Sunday, January 29, 2012

But You Promised!

As a child, I must have said those words to my parents a hundred times.
They were skillful practitioners of over promising.
People pleasers at their core, they often committed to Disneyland,
a beach outing or pizza for dinner.

Sadly, disappointment often followed these well intended vows.
Sadder still, I stopped believing their promises.

I confronted my parents after one particularly disheartening exchange,
and asked them to never tell us of intended plans
until we were in the car and on our way.
Because when things fell through,
we felt let down and we'd rather be spared the pain.

I was eight.

Keeping our word matters.
Painting pretty pictures for our own benefit
and dragging others through our made up visions is selfish.
It helped my parents feel better as excitement thrummed in hopes of a great time.
But when the truth surfaced and our dreams fell,
so did our trust in those who broke their word.

By the tender age of nine I had decided my parents couldn't be counted on.
To me, they were either liars or fools.
Neither option instilled confidence.

I wrote them off.

People discount those who lack follow through.
We've heard it said, that someone is all talk.
Nothing actually gets done and we don't take them seriously.
We might like the person who spins dreams,
but we never rely on them.

We must guard against being full of it.
It's terrific for our writing, not for living.

 Eye roll here. How do we accomplish that?

Think before we promise.
If we say we'll meet a deadline, assist a friend, wash the car, we do it.
End of story.

We decide our word means something.
That we have integrity.
We are trustworthy.

This week, keep your promises to a minimum.
I have a rule of three.
If someone asks me to do something,
I tell them I'll let them know rather than promise in the moment.
We deserve time to see if it's doable.

If we're committed to a critique group, family, and a deadline
then hold off before promising more.
It may feel great to give the other person what they want,
but when the rug is yanked out, they won't adore us.

They may write us off.

This week keep a record of what you have currently promised to do.
Is it reasonable?
If not, tell the people involved that you must decline.
I know, huge let down, flaky status.
But it's better to be up front.

No one likes to find out you can't do their wedding flowers
the day before the ceremony.
More time allows them to get it taken care of.

Try keeping your promises down to three.
Write those in your journal.
You might choose to only commit to something new once you've fulfilled one on your list.
More than that, you're over booked.
You'll be less stressed, get more done and do a far better job.
Everyone will be happier.

 Let me know how this works for you.
Thanks for your comments.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

First, Fix What Ails You.

Are you tired, stressed and down right crabby?
Do you find yourself working too hard?
Maybe you're stomping on that gas peddle,
spinning your wheels in futility and
digging a deep hole rather than moving forward.

Often, we believe running faster,
and putting our shoulder to the wheel will assure success.

How's that working for you?

Months ago, I wrote my tush off, plotted, edited,
and rewrote till by eyes burned and my back spasmed.
Determined to be productive.

I thought.

Pages mounted, but on inspection they lacked that indescribable spark
that ignites a readers soul and warms the heart.


 I studied craft. I spent ample time writing.
What had I missed?


I'd thrown myself off balance.
All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl.

My characters were grey as an old fence and just as wooden.
And the plots were dry as the salt flats,
because I'd forgotten an important tool in fiction.


Engaging in the creation of art should be fun, joyful and exciting.
I'd made it a distasteful chore.
Big grimace at that realization.
Not as painful as a root canal with out anaesthesia, but close.
What I'd slaved to produce bored the hell out of me.

No fun.
No life.
No point in anyone reading that drivel.

I took a break and forced myself to venture out, go to a movie,
have dinner with friends, and reconnect with the joys of the world.
It took a few weeks to recover from my Spartan diet of fun,
but it happened.

I made a leap from my logical, rule oriented side of my brain
to the playful, intuitive and creative mind.

Characters gained depth.
Plots sizzled with danger and excitement.
I enjoyed the process and the result.
It was fun.

Fun and work do not have to be at odds.
They can be joined together.

Wish I'd known that as a kid.
I would've grumbled less at cleaning my room.
Somehow, I missed this lesson when watching "Mary Poppins."

This week take time to play.
Grab your journal and jot down at least ten things to do that fill your heart,
or make you laugh and giggle.
Your writing will improve.
So will your life.

Every day play from your list.
In time you'll be spontaneous and not need the prompts.
Kids don't need directions to fun.
They just are.

Jot your experience in your journal.
Please share your comments with the group.
Share the joy! Be the fun!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Let's Get Clear.

Clarity can come from stillness,
that quiet moment when the chatter stops,
the light bulb flashes and you understand.

It can also come from removing yourself from your normal routine.
Anyone working in a creative field needs to recharge and gain perspective.
We all do.
One way is to get away from life and go on retreat.
A place free of your regular demands and schedule.

As a child, we vacationed in the Sequoias in Norther California.
Giant red woods, some over two thousand years in age,
brought a sense of awe to my ten year old mind
reminding me that I wasn't the center of the universe.

Such outings have the power to change our point of view
giving us a creative surge to think outside the box and solve problems.
Write, paint, create.

If you can't take off for a few days and commune with your muse,
then build an oasis at home.
No television or other avoidance or addictive behaviors allowed.
Stop grumbling, it's only for a few days.

Do things different, change it up.
When you get home from work, light candles, take a long bath,
and listen to soothing music.
Watch the stars and reverence the immensity of the universe.
Do something out of the ordinary.

