Play Your Violin Amidst the Madness

violin3

Well it’s that time again. 2014 has come to a close, another year has passed us by. How was it for you? Horrible? Fantastic? Just kinda meh? Best year ever?

For me, it was mostly fabulous, with sprinkles of meh, and a few jiggers of heartache.

I did an amazing thing this year. I wrote and self-published a novel while single-handedly raising four children. That, alone, is cause for celebration, right? So, why the meh and heartache?

On top of all of the loss, death, and devastation present in everyday life around us, which makes it difficult to focus on life’s beauty sometimes, I have struggled with the disenchantment of my love of writing.

This masterpiece of mine (“The Treemakers”), which has garnished such fabulous (though few) reviews, hasn’t brought my children and I out of the poorhouse (yet!), and I have been dealing with some grim realities of my existence as an indie author.

Sure, there are things I love about being an indie author, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t sell out to the first big publisher with a five or six-figure advance. Because struggling sucks. Right? I know we all struggle with different things. A lot of you can relate to mine, I’m sure. Skimping on the groceries toward the end of the month because you’re almost out of foodstamps . . . . Having to go without things so your kids don’t have to . . . . We could sit here all day and whine about how much it sucks to be poor. And bitch about why it is that people say they care about us, want the best for us, totally support us, but then won’t/don’t even buy/read our books/art/etc… Or, they read it and don’t review it/recommend it to others… (why? Do they not realize that this is the bread n’ butter of our existence as an indie author/creative person?) But none of that wallowing and complaining and whining would do us any good. It won’t make us rich, and would only be counterproductive. It would irritate those around us, and bring more negative results into our lives.

But still, I wonder about those people. A little birdie pointed out to me that some of them are perhaps just quiet souls who honestly aren’t of the reviewing/recommending-variety. And some of them are just lazy. But then . . . there are those of the hater variety. Even people you may share blood or long-term friendships with. They see you shine and it reminds them of how dull they feel, so instead of lifting you up and adding to your brightness, they shoot you down, or try to ignore you altogether. They secretly want you to fail. Your greatness makes them realize how un-great they secretly think they are.

So. What now? What to do in the dim light of the people who want us to fail? Who want our children to go without? Who secretly want us to crash and burn because they are so flipping self-centered that they can hardly see the world around them for what it truly is? Shall we lie down and die so the poor haters may feel better about their wittle selves?

HA. WE THINK NOT.

our-deepest-fear-quote (1)

I’m not a millionaire yet. I’m not even a thousandaire. Hell, I’m not even a hundredaire. But I’m not dead yet, either, and neither are you. I sure as heck don’t plan on making things any easier for me or those around me who can’t handle the light, do you? Put on some sunglasses, haters, because we’re just getting started. And hey, those who may be in need of that permission to shine, will look at us and find the strength to do so. Our strength will make them feel stronger, too.

I’ll tell you what I did once I saw “The Treemakers” plateau at a level of un-greatness (for me). . . I cried.

I cried good and hard. I died inside for a short time. I gave up writing (for a few hours) and imagined what life would be like without it (horrible). I cursed the day I ever decided to do this for the long-haul, and I wallowed in my morass of self-pity until I was so drenched in the muck that only two choices remained: give up and “die,” or take a nice hot shower, put on some fresh clothes, and do what I do best.

Stick my two middle fingers in the air . . .

and then get back to writing.

A friend and I were discussing how difficult it is to be heard in the chaos of social media land. When you have a book out, especially when you’re new, she said it can be much like standing on a runway filled with jetplanes and screaming to be heard. I thought about this for a long while. It didn’t sound like anything I wanted to do. How pointless. I thought, “why not do something that would make the pilots stop the planes and get out alongside the passengers and watch?”

This is what happened next (in my head)[you may have to skip a stupid ad first]:

No matter what life brings us, no matter what elements lie before us, we have to “play our violin” amidst the madness . . . or the calm, or the heartache, or the bliss, or the riots in our minds, or the joy, or the sorrows . . . we let our light shine on, and don’t give up.

What is that thing you do that makes you stand out, like in a good way? That’s your violin–Do that. Writing is my sweet violin, and I know if I just keep playing it, eventually, someone will hear me. They’ll see me, feel the music pouring from my soul into theirs . . . the pilots, passengers, and all the people inside the airport will gather ’round to listen when it’s my time to shine.

Same as you.

It may not be our time to shine for everyone all the time. Sometimes we may stand alone on an empty runway with no one around for miles. It’s at those times we must practice practice practice, preparing for when it’s our turn. When the world and time stop and wait, and listen. For us. It will happen if we believe, plan, practice, prepare, and continue to play our violins amidst the madness.

Believe it will happen, and make the best out of this miracle before you. Another year awaits to unfold before our eyes.

Happy New Year to you, my friends.

And no matter what, always . . .

Play on

To check out reviews or purchase “The Treemakers,” follow the links below. Thanks!
Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P49KVKG
Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00P49KVKG/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22036603-the-treemakers

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21 Reasons Why Life without Facebook is Totally Awesome

flower girl

So many things fall to the wayside when chained to Facebook for endless hours days months years. Some time away allows you to see the many ways it negatively impacts your life.

