One Writer’s Journey

September 4, 2017

Labor Day: Taking time to recharge

I hope everyone is enjoying Labor Day weekend.  No parades for us.

The boys have the weekend off so we spent a few days in the country.  Spending time away from the city is a good thing.  It reminds me that not everyone has access to wi-fi 24/7 and some people living place with patching to non-existent cell service.  Yes, indeed.  There are places in Missouri without reliable cell service.  We call them mountains and while they don’t rival the Rockies they do block a cell signal especially when all of the trees are leafed out.

When you living in the city, you tend to think of highways as 4 to 8 lines, divided, and, of course, paved.  We drove highway DD Sunday.  Two lanes in the wide places and no center stripe because a large portion is unpaved.

But I saw an amazing cow.  I think it might be a longhorn and she had the cutest calf.  The photo isn’t great but all we had handy were our phones.  The white blob is the cow.  The little brown and white spot behind that?  The calf.

Take some time off every now and again and explore somewhere you’ve never been.  It doesn’t have to be far from home.  It just has to be a new experience.  You never know how these things might find their way into your writing.  And even if they don’t, you’ve taken a day or three off to refuel.

–SueBE

 

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January 11, 2016

Screenless Weekends

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:31 am
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cookingOne of the best writing habits I’ve ever developed doesn’t actually involve writing.  It involves going off-line and screen free.  Unfortunately, I broke this particular habit during one of my book rewrites.  I need to redevelop it.

At least one day each weekend, I don’t even turn on my computer.  I don’t check my e-mail.  I don’t go on Pinterest.  If I read, I don’t do it on my husband’s Kindle Fire (very handy for my crochet pattern PDFs).  It also means that I don’t get much writing done on this particular day but that’s okay.

What do I do instead?  I go out with my family.  This might involve visiting my Dad, playing a game with my son or hiking with my husband.  We might go to a movie or a family birthday party.

I read books.  There is very little more decadent than sprawling out on the sofa on a Missouri winter day, shawl draped over my lap, cup of coffee in one hand and actual print book in the other.

I knit.  I crochet.  I might thread new elastic through a skirt casing or put a button back on a shirt.

One day I brought up my mother-in-law’s wedding china and arranged it in my curio.

Sometimes I listen to blue grass or classic rock and clean up in my office or do the ironing.

I bake bread or other less healthy, but fantastic, things from scratch.

It may not be death-defying or super-exciting but it is valuable to me as a writer.  It turns my attention from the reality of glowing pixels to the much larger really of the world.  It gives me time to decompress.  I recharge and I stretch.  By the time I get home from yoga Monday morning, I am ready to write.  Are you?  If not, maybe you need to join me in spending some time off-screen.

–SueBE

 

December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:07 am
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Grandma Bradford's Christmas Angels.

Merry Christmas!   To those of you who celebrate, I hope you are having a peaceful and love filled day.

My son has been off school all week and has next week off as well.  Although I’m blogging and reading contest entries, I doubt that I’ll get much else done but that’s okay.  We all need down times so that we have experiences about which to write and the energy to do it.

I know the house will be full of boys at least once but we’ll have others here and there throughout the week. They’ll inspire me in many ways, which is fortunate, but I’ll also have to feed them!  As grandma would say, they eat like a mess of field hands.

I hope you all get to spend some time with the field hands, boys and loved ones in your life.  Read, play games, cook, do whatever recharges you and readies you to write.

That way you’ll be ready to get to it in 2016.

–SueBE

October 17, 2014

Fueling the Creative Fire

classesWhat do you do to recharge your creative battery?

I’m currently taking my 3rd massive online class.  A lot of writers that I know take classes about writing or literature, but that isn’t the route that I go.  I’ve been taking classes about science.  Although I like to about science topics, I’m also taking them simply for the pleasure of learning about a topic I love.

I sit here and listen to the video lectures while I knit.  I answer the questions found throughout the lectures and examine the scanned fossils.  When I’m done with the lectures for the week, I take the quiz.

Yes, I’m learning things that I can use in my writing.  No, I’m not planning a book on dinosaurs although that would be great fun.  But one of the lectures had a lot of information on what we KNOW about dinosaurs vs what we INFER.  When you test a hypothesis through computer modeling or experiments, you can prove what was not possible more easily than what was.  For instance, scientists can learn whether or not specific pachyosephelosaurus could have butted heads like rams without shattering their skulls or giving themselves brain damage.  Do scientists know that they did this?  Nope.  They know that they could have done it.

If, on the other hand, their skulls were too fragile, scientists could have disproven the point.

Yeah. My sister doesn’t care either but its the sort of thing that makes me giddy.  Yeah, I’ve always been a little strange.  But this is the sort of thing that is so hard to get across to young readers when you write about science.  What a fun way to explain the limits of a theory!

