Busting the Old “Who Do You Think You Are?” Tapes

by Milli Thornton

Milli Thornton, workshop presenter

Milli Thornton, workshop presenter

Before Post Traumatic Stress Disorder made it too difficult for me to continue, I used to enjoy being presenter for the Fear of Writing Clinic, a workshop based on my book.

I haven’t presented that workshop since 2006. In terms of the PTSD, I’ve overcome mountains of stuff, but it took a long time. I’m much stronger now. Strong enough to start my workshops again.


Guess what? There was a voice telling me I can’t say these things on my blog because it sounds like either bragging or sympathy-seeking. I’m so tired of listening to that hogwash!

This post is to help me celebrate that I’ve come a long way. I’ve beaten a large measure of the PTSD crud, and without using drugs.

(I wanted my healing to go soul-deep; to get to the root causes. And it has.)


I was going to wait till I move back to Taos, New Mexico (no moving date yet, but it’s on the cards) to start up my writing workshops again. But it turns out this was almost beyond my control. The Fates, or the universe, or the magic crystal ball (take your pick, whichever sounds the most fun) opened the gate and shoved me through.

Long story short, a friend called Mesha from a long time ago and another state (New Mexico) found Brian on Facebook. We found out we live only 1.5 hour’s drive from one another here in Ohio!

Mesha has just returned from six years in India and wants to get going with her healing sessions and meditation classes.

Perfect! We both have the same creative business goals. Because suddenly it seemed OBVIOUS I need to start my workshops NOW and not wait for Taos. Even if I only do them here for 2-3 months before we move. Doesn’t matter. Just get started.


Thanks to Mesha’s local contacts over near Akron, I was able to book two dates right away for the Fear of Writing Clinic (Sept. 15 and 22).


And thanks to a suggestion from Mesha (that seems popular with everyone around here who hears it), I’m also going to do a new workshop called the Fear of Blogging Clinic. I never would have dreamed that one up on my own (“I’m no blogging expert”) . . . but, she’s right. I can definitely help people with their fears about blogging.

And now I have two workshop dates for that one as well (Sept. 29 and October 6).

Whoo hoo!


I think we all have one. That creepy inner voice that reminds you of Gollum from Lord of the Rings, forever lurking in a slimy, dark cave and always whispering about The Precious. We can (almost) feel sorry for him because he is so limited by his old tapes about The Precious.

Last night, I was happily printing brochures for my workshops, getting ready to go out and plaster the countryside with them so local people can find out about these events . . . when my Gollum tapes suddenly started whispering . . .

“Who do you think you are? You think you can teach people about writing when you haven’t even (blah-blah-blah)? Help them with their fears when you still have some doozies yourself?”

Yada yada yada. All kinds of sneaky and disabling brainwashing-type stuff. Some so ridiculous the only way it could be believed was . . . if I went ahead and believed it.

We’re much more vulnerable to that when we stay alone with it, right?


I’m all alone in the house (Brian is gone on a long business trip) and it was night time. A powerful time to be easily demoralized.

Luckily, from my long experience re helping other writers with this voice (plus a few inspirational things I’ve read lately), I saw right away what was happening. I decided to use the two weapons that the nasty little voice hates: exposure of its lies and reaching out to ask for support from the people who love us.

Right away I decided to write a blog post as my medicine. So here it is. Please feel free to leave me lots of love and encouragement in your comments. My readers are always so great that way. THANK YOU!!

I also purposely put my photo at the top of this post as another way of putting myself out there as a workshop presenter.

Nyah-Nyah-nyah-nyah to the voice that says I shouldn’t “big-note” myself on my own blog.

(Ridiculous, right? Oh, the lies we believe just because they’re old tapes.)


As evidenced once again in the Fear of Blogging Survey, we bloggers are most often afraid of exposure, especially when it comes to our very personal stuff.

I’ve realized there’s another kind of exposureβ€”an ANTIDOTEβ€”that’s about exposing the lies of that Gollum voice when it tells us we can’t succeed because (blah-blah-blah). Or we have no right to do something bold (like give a writing workshop to help people with their fears) because “Who do you think you are?”

I applaud all the bloggers out there who’ve ever spoken up on their blogs, exposing their own “voice of doom and gloom” and going ahead with their dreams and goals anyway.



Know any closet writers in Ohio? If yes, please share the link for my workshop info. Thank you!