For the past two weeks, I’ve spent a total of fifteen minutes on Facebook, which is no easy feat. As you can see >HERE<, getting off for even an hour was once a near-impossibility.

If you are anything like me, you too, may be unhappy with the amount of time you waste in the vice-grip of status-updates, friend requests, and all the jingly bells and screeching whistles that go along with a life glued together at the seams with good old Facebook. Because I’ve enjoyed my break so much–I wanted to entice you to give it a try.

Here are 21 Reasons why life without Facebook is totally awesome, and why I’ll be limiting my time there to fifteen minutes, one day a week from now, until further notice. 🙂

21. Less chair ass

If you’ve experienced the torturous hell that is hours of writing, whilst fighting Facebook distraction (and losing), followed by the darkest moments of a writer’s existence–chair ass–you understand. Often times, this is accompanied by mouse-wrist and/or typing-elbow. (Yes, I am aware I just made these up, but these writer ailments should have names, shouldn’t they?)

20. More exercise

19. More time outside

18. More time with children/friends/family

First on any list of dietary restrictions should be Facebook: Serving size I’LL SLURP OUT YOUR SOUL AND SAUTEE THAT MOTHER WITH TWITTER BALLS AND PINTEREST NUTS SO JUST SIGN YOUR LIFE SAVINGS OVER TO CANDY CRUSH NOW AND CALL IT A DAY.

Last week, I walked a total of four miles. On purpose. And not just to get to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot, either. I did it because, hello, I opened my eyes to the wide world around me and decided, what the hell, I’ll go for a stroll. Destination? Starbucks. There was a venti nonfat carmel iced coffee calling my name. Funny, I didn’t hear it when I had my Facebook earmuffs on. Who knew those things were soundproof? Distance: two miles. It was a beautiful, sunny, relatively warm, late-spring Dallas, Texas afternoon. There were bugs. And noise. I perspired. I pushed my son in his stroller as he experienced the wide world around us from little toddler eyes. It was beautiful. 

It’s common sense; less time playing kissy-face with Facebook leaves room for endless possibilities of fuzzy-feeling real life stuff like being active and spending time with family and whatnot.

17. More time to write

Okay, raise your hand if you’re guilty of using “platform” as an excuse to insert Facebook into your body intravenously?

Uh-huh. *gives you evil eye*

I don’t wanna hear it. Platform shmatform. You don’t exactly need platform if you don’t have a book to sell, right? And even if you do have a book to market, think of how many more you could have if you didn’t spend so much time stroking the Zuckerburg…. I have a lot of writer friends, and not a one of them has ever gushed about how Facebook sells tons of books. If you’ll check out your top NYT bestselling authors, you will rarely find them spending hours–if any time at all–on Facebook. They do what writers are supposed to do. They write.

16. More time to do housework and other things you’ve been procrastinating

I get it, I really do. Hunting down the perfect meme-of-the-hour is way more appealing than doing the dishes. But your significant other is tired of doing them while you harvest friends on Facebook. Or your kids are tired of wearing dirty and/or wrinkled clothes because surfing meaningless status updates and filling your little brainy with mindless chatter that means ultimately jack to you and your life–seems more important to you than doing their laundry.

And shower, cuz… damn. *pinches nose*

15. More time to do other (than writing) things you love

Facebook is a drug that should come with dosage information and a warning label. And certain people should really cut it out mostly, or entirely from their life. Being a recovered drug addict/alcoholic, I have an addictive personality. I get “stuck” on stuff if I’m not careful, and then hours days months years go by and I look up and realize EVERYONE IS DEAD AND THE WORLD HAS BECOME A DESOLATE WASTELAND IN WHICH THE UNDEAD HAVE TAKEN OVER AND I MUST NOW LEARN HOW TO SHOOT A CROSSBOW LIKE DARYL DIXON AND TELL TIME BY THE SUN’S POSITION IN THE SKY AND LEARN THAT MOSS GROWS ON THE NORTH SIDE OF TREES OR WHATEVER AND ALL THAT’S LEFT TO EAT THAT HASN’T BEEN LOOTED ARE THOSE LITTLE DRIED CRAWFISH THINGYS WITH EYES THAT YOU FIND AT MEXICAN SUPERMARCADOS…

Not a good scene.

Would I rather spend my pre-apocalypse moments on Facebook, stalking Daryl Dixon (well, actually…), or doing fulfilling things that make me happy, like making cool stuff with my hands?

Tough call.

*sighs*

*stomps foot*

I guess I’ll take the art. (As long as I can watch reruns of “The Walking Dead” after.) 😀

14. You see who your true friends are

I’ve made a lot of good friends on Facebook. Almost 3,000 as of last Sunday, actually. And every other Tuesday, we get together and go bowling and then go to the spa afterwards and I catch the tab on a few rounds of those little umbrella drinkys…

Yeah.

