excuses! Excuses! EXCUSES!

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint  New Journals

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint
New Journals

This post has been simmering in the creative juices of my stewpot brain for weeks.

I’ve been unwilling to let it come to a boil and bemoan (yet again) my lack of writing. I know this is the writer’s journey. The cycle of highs and lows. Triumphs and defeats.

But I wonder should I keep talking about the journey? Especially when said journey is at a standstill?

Apparently, the answer is yes because here I am, telling you (yet again) that I have writer’s block. Or better yet, as Jerry Cleaver, author of my go to resource, Immediate Fiction, puts it: “Page Fright”.

Last time I talked about writing, it was on the heels of a recommendation to take a sabbatical. To which I publicly said no, only to traverse that path anyway …

Confession: It’s been months since I’ve opened Scrivener. It’s been weeks since I made a note in my journal relative to the novel in progress. It’s been days since I’ve thought about my characters and what’s going on in their lives. Truly, I am embarrassed at my lack of concern for them.

So you’re probably wondering what has me blocked this time. What’s the trigger for my “page fright”?

  • Excuses
  • Self-loathing
  • Emotions
  • Self-doubt
  • Oh yeah and did I mention?
  • Excuses

Tell me my creative friends … have you ever said any of these things:

I’m too tired …

It’s an excuse. I have the energy to stay up all hours of the night and day watching TV or surfing the web (especially for books on Amazon) or playing games on my iPhone. So I’ll take the hit for this one. It’s really just laziness on my part.

I’m too busy …

And I am. I’m a wife and mom who works outside of the home. Needless to say in the last six months my day job workload has more than tripled; leaving no room for anything else. Except maybe: baby blankets? Remember all my friends who are expecting or adopting? Wait. That’s another excuse. If I’m being honest it just means I procrastinate and writing is first thing to go.

I don’t have time …

Okay, is this the same as being too busy? Maybe. What I know is in a high time in my writer cycle I would say something like: “It’s about making time,” which is a truthful declaration. And I would. I just don’t know what to do in the low times like right now.

Writers should read widely … inside and outside their genre

So, I’ve immersed myself in books. Isn’t that what the Goodreads 2013 Challenge is for? I need to read more before I can write well. Reading a well written novel should teach me tips and tricks. Unfortunately, all the great writing I’ve been reading is discouraging me … paralyzing me. Plus all the bad writing I’ve been reading is discouraging me. This losing myself in other people’s stories instead of my own is a distraction.

Who am I kidding … Nobody’s going to want to read this

The word drivel comes to mind which is why good writing and bad writing is discouraging. It all depends on the day I peruse my darlings. Sometimes I find gold and it makes me smile. Other times, I lay my head on my desk and weep because only rewriting can fix it. Ever been here?

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

“Put all excuses aside and remember this: YOU are capable.” ~Zig Ziglar

I’m not good enough because writing is hard …

Haha … this is Who-Am-I-Kidding’s kissing cousin. Writing is hard despite my love for words and the thrill of a story. Thanks to I-Don’t-Have-Time and I’m-Too-Tired, the last thing I want to do is invest my time in learning “the craft” of writing. I know … another play at laziness.

I need to build a platform …

Do I really? I mean, yes, I get it. I do. But having a platform and nothing meaningful or substantial as in finished to give those who would join “my tribe” is just social media fun not platform building. Distraction at its finest, right? Tweet. Friend. Post. Like. Sigh.

What is the cure for the excuse-itis I am experiencing? I’ve self-diagnosed the symptoms:

  • Distraction?
  • Procrastination?
  • Laziness?
  • Stress?

Truth be told, all my excuses boil down to good old fashioned FEAR.

  • Fear of finishing.
  • Fear of not finishing.
  • Fear that it’ll be bad.
  • Fear that it’ll be great.
  • The list is endless.

We are just a couple of months away from my self-imposed August deadline. WIP started in August 2011. I can look in my journal and tell you the day I penned the idea. I gave myself a year for completing. Ambitious for a first time novelist. Then I extended it to August 2012 and again to August 2013.

It’s fast approaching and I have little to show for it. I should cut myself some slack. August 2014 anyone?

Some of the podcasts I listen to have recently referenced authors who worked on a book for 10, 20, 30+ years before finishing.

