Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Have a Song in My Heart

Sorry for the long break in posting, but I've been going through a blogger's version of writer's block. Anyways, I felt myself become unstuck tonight at yoga. We were lying there, listening to a chant, when I began to think, "This is music for every mood." It was happy and wistful and passionate and mellow, all at the same time.

Now, normally, I don't get too excited about New-Age music, but this chant vibrated my joints and made my fingers tingle. Maybe music affects me more than it does other people, but I doubt it. While most people get annoyed at the question, "What kind of music do you like?", almost everyone I know has at least a few songs that stir something deep inside, like this chant did for me.

Personally, besides random yoga music, I am liking Civil Wars, the Kinks, and Bobby Womack lately. Also, I have a special place in my heart for Karen Carpenter's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (don't laugh until you listen to it - it captures the myriad of feelings, including longing, that come up this time of year - yeah, I know I'm a nerd). So, what songs capture your feelings this year? I would love to find even more songs for my iPod and, maybe, feel that tingle again.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Resolutions to Make the New Year Bright

It's the most wonderful time of the year - right? I promised myself that when I decided to make this blog more personal, it wouldn't just be me ranting endlessly about personal insecurities. Today, however, I am going to take exception to that rule. While I have been busy running around doing my holiday shopping, something has been on my mind. I feel like I am in a state of inertia. I need a challenge. So, in the spirit of the season, I have decided to make my New Year's resolutions. I hope you will feel free you post your own here:
1. I WILL quit smoking. (for those of you who follow this blog, you know I tried to quit a few weeks ago. Despite my resolve, it didn't happen because I noticed I was getting a little depressed every time I went an extended period of time without smoking. Hopefully, this is just a temporary hurdle. My solution (among the many I could choose from) is to try to slowly ween myself off so I don't have a nicotine-withdrawal-induced breakdown.
2. Find new challenges. I am not sure what this is going to look like yet. I have been playing around with the guitar a little bit, but I'm not sure that I want to concentrate my energy on just one thing. There are so many challenges I could take on that I get overwhelmed by the choices. As a result, I stay home and watch tv (probably not the plan I want to go with). So I'm torn between finding one area to really focus on challenging myself or to find little things to challenge me everyday. Maybe I'll go with both choices.
3. Try to find time to meditate consistently. I swear it really does make a difference. It's like brushing my teeth. I know it's good for me and sometimes I even enjoy the sparkly fresh clean feeling, but it's a challenge to make myself do it after every meal. I hope to make meditation a consistent practice, so I can enjoy a multitude of benefits.
4. Volunteer. I think the best way to get rid of that underutilized feeling is to give back to others, so starting in January, I will be volunteering at a local mental health center.
I could go on and on, but these are my top resolutions. I hope to explore the idea of taking on new challenges, as well as hearing some of your resolutions in the coming days.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tunnel Your Energy into a Journal

If you don't keep a journal on your computer or in a notebook (etc), now would be a great time to start. I find that writing in a journal is very cathartic and means I have to spend less time bogging down other people with my problems. (I hope you don't consider this blog to be an example of that).

You can rant about one topic and repeat yourself for an hour and no one will be annoyed with you. Plus, it's easy and free entertainment. I am sure, also, that occasionally you stretch your writing muscles while keeping a journal. Most of the things I write really are not fit for print, but every now and then I will see a beautiful phrase that seems like it's worth sharing.

Journals are not only helpful emotionally and creatively; they also are a great outlet for energy of all kinds. I like to write prayers to the Universe, and, usually, I wind up writing some sort of answer. Now, I am not going to get into any metaphysical questions here, but even if I am generating the answers, it's an answer nonetheless. It's another way of working things out.

My friend is a runner. She says she started running because she had nothing left. I could say something similar about my journal. But even if your life is going well, journaling is a great way to spend time.

Learning to Visualize Dreams for a Healthier Life

"Those who lose dreaming are lost." This is an aboriginal proverb I found on one of my favorite blogs, writingoutloud. It got me thinking. I followed my dreams, and where has it gotten me? I have taken several wrong turns on the career path, but, at least, now have a steady job. I am married to a wonderful man, who is not perfect but is smart, funny, and sensitive. I can tell him everything. " Even though we ain't got money. . ."

So now that the basics are taken care of, it is time to dream new and bigger dreams. I dream of traveling the world before I'm an old woman. I dream of increasing my joy and learning to accept discomfort and pain as inevitable and necessary parts of life. Mostly, I dream of being healthier so I can lessen the effects of a chronic illness and live into a healthy old age.

So I've been taking steps. Contrary to the advice I gave you on this blog a few weeks ago, I have not been making one change at a time. I am too excited to wait. Instead I am making easiest changes first, in the hopes that it will increase my confidence for the harder changes.

One of the more difficult dreams to realize is the desire to be smoke-free. I made a big deal about quitting on here last week, and sadly, I am no more quit than I was two weeks ago. I can't afford hypnotherapy, so I was thinking about getting a book on visualization. Does anyone know a good one? I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Giving Up Your Image, Getting Peace of Mind

A friendly reader compared quitting smoking with her troubles being worry-free.I think a lot of us can relate to this problem, myself included. Some people worry about future events, some about meeting their goals. Personally, I worry most about what people think. There! I wrote it down; it's true.

I know this is suppossed to be a problem that only affects middle schoolers, but I must admit I worry about the image I'm presenting from time to time. Now, I know this is a very uncool problem, but I suspect that most of us have at least a little bit of an image to protect.

This may be that you are a person who makes a lot of money. What do you do when you suddenly lose your job? Or, you may want people to think you are a great parent, but the darn kid came home drunk last night. What are we to do about our images?

To be honest, I think this is a problem that gets easier with time. When I turned 30, I had a friend tell me, "In my 30s, I quit caring what people think." Plus, I have yet to meet a senior who seems too preoccupied with what other people will say.

Beyond letting time take it's course, I am renewing my commiment to meditating. I know I talk about meditating ad nausem, but it's a great way to train the mind. The keys are consistency and dedication (neither of which I have regarding meditation at this point in my life - maybe soon!). If we can train our minds, then we can kick out pesky thoughts like, "I walked around all day with spinach in my teeth. People are going to think I don't brush." Then, maybe I won't worry if you think I'm a nerd for having this problem.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Appreciating the moment without Smoking

Now, I am not going to turn this into a blog about quitting smoking, even though it is consuming my mind right now. There are plenty of blogs and information out there for those who want to quit, and I don't think those of you who never smoked want to hear me complain for the next few months (or years - could it be?) that I want a cigarette.