Fear of Writing Clinic | Fear of Blogging Clinic – Ohio dates for Sept/Oct 2012


One inspiration for this post of mine came from Patrick Ross over at The Artist’s Road. I was deeply impressed with the way Patrick reached out for love and support from his blog readers when he was struggling a bit over getting back in touch with his manuscript. The outpouring of support he received in the comments was incredible!

Are You Avoiding Your Creative Work in Progress? by Patrick Ross

24 Responses to Busting the Old “Who Do You Think You Are?” Tapes
  1. Annie Neugebauer
    Twitter: AnnieNeugebauer
    August 24, 2012 | 12:07 PM

    Good for you, Milli! You go get ’em!

  2. Marina@Picnic at Marina
    August 24, 2012 | 1:02 PM

    Dear Milli, I am very happy and proud of you! As of those “who do you think you are…” people, I just ignore them… otherwise I would be a small “no one” in a little mice hole somewhere who know there. The fun part is that the same people would pat you on your shoulder saying how well you did afterward… That is the moment of satisfaction. So, go get them Milli! You can do it! πŸ™‚

    • Fear of Writing
      Twitter: fearofwriting
      August 24, 2012 | 1:58 PM

      Hello, Marina! Lovely to see you here.

      Thank you for the sweet words. Maybe I will have a little picnic today at tea-time in honor of Picnic at Marina’s.

      • Marina@Picnic at Marina
        August 24, 2012 | 10:07 PM

        I do come here often, just without comments…:) Hope your little picnic was fun!

        • Fear of Writing
          Twitter: fearofwriting
          August 24, 2012 | 10:09 PM

          It’s lovely to know you visit often. Thank you for leaving a comment today, on this post. It was a very special post for me.

          • Marina@Picnic at Marina
            August 24, 2012 | 10:23 PM

            I had that feeling and I wanted to leave a special comment for a very special friend… πŸ™‚

            • Fear of Writing
              Twitter: fearofwriting
              August 24, 2012 | 10:25 PM

              You are making me smile big, Marina. πŸ™‚

  3. Carole
    Twitter: cjtreggett
    August 24, 2012 | 1:03 PM

    Oh woman, you’re shouting an anthem I can truly get behind!

    I was just thinking about this subject while sweating on my recumbant bike earlier, before reading this gem (there goes that ‘psycho’ connection again hehe). Basically I was working out a blog post of my own on the dangers of isolating yourself as a creative and trying to be stoic etc etc, and how it’s imperative that we reach out.

    So very glad you’ve done this in such a powerful way here on your blog, Milli. I’m so thrilled for all the excitement around the corner for you as you embark on hosting these workshops. Those participants are going to be blessed and enriched,and get way more value for their workshop fee than they could ever imagine.

    Thanks so much this post!

    • Carole
      Twitter: cjtreggett
      August 24, 2012 | 1:05 PM

      That’s recumbEnt πŸ˜€

      • Fear of Writing
        Twitter: fearofwriting
        August 24, 2012 | 2:01 PM

        Thank you, Carole. It did feel powerful (and fun) to write this post. I did go through a little self-doubt waiting for it to post overnight, but I’m glad I went through with it.

        Amazing that psychic connection we have! Looks like whenever you’re not writing/posting something I’ve been journaling/musing about, it’s the other way round. πŸ˜€

  4. Patti
    Twitter: pattistafford
    August 24, 2012 | 2:16 PM

    So happy for you and so glad you are doing this. I know you’ve missed the workshops.

    Don’t you worry none about what you should or shouldn’t share on your blog. For one thing, it’s your blog and your readers DO care about you. And another thing I’ve been discovering, but haven’t really done myself in awhile, is that people are really drawn to the person behind the blog—the struggles, the triumphs, the warts. People *need* to relate and they can’t do that if we’re always hiding our true selves.

    **Notice how my pep talk to you is really to me? πŸ™‚

    I’ve been struggling for months about following my passion or making money and trying to get it in my head that I can have both. I remember we discussed quite awhile ago when your voice was telling you it was silly and couldn’t be done. Forget passion, follow the money.

    Now I’m going through the same struggles, but that’s okay. I know I have to go through mine like you did yours. And knowing that you did go through it, because you shared it with me, is extremely motivational. I don’t feel so alone.

    I know the people who will attend your workshops need your wisdom and to hear your story. That’s who you are and that’s your gift to the world. πŸ™‚

    Big Hugs!

