Quote Monday

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how I had felt this mental shift towards my writing. I suddenly felt this desperate need to get my work out into the world. Maybe it’s because I’m in a terribly monotonous, uninspiring kind of job, and at my age, I thought I’d be in a different place on so many levels. Maybe it’s because I feel another birthday looming on the horizon, and again, I thought my life would be different at this point.

I have long struggled to maintain focus and momentum where my writing has been concerned. I think this was a byproduct of my youth – thinking I had time. Another one – believing I had to be inspired to write.

I’ve always been a late bloomer, doing things in my own time. That’s why, after so many years of aimlessness, I think it finally clicked. I had to get here to know it’s not where I want to be.

I feel it. It’s different now. I’m different now.

After I pulled myself out of the mild depression I was experiencing from finishing one of my stories, I turned my attention to the troublesome 3rd Act of one of my screenplays that I have labored with many, many times. This is the act I didn’t know how to finish, for some reason have never known how to finish, but came to me during the quiet, meditative state I was in during one of my yoga practices recently.

It’s flowing, and I’m feeling satisfied with it, for the first time. Now that’s a feeling to relish.

So many things had to happen for this to come about. I had to meet a certain writer at AFF who gave me sound advice. But I had to be at a particular point in my life to be able to attend. And he had to be standing in front of me while waiting for our coffees so that I could be bold enough to speak with him – something I may not have been brave enough to do had I not taken the soul-sucking job that helped me develop certain skills.

I had to experience more of life because this isn’t a story I could have told in my twenties.

I had to realize that saying I’m a writer doesn’t mean as much as being a writer because it was just lip service for a long time because I was embarrassed about whatever job I had and it was a way of making myself sound better.

Some of this is for one particular story, but it all boils down to this:

I had to finally decide that my writing matters.

You don’t have to wait until you’re in your forties to come to this realization, but as I mentioned, I’m a late bloomer. This is my journey, and goodness, has it been a long, rough ride at times. I think, for those of us who struggle, we just have to come to this conclusion for ourselves, and I believe much of this comes down to timing. No matter how many quotes your read or pin to your wall, or how many experts tell you the same thing, we have to make the decision, when we’re ready.

It’s a state of mind. It’s perspective.

Some people are fortunate to follow their path without much hesitation, while others have to find themselves in a low place, maybe even a place of desperation to discover if their passion, their art matters. However you come to the conclusion, I hope you grab it with both hands and run wild!

Best of Luck! And Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

Yoga. It’s one of the things I wish I had discovered years ago. It’s one of the things I wish my friend, Jill had forcefully dragged me off to when she was going to classes in our 20s because now that I’m in my 40s, it has become one of my favorite things, and I feel like I wasted a lot of time not doing yoga.

You may be wondering why a writing blog is talking about yoga. First of all, I never thought I’d be “that” person, you know the one, the one who tells you that you should be doing yoga, but in the first year of practicing, I discovered a few things.

Last year, in what will be immortalized as “the year that was 2020”, my stress and anxiety were at an all time high. The Sis and I received a trial of an online service, and we tried a variety of classes – dance, HIIT, sculpt, strength – but it was yoga that really stuck. It calmed me down and helped to put things into perspective.

I’ve never enjoyed going to the gym. Even taking a 30 minute HIIT class was a chore. But when you’re out of work and a writer, you do a lot of sitting around, and all the “experts” tell you that you should do some form of exercise everyday, even just a walk around the block, so I knew I needed to do something, but it needed to be the right something.

I’ve been hard on my body all these years, and yoga is easy on me. Obviously there are some difficult poses, and I often sweat, but I’m not asking my body to bear the brunt of impact as I jump and work to get my blood pumping. There have been physical side effects, because it is still exercise, but what impressed me more were the mental ones. In some breath work and even some poses, I have found emotional release. In the stillness I have discovered how to fix story problems, and I’ve had new ideas spring up.

Yoga is a form of meditation. You focus on your breath and in being in the present moment. Your mind will drift, and mine usually does, but you clear your mind and come back to the breath. It grounds you. It was a saving grace in troubled times, and it left me with a feeling I hadn’t found in other workouts – feeling better for having done it. What I also didn’t expect were the enlightening moments that came in the quiet.

I am working on an older story that desperately needs a third act rewrite, and for about a week, I’ve been in research mode, wondering how to get back into it, how to finish it, and then literally, within the first two minutes of getting grounded in my yoga practice the other day, it came to me. I had to put the video on pause and write it down before it escaped me.

