Today, head over to my writing friend L.A. Freeland’s blog. I’m hanging out over there, and sharing my story about entering the Novel Rocket Launchpad Contest. Hope you guys enjoy!
Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category
Tags: Catch Your Dream, Create, creative, Imagination, Inspiration, MIles Davis, Quotes, Writing
Tags: Books, Create, Creativity, Dystopian, Fiction, Inspiration, Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way, Tips, Unleash Your Creativity, Writing, YA, Young Adult
Unlocking the creative words from our heads can be a challenge. As a writer, I’ve struggled with that on a daily basis. Some days, I stare at the blank page and think what on earth am I doing? Others, the words flow and I can’t stop them.
As I’m walking this pregnancy journey, my brain has been more unfocused these days. My creative output isn’t what it was pre-pregnacy. And I forget simple stuff. My doctor calls it “prego brain.” While I love the idea of our coming child, I’m not a fan of the prego brain! It’s so annoying.
So how do you overcome the beast of un-creativity?
Tips to Unleash Your Creativity
- Butt On Chair Time: Even when you don’t feel like writing or creating, write anyways. When I look back over some of the things I’ve written the past few weeks, I’ve found some sparkling lines mixed in along with some great descriptions. And the word count adds up faster than I thought.
- Rest: Get plenty of sleep.
- Go for a Walk: Observe nature or the world around you. I always find something new to write about or a creative way to express a thought when I’m out in the world.
- Try Something New: Maybe it’s taking a pottery class or learning how to build a bookshelf. Go for a hike in the mountains or on a trip to that museum you’ve always wanted to go to but never taken the time for.
- Debate an Issue or Idea from the Opposite Viewpoint: It’s easy to defend your own point of view, but what if you’ve got a character or situation that doesn’t agree with your ideals? Try writing a paper or debating with a trusted friend about the topic to deepen your story and your characters.
- Create During Optimal Hours: Are you a morning person or a night person? Whichever it is, use those hours to your advantage. I write best in the morning, so the earlier I start, the more creative my thoughts are.
- Write on a Blank Page: When I’m stumped, if I open up a blank spiral page or a new Word document, I’m less inhibited about “messing up” my previous words. For me, there’s something about the act of writing in a separate page that gives me permission to write really bad, whatever comes into my head. If I open up the actual document my novel is saved in, I always hesitate to write new things because I’m afraid I’ll mess it up.
- Freewrite Everyday: Julia Cameron suggests the use of “Morning Pages” in her book The Artist’s Way. The basic premise is to freewrite first thing in the morning, three pages or fifteen minutes – whatever comes into your head, without checking for grammar – in stream of consciousness style. As I do this, words begin to flow and that latch pops off the creativity lock. It’s amazing how it works.
What ways have you found to inspire your creative muse?
Tags: achieve, Busyness, Clutter, Create, Fiction, Initiative, Inspiration, Jeff Goins, Natalie A. Gahrmann, Quality vs. Quantity, Time Eaters, Time Management, Tips, write, Writing
We’ve all complained there aren’t enough hours in the day. I know I’m guilty. If there were just a couple more hours, I could get it all done. Yet, we all have 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Why do some people seem to manage their time better, get more stuff done, become more efficient or successful?
In our society, we’re plagued with busyness. So how do we overcome it?
We weren’t designed to be robots. We weren’t even designed to be producers. Yet somewhere along the way, our culture has turned us into would be robots that get our self-esteem from our quantity of production.
But I’ve found my life to be more fulfilling, more successful and more joyful when I pursue quality in my life over the quantity. I have to cut out as many unnecessary things as I can to focus on what’s important. For example, my husband and I recently found out we are expecting our first baby in August. While the planner in me wants to get everything cleaned up and the nursery ready yesterday, my body and mind say slow down. I can’t get as much done as I want at one time. Through this pregnancy, I’ve found it’s okay to enjoy the moment and not feel guilty that I’m not doing something. The dishes can be done later. The clothes folded in a little while. I’m enjoying the rest while I can, before baby comes.