I’m taking a class on dinosaurs. What class would you want to take just for the joy of learning?  It might not feed directly into your wirting but it might enrich it in unexpected ways.

–SueBE

March 26, 2014

Reenergizing

ReenergizeRecently, Margo Dill posted about how stressed she was because her book was launching, thus the launch party was this week, her daughter was sick and their house had finally sold.  “How,” she asked, “do you deal with the stress?”  Everyone gamely offered up suggestions.  In horror, I read “Get your husband to take you out for dinner…”  No!   Don’t go out.  You’re already stressed.

Sorry.  That’s just the introvert in my raging at being drug out with people when I’m already maxed out.

The first step to reenergizing?  Figuring out if you’re an extrovert (I actually live with one) or an introvert (me, me, pick me!).  Warning, you can genuinely like people sometimes and still be an introvert.  An extrovert can be quiet.  To decide which you are, look at where you get your energy.  As much as I like being around people, I am truly an introvert.  When I’ve had enough . . . let’s just say that enough is enough.

My methods to recharge probably only work for introverts.  Do something nurturing and quiet.  For me, this can mean knitting while I listen to music or an audio book.  Or I walk on the treadmill and read a book.  But my absolute favorite?

Pajama Day.

Pajama Day is pretty simple.  You spend the day in your pajamas.  You don’t do things that you have to do.  You do things that you want to do.  You don’t have to stay unplugged all day, but start the day that way.  Do not check your e-mail.  Do not go over your manuscript one last time.  That query letter?  Back away!

I generally lay claim to the sofa in the living room.  It’s long enough to stretch out on, the cushions can be rearranged for maximum comfort and there’s no TV.  It is also a supremely sunny room, bright and cheery.

My next pajama day is scheduled for April 5th.  If you drop by that morning, I will be in my pajamas.

For more on how to deal with the stress of writing and life, see my post today at the Muffin.

–SueBE

January 8, 2014

Procrastination: Why We Don’t Get Things Done

procrastinationI wish that I had time to write.

If I had a dime for every time a writer said this to me, let’s just say that I’d have LOTS and LOTS of dimes.  Most of us feel this way at some point.  Whether we are in the middle of a move, a busy time at our day job or in the middle of something that involves the people in our lives, sometimes it is almost impossible to work writing into our schedules.  We just have to slog through these periods and know that, on the other side, we will have time to write.

If you aren’t in the middle of one of those times, or if these times never end, you need to look at why you aren’t finding time to write.  Here are 4 possible reasons.

  1. You want to be an author, not a writer.  Some people fall in love with the idea of the writing life.   They love the thought of spinning tales, interviewing sources, and gathering the accolades that come when people read our revealing stories.  What they don’t love is the actual writing, because . . .
  2. Writing is hard work.  Next to nothing comes together in one draft.  I say next to nothing because things like grocery lists and thank you notes can come together in one draft.  Novels, articles, poems and essays take multiple drafts.  That first draft may not be all that horrid but getting your work into a readable state?  That’s something else altogether.
  3. You’re burned out.  Because writing is such hard work, it takes a lot of energy.  If you’re working hard at the day job and you’ve been working just as hard at your writing, you may need to recharge.  Different writers recharge in different ways.  If you’re an extrovert (Yes, I know extroverted writers), you may need to go out and be with people.  If you’re an introvert (Hello, my name is Sue and I’m an introvert), you may need some time to yourself, but too much time to yourself may mean that. . .
  4. The creative well has run dry.  Because so many of us are introverts, we have a tendency to retreat to our caves, especially when we are worn down.  But if we spend too much time in our caves, we may not be getting the stimulation that we need to draw on in order to write.  We need ideas and input to spin together into new stories.

If you aren’t writing, knowing why is the first step to solving the problem.

–SueBE

May 23, 2012

When a Piece Won’t Gel

Last week, I spent the better part of two work days trying to write a single blog post.  No, that doesn’t mean I was at it for 8 or 16 hours.  But I did draft it something like 6 times.  There are a variety of reasons that a piece won’t come together.

  • Poor planning.  I haven’t thought it through and don’t know what I want to say.
  • Avoiding backlash.  I have thought it through but don’t feel like listening to people gripe when they don’t like what I had to say.
  • Too fresh.  Whatever inspired the piece is too recent and I haven’t processed the emotions yet.
  • Rats’ nest.  The piece is far too complicated for an abbreviated format like a blog post.  I either need to simply, break it into multiple posts, or write it for a longer format.
  • Recharge needed.  Other times I’m just too tired physically and/or mentally and need to recharge.

When a piece won’t come together for me, I’m usually having one of the above problems.  What does it mean for you when  piece won’t come together?

–SueBE

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