S2/E18: Overcome Writer’s Block by Dave Ursillo
Updated: Aug 2
Ursillo hosts the Written, Spoken Podcast and has authored several books, including Before You Quit Writing, Read This. He produces a free twice-monthly newsletter called, Chronicles of the Self-Storied Life, which you can sign up for on his website. He also produces the occasional online course and does speaking events.
Dave Ursillo describes his work this way: “I spend my days immersed in transformative conversations as a life coach, a writing and creativity coach, and as a communications strategist and story consultant…working with creative self-starters and service-minded professionals who want to leave legacies of love in their wake.“
There’s a lot here, but like usual, I’m just here to give you a taste. Here are my…
1. Everything you have done, everything you’re doing, and everything you will do are all part of you. And, by extension, no one part of your life (i.e. your past) represents all you’re capable of, so don’t get hung up on any of it.
2. Fighting against your feelings will often backfire. If you try to shame yourself out of your feelings, they’ll only grow deeper roots, essentially. Apps and writing programs (like those built around word counts or the ones that punish you if you stop writing), can actually add more anxiety and set you back further. Know yourself and what works for you. If someone else swears by a word count or time goal everyday, but you find that you actually produce less good work, ditch it! Basically, Ursillo urges you to always choose what “supports [you] here and now.”
3. Own the identity of being a writer, but not just a writer. I love this because it harkens back all the way back to one of the first episodes of The Rookie Writer Show, where I urge all writers to practice calling themselves writers, practice introducing themselves as authors, etc. I like that Ursillo takes this one step further, and says that while, “titles and labels…help us relate to one another on a very simple level, they’ll never capture the full human that you are.” You are a writer, yes. And you’re also a friend, someone’s child, and maybe someone’s soul mate, parent, boss, or mentor. You’re not going to be killing it in every area of your life every minute of every day. Don’t forget to honor all the parts of yourself and the ways that you contribute to this world, not just what you’re contributing to the literary (or whatever) canon.
*Hack: If you’re struggling to get started or to finish, ask yourself the following question and then see where things take you: What have I been avoiding lately? Maybe journal about it. You might be surprised to learn what’s actually blocking you. Why have you been avoiding that thing (and not something else)? What can it teach you?
I love these encouraging words from Dave Ursillo:
“All we can do, though, is answer the call. Answer the call. We are conduits. We are messengers, carriers of ideas and stories. We are shepherds of messages. That’s a really divine thing and a very special opportunity that we all possess. [It] doesn’t mean that we’re better than anyone else who isn’t a writer or a creative, but it means that this is a really powerful gift that we have. To usher ideas from the invisible realm, from the intangible plane into the physical world. Even if that’s in the space of your own journal. Even if that’s for just your own journey of self-actualization, being your whole and best self. Which means that everybody around you is going to benefit from it.” Dave Ursillo, Overcoming Writer’s Block
Like so many other courses, there’s lots more to dig into. An overview of the class tells you that you can expect to learn how to (quoting from CreativeLive page):
Conquer the fear, guilt and shame that block your creative writing.
Focus on your inner game instead of fixating on your outer game.
Side step your tendencies toward indecision and overwhelm.
Source your voice from other writers, creatives and teachers.
Overcome “imposter syndrome” by being seen, nixing self-comparison, and yoking into your whole true self.
I picked up this class as part of CreativeLive’s “NaNoWriMo Bundle” a year or so ago, but it goes for $17 right now. If you go straight through the lessons on this particular class, it will take you right at an hour and a half, with most lessons lasting between five and ten minutes. He also throws in a downloadable PDF copy of all of the slides in the presentation. I have the CreativeLive app on my phone and iPad, but CreativeLive is available anywhere you can get a web browser. I’ve streamed classes using all these methods with great success.
You might want to consider checking out some of Ursillo’s books, published through his Lead Without Followers platform, for more on the topics of creativity, productivity, and flow.
There are lots of other great writing classes in CreativeLive that you can check out, but also classes around the subjects of photo/video production, money/life management, art/design, crafts, and music/audio production.
You can access CreativeLive classes in multiple ways:
CreativeLive streams free courses every single day (24/7) on CLTV.
Also possible to buy your courses. This one is listed for $17 (on sale from $29).
Also possible to get all access passes. $39 a month or $149 for an annual pass ($12.41/mo).
I’d say most classes will cost between around $15 and $75, but some fall outside that range. Right now, CreativeLive has a $15 coupon for both of us!
Until then. . .
Happy writing, people!
P.S. In other Dair news:
Fellow author Robin Knabel and I recently posted a new episode of our new podcast, Unsettling Reads. Come check out our spoiler-free review of Megan Gidding’s Lakewood and browse our other reviews of books from the crime, fantasy, horror, literary, mystery, sci-fi, suspense, and thriller genres. You can find it all at www.UnsettlingReads.com.
To find out what I’ve been working on, fiction-wise, visit www.HDairBrown.com. Sign up for the email list, and I’ll send you a free story every month. Just one email a month. I promise not to inundate you. I hate a pesky emailer!
Finally, to help you keep track of both your writing goals and your time, visit TheRookieWriter.net and sign up for the email list to get a free undated quarterly version of The Rookie Writer Playbook (a planner/organizer just for writers) to try out. And, of course, The Rookie Writer Etsy shop has full annual, dated Writing Planners available, along with a few other tools and fun swag for writers.