Day 67: Writing As a Coping Mechanism

Is writing as a coping mechanism something that only I do?  I’m not talking about journal entries or similar types of writing.  I am talking about poetry, fiction, and the like.  Poetry is definitely a great coping tool for me…especially when I’m angry, upset, or depressed.  It allows all of that to just flow out of me and then I feel so much lighter.  Fiction takes me out of my current surroundings and circumstances.  It opens up everything for me…my mind, my heart, and even my expectations.  It makes me feel hopeful.  It lets me see all of these possibilities that are out there for me.  It makes me happy.  It’s like shining a light into darkness…everything was there before the light but we just weren’t able to see it.  Life is like that.  Just about anything is possible if we take the time to see and realize it.  When I’m writing, my mind tends to wander at times and it takes me to places that I don’t think I would have thought of otherwise.  Creativity is like a spark plug in our brain.  You have a thought and that single spark causes the entire brain to come alive in new ways.  It takes you in new directions which lead to more ideas and more sparks.  My problem is that I tend to let my brain idle after that happens for me.  I don’t always take full advantage of that spark and everything that it can lead to and generate.  If I did, I’d probably be a published author by now instead of struggling to finish Rapture.  I used to use the excuse that I couldn’t write without that spark but I figured out that you can jumpstart your brain if you really do want to create.  The majority of our excuses are just that…excuses.  You want to be a writer so you sit your ass down in that chair and write.  Don’t talk about your muse being fickle or not being inspired.  Sit down and write anything until you feel that spark fire in your brain and then really start writing.  We can do this…we always could.  We just have to make up our minds to do it.  And not give up! 

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Day 66: Thoughts

After spending all of yesterday working on my writing haven, I have my new lights hung, shelves put together, books and notebooks a little more organized which gives me a bit more room to write and work, and doing a few other miscellaneous things, I am feeling very good about it all.  I still have some work to do to get it where I want it to be but it’s definitely coming along nicely.  It feels less claustrophobic without books and notebooks piled all around me.  I still have some organizing to do though…I have ROW, SWW, MasterClass, Udemy, and other miscellaneous classes and information to put in notebooks.  But this definitely makes me want to be in here even more than before.  And the more time I’m in here, the more time I’ll spend writing.  So my little decorating binge is paying off.  As I’ve said before, I really think that having an inviting place to write in is important.  If we don’t have that, it’s just another impediment to a daily writing practice.  I need that since I seem to be fighting it all the way to my laptop.  So every little push in the right direction is important.  Why do we fight so hard against the thing that we want more than anything?  Fear of failure or rejection?  I think that’s my reason.  I am doing better with that.  I have begun making myself read my writing out loud and then I critique it.  For every one thing that I’m not happy with, I find 2 or more things that I’m very happy with and that really has bolstered my feelings about my writing.  I read a part of Rapture today that, when I wrote it, I wasn’t at all sure that it was any good.  Today, I realized that it was good.  Some of the other stuff that I had been pretty happy with at the time, I am finding to be less so.  It’s not all bad but it’s definitely in need of an overhaul.  So, I highly recommend to everyone that you take a step back from your writing and read it aloud.  You’ll find more things out by listening to and feeling the rhythm that than you will just hearing it in your head.  It has made me rethink a lot of Rapture and now I want to move some things around and delete others.  It needs to be streamlined a bit more than it is now.  And I will probably abandon some of my old ideas regarding the direction of the story.  It needs to be done.  None of my words or ideas are so precious that I can’t slash them from the book.  Editors won’t think that they are, so why should I?  Well, that’s it for my daily musings so I think I’ll get back to organizing.  Or maybe, I’ll take a nap…both are equally important to me!  I’ll see you tomorrow.  Happy Monday eve.    