Writers have a lot on their minds. If we’re not writing, we’re thinking about writing. Every. Possible. Aspect. Of. Writing. And not only do we have all this going on, there is regular life stuff too. There is so much around us to distract, that a little quiet time is often the best solution, but in that silence, we are usually still quite active. If we sit at our desk in the wee hours of the morning before everyone else is awake, or at night when the world is finally quiet, we are still deafened by all the noise in our heads.

So yes, this writing blog is encouraging you to try yoga. To give yourself an opportunity to still your mind. To give yourself an actual break from all the thoughts and just breathe.

Don’t worry about not having all the props necessary. There are ways around them. Don’t worry about service fees. There are free online classes on multiple platforms. You don’t have the time? If you’re already working out, just swap activities for a bit. If you’re not, try. There are even 15 minute classes available, and we all have 15 minutes somewhere in our day.

I’m in no way an expert, but I’m happy to try to answer any questions you may have. If I hadn’t found these moments of clarity, I wouldn’t be trying to peddle yoga, but I have, and it has been enormously beneficial on my peace of mind. And we all deserve a little bit of that.

Happy Writing! And Namaste!

Quote Monday

Art First

That’s it. That’s the quote.

For many of you, you know how I love my routine. I’ve talked about it a lot. It has to be tweaked every so often, given the circumstances, but with the current job, I’ve found a routine I enjoy, one that makes me feel productive and satisfied with my day.

I now wake up early to write. I know. I used to be the late night/middle of the night writer. I now wake up, make my cuppa and write for about an hour before doing yoga and heading off to work.

I even stick to the routine on my days off, and I’ll tell you why.

When you know you have time, you put it off. On your days off you think, “I should clean this or that first.” or “I’ve put this off all week so that should be the priority.” or ” I just want to sleep in and binge the new season of (insert title), then I’ll write.”

Nope.

The day gets away from you. There will always be a house project that needs doing. Bills to be paid. Shows to be watched. Books to be read.

Art first.

Last week, I planned on writing a blog before working on my story and I ended up spending the day scrolling through Pinterest. Like the whole day. In part because I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to post, so I went into seek-out-content-idea mode. The other part, I didn’t feel good, so it was easy to sit on the couch, snuggled with my pups, and aimlessly scroll, but I didn’t work on my story, and I didn’t post anything. The day escaped me.

I’ve always read about these authors who would wake up early to write and I thought, “Well, that’s not going to happen. I’m not a morning person.” And now here I am. Offering the same advice.

Be creative first. Get it out of the way, so to speak, and start your day off knowing you’ve already done the one thing you wanted to do. Many of us have to endure day jobs that leave us uninspired, so feel better about your day knowing you began it by working toward your goal.

Obviously, find a routine that works for you. If your work hours don’t offer you such freedom, or your kids schedules conflict, etc. it’s not always easy to work around, but give yourself permission to be creative, to do something for yourself, even if it’s only ten minutes a day. It adds up, and you’ll feel a bit better knowing that you did.

Happy Writing!

Quote of the Week

July 2nd was the halfway point of the year, so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on where we are with our goals.

I have set goals for myself the last few years because somehow, one time, the whole year had passed and I hadn’t read a single book or watched more than half a dozen films. Who knows what that meant for my writing…

What happened that year?!

When I came to that realization, I started to create a list of goals I wanted to accomplish each year. Call them goals or resolutions or even part of your “to do list”, but without some sort of structure, a clear path to follow, it’s easy to allow them to just remain an idea, a figment, a wish.

Goals do not have to be secured at the beginning of the year, we can create a new one anytime. We don’t have to wait for November to power through a writing challenge. Every day is a chance to start. Each day is an opportunity to get a little bit closer to where we want to be.

So whatever goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year, check in on your progress. What adjustments need to be made? If you want to create a new goal for yourself and/or your work, do it. Make a step-by-step list of how you can and will accomplish this task. What do you need to do? Who can help you? What is a realistic time frame? Are there tools that would better help you if you had them available? Set a deadline for yourself, or find an external one, like a contest entry that will keep you on track. What steps will bring you closer to achieving your dream?

