Friday Fun – Favorite Weather for Writing

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: We’ve written before about our favorite time of day to write, but today we’re thinking about which kinds of weather inspire our muse – sunshine, rain, fog, wind? Is being snowed in more inspiring than a summer afternoon with the windows flung wide? Which of Mother Nature’s moods gets your fingers tapping on the keyboard?

JME5670V2smCROPJamie Wallace: Rain inspires contemplation, wind makes me happily restless. I believe fresh air is a good ingredient for any art, including writing, so a day that invites open windows and provides a good cross breeze is a good day for penning my thoughts. Pretty much any type of weather other than what we’ve had this week – hot and humid – feels like a good fit for creative endeavors. This oppressive summer scene mostly makes me want to zone out in front of the A/C. But, a writer must write no matter what the weather, so despite the fact that my fingers have been sticking to the keyboard, I’ve still been tap-tap-tapping away at various deadlines. Yep – tapping away, and dreaming of crisp, clear fall days. ;)

photo by M. Shafer

photo by M. Shafer

Deborah Lee Luskin: No matter the weather, writing’s still work. It’s easier to work when I don’t want to go outside and play – and I like to play outside in all seasons. So rain, excessive heat, fierce winter – these are times I’m happy to be inside, staring out.

 

 

 

wendy-shotWendy Thomas:  I have to agree with Jamie and Deborah, as a writer I am forced to write in all kinds of weather in order to make deadlines so I make do with what I have. But the type of weather that *really* inspires me is very specific.

I grew up in the sight of water on the coast of Connecticut. There is no better day than an almost cool one (cool enough so you need to pull on an over-sized, ocean-faded sweatshirt) that is a little overcast and maybe even has a fine spray of salt water in the wind. There have to be seagulls flying and screeching overhead and it’s the absolute best if you are close enough to hear the waves constantly lapping at the shore.

Forever and always, those are the conditions under which I could write for miles.

 

Writing a blog – freedom of speech, controversy, and social media

This is the last week of teaching my college online course on writing and marketing a blog. Here are some more of my notes from the class.

Freedom of speech vs. what’s inappropriate (and possibly punishable)

We all know that in America we have freedom of speech. But we also have a few protections from some people’s outrageous speech. People are not allowed to say things that aren’t true, especially if it hurts someone’s “standing in the community.” If someone says something that defames (injures a reputation) of another person – then that is considered slander and it is punishable in a civil court.

Slander involves the oral “publication” of a defamatory remark that is heard by another, which injures the subject’s reputation or character. Slander can occur through the use of a hand gesture or verbal communication that is not recorded. Libel, on the other hand, is the written “publication” of a defamatory remark that has the tendency to injure another’s reputation or character. Libel also includes a publication on radio, audio or video. Even though this would be considered oral, or verbal, communication to someone it is actually considered to be libel because it is published in a transfixed form.

Libel is what you have to be very careful about in your blogs. You are always allowed to have an opinion. “She acted like she was suicidal” but you are not allowed to state a fact that is untrue “she is suicidal.” Most of you will probably not have to worry about it, but you need to know that nothing disappears on the internet. Ever. If you say something about your boss or your work, it will eventually be found and it will live on forever to haunt you.

The simple solution is to not post that kind of information in the first place.

My general rule is to write “happy” things. It’s simplistic but it works. I don’t bring up hot topics (religion, guns, abortion) in any of my posts and I am very careful to make sure that if I am stating an opinion, I preface it with something like “in my opinion. “ or “I believe …”

Controversial Topics

So what do you do if you’ve said something controversial that has hit a raw nerve and people are responding in a negative fashion?

Easy, you ignore them. Remember that even bad publicity is good publicity. I have had occasional negative remarks on my blog and I just let them roll off my back like water off a duck. (But remember that my blog topics – “children and chickens” – don’t tend to draw out the negative people – what are they going to say? Chickens are dumb??) Don’t try to fight a negative remark some people (trolls) just put them up there for sport and trying to fight them is the proverbial throwing of gasoline onto a fire.