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Day 65: My Writing Haven

I am back in my writing haven.  I cannot begin to tell you just how much joy this tiny room brings me.  Right now, the wind is howling and it’s cloudy and cold.  It’s warm in here and I have this wonderful candle burning called Winter.  It and Candeo’s Winter Lodge are my favorites during this time of year.  Of course, I love anything that’s patchouli-scented and add in a little jasmine and I’m in heaven.  I just love candles and scents.  There’s one that is lavender and cedarwood that also makes me very happy.  I use candles to intensify my moods.  If it were warm and rainy, I’d be burning Candeo’s Rain Water or Medieval Garden.  On a beautiful, bright spring day, I’d have a honeysuckle/jasmine candle lit.  A certain scent can take me back so many years to a specific place in time and make the memory so much more intense and real.  Anyway…I have some ROW “work” to do in order to prepare for next Saturday’s ZOOM retreat so I’ll be holed up in here for a good part of the day.  I have some organizing of papers and spaces to handle as well as hanging my new shimmering star lights.  I have decided where I’ll put them so that they enhance my current light display but not overwhelm it.  LED lights are the best!  I think that if these stars are as cool as they looked in the pictures, I’ll be done with my light show…until I see another string of lights that catches my fancy.  My main goal today is to get my ROW work done, punch and organize other paperwork for ROW and SWW, clear a space where I can actually write on top of the table rather than on top of books or notebooks, hang my stars, and just enjoy my little haven.  As I’ve said before, it really adds to my motivation to have a room that I can come to that I love and enjoy being in to write.  It’s a magical room for me.  And we can all use a little magic in our writing lives.  I even hung my magic wand so that it appears to be floating at an angle.  After I get my stars up and some of the clutter cleared away, I’ll share a photo in one of my posts.  Well, I really didn’t have much to say today except to express my joy.  It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster week and now that I have the all clear from my cardiovascular surgeon after the test on Wednesday, I am ready to let that joy just wash over me!  I hope that you have an amazing, joy-filled day!

“Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.” ~ Wess Stafford

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Day 64: Holidays

Our days are about to become a little more hectic with all of the planning and rushing around for the holidays.  Our Christmas is pretty low key.  We have a get together with Rick’s kids and our grandkids on the 21st and we usually spend Christmas day with my family.  Even though it’s low key, it still takes me away from my writing since I don’t have that much spare time.  Not to sound completely like the Grinch but I just don’t seem to have the same Christmas spirit that I used to have.  Actually, I have very little.  I love buying and giving people gifts that they love and I’ve always been really good at that.  But, other than that, I’d be perfectly content to stay home with Rick and the critters and watch horror movies (I haven’t seen It’s a Wonderful Life in about 20 years and I’ve never watched even 1 of the Hallmark Christmas movies) while I write.  I do miss my parents most during the holidays.  My dad was a big kid when it came to Christmas and our house was decorated inside and out.  My mom was a cooking fiend during the holidays.  Her pecan pie was legendary.  Without them to hold us together, my brother and I have become somewhat estranged and Christmas is usually the only time we see each other now even though we only live about 30 minutes apart.  We are such different people now that we have very little in common.  So, yeah, I have some Bah Humbug going on here.  The holidays can bring up some issues that we don’t face on a daily basis so it can be difficult.  I tend to pull into myself more and write.  So that’s 1 positive thing that comes from it.  I’m trying to deal with my more negative emotions and moods that way because it’s cathartic even if I’m not writing specifically about what’s bothering me.  It just sets the tone for the piece I’m writing.  I’m trying to do more things in ways that support my dreams, goals, and well-being.  Sometimes that means saying no to people and they become angry or hurt because they don’t understand where I’m coming from and then they don’t want to hear the reason.  So, I’ve stopped explaining myself and if they love and support me, they will accept my answer without anger, hurt, or judgment.  We have to take better care of ourselves…mentally, emotionally, and physically.  We should set our sights on something and do what is necessary to make it happen.  We are just as important as anyone else in our lives so we have to treat ourselves that way.  And believe in ourselves.  So, during the holidays, we need to try to let the stress flow around us rather than through us.  Avoid anything that we know will trigger negative emotions.  And remember that the people who truly know, understand, and love us will accept us as we are.        

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Day 63: Back in the Saddle

Well, I’ve recovered from yesterday’s fun and I’m back to my daily grind.  It’s been fairly quiet here today, which is nice, so I’ve gotten some things accomplished, which is also nice.  I’m hoping to get out of here on time and get home in time to do some writing that’s not rushed like it usually is.  I thought I’d get some writing done yesterday but I was pretty wasted after spending the day at the doctor’s office being the patient patient.  I also have another set of lights for my writing haven…cascading stars that twinkle…to add to my already gaudy display.  What can I say…they make me happy.  And the people on my different ZOOM calls love them.  I say decorate your writing space up so that it makes you happy and inspires you.  Surround yourself with your favorite things…even if it’s just photos of those things.  Make it inviting so that you’re always happy to go into that space.  I’m fortunate in that I don’t share that space with anyone so I can do whatever I want with it…sparkly lights, New Orleans souvenirs/mementos, dragonflies, etc….   If you share your space, decorate it with small things that are in your line of sight.  I have a lot of crystals and stones that are supposed to help with creativity around my laptop.  It helps me to see them there whether they actually “do” anything or not.  I like thinking that they do so that’s all that matters.  I was asked once whether I believed that crystals had powers or some kind of energy flowing through them that actually do something for the owner or wearer of them.  My answer was that I didn’t know whether they did or not but if someone believed that they did…then they did.  Personally, I love the beauty of the stones and crystals…whether in their natural state or polished and shaped like a sphere or an obelisk or if used in jewelry.  Obsidian and labradorite are my favorites so I have a lot of those in every possible shape that you can think of scattered amongst my belongings.  Obsidian is supposed to combat negativity so I choose to believe that one.  We can all use some obsidian for that purpose!  Anyway, back to our writing spaces.  It has to be inviting so make it that way.  It increases the odds of us actually entering that space and writing.  Even if you are one of those people that likes a less busy space, there are still ways to make inviting for yourself.  Everyone’s taste is different and you know what you’d like to see and envelope yourself in while you’re writing.  It’s your space.  We all need every possible thing available to help keep us writing and, for me, that’s a fun, sparkly space.  For you, it might be a restful, subdued space.  And for someone else, it will be completely different from either of those.  Use your imagination…see your ideal space in your mind’s eye and work towards that.  It can’t hurt your writing experience and it might just enhance it so have some fun with it.  I am!      

