Category Archives: energy
So, a month has passed since I started my project: “Leaves and Steel” (working title). I set aside that month to work up an outline and do some background research. I promptly underestimated the work needed, while still managing to slide under the wire with a rough outline.
During that time, I carefully took a good hard look at my schedule, and did a lot of inner work. Would it have been nice to have layered more detail into my outline? Sure. Did I waste the time? No. Because what I was working harder on was setting my page goal.
Everyone should have these goals in place. Here is me without a goal: “Oh, I really want to look into clothing for the setting. I need the proper names of things. And I also want to daydream about great scenes that will be in the book, so that I have something to look forward to. Where is that book on politics? There was this article that I read.. was it Utne reader, or Community magazine…. ” Three months later: “Oh, the novel, yeah, it’s going to be great! I should be starting soon.” Don’t do this.
Look at the difference a simple goal makes – I don’t have a great outline. I don’t have the sort of outline that you show to others and they lean over and bask in it’s perfection. It’s more of a guideline, really. Yet I moved on and am writing the novel.
It’s a testament to the power of goal setting when you start your novel and when it is time to use one of the primary character’s names you type this: <lastname>. Yeah, freakish, isn’t it? Scary. Still, I wrote my first damn page on time. (don’t fret, I named him the next day, he’ll be alright)
So what goal did I set for completing my first draft by July 2018? Five pages a week.
I hear you: “Just Five?!?” with mouths aghast and eyelids wide.
Yes. Just five. Because I know I can do that. I know I can slip and recover from that. Because I know, that over the course of a year, there are going to be weeks that I produce more that five – but never less; and that is the point.
I am thinking of the space around the words also. Space to stay fit, to eat healthy, to communicate this journey to those who stop by the fire. Most of all I am thinking that this time I will not set myself up for failure, because that is what you do when you insist that you write as if you are a published professional right out of the gate.
So set goals. Do inner work. Look at where you are with compassion and set your schedule accordingly. Much <3 to you.
So let’s take a look here. Most of the focus rests on self-sabotage; but what if there are other things in motion?
That special person in your life that says one thing, but their actions say another. That’s painful. What are you going to do about that? The solutions are never simple, especially when there is a lack of awareness on the side of the other party.
So you have a choice: your project, or them.
This is a great test of focus. Not a fun test, but certainly challenging. Would you settle for someone who would deny the expression of who you are? You might be tempted, especially if you came to you path late, and now you are many miles down the road on the other’s path.
There is a tendency to allow an external act of unconscious sabotage push you into doubt, and from doubt into self-sabotage. The litany of: “Well, I am the one who’s changed”, “I probably wouldn’t succeed.”, “It’s okay, next year, when things are better.”, and the dreaded – “I guess I’m not really ready yet.”, followed closely by – “I have too much invested in the status quo.”
My experience is that it shows you need to do more inner work. You need to see the fork in the road ahead, and figure out how to embrace it. You need to stand, not run. You are not ready.
I’ve been there. I’m currently there right now. I can tell you that my reaction this time is so different, that I feel rather like an idiot for not having seen it before. My reaction now: “Fine. Now how do I work this horrible situation so I can stabilize quickly and stay on track with my project.”
It’s okay. If you are where I was years ago, making excuses and turning the lack of support inward and placing it on you, remember that you are walking your path. Sometimes we take the long road, and all that means is that we are stronger for it. Life isn’t a race, it’s an experience.
Chin up, chest out – greet the day and express yourself!
I feel that, on the third week of my journey to write a novel, I should share how much caring for my physical self augments my ability to stay on task. We know that our bodies were designed to move frequently, that movement keeps us well, and yet I am a writer. So movement is very important. This year is like an extended marathon for me, and when viewed as such, that means I need to get in shape, and stay in shape.
I’m currently a shape…
Fortunately for me, I do enjoy physical activity; so at least I do not have a resistance to the idea of movement. I also enjoy the outdoors – however it’s frequently in the 90’s here, and it’s fire season – so indoors I go. Yes, I joined a gym. They are a lot less costly than they used to be and they seem to have finally gotten the message and stopped with the contracts. It’s a modest gym, but it has solid equipment that I like, and classes that I’m not ready to take. This is where I will work on my strength and endurance.
