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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

groundhog

It’s ok. Come on out!

Most of the aspiring writers I know wish they had more time to write. Their lives are busy, full of obligations and responsibilities. Practicing the writing craft is a luxury that gets tucked into the odd corner of the day, early or late and most often stolen.

My life is much the same and I bet yours is, too.

I make my living as a freelance writer, but my creative writing lives the life of a small, tenacious beast – always hustling and hoarding minutes, fiercely defending the small oases of available time like the precious territory they are. This clever little critter knows that sometimes you have to go underground to get things done, make yourself a hidden haven where you can do your work without interruption from the siren call of worldly duties.

But, sometimes, your creative creature needs to come up into the light. Sometimes, the best thing for your wild writer’s soul is to be in the world, enjoying the moment in the company of others.

I recently met a friend for coffee. We’d been trying to get together for something like six months, but the stars never aligned. Last week, I saw her in the parking lot of the grocery store and impulsively suggested a get together later that week. By some miracle, everything worked out and we were able to keep our date. It was wonderful. We sat at the small table with our steaming mugs and it was three hours before we looked at the time. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Just this morning (when I was meant to be writing this post), I had an impromptu conversation with my dad. I talk with my mom most mornings, but my dad is a night owl and not usually ready for chatting until later in the day when I’m all tied up with being a mom. This morning, mom was out so dad answered the phone. We wound up having a great conversation about life, reality, real estate, parenting, and half a dozen other topics. I hung up feeling energized and optimistic.

Each day, I spend some portion of my work day engaged in digital conversations with fellow writers in a private Facebook group where we discuss everything from how to price a particular kind of writing project to which Hollywood stars we think are sexiest. These random conversations never fail to make me smile, even when they are distracting me from my work.

But, that’s kind of the point. These conversations, these relationships are not just distractions from the work … even the Important Work of writing. These moments and hours of time spent in the light – in the world – with our fellow human beings are food for our creative engines. Though writing is a solitary pursuit, it does not flourish alone in the dark. Yes, we need time to craft and create, but we also need to spend time living. Hemingway, I’m sure, would agree.

You need time to write. I understand. You might feel guilty for taking time away from your writing to meet a friend for coffee, indulge in a long phone conversation, or muck about with “frivolous” online conversations. Don’t. Remember that art and life are inextricably connected. You cannot have art without life; and a life without art, for a creative soul, is not worth living. Think of your time spent above ground and outside your creative cave as refueling. I cannot yet even capture all the inspiration my recent conversations have provided – ideas, characters, stories. I feel like my store of creative energy has been replenished. And what a wonderful way to refill the creative well – spending time with beloved friends and family, figuring out – together – this crazy thing called life.

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Photo Credit: qmnonic via Compfight cc

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Welcome to this Saturday Edition in which I share a little of what I’m up to with my writing (when I’m not here) and what I’m reading (between the covers and around the web). I’ll also pull back the curtain a little on my version of the writing life (but not so much as to be indecent).

I hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own thoughts, posts, and picks in the comments. I LOVE hearing from you and seeing the world from your perspective.

Happy writing! Happy reading! 

Jamie

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wine bookMy First Book Club Ever

Is it weird that though I’ve been a reader and a writer all my life, I’ve never once been part of a book club?

Well, that oversight was remedied when a friend of mine decided (on a bit of a whim) to start a book club with a few friends. Our first read was Tana French’s Broken Harbor - a “police procedural and psychological thriller,” according to the dust jacket. As I mentioned in a previous weekend edition, this isn’t the kind of book I’d usually pick up, but I enjoyed it well enough to finish.

What’s more, I finished in time for our first book club meeting this past Thursday. Our conversation  was both entertaining (we are not a staid or subdued group) and enlightening. As a writer, it was fascinating to hear the perceptions of the other readers. It was sort of like doing a post mortem on the novel. (Yikes! The police procedural language must be rubbing off on me!) I was surprised at the diversity of the reactions to and perceptions of the book. I also took the opportunity to ask questions that helped me see what worked (and what didn’t) with the story.