 I will say it's been about 72 hours since I smoked, and I still feel like I could slap my mom for a cigarette. Don't worry, Mom, I wouldn't really hurt you, but this does lead me to other thoughts.

It's amazing how much time my addiction took up. Whenever I didn't have something to do, I smoked. Now, I find myself bored a lot. I am pretty sure this is a matter of cultivating new habits, but it brings up something I'd like to share with you.

How many moments of the day do we spend wishing we were doing something else? I know personally my count is up to about 50 billion. Maybe we could spend less time wishing we were doing something else and more time enjoying what we are actually doing. In other words, we could change the ways we spend our time or learn to appreciate the moment, not matter what is occupying us.

I think this habit would be soooo beneficial and want to practice is more myself. I find focusing on the breathe helps me when I can remember to do it. What helps you appreciate the moment?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Preparing to be Smoke Free!

Here's a promise that may come as a shock to those of you that know me - I am going to quit smoking on November 3. I have tried quitting several times with no success. I've got a few new weapons in my anti-American Spirit arsenal, though.

First, I found a great online forum about quitting smoking (quitsmoking.about.com). I think it will be really helpful for me to discuss my cravings and urges and out-of-my-mind-desires with other people who share what I'm going through. If you've never smoked, you can't possibly understand how addictive it is. These are people who have smoked, some of them longer than I, and are committed to quitting.

Secondly, I am telling everyone (including the world on this blog) that I am quitting. My hope is I'll be too embarrassed to tell everyone that I've gone back to the habit (I a tad bit of a people-pleaser).

Finally, I am committing to rewarding myself. If I make it through that first day without a single puff, I am treating myself to a professional massage. Nice, huh?

I think I want to type up a plan today, before I start tomorrow. These will include the following: a list of rewards, a list of things to do when I have a craving, a list of reasons why I want to quit smoking.

I have tried to quit with the Patch before but to no avail. This time I am trying cold turkey. I want nicotine out of my system forever. Please write me with any advice or encouragement you have. I am going to need all the help I can get!

Monday, October 31, 2011

I Only Befriend 25% of People

I got 2 very helpful comments regarding my post about making friends. The main point I got is that it needs to happen organically. I have no problem with that, except in my head. You see, when I am around a new person, my 12-year-old brain starts sweating, "You must like me." The important thing to remember is this is the 12-year-old brain. This is not me (or you) as an adult.

Adults know that not everyone is going to be a best friend. As my husband put it, "If I walk into a bar, 25% of people, I can't stand. 50% of people, I don't feel one way or the other about. 25%, I like and want to be friends." It may be a little early for math, but it seems to me that we can apply this equation to just about anyone.

So, if I only want to be friends with 25% of people I meet, why should I expect those with whom I come in contact to be any different. I can't. Maybe it's time, maybe I'm old enough, to quit worrying about what others think and start concentrating on what I believe and what I stand for

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting Personal - on and offline!

Wow! I never would have expected the differences in opinion that would arise from my decision to change my blog into a more personal account of being a 30 ish woman in the Western U.S. Some of you were all for it, while others had reservations. Be certain I took all responses into consideration, but I got more pageviews than ever before when I wrote about changing my content. Is that a hint?
So, Here's my first "new" blog.

I went to my meditation group last night (in the snow) at the local Buddhist center. I am not Buddhist, but I am a fan of meditation, and these guys have got it down. Plus, they are kind enough not to mind the fact that I go to church elsewhere. After we meditate in a sitting position, we do walking meditation on the sparkling honey pine floors.( How do they get their floors so clean? I guess cleaning is a way to Enlightenment for some, though if you check out my earlier blogs, you will know, I am generally not a big fan. I just try to keep away any large globs of dirt).

 Anyways, we had discussion after walking meditation and then some social time. I met some really nice people, and this raised a question for me - being new in town, what's the best way to turn aquaintances into friends. I will admit I'm clueless, as making friends came naturally when I was in school. You just had to offer to share your PBR.

Now, with work and families and ever increasing schedules, it seems we have less time to cultivate friendships that do not take place over the Internet. Does anyone else have this problem? Does anyone else have solutions?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

This Is Not Part 2

For those of you eagerly awaiting part 2 of my series, I am sorry to disappoint. I will not be continuing in that vein because I changed my mind, and this is my blog, so I can do what I want.:) Instead, I am thinking about making rennovations - rennovation to  my blog, rennovations to my life.

You see, this advice on writing just isn't working out for me. I truly believe that the best way to become a better writer is to practice and beyond that I really don't know more than the next person. This does not mean I am giving up the blogging game entirely, though.

 I was thinking about taking this blog in a more personal direction. Would you, dear reader, be interested in hearing more about my life as a writer, worker, wife, daughter, and friend? It seems that we have more commonalities than differences, so I would like to spend some time exploring that with you. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Let in a Little Space - Part 1

Today's blog is part of a series all about space - space to think, space to write in, space in your writing.

I spend a lot of time at my other job sitting around. While I'm sitting around, I'm irritated because I like to go all the time. Looking back on that time, however, I have noticed that this empty time creates space in my life for ideas to grow.

I think we have an American work ethic that goads us into filling up all of our free time with activities. If we would just slow down and create a little space, perhaps we wouldn't have so many issues (that's assuming you have issues, of course). We need time to think. And, more importantly, we need time to grow.

We need space in our schedules because we can appreciate singular moments better when we are not scurrying for project to project. We actually have time to breathe and think,"Hey! That's pretty fun. Think I'll do it again." And notice.

 I know most people don't have jobs that require them to take a time out, so it becomes our responsibility to take this task upon ourselves. Enjoy your time!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Make One Little Change at a Time

Personal goals are something everyone wants to attain. I, certainly, am no exception. I have talked about changes I want to make in my life with regard to writing and personal habits from time to time in this blog. Today, I want to share a tip I read in another blog that I thought was really helpful.

When you try to change something (for example, trying the Nikan writing practice mentioned last week), begin with small managable steps. And, here's the key, try to change only one thing at a time. We probably all have a million things we want to work on (at least I do), but we waste our resources if we try to take on too many things at once. As a result, we don't accomplish several things, instead of accomplishing one thing.

Stick with the change for 6 weeks before you move on to something new. I think this is a great strategy. To read more about it, visit http://zenhabits.net/1/.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nikan Is Not Just a Camera

I have written on here before that I am trying to have more gratitude in my life. Being a perfectionist, I have a hard time with this. It seems I want to pick on my life and writing until I've found every single flaw. I have found a new way to combat this. It's called Nikan.