Turn the Time-Eaters Off
According to Nielsen, the average American spends 34 hours a week watching TV. Ouch. I didn’t realize we watched so much. That’s nearly 5 hours a day. And that’s not counting the hours we spend at movie theaters or on social media outlets such as Facebook.
Sure, it’s good to enjoy life and have fun, but sometimes, I have to ask myself if I’m overindulging. So maybe today, I’ll turn the TV off. Or I’ll ask myself, are my daily activities pushing me closer to my goals? Are they helping me grow as a writer or strengthen my family? Or are they Time-Eaters, the busy things that make me feel like I’ve accomplished something today?
How about you? Are all of those extra rehearsals and practices sucking up too much time? Are there moments when turning off the TV would help out? Are you filling your day with noise rather than with things that matter?
When we go through our day without enjoying art or beauty in the world, maybe there’s something missing. By pursuing quality in the things we do, over quantity, we step out of our mediocre life. Get in tune with your spirit life, family, nature, art, music, literature – the beautiful things that lift us up, not tear us down.
10 Tips to Find the Quality Over Quantity in Your Life:
- Get plenty of rest and exercise. They are good for you body, mind and spirit. When you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be at your best.
- Eliminate Time-Eaters. Can you cut a few hours out? Or DVR programs and fast forward the commercials. My husband started doing this for sports games and it saves an hour or more per game. Wow.
- Make time to read. Even if it’s only a chapter a day. It’s rewarding, fills me with creative ideas, helps me grow as a person.
- Upgrade your technology. If your laptop is slow and zapping your time, update it. You’ll save valuable time.
- Check you’re tools. Are there newer, more efficient programs and apps to help with work and life tasks? Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade!
- Make a schedule for your day. Give yourself larger time blocks to get those activities done. And make sure to include family time, me time, God time, friend time, etc. Don’t starve your spiritual and family life.
- Turn off the notifications. That’s right – email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Set a scheduled time to check those things once or twice a day, rather than all day long.
- Let go of perfectionism. Is it really necessary to organize your clothes in color order and style? Are there repetitive chores that could be done less often?
- It’s okay to say no. If people are always asking you to do stuff for them, learn to say no to what’s not important, giving you and your family more time.
- Get help. Get the skills or advice you need to help manage your time better. There are tons of great books and websites out there. Or ask a friend who seems to have their time under control, what’s their secret?
- Top Ten Time Wasters, Natalie A. Gahrmann
- Your Clutter is Killing Your Creativity (And What to Do About It), Jeff Goins
Tags: achieve, Catch Your Dream, Cha-cha-cha-chia, Chia, Chia Willie, Create, dream, Duck Dynasty, Fiction, Grow, Initiative, Inspiration, Si Robertson, Tips, YA
“Hey, you want to be an artist? Ain’t no money in that.” – Si Robertson, Duck Dynasty
I love A & E’s hit show Duck Dynasty. The Robertson family grew their small duck call building business from a small, one-man operation into a multi-million dollar company. Now, every week, I get to watch their crazy antics and goofy quotes as they try to keep their family and their business growing. And I can’t get enough of it!
What’s Your Passion?
When you’re passionate about what you do, like the Robertson’s, you have to do it. And to be successful, something needs to happen everyday to grow you closer to your dream.
I don’t write for money. I don’t write for fame. I write because it’s truly a part of who I am. An expression of all the things I long to tell others. It’s what wakes me up in the middle of the night when an idea hits me. It’s what gets me up early in the morning when I’m not a morning person. So why wouldn’t I write everyday?
Even if I only have five or ten minutes, I can still jot an idea down. It’s not work to me (except when I’m editing). I love it. And when I’m not writing, I feel pretty miserable.
So what’s your dream? What steps are you taking to make it happen?
Grow, Grow, Grow
You may have little seeds of ideas at first. Or you may have no clue how to proceed. Start researching. Here are a few ideas to help you out:
- What are the best books out there to help you achieve your dream? Buy one and start reading.
- Maybe you need to create a vision plan. Tack it on your wall to remind you everyday what your dream is. I put quotes on my laptop wallpaper and up on my writing room wall.