If you think there is a clear misunderstanding, go ahead and attempt to explain your point, but if the comments just return with more negativity – drop the discussion. Try to remember that a negative remark on a post is *not* a negative remark about *you.* (I know, sometimes that’s easier said than done, it can really hurt when people say nasty things about you.)

If someone is vulgar or leaves a particularly nasty comment, feel free to delete it. This is your blog after all, just as you would pick up some garbage thrown in your front yard by a stranger; feel free to clean your blog of garbage that may be left by others.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+

For the most part, these are the quick differences between these social media platforms:

  • Facebook posts share a graphic and tell a short story or they tell why you should follow a link to read another story.
  • Twitter tweets immediately grab attention and divert you to somewhere – think of those exciting headlines we talked about. They are also used to make comments on someone’s posts. But remember that space is limited so you really only get to “talk” in bites.
  • Google+ posts are shorter than Facebook but longer than Twitter, these posts include graphics and the audience tends to be a little more high-tech. Google+ tried, but it never really gained traction (but you should still use it to get your blog posts out to another audience.)

As an exercise, take a blog post you’ve already written and then create a post for Facebook, Twitter and then Google+

***

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.

DNF a Book

Vintage Books copyright Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon

© Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon

DNF

I remember the first time I saw the acronym in a Twitter conversation between an editor and an author. I politely intruded to ask what it meant.

Did. Not. Finish.

What? Read a book and not finish it? Back then, I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept. I was fairly new to the romance genre at the time and was thoroughly enjoying everything I was reading. Prior to that, my love of reading had taken a back seat to my life as a working mom and a visually impaired person who struggled to read small print. Then came the Kindle and my reading addiction kicked into high gear. Not finish a book? Perish the thought! These days I’m an avid reader and more than one book has moved to my DNF list. In the last six months, I’ve had two solid DNFs and a few books that I’ve set aside to come back to with a fresh perspective.

Making the decision not to finish a book does not come easily to me. As a writer, I know the author has poured their heart and soul into the creation of the story. I really want to respect their efforts, but if I’m halfway through a book and every time a main character appears on the page, I want to slap him or her, it’s probably better for me to put the book down.

I should clarify that I’ve completed books that have made me angry. It’s not a different perspective that makes me put a book down, it is usually characters that whine or plot lines that are clichéd or make no sense to me that make me want to throw my Kindle across the room.

When I looked at the titles I put down, there’s no rhyme or reason. There were books by traditionally published authors, and by indies, books by established authors and newbies alike. I haven’t finished books from authors that I’ve read before and authors that are new to me. As a writer this diversity interests me. I’ll admit, I’m much more likely to give an author I’ve read before a another chance after a DNF as opposed to a new-to-me author. I have to remind myself that you can’t please everyone all the time and the book I chose from a new-to-me author might just have been a blip on the backlist. I try hard to really give a book a fair shake. Before I put it down, I will usually come back to a book once or twice before I finally say enough is enough, I’m not finishing this one.

Most of my book recommendations come from trusted sources on Twitter. In general, when I buy books, I don’t look at reviews. I might look at how many stars a book has, but I typically read the description and if that appeals, I’ll download a sample. If I like the sample, I’ll buy the book. if I REALLY like the book, I’ll write a review.

If I do abandon a book THEN I will check out the reviews. Most of the time, others have encountered the same frustrations I have with a story. That always makes me feel better “Whew, it’s not just me.” Without fail a book that has driven me crazy, makes someone else deliriously happy. This phenomena actually makes me happy. I truly appreciate that there are different strokes for different folks. It gives me hope that when I finish my novel and when it gets published (power of positive thinking FTW), there will be people who hate my story, but hopefully there will be people who love it too.

I always feel crazy guilty when I don’t finish a book, (thus the multiple attempts), but I have to remind myself that just like life is too short to drink bad rum, it’s too short to waste time on books that frustrate me.

Sometimes I will FORCE myself to finish a book, but when I do that it is a conscious decision. I have a pad of paper beside me and I’m taking notes on what I think the author did wrong or the things about the story that were making me nuts. Thus making my torture an educational experience.

Do you finish all the books you start?

Do you finish most of what you start?


Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. You can find her on Twitter @Fearless. She blogs at Livefearlesslee.com and she is a regular contributor to the Concord Monitor. Her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently working on her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.

Entering Contests

In 2005, I won a local writing contest; as a result, I’ve frequently been asked to judge it. (image: www.pixabay.com)

In 2005, I won a local writing contest; as a result, I’ve frequently been asked to judge it. (image: http://www.pixabay.com)

Like many writers, I’ve submitted short stories to contests, hoping that my work would win and fearing that my entry would be far outclassed. But I’ve not entered many contests, mostly because I figured if I had to pay someone to read my work, I’d do better investing in an editorial reader to give me meaningful feedback.

I have submitted work to contests with no entry fee – and I’ve won prizes: both money and recognition, but neither fortune nor fame. In 2005, I won a local writing contest; since then, I’ve frequently been asked to judge it. This has given me a new perspective on contests and how winners are picked.

At first, I was one of five judges. We all read all the entries, then met to decide the winners. Some years, the winning entrance was obvious – not always because it was so good, but because the competition was weak. Other years were more contentious. Several stories were prize-worthy, and we each argued for the one we liked best. The final result was a compromise amongst the judges, and not necessarily about the work.

Write Action sponsors an annual writing contest. www.writeaction.org

Write Action sponsors an annual writing contest.
www.writeaction.org

This year, I’m judging the prose entries myself. The responsibility is large, and I’m taking my time. Happily, this year’s entries are the best I’ve ever read and a big change from the last time I served, when the writing was poor and the presentation worse. Manuscript Matters. Submitting a story to a contest or agent or editor is like sending it on a job interview, and it should go out looking its best. This year’s submissions all arrived as clean copy in black ink on white paper in twelve-point type. They’re easy to read, and I’ve been able to get lost in the stories without having to fight my way through fancy fonts, blue and/or bold ink, and other typographical devices that detract from the words.

The words are good, the stories touching, entertaining, imaginative, and varied. I’ve enjoyed reading them, and I’ve read them all twice. I’ve read my favorites several times more.

These submissions are so good, that picking a winner is hard. So I reread them, arrange them in my order of preference and let them rest. I’ve been doing this every few days for over two weeks, and the winners are starting to emerge. I keep placing the same story on top of the stack; that’s the one I’ll call First. Another week of reading and rearranging has helped me settle which stories will come in Second and Third. Of the other four, I’ll recommend one for Honorable Mention.

I’m taking my time because judging a contest is entirely subjective, especially with stories that are both well-told and well-written. Rereading has allowed me to attend to the finer elements of craft: voice, point-of-view, use of language, development of suspense, narrative arc, metaphor, and meaning.

But that’s me. Another judge might choose differently.

Based on my experience judging, here’s my advice for entering contests:

  • A writer can control craft, so submitting absolutely excellent work is key – but still no guarantee. How your work fares depends both on the quality of the other entries and on the subjectivity of the judge. Neither are elements a writer can control.
  • Follow the contest guidelines precisely; this is an element a writer can control. A smart writer does this with all submissions, not just contests. Everything else is a crapshoot.
  • Consider submitting to journals during their open reading periods instead. Most contests cost money, and most open-reading periods accept submissions for free.
  • It bears repeating: send only your best work.

Good luck!

photo: M. Shafer

photo: M. Shafer

The 2005 prize-winning story Marlboro Music became a chapter in Deborah Lee Luskin’s award-winning novel, Into The Wilderness. Learn more at www.deborahleeluskin.com

A Little Effort Today Can Lead to Big Results a Year from Now

If you’re struggling with writing – find yourself unable to get any creative writing done – you should know that even the smallest effort you make to move forward today can reap noticeable results a year from now.

If you started writing 5 minutes a day last week, after my last post, I bet you’re already writing more than 5 minutes a day. Now imagine where you’ll be a year from now if you keep building on the number of minutes a day you write, or how many words you write from day to day.

Consider this: even if you only practiced your writing craft 5 minutes a day for 365 days, you’d have a lot more written than the prior 365 days (if you didn’t have a goal). I know this is true for me.