Nikan is a Buddhist practice, started in Japan, that seeks to make us feel more connected to the world. It's so very simple that you can use it everyday, or anytime you need a little gratitude boost. To get started, you ask three questions and write down the answers on a piece of paper (or if you subscribe to happyrambles.com, you do this online).

First question is, "How have I been supported today?" This list could go on and on, from the people who make the roads for your drive to work to Steve Jobs, who made your Mac (sort of).Pick only concrete things you can feel with your senses like something someone said or did.

The next question is "How have I served today?" This could be something as simple as making coffee for your significant other or getting up and going to work when the alarm went off so your family has income.

The final question is,"What troubles or difficulties have I caused?" Please notice that there is not a parallel question about what trouble and difficulties have been caused to you.

I plan to write these lists down everyday and, hopefully, increase my sense of interconnectedness and gratitude. Also, maybe I'll increase my awareness of my impact on the world. Will you join me?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Do You Want Sweeping Change?

I was listening to NPR the other day, and they had a guy on there who was a political scientist going off about the state of fiction today. He was saying that there are no classics being written today because writers only deal with personal themes, not sweeping social or political ones.

He used Grapes of Wrath as an example of a great work of fiction that would never be written today because current writers are not concerned with the problems of society. He said they only look within themselves.

I whole-heartedly disagree. It may be true that writers today are more introspective, and I see where, at times, this could be too much off a good thing. However, while the radio man was very persuasive, I don't necessarily think that great fiction needs to institute huge changes in society. Changing one person's outlook on the world, making one person a little more open, is a great change, too. Either way, it is change one person at a time.

Of course, I am not saying that I think fiction should ignore society's ills. I just saying that society's problems are often captured in the problems of one person. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Little Anger Helps A Lot

Yesterday, as you might have seen if you follow this blog regularly, my husband and I got into a fight. No need to worry - we are all made up now, and he even vacuumed the house. I promised him that I would address the topic of the fight in today's blog.

First, I am very glad to be married, and what I said yesterday was not an indictment of marriage. It is absolutely wonderful to have a partner and friend who is always there, even when the leftovers have been sitting in the fridge for weeks. My husband also certainly helps around the house - if it weren't for him, there would be little pieces of toys our dog chewed up all around the house.

My basic argument is that women everywhere often take on too much of the burden of running a household, and this cuts back on the time she has for creating and writing. Definitely we need to work on that.

This brings me to my main point of the day. Sometimes, when you write how you honestly feel, people will get upset. Don't worry about this. If the person is important to you, you will probably have the chance to work out your feelings with them. If you don't know them that well, then who cares. You can't please everyone.

So , clear the air. Get things off your chest. Releasing a little anger can be a big relief.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Improve Your Writing with Feedback!

I read a blog yesterday about how to improve your trade, whatever that might be. The writer suggested doing something where you get immediate feedback. An example of this would be writing a blog for a writer or giving a concert for a musician.

The positive benefits of doing your craft before a crowd is simple - you can quickly find out what works and immediately change and modify what's going on. I am already writing a blog, you say? Well, I am going to take this idea a step further with my next few posts.

I am going to gauge the helpfulness of my writing by the number of hits, comments, followers, etc, that I get. Now I was already doing that to a certain extent, but before I was mainly looking at general trends. Now I am going to look at specific blogs that are really popular to see what I am doing right, and take a peek at those that flop to see how I could improve - livelier title, catchier openers, you get the picture.

I think this is a great idea to hone your craft, whether you are a writer or a banker (hi Dad!). Please think about incorporating some immediate feedback into your career today!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How to Overcome Your Inner Critic

I received so many good suggestions on how to get started on my new song writing hobby without putting out a lot of cash. Thank you to everyone who made a suggestion!

So, I have a guitar, and now I have many good ideas on how to get started playing it. Unfortunately, it's really hard for me to start something new. I am (surprise, surprise) a bit of a perfectionist, and somehow, in my twisted thought process, it is better to not do something at all than to begin and not do a great job. This is silly because no one excels at a project when they are a beginner, and I could be missing out on some great experiences.

Perhaps this is the problem some have with writing. I know the perfectionist bug has bitten me from time to time when I am writing (I'm thinking thesis).

My idea is to begin writing (or playing guitar or pogosticking or whatever) for small increments of time to begin with. Maybe 5 or 10 minutes. That sounds doable. Any other ideas?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Learning to Rock

I am listening to someone I work with on the radio as I write this. He is a singer-song writer, and it is a strange sensation to witness the creative side of someone you know professionally.

It makes me wonder if I should try my hand at writing a song. As I may have mentioned before, I am just crazy about music. It touches something deep within me that I am unable to access any other way.

 I took piano lessons as a child but never got very far. Now, I am considering starting taking the guitar more seriously and learning a few chords so I can play beautiful music myself.

I know you are never to old to learn but this is a really scary endeavor because it takes years to master an instrument and I don't have a lot of discretionary income to spend on lessons (or time for that matter). Does anyone have any suggestions on ways to get started?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Answering the Call for the Future

I was reading an article the other day on happiness. It said that one way to increase happiness is to look at, listen to, or participate in the arts. What a joyous thought! We are actually doing something good for ourselves by engaging in something pleasant.

I know that not everyone finds reading or going to a play exciting, but I'm using art in the broad sense. I consider making a table or running a marathon an art.

Shouldn't we enhance our children's happiness by increasing their exposure to art at a young age. I know a lot of people believe we need to push math and science on our children, so they can be world leaders in the future, but what about being happiness leaders? Can't we find time for an arts education to help our children increase their sense of well being. After all, isn't a sense of well being the reason we want to be world leaders in the first place?

Monday, September 26, 2011

in Just -

I thought I'd share a poem that really inspires me today. I actually painted the words to it on a coffee table in grad school - I know, I am a nerd. But I think it's really great and hope you will, too.
in Just - by e.e. cummings
in Just-
spring   when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles     far   and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far    and    wee
and bettyandisabel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it's
spring
and


   the

       goat-footed

balloonMan   whistles
far
and
wee

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Deserve a Break Today

I am putting off working for my writing job in order to write this post. It amazes me how I could love writing so much, yet be so reluctant to do it. I have recently decided to take on a huge new writing job and am trying to decide how to budget my time.

It's important to me (and to everyone, I think), to find a balance between work and play. I feel like the past few weeks all I've done is work. Even things I normally enjoy, like taking a walk or going to the dog park, become chores when I am trying to squeeze them in on top of work.

Of course, I am glad to be working and don't want to change anything in that regard. I just want to put the fun back in my fun activities.

Does anyone else ever feel like a work and obligation machine? If so, how can we combat this? Today I'm thinking I am going to take my own advice and write for pleasure instead of profit.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Art that doesn't make me cry

I was taking my daily walk today and thinking about a comment that Mr. Write made on my blog yesterday. He said that people want art that either takes them down into depression or lifts them up to soaring heights. I call this emotive art.