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Day 62: Speaking to Strangers

I tried to start this blog earlier today while I was in holding patterns between tests and scans but I just couldn’t concentrate long enough to write.  So I played Trivia Crack, looked through Facebook for cute animal videos, and had a very lovely conversation with a mother and daughter that were also waiting for the same series of tests and scans that I was having.  It always amazes me just how personal conversations can become under those circumstances.  When I was a kid and I’d go to the doctor with my mom, she would always end up in these deep conversations with total strangers.  Anyone that overheard them would have thought that they were old friends.  I would usually sit there mortified that she was discussing personal things with a stranger.  And here I am doing the same thing.  I now think it’s a good thing.  Sharing problems and difficult situations with a stranger is sometimes easier than sharing with an acquaintance.  You don’t have to put on your brave face or pretend to be strong.  You can be a bundle of nerves and vulnerable because you’re sharing the same situation and a lot of the same fears.  You’ll never see these people again which allows you some anonymity and if you do end up making a fool of yourself you’re not doing it in front of someone that can keep bringing it up over and over.  It’s not unlike seeing a therapist and it’s very cathartic.  I wholeheartedly recommend it.  I was so nervous when I went in and I ended up sitting there with these women, laughing, sharing stories, and comforting each other.  I hope to see them again sometime in the future at the doctor’s office.  When I was growing up, my mom always told me to never speak to strangers but she set a poor example since she spoke to strangers everywhere she went.  And now I’ll glad that was the example she set.

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Day 61: Life As I Know It

I have a feeling that life is about to change for me after tomorrow.  At 12:00pm, I am having a Nuclear Lexiscan Stress Test because my artery that causes what they call the “widow maker” heart attack is very, very clogged.  Depending on what they find tomorrow, I could be having angioplasty and getting a stent put in sooner rather than later.  I’d be put on 2 blood thinners…1 for 6 months and 1 for life.  I’ll be advised to change my lifestyle…diet, exercise, etc…which I already know that I need to do.  That’s 1 of the biggest problems when working in an office…spending 90% of my 9 – 10 hour day in front of the computer.  And when I go home, I sit in front of my laptop.  Writing is pretty sedentary and that’s compounded by the fact that I’m having to squeeze it into a few evening hours and weekends between work, husband, home, critters, other responsibilities, etc….  Do you know what the sad thing is?  I have a room full of exercise equipment…treadmill, stationary weight machine, some small free weights, bands, some Pilates stuff like the ball, etc…, so I have absolutely no excuse for not exercising except that I head straight for my Writing Haven rather than my exercise room because I love writing and hate exercising.  I used to be extremely active…mostly basketball, which I was damned good at, softball, volleyball, etc….  My sports days were sidelined by rheumatoid arthritis and walking on a treadmill is pretty boring when compared to playing sports.  I was never small but as I’ve aged, my weight has started to really creep up and I have totally let it.  I’m a Type 1 diabetic so I know that I need to keep my weight under control but being on 2 types of insulin makes that very difficult.  Losing weight while on insulin is tough but other people do it.  I guess that I will too now.  I don’t really have a choice.  It’s funny what having a possible “widow making” heart attack looming in your future can do for your motivation and mindset.  I suppose that I can use a voice recorder to “write” while exercising.  Or use writing time to motivate me…for every minute I exercise, I get to write for that length of time as well.  Oh, there will be resistance and bargaining but I’ll have to shut that down.  My diet will have to become much healthier.  Looking at me you’d never guess that I am the pickiest eater on the planet.  I have a rather limited list of foods I like.  I don’t like seafood except for cod but only if it’s fried.  I hate diet drinks and flavored waters.  The texture of food is a big deal for me…the food could be the best whatever of it’s kind and taste amazing but if the texture is wrong, I won’t eat it.  I like fruit but I like fast food more.  I don’t like vegetable soups or stews.  See where all that’s going?  It will be a MAJOR lifestyle shift for me to go healthy.  My husband eats about 90% healthy but it’s all stuff that I won’t eat.  He can and has modified my less than healthy meals so that they are much healthier and he really is an excellent cook, so I know it’s possible.  But, as I wrote the other day…I DO NOT LIKE CHANGE!  But, this is my life so I’m going to have to make and accept these changes and learn to work around them as far as finding time to write is concerned.  That is 1 thing that I will not give up so I have to get healthy and stay that way.

