When It’s Time to Dig Deeper

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.

In a recent post on the Writer Unboxed blog, author Jan O’Hara shared the following advice:

When we put a story out in the world, we are competing for attention with intrinsically compulsive media in a boundless landscape of fiction.

We are also competing with our own readers’ sophisticated imaginations. Readers understand story structure, if only at an intuitive level. They perceive the value of high stakes. They thirst for deep themes. And we must respect their skills and strive to be at our best, else our story will be overlooked for superior fan art.

Whether in outlining or in revision, at some point we must ask ourselves the following:

Do our characters want something meaningful?

On the path to their goals, do they face true opposition?

Will there be significant consequences if they fail?

If we can’t honestly say yes to the above, it’s time to dig deeper, using whatever tools best speak to our inner craftsperson, whether that means books or conferences, critique partners or beta readers, editors and agents—or all the above.

This is what it means to respect our audience. This is what it means to grow our skills. This is where our gratifying challenge lies—if we’ll but accept it.

Source: Writer Unboxed

Life Tips from Dandelions

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 thought-provoking perspective from the Mind Fuel Daily Blog:

We can’t think of a few plants as famous as the dandelion. Who as a child didn’t blow on its soft puffball and watch the seeds float away? Unfortunately, dandelions don’t have the greatest reputation and are considered a nuisance by countless landscapers and gardeners.

But once you get to learning about dandelions, you’ll find they have a number of lessons to offer. Whether you find this plant a pesky presence or just another a beautiful part of nature, we’ve rounded up all the surprising life tips this flower has to teach.

Weeds…or Wishes?

Sometimes, the only difference between a flower and a weed is a matter of perspective. Some people look at dandelions and see a weedy menace. Others smile at its yellow blossom and look forward to making wishes with its puffy seeds. With dandelions, as in life, your attitude shapes everything. Choose to see the flower that grants wishes instead of weeds.

Be Useful

The dandelion is incredibly versatile. From stem to root, it’s entirely edible. Not only that, but it’s also been used for everything from folk medicine to dye. Dandelions also improve soil quality, leaving behind nitrous and other nutrients. Not too shabby for such a common plant, huh? The dandelion teaches us no matter how unassuming or ordinary we may seem; we actually have a whole lot to contribute to the world.

Adapt

Dandelions adapt easily and are able to grow in all sorts of soil types and conditions. And not just grow but flourish. This is partly why they’re so prevalent. In fact, dandelions are “pioneer plants”, those plants that are among the first to repopulate the soil after it’s been disturbed (like after a wildfire). In other words, dandelions make do even in the roughest situations. We know you can too.

Embrace Change, Let Go When Necessary

So many are familiar with the dandelion’s evolution from a yellow blossom to a white puffball. Once that soft tuft appears, the dandelion will soon release its seeds into the wind. Dandelions know that change is simply part of life, and just as important, they know when to let go.

Travel Far

Did you know? Dandelions seeds can travel up to five miles in the wind. That may not seem like much, but it’s pretty impressive when you learn that dandelions have nearly conquered the world. A brief history of this flower reveals they were once exclusive to Eurasia. Now? They grow on six different continents. Take a cue from the dandelion: go far and be willing to take on any new terrain.

Be Tenacious

Of course, dandelions are so commonly known as weeds because they are so pervasive and persistent. If you mow or cut them, they simply come back. Rip their roots out, and any remaining roots will simply grow more dandelions. While some might see this as a nuisance, we think this a prime lesson in determination! Be like the dandelion, be tenacious.

Source: Mind Fuel Daily Blog

On Meeting Limits with Unlimited Thought

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 A Year of Miracles by spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson. I have followed the 365 reflections and devotions over several years. Here’s one of my favorites:

Our power lies in meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thought. It is not what happens to us, but what we choose to think about what happens to us, that determines what will happen next.

If our circumstances tempt us to think thoughts such as “I’m a loser,” “I will never have another chance,” “It will take forever for this situation to right itself,” or “I hate whoever is to blame for this,” then miracles, though they are programmed into the nature of the universe, cannot make their way into our awareness. They’re in the computer, but we’re not choosing to download them. With every thought we think, we either summon or block a miracle.

It is not our circumstances, then, but rather our thoughts about our circumstances, that determine our power to transform them. We choose in life whether to live in victimization or in victory. We have power either way—power to use against ourselves, or power to use to free ourselves. The point is that we always have the choice, and it’s not always as simple as it appears.

Source: A Year of Miracles

The Catalyst for Change

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 long-time fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to reading their emails and blog posts. Here’s an excerpt from a recent email:

Many of the most iconic books, songs and inventions of all time were inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak. Therefore, the silver lining of these painful challenges is that they were the catalyst to the creation of epic masterpieces.

An emerging field of psychology called Post-Traumatic Growth has suggested that many people are able to use their hardships and traumas for substantial creative and intellectual development. Specifically, researchers have found that trauma can help people grow in the areas of interpersonal relationships, contentment, gratitude, personal strength, and resourcefulness.

When our view of the world as a safe place, or as a certain type of place, has been shattered, we are forced to reboot our perspective on things. We suddenly have the opportunity to look out to the periphery and see things with a new, fresh set of beginner’s eyes, which is very conducive to personal growth and long-term success and wellness.

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

In Praise of Obsession

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.

Author Deanna Cabinian shares a unique perspective in a recent post on the Writer Unboxed blog. Here’s an excerpt from that post:

Sometime in 2007 I got it in my head that I wanted to run a 5K. I had never done well in fitness testing in school. In fact, I often finished last in the mile run challenge. I once ran a 14-minute mile. For most people, that’s walking. I was not fast, even though I played team sports. But a 5K goal seemed achievable. Most of my family and friends thought I was nuts. Why would I want to run 3.1 miles? And time it? To this day, I have no idea. But I became obsessed with this goal.

