As a Masters student I am currently working on my major project which I refer to as the fucking memoir. It’s the reason I enrolled in the non-fiction writing course in the first place. If you’ve been following along, you will know the book has been giving me some grief. If you’ve only just joined us, well, the book has been giving me some grief.
Last week I was asked to present my film Suicide Widow to a new batch of post graduate students in the documentary film class. In my talk, I surmised that the reason I was having so much trouble writing was because I was better at seeing things in pictures and perhaps my film had already said everything I wanted to say. My lecturer Jeni Thornley recommended I read the work of JM Coetzee as an example of someone who writes in scenes like a filmmaker. Within hours his memoir was on my Kindle and by the next day I had finished it. Since then, my creative block has disappeared and I’ve written close to 10,000 words in three days.
I got unstuck, after being stuck for months. Here is how you can apply the lessons I learnt to your sex life or anything else where you’re stuck.
5 Ways to Get Unstuck
(1) Even if you feel like you’re not doing a very good job keep doing it. A lot of the writing I did last year was shit but I have been able to re-write and re-fashion it into something that works. Even mediocre efforts contribute to success.
If your love life is a not what you hoped it would be, keep doing it anyway. If sexy-time is a little bland, keep going rather than give up. Something is better than nothing.
(2) Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. I am proud of the film I made, so when Jeni asked me to talk about it to a class of students I didn’t hesitate. Just because I didn’t feel like a very good writer didn’t stop me from being confident enough to talk about my filmmaking process and answer questions.
If you feel like a failure when it comes to your intimate life, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure in everything. Instead of dwelling on your shortcomings, put your attention on what you do well. At the end of the night say, ‘The sex may not have blown my head off but the dinner I cooked tonight was fucking awesome.’
(3) Say ‘yes’. I could have said no to the guest lecture opportunity because it was an unpaid gig. But on that night I was pointed in a direction I wouldn’t have found on my own and I was asked to interview for a major national newspaper. When you open the door (any door) you invite unexpected miracles to turn up.
Someone recommends a book to you about tantric sex? Read it. S/he wants to try something a bit different? Give it a try. Never watched an erotic film? You might enjoy it. Never sent a dirty text message? Get out your phone now. Say ‘yes’ more often and things you never expected will happen.
(4) Figure out what you love and why you love it. I can tell you I’ve read every memoir that has made the New York Bestsellers List. I have read about alcoholism, suicide, child abuse and prostitution. I didn’t enjoy any of them. When I read JM Coetzee I loved his ‘voice’ and the way he told his story. His work proved to me that I’m not the only one who enjoys reading lean, raw and stripped back writing (having sold a few books and won the Booker Prize twice and the Nobel Prize in Literature).
Think about which senses give you the most pleasure — what smell, taste, sight, sound or texture do you love? Try taking that sensation into your sexual relationship. Incense, cold champagne, flickering candles, music or silky sheets might be the missing link. But don’t be constrained by what you think you should like. Maybe your taste is different to other people — maybe rough is better than gentle, loud music better than soft or the warm grass is better than clean sheets …
(5) Admit you’re struggling and ask for help. It would have been very tempting to present myself to those students as someone who had everything under control. Exposing my vulnerability to complete strangers is not what the gurus of effective public speaking recommend. When I admitted I was floundering on my own, people connected with me. They recognised I was as flawed as the next person and offered their help.
You can’t solve everything on your own. Sometimes you’re too deep into the problem to see a way out. No matter how hard you search for an answer by yourself you just can’t find it. Talk to your partner about how you feel. Open up about your fears, your doubts and your disappointment; it will deepen your connection. Sometimes you need someone from outside your relationship to give you a fresh perspective. Asking for help is not weakness, it’s the most courageous thing you’ll ever do.
It’s time to get unstuck
If you feel like you’re missing deep heart-centred relationships with anyone in your life, The Love Matrix Project is designed to give you a fresh view of your issues. Today is the day registration opens for the Autumn intake. If you sign up before 25 March 2012 there is a special two-for-one early bird bonus which means you can bring a friend for free.
Click here if you’ve had enough of being stuck and want to get going again.
And the winners are …
There are two people who have won a free scholarship to the Love Matrix Project based on their comments left here and on Facebook. It was a tough choice so I asked the other Love Ninjas decide on the winners.
Congratulations to :
I need Love Ninja training because I grew up in a household full of hate and aggression, and at 23 years of age, I have absolutely no idea how to bond with others, express my feelings or share the love I so desperately want to give to the people in my life. I watched my mother stay in an abusive marriage for the wrong reasons and now find I have an inability to stand up for myself and my needs and my desires, both physical and emotional in my own relationships. I was never shown or given love in a healthy way, and I’m frightened to reach out lest others rebuke my love and tenderness. I need Love Ninja training so I can have the confidence in my myself to know it’s okay to love, and the ways in which I can love others without letting it turn into a self-detrimental situation, because I so often let those I love walk all over me. I need Love Ninja training so I can give the best of myself to the world and the people I love, and be ready and open for their love in return.
Rachael Orr …I feel I spend my life trying to love and fix everyone else, too much probably, and I’m getting left behind. Left behind in my own life? I know I owe it to myself to work on me first, but I keep putting myself last…
I’ll email you the details of enrolment soon.
Thank you to everyone who entered x