Take care of your body.  It’s the only place that you have to live.” ~ Jim Rohn          

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Day 60: Only 305 Days to Go

When I undertook the 365-day blogging challenge, I honestly wasn’t sure just how far I’d get because of work, my husband, writing, the creativity group and writing incubator I’m in, and all of the little things that just seem to pop up out of nowhere.  Plus, what do I know about blogging?  Do I actually have anything to say that is worth writing about or that anyone would want to read?  I chose “Inspired Writer” because I had been newly inspired to write again.  I decided to write about writing…mainly my struggles, triumphs, mistakes, epiphanies, etc…, because I was pretty sure that there would be people who would identify with at least some of the things I was writing about.  I didn’t choose writing as my subject because I have any real answers or could teach someone to write or how to get published.  As I’ve said, I’ve learned a few lessons and had a few epiphanies and realizations that might help others who are in the same situation.  I thought that if I could in some small way help others avoid my mistakes and missteps, then it would be worthwhile.  But I honestly didn’t think I’d have much of an audience because who am I to write about writing?  First, having a large audience wasn’t my reason for starting it and, second, I can write about writing because I write.  Because I’ve failed.  Because I’ve made mistakes.  Because I’ve succeeded.  And because I’ve struggled.  And what am I getting out of it?  More than I can tell you.  It’s helped me work through some of my own issues.  It’s improved my writing.  It keeps me writing every single day.  It’s helped me connect with others.  It acts as a journal of sorts.  It makes me think more deeply about things.  It helps me to understand myself.  Will I continue to blog after the 365 days is up?  I will.  Would I recommend it to others?  Absolutely.  Seriously, this is one of the best things that a writer can do for so many reasons.  And it honestly does not matter what you decide to write about…you can have a completely different subject every day if you want.  It’s completely up to you because, in the end, this is for you and if it helps, entertains, or makes others think then that’s great.  Just give it a try.  You might just get hooked.  I have.   

“Good blogging should feel like someone writing you a letter.” ~ Gala Darling               

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Day 59: Apologies and Epiphanies

