Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How to Draw from an Empty Bucket

By Laura Mahal

We all have days when we feel like what we write isn’t fit to graffiti a bathroom stall or an abandoned railcar. We enter the dreaded doldrums. Perhaps we have paper-mach├ęd ourselves with poor reviews or innumerable rejections, without the occasional: “Wow. Your writing is exceptional…” to lift us back up.

Beyond the world of writing, sometimes life is raw-boned hard. Nothing comes together easily. Plans fall awry. There are too many funerals, and not enough weddings. We face health challenges or unsought career changes. Life spins too quickly and we can’t catch our breath.

How on earth is a writer to break through when we have well and truly broken down? When retiring the old pen and paper seems a viable option? Or stomping on the laptop is much more than tempting? Creativity requires energy. Energy which can quickly be sapped by the competing demands on our time, emotional bank, and self-esteem.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sometimes You Just Have to See Things Differently

by Deborah Nielsen

Every so often, my love interests of writing and photography intersect. I never thought that I’d be writing haikus while taking a photography as fine art workshop but that’s what we did.

Our workshop instructor was Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, an award-winning landscape and outdoor photographer who is also a member of the Outdoor Writers of America. Even though the exercise was geared more toward photography, it may help writers see things a little differently, especially if you’re trying to describe a setting.

Our assignment was to find a place at the pond and sit quietly for a few minutes while taking a visual inventory of what we saw. As a writer, you can also take note of the sounds you hear around you, the scents you smell, and the textures of objects. List some of the things you see, hear, smell and touch. Is there a breeze shimmering the leaves of the trees, caressing your body, blowing your hair against your face? Is it a cold wind, a cool breeze, or hot as a blow torch that saps your energy? How do these sights, sounds and textures make your character feel?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Music and Your Muse

By Kerrie Flanagan

Music has always been a big part of my life. My dad is a professional musician so my brothers and I were exposed to a variety of music growing up. I began playing piano in 4th grade and took up other instruments throughout my school years (clarinet, saxophone and cello).

Music was huge part of my identity and being in band was the main motivating factor that got me to school each day. The best part was after months of practice, everything would finally come together and an incredible synergy would happen with all the band members when we played a certain piece. The music would wash over us and connect us to one another.

It was those moments that I remember well.

I don’t pick up my clarinet much anymore and I sold my piano, but I still seek this feeling through listening to music and going to hear live music. It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then, the music reaches out and resonates with me on such a deep, profound level that I wish the moment would last forever.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

First World Writer Problems: The Struggle Is Real

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By J.C. Lynne

I know writers constantly battle writer's block. I've faced the demon Blank Page on occasion. There are countless memes, exercises, motivational pieces, and profound quotes on pushing through that brick wall. I have a significantly different problem.

I have too much swirling around in my head to pin any one project down.

  • I'm plowing through the third book in The Esau Continuum. 
  • My literary novel about Hell squats peering at me from my desk, the outline nearly completed. 
  • I need to send a manuscript to my new voice actor to begin the audiobook process for The Esau Emergence.
  • My yoga project remains at the forefront of my priorities which involves a new website, a new FB and Twitter account and a brand.
  • Topping it off a sneaky murder mystery I've been working on is whispering incessantly creating a lovely piquant of white noise over everything else. 

I know exactly what my next step needs to be but I'm feeling so bogged down with project juju I lift my foot to put it back down again. In the meantime, I'm sinking where I stand. 

Somehow I feel this abundance of ideas and work shouldn't feel like a burden. After all, nothing seems more futile than sitting in front of a blank screen watching the curser mock me. Or sinking into the blackhole of research, which must be done. The immobility has become so dire I'm actually caught up on laundry!

Sure I have three more books I need to read for reviews. Of course, I have marketing work to get out for NCW. I've taught forty-eight fitness classes in July alone. It's not like I'm frozen. I've pulled weeds...twice! My house is relatively clean. I can do everything it seems except focus on writing. 

Each time I turn to writing projects it's like stepping into a room full of four year-olds clamoring for snacks. Each one of the kiddos pushes and shoves for their spot in the limelight. 

I know, I know quit my whining and get to writing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Write Brain, Left Brain

by David Sharp

We've all probably taken some quiz describing us as a right-brained (creative) or a left-brained (analytical) person. It's easy for us to relate to a tendency for one kind of thinking over the other. However, right-brain/left-brain dominance is a modern myth of science -much like the one about only using 10% of your brain. (Unless you're catatonic. But then, how would you be reading this?) The truth is we use both sides of our brain.

Inspiration? It's just past the hippocampus and left at the
medulla oblongata. If you hit the cerebellum, you've passed it.
Certain functions do tend to take place in one hemisphere or the other, but most tasks require the joint effort of multiple thinking functions communicating between both hemispheres. Speech, for example, is made up of vocabulary and grammar (left brain functions) as well as intonation and emphasis (right brain functions). Sarcasm would be incomprehensible without all these functions firing off at once. Like you'd totally get sarcasm with only half a brain.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dog Days of Summer, Redux

by Deborah Nielsen

This is the fourth time I’ve started this post on as many different topics. But those earlier ones just weren’t doing it. Sometimes you have to write what’s on your mind and in your heart.

What’s on my mind are the dog days of summer. Literally. Because in July fourteen years ago I got my first dog, a hairless Chinese Crested. The following July, I got my second dog, Spike, also a hairless Crested. Truly a month for celebration.

In early summer when the days start getting into the mid-80s, the boys shed their t-shirts for the season and soak up the sun. Spike, with dark gray skin bordering on black, turned a deep charcoal by early July. By late July, he’d start snacking on the apples that fell off my neighbor’s apple tree. Spike made all sorts of opportunities to go outside just so he could get another apple. He’d stand under the tree branches and chew and crunch with the most blissful look on his face.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sunshine Shouldn't Stop Us

I should move to Seattle! I love to write when it is raining outside. A freshly steeped cup of jasmine tea next to me, a candle burning brightly, and the pitter patter of the rain on the windows and roof stir up my creative muse. My words flow and time becomes irrelevant.

Well, the issue for me is I don’t live in Seattle, I live in Colorado where we average 300 days of sunshine a year. The blue sky, fresh air, and mountains frequently try to lure me away from the computer to come out and play.

At a recent gathering of writers we discussed how to stay motivated to write during the summer. It is clearly an issue for many (as J.C. also discussed in her most recent post). Some ideas were thrown around, such as take your writing outside, spend more time reading, allow yourself extra time to be outdoors and be more flexible with your writing time.

Then someone said.  "It shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter what the weather is like or what time of year it is. If you are committed to your writing, then you will stick with your routine and write. You will make the time to crank out those words and prioritize your writing."

It was hard to argue with that logic, and no one did. The truth is, this is the advice given by many famous authors like Stephen King, John Grisham, and Janet Evanovich: if you want to be a writer then you need to write every day.

So maybe what we need to do as writers is take the inscription that hangs in a New York City post office, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” adapt it for us, and hang it by our workspace. It can't hurt.

How much time do you devote to your writing in the summer months and how do you stay committed to that time?

Happy Writing!

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