Updated: Oct 6
Writing, like motherhood, is a journey of self-discovery. Often that journey is filled with obstacles that require us to confront our shortcomings, our areas for growth, and the topics and situations that make us uncomfortable.
Discomfort is often viewed as a problem. A hindrance. Something to turn away from or distract ourselves from.
But the real flex comes when we learn how to leverage our discomfort and use it as a stepping stone to up-level our writing skills and grow as a writer.
In our current culture, discomfort is often something we seek to avoid. It's something that we try to eliminate. And in a world where you can get safe drinking water by simply turning on the faucet, all the information in the world in the palm of your hand, Door Dash your way to an easy meal, block anyone that you disagree with, and Prime deliver almost any object you need in 2 days or less, we don't necessarily get a lot of experience dealing with actual discomfort.
That's all great! I like my creature comforts, too. I'm a glamper, not a camper. I want warm showers and a warm cup of tea every day, and I don't want to have to build a fire to make it happen. The problem though, is that too much comfort is a trap. And it leads to stagnation.
We avoid challenges. We choose the path of least discomfort. We avoid anyone we disagree with. We allow our ideas to go unchallenged. We lose the ability to sit with ourselves.
We don't even have to be bored or feel our discomfort anymore, thanks to our phones which provide an endless source of distraction and entertainment 24/7. As AI develops, we don't even have to stretch our creative muscles as far anymore. Not sure what to post on social media, how to start a story, or even what to argue in your legal brief, ask ChatGPT.
All of this comfort is a problem if you want to reach your full potential as a writer.
And that's especially true for us moms, who have a lot of other to-dos, priorities, and tasks to complete each day. Tasks that could easily push our writing to the back burner, especially if our writing is making us uncomfortable in any way.
In this blog post, and last week's podcast episode, I want to share with you how you can learn to recognize discomfort and stop it from getting in the way of your writing. It's a framework that I call "N.E.S.T." (Learn more in this episode of Mom Writes First: Stop Letting Your Discomfort Stop You from Writing: N.E.S.T. Framework, or watch the video lesson for this episode here).
The NEST framework encourages you to recognize the urge to divert from your writing task, allow it to envelop you without acting on it, sift through the data to understand what's happening in your brain, and finally, use this data to align your life with your true desires.
Let's start by talking about how to recognize that discomfort might be getting in the way of your writing. Do you experience any of the following?
Do you find yourself unable to sit and make time for your writing because you judge your writing?
Does writer's block stop you? Do you feel like you don't know what to write or even "HOW" to write in the moment?
Are you afraid to share your work with the world?
Do you resist calling yourself a writer/poet/storyteller/blogger, because of how you think others will react? (Hint: This is ultimately about your inability to deal with your feelings about their reaction.)
Do you avoid necessary life changes that would prioritize your writing because you are afraid of what it means for you, your family, your sense of identity, and the future?
Are you afraid to fail and not be successful as a writer?
Are you afraid to succeed as a writer?
Do you avoid self-reflection and self-critique of your work?
Do you resist feedback from others about your writing?
Do you dodge questions about your writing?
Do you "ghost" people who know about your writing?
All of these examples are actual examples from people who I have coached, who ultimately realized that these examples were a sign that they were avoiding discomfort when it came to their writing.
That's the real news. But here's the GOOD news!
You can get to the other side of this discomfort, and everything you've wanted is over there. You just have to be willing to allow that discomfort.
And that's where N.E.S.T. comes in. N.E.S.T. stands for Notice, Envelop, Sift, and Transform. Here's how it works.
You sit down to write, and suddenly, you notice that instead of writing, you have an urge to do something else. Anything else. You want to write, but your brain is making a list of all the other things that you could do instead. You resist for a moment. But before you realize it, you're scrolling on social media, folding laundry, or checking emails, and 30 minutes have gone by and you haven't written one word!
This urge to do something else, when you are supposed to be writing, is your discomfort masquerading as an urgent to-do. This urge to do something else, whether it is an urge to eat, to snack, to have a glass of wine, to go for a walk, to watch TV, to take care of the dog, to make a list, to do the laundry, to check your email, or scroll on social media, is your discomfort's way of distracting you from what you said you would do: WRITE.
When that urge comes up. You have to pause. You have to sit with it. This is the "N" in N.E.S.T. You notice and allow that discomfort-driven urge. You allow it to Envelop you. That's the "E" in N.E.S.T. Let it wash over you. This isn’t about resisting and white-knuckling through it. It's more like allowing it to be there, and just not acting on it.
Then, one of two things will happen. The urge will either dissolve, and you'll start to write, or the urge will remain and that is when you start to "Sift" (that's the "S" in N.E.S.T.). When you sift, you collect data. You gather information about what's happening in your body. Where does the discomfort show up in your body? Is there tightness in your shoulders or burning in your eyes? Does your stomach hurt? What's happening in your mind? Noticing and collecting this data is an important step. Don't skip over it. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Don't blame yourself. Talk nicely to yourself. Just as you would with a friend.
As you collect that data, that's when you move to the final step in the N.E.S.T. framework: Transform. Take the data, look for patterns, and develop insights. Then use that information to transform and move through the discomfort. Grow from it. In this way, discomfort is a signal pointing you to where you need to go. It's showing you who you can be. Discomfort does not have to derail you. It can be a catalyst for growth, instead.
One of my coaches once told me that I could continue to deal with a life that I don’t like or I can create a life I love. Either way. I was going to be uncomfortable at some point along the way. It's the same with your writing. You can either continue to deal with a life where you don’t write the book, the stories, the poems. You can have those ideas in your head and never give voice or life to them. You can hold all of that discomfort.
Or, you can start writing, and be willing to face the internal and external judgment that might come with it. You get to choose your discomfort. Which one sounds better to you?
The NEST framework isn't just about overcoming discomfort. It's about learning from it and using it to grow as a writer. It's about recognizing the signals your discomfort is sending you and using them to navigate your writing journey. By embracing discomfort and learning to overcome it, you can progress on your writing journey.
And when you are ready to take the work deeper, contact me for 1:1 coaching, firstname.lastname@example.org.