When I was a few years younger, I used to listen to very emotive music - Jeff Buckley, Tori Amos, Elliot Smith - or what my husband calls "sad bastard music."

 I was talking with someone the other day who also listens to music like this and wondering where my penchant for emotive music had gone. Now, I prefer more mellow sounds.

Is this a function of getting older or years of therapy?

 I can't say, but it seems that most art critics have a prejudice toward sad pieces. I hope to combat this with my writing. I still want my pieces to be emotive, but I'd rather evoke happy emotions. Do you think art has to be sad to be good?

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Couple of Hints for "Juicy" Writing

I wrote last week that I was having a bit of writer's block with this blog. I got a lot of good ideas on how to overcome this, from surrounding myself with interesting people, to taking a walk outside. My friend today finally convinced me to write, as I extolled the virtues of the orange pineapple juice I was drinking after my walk. She said, "Write about how to juice up your writing."

I imagine there are those out there better qualified than I to tackle this subject, but, as this is a blog on writing, I'll give it a shot. I think the best way to make your writing more interesting is to bombard the reader with sensory information.

Even our emotions are nothing so much as feelings in our bodies - a tightness in the chest, a turning stomach, a sense of expansion in our head.

If something as personal as feelings is ties to our senses, how much could our writing benefit from some "juicy" sensory information?

Instead of writing that the orange pineapple juice was glorious (which it was!), I could tell you that it slid down like velvet on my tongue. Perhaps not the most original sensory explanation, but you get the picture. Likewise, taking a walk outside is sensory overload. I feel the beads of sweat on my upper lip as the close Colorado sun heats me up in my black t-shirt. I hear the ducks quack as they waddle to their mothers. I look at the lake and see, to quote Jerry Garcia, "a ripple where there is no wind or pebble tossed." How do you spice up your writing?

Monday, September 12, 2011

I've Got Writers Block, so It's Your Turn!

Well, it's the start to another week, and this week I resolve to post more. I've been going through a bit of a creative block, where I can't think of anything to write.

One book I've read suggests that writer's should make lists of things they want to write about when they feel inspired to help them through the times when they don't feel they have much to write about.

I've got a better idea. I'm going to turn it over to you guys. What would you like to discuss in the coming weeks?

We have this big forum here on the Internet and the sky's the limit. What writing issues are you having? What inspires you? What helps make the day more productive and fun? Let me know what you are thinking.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Variety Is the Spice of Life

Over the past few days, I have not been posting. I have been busy writing for work and working another job that does not involve writing. Actually, I think the new job is going to be beneficial to my writing because I'll have more sources of inspiration, instead of always pouring the writing out of me.

 That is not to say that practicing isn't important, but I think it's important to try to balance your resources and vary your schedule, hobbies, etc. There are so many things to do in this world. I reccomend trying to do as many things that give you pleasure as possible, and this will be reflected in your writing. Of course, work isn't always a source of pleasure, but it is an example of exposing yourself to different influences, which can be a source of pleasure.

Enjoy variety in life, even if it's just getting a different kind of coffee at Starbuck's. Try it yourself and see how it's reflected in your writing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Perfecting the Art of Procrastination

I have been putting off doing my writing work for about 3 days now. My deadline isn't until next week, so I have plenty of time, but I wanted to get a jump on things because I'm going to be busy next week.

What is it about writing that makes it so hard to get started? As far as my journal goes, I look forward to writing in it everyday, but writing for work is another story.

 I hate to lump writing in with other kinds of work because there is a joy to creating something from your own head. It's like yoga - I feel great after I do it, but I'm forever dragging my feet to get to class.

Maybe I should use some tricks to talk myself into getting started, like a reward for writing. I'm thinking that if I write the first three lines, I get a 7up. What do you think? Do you have strategies that help you tackle big projects like writing (or painting the house, etc)?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Synethesia - Not Just a Disorder Anymore

I am currently reading a biography of Georgia O'Keeffe and finding it interesting, though rather dense. In the book, the author discusses how O'Keeffe, when she was learning to paint (perhaps later - I haven't gotten that far yet), would listen to music and paint the music.
This is called synesthesia. Synesthesia is actually a disorder that has far-reaching consequences, but we can incorporate a little of this into our own life.
I was imagining an exercise where we listen to music and try to write down what we hear. This would not be about lyrics but sounds. I often use music as a background when I'm writing my blogs, but I rarely make it the main focus.
As we have discussed before, exposure to any kind of art is important to stimulating creativity. This would be just another way to incorporate this into our lives. Personally, I think anyway to have a more musical life, is a good way.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Gratitude Journal Is Just a Click Away!

I have a tip for you today that will help you keep a gratitude journal. Yesterday, we talked about writing something positive, instead of a lot of negativity. Well, today I found this website (through another blog) that emails you every evening to write down 3-5 things you are thankful for. The site keeps these in a private journal that you can read anytime. It also randomly sends you some of your old entries, so you can be reminded of good things that happened to you in the past. Best of all, it's FREE! The site is http://www.happyrambles.com/ . You can get started today!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Writing Down Your Happiness

I was wondering what I was going to write today. The writing is going smoothly, work is coming in, and the rest of my life seems to be taking care of itself. Now what?
This is a feeling familiar to most of us who write, that the most intense, creativity-enhancing emotions, are the negative ones - anger, sadness, jealousy, etc. (we writers are a dour bunch). What are we writing about if we are content? The answer I have is: I am not the person to ask.
But there is joyful productivity in happiness, as well. There are parades to watch, and lazy movie days reclining on the couch, and the sheer exuberance of watching the dog play in a lake. Our lives are lived, not from trouble to catastrophy, but breath by breath. Today I encourage you to find one joyful thing and write about it. Give the negativity a rest for a while.

Friday, August 26, 2011

How to Make Writing More Important in Your Life

Annie Dillard says, " How you spend your days is how you spend your life." I one hundred percent agree with that statement. But. But I feel like the amount of time I spend doing things that don't contribute to a good feeling is huge. We all have to work, but what about the time outside of work? How much time do we spend watching t.v.?
Today, I sat down to write two different times. The first time, I ended up watching the Today show and wrote only two sentences. The next time I decided it was of the utmost importance that I spend hours on the phone with my insurance company. Neither activity contributed to my happiness or sense of fulfillment.
 So, I want to make new habits. I want to make time for writing everyday because it does make me feel good. This is something you can incorporate into your life. 15 minutes a day for something that enrichs you. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is Fiction an Act of Kindness?