Again I wonder … what’s the cure for excuses? Especially when the first words to form are my handy little phrases … there seems to be a shortage of the words I crave most. You know …

  • Clever words
  • Witty words
  • Rambling words
  • Story picture words
  • Pithy words
  • Words with friends (oh wait … no … strike this one)

I should be making word soup in my stewpot brain … not excuses …

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint  New Ink

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint
New Ink

And yet during this unexpected hiatus I’ve found it easier to tell people who ask what I do: 

“I am a writer.”

And to respond to the question: “What do you write?” with “I write YA fiction.”

Now like the sign off from the podcast Writing Excuses: “This has been Writing Excuses. You’re out of excuses. Now go write.”

Today, I’ll take that advice. I’m off to write in my stacks of beautifully blank journals; fighting “page fright” with ink. But before I go, tell me:

What self-talk keeps you from your creative pursuits? What’s on your list that isn’t on mine? And most important, how do you combat the excuse mill?

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Reading for Screen Time

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

We’ve entered a new phase of parenting. My husband and I have decided that screen time isn’t free. We are instituting a minute for minute trade off. For every minute our dudes read, write or craft, they get a minute of screen time.

Some of you are thinking, “Duh, of course”. Others are thinking, “Novel idea,” kind of like we were when some friends mentioned it.

It wasn’t a difficult decision to make. But, it’s hard to practice. As I write this post it hasn’t even been 24 hours since we communicated and introduced the change to our dudes. I already want to give in.

My dudes are mourning the loss of what has been freely given. It’s always been available to them. No questions asked. They’ve never had to earn it. This is a shift they weren’t expecting.

How did we end up here?

You may recall a post I did this summer: Unplugged, Turned Off and Tuned Out. And unplug we did. Less gadget time helped. I am sad to report that it’s creeped back up to unnecessary levels because we keep getting busier and busier. My hubby and I accept responsibility for this. It’s our fault not our dudes.

We’ve noticed increased tiredness; aggressive behavior and language; and their brotherly friendship is deteriorating. Sometimes their interactions end in a physically volatile manner.

They’ve forgotten about respect and acceptance and love. Oh yeah and did I mention respect. Not just for one another but for themselves. This can not continue to happen.

What’s their response?

8 Year Old Reads© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

8 Year Old Reads
© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

My oldest dude is mopey and mad. My youngest isn’t happy but spent 10 minutes this morning reading when they would usually watch TV. He’s on the path; already earned his first screen time. It may be harder at the end of the day for him. We’ll see.

Needless to say they are very angry. I’ve already heard the “B” word out of their little mouths. No. Not that one. This one: “I’m bored and I don’t have anything to read.”

Tragic right?

In my day, TV shows and movies weren’t so accessible. I mean you had to wait a whole week for the next episode. Now you can wait a day and see it on Hulu. And if you missed episodes you had to watch the reruns in the summer. Now you can wait for the next season to start and see the previous one on Netflix.

Oh and don’t forget the beauty of DVR. My kids have the luxury of instant gratification. It’s way too easy for them to watch what they want when they want; which can be a challenge for parents.

We were sent outside to play and couldn’t come back till the streetlights came on. We didn’t have all this fancy gadgetry. We didn’t have VHS till I was in high school. We didn’t have a computer in my childhood home. DVDs didn’t exist nor did the Internet or Apps. We had what we had and we were happy.

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

We didn’t get to buy books, we went to the library. My boys have their own personal libraries and are running out of room on their bookshelves. We had chores that we didn’t get paid for, it was how we contributed to the household. Our little guys get an allowance for their contributions i.e. cleaning up and folding laundry.

I digress. Our boys have so many advantages.

The oldest is struggling the most. He said, as I dropped him off at school, “I hate reading and writing now.”

I truly hope this isn’t the case. It isn’t the desired effect.

Our goal isn’t to make them perceive reading as a punishment. Rather we want screen time to be perceived as a privilege and not a right. That it is a level of reward or an added benefit. For me reading is its own reward and I want my boys to think the same way.

Maybe there’s another approach and we haven’t come across it yet.

Of course, as parents, we receive the right to gift screen time to our boys on occasion but it’s not the rule of thumb. I know that there will be modifications along the way. In the end I anticipate that their moods will improve.

6 Year Old Reads© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

6 Year Old Reads
© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

For those of you thinking that it may not be the type of content they experience or the amount of it … we did a week long trial limiting their screen time and the content. We saw positive change.