Plus – there was wine.

All-in-all, the club was – in my opinion – a great success and time well spent. I’m looking forward to discussing our next read and having the opportunity to “look under the hood” with my fellow readers.

What I’m Writing:

bella mac

My mama cat, Bella, offering some constructive criticism and moral support.

I didn’t do much writing this week.

God, I hate having to admit to that.

I did, however, do some other creative things and I also learned some new things – specifically new things to do with building WordPress websites. I’m working on a relaunch of my own site and also on developing a new site for a client. I am not a very tech-y person, so the thought of messing around with website design (even if it doesn’t involve touching the actual code) is a bit intimidating. Still, I got right in there and read the instructions and did various bits of tangential research and actually made some really good progress.

Even though I always regret days when I haven’t done any of “my” writing, I do appreciate the value of other creative work. Whether I’m building a website, taking and editing photos for my Instagram feed, or sketching, I know that all of my creative projects feed my inner artist and my writer self.

Do you have other creative outlets besides writing? How do you think they enhance your writing?

What I’m Reading:

Affiliate Link


It seems I inadvertently lied about which book I was going to read next. Instead of selecting any of the books waiting patiently on bedside tables, bookshelves, and the tops of dressers, I let my fickle reader’s heart lead me astray and – after finishing Broken Harbor in a late night crib session on Tuesday Tuesday – picked up a new book from the library: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel (affiliate link). 

If you’ve read it, please don’t give anything away! I have only read the first seventy-five pages, but am utterly charmed and am quite sure I’ll finish the book this weekend.

From Amazon:

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.

The narrator’s voice is quirky and the story quickly grabs you and draws you in. And it all takes place in a bookstore. What more could you ask for?

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

book club

blondebirdie.com

Have a lovely rest of your weekend! Thanks for being here. 

Happy reading & happy writing! 


Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.
 
Photo Credit for wine glass with book: Robert S. Donovan via Compfight cc

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Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: This is a “Big Question,” but we’re going to ask anyway – in a light-hearted and stress-free way: What is your biggest motivator to write? Is it curiosity? A need to communicate? A desire to educate, entertain, or influence? Fame and fortune? 

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: My answer to this question is always evolving, but I think that mostly I write in order to figure things out and create connections. Journaling was my first writing love. I began journaling to capture experiences, but soon graduated to processing experiences – exploring my feelings, the context of what had happened on a broader stage, the history of ideas and happenings. Today, most of what I write continues to be an expression of my own curiosity and desire to explore and learn about the world, everyone and everything in it, and my own place and thoughts and heart. My writing also gives me a way to connect to myself, the world around me, and other people. And then there’s the idea that writing is a kind of rebellion as well as a path to discovery. That’s an idea I’ve continued to mull after writing that post. Lots to think about. Love to delve into “The Why.” How about you?

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: Wow, this is a tough one. I write because that is how I channel my creativity. And I like a good story, and creating one. I also write to entertain, hence the genre. I do like Jamie’s conversations about connections, because that is what I like about social media, and blogging–the connections you make with readers, and with your fellow bloggers.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: What drives me to write? An incessant need to learn. And the bottom line to that statement is that it’s a need to learn about myself and how I perceive and interact with the world. I can be in the exact same moment as someone else yet have a totally different reaction/interpretation to that moment, and that intrigues me to now end.

I like recording my thoughts and observations, and when writing for businesses, I like bringing my perspective to the table and seeing where the discussion goes. I’m constantly learning something new and writing is the best way (for me) to record my life. And I also write because it’s something I feel I can always improve upon and never master. There is so much variety to what to write and how to write it and why it should be written — like a kaleidoscope or a snowflake — the words won’t come to the page the same way twice. I could write about this forever.  :)

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I write, first, to know myself better. I’ve kept a journal since I was 11 and I found, over the years, that I could better know myself when I wrote in my journal regularly. My journal entries are a dialogue between my superficial self and my deeper Self and one usually has very different thoughts and motivations that the other. I write, second, to tell a good story and to explain my view of the world, if only to myself. I tell the truth in my writing, as I see it, even when I’m writing fiction. I just posted about my recent procrastination with my writing, but answering this question gives me even more motivation to get back to the page!

dll2013

Deborah Lee Luskin: For me, writing is about epistemology – the theory of knowledge and understanding: How we know what we know. It’s also about process, discovery, recovery, and the geological plumbing of the soul, as well as the plate tectonics of ideas jamming together; subduction, inclines, sink holes. Writing is about language and the illusion of control. And writing stories is  about teleology – everything tending toward an ending. So why do I write? I can’t help it.

