Friday Fun – How do you sing to your danger?

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:  

When danger approaches sing to it.

Arab proverb

So much of good writing results from experiencing “danger” in our own lives. People get sick or die, families are threatened by financial insecurity, and politicians infringe on our rights. Even a personal challenge (like taking a long walk with your son) can present moments of danger.

Think about when you have experienced a profound sense of danger. Sit there and really chew on that feeling – notice that sudden race of pulse, that sweat that breaks out, that sense that you have to get up and physically move away from the memory.

And now try to sing to that danger by using that very specific experience in your writing going forward. Sing to make it real, sing to take away its power by sharing.

What words will you use to sing to danger?

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Deborah headshotDeborah Lee Luskin: Breathe before words. I don’t sing to my danger – during or after. I bring myself back to my breath. This helps ground me when I’m in any highly charged situation, and it helps quiet the static when I’m at my desk, so I can hear my voice and take dictation.

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lisajjacksonLisa J. Jackson:  Can’t say I’ve ever tried the singing approach, but I can relate to the feelings of fear, the adrenaline rush after the danger has passed, and the best advice I received for processing everything was “look up.”

I fell out of a raft in white water on the Colorado River several years ago and had to be rescued. I was cool and focused until I was pulled to shore – then my body shook uncontrollably – my first true experience with adrenaline. Once back in the raft and through the rest of the white water… the raft calmly being pulled along with the now-calm current, my mind replayed what happened. As I was about to get hysterical with the overwhelming emotions, I warned the 3 ladies in my raft. The tour company owner told me to “look up.” She said there’s a psychological benefit to it. I had nothing to lose, the tears were forming. I looked up … and my thoughts cleared, words became coherent in my mind, it was more akin to poetry than song as all the scary parts of the experience softened and appreciation took over.

I get scared in airplanes — looking up helps the anxiety. Attending networking events gives me the jitters — looking up helps me get my breath. Dealing with emotional situations — when I feel tears coming, I look up, take a breath and refocus.

Lee Laughlin CU 7-13

Lee Laughlin I love to sing and have been told I have a decent voice, but I sing to motivate myself.  When it comes to fear, I am a person of touch.  Placing my hands on a surface, backing myself against a wall (literally), moving close to someone I trust.  My son is very much the same way, when he gets worked up, I will place both of my hands on his shoulders and press down. It grounds him.

When there is danger, I think singing would distract me. When there is danger, I want to be focused and alert to all that is happening so I can process and react.  Now, to use that to strengthen my writing!

Paring Down the Goals List

“Goals are dreams with deadlines.”   –Diana Scharf

I am a goal-oriented person. I love creating goals and checking them off my list. When I looked over my goals list from last year (and the year before, and the year before,) there was one goal that I hadn’t achieved, yet had continued to put on the list year after year: Write a book.

Given that I’m a goal-oriented person, as previously noted, I had to wonder why I haven’t achieved this goal.

There are a lot of practical reasons why I haven’t achieved this goal: family obligations, work obligations, etc. But those are just excuses.

Is this goal one I really want to achieve? My knee-jerk reaction is, “Yes! Of course,” and after some reflection, I know that I really do want to achieve this goal. I have a particular book in mind and I feel passionately about it.

So why haven’t I completed it?

It comes down to fear. Doesn’t it always?

I have a limiting belief about this goal that is basically summed up as: “Who do you think you are trying to write this book?” You can hear the tone, can’t you?

Yeah, me, too.

But that voice, with its nasty tone, is not going to stop me.

I have worked with this (limiting) belief and will continue to work with it until it stops interfering with the work I want to do in the world.

While I do that work, I’m also doing the work of writing the actual book. I have broken the task down into manageable chunks, and broken those down even more. I’m going to build trust with myself by setting an easily-achievable goal of 5000 words written on the book by January 31st.

I have many goals for 2017 and I’m shining a spotlight on one. I’ve given it a deadline. I’ve reviewed all the obstacles to achieving this goal and come up with a detailed plan to get me past each one of those obstacles.

I think I have a much better chance of completing this book by the end of the year.

