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Showing posts from April, 2017

K is for Kinetic (#AtoZChallenge)


1.pertainingtomotion. 2.causedbymotion. 3.Happy Writing!  characterizedbymovement:Runninganddancingarekineticactivities.
I'll be honest, I'm rushing through these #AtoZChallenge posts, because I just want to get them done. This is not my best work. It's not thought out. It's just there. I wouldn't recommend anybody put their shitty first drafts of anything out for the world to see. So, don't do this. 
But the thing is, I'm moving. More specifically, I'm typing. When I get in a rut, just getting to the keyboard seems like a Herculean task. And words?! No way. I can THINK about my writing projects all day long, but unless I move forward to the page in some way, nothing is going to happen for them. 
So, these short little blog posts are like warm-ups before the big race. Loosen the fingers, relax the mind. Get ready to move!

J is for Journal (#AtoZChallenge)

Journaling (which my spell-check is telling me is not a word, but I'm going to be a rebel and use it anyway) can be used in different ways for writers. Since I'm writing quick posts for these challenges, I'll list 3:

Daily Journal: This is more like a diary, something where you keep track of both what you are doing and what you are thinking. I've kept a diary since I was about 8-years old. As a memoir writer, it helps a bit to keep my timeline straight, but not as much as you'd think. I suppose at 10 I didn't know I was keeping a history of my life. Journal of Work in Progress: For my first real draft of my memoir, I kept track of what I was thinking at the end of each session of writing. I noted if there was something I may want to add later-- as in whole scenes-- or if I thought I may have to move scenes elsewhere. I also kept track of my word count.Gratitude Journal: This can be part of your daily journal, or separate. Many people say that listing out or writ…

I is for Interruptions (#AtoZChallenge)

Interruptions. When you're a writer, you know these happen. A phone rings. Somebody opens your office door, just to say hello. You have to pee. 

You can head off these interruptions with a little planning. Turn your ringer off. Put a Do Not Disturb sign on your door. And, well... You HAVE to pee. Just lay off on the coffee. (Just a bit.)

But even when you have the best time to write, and everybody's leaving you alone, you can still get interrupted, by yourself. Yes, some of these are not really interruptions, but excuses (I need to check my email; Did someone just like my kitty picture on Facebook?; Maybe I should write a shopping list now so it will be ready later...). 

Stop that. (You know these are pep talks for myself, don't take it too hard.)

A worse type of interruption is when you  you have so many ideas that need to get out of your head that the writing is flowing almost too fast. In other words, you want to get the WHOLE idea out so that you won't forget it later …

H is for Habits, Broken (#AtoZChallenge)

Just like last year during this time, I ran off to the Ren Faire this weekend. And I did not write at night when we were back in the room.  

This is how easy it is to break a habit. Too easy. 

Which is really strange because other habits are hard to break. Smoking. Nail biting. Facebook checking. 

Well, I don't smoke and I don't bite my nails, but I know I spend too much time on Facebook. Ugh. 

I know this is a bad habit. I even took the app off of my phone so I would quit pulling out my phone at random times during the day to dig through the nonsense. (It's not all nonsense, but it's like thrift clothes shopping, you have to dig through the crap to get to the stuff that matters.)

What if...

I opened my blog or my google doc each time I'm about to mindlessly drift through Facebook? 

What if?

I'll let you know how it goes. 

Happy Writing!

G is for Goals #AtoZChallenge

Yesterday I spent the morning at a seminar called "The One Thing." As instructional and inspirational seminars go, it did what it set out to do. For the most part. I mean, I learned a few things and was inspired at least enough to reinstate my focus on what's important. I didn't sign up to take advanced seminars or to set up for a mastermind program. That's fine for other folks, that's not what I need right now. (Or maybe it is and I'm not ready to Think Big--see below). 

What I did need was a few tips on how to look at my goals. Here are a few ideas pulled from my chicken scratch of notes:

GSTTN: Goal Setting to the NowHow many books do you want to write in your life time?How many will you have to write each year to make that goal?What do you have to get done every month to get there?What do you have to do THIS month to get started. It's all about looking out into the future and going backward. 
Big Thinking = Big Outcome, but it takes the same amount o…

F is for Flexible Facts

"Just the facts, ma'am."

That's the line, isn't it. We just want to know the truth, the exact story. When we have that, we can create an opinion on it, right?

If only it was that easy. 

We all tell ourselves stories about our lives. We hold on to things we remember as kids, and develop our ideas about the world and maybe even our personalities based on these "facts."

