26 June 2014

Falling Off the Writing Wagon (or No, My Brain Wasn't Eaten by a Zombie)

You must write every single day of your life...
You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders 
to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads...
may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. 
And out of that love, remake a world."
~ Ray Bradbury

June is the FLX/WordCount Blogathon!  Join us for 30 Days of blogging madness!

very time I thought about writing a post last week, I felt exhausted.  Tired, drained and unmotivated were the trending words in my little writerly bubble.

Basically, I had a six year old living in my head all week:

But I don’ wanna write!
No one reads my writing anyway!
I wanna read!
I’m bored!

Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!

A couple of sleepless nights didn’t do the little brat any favours either.  Add to that, severe adrenal fatigue, the possibility of Lyme, and an unhappy digestive tract (bet you saw that one coming) and you have a recipe for a writerly clusterfudge of epic proportions.

Also known as lethargy.
Also known as radio silence.
Also known as writer’s block.

I didn’t just fall off the Blogathon wagon, I rolled down the hill, through a cow patty, and into a haystack.

Where I stayed, on my back, staring blindly at a blank paper sky. 
Image credit: Quickmeme

Just Keep Writing, Just Keep Writing
But what is the one rule of writing that all writers must learn and re-learn? 

Just write.  Type until you can’t type anymore and your hands look like claws and your wrists fall off and your eyes are as “raw as meat in a butcher shop.”*

Even if it’s gobbledygook. 
Even if it’s  painful. 
Even if it’s messy. 
Even if it’s rough.

And don’t stop.

Because if you stop writing, you’ll start editing.  Erasing.  Cursing.  Eating things you shouldn’t (hence the rebellious digestive tract), and eventually, you’ll stop writing altogether.

The only time it’s acceptable to stop writing is when you’re out living and listening.  So you have something to write about.

Or reading.  So you have writing prompts that will kick start your writing.

Or if a zombie ate your brains.  Because then your thoughts would really be scattered and your writing wouldn't make any sense.

So you didn’t blog all 30 days.  Did you write every day or read something that you could write about later?  Yes?  Great!  Then it was a success!

The Three Rs: Rest, Reading and a little Rx
But my name isn’t Pollyanna or Bright Eyes, or Dorothy.   And sometimes, even the smallest task is simply too difficult when you are exhausted and tired and starting a new medication.

That whole myth about writers and artists churning out masterpieces while high or drunk is definitely a myth.  Not that I was high or drunk, but the new medication…oh wait, it was to help calm me down and make me feel happy. I think.

Nevermind.  Maybe it’s not a myth.  Still not really that interested in testing it out.  Oh, Mythbusters!  Yoo hoo!

Bottom line: I wrote abso-freakin-lutely nothing last week.   Instead, I threw myself a writer’s pity party.  Anne Shirley would have loved it.  I was in the depths of despair over my lack of talent and my shoddy consistency ~ blame it on the ADD. Wait.  Isn’t that a song? 

But I read.  A lot.  Some really good stuff.  Some gloriously trashy stuff.  Some books I laughed at ~ not because they were funny, but because they were just that awful.  Some made me cry.

And some…inspired the Muse.

Which is the whole point of reading when you can’t write and writing all the time even if it’s horse caca.  Because that fickle, beautiful Muse ~ she better not find you napping.  Or at the least, without some way of capturing the bones she throws you.

I mean, it looks like she was also able to get that inner 6 year old to shut up and go play in someone else’s head.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

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15 June 2014

How to Have a Healing Father's Day: Reblog from Leslie Leyland Fields

When my father would yell at me, I told myself someday I'd use it in a book.
~ Paula Danziger

June is the FLX/WordCount Blogathon!  Join us for 30 Days of blogging madness!


We learn it first from our parents.

And more often than not, it’s an imperfect lesson.  Because our parents are human.

Today is a tough day for some people.  Either because they had a rough childhood, or because their father has died without there being a resolution to the past.

Image credit: whatwillmatter.com
Today, I’d like to direct you to read a post by author Leslie Leyland Fields, author, Alaskan fisherwoman, and leader of the Wilderness Writers Workshop I’ll be attending this fall!  In her post on What Are Fathers For, she explores this often painful relationship and offers some advice on how to cope and live your life in the present.

Read and be moved.  And let’s talk some more on Monday.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What will you do to celebrate Father’s Day today?

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14 June 2014

Tomorrow is Father's Day: Celebrate with a Nap!

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since:
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

June is the FLX/WordCount Blogathon!  Join us for 30 Days of blogging madness!

omorrow is Father’s Day and a Sunday. 

Stop reading this and go sit with your father for a little while.

You don’t know how much longer you’ll have him.

It’s also okay if you’d rather have a steak and a beer by yourself because your father was rotten to you. 

Come by tomorrow ~ we’ll talk.

Yeah, I think I need one of these!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Father’s Day has become so complicated for many of my generation.  I think I’ll just go back to sleep.
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13 June 2014

Messengers of Healing: Drowning Out Negativity

Words are thought descriptors. They project thoughts from anonymity. They transfer thoughts into messages. Messages move the world.
~ William E. Jefferson

June is the FLX/WordCount Blogathon!  Join us for 30 Days of blogging madness!

essages bombard us every day.

Buy this now – so you’re just like everyone else!  Even though you’re already in debt and the economy has stalled.

