everyone has time to do them when they’re at their most motivated.

You can do the work at your leisure, though there will be the option to join a live workshop at 11am on Saturdaymost weeks.

What's the time commitment?

You’ll probably want to allow a couple of hours to go through the exercises each week. 

I’ll guide you through some of them on a weekly video workshop that I anticipate lasting around 60-90 minutes, and this video will be recorded and tagged so that you can easily get to the right timestamp if you’re spreading exercises out through the week.

There’s also a quick (5 min max) daily journal prompt, and a weekly review (10-15 mins).

I’ll also encourage small amounts of creative play. In the last fortnight there will be fewer exercises and you’ll use that time to be creative instead.

When are the live calls and what if I can't make them?

Okay. So. Each week has a video workshop that’s sort of a ‘container’ for doing some of the work, so we’ll sit and do some of the exercises together. 

I’m still working out if I can do them all live, but at least some of them will be at 11am on Saturday mornings UK time live on Zoom.

If you can’t make it live, it’s no problem because I’ll upload the recording to the course website as soon as I can.

For any week that the workshops aren’t held live, they will be uploaded first thing Saturday.

I haven't had any writing 'accomplishments' yet, can I still join?

Yes, absolutely! If you are struggling to finish things it’s likely that it’s because of all of the same problems that continue to plague writers.

You are more than welcome, and yes it’s designed with you in mind too. 

This isn’t about a particular ‘level’ of writer, it’s more about how you feel about writing, if you are the thing that gets you stuck.

I write non-fiction, can I still join?

Yes! It doesn’t matter what you write.

All of the work we do in the first four weeks is journalling. I do encourage a little creative play, but nonfiction writers need this too and it probably won’t be writing play.

In the last two weeks you’ll choose a creative project. It’s fine to do non-fiction if that’s what calls to you (writing non-fiction is also creative work!) or you can not write at all.

Is this therapy?

No. It’s important to say that I am not a clinical therapist and this is not therapy. 

It’s a space to explore some of the things you think and feel, to become more aware and start to shift some of your habitual patterns.

You are responsible for your own mental health – if you would benefit from therapy or any other clinical help, please do that instead.

Got more questions?

Email me (Charlie) on hello@urbanwritersretreat.co.uk, or tweet me on @urbanwriters.

No question is stupid or too small – I want you to make sure you’re choosing the right approach for you 🙂

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