So here we go. It’s time for drastic measures. Wish us luck … send up a prayer … We purchased new reads!

Parents, what have you done to balance out screen time in the lives of your little people?

A Month of Something

Month of Something Calendar

©2013 the Jotter’s Joint – My Month of Something

During our January accountability call, my writing partner, Talli (enJOYin’ Life), and I bemoaned the fact that we’d failed to meet our December writing goals.

We talked about the obstacles we faced: balancing time with family and friends, being out of our routines due to vacation and holidays, and just wanting to do nothing for a little while.

It was one of our toughest conversations in the eight months or so that we’ve been holding one another accountable. Tough, for me, because the do-nothing aspect of time off was so appealing. I needed it.

At the same time, the conversation gave way to epiphany. I realized what part 3 of my book should be. Or, at least, one component it should include. This gave me momentum in planning, which I’m almost convinced would be better than just seeing where the story takes me. Note the word “almost” in that sentence. My writing process is still discovery.

The best part of the call was setting new goals to accomplish in January. And, hearing my writing partner state: “This is going to be a month of something …” Unlike our December – The Month of Nothing.

She is right too. It will be a Month of Something.

For starters, I will celebrate my 41st birthday the 14th. Happy birthday to me! I am grateful for each year.

Second, it’s the month I will break through the barrier of writing I’ve been hiding behind.

How will I break through?

By writing those wonderful words: The End. Not because I’ve finished the novel. I’m not quite there yet.

Since the story idea came to me I’ve had the same image for the ending. No matter what twists and turns the story has taken, the end hasn’t changed. Regardless of the characters I add or kill off the last scene is vivid in my mind.

So, two days after Talli’s profound words, I wrote that scene. I attempted to capture the image of my main character closing a chapter of her young life; having evolved and matured.

I framed words to take me from my once-upon-a-time beginning to my and-they-lived-happily-ever-after end. Which of course isn’t really the end of Baby Girl’s tale; it’s just where I’ve quit telling it.

The scene is just under 400 words but fitting for the last moment. Now we’ll see if the ending starts to evolve just as the rest of the book has done.

Either way, I’ve accomplished something: new words on the page, vision for the next phase of the book, and The End.

This is a month of something.

However, I don’t want word count goals because lately they cause me writerly paralysis. Instead I will measure my “somethings” in time set aside writing. For a change, my “somethings” yardstick will account for me writing rather than talking about writing.

What will be your something this January?

Dreaming is Hard Work

dreams and wishes. 62/365

As the New Year rolled around, my mind immediately went to goal-setting and resolution-making, which is to be expected. But, the other night I realized it should have gone toward dream-chasing.

If you didn’t know before today, I’m here to tell you, being a dreamer is hard work. Don’t be fooled by those who make it look effortless.

For me, there aren’t enough gaps in a day, between what’s “required” and “expected” to contain what’s “desired”. It overflows and quite honestly my goals should lead me to my dreams. That’s the hard work part.

I never dreamed of success. I worked for it.” ~Este Lauder

Ask anyone who’s reached their dream and I’m sure they’ll tell you they had to fight for it. The movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, comes to mind. Dreamers often equate work with the realization of their dream.

Recently I noticed I have calluses on my hands. I’m not sure what has caused these rough patches to appear on my palms.

Usually calluses are associated with repetitive motion and hard physical labor. I think of cowboys or ranchers or farmers … not a person who sits at a desk all day and taps away on a keyboard.

Maybe my mind manifested the calluses in response to work I need to do; for the dream I am chasing.

But as a writer who aspires to novelist or finished first draft of my novel, I don’t think I should develop hardened patches on my hands even if they are the instruments for putting down words.

Wouldn’t I instead toughen the mind muscle; the imagination maker? And how would I know that I’ve toughened it up? Maybe this is it:

If you’re not lying awake at night worrying about your novel, the reader isn’t either. I always know that when I get a good night’s sleep, the next day I’m not going to get any work done. Writing a novel is like working on foreign policy. There are problems to be solved. It’s not all inspirational.” ~James M. Cain

For most of the holiday season, my characters have been silent. My main character, Baby Girl, didn’t say a word. She let me sleep in. None of my characters distracted me from professional pursuits or leisurely lounging.

To the point where I considered, for a millisecond, abandoning them to the unfinished projects pile. I didn’t though. I waited. 