This is how I remember certain events from my 1st grade year:

A bunch of us were in a kind of haphazard line waiting to go on the slide. I went in front of a boy named Bob. I don't know if I cut the line, or if I really thought it was my turn.

As soon as I made it to the bottom of the slide, Bob was waiting for me. He accused me of cutting. He punched me in the stomach. Hard. It didn't help that I was a skinny little thing. 

I couldn't breathe for a bit. It was like the time I was jumping on the bed at my friend Blake's house and I jumped too  high and landed on the floor. Wind kno…

E is for Ease #AtoZChallenge

One of my favorite yoga instructors likes to keep us in strengthening poses for, oh, a decade or so. At least that's what it feels like when my legs start to shake and I really want to straighten my front leg in a warrior pose because my thigh is on fire. After an hour or so, she reminds us all to "find the ease in the pose." 

Depending on my attitude, I may think, "Oh, yeah, right," or..."Okay." 

When I decide to find the ease, I remind myself to breathe, to focus on the task on hand, to shift my thoughts and maybe my muscles to soften a bit. It's temporary. And it's really not hours. 

And when I stop focusing on the struggle and instead focus on the moment and my own strength, I find myself more grateful to my body for succeeding in the pose, and I believe my body reaps the benefits of the poses that much more. 

This is what I have to remind myself when I struggle on the page. Thinking about how I am having trouble is a distraction. It's dif…

D is for Deadlines and Delays #AtoZChallenge

When you decide to write, but you are writing "for yourself" or working to complete a book even though you don't have an agent or anybody else waiting for it, you have to make deadlines for yourself. 

If you have nobody holding you accountable, though, it's really easy to just keep delaying the work. 

Does delaying minimize the stress of a strict deadline, with monetary or other consequences?

Not really. 

You've made a promise to yourself. To keep working, to get to a end point. And, you've let yourself down. Even if you don't tell anybody about it, you still feel it every time you walk by your writing space.

What to do?

Find a writer's group. Make them miss you when you don't come to the meetings (bring cookies; they'll notice when you're gone). Note your personal deadlines in your calendar. Break the project down to bite-sized chunks: word count, hour count, chapter completion, etc.Define your "why." Why do you want to complete this …

C is for Chronological Chaos #AtoZChallenge

I've started to write a full-length, book-sized memoir many times:

I've tried from the "seat of my pants"-- no real sense of direction, just a way to "get it on the page" and worry about the rest later.I've outlined different time periods of my life. Sometimes on great big pieces of poster-board sized Post-its with miniature Post-its attached, complete with arrows and notes describing the relevance of the highlighted event to another highlighted event. It looked a little like I'm trying to get to the bottom of a conspiracy. Not so sure if I wasn't.I've worked from a structured outline, a "scaffolding" like Brook Warner talks about. (My word count using this was worked better than any of the other ways.)I've learned that I need a combination of all of the ways, and different ways work better for writing about different times in my life. For example, when I thought the memoir was going to be about marriage, specifically my own, I …

B is for Boy-Crazy (#AtoZChallenge)

My life, especially my early life, was filled with a fair amount of ups and downs, twists and turns, laughter and pain. As a memoirist, you would think that having a running record of my life--a first-hand account written by me since I was nine years old would be super helpful.


Did I write about when I had a chance to sing a solo in three different schools in 4th grade? Did I talk about the anticipation, the fear, the total let down when I knew that the audience at the school without microphones could not hear me at all? Maybe a quick line in passing, but my focus was elsewhere.

When my uncle Johnny first turned up missing, I remember spending hours sitting at the kitchen table with my mom and grandma, as they tried to be like amateur detectives and "work the case." But all of those conversations, all the grief I felt that the uncle who used to send me pictures of rainbows may be dead, and everything that went into trying to find out what happened--no record in my pink f…


"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 
― Maya AngelouI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

This is why we write. We think there's no other way to get this "stuff" out. It could be a lesson we've learned, or are trying to learn, about our own lives. Most of my writing is about this, and I've used personal essays to work through those lessons. Some people use fiction. It's a way to get that story out of us; it's one way to rid ourselves of the agony of keeping it bottled up. 

Sharing ourselves through writing and art is a way of sharing secrets. Because we have no real way of knowing exactly how someone else is thinking or feeling, we imagine that we may be the only one who thinks this way-- that's agony! But it's also leaving us vulnerable, so we have to choose: the agony of keeping it locked up, or the fear of sharing.

And we wonder why writers are stressed out so much!

Happy April! Here's to reducing the agony, one …