What’s your most important goal for 2017?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon:  I’m a master life coach, blogger, writer, and speaker. Check out my life coaching blog here. Happy New Year! Wishing you a wonderful, productive,  2017!

 

Reading out loud for a final edit

The kids are all back at school, Marc is out of town, and I have reserved this week to do a final edit of my manuscript.

“But how do you do that?” my son asked me last night at dinner.

Behold the new "Red Pen"

Behold the new “Red Pen”

“Well,” I told him, “I start on page one and I begin to read the entire thing out loud.”

And then, I explained, I look for areas where there are continuity breaks. For example when I was working on a chapter yesterday I noticed that I had written about “taking Motrin *again*” and yet I hadn’t mentioned any previous times that we had taken it. Oops – I went back and added that first instance.

Gone are the days of using a red pen, now I read out loud from the screen to find words that have been dropped and spellings that made it through spell check but were the wrong word. (Form instead of from.) All edits are done using my computer.

If I come across a passage that is particularly clunky and I can’t think of how to fix it, I highlight it to remind me to come back to it and I move on.

Quotation marks that weren’t added because they are a pain in the neck when you are brain dumping your story need to be added to dialogue.

When you read out loud, you “hear” the areas where your voice might have changed. Where you (I) might have added a snarky bit that doesn’t add anything to the story – out it comes.

When I read out loud, I also hear where I might have gone a little too light on descriptions. I stop to recall what it was I saw and felt and I add in those details.

I also hear some of the repetition that I didn’t seem to catch when I wrote the piece. When spoken, those words jump out front and center.

Reading out loud isn’t for everyone, it’s a slow process and I have to have absolute silence which is why this week is so good to do it – Please don’t interrupt me when I’m deep in my story.

But for me, it’s the best method for a review.

How about you? How do you do a final edit?

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Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

Breaking a Goal Down into Manageable Pieces

breaking-goals-into-bitesSome goals are best broken down in reverse order; others in a natural progression.

Examples: annual income you want to achieve; fitness goals you want to achieve

With income, it’s common to want to earn a particular amount by the end of the year. Let’s keep things simple and say $100,000, you bill hourly, and plan a 5-day, 40-hour week.

To break the goal down into manageable chunks (or at least a realistic perspective):

  • $100,000/52 weeks = $1923/week
  • determine number of non-working days for the year and remove them from your equation (if you plan 2 weeks of vacation: 100,000/50 weeks = $2000/week)
    • how about holidays? Most years there are 10 federal holidays observed. In 2017, there are 11 because Inauguration Day is a federal holiday every four years.
    • how about sick days? days off for kids (or elderly parents) being sick or needing to be driven somewhere? There’s no set way to predict the number of days, but you should throw in an estimate and get those days out of your total. Let’s say 9 sick (other) days to keep the math simple.
    • 11 holidays, 9 sick (other) days = 4 more weeks off the work calendar. You now have 46 weeks which turns your weekly income goal into $2174.
  • What is your billable rate? How many hours do you need to bill a week to attain $2174/week? (i.e. @$50 per hour, you’d have to bill out 44 hours/week)

There are so many variables at play with the income per year scenario. You need existing clients – finding and ramping up new clients takes time. If you bill a mix of hourly and per project, the formulas change.

If you want to lose 60 pounds in 12 months, that’s 5 pounds a month. You can figure out the best process (count calories, or work with calories and exercise) to reach the goal.

For a general overall fitness improvement goal you start with where you are today instead of working backwards and work to improve.

I find different ‘challenges’ for fitness to be quite beneficial — they are 21 or 30 days long and help you build up incrementally and naturally. You can do a Google search on “fitness challenge” (or be specific about the type of challenge) and find plenty of ideas.

  • For whatever activity it is, measure where you are now – total pounds you lift for weights, # of pull ups you can do, how long you can plank, how fast you can run a mile, and so on.
  • Then you work at those activities at least a couple of times a week and consistently measure your improvement.
  • You can also track calories and keep a food diary (so many online apps nowadays, I use MyFitnessPal) to learn how to make better food choices.

Are you ready to break your ‘big’ goals into smaller manageable chunks and get them into your weekly and daily plans?

lisajjacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Friday Fun – What’s your starting point?