I can count the true friends I’ve made on Facebook on two hands. From what I can tell, most of them out there are looking out for numero uno. I am but a drop in the bucket, of which may as well be a toilet. Taking a step back, I was able to see who I miss, which is a surefire way to tell who you really care about. And most of those people have my email address and some of them have even acquired the much sought-after 10 digits of happiness, and I don’t mean fingers. Some of them even call me on the… phone. *GASP!*

13. You can address your festering narcissism and get some effing humility

If no one has told you today, you are a precious little snowflake and everyone on Facebook–all of the internet and the world even–should stare at the exquisite uniqueness that is your Facebook profile. They should soak up every single status update from now, until the beginning of time, memorizing the luscious deets and “liking” every post, every comment, every picture, and every single little marvel that is your totally real, unfiltered, un-photo-shopped real life. Really.

And if they don’t…

Gah, how dare they. The nerve.

12. No Facebook drama

Does this really need explanation?

11. No Facebook trolls

*please hold while I squeeze into my ranty-panties*

There is nothing that pisses me off more than those still-living-with-momma social outcasts that have never seen the sun rise nor fall, that tell me what sort of sunscreen to put on my poochy. And worse yet, even blatantly judge me for putting the stuff on his furry be-hind in the first place. Hey, buddy, if I wanna put a gosh-dern t-back and tap shoes on my dog, that’s my own damn business and I don’t need you or anyone else to tell me how to–or not to–do it.

*tosses ranty-panties to neighbor’s poochy*

*snickers*

10. No more constant marketing

If I see your book cover one more time I’m going to hang you upside down by your toenails from the ceiling fan in my mind and flip the switch to the “on” position. Then I shall pop popcorn and set my demon puppy loose to chase you around, snapping at your hair or ears or what-have-you. And I shall laugh.

9. No more creepers/perves

In case you weren’t aware, Facebook just recently became a free dating site for the uber creeps and perves and still-living-at-home trolls. If you have never seen troll genitalia, be warned… the sight of this in an unsolicited private message has been known to cause vomiting, insomnia, loss of appetite, and in serious cases, blindness.

(NOTE: If you experience an erection that lasts for four hours or longer, well… you may be part of the problem. Seek professional help immediately. And in the meantime, please, stay the bejeezus away from Facebook.)

8. No more game requests

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of every harp in Heaven simultaneously playing Queen’s “We are the Champions,” because we have done it. We’ve won. People, ONE. Facebook game-requests, ZIP-O-ROOONIE.

7. No more clogging your mind space with unimportant crap

No, I was not aware that the African spotted muskrat is endangered. Please, post that Upworthy video all about it so that I can lose four minutes of my life learning all about them, and what I can do to ensure their future safety.

6. No more depressing selfie sessions to find that “perfect” profile pic

Of course, I have no personal experience with this one… but I had a friend once that, um…

yeah.

Next.

5. You no longer have to pretend to care about things you don’t care about

Hear that? (Isn’t it amazing how much you can hear without your Facebook earmuffs on?)

It’s the sound of 2,500 people clicking the “unfriend” button as they learn that I wish (I really do) I had enough mind-space, time, and heart, to give two squishy turds about what you ate for dinner, or how your husband wants you to get a bikini wax, or how your new Ferrari unfortunately had to go to the shop today to get the problem with the vibrating seats fixed. Because you paid extra for those  damn vibrating seats and by-God, they better vibrate on “GO.”

4. You no longer have to bite your tongue to keep from being an asshat to other asshats

If you hang out in a barber shop long enough, you’ll either get a haircut, become a barber, or try to eat that thing that looks like a candy cane because you’re hungry and you can’t take the curiosity any longer…

(Note: It does not taste like a candy cane.)

In the same manner, if you hang out on Facebook around asshats for too long, you too may start to present symptoms of asshatedness. You must ask yourself: Is it worth the risk?

3. You get a new perspective on life

This isn’t my first Facebook-free stint. I actually deleted my account three or so years ago, for a whole year. My finger hovered over the “deactivate account” button for–I shit you not–a whole hour. I sweated profusely. I pulled my hair out and I cried. I banged my fists on things and broke many pencils. Facebook had taken over my soul, and was eating my family, my life, and my sanity away at the seams like greedy little blue termites. When I finally pushed that button, I literally grieved the loss of my intangible, fabricated cyber-life, and all of the “friends” who would no longer “get to” be a part of my life.

Notice the self-righteous asshatedness (above) than soon became apparent. Once I stepped back, a week went by and I realized the sun was shining… “Whoa, when did the snow melt? What day is it? June? When the hell did summer get here? Where is my family?”

I had to integrate myself, not only back into the lives of my family–relearn their ways, their schedules, their habits, likes, dislikes–but I also had to be integrated back into society. It was serious culture shock. When you spend five or six hours a day on Facebook, you may as well be spending five or six hours a day at a dope house. Some of you may not have it this bad, but some of you can drink alcohol without it ruining your life, too. Others of you, like me, may hit a wall, where you have lost control. We are powerless over our Facebook addiction and our lives have become unmanageable. Stepping away removes a dark shroud that you didn’t even realize was there. You will experience life anew.

