What Would Happen If You Just Stopped?

What Would Happen If You Just Stopped?

What Would Happen If You Just Stopped?

Yep, you know what I mean. Just stopped. Did nothing.

If you’d asked me this question during the past 18 months while I worked 14 hour days, 7 days a week, it would have baffled me. I love hard work. I’ve got what we call ‘zeitzvleis’ – ‘sitting-flesh’ – I can do crazy hours, concentrate fiendishly, juggle a thousand tasks and still get to 6am yoga. Except that it’s not sustainable, and really nothing to get cocky about. In this state, yoga is just another thing to do on a never-ending ‘to-do’ list. Without leisure time, catch-ups with friends, and slowing down, you get a pain in the arse (literally) from sitting in front of a computer for days on end, you’re awake at 3am checking emails and burn-out is inevitable.

So over April and May, I took myself off to a writing retreat in Italy where I was the student and didn’t have to offer a single word of advice or insight to anyone. I let myself be fed, looked after and nurtured. I had intended to write 20 000 words of my new book which my German publisher has commissioned, but after the first day in Italy, I realised, more than anything, that what I needed to do was: STOP.

Each afternoon, after our workshops and leisurely lunches of buffalo mozzarella, gazpacho, crusty bread and stuffed artichokes, I lay at the pool and I let the Tuscan sun feel me up. I skinny-dipped. I drank Aperol spritzes. I stretched like a cat. I played with a puppy called Dante.

I got space. I did not check email or Facebook. I let myself squander hours by staring into the distance until the distance stared back at me.

 

After that blissful week, I met my husband Zed in Florence and for 8 days, we travelled to Bologna, Lake Como and Milan before going to South Africa to see our families. We left the teenagers at home in charge of keeping the cats and bonsai alive. Other than a few campervan trips, he and I have never travelled together before. I worried he’d be the kind of traveller who wants to go to every museum, when all I want to do is sit in cafes and watch people. I feared he’d want to do touristy things when what interests me is what’s on the menu. He did insist on going to see David in all his marbled glory, but that aside, it turns out, we still really, really, really like each other. It may have even gotten a little romantic. And after 22 years together, do you get how bloody miraculous that is?

What I got, more than anything is that it’s only when you stop that you feel the velocity of the pace you’ve been going at, to quote my wise friend Ilze. And while that is what was needed for my business in its infancy, it’s a recipe for the kind of imbalance that leads to unhappiness. You have to stop. Regularly.

For seven weeks, I disconnected from all demands, requests for my time, energy and emotional input and I have put it all back into myself. During this time, I realised I have not been sleeping properly for 18 months. I have not been meditating. I realised that if I don’t really take care of myself, I cannot possibly take care of anyone else – uh, duh.

What happens when you stop, is that you remember who you are, what you love, why you are doing what you’re doing. You get to reset your barometer, get back into your body, drink enough water, exercise, breathe and bring your best back to the world, not from a space of scarcity, but fulsome wholeness.

The Japanese notion of ‘Ma’ or ‘Space’ is about giving ourselves the pauses between being ‘on’ to switch off. I now feel ready to reconnect with everyone because I have filled my own wells.

I have returned to my work, re-energized with so many exciting new plans for the rest of 2018-2019 and not one, but three writing retreats/workshop/conferences we’ll be opening applications for soon (in Sydney, Bali and Italy). For further details, just email us [email protected] as places will be limited.

Later in the year, we’ll encourage anyone who did not take part in or did not complete the 7 Day Free Writing Challenge online to do or redo it. I’ve also been hard at work designing the Author Potential Assessment – a tool which offers insight into where you are strong as a writer and where you need support.

Finally, if you are travelling at velocity and have not stopped in a while, I encourage you to find an island of time in which you can be nobody, go nowhere, do nothing, be ordinary, unexciting, uninspiring, unmotivated and even slovenly.

