Recently I did an interview with my writing buddy and friend, Diane Riis. I asked her to join me to talk about how writing can help the woman entrepreneur find her calm. Diane is a writing coach who helps women birth their books as well as being an author herself. You can find out more about her services at EarthandSoulPublishing.com
In this interview, she gives great tips for how to use writing to release stress and keep centered. Here’s our conversation:
MG: Please tell us, from your perspective, how you stay calm, how you help your clients stay calm using writing as a tool. But first, tell us a little about yourself.
DR: I’m a writer and a writer’s coach. But the real work I do has to do with transformation through writing. I believe that the process of writing can liberate us. Not only can Spirit come through us and we can create, but i think what we create when we’re in that state can be remarkable and calming.
I use writing as a tool
- to explore who we were, who we are and who we want to be.
- to bring a level of release and letting go to our life.
- to inspire others. Let me give an example—just yesterday a woman wrote to me about possibly working together. She wrote me a quick email and closed with, May blessings chase you down.” Her words made me stop short- “Oh, I never thought of it that way.” Maybe in her world with her friends, they say that all the time, but I’ve never heard that expression before. So it made me realize how you can calm another person with just a few words! Those words really lifted my day. So I think words are really powerful. That’s my work, my coaching and my writing.
MG: Yes! That’s exactly why I asked you, as a writer coming from a spiritual perspective, to talk about how we can encourage and support each other during this difficult time. Can you speak to us specifically about how writing helps us de-stress? What can people do for themselves? Do you have to be a great writer? How can the normal person who isn’t an author go about it?
DR: Can I just stop a second say thank you so much for inviting me here. I’ve seen your Friday Facebook videos, “Calm in the Center of the Storm.” You’re here all the time. You’re so consistent that just seeing you reminds me that someone is there, ready to be calm for me in the center of the storm!
One of the things I don’t want to see people do is to attach a lot of stress to writing. This is not like in school where there was a grade attached to your writing. No one has to see it. You can use a pencil, you can use your keyboard, no rules!
One of the easiest things that you can do to use writing to de-stress is to first write just for yourself and know that you’re writing just for yourself. Stress is really exacerbated when you show up to your day exhausted because you didn’t get enough sleep. I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights with so much going on in the world, my responsibilities my fears and anxieties.
Writing to Release Stress #1 Trick
So if your sleep has suffered, keep a notepad by the bed and before you fall asleep, write down all the thoughts that cause you concern. You’re just going to pour everything out through your hand onto a piece of paper. Then you’re going to fold that piece of paper up and put it in the drawer or the closet or under the bed and you’re going to say to yourself, “This is handled.” Like my Harry Potter thing, “mischief managed.” Now sleep is easy because that piece of paper is holding it all for you. It will be there tomorrow if you want to pick it back up. Maybe you never have to look at it again!
Writing to Release Stress #2 Trick
I have a ‘to do’ list a mile long. So instead of framing it as a To Do list which can also add pressure on you, call it ‘The List’ or ‘I Got It Done List’. You don’t want to be overwhelmed by the number of things on it. I reverse it. I put every single thing that I’m going to do that day on a huge, long list and then I have the joy of being able to cross each item off and see progress immediately. My list starts with
1 ‘get up in the morning. Maybe.’
2 ‘make coffee’
3 ‘walk and feed the dogs’
4 ‘make breakfast and lunch for Brad and get him off to school’
5 ‘Make breakfast for Mom and help her dress’
Then I look at the list and I can say, ”Wow, look at how much I’ve already done! I did three quarters of it and it’s only 9am!” So, tip, don’t call it a ‘To Do’ list. Call it ‘Got it Done’ list. Play with the words. Use words that make you feel better like, ‘Off My Plate’ list. This kind of writing requires no skill whatsoever.
Writing to Release Stress #3 Trick
Do a stream of consciousness mind dump. When I used to have to do weekly presentations, A lot of times I got hung up writing the notes prior to the talk. I didn’t know why until I realized that I had conflicting objectives. There was the thing I wanted to tell the people and then there were all the fears, hurdles, thoughts, preoccupying anxieties that was the subtext. For example, I knew there was one person in my audience who would disagree with me every single time I’d address a meeting. So I’d sit down to write but I’d get a little immobilized thinking about Horrible Harry who was going to argue with everything I said.
So what I did was write down all of those fears, all of those hesitancies, all of those concerns on a blank sheet of paper before i began composing my presentation, and then I could do my work. And you can use the mind dump for anything that stops you during the day if you get caught up in worry. It’s worthwhile to put it all down on a piece of paper, give a little chuckle and then throw the paper way.
One of the things I love about writing is that it has an innate feature—if you are trying to grow your intuition, writing uniquely nurtures the process because it is a physiological practice. Holding the pen, even touching the keyboard, your entire body is engaged in the process of creation. I consider writing a form of meditation. You can allow Spirit to come through you to help you solve problems. And here’s the weird magic– You go back tomorrow, read what you wrote and not remember having written half of it. You don’t know where it came from! Magic, right?
MG: Yes! I have that experience all the time! Wow, that was fantastic. What you just offered was so incredibly useful. I mean anybody can write. It doesn’t mean you’ve got to win Pulitzer Prize. Writing should come naturally. The only thing that holds us back is ourself backed by our own judgment of who we think we are or what we think we can do. That’s always first thing to contend with in terms of how we stop ourselves from our happiness and our peace. I talk about this all the time—the importance of getting in touch with what’s going on inside my own mind that’s preventing me from moving ahead. Can you shed some light on that?