2.  Live life in the ever-mysterious and spontaneously beautiful now

Without the distraction of Facebook, I remember to enjoy life right now. Instead of “building that platform,” “marketing that book,” “cultivating that following,” all of which are future-oriented visions and aspirations, I can just enjoy the awesomeness that is my life right now. I can sit on my back porch and look at the sky and quiz my third-grader about what type of clouds are out today. I can play. I can breathe in deep the official first day of summer because I am experiencing it firsthand, not because I saw someone’s status update reminding me of it. I can be present in my life.

1. Freedom

Facebook is designed to hold you hostage. It is a prison without walls or bars. Sure, there are some good things therein… there are bible scriptures scrawled on prison walls, too, but that doesn’t make me want to go to prison any time soon. You?

Without Facebook to tie you down, you walk a free human. Free from ego, from narcissism, free from garbage-in garbage-out, free from the poisons there, disguised as profit, prosperity, popularity…

Without Facebook, you are free to just be. And live.

Until next time, fellow humans…

Just be. ❤

 

You can check out my books on Amazon here:

 The Treemakers (Book 1 in the Treemakers Trilogy) (Mature YA Dystopian Scifi Horror)

The Soultakers (Book 2 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Seeker’s Keys (Book 3 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Truth About Mud (YA Fantasy Adventure novelette)

11 Rules for Being the Best Writerly Soul You Can Be

type11. Don’t be an asshat

It’s unfortunate how many of us are afflicted with this terrible disease. Asshatedness is a virus of the writing world, spreading to unsuspecting and unfortunate others, who may in turn, spew asshatedness onto others. I have been both a recipient of the side effects of this illness, as well as a host. Though I try my darndest not to let the asshat fever take over and make me do asshat things, I admit, sometimes I get delirious and lackadaisical, and forget I’m trying to not be an asshat. It can be easy to let this sickness rule your life. Beware its repercussions. Just because someone is an asshat to you, doesn’t mean it’s okay to be an asshat back to them. A few months down the road, when that sexy little book of yours comes out–and that asshat hasn’t forgotten or forgiven you for that asshat thing you did/said, watch out for that evil one-star asshat review on Amazon.

10. Support other authors

I had an author once ask me to read and review his book (which wasn’t very good), and when I read his bio on Amazon, he was knocking other authors. He said some asshat thing like, “I can only hope to rise above the sea of crappy authors using their first two initials.” Not only is he breaking rule #11, but he’s also taking a big nasty poo in the hands that feed. When you are first starting out, especially, other writers (the non-asshat ones) are there for you. We’re on the same team! We’re straddling this tightrope together and pulling each other’s wedgies out! We are like, FAM, yo! And even if you aren’t just starting out, writers are readers, too. Knock other writers and you might as well crap on your own head because you’re screwing yourself out of potential badass customers. Because what’s better than a reader? A writer-reader!

9. Get off Facebook, you addict!

“Could you hold on just a second?” (Me, to the cashier at the grocery store while checking my Facebook)

Seriously.

This could (and–UPDATE–it is, now) a whole ‘nother blog post. (Read it >HERE<)

Get the heck off Facebook! Platform shmatform!! What matters most is that you are not an asshat and you write a badass book. Facebook can be evil. I am not even sure if it’s a necessary evil for the writer yet. Or for humanity in general. Remember life before Facebook? When people actually talked, and went outside and things? Yes, I am aware everyone and their dog is on Facebook. But you wanna be a badass writer, right? Well get off Facebook and write! All right?

(ANOTHER UPDATE: Read about my leave of absence from Facebook >HERE<)

8. Read

So you wanna be a writer who doesn’t suck? Read read read read read READ. It’s important to be well-rounded in what you read and well-read if you want to write stuff worth reading. And not just in your genre, either. You write erotica? Read some classics. You write literary stuff? Read genre fic. Write children’s books? Read some erotica.

What?

It might do you some good to step into the adult realm and take a stay-cay every once in a while. *winks*

Which leads me to…

7. Take a break

Don’t burn yourself out. Though I firmly believe in following rule number one (below), there comes a time in every writer’s life when he/she must chose between throwing the laptop off of a very tall building and committing themselves to the nearest mental ward, or taking a break. It doesn’t have to be a long break. Even just a day can work wonders. Long enough for you to take a step back and see the whole picture. To remember why you write. (Here are 50 right >HERE<) To regenerate those creative juices that can dry up sometimes if we overwork the engine for too long, too hard.