 

Susan Nye: For many years, I wrote because I could. As a marketer in a new venture, I knew our product better than our agency so I ended up penning brochures and ads. When the company folded, I moved to a Fortune 50 company and the same thing happened. At the time, I never thought of myself as a writer, just someone who was pretty good at it.

Now I write to pay my bills and, even more important, because I love it. I love the process of writing; stringing words together and building a rhythm and flow. I love storytelling, revealing simple, universal truths and coaxing a smile from a reader.

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Lately I’ve been struggling to get the words on the page. I have all the tools at my fingertips, I know what I need to do, but, at least in the last few weeks, I haven’t done it.

I had a discussion about this topic with a woman who attended a class I taught on procrastination. Ironic, isn’t it? I’m teaching others about how to deal with procrastination and I notice that the one thing I do that’s only for myself—writing fiction—is the only thing on my to-do list that’s not getting done.

I’m so much less of a procrastinator than I used to be. I’m so much better at getting things done that are important to me—except my personal writing.

I know why—because of my thinking. I keep thinking that my writing is only for myself. That thought makes me feel defeated, and when I feel defeated my writing goes directly to the bottom of my to-do list (where it promptly falls off the list!)

Everything else I do has some impact on someone else, even if only in a small way. Or that’s what I tell myself.

But I have always wanted (no, longed) to be a writer. To me, that means a fiction writer (even though I really enjoy my nonfiction writing, too!) So I need to change that thought.

I believe if I can change that thought (my fiction writing is only for myself) I will change the way I feel about my writing which will lead me to act differently—in this case, actually get some writing done!

So, what could I think that is as true or truer than my previous thought and gives me a positive emotion?

Here are a few thoughts I’ve come up with:

  • My writing matters to me and my future audience.
  • My writing brings me joy and that’s important.
  • Time spent writing is time invested in myself.

Each one of these thoughts brings up a positive emotion but the one that seems to feel the best is: My writing brings me joy and that’s important.

When I think this thought, I immediately feel a rush of energy and, yes, joy!

Since I happen to believe that having as much joy as possible in my life is a worthy goal, this thought is much more positive for me than my previous thought.

Now, will my new thought change my behavior? I hope so. I will focus on saying this new thought (which I really believe—that’s very important) whenever my old thought about writing arises.

I’ll let you know what comes of it.

How do you get yourself to the page when it’s “only” for you?  

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: is a writer, blogger, life coach, family physician, mother, and stepmother. The writing retreat I went on in January seems like a million years ago, but I know I can get back on track if I can just change my thought and schedule one block of time to write in the next few days. I know if I don’t actually schedule it, I’ll never “find” the time.

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Welcome to this Saturday Edition in which I share a little of what I’m up to with my writing (when I’m not here) and what I’m reading (between the covers and around the web). I’ll also pull back the curtain a little on my version of the writing life (but not so much as to be indecent).

I hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own thoughts, posts, and picks in the comments. I LOVE hearing from you and seeing the world from your perspective.

Happy writing! Happy reading! 

Jamie

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Creativity: For Best Results, Get Out of Your Bowl

BennyI have this fish. His name is Benedict, Benny for short. He is so named because of the circumstances of his arrival to our home. My daughter presented him to me as a birthday gift despite the fact that I had, for six months, refused to acquiesce to her campaign for such a fish. The reason she was able to pull off this coup is that her father (my ex-husband) proved an all too willing accomplice. So, now we have a fish.

