Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ready. Set. Go!

While I'm nursing a sore throat and an overall sense of yuckiness this Sunday night, I'm also doing lots of planning and plotting for the Fearless Writing class that starts in a little less than two weeks.

It's such good timing as I am slowly rising up from this terrible, awful, no good funk and learning a lot about courage. Courage to know when toxic habits aren't fruitful. Courage to know when enough is enough. Courage to know who to let in, and who to let go.

Mostly, courage to just wait out this storm and ride the waves, knowing that this, too, shall pass. Courage to set writing aside. Real writing, anyway. I've filled up journals upon journals lately so the hand is still working. The words do still flow. But what I've had to say hasn't been worth sharing.

Courage takes shape in many ways. Some days, courage is just putting all of our dreams aside to take care of children, to just be with them. Or to take care of good friends. Or to add just one more -- oh it can't be so -- thing to our day to just show someone that we care.

I'm ready to see some creative progress this week. I printed out all 300+ pages of my manuscript last week. I'm back to blogging this week. I hope to settle down each night with at least one creative goal in mind -- to write again. Real writing. The stuff that comes from my bones and stretches me to every edge.

So long as this sore throat goes away ...

Big huge thanks to Chrisc25 for the photo!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Review: Four Word Self Help by Patti Digh

I've never been someone who needed self-help books. That's probably because I've always written through my problems in journals. I've kept nearly every single journal, too, to prove that.

And yet recently I've found comfort in self help books by Patti Digh. Her first book, Life is a Verb, is the result of our choice in my creative soul's book club, a group I formed this past spring. We all loved that book. It was so beautiful and full of wonderful stories.

I had actually forgotten that I signed up to receive a review copy of her next book, Four Word Self Help: Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives.

It arrived on a very low day for me, a day when I felt my world collapsing all around me. My values and honor system had been greatly compromised. And, to make matters worse, I had few people to talk to about any of it.

I opened the box, and then book to find the sweetest, most lovely book I've ever laid my eyes on. It's full of wonderful quotes and original art, just like Life is a Verb, and yet it's so full of simple, short pieces of advice that I was able to read it in just one day. I finished it at bedtime, with a smile on my face. I've read it twice since.

I have plans to buy it for a young woman I am mentoring and for a few people for Christmas. It's that lovely.

My favorite pieces of advice in it (there are many):

Eat less, Move more (always a needed reminder for me)
Give up Toxic people
Mean what you say
Embrace Solitude, not loneliness
Stop trying so hard
Let other people drive
Do Less, Be More

The stories are full of deep, big-picture thoughts all in Patti style. I admit, Patti is truly one of my modern day heroes both for her strong, authentic writing voice and style as well as her fierce advocacy on social justice issues.

I highly recommend both of her books, but especially Self Help as it's a neat little book that you can pull out of your purse or bookbag or briefcase in a moment's notice and just sink into and feel happy -- like when you're world is collapsing, or you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sometimes you just can't write

This was not the post I was going to write. It wasn't the one planned, and sitting unwritten in my head.

But, sometimes, you just can't write. It's not that you don't want to or even that you don't have time. It's that other things, more pressing things, need to rise to the surface and be released before you can return to the page.

This has been the case for me for the last week and a half. It's been utter nonsense, truly, but enough to raise all of my little emotional sensors that says enough is enough. You are enough. You don't have to add one more thing to the mix.

But, just because I know I can't write anything *great* right now, doesn't mean I shouldn't be working -- working on things with less emotional weight, working on stringing words together in any shape.

Like lists. Oh, mercy, I love a good list. Just last night, in a fit of "I have to write something!" I wrote a wonderful Autumn to-do list. I sat under a comfy blanket next to a breezy window and used a brown marker from my little girls' stash and started. The list started off small but soon a wild amount of potential -- and creativity -- bled through that list, all of which left me feeling so excited.

Character Sheets. I also started character sheets for my finished manuscript to use while editing. As I go through the book, I see so many inconsistencies on the minor details of my characters .... these sheets will help me nail it all down so that I can truly get through that thing ASAP.

Poetry. Formerly written poetry. Knowing I had to do something, I started gathering ALL of my many journals and notebooks and scouring them for bits of gold and transferring that gold into a new, more final notebook to keep track of the good stuff. By doing this, I actually improved a few pieces drastically and realized I know a bit more about poetry than I like to admit to. Poetry is theraputic to write during a writing stop (this is not a creative block, by the way. But that's another post).

Do something with your hands. I like to do mixed media collages when I'm frustrated. It works in harmony with my desire to use words but also create without rules. Since I am not a fine artist, I never feel like my paintings/collage need to be very good. Now and then, they aren't terrible.

Play. Play. Play. Enough said on that.

Finally, Read. Reading can take the place of writing solely by being the reading detective. Now, I admit, I wasn't a reading detective until I actually finished my first book. Now, I totally get it and it's rather freaking addictive. And, the result is that I often now cannot go to sleep from reading because I'm so hooked on uncovering it's little nuggets of writing. Still, it's a true must for any writer. Read everything you can get your hands on, in preparation.

How about you? When you CAN'T write, what is it that you CAN do instead? When life is truly too busy, too chaotic, too problem-filled, how do you get your writing on? How do you stay in the game of creativity?