Please reach out to my team if there is anything we can do to help you on your writing journey.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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Song to Myself

She who always knew
that she was destined – destined, mind you –
for more than domesticity
never suspected that perhaps her knowing
might be nothing more than the soul’s delusion
holding imprints of hopeful mystery.
This knowing comes now to bother her
in the hubble and clutter of kids-cats-anniversaries
to a dissatisfaction
an impatience
with the humble goodness of her ordinary life.
As if she needed reminding that
the envelope of options
is sealed now
and the unfurling of
what will be has become a matter of
unmagical consequence.
She who longed both for this
and for a roaming otherness
now remembers past lovers
and the taste of their tongues
as she fights the shame
of a temper at small infractions by her
children-thank-god-for them
never knew such temper simmered
aching to be lost.
She sinks into memories and dreams
folding corners of herself down
like a neat napkin
hiding the stains, the dirt
of her most wondrous gypsy self
so that this life – this perfectly happy life –
might proceed without incident
medication
tragedy.
She who writes this song to herself
sings now for the selves
that have no place
to be sung.

The Turning

Joanne Fedler

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Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

So I started doing business courses. I started thinking of writing as a business. I learned the basics of pitching, marketing, connecting with your audience, offering yourself in service to others, and I had a major breakthrough. I realised that ‘being an author’, much as it’s a great ego-inflator (as if we need more ego in the world), did not bring me a sense of deep abiding satisfaction about my ‘work in the world.’ On the odd occasion, a beautiful email from a reader would bring me to tears, but the isolation of the writing, the lack of financial security and the endless jealousy I felt towards other more successful authors who won prizes or were invited to writers festivals when I was overlooked (something authors never speak about), made me not like myself a fair bit of the time.

I found that the more I mentored others, and offered what I know in service to people who want to write their stories, the happier I became. In fact, taking people on writing retreats where it is all about them and not about me – makes me about as happy as I can be. So I started trusting that. That the era of my ego had passed (finally) and my work is about service to others (a comfortable place for someone with 9 out of 12 planets in Virgo).

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Who Are You to Write Your Story?

Who Are You to Write Your Story?

Over the past years, I’ve been working with ordinary women who are writing the ordinary stories of their lives.

‘Why would anyone care about my story?’ each one asks in her way. ‘Who am I to write my story?’

‘What does my life matter? I’ve done nothing special. I’m no-one important. Who would be interested in my life?’

Yet just what constitutes these ‘nothing special,’ ‘unimportant lives’?

I healed from a chronic illness. I left an abusive marriage. I raised my children alone. I lost a child. I was raped. I nursed my dying mother. I was sexually abused. I was abandoned. I am living with breast cancer. I am raising a disabled child. My family rejected me. I adopted an abandoned child. I was widowed. I lost my mother. I raised four children. I stayed in my marriage. I built my own business. I decided to keep the baby. I left my religion. My child is a drug addict. I left my homeland. My husband left me for another woman. I couldn’t have children. My daughter was raped.

Each one is a staggering narrative of survival, and a triumph of the human spirit.

What is startling is that none of these women thinks of herself as a hero. Each one is innocent of her own greatness, oblivious to the power and wisdom in her story. These women do not appreciate or value their own courage and how their lives are lanterns to others. In most cases, not one of them has ever been told ‘you are beautiful, you are brave, you are an inspiration.’

Men who fight in wars are bestowed with medals, salutes and state funerals. Sports stars are over-valued, over-paid and treated as a subspecies of little gods. In our culture, celebrities are lauded over for their wealth, their wardrobes and their Oscar wins. While men still fight wars (real and on sports fields), women on the whole, work to nurture, bring life and beauty to the planet. Quietly.

Author Potential Profile Assessment

Discover your hidden strengths as well as the areas you need to build on to become an author.

As women age and we pass into our forties and fifties, our status plummets dizzyingly. As pertness gives way to gravity, and our generous bodies stop bleeding so we can no longer bear children, we stop satisfying traditional standards of beauty. We become shadows. We grow invisible. Some try to hold back time, and Botox our sagging butts and boobs back into youth. Some of us grieve. Our children leave us. And it’s round about this time that a woman may decide that she’s going to (finally) do something for herself. Just herself. That’s when she finds me. That’s when she whispers, ‘I’ve always wanted to write… but who would be interested in my life?’

It is one of the best kept secrets in the universe right now that true power and wisdom reside in these women and their experiences. Our planet is desperate for their teachings. Our world urgently needs the lineage and luminance of their humble labour, unrewarded, unacknowledged.

So when people ask me, ‘Why do you work only with women? And women over forty?’ here it is. It is my spiritual calling, my mission if you like, to help women write and curate their stories as a collective act of conscious healing so that together we can tip these narratives back into the world.