6. Quit beating people over the head with your book cover

This branches off of #11. Sure, a certain amount of marketing is necessary for sales, but when you are whipping your cover out every chance you get and violating every slot you can fit it into, not only do people seriously consider calling security, but some may even sick Uncle Jeb on you for being such a violating, indecent asshat. Not everyone wants to see your cover ten times a day, whether it’s in different Facebook groups, or Twitter or whatever. People will get numb and jaded and tune you out, and unfollow or unfriend you. And they definitely won’t read your book if they feel violated and/or annoyed by it. Again I say, write an awesome book and be an awesome person (not an asshat), and you will find you will operate more on a level of attraction rather than promotion. People like people who are confident and talented, not needy, forceful, and annoyingly persistent. If you write it (and it’s fab), they will come. Keep the faith. Do the work. Keep the cover in your pants unless it’s concentual. 😉

5. For slop’s sake, quit taking yourself so damn seriously

Lighten up. Just because your book may not be doing as well as someone else’s, doesn’t mean you have to get grouchy and be a meanie. Or if your book is rockin’ and you become a self-righteous prick, a.k.a. asshat, because you are so awesome and everyone should bow to your insurmountable wordliness skills, so you turn your back on the little ants that you used to call your author friends…well that’s just uncool, man. See rule #11.

4. Take constructive criticism like a champ.

“Thank you, Sir, may I have another?”

These should be your words to most beta readers and critiquers. Yeah, sure, it can sting and you might have to rewrite. But how many authors out there are so scared to move into uncharted territory, that they cram cotton in their ears when you try to point out things they can work on? And they continue to produce work that isn’t up to par…. And do they not see their own reviews? This is baffling to me and makes me want to smoke cigarettes and contemplate existence.

How art thou so safe in thoust writing, that thou neverest hath the guts to improve? That ’tis the question.

3. Look at everything in your past, good and bad, as fiction fodder

You’ve been through some tough times, eh? Great! Use it as fuel. Put it in the book. Nothing makes all that stupid stuff we’ve done more worthwhile than turning it into an awesome book.

2. Don’t give up

Sleepless nights. Tears. Bad reviews. Plot holes. Rewrites. Endless hours in the editing cave.

I know, I’m trembling, too.

But this is where the rubber meets the road. This is how our character is molded. That’s where good books become great books, and authors become bestselling badasses.

1. And most importantly, the no-brainer is WRITE! Write every day.

The writer-mind is like any other muscle–it must be used constantly for it to be at 110%, which is where it needs to be for you to be totally awesome. Keep a “Don’t-break-the-chain” writing calendar if you are having trouble disciplining yourself. Mark a red “X” on every day that you write for at least five minutes. The truth is, once you sit down, five minutes may turn into ten, twenty, thirty, or an hour. You’ll soon find that time you thought you didn’t have to write, is in fact, there. You have to make time for what you love. Because:

“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”
― Franz Kafka

For real. There’s nothing worse than a creative person who is not being creative. Poor miserable little souls. 😦

So, to sum up:

Write the best book you can write and don’t be an asshat. The rest will fall into place.

Until next time, writerly souls…

Write on! 😀

 

UPDATE:

You can check out my books on Amazon here:

The Treemakers (YA Dystopian Scifi Romance) http://amzn.to/1H3tqFw

The Truth About Mud (YA Fantasy Adventure) http://amzn.to/1EoAme8

~13 Ways to Make More Time to Write~

happy-writer

I was supposed to do this post last month, but I procrastinated. Such a horrible, nasty habit, wouldn’t you say?

But not so fast . . . .

Procrastination does have its place, just as other “bad habits” have their place. In fact, I use some of them on a daily basis in order to pursue my writing full-throttle.  Like a wild-haired insane person who has ingested massive quantities of caffeine, I hone in on my goal and evoke the darkest powers of evasion, procrastination, delegation, and superstition to move me giant steps forward every day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my life is the model life of the writer that you should seek. I wouldn’t wish single parent-dom on anyone, especially with four kids, a puppy and a rat. Some days I think if I turned my life into a reality show, I’d be an overnight kajillionaire. Because, wow . . . we have craziness up the wazoo here. But alas, I know my place in this world is as a writer and not a television star. Which is a good thing, because I’d be pissed if I had to wake up and put makeup on everyday before I left my bedroom.

So, the way I see it, if a single mom of four can make time to write, so can you. Below are a few ideas of how you can build your life more around your writing. Some of the ideas may seem CRAZY to you, but just remember, they are merely meant to get you thinking about what the truly important things are in your life, and where your passion for writing will stand in the midst of it all. Because it is up to you.

 

13 Ways to MAKE Time to Write

 

#13. You know all those awesome tv shows you watch? Don’t. Watch. Them.

Seriously, don’t. My suggestion is to just get rid of cable altogether. I haven’t had cable since 2006 and I rarely regret it. We do have Netflix, but it is strictly for children’s programming. I used to get sucked into watching about three hours of television a day, if not more, which not only drains the vibrancy of your imagination (not to mention your relationships with those around you, IMO), but it also clogs your mind space from being as full of ideas that are authentically you. TV exists for one reason and one reason alone: to hold you and your precious creative brain hostage in its world, slowly lessening your ability to use your own imagination. Sure, there are some good shows out there. Some people think crack and heroin are good, too. They’re supposed to be! They are designed this way to keep you at their whim, whether your local drug dealer or your local television broadcaster, it is a conspiracy to make you their mind slave. No, I haven’t once seen Game of Thrones (though I’d like to read the book) or Breaking Bad or The Waking Dead, or any of those other shows people talk about all of the time. But I did write three novels and a few short stories last year. Imagine how much writing you could get done in that [insert your number here] hours a day?