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: 

If you don’t daydream and kind of plan things out in your imagination, you never get there. So you have to start somewhere.

Robert Duvall

We’ve talked about goals for the coming year and the importance of breaking them down into steps and discrete actions – what is the starting point of your writing goal this year?

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wendy-shotWendy Thomas  – I’ve polished up my manuscript and my query and I’m working my way through the Guide to Literary Agents 2017. My starting point is to send out at least 5 queries a week until I’ve either gotten a nibble or run out of agents’ names (at which point I will revise and start all over again.)

lisajjacksonLisa J. Jackson: I have a goal to submit short fiction this year. My starting point is to find markets for my short stories, and actually I’m thinking I might find more markets for my non-fiction than fiction as I keep getting ideas for those markets in my e-mail! We’ll see. But this year, I definitely want to submit and publish fiction, and having a market gets me started on a path.

At the end of the Long Trail, 9/8/2016.

Deborah Lee Luskin: Great question! I don’t have an answer. I’m in the middle of several projects, both teaching and writing in addition to my regular commentaries and blogs. I’ve got a good rhythm going. It feels as if I’m already in second, ready to shift into third.

Lee Laughlin CU 7-13

Lee Laughlin – I’ll tell you next week. LOL. It’s been a slow start to the year due to illness and travel. My goal for this weekend is to work through my annual goal planner (Susannah Conway’s Unraveling the Year) and figure out what my next steps are.

Top 5 Writer’s Weekend Edition Posts of 2016

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m having a little trouble getting back in gear after the holidays. It’s the start of a shiny New Year, but I’m not quite all the way into the swing of it yet. Though part of my malaise may yet be due to holiday hangover, I think I must admit at this point – nearly two weeks into 2017 – that it’s also partly due to my continuing struggle to process and deal with all the crazy things happening in the news … in my country. The results of last year’s election have awakened my inner activist, and I find that I am frequently distracted by the latest developments on the political scene. (Those are words I never thought I’d write.)

That said, I am a writer, and I must write. So, while it may take me some time to adjust to being consistently productive in this new environment, that is what I will do.

For today, however, I would like to share the top five Writer’s Weekend Edition posts from last year. I’ve selected them based on the number of comments they received, because I figure if someone likes something enough to take the time to comment, that is the truest measurement of how much that piece of writing has done its job.

Looking forward to another great year of sharing my random (and not-so-random) thoughts with you, and hopefully once again having the privilege of engaging in dialog with you about those ramblings.

_jamie sig

 

 


Number 5: Stillness, Solitude, and the Practice of Writing

Retreat HesseWriting is a solitary act, but being a writer is not.  We live in the Real World with everyone else, and our lives are just as full and noisy and chaotic as the next person’s. We have friends and family to care for and enjoy. We have day jobs (with meetings and emails and conference calls) and households to manage (via negotiation and sometimes bribery). We are subjected to the same onslaught of news, social media, and sundry other local and global communications as every other non-luddite member of this hyper-connected human race.  [Read more …]

Number 4: 3 Steps to Your Perfect Writing Life

Image from megankatenelson.com

Image from megankatenelson.com

Do you remember the first time you wrote? I don’t mean the first time you formed the letters of the alphabet or wrote your name. I mean the first time you sat down alone and wrote something all your own. Do you remember what  you wrote, why you wrote it, or what it felt like to put words – your words – down on the page? Did you have any idea then that you would keep writing – day after day, year after year?

Today marks thirty-nine years, one month, and thirteen days since I wrote my first journal entry. I was seven years-old at the time, and the words I chose for the first page of my first notebook were not my own. They were Shakespeare’s.  [Read more …]


Number 3: Why Writing Matters (How to Justify Your Passion)

free diverSometimes, the gravity of real life threatens to pull me out of my creative orbit. The inescapable responsibility of being human weighs heavily – the “Real World” of work, relationships, and surviving on this fragile planet crushing in on me like pressure on an ascending deep sea diver. The closer I get to daylight, the further I am from the intimate, interior depths of my creative endeavors. That inner life disappears into the darkness below as I’m drawn toward the surface, my tenuous connection lost until I dive again.