I know, I know. I have been lax in posting;) I am back in the game and will have a post for you today and tomorrow.
I have been trying to write some fiction lately and having a very tough time. I write in my journal almost everyday and get a joy from it like no other. Fiction, on the other hand, is like trying to get the last bit of food caked on a plate. Difficult.
 I can't seem to write without injecting myself into the story. Usually my journal entries are just the daily update of my feelings, and it's easy enough for my to think about what I'm feeling. After all, I'm with me all day and night.
However, fiction is about thinking about what your characters are feeling.
 Hmm. . . maybe writing fiction is an act of kindness, a way to think of someone else before yourself. Maybe it is a way to step outside yourself and look at the world with fresh eyes.
Perhaps with time and practice, this will get easier, both in fiction and in general. I'm not saying I'm going to write the great American novel, but we could all use a little less egocentrism. With that in mind, let's get started.

Monday, August 22, 2011

quick note

I just found out it's Ray Bradbury's 91rst birthday - Happy Birthday, Ray!

Patience and the War of Art

I have mentioned before in this blog a few books on writing that I like and have one more to add to the list. I recently heard about The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield (author of The Legend of Bagger Vance). This is a book on stoking your inner creativity, like The Artist's Way, but much more enteraining.
One idea he stresses is having patience. Patience is something I am working on right now. Building a writing career takes time, as becoming a better writer takes time (and practice). As a writer, I have to work at both.
My career has been moving forward in fits and starts; it takes patience to not give it up for something easier to achieve. Then I am reminded that businesses take time to build and am again using Pressfield's much vaunted patience.
There are so many things that take patience and we live in a get-it-fast culture. I increase my patience by reading books like The War of Art and writing about my thoughts in my journal. Meditation also helps me learn to wait more patiently. What do you do?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Learning to market yourself as a writer

If you are going to write full time, there are some steps you need to take care of. If you're a book writer, you've got to find an agent. I, as more of a business communications person, have different issues altogether.

When it's a hobby, writing is a craft; when it's your livelihood, writing is a business.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that writing professionally takes the art out of your writing. I am suggesting that perhaps as a professional writer, I need to spend more time think about marketing myself.

I went to a seminar last night on web writing and was amazed at how the writers there used the Internet to promote themselves. I kept thinking, "I wanna do that!"

The following are a few things I learned that you can do to promote yourself as a writer:
  • Get on social media - I have a blog but have been igmoring other forms of communication.
  • Have a website
  • Check out blogs by other writers

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Follow your heart

Today I had a job interview for a sales job and was struck by how much I wanted to be writing for a living, instead. Now, obviously, work won't always be exactly what we wish it could be, but I still think we can try to find ways to incorporate our passions into our lives. Maybe I won't always be able to afford to write for a living, but I can always write. All it requires is a pen and a notebook  (or computer). If you have a more expensive passion, this might take a little more planning (like plannning a ski trip if you live in Florida). The effort is well worth it. Even if I wind up as a full-time salesperson, I will still keep my dreams alive by writing as much as I can. I recommend you do the same.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Relaxing

Today's blog is inspired by my dog, Pigg. Pigg is a bull mastif/pit bull mix and is the sweetest of all dogs. Today, we went to the dog park, and he had a little trouble making friends. Pigg likes to jump and rough house when he plays with other dogs and not all of them like this. After several unsuccessful attempts, Pigg finally realized that if he relaxed and waited to see how the dog wanted to play, he made more friends.
The same concept applies to writing. The more uptight, and aggressively you stalk ideas, the more they will flit away. The trick is to remain calm and relaxed. if you can. Then, you can tune into the small voice of your inspiration and hear the universal stories that reside within each of us. So, take it easy and let the stories come to you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

informal writing

Normally, I have a plan for what I am going to write on this blog. That is not the case today, as I decided to sit down and just write. I recommend doing this (writing freely) as often as possible if you want to become a better writer. The subconcious has ideas that connect with our true emotions and feelings, and there is no way to reach this tremendous power without giving yourself space to create. So, I endorse sitting down without a plan and just seeing what comes up for you.
This writing lesson can also be applied to a larger context. You can use it in your life. So often, we jam our lives with plans and schedules and expectations. Sometimes, it is beneficial to give ourselves some space and see where life takes us. For example, today I went to the new library to get a library card and left with a biography of Georgia O'Keefe and some cookbooks on Caribean food. I haven't even thought about Caribean food in weeks, but, somehow, it came up. All because I didn't force myself into a plan.
Try to make your life a little freer. Both your writing and your emotions will reflect the positive change.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Red Wheelbarrow

For today's posting, I thought I'd share a poem that always inspires me. I could try to interpret it for you (after many years as a literature student, I definitely have ideas), but, perhaps, it's better to let it stand on its own. Let me know what you think.
The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams
so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

Friday, August 12, 2011

Determination

I've been very busy lately, under a deadline for Monday. All the while, I am looking for a full-time job and trying to get as many applications out there as possible. I saw a career counselor a few days ago, and she said to expect 1 interview for every 10 resumes you put out there. If you are not getting such a response, you need to revise your resume.
It would be easy to feel stressed about the lack of a full-time job, the work that is flooding in, our lack of money, but, as my friend says, "I feel pretty Zen about the situation." Me too, Alissa! The important thing is to stay focused on small steps - one blog at a time, one small job at a time, slowly building my resume. I'm reminder of the old adage, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!"
This is determination, and it is very important in the life of a writer. For one thing, getting out large assignments can be a daunting task. Also, getting out there and looking for assignments can be a daunting task. It's good advise for writing and life - just eat one bite at a time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making a list

One good idea for writing found in Writing Done The Bones is the idea of making a list. Why would a writer need a list beyone going to the grocery store, you ask? It is pretty simple. Sometimes sitting down to write can be intimidating because you can't think of anything to write about. If you write down writing topics as you think of them, all you have to do is consult your list anytime you are drawing a blank on topics. You might start off writing on one topic and end up going in a totally different direction. That's fine - when inspiration strikes, go with it. The main purpose of the list is to get you started and keep you from having an excuse not to write, which any writer will tell you is a task that needs to be done. It's just another way to get some writing practice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

job searching

I am still looking for a full-time writing job and thought I could use today's post to discuss techniques. I've found Craigslist to be very helpful for writing jobs. (In Fort Collins, there are usually 3-4 jobs a week, which is decent for writing jobs). This is where I found my part-time job writing blogs and other content. I also consulted with a career counselor.Although she was too expensive to use for my purposes, I think a career counselor who really knows her job could be a great tool in the unemployed writer's workshop. Also, I think it's important, when writing for work and looking for writing work, to give yourself the time and space to create pieces just for fun. This is more than something you do to make a living. It's a craft that gets better with practice.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

response to the last post

Skye commented on my last post and said that she wanted me to explain Jack Kerouac's admonition to "accept loss forever" as an essential for writing good prose. I am sure I cannot speak for Kerouac, but I can speak for myself. I think accepting loss forever has a couple of meaning, each essential to clearing the mind in order to write universal truths. First, I think we could think about accepting that some losses are permanent. That ex of yours is long gone. Your grandmother who passes away is not coming back. This frees us from longing for the past, so we can see clearly in the present. And, as we have talked about before, the present is the only place to create heart-felt writing. Also, this quote reminds me that I need to accept that loss is a permanent part of this world. Everything is transitory. That's what gives writing it's power. It is a record of moments that have passed, until  the paper or microchip on which it is written dissolves back to earth. I don't know what Kerouac would make of this, but that's where I am.