 

#12. Cultivate “Bad” Habits: Procrastinate, ignore, and shift responsibilities to others (a.k.a. delegate.)

Chores. Errands. Duties. Housework. Evil, yet necessary, deeds that must be done sometimes. The key word here is sometimes. Here’s where some of those “bad habits” pay off.  Here are three examples in snapshots from a day in my life:

a. Baby goes down for a nap and I notice the house is messy. Clean?

Um, no. This is the perfect opportunity for me to get some uninterrupted writing in. House cleaning can wait. My house is rarely spotless. If I cleaned my house like Carol Brady, I’d never get any writing done. Ever. Besides, geniuses thrive in clutter. 😉

b. Kids come home from school.

Me: “Time to clean!”

Kids: “Ugh, do we have to?”

Me: “If you want to play outside with your friends today.”

There, see? That was easy. Delegation is important, not only for me, but for them, because honestly, they need to clean up after themselves anyway. It’s part of growing up and learning how to be self-sufficient. (Gosh I love it when my justifications are actually true!) But seriously, this is one I’ve had to work on. Since I am somewhat of a perfectionist (aka slight control freak), I like things done the “right” way (my way), which is rarely how my children do anything as far as chores are concerned. So, I’ve had to tame my inner critic and outer perfectionist and learn to let some things slide.

and c. Kids are finally in bed and sink is full of dishes. Do dishes?

Not usually, especially now, since we don’t have a working dishwasher. Most nights, I compromise by rinsing and holding in the sink until morning. Remember, I’m a single parent so I can do this without getting yelled at, or my partner feeling like he has to pick up my slack. 😉 It’s just an example. But, I do this because my prime writing time is in the evening. Usually, I can get the dishes done in the morning when the kids are getting ready for school, this way I reserve my prime writing time (which happens to coincide with “primetime” tv, fyi) for writing and writing alone. Every minute counts.

 

 

#11. Quit your day job (or cut back your hours) and trust life while you pursue your dream.

This one for me was not actually by direct choice, but rather, through a series of choices I made in my past when I was in the midst of mental illness and addiction. That is a story for another time, but I will say this: it worked for J.K. Rowling, and look at her now. And because I love her and her story so much, I’m going to toss in my favorite inspiring quote from her: (found on Wikipedia. Click HERE for her full story.)

‘Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as “the biggest failure I knew”. Her marriage had failed, she was jobless with a dependent child, but she described her failure as liberating:

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
– J. K. Rowling, “The fringe benefits of failure”, 2008

Yes, it’s possible. You will not die from being poor. Yes, it kind of sucks, but you can make the best of it. At least you’d get to do what you love. No, you don’t need all the fancy luxuries that “everyone else” has that you are working your fingers to the bone for. Some of you may be steaming at the ears right now reading this because you are thinking, “yeah right,” but to those of you, I say; I do it every single day. The list of things I do not have that “everyone else” has is extensive. By the US government’s standards, I am well below the poverty line, yet, I am still wealthier than 80% of the world. Every day I try to focus on gratitude for what I have, because there are a million people who would trade places with me in a heartbeat.

(A little Addendum here: In no way I am saying you should be content with living your life in the poor house. I am saying a temporary setback may occur once you switch your focus solely or mainly to writing. I firmly believe that a writer who pursues his or her craft with vigor and perseverance and determination can be, and will be successful, even financially. It happens every day. But it does take time.)

 

#10. Move your laptop to the dining room, or other heavily traveled area of your home.

When I first moved into the apartment I’m in now, I had my writing desk in my bedroom. This did not work. If I wanted to write, I had to isolate myself from my children. So, I moved my desk to my dining area, and now, my kids have gotten used to it being “mommy’s spot,” and I have gotten used to fine-tuning my multi-tasking skills. Every spare minute I have, I’m at my computer. From where I sit, I have a clear view of everything going on in my living room and I am right next to the kitchen. While the kids are doing homework and I’m waiting for the oven to heat up or water to boil, I can steal a few minutes at my desk to work on a scene. Like I said, every minute counts. Plus, if your writing space is hidden away–out of sight, out of mind–you are less likely to write as often as you would if it were right there staring you down with its beady little seductress eyes. “Come to me, write with me,” it says. Make the siren a visible ali.

 

#9. Invest in a good set of headphones.

Three words: Horrible Children’s Programming.

Sure, Baby Einstein is brilliant, and so is Sesame Street. But Barney makes me want to claw my own ears off. Of course my toddler loves him. But I can make Barney work to my advantage. I know when Barney is on, my son is glued for thirty minutes. And since I am in straight view of him in his playpen while he watches it, I can put on my headphones and write. When I am writing, not only do I not want that interrupting my mental mojo, but I also love listening to music that inspires the mood of whatever it is I’m working on. Usually, it’s electronic music of some sort, most of the time without words. I can be visually in my children’s world, but audio-ly, I can check out momentarily, when I need the musical motivation to carry me onward.