Above the waves, my belief in the importance of the world below fades.  Submerged in the process, my work felt real and worthwhile. [Read more …]


Number 2: A Writer’s New Year

Like the years, the days are each part of a continuum.

Like the years, the days are each part of a continuum.

The New Year is a time to reflect and plan. It’s a time to reevaluate our priorities and our progress toward our goals. Midnight on December 31st marks the seam between the old and the new; it is the boundary between the past and the future – the threshold over which we must step in order to enter the next phase of our lives.

Damn. That’s a lot of pressure.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of a fresh start. I also relish poring over the old year’s journal entries looking for thematic patterns in my thoughts and dreams. I love the creative process of finding the perfect word to embody my intentions for the year ahead, and the more arduous work of drilling down to discover exactly what those intentions might be. I love the myth and magic of the many New Year’s traditions that help us whisk away the old and ring in the new. [Read more …]


And the Number 1 Writer’s Weekend Edition Post of 2016 (based on number of comments): What’s Holding You Back from Your Writer’s Life?

Don't be scared of paper tigers.

Don’t be scared of paper tigers.

I’m in need of a writer-to-writer pep talk today, so I’ve decided to give myself one.

This isn’t going to be easy. I’m realizing, to my chagrin, that being optimistic and upbeat comes much more naturally when things are going well. Who’d have thought? Maintaining a good attitude is a bit more challenging when you’re stuck at the bottom of the proverbial well with no rope and no ladder (and a creeping suspicion that something malicious may be lurking down there with you, just waiting to jump out from the shadows and give you a nasty bite, or worse). [Read more …]


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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. In addition to my bi-weekly weekday posts, you can also check out my Saturday Edition and Sunday Shareworthy archives. Off the blog, please introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Fake News is the STD of Free Press

A few weeks back I put up a post about fake news. It included a list of “news” sites that typically dealt in conspiracy and fake news.

Last night Buzzfeed (an entertainment, but fairly respectable organization) published a 35 page U.S. Intelligence report that outlined several areas in which Trump has direct conflicts with Russia. The article indicated that some of the instances in the report could not be verified.

Again, this report originated from our United States Intelligence, it has two U.S. Senators (McCain and Graham) names attached to it.

It’s that little caveat “unverified” that kept responsible journalists from reporting on this *even* though many of them had held copies of the report in their hands for weeks. Verification is the standard of all trustworthy reporting.

The Intelligence report is bad. It lists many instances of collaboration between Trump and Russia. In its more salacious section it also details an account where Trump paid for prostitutes to urinate on a Moscow hotel bed where the Obamas had once slept.

Do I believe the report? There are some sections that detail very specific encounters and situations that are difficult to ignore. I also, unlike Trump, trust our Intelligence agencies. Do I think that Trump paid for prostitutes to pee on a bed in front of him?

Probably not. But here’s the thing, if it turned out to be true, based on previous reports and actions, I wouldn’t be that surprised.

Once Buzzfeed hit the Send button respected news agencies like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post started reporting on the fact that Buzzfeed released the report. Although these agencies use “alleged” in their articles, the fact that they reported on it gave the subject some of that very important verification.

What was Trump’s reaction? A very mature and dignified tweet:

FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!

Someone, somewhere is lying big time and at this point, things are so muddied that we don’t know who is doing all the lying.

It leaves us in a very precarious state. Do we go ahead and trust our free press which has been a cornerstone of our democratic freedom or do we instead trust a man/team who has no problems with lying outright again and again.

Because of the constant lies and the cyber bullying (as an aside Melania’s “platform” when she becomes First Lady is going to be cyberbullying – good luck with that) we no longer know what is the truth and what is fabrication. Even when the big news agencies report.

Fake news is the STD of free press. Once there, it’s very difficult, if not impossible to get rid of.

If you want to hobble a nation, hobble the credibility of its free press and its freedom of speech.

The #GoldenShowerGate story is not just a story about FAKE NEWS. It’s a warning of clear and present danger to our press and how we will be getting and perceiving news in the future.

 

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Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.