DR: I have a way into that. One of my books is called “SHIT: how a four letter word can change your life” because I have a belief that it’s all of the words that we use to talk to ourselves that either limit or open up opportunity for us. When we become aware of the words we habitually use, something shifts irrevocably. You can’t go back once you see the ways you’re stopping yourself with words. So for example, I had worked so much on feeling “I can” and being positive and I remember having coffee at a Starbucks with a therapist who said “You use the word ‘can’t’ a lot.” And I was like, What? I was outraged, right? Because I thought I worked so much on that and here was this person who’s trained to see negativity in people. This is her career and her business. And after that, the clarity about using the negative was really life changing. So my book offers 25 different four letter words that we use so habitually, that if we start to think about them differently and apply that awareness in our own life, it brings a big shift.
MG: So what are a couple of the words in your book?
Can’t. Last is a big one. Hope. I think that hope can sometimes be a stopper to achieving what you want. It’s a way to hang your hat on something that will probably never happen. There’s no inspired action about just plain old hope. Do we have to have hope in our hearts all the time? Absolutely! We do, but to say, “Well, I hope someday I have the energy to do…” is a stop. It’s the way you stop yourself. I believe that we were ingrained from when we were little with this language and it takes a huge effort to take it apart and look at it.
You just mentioned not everyone has to become an award-winning writer, but writing is a craft. Like with any joy in your heart, you practice art, you practice gardening, you practice a sport, writing is a craft that is beautiful. And talk about stress relieving, when you are writing something that is of a creative nature whether it’s poetry or fiction, whatever it is, there’s something very liberating about creating in that way.
I believe that all creativity is divinely inspired. If you desire to do anything, I don’t care if it’s tightrope walking, it has been put in you by the Divine and you are absolutely called in this lifetime to at least explore what it would be like to do it. I don’t think there’s any wish or dream, including writing, that was placed by accident. I think whatever it is you want that contributes to the world and your own well-being is a divinely guided tool for you to rise above any level of stress because you’re living who you are really supposed to be.
MG: I agree, and that’s why I teach what I teach. Because 99.9% of the day we’re engaged in the externals in our lives. “Who said this?” and “What’s going on?” and “Look what happened.” All of that is about what is happening outside of us. So we hardly ever give ourselves an opportunity to get quiet enough to hear what’s going on inside of us. To find that creativity that’s there waiting to be experienced; waiting for us to let it out. I can’t if I’m busy talking. I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk to people. But, if you’re busy with all those externals and never give yourself a moment to get still and get connected with the Source, whatever you want to call it, you’re doing yourself a disservice. So I agree with you 100% that writing not only helps to de-stress but also to uncover your real self.
So please talk about what you do with clients as a writing coach.
DR: I’m a coach for writers and I’m a coach for dreamers. My business is called Earth and Soul Publishing. I help folks who want to self-publish their book get all the way from idea to published. I have designers at different price points. I have copy editors. I coach folks to write their books so that they can see the dream of their book or memoir come to life. But what I love most is to work on the transformation that happens with the writer in the process of creating that book. So many of us say “I want to help people by writing this book.” But the number one person who gets helped is the writer herself or himself. And I think that is where my real calling lies.
I have one more really cool seasonal thing to share.
Writing to Release Stress #4 Seasonal Trick
I’ll never forget my first coach Training Day. I was asked, “What do You want?” I don’t think I’d ever in my lifetime been asked just straight out “What do you want?” I learned that that is the key coaching question. It all starts with what the individual wants.
Hence, my writing a letter to Santa exercise! You know how a little kid will spew out all sorts of wants- “I want a pony and a bicycle and a game boy, etc.”
So here’s what I want you to do–I want you to get a picture of Santa Claus and stick it on a piece of paper. And then make a list. “Dear Santa, I want a better relationship; my house to be painted; someone else to clean my kitchen for once.” Have it be big and let it be limitless and let the magic happen. Like Santa Claus. Just trust that the guy up there in the North Pole is ready to swoop down in his sleigh full of everything that you want. It’s a beautiful practice to help people dream. I want to give adults as much encouragement to dream as kids naturally have.
MG: Oh my goodness, that’s so great. You answered all my questions before I could ask them. You know what I forgot to tell people? — how we met! Somehow I came across your Writers group on Tuesday mornings and I have to say it’s been such a blessing for me to set aside that time for my creativity. It may be business related, which it usually is, or something else but just to know that you’re always there, welcoming writers to join in fills my heart with gratitude!
DR: I always want to invite new people. I call it a writer’s study hall and we just touch base. You don’t have to tell us what you’re writing, you won’t be critiqued. There’s a beautiful energy, the vortex of us all working together. The time flies. It’s Tuesday mornings from 9 to 12. It’s a zoom room. Everyone is more than welcome.
MG: It’s time to go but remember to get a pencil and paper and stick it by your bed to help you fall asleep when anxiety and stress are invading your thoughts. And thank you so much Diane!
Find out more about the wonderful things she does because you will not be sorry. You will be the better for it to say the least. Diane Riis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
And don’t forget to check out her books on Amazon:
“SH*T: how a Four- Letter Word Can Change Your Life”
“Your Words Are Magic” (it’s to encourage writers specifically)
“Wishcraft Journal for 2020: With Prompts and Inspiration” (it’s a guided journal so that you can create the wishes of your life and help them be nurtured to come true. It’s based on Florence Scovel Shinn who said, “Your word is your wand.”)
‘A Cozy Mystery’ (My goal with my fiction is to make women feel like they are at home with good friends and that it’s safe to put aside the world and spend time at Morning Glory Farm, which is the place all my Cozy Mysteries will be set.)
In my new book, Calm, Creative, Joyful: Lessons in Transforming Your Life, you will acquire abilities you didn’t know you had, to transform the thoughts that hurt so that your life becomes a play of endless opportunities for success and happiness.
Available on Amazon.
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