Where was the hard work part in the past two weeks?

Please know that I was still going about the hard work of a writer.

I read … I buried myself in someone else’s story until mine called me back. I read three books and my writing partner’s manuscript. I listened to podcasts on writing and dreamt of incorporating the advice. I read blog posts and articles. I searched for writing rescues and conferences for 2013.

My dream of writing was still at the forefront.

Then came the familiar ring. “Vacation is over,” Baby Girl called out. “Back to work.”

I hit my normal routine and my characters met me there. I couldn’t fall asleep last night. I couldn’t quiet my brain. As I grabbed the notebook from my bedside table and wrote:  plot notes, character ticks, missed opportunity lists, and dialogue, by iPhone light.

My poor husband. He’s so patient with me.

I am excited again. Anxious, once more, as I rediscover their story. I am having “roar” moments instead of whimpers and whines. Frustrated and worried about how to make it all come together.

Dreaming is hard work. If you’re a fellow dreamer you know what I mean.

What’s your dream? And, what hard work comes with it? Do you have the calluses to prove the hard work?

Photo Image from Zemanta

Parenting a Budding Hobbyist

Paint SuppliesLast week we had Family Night on Friday instead of Wednesday due to a work requirement for me. We planned breakfast for dinner and an outing to Hobby Lobby to get paint for their latest hobby, which my oldest refers to as “Collecting and Customizing LEGOS”.

While waiting for our food we had the following conversation:

8YO – I’m going to be a doctor of science when I get done with college.

Hubby: Which science?

8YO – Something to do with technology and chemistry.

Hubby:  A Chemical Engineer. Nice. What will you make?

8YO:  A unicorn army to take over the universe. (Laughing because he recognizes that it’s far fetched. Yet one more reason I love Disney’s Phineas and Ferb. If you haven’t watched an episode of this trust me when I tell you that you’re missing out.)

Me:  If you do that I’ll pay good money for access to it.

Waiter:  I think a lot of people will pay good money for that. (As he walked away with a smile and a shake of his head.)

I need to replace my “if” statements with “when” statements in the you-can-do-anything-vocabulary. 

Paint Bottle Flower

But the real story here … is how I want my actions to match my words as I build their personal belief; water and grow their creative dreams. It’s possible to teach people tasks and functions. It’s not always possible to help them use their imagination. It’s a skill and an art that they can apply to any aspect of life.

My parents always had the words. But as I reflect, they rarely put those words into actions. Don’t get me wrong, their words took me a long way in achieving certain success. I can only imagine what I would have accomplished had they invested in other ways too.

So even though I don’t have personal experience to draw from or real life examples to reference, I want to take it to the next level of support.

As I listen to my dudes play it’s clear they are highly inventive. And now is not the time in their young lives to poke holes in their ventures. Some of their projects so intrigue me.

Red - The Beginning

The 8YO intends to create real light sabers. His business plan involves low cost initiation with the product but the profit will come from upgrades as a customer completes proficiency levels. We talk a lot about the importance of chemistry to excel in his passion. He also has plans for some stop motion LEGO videos, memorializing stories that he plays out as live action.

Lego Mario

The 6YO wants to write comics and make movies. “Some movies will be appropriate. And some will be inappropriate.” Which is his way of explaining that some won’t be kid-friendly. Chapter 3 of his current comic is titled:  The Parents Made The Kid Bad. Not sure if he’s trying to tell me something. Anyway, his artistic representations go well with his dialogue.

Together they are role playing scenes for their upcoming talk show. NOTE:  I’m not allowed to sing the theme song because apparently they “created it” and so they “own it”. Who taught them copyright disclosures so young? It wasn’t me. And I won’t name the show or tell you more … you’ll have to wait for the pilot release on YouTube in the near future. (I’ll  post a link when it’s out.)

Work In ProgressWe are in the process of getting them the tools to do all they wish. It’s easy to keep notebooks, markers, crayons, paints, and other craft tools on hand. However, part of this process of fostering their hobbies and interests is to teach them patience. My oldest seems to think starting today means finishing today. So managing expectations e.g. Painting LEGOS has to happen in layers so that the colors don’t bleed together.

Once he can appreciate this lesson we’ll take steps to get a tripod and help him experiment with a camera.

I feel like I’ve taken the long way around to say it’s important to me that my boys know that I care about what’s important to them in meaningful ways.

