116: Martha Alderson – Overcoming Doubt and Creative Blocks

A Journey Through Boundless Creativity

Martha Alderson is the best-selling author of The Plot Whisperer. She writes novels for readers, plot books for writers, and posts for anyone looking to enrich their lives with more creativity and inspiration. 

Today, she talks about her book, Boundless Creativity, which takes readers on a spiritual journey where they learn to break down barriers that cause self-doubt and let their creativity flow.

After thirty years of experience working with writers, Alderson developed this spiritual course of action for anyone looking to achieve higher creativity. She offers readers easy-to-follow steps and exercises through a four-phase program called “The Universal Story”—a powerful technique that lies at the heart of every great transformational journey.

What We Discuss with Martha Alderson:

  • Martha’s writing journey
  • What is your creative promise?
  • Leading oneself through writing
  • Understanding the universal story in writing a plot
  • The 4 phases of the universal story
  • Owning your power and embracing elements of yourself
  • How Martha finds the stories she wants to tell
  • Her advice to aspiring authors

[01:49] Martha’s Writing Journey

Martha found that women struggle with plot. She was analyzing all these classics and best-selling novels and prize-winning novels, and screenplays and memoirs and she got it on a very concrete level. She then shared her knowledge with others that she soon became known as the plot whisperer. 

Working with writers, Martha discovered the universality in their journey. It mirrored the journey that their protagonists in their stories were undertaking. 

What’s known as the hero’s journey, Martha thought it was more of a universal story because it transcends beyond the human experience. We’re part of that experience. But it also shows up in nature, in the seasons, the lunar cycles. It’s a much broader, more universal pathway.

[04:00] The Energetic Markers

As creative people, we all travel along this energetic pathway. We hit certain energetic markers which are turning points in our lives and in our creativity that can really affect our path. 

Energy markers can either enliven you and challenge you to overcome the hurdles you face – or make you give up.

Seeing many brilliant writers and creative people giving up, Martha wrote Boundless Creativity to explain to them that universality is not personal. It’s an invitation to go on a spiritual journey, learn more about yourself, and free yourself from a lot of things that interfere with accessing your spirit and creativity at large.

[06:25] What is Your Creative Promise?

We usually lose ourselves as we move through different expectations. And beneath all of that is this purpose of being able to find yourself again. We need to find this promise that we incarnated with so we can bring more beauty and more meaning to the world. 

Every time we take a creative project from beginning all the way to the end, we have the potential to change the world.

Delve into creativity beyond the traditional means. A lot of people are creative because they want to make a lot of money or become famous or leave a legacy or whatever. Instead, do it in order to learn more about yourself. 

Once you start a creative project, you start to meet yourself as well as the things you say to yourself, the limiting beliefs, and the lack of self-worth. If you can start to strip away some of those layers and really access your spirit, which is the deeper part of you, life just lifts everything. It just becomes brighter and easier and you’re in communion with this greater energy that’s out there.

[13:48] Understanding the Universal Story in Writing a Plot 

If you can see how the energy rises and falls in a story or in your own life, you start to feel it. You start to understand what is beyond words because words are very limiting. We grasp them depending on our background and how we associate with the words we’re hearing. 

If people can see the template, they can better understand the energy at the beginning of a story. It’s vastly different than the energy that’s going to come in the middle and at the end. If you can see how that rises and falls, you can start to create the dramatic action in your stories to be able to mirror that. The turning point is where the energy is supposed to rise. 

Every hardship we suffer is a gift. There are lessons to be learned. If we don’t become victimized by the hardships but we’re open to learning from them, we are rewarded with gifts of knowledge, skills, insights, growth, and transformation. 

The more we persevere, the more we are rewarded. The more inspiration and more ideas we want to manifest, more creativity flows into our lives because we’ve shown ourselves as a worthy participant in this dance of life.

[18:22] The 4 Phases of the Universal Story

  1. A space of excitement: We’re still in the beginning, nothing has really changed. We haven’t changed. We’re just in that space of excitement and possibilities. 
  2. The territory of the antagonists: This is where you’re going to start to meet the obstacles of your own limitations. It’s a time of learning rather saying you’re not gifted. Approach it as a way to be learning the skills you need in order to embrace your passion. As things get harder, you’re asked to recommit.  
  3. Meeting yourself: You start to understand we would never say to someone else the messages we feed ourselves. You start to become conscious of these internal obstacles and how burdened your inner spirit is to the point that it can’t really guide you and support you with the help that’s available to you.
  4. Ascent to your triumph: This is still fraught with challenges. But you still have to show up, practice your craft, and support yourself with affirmations and belief in yourself. Then you rise up and you hold this art you’ve created in your hands and you’re transformed. You are changed by having brought a creative project from the beginning to the end.

[24:11] Owning Your Power and Embracing Elements of Yourself

Owning your power is that moment of releasing yourself from what you’ve been told you should do or what life should look like. It’s a moment when you really stand in your own power and commit to doing what has to be done. 

Pursuing any creative task gives you the opportunity to explore different aspects of yourselves. 

Our personality isn’t always open to change. So we need to embrace those elements of ourselves that are positive or negative. By doing so, we are fully embracing who we are as individuals and as creative people.

[28:09] The Writing Process and Advice to Aspiring Authors

When you get to that point of block or stoppage or whatever, or you’ve lost your enthusiasm, all of a sudden, the energy around what you’re doing has dimmed. Spend some time there and try to assess what’s going on.

The first steps you take can be the hardest sometimes. You can think about it, but doing it can be difficult. It’s easier to be in the beginning because everything is new. You don’t have to impose any sort of structure or feeling.

At some point, you have to bring the story together and impose a plot. There has to be a beginning, middle, and end so it’s satisfying to the reader.

You have to finish the things you started so you can share it. It’s an opportunity to learn more about yourself. Tell yourself affirmations or mantras to encourage yourself to embrace the challenges, to overcome the obstacles, and to prevail.

Don’t give up. Understand that every conflict that you meet up with is there for a purpose. It’s not to throw you into a tailspin or to make you stop or quit. But it is to stop you to make an assessment of what you need to learn from that. In the end, you will have an internal success of being transformed – stronger. You’ll have a stronger belief in yourself. 

Creativity teaches us to be fearless. By creating fearlessly, we manifest our purpose, our dream, and what only we can bring forward because each of us is so unique. And if we don’t take it to the end, that promise is lost.

Episode Resources:

Know more about Martha Alderson on www.marthaalderson.com

Martha’s book: Boundless Creativity

Digital Copy of Boundless Creativity

Follow Martha on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Authors Who Lead Podcast Episode 26 with Heather Lee Dyer: Creativity Over Perfection

Authors Who Lead Podcast Episode 94 with Ben Hardy: Personality Types Aren’t True

Book Mentions:

Why Bother? by Jennifer Louden (Jennifer was also featured back on Episode 111)

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116: Martha Alderson – Overcoming Doubt and Creative Blocks116: Martha Alderson – Overcoming Doubt and Creative Blocks

116: Martha Alderson – Overcoming Doubt and Creative Blocks