 

x#8. Get a writing calendar.

If you are not in the habit of writing every day, this might help you get there. It did for me. Put a big red ‘X’ on the calendar for every day that you write. Seeing that visually will set your mind in motion to want to be able to put that X there every day. Set yourself a goal of at least five or ten minutes a day, and I promise you, you’ll realize that time magically seems to extend. Build up to making a goal of a red X every day for a month. Once you have that goal met, aim for a year. (This idea was inspired by Jerry Seinfeld, btw. Thanks, Jerry!)

 

#7. Stay up late, get up early, give in to exhaustion.

Hey, I didn’t say I was giving you a recipe for good health here; that’s in my other blog (which you can get to HERE).

In this blog though, we are talking about sacrifice for the sake of the beautiful, somewhat elusive and occasionally intangible obsession with the written word. A.k.a., grabbing that writing bull by the horns and claiming your title as word-slinging badass. If you wish to claim this title, sometimes, it is necessary to sacrifice sleep. You may find, as I did, that once you follow your writing bliss and make it more of a priority in your life, it’s much like falling in love. You find you need less sleep. Your mind wants to wake up and move on with your awesome project. It wants to unravel that juicy little plot it has begun to feast on. It wants to see how things are going to unfold today. It craves those moments when tears and sweat mold you and your craft into someone and something to be proud of. Because I believe anyone who sacrifices for the sake of creation, will be rewarded, not only for an amazing finished product, but a work of art others will love as well.

Of course, if you are like me, your body will tell you when enough is enough. After a string of nights where I was sacrificing a little too much sleep, barely skimming by with five hours for a week straight, I hit a wall and I was in bed half the day, exhausted to the point of near uselessness. So, listen to your body ultimately. When it whispers softly for sleep, tell it to wait just a bit longer sometimes. But if it’s screaming at you, by all means, SLEEP! You’ll be more productive after some rest.

suffer now

 

#6. Cut back on your alcohol consumption.

I used to think I was a great writer under the influence of alcohol. Years later, in sobriety, I can barely read that drunken chicken scratch in my old journals. It’s junk, for real. Sure, there have been a lot of great writers who drank heavily, but I wonder what the extent of their brilliance would have been if they were clear-headed? When you write sober (or less-drunk?) you can put things together more clearly, you’ll have less editing to do later, and you won’t pass out early when you could still be up getting a little more writing time in.

 

#5. Cut back on your caffeine consumption.

A little caffeine is good. A lot is counterproductive. Too much caffeine can make you grumpy and groggy, and that is not a good condition to be in for maximum writing potential.

 

#4. Take your electronic writing device (or pen and paper) with you everywhere you have to go that requires waiting.

There’s no better way to pass the time in the dentist office while you wait for your kids. It may be just twenty or thirty minutes, but that is enough time to get in a page or two of a chapter, maybe more, depending on how fast you type and how much on fire you are. Like I said, every minute counts.

 

just-say-no

#3. Just say NO.

Cut back on all of those extra things you do because you can’t say no. Like, when people ask you if you want to be the planner for their neighbor’s son’s bar mitzvah . . . . Don’t feel bad about saying no. You can tell them why or not tell them. Just say you have plans or a prior commitment; because that’s what this is. You are making a commitment to yourself, the badass word-slinging writer. You are going to do this thing, and you are not going to let your neighbor’s son’s bar mitzvah or you cousin’s girlfriend’s brother in law’s daughter’s quinceanera stand in your way.

 

#2. Keep yourself motivated.

If you are encouraged, inspired, and influenced by positivity around you, it is amazing how your life will seemingly open itself up to allow you time for more of the things that bring you joy. If writing brings you joy, then the pursuit of more of it will also bring you joy. Surround yourself with people that inspire and encourage you. Post pictures and quotes in your writing space and around your home that inspire you to follow your bliss. Read works by authors you admire to keep your creative juices flowing.

 

#1. Limit your social media.

Can I get an Amen? This is perhaps the thing I struggle with most. Social Media for the writer trying to “make it,” is another necessary evil. But it’s not really necessary if we are on it so much we aren’t even writing, is it? Try limiting your Facebook and other social media as much as possible. Don’t get caught in the snare. And definitely don’t play those time-sucking games. And for goodness sake, stop sending me requests for them 😉

So, stop making excuses. If you need to name check 11 Lame excuse for not writing, Click HERE.

Until next time, you word-slinging badasses . . .

Write on! 😀

 

 

 

 

 

50 Awesome Moments Only Writers Would Understand

The world of the writer is a unique one. The way we view and experience life is definitely different from how non-writers do, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Below are fifty awesome moments most writers have or will experience in their lifetime.

50. That awesome writer moment when you type “The End.”

49. That awesome writer moment when you reread something you just wrote and it’s like reading something somebody else wrote, and you wonder where the hell it came from.