Write it all down. Make it visual. Sometimes seeing a large goal is overwhelming because there is a vagueness in how you might get from A to Z, but when it’s broken down into more manageable steps, the objective doesn’t seem so unattainable. Also, small steps toward the larger goal can help maintain your positivity and momentum as you see yourself checking off those tasks.

I am in no way always successful, but I’ve come to the conclusion that by at least acknowledging the things I’d like to accomplish, it gives me something to strive towards, even if I sometimes fail.

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors, and if you ever need a cheerleader for a bit of encouragement, you know where to find me. 😉

Quote Monday

I’m currently reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Stranger than Fiction and I came across this text in one of his nonfiction essays. Among stories about public sex acts and learning not to care what people think of you while dressed as a dog, I discovered this nugget that, truthfully, was the most startling thing I’ve read so far.

The worst part of writing fiction is the fear of wasting your life behind a keyboard. The idea that, dying, you’ll realize you only ever lived on paper. Your only adventures were make believe, and while the world fought and kissed, you sat in some dark room, masturbating and making money.

Chuck Palahniuk

Why did this unsettle me, you ask? Because until he said it, until I read it, I didn’t know this was something to worry about.

And then my mind spiraled.

I am a homebody, an introvert, a writer of sci-fi and fantasy. I know as a writer I have to get out and experience the world in order to have those things stored in the “bank of creative tidbits”, but honestly, sometimes I’d prefer not to make the effort, and I know that’s a shortcoming. I have plenty of interests to keep me occupied but if I only ever run in the same circle, I’ll never learn and grow, experience awe or displeasure. I’ll never be exposed to new ideas and new things by experiencing them firsthand.

It wasn’t until I read these words that I started to wonder about the subjects I’m drawn to and the stories that resonate with me – they’re lives I’ll never lead.

I’ll never be a woman with a mythological god as a best friend. I’ll never be the woman traipsing across the stars in an alien space ship in search of her sister. I’ll never be a spy. I’ll never save the world.

These are adventures I can only have on the page. They are unlikely, imaginary scenarios, and that’s why I write them, so I must be content with those adventures that are available to me, and as writers, we can’t forget that. We need to get out, we need to observe and feel so that we not only live, but can also create.

And maybe not worry that we’re living vicariously through our characters.

I may not be as daring as Chuck Palahniuk, willing to put myself at physical risk or in compromising situations to experience all the different facets of humanity, but I can make more of an effort to have a wider understanding of the world around me. We may not learn, see, and do everything we want – there’s so much more to explore than once person could ever do in a lifetime – but there’s no harm in at least attempting it.

That was my takeaway, at least – be more willing to get out (of the house).

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

As creatives, we give ourselves a hard time. Whether it’s in regards to our craft, our feelings of self worth, our motivations, or life in general, it takes a lot to maintain any sense of balance and feeling of positivity. Many of you may recall my idea last year to schedule my days so that life stuff didn’t interfere with writing stuff…yeah.

I had willingly quit a job, just months before the pandemic, and writing felt like a guilty pleasure. And that old adage really started to wear on me as time drew on – a real writer writes every day. I couldn’t. For months I was a dry well. All these writers kept posting things like, “We’ve been given all this extra time.” Blech. People were being productive, and it was making me feel even worse. There were more pressing matters to attend to, there was stress and worry, and my writing wasn’t paying the bills so…after suffering in that dry spell for far too long, I chose to try something new. I created a schedule.

My idea of how my week should look went something like this:

  • Monday – clean
  • Tuesdays – write
  • Wednesdays – Etsy shop
  • Thursdays – write
  • Fridays – explore other enjoyments: piano, sew, bake, etc.
  • Saturdays – write
  • Sunday – blog

As a gamer, having a list detailing my daily goals seemed like a good idea, in theory but in practice, I was trying to schedule my brain into thinking about writing only 3 days a week. I was expecting the muse to show up on this strange itinerary I had created and thought I would make great strides in progress?! It’s one thing to show up everyday even when you’re not inspired, it’s another to think you’re going to create magic/gold/award winning work on a limited timeline.

Also, I had been, and still am, in rewrite mode on all my scripts, so I had forgotten that not all days are actual, physical writing days. When you start a new project there are those imagining days, research days, character creation days, plotting days, naming things days, so when I saw this quote I found myself dumbstruck. How could I have forgotten something so simple?