I was in a small group ZOOM call with 3 others from ROW and we had so much time to share our writing and receive comments from others in such a loving, safe environment that it helped to ease me into an epiphany later that night which was a long time coming.  Before B read a piece of really wonderful flash fiction, she was doing what I always do before reading my work…apologizing.  And A told her to stop apologizing for her writing.  It’s not so much about outright apologizing, it’s more about how we present it and the self-deprecating way that we approach it. So, when A said that, I apparently took it to heart.  Late last night, I was going thru my writing file and separating the things I’ve already presented in our Retreats from the things that I haven’t read yet.  And while I was doing it, I was reading them.  I came across a poem that I’d written that I love but the flow and rhythm just seem a little bit off to me.  And, in my head, I was imagining how I would introduce this poem in ROW and damned if I wasn’t putting it out there with apologies.  And it just hit me that I approach just about everything I write that way.  So, I told my Inner Critic to shut the hell up and I reframed it.  My Inner Wise Self created a new way of presenting it that was not apologetic but did address my flow and rhythm concerns.  Then I started rereading everything…at 2:00am…and applying A’s no apologies comment to them all.  And, damned if I didn’t realize something…I am a freakin’ good writer whether it’s poetry, fiction or non-fiction.  My imagery is amazing.  My wording is also excellent.  My writing is thought-provoking.  I’m a really good pantser in that I do not outline or plot my writing before actually writing it.  I’ve tried every possible way and none of them have ever worked for me.  The Snowflake method came close but the way it was presented was so juvenile that I just couldn’t continue reading.  Even when I write poetry I don’t think about rhyme schemes or anything else…I just let my emotions take over and let it flow.  And sometimes it rhymes and sometimes it doesn’t.  I don’t think about my audience or publishing it while I write because I am fully immersed in it.  I do go back and edit, rewrite, adjust, move things around, etc…, though.  But even then, it’s all about what sounds good to my ear, not the thought that fixing this or that will make it more publishable.  My method is to get it all on paper or the computer and edit it later.  It’s better to have a little time between that first draft and the editing anyway.  It helps me be just a tad more objective.  Even though I had the “I am a good writer” epiphany, I do not in any way think that I am a perfect writer.  No one is.  There are typos, mixed tenses, poor grammar, etc…, but what is in the mix is good even though it needs to be tweaked.  We all need to remember that!  Our first draft is mainly getting the ideas down on paper and not overthinking things like grammar and commas.  The second draft will tighten it up and be an improvement and future drafts will be even better than that.  So don’t be distracted by the need for it to be perfect while writing that first draft.  Not even Stephen King gets it right the very first time.  We have to believe in ourselves, our ideas and our words.  And never apologize.  If we start out apologizing, what does that say about the work and the writer?  Say we get our big chance to present to an agent or publisher and we start out with some form of an apology whether it’s outright or implied…how does that make them want to really listen or read our work?  We have to start out strong and believe in what we write.  Trust me, if there is even the tiniest mistake or misstep, someone will be more than happy to point it out.  Even then, we can’t apologize.  Acknowledge it, thank them and fix it…if it truly needs to be fixed.  If they’re wrong, tell them politely that they are wrong and tell them why.  I have characters that do not speak in a grammatically correct way so, in the context of my writing, that is perfectly fine.  It doesn’t need to be corrected because it’s not a mistake…it’s a choice that I made.  So, take all of the apologies out of the mix…even when we are talking to ourselves and judging our writing.  Be a badass writer and trust your gut!  

“Never apologize for trusting your intuition – your brain can play tricks, your heart can be blind but your gut is always right.” ~ Rachel Wolchin                

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Day 58: Changes

Changes…some are good and some are not.  I personally do not deal well with change.  Even when it’s a change for the better, it still takes me a while to adjust.  But, for the most part, I like things to be status quo.  I have been working on my little writing haven for a few months and I’ve been making some changes and, for once, I am loving it.  Maybe it’s because I’m making it totally and completely mine.  And even though I still have an overabundance of crafting supplies in here, this room is all about my writing and things related to it.  It is becoming so “me” that I get a thrill just walking in here.  Before this, I wrote at my desk in the bedroom or on the bed but that bit of writing space was shared with the bedroom and Rick and the cats and the dogs.  But when I got serious again about my writing, I wanted MY space!  I had already claimed this room for my crafting so it was the obvious choice.  I always call it my New Orleans room because that was my decorating inspiration.  Now, it is Donna’s Writing Haven.  It is private.  It has two huge windows with nice views.  The only thing I’d wish for is more storage but, I’m making do with what I have.  But I can blast my music…today’s top tracks are courtesy of Counting Crows…stuck on A Long December.  Feeling a bit nostalgic today, I guess.   Next, I think I’ll let the Red Hot Chili Peppers serenade me.  Sorry…music makes my mind wander.  I guess that’s why I like to listen to it when I write.  It’s like an oil that greases the wheels that spin in my mind.  Back to my haven…I can make it as sparkly and, excuse my 60’s choice of words here, as totally far out as I want.  It’s an eclectic mix for sure.  And I love it.  So, I guess I’m not as completely against change as I sometimes think I am.  When I was a child, I didn’t always feel secure because I never felt that I fit in anywhere so I had my imagination to keep me company.  And I had my world as organized as I possibly could and when a change would come, I felt vulnerable and I didn’t like that feeling.  Plus, I’d have to reorder my life anew.  So, I suppose that change, in general, represents a threat of sorts to my security.  I wonder how others react to and feel about change.  Is this just me or is it more widespread than that?  The strangest thing though is that when I am feeling vulnerable and insecure, my writing flows a little better.  I guess that’s because I’ve used it throughout my life for comfort and to pull me out of this world into the world of my imagination where I was safe.  Do you use your writing, even fiction or poetry, to escape or to feel certain ways or to even exorcize your demons? Writing, to me anyway, is more than just putting words on paper.  It’s a therapy of sorts as well as an escape.  There are things that just seem to need to be worked out on paper like math problems…solve the problem and show your work.  It might not make sense to everyone just what those words mean but there could people out there that do get it and they are who we are writing for when we do our exorcisms.  Someone else has the same demons and through our works, they just might find some answers while also escaping into the worlds we created.  So solve that problem and show your work! 

“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself.  It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless.  An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.” ~ Harper Lee            

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