What I know is that women’s stories – of growth, healing, transformation, creative endeavour – are the medicine this world needs now. When written from a place of deep knowing, with care and craft and conscientiousness, the personal voice speaks into the universal voice. And each time a woman stitches herself back into the fabric of life with words, she create a groove for someone else in which to rest her own tremulousness. One woman’s courage breaks ground for others.

In a troubled world, I believe our work as writers is to use our words to inspire, nourish and grow the spirit – our own, that of the reader, the planet, or the Great Spirit that runs through all things.

Perhaps when the world has learned what it takes to leave an abusive marriage, what it asks of the human spirit to forgive your rapist and what work is needed to heal an illness, we will find a way to deserve our future.

If you are wondering, ‘Who am I to write my story?’ perhaps now is the time to invest in yourself, and to honour the life you’ve lived.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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Where the Fight Is Won or Lost

Where the Fight Is Won or Lost

Where the Fight Is Won or Lost

You can learn the craft of writing any way you choose: you can take a course, you can read a book about writing, you can read great writers until your eyeballs bleed. There is no one way to learn what you need to know about writing. And that’s because the craft of writing is not what you’re fighting to learn.

My experience having mentored hundreds of aspiring authors, is that the fight is never to ‘learn the craft.’ The fight is learning to deal with yourself: your resistance. Your own feelings of worthlessness. Your sense that you’re a fraud. Your belief that no-one will care about anything you have to say. Your conviction that you’re wasting your time.

These tricksters of our own consciousness sabotage our mental space; they make a lot of noise; they kidnap our sense of what’s possible.

But we cannot negotiate with such terrorists.

 

Author Potential Profile Assessment

Discover your hidden strengths as well as the areas you need to build on to become an author.

If we want to write, we have to fight. What we finally produce and gift to the world through our writing has been hard-won. Far from witnesses. We succeed when we battle past self-doubt. We win when we write even when we’re not in the mood. We are victorious when we edit our work, and can let go of whatever does not serve our story.

We think that ‘success’ means publication. Book deals. Book tours. But that’s not where our mastery lies. It lies ‘behind the lines,’ or in our case, between the lines. it lies in the work no-one sees, the work it takes for us to believe in our stories and shout our worth to the world. It lies in every word you commit to the page.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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The Dynamics of Manifestation… I Get It Now

The Dynamics of Manifestation… I Get It Now

The Dynamics of Manifestation… I Get It Now

A couple of years ago, I wrote a book to help other writers get their story into the world called Your Story: how to write it so others will want to read it. My aim for it was modest – I was going to self publish it, and it would be a gift to the writers I mentor and a few on my mailing list who would like to come on retreat with me, but can’t for some reason.

My agent in France read the book, liked it and offered to try find a publisher.

‘I’m only interested in Hay House in America,’ I told him. ‘And I’m not waiting two years – it has to come out next year.’

This was a cheeky conversation, because despite at least three attempts (including a trip to the US in 2008 to try and secure a US literary agent), I haven’t been able to get my books into America. In fact, a few years ago, I completely let go of the American dream. As authors, we imagine that someday we’re going to be ‘discovered.’ That a publisher will swoop down and rescue us. We will be the next J. K. Rowling. But we grow up. We realise no-one is coming to save us, and that we’re in charge of our own destinies.

 

Your Story - How to write it so others will read it - out now

In this no-excuses book, written for aspiring writers and emerging authors, Joanne Fedler shares her original techniques, frameworks and strategies for life writing to ensure that your story connects with readers and doesn’t bore them to switch to Facebook scrolling.

In the spirit of mature making-my-own-shit-happen, I went ahead and invested a huge amount of money into self publication and I didn’t care if I didn’t make it back, as long as the book got into the hands of a few people and helped them figure out how to write their stories.

So here’s how the Universe works: on the same day on which I paid the last installment on the book, my agent came back to me with the news that Hay House in the US had made an offer to buy the rights to the book.

This is exciting news. Not just for me, but for all of us. Because of what it’s revealed about how the algorithm of manifestation works: we have to be 100% committed to ourselves, and we have to be 100% unattached to the outcome. And if the universe plays favourites, it picks what we offer in service to others, over what’s driven by ego.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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