If I don’t start slow and build up, slowly, I’ll end up discouraged, frustrated, overwhelmed, disappointed, and most likely will quit all together. It explains why I have several partially-started novels ‘sitting in a drawer.’ When a task becomes overwhelming it’s common to drop and run away.

Ever hear the saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” Apply it to your writing (or any other) goals.

Starting slow, today, can lead to big results a year from now.

Getting started is typically the most difficult part of writing (or anything), and then enthusiasm kicks in, and huge bursts of inspiration and motivation, but then comes the overwhelm and the quick downward trend until you aren’t doing anything any more. (sound familiar?)

5 minutes

Start slow. Get your butt in the chair and write or type for 5 minutes. Just 5 minutes. Write whatever wants to get onto the page. Don’t stress over it. Don’t think about it. Just write. For 5 minutes.

Then stay with 5 minutes a day until you discover you’re writing 10 minutes a day with ease. Then change your goal to 10 minutes a day.

Make the writing whatever you want it to be – whether it’s working on the same story idea each day, or simply getting words onto the page. Once writing becomes a habit, you’ll be able to make more decisions, but for now, just get started.

For me, I think I’ll build up to 20 minutes a day and then stay with that goal (even if I’m writing more than that). That way, if a low writing day comes along, I’ll be in the habit of at least 20 minutes and be able to complete that goal consistently.

What do you think? If you start writing 5 minutes a day today, do you think you’ll be advanced in your craft 1 year from now?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, technology, and realty 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

Weekend Edition – Storyteller vs. Writer plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

Storyteller vs. Writer

“Storyteller” (Anker Grossvater, 1884)

“Storyteller” (Anker Grossvater, 1884)

I’m terrible at telling jokes.

I’m so bad at it, that I have pretty much sworn off even trying. The pressure makes my stomach turn. I’m always afraid that I’m going to fumble the set-up or flub the punchline, and there are few things more sad and pathetic than a joke-gone-wrong. I picture failed jokes as deflated balloons, rumpled and saggy, looking up at me from the pavement with sad, slightly reproachful eyes.

Perhaps in part because of this personal shortcoming, I’ve always especially admired people who can tell a joke or a story well. You know the people I mean – the people who can capture and hold the interest of an entire table full of diners or room full of houseguests, the people who seem able to turn the most mundane happening into a tale of epic hilarity or deep insight. Yeah, those people. Those people impress the hell out of me.

A recent encounter with such a person got me thinking about the secrets of great storytellers. Whether the material is a sixty-second joke or a fifteen-minute anecdote, great storytellers know how to craft and perform a story in a way that keeps people interested and entertained. They understand the dynamics of narrative, pacing, and tension. They know how to set up a reveal, how to pick the details that make a difference, and how to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. They understand that a story is a promise, and they know how to come through with the payoff.

Thinking about all this, I started to wonder whether there’s a difference between a “storyteller” and a “writer.”

··• )o( •··

A quick scan of the “storyteller vs. writer” search results on Google made it clear that, by general consensus, there is definitely a difference. Sadly for the storytellers of the world, they seem to come up a little short by comparison with their more elite writer counterparts:

storyteller vs writer

According to the “experts” (aka anyone who decided to post about this apparent rivalry), storytellers are a vastly inferior breed compared to writers. Writers are portrayed as serious, erudite creatures capable of more cerebral pursuits, such as using the words erudite and cerebral. They make important contributions to the craft and elevate our minds out of the gutters of pop culture. Storytellers, on the other hand, are depicted as a garrulous bunch of untalented hacks, barely a step above monkeys with typewriters. They revel in the gutters of pop culture.

Writers are deemed responsible for the “classics,” anything your high school English teacher made you read, and anything Oprah recommended for her illustrious book club.  The authors behind blockbuster books like the Twilight series, Game of Thrones, and even The DaVinci Code are labeled “storytellers.” I have a feeling that, though none of the essays I read came right out and said it, almost any genre book – mystery, romance, fantasy, so-called chick lit, etc. – would be unceremoniously shuffled into the storyteller category.