Friday, August 5, 2011

essentials for prose

I recently read Jack Kerouac's essentials for prose. I thought I'd share some of them with you. Accept loss forever
Be submissive in everything, open, listening
No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language , and knowledge
Be in love with your life
I think we could all stand to fall in love with our life so take this smidgeon of advise for today.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

writing down the bones

So I am currently reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Apparently, the text is used by high school teachers in english classes, but I've gotten alot out of it. I was most impressed by her ideas on first thoughts. Most of us, when we write, try to edit and revise as much as we can. Goldberg discourages this idea. She thinks it's best to go with first thoughts and not to suppress any instinctual motivations. Sometimes, the first draft is the best. We have touched on this topic before, by discussing the flow of writing, but now I think it's more appropriate than ever. This is because I am working in communications now, and it's definitely possible to lose sight of the joy of writing. The joy of writing is being present and enjoying every moment, not demoralizing yourself with how many revision you have to make. Revisions are important when the time comes, but, in the meantime, enjoy yourself!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Resilience

My apologies for not writing sooner, but we moved on Sunday and the radiator in my car broke on Monday. Needless to say, it's been a busy week.
So, I had planned to write a blog on shaking the dust off your feet when it comes to getting writing criticism and writing jobs. I had gone a long time without a writing job and was starting to feel like I needed some help staying committed to the cause. However, the day after I had those thoughts, I got a part-time job offer writing content for a company that creates websites. Then, I got an interview for a full-time technical writing job. I just can't believe the abundance. I gues the moral of this long-winded story is to "never stop believing - the best is yet to come." This is a quote from a family friend and psychotherapist out of Germantown, Tennessee named Don Doyle. He has actually written a book on the topic that helped me through some of my darker writing days. Therefore, keep writing; you never know what's around the corner!

Friday, July 29, 2011

perfectionism

By now you have probably guessed that I love Anne Lamott. Actually, I've never read any of her fiction, but I have reread her non-fiction works multiple times. In Bird by Bird (her book about writing), she writes, "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor." Think about that for a second. Sure, we strive to make our writing (and our lives, for that matter) better, but when is enough enough. We can revise as many times as we want to, but our writing could always improve. I'd be willing to bet even Shakespeare could have thought of a few things he'd like to change. We can stop perfectionism in its tracks, however, with our own minds. We don't have to live up to anyone's expectations, even our own, if they are unrealistic. I have chosen not to write alot of things simply because I was afraid it wouldn't be good enough. That definitely is the voice of the oppressor. Now, I have decided to fight back and just write. Does anyone have ideas on how to fight back from the monster of perfectionism.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

how to comment - part 2

Yesterday's post about how to make a comment inspired me to write a paragraph or two about writing for the internet. Since I've started blogging, I've discovered that the Internet has its own style code.
1. First of all, you've got to keep it short and uncomplicated. As a former academic, this one is hard for me. I tend to write long, convoluted sentences with lots of asides and prepositional phrases. This may have worked when I was writing about how Hawthorne uses the Other in The Marble Faun, but it's kinda hard to read online. So, keep it pithy.
2. Also, its important to have a clear idea what you are writing about. Meandering and ambling along results from not having a clear point, and none of us has the patience to wade through that.
3. Finally, it's a good idea to revise.It's easy to get swept away when writing (and, in fact, I recommend it). However, sharing your most intimate secrets with the entire world is just a click away, so take the time to review your writing. This not only makes your writing better, it ensures you have time to think about if you want to share what yo've written with everyone.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

how to comment

I have had a request to write how to make a comment on this site. Apparently, some of you have had a problem making comments. First, you need to set up a Google account if you don't already have one. It's free and really easy to set up.You'll use the name of the Google account after you have typed in your comments. So, type up what you want to say to world and hit the comment button. Then enter your Google account info. Finally, you'll have to type in those nonsense letters that ensure you are a real person (If anyone knows what these are called, write me a comment.). After that, you should be set. Post me a comment and let me know if it works.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

beauty

I apologize for not writing yesterday - we are getting ready to move and our house is a mess of boxes and all my free time has been spent packing. Yesterday, we spent seven hours painting our new place lemon yellow and bright blue. It was an expensive endeavor, with all the paint and drop cloths and little rollers, and certainly it was a major time suck. I believe it was worth it, though, because we diminish ourselves when we try to live without beauty. Though most of us don't agree on what is beautiful, one thing we can agree on is that it can take a mediocre day fabulous and turn a bad day around. Beauty brings us into the present and being in the present is crucial for writing effectively. After all, how else can you remember enough detail to conjure up a picture in your reader's mind. So, buy some throw pillows. Spend a little extra on that orchid you keep seeing in the shop window. Beauty is worth it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

