Do you struggle with your creative work? Maybe you suffer from creative block, don’t think you have what it takes to write that book that’s in your head or keep finding reasons to put off getting started?
Amanda Truscott’s been there. She was bitten by the writing bug at an early age but spent most of her life battling with self-doubts and writer’s block. Deciding that enough was enough, Amanda spent the last eight years studying the creative process. She poured her findings into her book, Creative Unblocking: Bypass Self-Doubt, Tap Your Genius and Complete Your Best Work.
Today, Amanda is writing fiction, non-fiction and her own blog. She has more ideas than she can use! Plus, she’s using her experience to help others and coaching creatives to help them overcome their blocks.
Curious to know how Amanda did it? Here she dishes it all out:
1. What is your dream and how are you currently living it out?
My dream is to make a living writing books that delight, inspire, and entertain readers. Writing is what fills my heart and makes me feel alive. I just published a non-fiction book called Creative Unblocking: Bypass Self-Doubt, Tap Your Genius, and Complete Your Best Work. It’s a step-by-step guide to the creative process for emerging artists and writers. At the moment, I’m preparing to submit a novel to an editor who has expressed interest in it. I spend my mornings on creative work and do promotional stuff in the afternoons.
2. What steps did you take to get started in the beginning?
I started writing stories as soon as I was old enough to write. Later, though, when I was in high school and university, I got the idea that I wasn’t good enough at writing, and I didn’t deserve to do it. My journey back to it began with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, which got me journalling more regularly. Writing in my journal helped me get clear about what I really wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. It also helped me find my voice as a writer.
3. What challenges did you face to pursue your dream and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenges have always been self-doubt and the limits of my own energy. I wrote a blog post recently about how self-doubt doesn’t have to be an enemy, since it can motivate us to learn and get better. It hurts us, though, when it stops us altogether, and stopped me for a long time. I thought I’d never be a good enough writer to produce anything worth reading, so I figured I might as well not bother. What got me past that was realising the desire to write was what made me a writer. Desire comes before skill and eventually gives birth to it. I was already what I wanted to be; I just had to own up to it. Once I did that, I had to accept that getting my writing done would mean other things would have to slide. I wasn’t going to cook a perfect meal every night or agree to everything people asked of me. That was hard, because I like to make people happy.
Desire comes before skill and eventually gives birth to it.
4. What mindset shifts did you have to go through to turn your dream into a reality?
I had to believe that anything was possible, and that “the odds” didn’t apply to me. I also had to believe — and this was a huge one — that I deserved to have the life I wanted.
5. How do you deal with fears and self-doubt?
I recognise that just because they manifest as voices in my own head that sound like mine, that doesn’t mean they’re valid, helpful, or representative of my deepest truth. When I notice them yakking away at me, I think something like, I appreciate your perspective. Now shut up. I’m trying to work.
6. When did you realise you had made it?
Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like I’ve “made it,” because I’ll always be working towards something new, and I’m totally fine with that. My friend Niki is always reminding me that the journey matters more than the destination, and there’s something to enjoy at every stage.
7. What personal characteristic helped you the most in achieving your dream?
Perseverance. It was my single most important takeaway from the horseback riding lessons I took growing up. When I fell off a horse — which I did, many, many times — I was never allowed to walk away (except for one time when I was obviously concussed). I always had to get back on and try again. So now, whenever something doesn’t work out, although I do sometimes let myself wallow in disappointment for a little while, eventually, I always say to myself, “Alright, Amanda. Get back on the horse.” And, sooner or later, things always work out.
- Favourite personal development/business book: Oh gosh, that’s hard. It’s probably a tie between The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
- Inspiration: My mother. She founded her own elementary school based on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s principles of the Science of Creative Intelligence. She’s endlessly patient and kind to everyone, but she doesn’t take any crap. Writers who inspire me are Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Kurt Vonnegut, Karen Marie Moning, my sister Celeste Lovick, and my aunt Brenda Carre. I’m inspired by the music my brother David Truscott plays with his band, Little Fix. I also think Amanda Palmer is amazing. There are others, but this is supposed to be the lightning round, so I’ll stop there.
- Mantra to live by: I’m not a big Nike fan, but I often say to myself, “Just do it.”
- Breakfast: Mesa Sunrise cereal with unsweetened cashew milk, sliced banana, and a huge dollop of peanut butter, and matcha tea with cinnamon, cashew milk, and stevia.
- Favourite app: Asana. It makes managing my tasks super-easy.
8. Do you have any daily habits or rituals that have set you up for success?
Yes! So many! Haha. I practise Transcendental Meditation first thing after waking up every morning and before dinner every night. After my morning meditation and breakfast, I write in my journal for 10 minutes about what I accomplished and learned the day before, what I’m grateful for, what I want to accomplish that day, and what I want to accomplish in my life. I also try to get at least 5 solid hours of exercise every week or I start feeling lethargic and depressed. I try not to do anything work-related after dinner or on weekends.
9. What are three lessons you’ve learned on your journey?
One of my favourite yoga teachers used to say, “If it doesn’t serve you, let it go.” A pretty painful lesson has been that the more desperate you are for anything — money, love, a job, whatever — the more it recedes from you. The correct attitude, I’ve learned (and am still learning), is an attitude of invitation, without attachment to the outcome. The last and most important lesson — and one I’m also still learning and practising — is to come from a place of love, giving, and generosity in everything you do, because when you do that, you light up and invite a cascade of good things for you and everyone you meet. I’m definitely not perfect at this by any means, but it’s a horse I think I’m getting better at riding.
10. What advice would you give to women who want to become fiction writers?
Read, read, read. For several years, I stopped doing that because I thought I was too busy, even though reading is one of the things I love most in the world. During that time, I was totally dry and uninspired. Let yourself fall hopelessly in love with books. Instead of being intimidated and discouraged by all the great things people have already written, let your own writing be an act of gratitude. Know that, if you have the desire to write, you are a writer, and it’s important that you write. You’ll feel like a more complete human if you do, which means you’ll have more to give everyone else in your life.
Photos by Kevin Urbanski.