This overwhelming prejudice against storytelling as an art form left me feeling conflicted. As a “writer” (though I hesitate to use the word, given the enormous weight of its apparent meaning), I strive to master the literary craft in all its varied nuance. From classic story structure to beautiful prose, from genius metaphors to deft characterization, I am fascinated and inspired by all things writerly. But, I also love a story that grabs me as a reader, a story that pulls me along so that I’m turning pages as fast as I can to find out what happens next. So, I have to wonder, which camp do I fall into, and – more importantly – which camp do I want to be in?

··• )o( •··

Would J.K. Rowling be called a writer or a storyteller? I’d put my money on storyteller any day of the week, and I wouldn’t mean it as a put down. Though Rowling may not have ascended to any peaks of literary greatness, she told a great story that captured the imagination of an entire generation (and then some!). Her books touched millions and millions of lives, inspiring and encouraging kids (and, yes, adults, too) all around the world, teaching them about friendship, courage, and loyalty. She may not have earned the accolades of elite literary critics, but does that really matter? I think not.

And that is the central flaw in the storyteller vs. writer debate. Storytellers and writers care about very different things. They have very different goals, and should not, therefore, be judged by the same criteria. As far as I can tell, writers are more focused on creating art while storytellers are more focused on connecting with their audience. Writers worry more about style and about pushing the boundaries of the craft. Storytellers are more interested in evoking a response from the audience.

I intentionally use the word “audience” instead of “readers” in relation to storytellers. While writers may claim a venerable heritage that reaches back to Shakespeare, Homer, and other legendary poets and authors, storytellers have their own impressive lineage. The ancient Greeks were renowned storytellers in the oral tradition, as were many other indigenous races around the world from the tribes of Africa to the peasants of early European settlements to the Native Americans who carried their stories with them across the Great Plains, generation after generation.

Today, many wonderful storytellers have put a contemporary twist on the oral tradition. Slam poets are intense and visceral storytellers. The people who share their stories via The Moth stage and the TED series bring their experiences to life in ways that connect deeply with their audience and listeners of the related podcasts. Come to that, comedians are skilled storytellers, regaling us with funny stories that may seem, at first glance, to be unrelated, but which are often all pieces of a beautifully organized system that revolves around a central theme. Take Mike Birbiglia’s touching and laugh-out-loud funny show, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend. I watched this on a whim one night, and came away wanting to immediately watch it again so I could pull it apart and see how he did what he did – wrapping up a sweet story about love and redemption in a series of silly stories (silly, but well told). Seriously impressive. More impressive, in my humble opinion, than many of the much-lauded literary works I’ve read.

··• )o( •··

I suppose it’s only human nature that even after my ever-so-brief exploration of the storyteller vs. writer question that my mind would leap to, “Why can’t I be both?”

Why not?

I haven’t found an official Board of Storyteller/Writer Judgment to confer with on this matter, but I did come across a 2014 “World’s Greatest Storytellers” survey by Raconteur which ranks authors from Homer to Rowling. Interestingly, the six authors that survey respondents voted as the top six storytellers of all time included a fairly even mix of people who would be on opposite sides of the storyteller/writer line. I think there are probably quite a few authors out there who have already achieved the feat of combining great writing with great storytelling. Neil Gaiman is one name that comes to mind. Salman Rushdie is another. Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, and Margaret Atwood also seem to fit the bill. Though some may disagree, I also think that Ursula Le Guin deserves respect from fans of both story and literature.

I suppose the question to ask yourself (if you’re concerned about which camp you fall into) is, “What are my goals?” Where do your interests fall on the spectrum from pure entertainment to highbrow literature? What do you like to read, and what does that say about where your loyalties really lie? If you think you want to be the next Charles Dickens, but you mostly enjoy reading pulp fiction thrillers, your goals may not be aligned with your true passion.

And maybe you don’t even have to choose, at least not consciously. Maybe your path, whether towards being a storyteller or a writer, will emerge naturally based your on spontaneous tendencies as a creator. And maybe you’ll be able to find your own way of combining excellent craft with strong story in a way that sweeps your reader audience off their feet. Yeah. That sounds good. Let’s go with that.

