All the Little Things Make a Big Difference

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A longtime fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to reading their blog. Here’s an excerpt from a recent post:

Life isn’t about a single moment of great triumph and attainment. It’s about the trials and errors that get you there—the blood, sweat, and tears—the small, inconsequential things you do every day. It all matters in the end—every step, every regret, every decision, and every affliction.

The seemingly useless happenings add up to something. The minimum wage job you had in high school. The evenings you spent socializing with coworkers you never see anymore. The hours you spent writing thoughts on a personal blog that no one reads. Contemplations about elaborate future plans that never came to be. All those lonely nights spent reading novels and news columns and comics strips and fashion magazines and questioning your own principles on life and sex and religion and whether or not you’re good enough just the way you are.

All of this has strengthened you. All of this has led you to every success you’ve ever had. All of this has made you who you are today.

Truth be told, you’ve been broken down 1,000 times and put yourself back together again. Think about how remarkable that is, and how far you’ve come. You’re not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or even yesterday.

You’re always growing…stronger!

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.

Burn On, Not Out

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Here’s one of my Go-To excerpts from today’s devotional in Trusting God Day by Day (Joyce Meyer):

Are you saying “yes” with your mouth while your heart is screaming “no”? If so, you will eventually be stressed-out, burned-out, and possibly sick. We just cannot go on like that forever without ultimately breaking down under the strain.

No matter how many people you please, there will always be someone who will not be pleased. Learn that you can enjoy your life even if everyone does not think you are wonderful. Don’t be addicted to approval from people; if God approves, that is all that really matters.

Being committed is very good, but being overcommitted is very dangerous. Know your limits and don’t hesitate to say “no” if you know that you need to. God has assigned a life span to each of us, and although we don’t know exactly how long we have on earth, we should certainly desire to live out the fullness of our years. We want to burn on, not burn out. We should live with passion and zeal, not with exhaustion; we should be good examples to others.

Source: Trusting God Day By Day, pp. 392-393

Edit with Murder on Your Mind

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I highly recommend reading The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith. In this insightful guidebook, Marion urges us to write with intent. Here’s her take on editing:

The goal of a good edit is for the piece to read like a sleigh ride: smooth and fast. It can, if not a word is extra, not a phrase is flabby. Here’s the razor-sharp rule: If you find yourself skimming a sentence or paragraph, thinking the reader will enjoy herself later, forget it. That’s not how readers work, and never how editors read. They don’t say, “I bet this will get good soon, so I’ll keep plowing.” If editors and readers have one thing in common, it’s that they bail out at the first sign of trouble, when the writing appears to be out of control.

And who can blame them? There is always something else to read.

The most basic rule of editing is that if you can’t bear to read it, no one else can either. So, when you find yourself skimming, commit murder.

Source: The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith, p. 109

Only a Minute Away

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Bestselling author Bob Goff shares a unique perspective on a historical event in his recent release, Dream Big:

On December 17, 1903, after years of tinkering and experimenting, two brothers named Wilbur and Orville Wright changed history by making a successful powered flight over the sands of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

The precise moment in time when Orville and Wilbur pulled away from the earth was 10:35 in the morning. It was the moment we knew sustained flight was possible. Before that minute, no one knew what would happen. Nearly everyone doubted that it could be done. I’ve always wondered to myself what Orville and Wilbur were thinking a minute before they launched at 10:34. We all wonder the same thing about our ambitions at some point. Will our ambitions fly, or will they crash and burn?

Nobody lives at 10:35. You don’t, and I don’t. We all live our lives and execute our ambitions at 10:34. We don’t know how our lives will turn out, much less whether our ideas are going to work out or not. I meet so many people in my travels, good people with great ideas, but many of them never take their ideas out of the hangar. The reason is simple. They’re afraid of what they’ll do if it works or afraid they’ll look bad if it doesn’t.

Perhaps it’s validation that has you stopped a minute early. Maybe you’re concerned about a big public failure, or maybe the thought of an even bigger private failure is keeping you from trying. Somehow the clock became frozen at 10:34 in your life. The good news is this; 10:35 is only a minute away from happening for each of us. That one minute is a small amount of time, but it can represent a huge shift in your life. It just requires a willingness to fail.

Source: Dream Big, pp. 162-163

Blooming Has No Deadline

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Here is an inspirational excerpt from You’ve Got This! by best-selling author Margie Warrell:

If you’re in your forties or fifties or sixties or far beyond, refuse to let the number of years you’ve been alive be your excuse for not taking the actions you might wish you’d taken years ago; the actions that would add a whole new dimension to your life today. As Rich Kaarlgard wrote in Late Bloomers, “Blooming has no deadline. Our future story is written in pencil, not carved in stone. It can be changed. There is no fixed chronology to self-determination, no age limit for breakthroughs.”

Julia Child was 49 when she wrote her first cookbook.

Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t start writing until her forties, and didn’t pen Little House on the Prairie until she was in her sixties.

Vera Wang was 39 before she started designing clothes.

Colonel Harland Sanders was in his sixties when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Diana Nyad was 64 when, after four failed attempts spanning 36 years, she finally achieved her long-held ambition of swimming the infamous channel of shark-ridden waters from Cuba to Florida (without a shark cage).