Benny lives in a small tank that sits on a table across from my desk. I often look up and see him moving about in this tiny space where nothing ever changes. I wonder how he perceives his life from inside that bowl. What does the rest of the world look like (the little of it that he can see)?

Earlier this week, I posted about a wonderful lecture by John Cleese on creativity - what it is and how to get yourself into the “open mode” that is the precursor to and requirement for all creative endeavors. Thinking about Cleese’s advice and looking at my fish in his small, contained world, I began to wonder what role experience and exposure play in creativity. How important is it for artists (and writers in particular) to get out and into the world?

While I believe that the imagination is capable of beautiful and convincing feats of authenticity, I have to think that any art that is also informed by some level of first-hand experience must be capable of an even deeper truth. Which makes me feel like I should be finding more ways to step outside of my routine and my comfort zone and into new places and experiences. The challenge is daunting (it’s hard enough to find time to read and write), but I think it is important.

What about you? Do you think that real life experiences inform your writing? In what way? 

What I’m Writing:

mercuryThis week I republished another of my bi-weekly columns, this one about escaping the clutches of both February and Mercury retrograde. If you’ve been feeling out of sorts and a bit unhinged lately, the February Blahs and tricky Mercury retrograde may have been to blame. Happily, both are now over, so you will (hopefully) be feeling like you’ve won a new lease on life.

Each time I write a column, I am trying to find a topic and an angle that will have broad appeal. I look for ideas that will strike a chord with as many people as possible. Even when I’m telling a personal story, I try to do it in such a way that it’s as much a reflection of a universal experience as it is of my own, unique experience. In the case of this piece, I found my topic simply by mulling over recent conversations I’d had with friends, family, and acquaintances from the barista at our local coffee shop to the children’s librarian. I picked out the recurring themes around what people had said and it was clear that everyone was at the end of their ropes and feeling very out of sorts. Playing off that emotion, I overlaid the February Blahs and Mercury retrograde, and – presto! – the piece started to come together.

I could have gone a number of ways with the piece and another writer would likely have taken a completely different approach, but that’s what’s so wonderful about writing – one topic or idea can inspire dozens or even hundreds of unique pieces.

What I’m Reading:

I’m still enjoying the mystery novel Broken Harbor, so no new books to share this week. I would, however, like to share a link to a streaming indie film event that is happening today (and only today).

The film, seven years in the making, is called Lost In Living and is streaming for free today in honor or it being International Women’s Day. You can access the streaming links at the Ma and Pa Films website. This is how they describe the film:

Behind the domestic curtain of motherhood, where the creative impulse can flourish or languish, are four women determined to make a go of it. Filmed over seven years, Lost In Living, confronts the contradictions inherent in personal ambition and self-sacrifice, female friendship and mental isolation, big projects and dirty dishes. The complex realities of family life unfold in this documentary film about the messy intersection of motherhood and artistic expression.

And here is the trailer:

I’m hoping to watch it later today.

Oh! And I did read (and greatly enjoy) an essay on Full Grown People All Sorts of Things and Weather, Taken in Together by @ORandyO. Though on the surface it’s a story about a squirrel, I loved the way that the piece meandered around and touched on so many parts of life.

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

art washes the soul

From my Pinterest board, “Art”

As always, thanks for being here and sharing a piece of your weekend with me. I hope you find a way to carve out some time and space for your art as John Cleese recommends, perhaps an Artist’s Date a la Julia Cameron – a way to “get outside your bowl.” Enjoy and may your creativity blossom in new and exciting directions. 


Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

“Mercury” Photo Credit: A.Currell via Compfight cc

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creativity fun

By charity elise on etsy

What is the secret to being creative?

Is it something you can learn? Is it something you are born with? Is it something you can practice? Is it something you can do on demand?

These are questions that plague artists of all kinds. We worry that we’ll never be creative, or – if we’ve had a creative breakthrough – that we’ll never be creative again.

I worry. You worry. Famous writers and artists worry. We all worry.

BUT … we don’t have to.