Physical change opens us up to mental change.

Take a new route to work or the store.
Try using your left hand if right handed.
Go to a different restaurant.
Try a unique hobby.

This can take your mind out of it's rut to new horizons.
Each new experience creates new pathways in your brain.
You become smarter, more able to deal with situations in new ways.
You see solutions.
A definite asset for a writer.

The goal is to retreat from the dull and expected
and break into the untried.
Make a point to try something new every day.
It's a mini vacation.
You vacate the norm.

This week create a retreat.
It can be a few days,
it may be at home, on the other side of the world
or just one opportunity that stretches you.
Any and all are good.

Jot your plan and experience in your journal.
Pen how it feels.
Notice how it affects your creativity and attitude. 

Please share your experience with the rest of us.
If commenting is a new activity for you,
then please feel free to express your thoughts here.

As for me,  I'm starting work on a different writing genre.
Pushing boundaries is freeing.

Free yourself.
You can do it!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Treading Water Is For Fishes.

Some time ago I had a disturbing dream.
You know the kind.
I'm in the ocean with no help in sight.
I'd tread water for hours unable to decide which direction to take.
What was the shortest distance to land?
Were their sharks in one direction and rip tides in another?
I made no progress because I feared making the wrong choice.

Inspiration hit.

Any direction is preferable to floating around going no where.
I said, "Duh!"

The only wrong choice was no choice.
Acting a coward and fear of messing up had immobilized me.

Not good.

Intuition whispered each direction brought me to a different place,
with different lessons along the way.
None were wrong.

Of course I know this, but I needed reminding.
I needed to commit and move in that direction.

This dream came when I struggled to define my self as a writer.
What genre?
Novel length or novella?
The point was to choose something and go for it.
Swim my guts out in that direction and
if it didn't work out, choose again.

Isn't life grand?
We have a myriad of choices at any moment.
We are in control and can change our minds.
But we have to start.

If I did nothing but continue to tread water, what would happen?
In time I'd tire and sink like a stone.
I'd become fish food and no one would know I'd ever tried anything.
I would have failed my self and the world.

I know that sounds harsh,
but we are each unique and bring with us remarkable gifts.
Only you can write your story.
Only you can be that needed friend and love the way you do.

You are a blessing.
It's time to swim and bring your special talents to the shore.

Take out your journal and answer these questions:

Where in your life are you treading water?
Take time to answer this in at least three areas.

What has you afraid? Why?

If you continue to float aimlessly what will happen?

Is that better than taking the risk, committing to a direction and swimming hard?

What is your gut telling you?

Tackle the first of the three areas this week.
It's all right to be afraid, but act.

You can do it!

Please share your wisdom with the rest of us.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Follow Your Gut.

With the new year, most of us are making resolutions for change.
What doesn't work must be evicted from our lives for our true passion to grow.
But how do you know the proper course?


It's that still small voice,
that burning in your chest or sinking feeling in your stomach.
All are signs your body enlists to gain your attention to act.
You use intuition all the time, but you may not realize it.
If you're a writer, your vibes lead to plot,
character and emotion in your story.
There is a feel to things going in the right way.

This same creative force is available in the rest of your life.

I hear grumbles.
No. I'm a plotter, I strategies, use logic to create my tales.
Even if you do outline in length, you still use a burst of creativity.
The muse dwells in your gut.

It's not mumbo-jumbo, it's science.
In The Molecules of Emotion, by Candace B. Pert, Ph.D.,
she explains the molecular association to our emotions.
Joy, fear, sadness and those niggling feelings that make us wary.
Molecules are behind all that,
chemicals sending messages and it can be measured.

For ancient man to survive,
he needed awareness on a deep level to avoid being eaten.
We still have those abilities.
Follow your gut.

When we're writing and feel stuck,
it's intuition saying we've taken the story off track.
Don't force it and plod forward.
Stop, listen and find what's off.
Your body knows--trust it.

The other week I delivered Christmas goodies to friends.
Though my friends office was close by,
I felt impressed to go out of my way and visit there last.
Was it logical?
Not at all.
 I did it anyway.

 I arrived to find an old school chum at the desk transacting business.
We'd lost touch some years ago.
Had I arrived five minutes sooner or later,
I would have missed her.
We hugged, traded information and reconnected.
It was meant to be.
But only because I didn't argue and chose to listen and act.

Intuition always has our best in mind.
It's what kept cave men alive, what moves you to call a friend,
take a different rout home or  any number of small things in a day.

It is the small things that bless our lives.
The more you act on following your hunch the easier it becomes.
Intuition has one purpose,
to make your life better.

Who doesn't want that?

Following those feelings brought me to an awesome critique partner,
and told me to write.
It's how I met my husband,
avoided a car accident, found countless lost items,
and a plethora of other small but valuable experiences.

This week start keeping track in your journal of those feelings.
Follow them and write down what happens.
When you act on them, they will increase.
Like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets.

Following your intuition will improve your life,
your writing, and you'll learn to trust your self more.

All good things.

Start small. Before you act, ask if that's the best thing.
See how you feel.
Then move forward.

Record these experiences in your journal.
The more you do this the stronger your impressions will become.

My new years resolution:
To listen to my gut even more and act quicker.

Let me know of your experience.
Comments always valued.