So whatever your age, whatever your situation, whatever the setbacks you’ve faced or the heartaches you’ve nursed or the stories you’ve told yourself about who you are and what you can do (or what you cannot do), decide right now that you will not settle for a life (career, relationships, etc.) that doesn’t light you up. More so, that you will set your sights on whatever vision—however humble or scarily huge—that does light you up. Research shows that while we lose some abilities as we grow older, the benefits of those we gain far exceed any that are lost. So rather than ask, “What can I accomplish despite my struggles?” ask yourself, “What can I accomplish because of them?”

Source: You’ve Got This! pp. 50-51

Why the Small Story Matters

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Chuck Wendig’s informative guide, Damn Fine Story, contains a mix of personal stories, pop fiction examples, and excellent advice about storytelling. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts:

We don’t really care about the big story. We think we do. We think we care about the Empire versus the Rebel Alliance, we think we care about Spider-Man versus the Vulture, we think we care about Buffy versus the Vampires.

But we don’t. Not really. Not deeply.

What we care about is the small story embedded in there, the small story that’s the beating heart of the larger one. We care about the characters and their personal drama. We care about their families, their loved ones, their struggles to feel normal, their attempts to do right in the face of wrong. We care about Buffy wanting to fall in love and hang out with her friends and not fail out of school. We care that the villains fighting Spider-Man are often connected to him personally, and that they reflect some aspect of his troubled journey from a geeky high school student to a city-saving mutant. We care about the friendships that form between Luke, Leia, and Han.

We care because they care.

We care because their story is our story. Our story is one of friendships and family, of love lost and jealousy made, of birth and death and everything in-between.

A big story without a small story has all the substance of a laser light show. It’s pretty. It’s dazzling. And it’s very, very empty.

Look for the little story.

Look for the story about people.

Source: Damn Fine Story, pp. 79-80.

It Takes Momentum

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Here’s an inspiring excerpt from What It Takes by award-winning entrepreneur Zahra Al-harazi:

When there are not enough hours in the day, when I feel totally overwhelmed, or when I feel lost or helpless, I organize.

In the calm of an organized mind, I move like a lioness in the Serengeti, taking down antelopes one by one. I get work done with incredible efficiency. A flood of serotonin improves my outlook and I revel in achievement—any achievement. Micro progress leads to macro progress. Antelopes lead to zebras and wildebeest. Rearranging my kitchen cupboards leads to hundred-page business plans.

Sitting on the sofa in yoga pants leads nowhere good. It’s not even fair to the yoga pants.

So, make a list and check things off. That last part is important—don’t skip it.

Start with whatever’s in front of you that’s sucking your focus dry; move on to easy stuff that adds up fast: make phone calls, pay bills, put in a load of laundry, throw out the aging produce in your fridge; then attack the wildebeest.

It won’t stand a chance.

Source: What It Takes by Zhara Al-harazi, page 316

A Radical New Challenge for Writers

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Award-winning author Julie Carrick Dalton shares a unique perspective in a recent post on the Writer Unboxed blog. Here’s an excerpt from that post:

Writers are often asked ‘Why do you write?’ in interviews, Q&As, and dinner parties (when we used to go to dinner parties.) Why do I write? For me, the answer is easy. I love to write. I have a million stories in my head. I enjoy being part of the literary community. Writing makes me feel good. I want to inspire people. I want to entertain readers, make them feel something. I have plenty of answers—all of which are true—to the question ‘Why do you write?’

This summer I discovered that for me, the more relevant question is this: When should I not write?

I suspect there are plenty of writers out there who feel like me. Pandemic stress is heavy. We’re worried about our families and friends. We’re trying to be smart and safe in the middle of a global crisis, but also trying to live our lives with some semblance of normalcy. We’re trying to hit deadlines, and hoping we don’t let anyone down.

Every time we log onto social media, someone is telling us to write faster, earlier, longer, to get our butt in a chair, finish that book, sell that book, write another book.

I’m proposing a radical new challenge: Don’t write. (At least not all the time.)

Don’t put your butt in that chair. Don’t show up to your laptop every single day. Give yourself permission to not write sometimes. Who knows, maybe it will make you a better writer—or at least a more grounded one.

Source: Writer Unboxed Blog

Writer on Fire

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Here’s a timely essay from author Hope Clark’s Friday newsletter:

Writers love to write. Some want to tell stories. Some want to tell THEIR stories. Some want to reach out and spread their stories around the world. Some want either to make money or not write. Some write whether the stories sell or not. There are so many types of writers, with so many nuances of those types, that one can almost say no two writers are alike.

Find out who you are. And do it on purpose.” Dolly Parton

There’s writing. Then there’s writing with direction. Neither is wrong. However, there is something exciting about pointing your writing in a direction with a goal to reach whatever is on the horizon. In other words, a writer does have the option of taking charge of their writing instead of letting the writing do the driving. Having a map for your writing can be quite exciting.

There is nothing so empowering as to be in charge.

There is also nothing so scary as to be in charge.

Decision-making is scary, and it takes research, drive, and willpower to direct that energy. That decision-making can mean defining who you are as a writer, what you write, and where you want to be after a certain period of time.

If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.” Dolly Parton

Yes, the quotes are from Dolly Parton, because after all, she is a creative spirit who wisely chose how to direct her energies . . . and did well doing it. Not a bad role model.

Own yourself, own your writing, and decide how you can be happy with the results. It’s in your hands.

Source: Hope Clark