I spent part of this morning watching a video of John Cleese presenting on the topic of creativity. (Hat tip to @anna_elliott for her post on Writer Unboxed featuring a link to the video.) Cleese’s presentation is nearly forty minutes long, but SO worth the time. I really (really) would love for each of you to watch it because I think it will make you feel relaxed and excited about being creative (instead of anxious and freaked out). But, I totally get that you may not have a spare forty minutes lying around, so I’m writing this post to share some of my favorite bits from Cleese’s talk.

Ready? Here goes:

Creativity, According to John Cleese

“It’s a mood in which curiosity for its own sake can operate because we’re not under pressure to get a specific thing done quickly. We can play. And that’s what allows our natural creativity to surface.”

Cleese talks about two “modes” of being: open and closed. As you might guess, the open mode is the one in which creativity comes out to play while the closed mode is the one in which we put nose to grindstone.

7:45 – How Being in the Open Mode Helped Discover Penicillin

Cleese tells how Alexander Fleming’s curiosity about an unexpected result was critical to his eventual discovery of penicillin. Instead of simply being annoyed and disappointed that a particular culture did not grow as planned, Fleming followed his curiosity in order to answer the question, “Why?” (Or, in this case, “Why not?”) By keeping an open mind, Fleming was able to see and follow an important clue. Had he been in closed mode, he would have dismissed the missing culture as a failure – within the context of his expectations – and missed an important discovery.

8:55 – How Hitchcock Used Irrelevance to Beat Block

Cleese tells another story – this one about Alfred Hitchcock. Apparently, when he and his co-writers came up against a creative block on a screenplay, Hitchcock had a habit of telling irrelevant stories. This often made his co-writers frustrated until they realized it was an intentional way of lessening the pressure and helping the team relax so they could find a creative solution.

9:34 – Creative Work Requires Both the Open and Closed Modes

Though we tap into our creativity in the open mode, we do need to be able to step back into the closed mode in order to get work done and apply the fruits of our creativity to our work. Once we have come up with a creative solution, we need to commit to seeing that solution through. We need to close the doors on additional brainstorming and so forth in order to take action.

John Cleese’s 5 Steps to Getting into the Creative Open Mode

Cleese then shares what he considers to be the five requirements for increasing your odds of getting into the open mode and being creative:

  1. Space – You need to remove the pressures and demands of your daily grind, seal yourself off, and hang up the “Do Not Disturb” sign.
  2. Time – You need to set a specific start and stop time in order to create an oasis from everyday life – to set your open mode or “play” time apart from everyday life. At 15:22, Cleese makes special note to leave yourself extra time to settle in and switch gears by describing a scene that we’ve all played out upon sitting down to be creative. Very funny. Not to be missed.
  3. Time – Yes, he lists “time” twice. In this second instance, Cleese focuses on the importance of taking as much time as you can to solve your creative problem. Don’t just latch onto the first solution that presents itself – dig deeper. We are tempted to accept the first solution because it’s our quickest way out of the uncomfortable space in which we have not yet solved the problem, but if we hold on a little longer, a better and more original solution is usually just around the corner.
  4. Confidence – The biggest obstacle to creativity is fear. We are afraid of making a mistake, of looking silly. This is why creativity is best fostered in an environment of play – because when you are playing there are no wrong answers. There are no mistakes. Everything is an experiment and anything can happen. As Cleese says, “Any drivel can lead to the breakthrough.”
  5. Humor – Finally, Cleese contends that humor is essential to creativity. He says that it is the quickest way from the closed mode to the open mode. So … stop taking yourself (and everything) so seriously!

The rest of the video includes some additional suggestions on how to keep your mind “gently around the subject” and engage in successful creative play with other people and find new ways to connect disparate frameworks and references in order to generate creative solutions. But, I’ll let you watch those yourself:

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Image by Charity Elise on Etsy

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Today I have this insatiable urge to commit pencil to paper. Not pen, not a keyboard, pencil. I have railed for years against the use of pencil because it smudges, it’s too hard to read and on and on. Yet lately, pencil to paper soothes my soul.

Scans of my three handwritten pages.