Right now I’m entering that stage where I think I’m better than I am, and as a result am always trying to determine if I’m having a heart attack or if, just perhaps, I wasn’t ready to go up in resistance and add that five minutes to my faux rowing session. Still, in just three weeks, sitting is more comfortable, and my hunger is declining while my lust for greens is increasing. But it can’t be all cardio and weights, so this week I’m adding a yoga session. Less twinging in my future.
This is part of being a writer. The mind is connected to the body. Gone is the longing for, or at least it should be, of the mind as an island. The two should work in harness, and a solid physical regimen should accompany work. Perhaps you do not need it to produce; but I would urge you to try the coupling of it, as I think then you might find yourself producing more with less effort.
I do want you to know, when beginning to dig myself out of the mindset that I “just couldn’t create because <insert unfavorable portent excuse here>”, I was in no shape to join a gym. Walking was an effort, and I could not go far. Speaking of chest twinges, going up a mild grade would have me convinced I’d be going down it in an ambulance. So I started small, and there were set-backs. Months that I stopped, then resumed. Perhaps this is you, too. I encourage you to throw it away. It happened. You did not become a chiseled marathoner entering your first decathlon. Neither did I. The difference is that you just keep picking it back up again. And again. Once more into the breech.
So perhaps you feel foolish, starting back where you started long ago, or even further behind than the last time. Screw that noise. Let it go. Walk a block. Then do it again tomorrow. Start parking away from the doors. Through little motions, that we come back to again and again, novels are made.
It’s funny to watch movies through my eyes now. With more experiences comes a sort of “seeing through things”. Things I never thought to question. This leads me to think of what others will “see through” in my writing.
Some of them are obvious: “how are they affording dinner?”
You know how it goes, you are so wrapped up in the tale, regardless of the medium being used, and you don’t think of things like – bathrooms, utility bills, time needed for cleaning, laundry supplies, and of course – food. Homes are just immaculate, it’s just the way they are. Belongings are on point, there’s no excess unless the story calls for an attic or a basement. Food? Food is always on time and it is either a comedy relief device or delightful. (apologies in advance to the legion of published media that covers this – I’m not referring to those tales just now)
Yet… when does the level of detail get in the way? Does the reader/viewer come to be transported, or come to feel validated? How do you know, and should you care? It is not like you will ever stand over each of your stories, greeting some, warning off others.
I’ve read a number of books upon the craft of writing, and there is an aspect to them all that makes me feel tragically lacking. The same way I felt in college level drama. When I write (for remember, my issue is coming to the page, as Ms. Sellers would have it said) I just… well… write. It just moves forward. I honestly have found that the only struggle for me is when I’m trying to incorporate another person’s actions/words. In that, I found my work in Deep Forest very fruitful.
Which moves me to where I envy those who have writing partners. So far, I have had a writing muse, and a writing coach – in the sense that he gave me the support to come to the page, and was always cheering in my corner. I miss them both, but time passes on, and, like death, ultimately writing is done alone.
It’s been an exciting week. Things have been launched, other things are in the final stages of preparation. I feel as if I’m in the last stages of training before the big run.
I also realize that I need to catch any visitors up. I am not adverse to being dumped into the middle of a tale, but I realize some are, so I will try and focus the next posts on setting the stage. So we can all begin at the beginning.
Now I must dive deeper. I’m a reader. I’m also lucky enough to be able to learn from books. So, whenever I’m attempting something, I go find a book. Yes, even rollerblading. I bought a book. Two.
So when I say that I ignored my a calling to write, I do not mean to imply I didn’t write. Read the rest of this entry
Nothing like a fresh, blank, glaring page. Your first is always important. Now I’ve typed quite a bit on the web, but in a conversational way, not an informative way; so this is new. Did I mention daunting? Never-the-less, if I don’t get past it, well, I’ll never arrive!
So I’ll start by talking about the energy it takes to change your ways. It takes a lot. More than I had. So I started there. Small. With a bike and a gorgeous, welcoming, upbeat, redhead that I got to call a friend. If you can’t pick up one of the latter, your mileage may vary. Read the rest of this entry