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What I’m [Not] Writing – The Missing Pages in My Morning Journal:

morning pgsLife and a slew of deadlines have kept me from doing much writing outside of my client work and my bi-weekly column for the local paper. In fact, I just scanned my Google Calendar, and it’s been ten long weeks since I’ve regularly done my usual morning pages journaling. I had no idea it had been so long. I’m kind of bummed out now.

On the bright side, discovering this gap in my practice explains a lot. As I’ve alluded to in recent weekend edition posts, life has been a little extra stressful lately. Though good things are happening, for a while there I was feeling a bit unmoored, overwhelmed, and scattered. Those feelings make a lot more sense now that I realize I haven’t been taking those precious twenty minutes at the start of my day to indulge in writing three free-form pages. Simple as it sounds, Julia Cameron’s foundational writing practice makes a huge and important difference for me, not only creatively, but also in terms of my mindset, outlook, and general sense of well being.

Starting Monday, I’m getting back up on that horse.

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What I’m Reading: Buddhism for Busy People by David Michie

bk buddhism busy peopleBusy as I’ve been, I haven’t had much time for leisure reading, but I have been enjoying the audio book version of David Michie’s Buddhism for Busy People. I’m a little more than halfway through the listen, and am really enjoying Michie’s down-to-earth approach as narrated by Nicholas Bell, a voice artist whose British accent brings a certain oh-that’s-all-right-then quality to the text.

Though I have never formally studied Buddhism, I do have a few other books in my collection, including my beloved and much thumbed through Pocket Pema Chodron. Michie’s book is written very much for the curious and uninitiated. It provides an overview of Buddhist teachings in the context of the author’s real-life experience as he embarked on his own journey of discovery and study.

Whether you are interested in Buddhism, or just looking for a respite from the overwhelm and chaos of life in the twenty-first century, this book has much to offer in the way of comfort, sanity, and humor.

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

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Finally, a quote for the week:

Technically this is a quote of Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in the movie Saving Mr. Banks.

Technically this is a quote of Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in the movie Saving Mr. Banks.

As always, thanks for being here and sharing a little piece of your weekend with me. Here’s to the storytellers and the writers – we need them both, each and every one of them. 
.
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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Friday Fun – Are You a Superstitious Writer?

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: Do you have a “lucky pen?” Or, maybe your talisman is a particular mug for your coffee or a ratty old sweater that you leave draped over the back of the chair at your writing desk. Perhaps you don’t have a writing desk, but you do have a writing superstition about revealing details about your latest project to anyone before you’ve finished. Do you have a secret ritual that you go through when you send a submission? Whatever routines or charms you use to ward off irrational fears, it’s time to fess up. Inquiring minds want to know.

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: I hate to admit it, but I definitely have some personal superstitions. I don’t really have a lucky pen, but I am pretty sure that writing gets easier when I have a nice, hot cup of tea at hand. This gets muddled in the summertime, of course, when hot tea is suddenly not such a treat, but more of form of cruel and unusual torture. I think this is why my productivity takes a dive in the summertime. (*cough* – cop out – *cough*) ANYway … I also must end each of my “morning pages” journals on a happy note. Each time I come to the last pages in one of these notebooks, I make sure to come up with something upbeat and optimistic to wrap things up.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I don’t have too many superstitions. I see “signs” all the time, but I always assume they are for me, not against me. If I say, “I’m going to go write,” and I immediately spy the hummingbird at my kitchen window, I assume the hummingbird is telling me it’s a good decision. I feel affirmed and I go write. If I don’t write and I say to myself, “I’m so bummed I didn’t write today,” and I see the hummingbird, I assume the hummingbird’s message is, “It’s okay, you’ll write tomorrow.” It may be a naive world view, but it works for me!

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson: My only ritual before submitting anything (to a client or to a market for consideration) is to close the document/email and ignore it for at least an hour. I do other things, then come back to that document/email, open it and read it with fresh eyes, and then hit the Send button. I never fail to find something that needs fixing before hitting the Send button. :)

Similar to Jamie with the morning pages – I hadn’t thought about it, but I do make sure that my last line is something positive and upbeat such as “looking forward to the new thing I learn today”.

M. Shafer, Photo

M. Shafer, Photo

Deborah Lee Luskin: No superstitions, just a need to write. Any place, all the time.