Don’t Quit by Edgar A. Guest

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 can recall feeling goosebumps rise as I listened to my Grade 8 teacher read this poem to the class. Its message still resonates, especially during cold, blustery days in mid January.



Advertisements

How to Manage Your Writing Process

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 Canadian mystery author Gail Bowen, I was happy to discover she had written Sleuth, a hands-on guide for anyone thinking of writing a whodunit. I highly recommend this informative and entertaining book chock full of solid tips and examples.

Here are ten tips on how to manage your writing process:

1. Write every day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes or to jot something down in your notebook or to do a quick edit on your work from the day before. Day-by-day engagement with your work keeps the connection alive and the juices flowing.

2. Never leave your writing in a bad spot. If you know a quagmire awaits you, the temptation not to go back to your laptop can be almost irresistible. Some of my best writing moments have come after I’ve gritted my teeth and stayed at my laptop till I’ve worked through the problem. Ernest Hemingway said, “Always leave the pump primed.” It’s good advice. And novelist Jodi Picoult tartly observed, “You can edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page.” If you’re in what a writer friend refers to as “suck mode,” then the process will be painful, but take a few breaths and forge ahead.

3. Many writers, and I am among them, believe that two quiet hours at 5 a.m. equal four hours of regular work time. Ignore this advice if you are a night owl.

4. When you’re stuck, leave your desk. Go for a walk. Make tea. Play with your dog or cat. Meditate. Whatever you do, don’t start surfing the net, don’t make a phone call, and don’t get together with friends. If you do, other people’s words will pour in where your words should be. Create a space. Be patient.

5. Use the Pomodoro Technique. Work for twenty-five minutes. Give yourself a five-minute break, and then get back to work. I’ve been doing this since I started writing. Until a couple of years ago, I had no idea this particular strategy had a name, but it does, and by any name the technique works.

6. Trust your instincts. If a character begins to surprise you, follow him to where he takes you.

7. Trust your instincts even when you don’t want to. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a character is lifeless, a plot line is limp, a symbol is leaden, or horror of horrors, your whole manuscript has the vitality of a long-dead mackerel. Give that draft of the manuscript a decent burial and start again. Try some creative recycling of the characters and plot points that didn’t work in the first draft. You might be amazed at how they snap, crackle, and pop the second time around. Remember P.D. James wise counsel: “Nothing is ever wasted.”

8. Never give up.

9. Learn to be your own editor. I begin every day rewriting the last page or so I wrote the day before. I always find something to shift or change. And working on the familiar material helps me to reconnect with the manuscript and gets the juices running again.

10. E. L. Doctorow said that writing “is like driving a car at night: you can never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Keep the faith.

Source: Sleuth by Gail Bowen, pp. 40-42


Transform Your Life One Morning at a Time

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.

Since retiring, I’ve rediscovered the benefits of expressing my ideas the old-fashioned way: handwriting my thoughts in a journal. I have Julia Cameron to thank for that epiphany. A fan of Julia’s books, among them The Artist’s Way and The Prosperous Heart, I found myself incorporating Morning Pages into my daily regimen.

In last month’s edition of Spirituality & Practice, Julia shared more insights about this classic practice. Here’s an excerpt from that article:

Writing morning pages is a form of prayer. We are telling the universe–or God, or a higher power, or the force, or the Dao, name it what you will–exactly what we like, what we dislike, what we want more of, what we want less of. We are contacting an inner resource that guides us carefully and well. Many of us would shy away from prayer. But, writing our pages, we may discover ourselves doing something that resembles praying. We contact an unsuspected inner resource. It doesn’t matter what name we give to this force. What does matter is that we listen to it. And this listening, done daily, brings startling results.

“Please guide me,” we pray, and soon we receive guidance. It may come as a hunch or intuition. It may come as a conversation with a stranger. The point is that guidance does come, and if we are open to listening, we hear it.

Source: Spirituality & Health, November/December 2018


Lessons from a Christmas Tree

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.

While surfing online, I discovered the following meme that brought a smile and a chuckle. My favorite line – “It’s okay to be a little tilted.”

Enjoy!



Words of Wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh

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.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. Whenever that happens, I like to read the following words of wisdom from renowned Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. Affectionately known as “Thay” by his students, he is the author of more than 100 books on mindfulness and meditation. His key message is that happiness lies in the present moment.



Living Well and Opting for Joy – A Centenarian’s Secrets

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.

Yoga teacher and competitive ballroom dancer Tao Porchon-Lynch turned 100 on August 13, 2018. Just before her birthday, she shared the following seven secrets for aging gracefully:

Secret No. 1: Wake up before the sun. “I wake up before the sun rises because I like to watch it rise,” says Tao Porchon-Lynch.“ By observing nature, I can feel a life force. I look outside my window to the sky and tell myself that this is going to be the best day of my life. Then I’ll often pick up my journal and write something that comes to my mind that’s in my heart.”

Secret No. 2: Be grateful—and optimistic. Tao Porchon-Lynchsays she learned the importance of embodying both of these traits from the time she was a child. “I was raised by my aunt and uncle, and my uncle started every day with, ‘It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?’ Now I do the same, and I do it with a smile. I believe the key to a long life is positive thinking.”

Secret No. 3: Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. When Tao Porchon-Lynch has something to do, she says she does it right away—she never procrastinates. “I don’t want to sit there hoping, wishing, and wasting time,” she says. “I always practice my yoga in the morning and my dancing in the afternoon. This commitment is likely why I’ve received the Guinness World Records for being the oldest yoga teacher and the oldest competitive ballroom dancer.”

Secret No. 4: Remember the true meaning of yoga. “Yoga can be the joy of life, and it’s not just about putting our bodies into specific postures,” she says. “It’s about expressing what comes from inside of you and showing up when you meet other people to create a oneness.”

Secret No. 5: If you see a barrier, try to push past it. Yoga has almost always been a part of Tao Porchon-Lynch’s life. “I was introduced to it when I was seven years old; I wandered to the beach near my childhood home in French India and saw some boys practicing yoga on the sand,” she says. “I followed their movements and I thought that I was learning a new game. That evening I told my aunt about the game, and she explained that it was called yoga and that it was only for boys. This was 1925. I told her that girls can do what boys can do, and by the time I was eight years old, I was on that beach joining the boys during my playtime.”

Secret No. 6: Do what you love. “I became a yoga teacher after friends saw me incorporating yoga into my everyday life and asked to join my practice. What I love most about teaching is seeing a smile come onto someone’s face when they realize that they can do things that they thought were impossible, physically and mentally.”

Secret No. 7: Don’t be afraid to age. “I don’t feel any different now that I’ve turned 100. I’m not even scared. And I’ll never stop practicing yoga—it’s the dance of life! The breath is the breath eternal, which makes all things possible.”

Source: Yoga Journal September 2018



Everything I Have to Teach You About Writing, On One Page

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 have just finished reading Courage & Craft: Writing Your Life Into Story by Barbara Abercrombie. I highly recommend this clear and insightful guide to all writers and wannabe writers. Here’s a summary page from the book: