Friday Reflections: Challenge Yourself to be the Best

DSC00489After spring break with the hubby, it’s been a little difficult getting back into the rhythm of life. And if you’re struggling with time or motivation, these are the perfect articles for you:

When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Emulate Famous Creative Routines” – Whitson Gordon writes from LifeHacker, reminding us of the pros and cons of those famous routines that we–or may be just I?–obsess over. It’s a comfort to remember that I don’t need to copy some secret formula for success from other creatives; I can cultivate my own habits and schedules.

So you want to be a writer…” – From the Guardian, Philip Hensher, Jeanette Winterson, Rachel Cusk, Michael Cunningham, etc. share their teaching process and their advice about creative writing. They set high standards and accept no excuses. The tone of each challenge makes me want to learn, grow, and never stop pushing toward excellence.

This article is long, and So. Damn. Perfect. I’m not even going to bother finding a third. Dive in and enjoy!

The Visual Writer’s Writing Day

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After publishing the last Friday Reflections post, I dove back into my novel. I settled into my study and shut the door on all other responsibilities. My Italian mask kept watch to deter distractions. Call me crazy, but I also went through the house and shut a few more doors for a clearer mental barrier between my novel and anything that threatened to press against the study door. Do you ever feel that connection between the physical and the mental? It’s a quirk as a visual and kinesthetic learner, I suppose.

Though my responsibilities eventually burst through the door, I was able to write 1.5k before they pulled me away. I settled in with my tea and sipped who knows how many cups of tea as I typed.  Maybe I go a little overboard with my tea, but I enjoy having some small, ritualistic break. I pour a new cup, stir in sugar and milk, and watch the steam rise.

DSC00511My novel is up to 72k and I’ll reach 80k by the end of the first draft. I wish I could say that I didn’t post on the blog last week because I was finishing my manuscript, but instead I was sick. Health returned around Good Friday, just in time for my writing group came over. Jen insisted that she be the first one to read my completed novel–no argument over here! She’s the most enthusiastic reader I’ve ever had. In order to get it to her decently soon, I’m aiming for these goals:

  • Outline last few scenes (done!)
  • Finish manuscript by May 1st (getting there!)
  • Get through two drafts by June 1st (Lord help!)

What goals do you have? If you’re stuck, what’s stopping you from charging through your story?

 

Rereading my novel…

…reminds me that I actually like my writing! I just need to finish it off, chop it up, and throw it in the wok. All of the ingredients are there; all of the spices are right. But the prose is raw, which means that many drafts are in my future.

Any projects coming along? How have you harnessed encouragement or learned from disappointments?

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Writing Tip of the Day: How to Revitalize Creativity

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You’re stuck, feeling dull, and browsing endless Pintrest boards for something to revitalize your muse. You want to be productive, but the longer you scroll down that page, the more numb your mind becomes. It’s ironic how you scratch that psychological itch to be productive by filling your brain with a blur of busywork.

To kickstart creativity, all you need is the loud chopping of a helicopter. The wind whips your hair around as you squint into a painfully bright searchlight. Over a loudspeaker, someone commands, STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER! You obey quickly—who knows if they’ve got snipers trained on you. As you set it aside, the commanding voice continues:

  • LOOK AT THE SKY. It’s dark above, but soon you realize that a few pricks of light have found their way through the clouds. The moon is rising. The residue of a lunar rainbow rings about it. Was all this here before? You never noticed until you backed out of your virtual world and rediscovered the real one. But that isn’t enough. The voice prods you again.
  • LOOK DOWN. You run to the edge of the building (because obviously you were browsing Pintrest on a skyscraper roof like any normal human being) and below, in the buzzing lights of neon signs and street lamps, hundreds of people mill about. They stop at shops, with small children tugging on their coats. They shove their hands into their pockets and trudge with determination. Where, you ask? And why? Now you’re getting somewhere.

You’re expecting the next command, but it doesn’t come. As you turn back to the chopper, it rises, dips forward, and dives out of sight. You’re tempted to run after the mysterious apparition, but instead you notice that your computer is gone. A large yellow legal pad sits in its place. In all caps, italicized, two words read: BE CURIOUS

As you stare across the cityscape you wonder yet again, where did that helicopter come from?

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