Dan 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.
When we think of “use it or lose it”, many of us think of the physical body. And, I have to admit that I was reading something about the physical aspect of our beings when I thought of applying this to writing.
When I don’t write for a day, a week, or a month, then I start again, it’s difficult and frustrating; the writing comes out scratchy, not making much sense. But, then, as I sit there forcing out the words, pushing the bad stuff out of the way, it might take me another week or month to get it moving again, but it does move and the flow is active once again.
Think of writing as a muscle – it needs regular exercise in order to flow smoothly.
If muscles aren’t exercised regularly, they lose mass. However, once they begin to work and move again, they regain the mass rather quickly. But the movement must be continual to see progress.
The same goes for writing. We need to write regularly in order to keep the flow of ideas as well as the flow of the story moving and our skills steady. Any disruption over a period of time will make the first times back difficult and challenging.
As always, the advice is – Keep Writing. Your skills will improve with practice and time. Your flow of ideas will improve and grow as long as you keep exercising those creative muscles.
Think of it like this:
Actually what the brain is doing is changing its local wiring, changing the details of how the machinery controlling your behavior is connected. It’s also changing itself in other physical, chemical, and functional ways. Collectively, those changes account for the improvement or acquisition of any human ability.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’m very glad to be here.
As I’ve been reading over the questions you ask, I’ve decided the best way to begin answering them is to start by telling a bit about myself, and why I write.
As you read, you’ll also see that I’ve included Campbell my Seeing Eye Guide Dog and why I chose to do so.
My name is Patty L. Fletcher. I’m a single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom I am very proud. I have a great son-in-law and five beautiful grandchildren. Three girls, and two boys. I own and handle a Black Labrador from The Seeing Eye™ named Campbell Lee—a.k.a. Bubba Lee or King Campbell, to give just a couple of his nicknames.
I’m multiply disabled. I not only suffer from Bipolar Disorder, and Fibromyalgia but I’m totally blind as well. I was born premature and my blindness was caused by my being given too much oxygen in the incubator. I was partially sighted until 1991, at which time I lost my sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. I used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a Guide Dog, which was the inspiration for my first book, ‘Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life’ CN-2014.
When I began my writing career with the publishing of that first book, my purpose was to tell the story of how going to The Seeing Eye™ and getting Campbell, learning to love, handle, and work him, then coming home and adding him to my life, gave me true freedom. I told of how changing from being a 31-year cane user to being a guide dog handler taught me things about myself I had never known before. I told of the wonderment I experienced when I finally took that chance.
Continuing onward, as in the beginning, a major goal of mine is to help others who find themselves in domestic violence situations. I also want to help others learn more about mental illnesses and how different situations and environments can drastically affect those with such challenges.
As I write I focus on bipolar disorder, on how it can go horribly wrong and cause a person to behave in ways they normally would not.
Another thing I have attempted to show in these many years of writing is how, in certain institutional settings, attachments can develop—and how those attachments can become unhealthy for all concerned if they are not handled correctly. Most simply, I want others to know more about me.
I’ve written a second book as well. Campbell and I wrote it together.
‘What do you mean? What was the purpose of this book?’ You ask. Let me explain.
The book is, ‘Bubba Tails From the Puppy Nursery At The Seeing Eye’
In Bubba Tails From the Puppy Nursery At The Seeing Eye, it is King Campbell Super Seeing Eye Dog A.K.A Bubba’s turn to tell his tale.
While helping to ready a group of pups to go and meet their puppy raiser families, so they too, might one-day become Seeing Eye dogs, he tells of what it was like for him, to grow up and become a Seeing Eye dog.
As he speaks to the wee pups, he speaks about the importance of facing one’s fears, of honesty and how telling the truth no matter how hard, is always best. He speaks of love, faith and of believing in one’s self
Because Campbell and I are together I feel it is important for you to know him as well.
WHO IS CAMPBELL AND FROM WHERE DOES HE COME…?
Campbell was born in Chester N.J. November 28, 2008.
He lived with his Dog Mother and Litter Mates until he was approximately eight weeks old, and then he went to live with his Puppy Raisers.
Then, when he was just over a year-old, he was taken away from his Puppy Raiser family, to be trained at The Seeing Eye.
After only four short months he was chosen to become the guide of his now human mother Patty L. Fletcher.
One more important thing we must add, because of The Seeing Eye being the first ever school of this kind and due to its continuing to be the largest and oldest school in the world, before we continue, we’re obligated to post the following information. We’d love it if you’d visit the site sometime to learn all about how this wonderful Guide Dog movement began and what it takes to continue today.