- Go to classes or workshops. Get the education you need to make your dream a reality.
- Surround yourself with encouraging friends who will help you achieve your dream.
- Start thinking like it’s possible. If you always tell yourself this is crazy, and you don’t believe it’s possible, you’ll never achieve it. Your mind is your most powerful ally – or enemy – to achieving your dream.
- Write out your plan for success. What tangible steps will you take this week? This month?
- Keep in faith and family. Always remember your family and faith are priorities above your work. Stay humble as you achieve success, and you will do well.
Those seeds will start to grow, even turn into bigger ideas. You’ll be more prepared. You’ll know how to proceed.
Don’t Give Up
Remember, your dream may take many months or years to achieve. It took me several years before I actually called myself a writer. I still have the dream of a published novel. I’m about 8 years into my writing life, and that dream is becoming closer to a reality. I can see it.
But even if I never publish that novel, I believe I’ve caught my dream. I live the life of a writer everyday, and grow more and more passionate about my art. Like the Robertson’s, I believe in putting family and faith first, and doing something everyday to draw you closer to your dream.
In what ways have you grown that have helped you step closer to your dream?
Check out the rest of the series, Catch Your Dream:
Tags: Creativity, dreams, Fiction, Initiative, Inspiration, Jedi, Star Wars, Tips, write, Writers, Writing, Yoda
As this new year begins, I’m thinking about all the writing I’d like to get done. My goals are often bigger than probably possible. But maybe that keeps me writing, who knows? These tips have helped me this past year, so I hope they’ll help you in this new year.
- Writers Do, There is No Try: Write. Practice. Write some more. No excuses.
- Use the Force: There are so many writing books, blogs, magazines, conferences, workshops and classes out there. Find the ones that work and follow their advice. Use the knowledge of others to help you grow and hone your craft.
- Seek out Jedi Masters: Writing mentors, critique groups, writing books and blogs can provide the counsel you need to grow into a Writing Jedi.
- Be Patient, Padawan: Don’t get in a hurry to send off your work. Polish it. Run it by your critique group. Make sure it’s ready to submit.
- Believe: You have to believe it can happen before it does. You have to see yourself as a writer or a published author before it can come to pass.
- Be Tested: Yoda and Obi-Wan both left Luke to face the final trials alone. Sometimes it’s scary to put your work out there, but you’ll never know if you can do it or how it will be received until you step up and try. Be tested.
- Use Your Powers for Good – Don’t Turn to the Dark Side: We have more power in our words than we realize. What if we wrote something from the heart that had power to it, exposed a truth or shared a heartache? How could impact others? Write the truth as you see it. Do not be afraid.
What things have helped you become successful in your writing?
Tags: achieve, Courage, dreams, Fiction, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, Writers, Writing, YA
I can hardly believe it’s almost over – 2012 has flown by. It was only January of this year I started blogging. I’m blown away with how much fun it’s been and by the positive response from all of you. Thanks so much to all my faithful readers. You’ve encouraged me over this year and pushed me to grow as a writer. So as I write my last post for this year, it’s for you guys.
I’m looking forward to a new year of writing. My plans are big – complete revisions on my NaNoWriMo novel, as well as complete the second book in my YA series which I started earlier this year. And here’s to high hopes that the first book will find a publisher in the new year – that would be amazing. And of course, lots more blogging, too!
Wishing you all a blessed and happy New Year’s! Thank you guys. You’re the best!
Tags: Art, Courage, Create, dreams, Fiction, Inspiration, Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken, write, Writers
Just a thought for today from my favorite poet, Robert Frost, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the holidays. New Year’s is not far behind. I’ve felt many times in my life that I’ve chosen to take the least expected path, the more difficult road for the sake of art. So how about you? What are you writing about? Is it worth telling? Don’t be afraid to write it or to tell that story.
Have a Merry Christmas!
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost
Tags: Christmas, Creativity, Fiction, Inspiration, North Texas Christian Writers, NTCW, Short Story, write, Writers, Writing
I thought I’d share my winning short story for the North Texas Christian Writers recent Christmas Story contest.