Remembering this would have helped me to not be so hard on myself during that time in the desert, and that’s why I decided to share this tip today, for those of you who have found themselves similarly marooned. If you’re reading anything, if you’re taking personality quizzes as your characters, if you’re coming up with story lines, snippets of dialogue, and what-if scenarios, it’s all writing. Not every day requires words on paper (or screen).

Sometimes we need to explore other options to discover what works for us, and my schedule idea was an attempt at that. It didn’t work because I was expecting too much from a structure that was not ideal for creativity…and it compounded my negative feelings when I was already weighed down. Side note, it wasn’t like I wasn’t thinking about my writing every day, it’s not something I can ever escape, but I felt guilty when I was writing and when I wasn’t. What a vicious cycle we’re a part of.

Remember that this path we have chosen is already a difficult one, so be kind to yourselves. Try to be creative in some capacity everyday, but give yourself a break if you aren’t. Don’t feel guilty if you watch a movie, take a walk, skim Pinterest, or just stare out the window because you never know when inspiration will strike.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I have been struggling to reconcile having a mundane job that offers me the freedom to write or finding a new job that challenges me and potentially leaves me little time to chase my dream.

Either choice is exhausting nonetheless.

The monotony of my current job leaves me tired out of sheer boredom but it’s a job I don’t have to think about when I leave and it offers me a lot of time to think on my stories while I’m there. Actually, most of the time I just sing to myself because my trains of thought are usually interrupted a dozen times by customers asking if I work there. No, I just have OCD and need to rearrange this store’s shelves. ((face palm)) I often have time before and after work to write most days, and lately my writing has been all consuming. I make notes while on lunch. I’ve made notes on my phone at stop lights. It’s like a faucet has been turned on and left running.

Not a bad problem to have.

Obviously my concern about looking for something else is that a more “serious” job may take priority leaving me with little time or energy to focus on that which truly matters, and given this new river of inspiration, I don’t want to sacrifice one for the other.

And this is where continuing in menial work leaves me questioning my life choices. I know I’ve discussed this before – probably more than once, so apologies – the mediocrity before success. It’s hard not to want to feel fulfilled by the day job, we spend so many hours there, but if it pays the bills (hopefully) and allows us the freedom to pursue our passion, then isn’t it worth enduring? To some degree, I suppose it is.

It’s a catch-22.

The Sis keeps reminding me of the pros, and most days when I know I have time to write and do some yoga before going in, I feel like I’m already off to a good start. And that probably helps to get me through the monotony.

I truly look forward to the days when writing is the only “job” I have to worry about. ((sigh)) Can you imagine?!

If you’re in a similar position, how do reconcile this disparity? Let’s commiserate together.

Quote of the Week

For many writers, myself included, we find, from time to time, that we may not be exactly where we hoped we’d be by a certain point in our lives. I made the discovery this morning that this winter it will be a particular number of years since I graduated from university. I had big dreams for my career as a writer, and yet here I am, all these years later, still working towards that goal.

I have family and friends who are supportive of this long held dream – I think a lot of it is surprise, at this point, that I’m still trying, so it’s no wonder that every now and again I think, “What the hell happened?”

I see these positivity messages that Vera Wang didn’t enter the fashion industry until she was 40, Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at 50, even Samuel L. Jackson was 43 when he landed his first major role in Jungle Fever as if all of this was meant to make me feel better that though I’m now closer to Julia’s age than Vera’s there’s still time.

And it’s hard not to compare to other’s who are finding success, especially when they’re younger, and yet, all of our journeys are different – their struggles, their life, their direction is not mine, not yours, and as long as our vision of the destination is clear, we’ll get there…in our own time.

So keep hacking away at that goal, little by little, because any amount of progress is progress.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

This week’s Quote Monday is more an interesting tidbit that we, as writers, can all understand. I enjoy meeting other writers and being part of a community of interesting, creative, unique individuals who see the world differently. Only another writer can understand the struggle, the isolation, the never-ending pull to create, and the strange idea that our characters tell us what they want.

I recently shared with a writer’s group how two of my characters had a mind of their own and continued to put themselves into a situation I didn’t want them in, yet. Obviously, I have control over it all, and yet, it was something they clearly wanted to do. I love when characters take control, but only another writer truly understands what this means. So when I saw this quote from Mr. King, which sums it up perfectly, I thought I’d share.

Since the release of my pup health scare related stress, I got my flow back and have been consumed with all the stories that require my attention – a much better stress to have.

So here’s to a productive week! Happy Writing!