Some days, I am content with a pen. Perhaps those are the days when I know I’m writing something worth keeping for sure. Some days, I can sit down at the keyboard and the words flow from my fingers. Usually when I’m drawn to the keyboard I have an idea in mind, a rant I want to relieve myself of, or character or scene just itching to be revealed.  It seems pencil is my tool of choice when I know I need to write but don’t have a particular topic in mind. Perhaps pencil is my warm up? Maybe pencil is the road that winds and the keyboard is the direct route?  I don’t know.

I’ve tried many kinds of pencils. The six-sided Ticondarogas are good and I like the round Mirado’s from Papermate. Some days I like the thicker diameter pencils the once designed for beginning writers. In general I’m not a fan of mechanical pencils. I prefer the kind that must be sharpened even as I bemoan the shavings and lead dust. There’s something about being able to sharpen things that is almost meditative, ritualistic even. Write, convey thought. Stop, refocus, sharpen, continue. Some days I’ll line up six or seven sharp pencils and go to town writing until the led is barely visible, moving on to the next waiting pencil until I am forced to stop and sharpen at least one. If it’s a good day and I get on a roll, I won’t want to take the time to sharpen multiple pencils so I’ll just keep sharpening the same one over and over. I do have an electric sharpener on my desk but typically I shun it. The grinding sound is too disruptive.  And, it doesn’t accommodate the thicker pencils. I have several handheld sharpeners that I employ on a much more regular basis. They are more portable and the sound is much less jarring. Also my handheld sharpeners accommodate both sizes of pencils I like to use. I would love to have one of those old-fashioned crank pencil sharpener’s, the type most commonly found in a classroom, but I don’t really have a place to install one.

I tried to erase a word but the crappy eraser just smeared things around.

The other key to successfully writing in pencil is having a high quality eraser nearby (see photo). It’s been my experience that the cuter the eraser or the pencil, the less functional it is. You would think that the eraser that comes on the end of a pencil would be effective at you know, ERASING the pencil. But my example above demonstrates that this is not necessarily so. I like to have a good old-fashioned soft pink eraser nearby.

Today was one of those days when I knew I needed to write but I didn’t know what I needed to write and I didn’t know what I was writing for. I didn’t start out writing a blog post for Live to Write Write to Live, but that’s what this has turned into.

Do you ever get the urge to write in pencil? Do you have a favorite brand or type?

I transcribed my handwritten words using Dragon Naturally Speaking for the Macintosh and headset. I’m kind of happy with the results if I do say so myself.

There is still room in the Deb Dixon “Book-In-A-Day Workshop” being held May 10th in Nashua, NH Sign up today!

Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at Livefearlesslee.com. She is currently a member of the Concord Monitor Board of Contributors.  Her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is a member of the New Hampshire Chapter of Romance Writers of America and is currently at work on her first novel. 

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Welcome to this Saturday Edition in which I share a little of what I’m up to with my writing (when I’m not here) and what I’m reading (between the covers and around the web). I’ll also pull back the curtain a little on my version of the writing life (but not so much as to be indecent).

I hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own thoughts, posts, and picks in the comments. I LOVE hearing from you and seeing the world from your perspective.

Happy writing! Happy reading! 

Jamie

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

To Everything There is a Season … Even Writing

ice octopus

Evidence of the Endless Winter

Winter is hanging on like a fierce beast facing its final extinction. New Englanders though we may be, our patience is being tried. There are only so many times you can wake up to single-digit (or below zero) temps and maintain your sense of humor. My favorite tweet of the week came from my friend and fellow writer, Tracy Mayor:

TracyM Tweet

Yep … this is what it’s come to around here.

What makes the situation particularly frustrating is that there isn’t a thing you can do to change it. Weather is weather and winter is winter and you just have to deal with it. You can’t force winter to end. You can’t bribe spring to arrive early. You simply have to live through the season and make the best of it.

Writing is like that.

In my life, I have experienced many seasons of writing – sometimes I experience multiple writing seasons in a single day. There are seasons of planting ideas and seasons of harvesting them. There are seasons of cultivation and nurturing and seasons of surrendering to the quiet reflection of fallow fields. The wise writer works with the seasons, not against them.