48. That thankful writer moment when you get the kids to bed and you FINALLY get to sit your ass down and write.

47. That sad writer moment when you discover that a character you’ve grown to really like/love . . . has to die.

46. That awesome writer moment when you realize that what you are writing is bigger than you, is coming from some place beyond you, and you are but a vestibule for the creative workings of the Universe to materialize. . . . When that Universal truth comes to you as a gift to be shared through your talent, humbly, a light for others to see themselves and the world by.

45. That moment when you realize you need to kill your darlings. (See above)

44. When you realize you are narrating your life in third person again.

43. That awesome writer moment when you’re writing a creepy scene and you keep looking over your shoulder, making sure no one’s behind you. In your own house. In daylight.

42. That moment when an idea to do something perfectly horrible to your characters creeps up on you and makes you smile, evilly.

41. When you are losing an argument so you start correcting their grammar.

40. When your back is killing you, your eyes are buggin’, your legs have lost all their sensation, your forearms, wrists, and elbows are achy and sore, but still you write on like the badass word-slinger that you are.

39. That awkward writer moment when you start talking to a non-reader/writer passionately about your book and they pretend like they care but it’s obvious they are more interested in the activities of a nearby Porta Potty than your book.

38. That Halleluiah! writer moment when you’ve been querying agents/publishers for eons, and you finally get that “yes.”

37. When you get a brilliant idea in the shower and you hop out with soap still on your body to scribble it down on a paper plate with a crayon (or something like that 😉 )

36. When you’re on a road trip and you put on your headphones and listen to inspiring music while working out plot details in your head the whole way.

35. That awesome writer moment when you have to pull over to write something down.

34. That moment when the best thing you ever wrote was born on a napkin.

33. That moment when your “emergency fire rescue” box in your house is too full of your writing stuff to fit any family photos, baby keepsakes, important paperwork, etc.

32. When you are constantly catching typos in places they shouldn’t be; cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, text books, signs, and your kid’s printed homework pages . . . . and you make a big deal out of it. And no one else cares.

31. When one kind comment or note of encouragement from a reader/fellow writer can pull you out of that mucky bog of motivation-less self-pity and disenchantment.

30. That sweet moment when someone you know and love reads your book and you feel closer to them.

29. When you have a child within the age bracket of your YA book. (Yes! Priceless input!)

28. When that child doesn’t want to read your book because it doesn’t have vampires in it. (Seriously?)

27. When you read a really awesome book and you have to read it again so you can pick it apart and see exactly how the author made it so freakin’ awesome.

26. When you’re talking with another writer in front of a non-writer and they are awkwardly standing there like, “huh?”

25. That inspiring moment when a big storm comes and you start plotting end of the world weather scenarios and storylines in your head.

24. That awkward moment when you meet someone who reminds you of one of your characters and you’re like, “WTF?”

23. When that plot kink works itself out in a dream, after stressing all day/week/month about it.

22. When you write your first novel and are in love with it . . . .

21. When you look at your first novel a year later and realize what a POS it is . . . .

20. When you see how necessary it was that your first novel be a POS, because you learned so much in the process of writing it.

19. That day you realize you don’t have to wait for an agent or publisher to wave the magic wand of “good enough” over you and your words, and you decide to brave the deep waters of self-publishing . . . and you learn how to swim in them. And you become a self-publishing guru, teetering daringly on the edge of absolute badass.

18. When you would rather write than sleep.

17. When your characters tell you exactly what they want you to do next . . . or else.

16. When you’re having an “off” day, and someone gives you unwarranted constructive criticism . . . and you want to tell them what they can do with their unwarranted constructive criticism.

15. When you write drunk and think it’s the best thing you ever wrote . . . .

14. That moment when you look at your drunken mumbo jumbo the next day.

13. When you have more books on your kindle than your local public library has on its shelves.

12. That amazing moment when what you are writing makes you laugh . . . . or cry.

11. That awkward moment when seeing an old typewriter is an aphrodisiac.

10. When you develop a crush on a fictional character . . . . (Hey, he’s eighteen, it’s legal, right?)

9. That moment when a blog post you wrote goes “viral.”

8. That awesome moment when you finish that rewrite. It was scary to tackle at first, but you wrangled that bull and showed it who the heck was boss! Sha-BAM! DONE!! And so much awesomer now!

7. That ancient writer memory of always having ink-stained hands.

6. When you have an elevator-pitch moment with a chance-encounter, and you totally forget what your book is about, how to speak, and that you are even an author in the first place.

5. When you base a character on someone that pisses you off . . . and they just have to die. (hehehe)

4. When you take your shitty day out on your characters . . . and it works . . . and it’s awesome.

3. When you finally meet that special person who “gets” you, and appreciates your word-nerdiness in all its glory.

2. When you light your keyboard on fire because you’re on a roll and the thoughts are flowing and the story has begun writing itself and you can barely keep up.

1. The realization that you cannot not write, even if you are not getting paid enough, or at all; because it is who you are. It is your gift, your passion, your light to shine into the world. It is your spark in the dark.

Now go! Live the moments and be great.

And as always,

Write on ❤

***

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