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


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

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Friday, August 12, 2011


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


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!