What are some ways that you invest in others’ dreams without squelching them? Or maybe you had a dream that you put on the shelf because you needed someone to encourage you? I’d love to hear about it.

Welcome to Boring …

I want to be tweet-able and retweet-able. (Okay, so I just opened my twitter account this week.)  I want to be Facebook stalked (only a little). I want to be Freshly Pressed worthy.

But I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t.

Why?

I’ve finally figured it out. It’s something I already knew. It’s what I, as a creative type, fear most. Fear of being uninteresting …

Then I remembered one of the first things I wrote for the Jotter’s Joint … it was a practice run and I never posted it (till now). I hadn’t decided if it was a post or my About page. I thought it was funny.

Re-reading it makes me laugh and it makes me feel better because I was managing my own expectations. I didn’t have grand ideas of success. I set the bar low enough to accomplish my goal.

Here’s what I wrote:

Welcome to Boring …

Why read this blog? 

Because you don’t have anything better to do. You don’t have a life. You’re friendless and alone. You’re tired of the well intentioned, deliberately positive, motivational, blogs selling happy. Or maybe, you’re a recluse; suffer from paranoia, or worse. Afraid of technology but sitting here reading this with a tin foil hat on hoping I can’t read your thoughts or transmit signals to your brain.

So why not read my blog? 

It fits right in with our “random” loving culture today. In a time when we can select and self deliver the kind of news … special interest stories … celebrity drama to our phones or laptops or iPads. Where we can follow our friends’ every move from waking to sleepless nights via Facebook or Twitter feed or better yet by subscribing to their blog.

Let’s face it … this is just another opportunity in our information overloaded lives for you to examine and criticize, ponder and pontificate on the boring things that happen in someone else’s life; my life. It’s a chance to offer up your opinion on what matters in my world, from the mundane to the monotonous.

Why read a boring blog? 

I have no idea. It’s just the stuff I think about on my drive to and from work. It doesn’t get much more boring than that …

So maybe my expectations were too low here but I didn’t want to be disappointed. Then I started posting regularly and I was sucked into this belief that my blog had to be perceived as great. It didn’t matter if I thought it was great. And it stopped mattering if there were readers, even one reader, who thought it was great. I started measuring my success by the stats and not by how flexing my creativity made me feel.

I will always have pangs of wanting others to claim I’m great but I realize that ‘great’ is a relative term. Being tweet-able or Freshly Pressed aren’t my yardstick (although I would be happy if it happened).

I will remind myself often that I am measured by my enjoyment in blogging and my growth as a writer. When I forget, all I have to do is go back to my About page and read my reasons for starting the Jotter’s Joint. This is one writer’s world and you’re welcome to be a part of it.

So, today, just a reminder … manage to your own expectations!

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Art by one of my dude’s

The first time I heard this phrase was from my fifth grade teacher. I don’t know why I remember it.

She used to read out loud to us and each character had its own voice. It was the coolest thing.

One day a disagreement bubbled up about one of the stories she was reading us. I don’t remember what book it was or what caused the dispute. (The mind keeps what it wants.) But I remember her response.

She said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do you know what that means?”

Wagging our heads in ignorance she explained that beauty can be determined by the individual. That we didn’t have to agree that the words in the story were beautiful. WOW! I didn’t even know I needed a new point of view. Who does at the age of 9 or 10?

It changed my world. Or better yet … it opened my world wide. It helped me know that art is the artist’s expression but beauty is the observer’s impression. I understand that beauty is as varied and unique as a sea of snowflakes just as we are all different.

Learning such a simple but powerful phrase allowed me to create my own definition of beauty. One that would no longer be limited by popular culture.

It was the start of me being able to decide what beauty looked like. Even I could be beautiful. A girl who didn’t look like “valued beauty”. A girl who didn’t look like Barbie. Even a girl like me could be beauty.

Amazing!

Fifth grade was the year I learned to not just accept everything as it was presented to me, but to challenge myself and my beliefs. It was the year I learned to not just enjoy our school outings to concerts, plays, and the ballet. I learned to search for the beauty and meaning in them. My beauty. What I valued.

Every year at Christmas we had a school field trip to see a production of the Nutcracker Ballet. To this day, The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, is my favorite. But the fifth grade found me wonder what makes it so beautiful to me?