What do you think the publishing world needs to do more of in order to meet the needs of those who are differently-abled/disabled?
I must say I am quite pleased to have an opportunity to answer this question. Being a multiply disabled writer most certainly can be extremely challenging. So much so that I wrote an article about it. Which, I might add was well received by many in the self-publishing world. If readers would like to have a look they may visit: https://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/challenges-of-a-disabled-writer/.
In the article which was also published in the Indie Publishing Magazine, I talk about the various challenges disabled writers face. Things such as:
I must say the next question you ask is my favorite and comes to me at a time in my life when I find daring to be different whether by design or choice is hard as the devil to do.
What do you think the world in general needs to do in order to understand the needs of those who are differently-abled/disabled?
The best way I can answer this is this…
Be open minded. Don’t put people into boxes. I’m a multiply disabled person. I think, act, and work differently than anyone else.
That’s not all due to my disability and I see a lot of this going on.
The world needs to be more accepting of things that aren’t the “Traditional way of doing things.”
One of the biggest reasons I gravitated to Indie Publishing and especially blogging was so that I could go my own way, do my own thing and be OK doing so but of late I don’t seem to fit in.
Honestly, it’s starting to seriously drag me down. Seems like no matter where I go or what I do someone somewhere disapproves.
Well, to be blunt I’m quite tired of it. No two people are the same. We’re all “differently abled” All of us no matter who we are have things that are hard for us. If people stopped and seriously took a good, long, look at themselves they’d realize that no one is without some kind of disability and I just get tired of there being all these pigeonholes that I’m supposed to fit into.
I just want to be allowed to be myself, write in a way that makes me happy, tell my stories in a way that feels comfortable to me and not have all these other people telling me what I should and should not do.
I am not them and they’re not me. They don’t live my life and I don’t live theirs.
I am a 51-year-old totally blind woman who suffers from other types of disorders as well and these disorders cause me to think, feel, and process life around me in a way that is unique to only me.
Is that not true of everyone? Do we not all deal with life as it comes to us in a different way? If you read something and I read that same thing are we both going to receive the very same message?
If you choose one way to put your work out there for the world to enjoy and I choose another is your way any better than mine?
I guess I’m just tired of the “world” thinking it knows what’s best for me.
I’ve a favorite affirmation it goes like this…
“The world is not perfect, so there-for I need not be perfect.”
If I were to sum it all up into one word it would be, ‘allow’
‘Allow’ me to be who I am. ‘Allow’ yourself to be who you are.
In closing let me share these words a dear friend once wrote to me during a time in my life when I was doubting my ability to succeed. He wrote…
Congratulations on your success! Yes, success. All successful people (writers are people too!) get criticized – a lot. There is an entire industry based on criticizing books, movies, plays, sports, cars, etc.… the list goes on forever.
Don’t let the criticism get to you. You put in the work, you made it happen – only you get to decide if it turned out the way you intended. No one else is qualified. Forge ahead, do what is in your heart, write your books, sing your songs, dance your dance – be you. Everyone else can worry about being themselves!”
Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak about myself and what it is to be a disabled writer in a world in which it can at times be hard to work and belong in.
Thank you, Patty!
Maybe it’s me, but I doubt I’m alone in this: A writer’s support system sometimes seems a shaky and insecure. Some people do not understand, others say ridiculous things, and some are even jealous of our steps forward.
Finding a support system is an active and ongoing endeavor. People move on, they step back, and we need to keep moving forward, be unwilling to let negative people and comments to hold us back.
Don’t be afraid to move on. It doesn’t mean you have to cut contact with everyone or even anyone, but you certainly want to keep those who are positive supporters of your in the forefront of your mind and heart.
Sometimes, we feel very alone. Writing is a solitary act, but we don’t have to live in a bubble. Make contact through writer’s groups, online and in person. Meet other writers at conferences or critique groups and stay in contact with them. Join a book group, we need friends.
To some people it is.
I have a friend who picks and chooses where he wants to be published so carefully that he submits maybe once or twice a year at most. He hasn’t been published in maybe 6 or 8 years.
He’s an extremely good writer. Better than I.
He says, he wants to only be published where his name will be seen, where it will matter.
I took this to mean he didn’t approve of my many publications with small presses, some of which no one has ever heard.
What do you value and why? Ask yourself.
Billy Collins, btw, began publishing in what he refers to as fly by night or small presses of which no one ever heard.
How did the three blind mice meet?
Why were they chasing the farmer’s wife?
Go – Write it!