I read Runner’s World. I found a plan called 5 weeks to your first 5K. I followed the plan, 90% of the time. I found a running buddy. And it worked. I ran the 5K and didn’t finish last. I ran several more after that. At my fitness peak, I even completed a half-marathon, a distance I have no desire to run again.

Why am I telling you this? Because it’s similar to our journeys as writers. I believe every writer is talented but certainly there are degrees of talent. The one thing that sets writers apart from the rest of the population who aspire to write a book, essay, magazine piece, etc. is that they sit down and do it. The words might be garbage on the first draft, but they just go for it. Time and time again.

If writing is important to you, it doesn’t matter how talented you are. It matters how interested you are, how often you throw words against the page. Handwritten, typed, or otherwise.

It matters how much you persevere, even when you don’t feel like writing a thing.

It matters if you put words to paper, even if it’s just 5 words a day or 3 words a year.

You are a writer because you show up. Showing up is the action part of the obsession. Over time that obsession will manifest itself into talent.

It’s why I’ve sent hundreds of query letters. (I eventually got an agent).

It’s why I’m writing even though I don’t necessarily feel like it. (I’m recovering from a breakthrough case of Covid)

So go ahead. Obsess sometimes. I think a little obsession is healthy for all of us. Sometimes it even improves your cardiovascular fitness.

Source: Writer Unboxed Blog

Life Lessons

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.

In his memoir, bestselling author James Patterson shares the stories of his life. Here’s one of my favorites from the collection:

To my surprise, maybe even shock, I quickly rose to become CEO of Thompson North America. I was still in my thirties. On the side, I was writing one or two bestselling novels a year. It was nuts. Something had to give or eventually I would.

Life lessons are everywhere, right? The trouble is, like most people, I tended to ignore them. I soldiered on though long days and nights. I was working too hard. I knew it.

But every once in a while, I snapped out of it and actually paid attention.

It happened to me on the New Jersey Turnpike, of all unlikely places. One Sunday afternoon, I had to leave the Jersey Shore for a meeting in New York. The last thing that I wanted to do was schlep back to work. The last place I wanted to be was hot, sweaty New York City in July.

An hour and a half after I left the shore, I was still trapped in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The proverbial turnpike parking lot. Cars moving at ten miles an hour.

On the other side of the road, an occasional car went whizzing by. Whoosh. Maybe one car every fifteen seconds.

Whoosh…

Whoosh…

Whoosh…

I sat there, mildly pissed, absorbing this very obvious life lesson for about an hour.

Then I finally got it. The lesson was simple and so very clear. Why hadn’t I seen it before?

My mission in life had to be to get on the other side of the highway. To get in the traffic lane that was moving. My life was going in the wrong direction.

I swear to God, that insight, that miserable time trapped on the Jersey Turnpike, drove me out of advertising.

I focused on writing novels.

And I made it my mission to try and find somebody who would love me and who I would love back.

Whoosh…whoosh.

Source: James Patterson – The Stories of My Life, pp. 122-123.

Five Life Lessons from a Butterfly

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 post about butterflies from the Mind Fuel Daily blog:

These tiny, fluttering creatures are really teachers in disguise. Here are five bits of life wisdom, inspired by the beautiful butterfly.

Be patient. All good things come with time. We are growing, even when we cannot feel it. With great patience come great rewards.

Be open to change. Be willing to be transformed. Without change, nothing beautiful would happen. You have to give up who you are to become who you might be.

Be light and free. Have some fun. Float from each open door to the next. Look for the color, humor and joy in daily life.

Be spontaneous. Go wherever your wings take you. Fly forward with confidence. Have the courage to seize new opportunities.

Be in the moment. Look around. Enjoy the flowers, the sun and the breeze. The present moment is a gift for us to enjoy.

Source: Mind Fuel Daily Blog

It’s Okay

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.

In The Comfort Book, bestselling author Matt Haig shares little parcels of hope. Here’s one of my favorite passages:

It’s okay to be broken.

It’s okay to wear the scars of experience.

It’s okay to be a mess.

It’s okay to be the teacup with a chip in it. That’s the one with the story.

It’s okay to be sentimental and whimsical and cry bittersweet tears at songs and movies you aren’t supposed to love.

It’s okay to like what you like.

It’s okay to like things for literally no other reason than because you like them and not because they are cool or clever or popular.

It’s okay to let people find you. You don’t have to spread yourself so thin you become invisible. You don’t have to always be the person reaching out. You can sometimes allow yourself to be reached. As the great writer Anne Lamott puts it: “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”

It’s okay not to make the most of every chunk of time.

It’s okay to be who you are.

It’s okay.

Source: The Comfort Book, pp. 10-11

A Vital Power

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.

In a recent issue of Psychology Today, Dr. David Feldman discussed the power of hope. Here’s an excerpt from that article:

At its heart, hope is a perception—but one that gives us the power to create reality. It’s a perception of something that does not yet exist. And research shows that when people have hope, their goals are actually more likely to become reality. That’s because when people have a clear belief about what is possible, they’re more likely to take steps to make it happen.

You may have heard the expression, “Hope is not a strategy.” Don’t believe it: Hope is a way of thinking that pushes us to take action. Research by C.R. Snyder found that most hopeful people had three things in common: goals, pathways (strategies), and agency. They were under no illusions that all their strategies would work: they tended to try multiple pathways, realizing that many would be blocked. But they persisted because they had an abiding belief in themselves and their capabilities.

It’s tempting to lose hope today, but that would be surrendering a vital power.

Source: Psychology Today, April 2022, p. 52