I still don’t know the answer to the question. Maybe the beauty in it was the possibility in it. You see I wanted to be a dancer back than. And I would imagine myself dancing in the Nutcracker.

I hold the memories in my heart like snapshots in a photo album.

Grateful doesn’t describe what I feel for the teacher who shared these words with me. Now I work at helping my boys find what beauty is to them. In our house we have a saying, “Don’t yuck my yum.” It started out a way of teaching our kids to appreciate others food choices but it extends beyond that.

Maybe you have your own phrase as well … feel free to share in the comments.

I am reading the book, Matched, by Ally Condie. A dystopian story where a government structure defines appropriate beauty:  100 poems, 100 songs, 100 books, 100 paintings … All for the sake of control and keeping order.

Could you imagine living in a world where you couldn’t create new artist’s expressions? Or, a world in which you couldn’t share an observer’s impression unless it’s the “appropriate” impression?

There certainly wouldn’t be a blogosphere for you to hang out in. If you’d like, share your favorite poem, song, book, painting, play, etc. that you’d miss if it was no longer available to you …

This post is a round about way of reminding us to value the beauty you see in the world even if no one else values the same thing.

Writing with Childlike Abandon

I have the benefit of seeing my boys chase after butterflies … laugh at the world … live a carefree existence for the most part.

I consider myself fortunate that they remind me daily that creating is easy. I’ve shared before how kids aren’t bound by convention but loved the way this author put it in a recent blog post, What Writers Should Do When Drawing a Blank.

Take time to read it. It made me smile to imagine it … I am sure it will resonate with my fellow dream chasers and bloggers and writers and artists and anyone who has ever had an oh-to-be-a-kid-again moment.

The Suspension of Disbelief in Writing

My boys know I am writing a novel. My oldest even remembers to ask me how it’s going from time to time. I love that about him. He’s very thoughtful.

Recently, he wanted an update:

“Mom, when will your book be published?”
“Well, I have to finish it first.”
“When will that be?”
“Next year I hope.”
“Okay. And then you’ll get it published.”

I love the fact that he assumes publishing is the automatic next step. He doesn’t know how difficult it can be. He doesn’t know that it may not happen. I am glad that he isn’t limited by the realities of chasing a dream. I hope he keeps that innocence.

I wish I still had the attitude of an eight year old; the child-like faith. Remember when we believed anything was possible? Remember feeling invincible? Remember thinking we would conquer the world? Well it’s still inside of you!

When I sat down a year ago to write my novel, I had this naïve outlook. Nothing was going to stop me. I thought it would be easy. What was my goal?

  • Goal #1:  90,000 words in a year and a completed manuscript.
  • Goal #2:  6 months to edit and send to publishers.
  • Goal #3:  Publish the manuscript.
  • Alternate Goal #3:  Self-publish. (Okay, so maybe it’s Goal #4)

And I wasn’t afraid. It was do-able. I believed I could pull it off. I’d made the decision. Nothing else was necessary.

Until I sat down to write. I wrote 4 paragraphs that were flat. They didn’t match the pictures in my head. I realized I didn’t know what I was doing. But it was still possible so I kept my goals intact and invested in learning what I needed to achieve my goals.

Writing is a process. It starts with an idea. Sometimes those ideas flourish and sometimes they fizzle out and die. Sometimes they can be resurrected.

I’ve talked about some of my writing rescues before. This one is new. I subscribe to a blog called WRITEtoDONE. In a recent post, Unleash Your Writing With This Trick from the Movies, they talk about “suspension of disbelief”. This concept helps me view my writing in a whole new way.

As August 31, 2012 draws near and I’m only a third of the way to my first goal, I’ve decided to reset the clock. I will add a year to my project counter in Scrivener. I’ll adjust the word goal accordingly.

I will sit down and write in a state of suspended disbelief. The realities of life won’t hold me back. My story will unfold as it does in my head. I’ll wait to ask questions like:  “Is this possible?” or “Is it realistic?” or “Will my readers believe this?” I’ll reserve my judgment on issues like:  “How will this plot idea work?” or “Is the dialogue authentic?”

My Suspension of Disbelief … my new affirmations …

  • I am a novelist. It’s possible.
  • I am an author who is invincible.
  • I can conquer the world of writing. Why not?

Reclaim your child-like faith. Believe again in the impossible being possible. Dare to tell people you’re invincible and then leap. Start conquering the world around you in every positive way.

