Write With Emotional Savvy

A guest post by Dr. Terrlyn Curry Avery, PhD. 

No one knows the emotional ups and downs of writing a book better than an author. In this post, my friend Dr. Terrlyn Curry Avery shares her wisdom about the process of writing with emotional savvy, and why taking a B.R.E.A.T.H. is the best way to work through the often-overwhelming process of putting a book on paper. 

Enjoy, HeartWriters!

Writing a book can be exhilarating, fun, gratifying, and humbling; but, it can also be overwhelming, frustrating, intimidating, time-consuming and nerve-wracking. When I authored my book, Sacred Intelligence: The Essence of Sacred, Selfish, and Shared Relationships, I was initially perplexed with where to start. I had so many questions.  What would I write about?  Who was my audience?  How would I write for the masses? 

I soon realized, through conversations with friends, that I already had a book. It was somewhere in all of the years of sermons and other writings on my computer. All I needed to do was to add my experience as a psychologist, and stay authentic to who I am, and the book would unfold. 

Were there more questions once I began to write? You bet! How would I get it all done with my busy schedule? Who would help me publish it? Would it be any good? I mean … would people really want to read what I had to say? Would the people who thought so highly of me like the book?

These are questions that many authors ask themselves at some point. And, these questions are accompanied by a string of emotions. If we are not careful, these emotions can take control and stop us in our tracks.

The key to moving forward at times like this is to take a B.R.E.A.T.H. The following are strategies I use to help myself and others get unstuck and learn to be emotionally savvy. They are especially useful when moving from a place of fear into freedom. 

Take a B.R.E.A.T.H.!


It is amazing how our breath changes when we are emotionally charged.  Sometimes, we hyperventilate, and at other times, we hold our breath. It helps to pay attention to our breath and be mindful of the in-and-out flow of our breathing. When we do, it centers us for a moment. To change our physiological response, we need to do some deep breathing which involves taking a deep breath in to the count of 5, holding it for 5 counts and letting it out for 5 counts. If we breathe in this manner for 2-3 cycles, we not only center ourselves but also slow our heart and pulse rates, are able to collect our thoughts and can move forward.


When we are upset, it is important to ask ourselves “Why am I getting upset?”  “What is this bringing up for me?” Sometimes taking the moment to ask the questions helps us to regulate our emotions and think of the appropriate course of action. It is essential to be mindful of every aspect that's impacting our emotions (e.g., memories, smells, senses, etc.). 


When we find ourselves in an emotionally charged situation, we must stay engaged and not shut down and, in this case, refuse to write.  If we do shut down for a second, we can reengage by taking a moment to breathe—slow calming breaths. We can think about what we want to happen, not what we or someone else is predicting might happen. When we are fully engaged, it will change our thinking, our actions and our emotions, which will have profound effects on the outcome of our situation and our written work.


As we are moving through any emotionally charged situation, we have to continuously adjust our negative thoughts and the negative energy around us. Adjusting means letting go of old behaviors that do not serve us well and tapping into our inner being to make better choices.  Then we can figure out the steps needed to stay engaged during difficult moments.


It is critical for us to trust ourselves to make good choices and decisions.  We must eliminate second guessing ourselves and trust our initial decision and thoughts that arise from centering. Sometimes when we doubt ourselves, we say things like "I don't make good decisions." We might also say, “I’m not good enough.  I don’t have what it takes.” When this type of thinking sets in, replace those negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Trust also means trusting that the right people will be put in our path and that we have been given the abilities to handle the situation and new opportunities, which brings me to the last technique in emotional savviness.


We must handle our business with care, precision, and confidence. Here's what I mean. We must do what we have to do to accomplish our goal, whether it be dealing with a situation that's right in front of us, laying the groundwork for a goal, defining our relationship with someone else, expanding our business or writing our book. We must give our current situation the time and attention it needs and figure out what will yield positive rather than negative outcomes. Then, we clearly lay out what is needed to make the situation work to our benefit.  Immediately, we must change our surroundings and behaviors to get the result we desire.  We can then move forward with confidence and certainty that we are doing what's right for us and will ultimately have a positive impact on others in our life.   


So take a B.R.E.A.T.H. Move forward. And write your book!

Dr. Terrlyn L. Curry Avery is the creator of Pastology, the cutting edge field that focuses on the synergy between pastoring and psychology. She is a pastologist, author, speaker, and facilitator of advanced therapy and workshops, as well as the host of the Public Access Show, Sacred Intelligence TV with Your Host Dr. Terrlyn L. Curry Avery. Find about more about Dr. Terrlyn's work at www.sacredintelligence.com