In dreams

I am a big believer that a great way to tap into unconscious desires and thoughts is by paying attention to dreams. Last night, I wrote a song in my dream. Does that mean I want to be a song writer? Maybe, maybe not, but it brings up an idea that I want to share. I thought the song was good in my dream (who knows what it would sound like in the waking hours). Problem was that I only remembered the song for a couple of minutes after I woke up. That's why I'm going to start keeping a notebook and pen beside the bed. Dreams often bring ideas for stories and solutions to problems that are illusive in the waking hours because we bypass the rational mind. A notebook would be a great place to jot these ideas down in the first waking moments so they aren't forgotten. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

short assignments

Another writing tip from Anne Lamott's book Bird by Bird. is to give yourself short writing assignments. For example, it's pretty intimidating to sit down and say, "I'm going to write a book." However, it's fairly easy to decide you are going to write a page, a paragraph, or three words. Just get yourself started and the words will come. Usually.
Actually, this strategy works pretty well in every day life, as well. We are moving to a new apartment in a couple of weeks, and we have to pack up. I've been dreading packing all our rooms, but yesterday I decided to start with a book case. That's how I'm going to pack - one small project at a time. You can take Lamott's advice into your own life even if you don't write regularly. Just take it one small step at a time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

know your audience

The other day, I posted a link to this blog on my Facebook page. This may sound like no big deal, but it was a big step for me. Alot of my friends on Facebook are casual acquaintances or people I haven't since since high school. Because of this, I wanted to impress my new audience. This is very hard to do if you are trying to write authentically at the same time. I've been going back and forth on whether or not to write things that would interest my first audience (mostly family and close friends) or to write with my Facebook friends in mind. I've found similar problems mentioned on other blogs (http://writingloud.blogspot.com), so I know I'm not alone. I think I am going to try to simply write from the heart.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

recommendation day

One thing I wanted to do with this blog is to recommend different forms of creative work that stimulate my writing and, hopefully, will spark yours, too. I thought about starting with some specific bands and singers that really speak to my heart. However, today it might be more useful to talk about how I find new music. Personally, I mostly listen to rock and have found that pitchforkmedia.com  has excellent reviews of up-and-coming and little-known bands. In particular, their best of the year list in December weeds out some of the flash-in-the-pan bands in favor of more solid albums.
For listening, I've found that World Cafe on http://www.npr.org/ has fabulous music. I recently heard a new band called the Head and the Heart, and I am eager to check them out on iTunes. World Cafe runs from 7pm to 9 pm, Monday through Friday here in Boulder. Check the NPR site if you want to see when it comes on in your area.

Monday, July 18, 2011

more tips on meditating

As I said last week, I went to a meditation retreat this past weekend. It was my first retreat, and I went with some trepidation. After many hours of sitting and walking meditation, however,I felt a great sense of clarity. I was feeling fairly stressed, and this retreat was like hitting the reset button. Hopefully, this will be reflected in my writing. 
I learned some new techniques that I thought I would share with you. One I found particularly helpful for my writing has an acronym called RAIN. This is a technique to deal with feelings that get in the way of clear writing. R stands for recognize. First, it is important to recognize what feelings you are having. Next, A is for accept. Instead of trying to fight uncomfortable feelings, accept them. I is for inside, which is figuring out where in your body you feel the feeling. For example, you might feel a pulsing in your hands when you're sad or a knot in the stomache when you're angry. Stay with that sensation. N stands for non-identify. Basically, this means staying with the sensation until it dissolves.
Hopefully, RAIN will brighten your day and clarify your writing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Opening the cracks

I've been thinking about alot of things lately. We are moving to a town an hour away from where we are now in two weeks. Maybe it's not a huge change, but it's a change anyways. This would be a great time to change my writing.
There's a Leonard Cohen song that goes " There's cracks in everything; that's how the light gets in." When changes occur, I generally can see a few of my own cracks. Everything gets shifted, and who I am, imperfections and all, becomes strikingly clear. Instead of trying to cover up the cracks, I'm going to use this time of change to try to embrace the light. I hope to pass on this new attitude in more positive writings. I hope to pass it on to you, too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

meditating on good writing

I have signed up for a meditation retreat this weekend. I am a little nervous because it is an all day affair, and I have never meditated this many consecutive hours in my life. For those of you who have not tried meditation, I highly recommend it. It is, however, difficult for some like me, who is always thinking and planning (and like some people out there, I suspect), to settle down and try to focus on the breath. If you are having a bad day or are stuck on a writing assignment or are even just curious, meditation can hold the key. I know some people will avoid it because it sounds too New-Agey, but actually, meditation has been practiced by thousands of years by thousands of people. Just find yourself a chair or cushion (you don't have to invest in anything fancy). Sit in erect posture, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Don't worry if it is hard. Alot of people find it difficult. Just proceed without judging yourself and refocus on the breath every time you catch yourself wandering. I'll bet if you start to practice every day, you'll see positive changes in your mood, stress level, and, yes, your writing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

one more thing about the artist's way

I know I'm beating it to death, but I have one more writing tip from The Artist's Way. The book itself is rather cumbersome to read, but it is full of great ideas. I especially liked Cameron's technique called morning pages. I don't practice this everyday but whenever I do, I can tell the difference. The idea is to write 3 pages every morning (or afternoon or evening). It doesn't matter what you write. It can be writing like a journal or an actual story or 3 pages of "I don't know what to write." I usually write 3 pages of "woo-is-me, I'll never write anything good again." According to Cameron, this is common. Writing 3 pages a day is great practice and a great warm-up for whatever you are going to write that day. It's just another way to get your creativity rolling.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Getting unstuck, or my writing quirk

I am a little quirky when it comes to writing. Pens and paper are essential. The keyboard is just an accessesory. I know alot of people, maybe even most people, write on computer now, but I think better on paper. Try it!
This idea came from my mom's best friend, a former english teacher. I was sitting at the computer, maybe thirteen-years-old, and completely blocked on a school essay. The paper on Cinderella (don't ask me why we were writing on a kid's story) was due the next day. I had nothing. Compulsive student that I was, I was in a panic. My mom's friend gently prodded me to close the laptop and get out some notebook paper. Lo and behold! The sentences I wrote were like candy, each more delectable than the last. The whole paper flowed that way. So, I became a convert. Now I can't write without my spiral and a quality pen.
Do you have a writing quirk or little ritual that helps?

Friday, July 8, 2011

more comments on the Artist's Way

Yesterday, I wrote about a trick in the book The Artist's Way called an artist's date. It's a time to enrich your creativity by being around something that inspires you. As I was talking my daily walk, I passed by a couple of 12-year-old boys playing tennis. As I watched them, I realized that sports are a great way to connect to creativity. Every movement is inspired from some place beyond the rational mind. Although we usually see sports as separate from art (think of how high school kids divide up into groups), sports can help us get in touch with our inner artist. The rhythm of movement, creating the next move, the joy of play - all are an art of their own. So, think about taking your next artist's date  - at the gym!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Reading the Artist's Way

I've been rereading Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and gleaning it for information to share with you about writing. For those of you who haven't read it, it's a book about how to find your inner artist. One of the most helpful things she suggests is artist's dates. Basically, it's a time you set aside for yourself where you go involve yourself in a creative activity. In Cameron's mind, you can use up creativity, and you need to refill it by participating in something that sparks your inner artist. This could be going to a movie, or a play, or a museum. It could even be a concert (if you saw my post yesterday, you'll understand why I'm excited about this one). It's anything that speaks to you. So, get out there and fill up your vessel of creativity!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

getting energized

I havn't been writing much lately (with the 4th of July holiday things have been busy). However, that doesn't mean it hasn't been a furtile time. I've been hanging out with friends listening to music, and I find that listening to music is a great way to inspire myself to write. Not only do the lyrics stimulate my poetic side, the rhythm of the music awakens something deep inside me that is creative. Creativity in one area easily spills over into another zone, like music turning into writing.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Moving by standing still