An Optimist, a Pessimist, and a Realist Walk into a Bar …

The Optimist says, “Bartender, give me a double. I’m having a great day.”
The Pessimist says, “Bartender, make mine a double. I’m having an awful day.”
The Realist says, “Bartender, I’ll take a double. I …”

OH! Wait! This isn’t a joke. This is the condition of my life. My creative life. Specifically, my writing life. (Clearly I’m not a comedienne.)

The Optimist and the Pessimist are at war inside of me.

When I sat down earlier this week to write, I was upbeat, encouraged, and maybe a little over the top. Syrupy. As the week wore on I understood the struggle within. I could feel the doubt swell and expand in my chest as the Pessimist attempted to escape.

Doubt came in the form of distractions. I found myself looking for things to do other than working on my novel. Sure I wrote. Letters I’ve been putting off. Thank you cards so they would be timely. Blog posts for future dates; lined up and ready to go. I also felt the call of the TV and housework (which I hate) and new fiction to read. Anything other than sitting down to write the novel.

That’s when I knew that I wasn’t being real, not even with myself, about where I am in the writing process.

The Pessimist’s POV

Frowny

Frowny (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pessimist says, “You can’t. You won’t. Why bother?”

She looks at my triumphs, my attempts; and laughs at my naïveté. Not a sweet laugh that says you’re-adorably-clueless. It’s a harsh edgy laugh that says what-are-you-thinking?

She’s not very nice to me or to anyone else for that matter. She prefers to be alone wallowing in what she considers an obvious delusion of success. She thinks she’s doing me a favor by criticizing my dream and my ability (or what she would call “lack of ability”).

The Pessimist says, “You’re not as good as so-and-so.” She tells me that progress is slow. She says I-told-you-so often. She makes me feel small.

She claims to see my writing world for what it is:  A Farce.

Smile! Welcome Back =]

Smile! Welcome Back =] (Photo credit: blentley)

The Optimist’s Outlook

The Optimist says, “You can. You will. Why not? Don’t listen to her.” And I want to believe her. She smiles a lot and whispers encouraging words.

She paints pictures of my success. She says, “Imagine being a sought after author or making the best sellers’ list.” She tells me I’m right on track. She lifts me up.

The Optimist says, “You’re as good, if not better than, what’s-her-name.”

She says to anyone who will listen:  see-this-woman-right-here-she’s-a-writer. She praises me for sticking with it. She rewards me with words of kindness. I like the Optimist.

She tells me to hold my head high and claim my writing for what it is:  A Gift.

Exactly the Same and Completely Different

Are you with me? Can you relate to my creative struggle? Whether you’re a painter or wordsmith or photographer or a creative in general, we are all faced with this internal battle.

Two opposing beliefs waging war and wreaking havoc on our confidence … Maybe you name the warring factions differently:  inner cheerleader and skeptic; critic and dreamer; naysayer and yes-man; or the voices in my head.

The war is always going on.

Both the Optimist and the Pessimist want the same thing:  to be in charge. But only one can rule the body and mind at any given time.

I argue that they are the same … Their differences limited to their perspectives; their approaches.

The Pessimist believes she’s being honest with me; telling me what I need to hear. The Optimist knows she’s selling me hope; telling me what I want to hear.

They’re both liars … so accept the fundamental truths they offer and move on. If the Pessimist says, “You can’t link two phrases together,” and the Optimist says, “You’re the best writer in the world,” know that the truth lies some where in between.

Neither one wants to do the hard work of writing. The Optimist is content to visualize the result. The Pessimist dismisses the possibilities.

The Realist Within

What’s the what?

The Pessimist + The Optimist = The Realist

Both the Optimist and the Pessimist live within me. I realize I need them both. True art and creation come from adversity, friction, conflict. Right?

The Pessimist keeps me grounded (sometimes buried). She reminds me to consider what can’t be. The Optimist is the one who dares to believe (sometimes blindly). She reminds me of what can be.

Their fight for control is my creative friction.

Finding balance between the Optimist and the Pessimist is where I need to be in the writing process.

Now I see that together, they give way to the Realist. The Realist sees what the Pessimist misses through negativity and the Optimist overlooks with positivity. The Realist is the negotiator.

She defines my writing as no one else can:  A Complicated Joy.

The War Within will come to end … we will come to a peace agreement … that is until the next time.