Who Are You?
Julia A. Nicholson: Author, Keynote Speaker, and Consultant from Sacramento, California.
What Do You Write?
I got started writing because the many recurring thoughts running through my head non-stop became overwhelming. Sleep was all but impossible. These thoughts would wake me up at all hours of the night. My choice was to either be zombie-like during most days or surrender to the force pushing me to put those thoughts on paper.
My writing is more inspired than driven. I write what comes to me, whenever it comes to me and then I try to find a theme and make sense of what I’ve written. I absolutely love what I do because I know what I am writing or speaking about is helping people process some of the most difficult things that have happened in their life and live with less pain, guilt, and grief. I avoid themes that I don’t feel I have a strong command of or can write about confidently. I stay in my lane!
Where Do You Write?
I think of myself as an unconventional writer. One of my most productive “writing” environments is the outdoors, especially when I’m on my daily 4-mile morning power walk or when I’m driving long distances. It is during these times that I have many writing breakthrough moments and have clarity with exactly what I want to convey. I usually capture those via voice memos on my cell phone. I also write my thoughts on sticky notes, different colored note cards, and spiral-bound notebooks. All my notes would look like a hot mess to most people, but when I am in front of my computer, I start organizing and wordsmithing all my recordings and notes. It works for me because I’m a non-linear thinker and can’t write a complete chapter at a time. My thoughts bounce around just like my writing style. With respect to my environment, I intentionally move to different spaces and rooms in my house on daily basis to give myself a varied environment in which to write.
When Do You Write?
I don’t have a typical writing session, nor do I set a time limit or word count goal. I set deadlines for myself to complete a specific chapter or section and work backward from there. Many times, as long as I’m making progress, I may write for 8-10 hours straight until the wee hours of the morning and then not look at anything I’ve written for a few days so I can see it with fresh eyes.
Why Do You Write?
People who are looking for help and hope inspire me. I was asked so many times how, given the trauma and tragedy I’ve experienced, I have been able to keep going, accomplish what I have in my life, and live genuinely joyfully. I feel like I owe them an answer. I share what I’ve learned and how I have done it because I want to help people who are hurting and need help processing unwanted change, loss, and grief in their life and give them hope. When I
experienced multiple traumatic losses in my life, I found the conventional wisdom surrounding loss and grief woefully lacking. In fact, not only did the conventional wisdom and the most common model (the 5 stages of grief) not help me, they actually hurt me. I started to feel even worse, even more like a failure, that I couldn’t even grieve right because it appeared the conventional wisdom and popular model was “working” for everyone else.
I am compelled to expand the narrative around loss and grief – loss is more than just the death of someone and some degree of grief doesn’t have to be a life sentence because you’ve experienced loss. I am motivated by having the opportunity to help other people who have experienced adversity, hardship, unwanted change, and loss spend one less minute in feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, blame, shame, and grief.
How Do You Overcome Writer’s Block?
When I have writer’s block, I do a few different things to help me get going again, including rereading what I’ve already written, going outside for a leisurely walk, or doing something totally unrelated to writing, like cooking or baking. What most frequently works for me is forcing myself to sit in front of my laptop with my hands on the keyboard and just start typing every thought that comes into my mind. Invariably, my random, rambling typing turns into focused writing.
Bonus: What Do You Enjoy Doing When Not Writing?
When I’m not writing, I most enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I also like to golf, travel, cook, and be involved in most outdoor activities. When it’s football season, I’m an avid Denver Broncos fan!
My thanks to Julia A. Nicholson for today’s interview.