I recently came across the following passage:
In the pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Way,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.
I think this passage by Lao-tzu could have a profound impact on writers and those who want to improve their writing. Writing is not about forcing things. Writing works best when it has flow. I try to achieve this by writing stream-of-consciousness style. When I write without stopping to think, my writing is not only more lyric, it is more passionate and easier to understand as well. There will always be plenty of time later to edit. There is definitely a place for revisions. However, when writing the first draft, write quickly, and write from the heart.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Inertia

I apologize for not posting yesterday. I don't have a good excuse - life got in the way. Life getting in the way is a problem I have been running into alot lately. By the time I get up and get my daily walk in, it feels like there's no time left to write. I fill my days, and I don't even know what I do. I feel stressed, as if there's not enough time to finish what I want to accomplish. How do the women who have full-time jobs and children do it? Does anyone have some time management tips?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to prepare for an interview

Good news today. I am scheduled for an interview for Friday. Now the trick is to get ready. I know to read up on the company before I go in there. (I found that out the hard way- I went to an interview and was asked if I'd looked at the company's website, and I had to say no. Yikes!) Also, I now have a blazer I wear to job interviews. Several years ago I went to a job interview on a hot summer day in a sleeveless dress and was told I looked "unprofessional." In addition to my on-the-spot training, I also will use a few ideas I have learned through books or word of mouth. I am going to make a copy of my resume with my new married name on it, and I have a portfolio of all the things I've written that I am going to bring. I will even update it with some of the articles I've been writing recently. Finally, I'm going to figure out where it is the building is the day before so I don't get lost Friday morning. Can anyone think of other good tips on how to prepare for a writing job interview?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Starting over again - again?

After a nice break for the weekend, I settled down to write articles like a dutiful writer. One small problem, though. The list of articles they have given me to write on is so esoteric that I don't see how anyone could write on them. Just so you know, the method of separating rye grain is not available to researchers online. If you want to be the first to write on that topic, be my guest. For my part, I don't know anything about gardening, much less farming, and I am pretty sure this is not my day to start. This creates a problem of what to write for this company.I hope I can figure it out, as I don't want to start over right as I'm starting out.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Looking for a writing job - Part 2

I've been online most of the morning looking for writing jobs. My husband suggested I look under marketing as well. This was a great idea. There are many marketing jobs, and I think I'm qualified to write business communications as much as any one. I think one of the keys to finding a writing job (besides persistance) is the ability to look for jobs in unexpected places, like the marketing section.
Persistance is going to be the real key to getting a job, however. There are so many times every day when I ask myself if I'm crazy to pursue this path. Maybe I should go back to school. It's important to stay committed or I'll never succeed. Maybe I need to change my definition of success. After all, isn't doing what you love a form of success itself.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Looking for a writing job - Part 1

I have this part-time job writing how-to articles, but I'm still looking for another part-time job or a full-time job. Would it surprise anyone to say it's a tough market? I've had some limited success finding freelance jobs on Craigslist and seem to find the most viable options on there.I reccomend Craigslist to anyone looking for writing jobs but don't have much advice on how to keep spirits up while looking for a job. Mainly, I've been trying to count interest in my work (an email, an interview) as a sign that something good is just around the corner. I'm focused not so much on outcome, as saturating the market. Also, I try to give myself breaks from looking for a day or two a week. No one can go on and on like a robot without a break. Does anyone else have some advise on how to find a job or how to stay sane while doing it?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writing through the laziness

Today I've run into a major writing problem - lack of motivation. Usually, when I need to recharge, I take a walk by Boulder Creek. Exercise lifts my mood and is good for my health. On top of that, walking is a great time to edit what I've written and sort out what I am going to write next. I definitely recommend some form of exercise if you are going to write. It keeps me sane. Besides, it gives me an excuse to get out from behind the computer.
I'm going to try walking to, hopefully, get in the frame of mind where I can write. If I had it my way, I would spend the day in bed. A day off would be delicious. Maybe I'll go back to bed for an hour and then give the writing thing another try. Without a boss or deadlines, I could conceivably spend every day in bed. I need the money, though, so I guess I will write through the laziness.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Breakthrough

I was kind of down on myself yesterday. It's hard to not get the blues when you don't see another human being all day. Today was a whole different story, however. I took Pigg to the dog park this morning and got an early jump on the day. My editor had some revisions for me to incorporate into my article. I made the changes and - voila - I am now a professional writer. I've had articles published before, but this is the first time anyone has ever paid me money to write. My goal is to write four articles a day in order to make enough money to pay rent. I'm going to have to give up my chai tea habit, but it's worth it to work in shorts and a sports bra and take an hour break in the afternoon for a siesta. I look forward to the day when money is not a problem, but, until then, I will savor the small triumphs - like this one!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jumping in

So, I took the weekend to get things together around the house (we had been in the Dominican on our honeymoon), and now I am ready to start my first official day as a professional writer. In Anne Lamott's book Bird by Bird, she recommends letting yourself write shitty first drafts. Man, have I got that one covered! I used to think I was a fairly decent writer, but this project has totally changed my mind. Does every writer feel this way, or is it just me? My junior high self, which resides in my otherwise grown-up mind, is telling me I should cut my losses and maybe see if I can get a job as a bank teller. But I have my books to encourage me, and at least one writer I enjoy has given me permission to write the worst first drafts I can possibly think of. 
I write my first drafts on computer, sometimes, and on paper, more often. I feel like it's easier to think on paper. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I type with two fingers (guess that job as an administrative assistant is out). There's something about the flow of my hand on paper that matches the movement of my thoughts and seems to make it easier to think. Also, when I'm writing my shitty first drafts, I tend to write from the title, straight down in a linear style. No thesis sentence first. That will come when I get to it in the essay. I sometimes go back and rearrange the order of my sentences, but it's rare. Usually, I don't spend nearly enough time in this editing stage. It's something that I want to work on - right after I post this paragraph.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day One - Deep breath!

So, this is my first post, and I'm majorly intimidated. I'm starting a job writing articles for an online company on Monday. I'm exercising, reading, and writing in my journal to get ready. I've read a few books on writing, and they all stress the importance of practicing everyday. So far, I have not excelled in this area. I tend to only write when I have a deadline. Any ideas on how to get motivated?