Though the demands of my projects don’t always allow for the luxury of crafting my days around the seasonal shifts of my inner writing world, I always try to remain observant of the changes so that – when possible – I can align my writing tasks with the natural flow, whatever that may be at the moment. There are few things more painful than having to force the words when you should instead be letting ideas percolate. And vice versa.

Just like the seasons in the real world, the writer’s seasons are best appreciated when they are accepted for their own charms. This isn’t always easy, but it is always the best course of action. It’s never a good idea to argue with Mother Nature.

What I’m Writing:

morning pgsMy client workload has kept me from doing much in the way of personal projects, but I always find time for my journaling.

I recently missed a few days (ok, maybe weeks) of doing my morning pages. Though I survived, I had a persistent feeling of having forgotten to do something – like when you pull out of the drive and wonder if you left the stove on or forgot to lock the door. Missing my morning pages didn’t keep me from functioning like a (mostly) normal person. It did, however, mean that I entered my day with a head full of distracting whispers and mumbles. Taking twenty minutes in the morning to capture and release my random thoughts clears my head. It lets me shake off the inessential so that I can focus on what’s important. Without this sunrise purge, I felt slightly muddled and weighted down by unseen worries.

Happily, I’m back on track with my morning pages.

What I’m Reading:

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While I continue to nibble away at some longer novels, I had very little time for pleasure reading this week.

To keep from feeling completely deprived, I picked up a book of poetry.

I am a poetry idiot. If you asked me to name my favorite poets I’d say Robert Frost and Shel Silverstein (mostly because they are the only two poets I can name on cue). Clearly, I am not a connoisseur. After the requisite encounters during my high school lit classes, I rediscovered poetry when I was a new mom with an infant who hardly ever slept. I had little to no chance of finding time to read an actual novel. Even if I had somehow conjured the time, I doubt my sleep deprived brain could have comprehended something as involved as a novel.

Instead, I picked up an old poetry anthology that was sitting on my shelf. Poetry turned out to be the perfect balm for my reading ache. The pieces were short enough that I could sneak them in at odd moments, and the dreamlike imagery and was perfect for my state of mind.

This week, I came across a title called God Got a Dog (affliate link) - a slim volume of poems written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Marla Frazee. I am a big fan of Rylant’s work and have often found comfort in her various children’s books. This book is no exception, offering up a quirky series of poetic portraits that show God doing his (or her) thing in various everyday situations. If you need a little something to make you feel better about the world in general, this book might be just the thing.

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

Or, rather, an image. I thought this was a perfect picture to help us appreciate the last few days of winter while casting a hopeful eye towards the coming season of spring.

pin snowy bear

Thanks, as always, for sharing part of your weekend with me. Here’s to writing in any season and always enjoying the journey – in sun, wind, rain, or snow. 

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Image from my Pinterest board, but originally sourced here from sarolta ban.

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Have you seen the movie Field of Dreams? There’s a voice whispering to the main character (who has a dream) throughout the movie: “If you build it, they will come.”

It’s a step above “fake it until you make it.”

And a couple of steps above visualization.

Journaling at the edge of the water

Capturing my thoughts while sitting at the water’s edge

A great starting point for getting what you want  is to write it down.

You can do this in a journal, or on a computer, or on a chalkboard or whiteboard, or simply on a single piece of paper.

Writing is powerful. Seeing your dream or goal in print in your own words helps you clarify what you are asking for — from yourself and from the universe.

When is the last time you wrote out a detailed description of your dream writing life? If it’s been a while, or never, why not take some time today (Mondays are great days for starting fresh, after all!) to think about what a day is going to be like once you are living your dream.

Some questions to help you get started detailing your ideal writing life include:

  • What kind of project are you working on?
  • Where are you writing? (cafe, room with a view, home, vacation spot, on the beach…)
  • Where do you live?
  • Are you traveling? (perhaps touring your book, or writing abroad)
  • What time of year is it?
  • Are you near/with other writers?
  • How does your day begin?
  • How do you wrap up your day?