    • Fear of Writing
      Twitter: fearofwriting
      August 24, 2012 | 2:22 PM

      Pattikins, what a beautiful comment! Thank you. I’m absolutely touched. xo

      It’s quite OK that your pep talk to me was actually to you. Ain’t those just some of the best?! I would not be doing FoW if it wasn’t for needing all that healing and creative help myself. And, besides, your pep talk still applies to me too. I’m not “there” yet . . . just on my way there, with plenty of bumps in the road. So I drank in everything you said. Great reminders!

      I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling. Thank you for sharing it out loud. If there’s anything I can do to help, please shout my way.

  5. Charlotte Rains Dixon
    Twitter: wordstrumpet
    August 24, 2012 | 3:11 PM

    Milli, I’m so excited for you. If I were in Ohio, I’d be signing up for the workshops right this very minute. Its interesting, when I co-led a class on authenticity and creativity earlier this summer, I talked about how when you hear those voices, its a pretty sure bet you’re being authentic and it is vital to plunge on! I’m so glad you did. And I’m coming to visit when you move to Taos, its one of my favorite places on the planet.

    • Fear of Writing
      Twitter: fearofwriting
      August 24, 2012 | 3:17 PM

      Charlotte, I’m honored you would want to sign up for my workshops. Since I’m always learning so much from you (on your wonderful blog) and since I know you teach and coach writers too, that makes me feel GREAT.

      Yeah, those darned voices always know when we’re onto something golden! Funny how they leave us alone while we’re watching TV or something else passive. But as soon as we try to step out and claim our voice, Wham. Good thing there’s such a supportive community of creative people online these days. We can all collude together against those sneaky lies.

  6. Lisa Carter
    August 24, 2012 | 3:50 PM

    So wish I could attend your workshop, Milli! But, given the distance, thank god for your blog. πŸ™‚ We, your readers are inspired by your fearlessness, talent and drive. You go! ((Hugs))

    • Fear of Writing
      Twitter: fearofwriting
      August 24, 2012 | 3:53 PM

      Thank you, dear Lisa. Just seeing your face makes my day.

    • Carole
      Twitter: cjtreggett
      August 24, 2012 | 4:01 PM

      Wish I could go too, Lisa! I’m constantly inspired by Milli as well πŸ™‚

  7. Giulietta Nardone
    August 24, 2012 | 4:44 PM

    Hi Milli,

    Glad you are getting back in the workshop saddle. My riding instructors always told me to get back on to keep the fear of falling off again at bay. Those voices in the head can be hard to deal with. They use to paralyze me from doing much of anything. Eventually, I got them to quiet down. (Gave them a really cool mission that keeps them on the road …) We can say whatever we like on our blogs! That’s the beauty of them. It’s our rules …

    Best wishes for a fantastic workshop! G.

    • Fear of Writing
      Twitter: fearofwriting
      August 24, 2012 | 4:50 PM

      Giulietta, thanks for your good wishes for my workshops. I truly appreciate that!

      One thing I’ve found great about these lying inner voices is that I’ve been able to study them enough to help other writers outwit them. When they’re happening to me, it’s a little trickier. But I’ve pretty much got their number these days….

  8. j
    August 26, 2012 | 1:31 AM

    As usual I’m late to the party, but I’m here, arms full of love and encouragement! I’m very excited for you, Milli. Remember my motto (stolen from my professor/advisor)… {bleep} the naysayers! (Even when the naysayer is the voice inside your own head.)

    You go girl! xoxo

    • Fear of Writing
      Twitter: fearofwriting
      August 27, 2012 | 3:04 PM

      Thanks for your armfulls of love and encouragement!

  9. Callie Feyen
    August 26, 2012 | 6:23 PM

    Hi Milli-

    Thank you so much for writing about your fears as well as communicating that despite those fears you are going to go ahead and write/teach writing anyway. Your workshops sounds awesome and I’m sure will be overflowing with wonderful students. What a blessing it is to have a teacher who isn’t afraid to admit she’s afraid but is going to write anyway. So glad to have met you via the internet!

    • Fear of Writing
      Twitter: fearofwriting
      August 27, 2012 | 3:06 PM

      Thank you, Callie! I loved your comment and felt very understood and supported.

      I have fears that my upcoming workshops *won’t* be overflowing (more like empty) … but that’s called fear of marketing and promotion and a whole other subject unto itself. πŸ™‚

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