Feel free to share with others, but I ask if you repost on your blog, please give a link back to this site and author credit.
Hope you enjoy!
Joe’s watch beeped. Already 6:00 o’clock? Finally. “That’s it folks. Last call.”
“This the best trees you got left?” A man with a bright orange knit cap scratched his chin.
The tent was like a graveyard of frazzled trees, bare branches. Needles littered the ground. A sharp breeze swept through the tent, the back wall flapping. Snow floated down in gentle lilts. Wouldn’t be too much longer before a white sheet frosted the road.
“It’s Christmas Eve.” Joe tried not to roll his eyes. What did this city boy expect? “We sold the best ones already.” Why do these guys wait until the last minute? Expect a tree to rival the one in Times Square? Typical. “Look, this is all there is. You want one, it’s yours. Half off. We got to get rid of ‘em.”
The man nodded, fingered the branch of the last Douglas fir. Not much to write home about, with its bald coat of needles and dried up scent, but maybe he wouldn’t notice. Joe tapped his leg. His wife had the ham in the oven, and he could almost feel the warmth of the fireplace on his nose.
A sudden shriek broke the air. A boy and girl, about eight and ten, chased each other around the center tent pole, giggling.
“Excuse me.” Joe sighed. “I’ll be right back.”
“Take your time.”
Joe trudged past. “Hey, you kids need to find your parents.”
But the kids ran to the far side of the tent, screaming louder.
Why did parents think it was his job to babysit? He had work to do. And a long drive home. Joe clenched his fists, stalked toward them. The little boy ran round a spruce, grazed the branches. The thing crashed to the ground and knocked over a Christmas wreath display.
“Hey!” Joe ran to the tree and picked it up. A pair of broken branches at the bottom, one at the top. No star would sit straight on this tree. The kids laughed and ran to another poll. Joe’s jaw ticked. He could really use that hot chocolate about now.
The man in the orange cap walked up to the kids and whispered something. So, he was their dad. Great.
Joe marched up. “You’re going to have to pay for that tree your kids knocked over.”
“Sure, I’m sorry about that.” He pointed at the fir tree. “We’ll take both.”
“Whatever,” Joe muttered. What’s a man need with two trees? On Christmas Eve? “I’ll get them netted up.” He glared at the kids as he hauled the fir to the baler.
“Did you sell a lot of trees this year?” the man asked.
Joe shrugged. “Yeah, like normal.” Christmas patrons running in and out, hurrying to their next shopping paradise. “We did alright this year.”
Joe didn’t tell him that he’d rather be anywhere than here tonight. How he really hate all the Christmas commercialism, and the fact that every one of these trees would be thrown out in a few days…such a waste. There wasn’t much point to any of it. As long as he got paid, enough to buy his kids presents and keep the wife happy.
That’s all that mattered.
Joe lugged the fir to the man’s truck and tossed it in the bed, then grabbed the broken one. “Did you forget to buy a tree earlier or something?”
The man opened the truck door, and the kids crawled inside. “No. I already have a tree at home.”
“So what do you need all these trees for?”
“You said I had to buy the one the kids knocked down. And their mother will love this fir. She grew up in the mountains. The scent will remind her of home.” He slammed the tailgate and leashed a rope over the trees. “She lost her job last week. These are her kids, my neighbors. When I found out they weren’t getting any presents this year, I had to do something. That’s what the trees are for. Even if it is for one night, hopefully, they’ll feel a little bit of warmth. A little bit like Christmas.”
Joe stuffed his hand in his pocket. The man’s cash was warm against his iced fingers. Why didn’t the man say as much before? Joe looked at the kids. The little girl smiled and waved. She had the same brown curls as his own little girl, who was probably counting her gifts under their over-stuffed tree right now.
Joe sighed. “Here.” Joe handed the cash back.
The man held up his hands. “No, I can’t keep it.”
“I insist.” Joe wrapped his around the bills. “Get them some presents to go under the tree, too.”