Be as detailed as possible. Picture yourself in the moment in time and capture sights, sounds, tastes, feelings, and sensations. Whatever makes the moment real to you.

I bet that as you write about what you want, you’ll discover at least one way to start on the path to getting it.

Nothing to lose, but your dream life to gain! If you imagine your dream life, you’re taking a big step toward realizing that life.

My dream writing life includes a water view, walks in the sand, and kayaking at dawn.

Will you give it a shot?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Welcome to this Saturday Edition in which I share a little of what I’m up to with my writing (when I’m not here) and what I’m reading (between the covers and around the web). I’ll also pull back the curtain a little on my version of the writing life (but not so much as to be indecent).

I hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own thoughts, posts, and picks in the comments. I love hearing from you!

Jamie

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Writing the story is just the beginning.

Earlier this week I posted a piece that compared crafting a story with doing a jigsaw puzzle. A thoughtful comment from a friend and fellow writer inspired me to think about the idea of writing as a puzzle in a different way:

puzzle comments sm

I love the way that our dialog gave me yet another way to think about the role of writing in my world and the world at large. It was a little intimidating, but mostly comforting to think about my writing in this larger context, kind of like how looking at the stars makes me feel small and fragile, but also reminds me of the beauty and magic of  being connected to the Universe and all the creatures in it.

The stories we write are like that, too. Though each one is only a tiny piece of the puzzle, together they create an endless and ever-changing web of ideas, memories, and dreams that help illuminate the human experience. Each story creates ripples within the minds and hearts of its readers, and those ripples reach out into the world and create more ripples. A story might inspire a change of heart, a new passion, or another creative act. It might inspire tolerance or rebellion, empathy or outrage, or simply provide a different perspective.

You never know who your writing might touch or how it might change a reader. Getting the story down really is just the beginning. From there, anything can happen.

What I’m Writing:

cloud silver liningMy client workload continues to be quite heavy, so I had no time for non-billable writing, but I did republish a recent piece from my column: Finding the Flu’s Silver Lining. As writers, we have the ability to put our misfortunes to good use by turning them into fodder for our writing. I find that knowing I can write about it makes even the most unpleasant situation more bearable. It changes my mindset from one of just feeling sorry for myself to one of thinking a bit more objectively and exploring the situation from a writer’s perspective.

What I’m Reading:

Once again, this week finds me reading two very different books. Last week’s crazy combination was a mediocre YA fantasy plus a wonderful literary collection of essays and letters. This week, my schizophrenic reading involves another fantasy YA novel (though this one, in my humble opinion, features much better writing) and a genre I have never read (unless you count Nancy Drew novels) – mystery (or, to be more precise as stated on the book jacket, “signature blend of police procedural and psychological thriller”).

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I learned about Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School) (affiliate link) by Gail Carringer from the excellent genre-focused podcast, Writing Excuses. I am a closet steampunk fanatic (you can check out my steampunk Pinterest board if you have similar leanings), so I was instantly intrigued by the premise of this novel. The author does an estimable job of capturing the flavor of the Victorian time period, but also manages to keep the story alive with action and excitement. Though I haven’t quite finished listening to it (I’m “reading” this one as an audio book), I am thoroughly enjoying this romp through a landscape that includes young ladies wearing full skirts, vampires, werewolves, dirigibles, and all manner of strange devices and intrigue.

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On the flip side of my reading this week is Broken Harbor: A Novel (Dublin Murder Squad) (affiliate link) by Tana French. I picked this book up from my local library because my friend picked it as the first read for her new book club (of which I am a member). I’m only one hundred pages into this one, but am surprised at how much I’m being drawn into the story. This isn’t at all the kind of book I’d pick up on my own, but I’m always happy to try something new.

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And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin reader finishes

Thanks, as always,  for being here and sharing part of your weekend with me. It’s always one of my favorite parts of the week. 

Happy writing! Happy reading! 

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Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Cloud Photo Credit: Broo_am (Andy B) via Compfight cc

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