Be Gentle

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There are times when you have to be hard on yourself.

Then there are other times when you have to offer yourself a break.

Be hard on yourself if you sit around watching television or playing on social media instead of writing.

Give yourself a break if you’re not feeling well.

Be hard on yourself if you allow yourself to be distracted or blocked.

Give yourself a break if you write something that you later have to delete because it doesn’t work.

You should have expectations of yourself, goals you want to attain, and you should attempt to reach those goals instead of sitting around giving yourself excuses not to try.

But things will go wrong; at times, you will fall short of your goals, you will make mistakes – this is the time to forgive yourself.

 

Protect the Process…

processDan Brown believes strongly in protecting the process.

By process, he means, the writing schedule and habits that create the difference between a writer who produces and the writer who does not.

This has become personally important to me; and lately it has come to my attention that there’s more to protecting the process than just showing up.

It’s about protecting yourself from the negative forces that affect the writing.

We are often disturbed and distracted by people and events around us. I’m not talking about the road raging driver or ineffective salesperson- we should never allow such an insignificant person or event to affect us at all.

I believe we have to prioritize who and what is important – they come first in our lives either before, after, or within our process. The rest of the world must fall away.

I don’t make appointments during my writing time. That has become a habit for the last some years. However, I have allowed other things to interrupt my life, things I thought were vital. This is mostly due to what is expected of me as a social, agreeable person. Lately, though, I’ve realized do have a choice.

I don’t care if I come across as a little anti-social or less agreeable. I’m protecting myself from people and events who will affect my time, writing, and state of mind.

I used to see a writer regularly arguing with others on social media. I asked him why he didn’t just ignore these people. He said it didn’t bother him, they needed to be taught a lesson.

Recently, he deleted many of his social media accounts and limiting his time on others, telling his followers that all the interactions were causing him distress and he hadn’t been able to write.

I’m not only talking about social media, but the regular, sometimes expected, social interactions we have. If they are draining, why do we take part in them? Expectations? Do we get anything out of it?

If not, then rethink it.

 

Cut Down to Build Up

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Some of the smartest people in the world cut down on their decision making in order to save their energy for creativity.

Einstein owned four brown suits, all alike. He didn’t want to waste his energy on choosing clothing.

Mark Zuckerberg, it’s said, dresses down to save time and energy for the important things.

I, personally, sometimes barely get out of my PJs before I begin my writing – and you know what – I get more writing done!

One writer I know said she refuses to put on make up or do her hair because writing takes precedence.

We don’t need to abandon all our comforts and regular healthy habits in order to be creative, but our energy for decision making could be more balanced and save more preserved efforts for our projects.

 

Dare to Suck

indexSteven Tyler of Aerosmith says, “Dare to Suck.”

It seems that he and his band mates have a regular meeting in which they bring the wildest, crappiest, outlandish ideas to toss them around and see if they work.

9 out of 10 of those ideas have to be trashed – but the tenth gets you something like “Dude Walks Like a Lady.”

Why not throw around ideas that seem completely outrageous?!  They can always be strays.jpgcanned later, but in the meantime you have some ideas to play with and you might, well, come up with something good.

I wrote the line, “When I killed my neighbors dog…” My friends said, you can not use that. But I played with it to see where it might take me, and I wrote “Of Strays and Exes” by just playing with this strange line that came to me in a dream.

It was accepted for publication in Pilcrow and Dagger almost immediately and later made into a podcast. You can find it kindle now, or search P&G’s podcasts.

**Disclaimer: No animals were killed or injured in the writing of that story.

 

Hours Vs Pages – Writer’s Choice?

timeIn writing groups, the question often floats around the room, do you do hours or pages? Then there’s always some friendly disagreement over which is better.

I, personally, do hours. I get up and sit at my computer and write for a certain amount of time.

I’ve heard arguments that if I force myself to write at least a page or a certain number of words, I would be more motivated. But, see, I don’t have a problem with motivation. Many days, I get up with an idea ready to flesh out. Other days, I struggle. Like all writers.

One writer told me to do pages or word count, so when I’m done I’ll know I’ve accomplished something.

However, I recently heard an argument that made complete sense to me and might to you as well.

The writer said – do hours. That way, if you have a bad day, you know you can get up and Yellowed pages from a dictionaryleave when your work day is over. If you have a bad day when you’re doing pages – then you’ve struggled with a single page for however many hours and you’re less likely to want to come back the next day, and when you do come back, you’ll realize the page you struggled with has to be deleted anyway.

I imagine some people who chose pages to rush through on some days so they can get on to other things or give up when the page doesn’t come. One woman shared she writes pages so she can get on to other things.

I guess, I feel, I’m not in a hurry to “get on with other things.” Whereas it she sounded happy to get up and get on with her life, I’d sometimes like to sit and write longer than I’m normally free to do.

Perhaps the best choice for each individual is based on their personality. But I vote for hours. I still know I’ve accomplished something – stuck with my commitment and ritual – whether I have a page or a finished short story.

A Writer’s Space

2018_09_30+Scientific+writing2Do you feel the need to have a certain, special place to write? Maybe you have little items you feel inspire you sitting around your desk, computer, in the same room, maybe there is a stone of carnelian or citrine to spark creativity, or even big dark shades to hide you from the world.

My writing space is usually the dining room table, two windows, a bird feeder on one so my cat, usually sitting beside me can be entertained. But I also write on the couch in the living room with a lap desk, and sometimes in my bed.

Dan Brown (author of the Da Vinci code and many others) believes writing space isn’t important. It’s the ritual and the commitment, not the space. He relates a story in which he was visiting his parents and he wrote in the laundry room, lap top on the ironing board while sitting on milk crates with the washer running – because he needed an undisturbed space.

I’d say that space would disturb me – and talk about holes in a story. My apologies, Mr. 0 v7CyD5RM41-JF6Kk.jpgBrown. However, if he gets up at 4 a.m. to write (as he states), who is doing laundry at that time? And, if the laundry was put in later, then obviously someone came in to disturb you. And, by that time, he couldn’t move to another room?  Okay, sorry, sorry. Back to the point.

We do need a space to write. Ideally, we want to have certain creature comforts around us; for me, it’s a cup of tea. However, I have written on concrete benches, lying across the hotel bed, in a tiny corner that had a table and chair, in coffee shops with noise, and alone in my house at 4 a.m.

The point is our desire for the ideal space should not limit our writing time or commitment (and I think this was Mr. Brown’s point as well). If we limit our writing to the ideal, we’ll have an excuse to not write when any little thing is out of place.

Brown states he writes 365 days a year. That’s what this blog is about, right? 365. It’s about commitment. It is my challenge and my commitment to write 365. I’m doing okay, regardless of the space I’m writing in.

Monday Motivation

 

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Writing exercise:

Take a very common thing from your kitchen and write a poem about it.

It will most likely become a poem about something else.

Share in our Facebook group!

I think I’m going to try a spoon.  (There’s actually a pretty famous poem about a spoon – by Billy Collins)