Try this pill – it cures everything!  Even though it may cause death.

Eat this burger– it’ll make you feel better!  Even though it doesn’t look anything like that in real life.

Don’t eat that butter – it’ll make you fat! Even though everyone agrees poor body image is too prevalent and eating disorders are on the rise.

And those are just the messages we hear from the outside.  The ones we tell ourselves are often even more damaging:

I’ll never get that promotion.
Why am I always so stupid?
I can never do anything right!
I am unlovable / undesirable /untouchable / unworthy.

What makes this more damaging is that while we repeat them over and over to ourselves, we sometime end up repeating them to others.

Changing the Messages We Hear
You can’t give what you don’t have.  So if we’re filled with self-loathing or feel unworthy of love, we aren’t able to love as freely or as warmly as someone who is confident in their worth.  And so the cycle of negative messages continues.

It’s been said that we can never fully erase the hateful messages we tell ourselves, and it certainly seems that way in my experience.  No matter what positive things I tell myself or that my therapist or close friends tell me, the negative ones come back ~ and hit the positive ones over the head with a big, heavy stick.
Image credit: alyssaandbrianna.blogspot.com

And yet, the only reason the ugly ones stay is because they’ve been repeated, over and over and over.  So in order to get rid of them, we have to repeat the positive ones over and over and over.   

Until they play over top the negative messages.

This process isn’t easy and it takes time.  Most of us have heard these negative messages for years, some of us since childhood.  

You can’t overcome 30, 40, or even 60 years of emotional brainwashing in just a few months or even a couple of years.

The upside to healing?  You then become a messenger of peace and positivity and stop the cycle of negativity.

As for taking that death pill with that fatty burger in that new car you can’t afford – turn off the idiot box and get outside, read a book, or spend some time with friends and family.  You can always stream a show later - minus the negative commercials.

Your awesome body and your bank account will thank you.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What messages hold you back?  What are you doing to drown them out?

Five Minute Friday is an ever-growing group of bloggers who write for five minutes flat each Friday on the same prompt that Lisa Jo Baker posts each Thursday evening. It’s five minutes to see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing. Those without a blog can post their five minute piece as a comment on Lisa Jo Baker’s blog. For more details, visit Five Minute Friday.

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12 June 2014

Inviting Perfection: Why Failing is Okay

I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one's being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.
~ Martha Graham

June is the FLX/WordCount Blogathon!  Join us for 30 Days of blogging madness!

esterday I talked about whether blogging every day in a challenge would overwhelm readers and inadvertently force the writer to post less than stellar work.

Then I tweeted it to Jeff Goins.

I got schooled…and told some really great advice. 

Writing every day is a habit every writer should cultivate.  And if being part of a blog challenge is how you do it (like me), then that is what you use it for.

We should always be putting forth our best work, but we shouldn’t be afraid to put our words out there at all.  Nobody is perfect; every failure is an opportunity to learn and do better next time.

This is a concept a lot of us struggle with.

The pressure to perform at your peak 100% of the time is ingrained in many of us from a young age.  Failure is seen, not as an opportunity to learn, but an embarrassment to be avoided at all costs.

But think about it.  What is the best part of watching your favorite TV show or movie?  Yes the action was realistic.  The CGI was elegantly executed.  The plot artistically written.  The actors were at their peak.  But all of that pales in comparison to. . .

The gag reel.

I love watching my favorite actors burst out laughing right in the middle of a line.  Or completely forgetting their lines.  And their co-stars doing outrageous things on purpose to mess them up?  Classic.

Tell me the Neutron Cream Prank during the filming of Star Trek: Into Darkness wasn’t just beautiful.

Do you know why we love this?

Because it makes these larger than life stars seem closer.  They make mistakes.  They don’t get it absolutely perfect the first go ‘round.  They love to goof off as much as we do.

They’re human. 

And so are we.  So fail! Fail brilliantly!  Because the important thing about any art is the act of making it.  It brings us closer to ourselves, closer to our destinies, closer to our audience.  And closer to our own humanity.

And doing so invites the perfection we desire.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What are your daily writing habits?

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11 June 2014

Blogger Overload: Does a Blogging Challenge Waste Your Readers' Time?

...a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention...
~ Herbert A. Simon

June is the FLX/WordCount Blogathon!  Join us for 30 Days of blogging madness!

since I began this blog challenge, I’ve read two articles that said I shouldn’t be blogging every day.

Why didn’t you tell me that eleven days ago?!

Just kidding.  Sort of. 

I understand where both Jeff Goins and Copyblogger are coming from.  And they make excellent points about honing your skills as a writer and your reach as a blogger, points I agree with.

But for me right now, getting into the habit of writing every day is the sticking point. And sadly for my ADD brain, I won’t do remember to do it without an in-your-face motivator.

Like the public humiliation of saying I’m doing a challenge and then not posting every day.

The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Fugly
You’ve heard it before, I know.  Today, anyone and everyone can write, publish, reach out, gripe, complain, rant, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

We all like to talk.  Yes, even introverts ~ we talk long hand (i.e. writing).  But we don’t all edit.  Either our thoughts, our feelings, our words.  Or our blog posts.

And don't get me started on layouts.  Seriously, I’ve seen some real migraine-inducing webpages/blogs lately. Ugh!  Make it go away!

There’s an acronym that has been used to help people with anger-management or stress issues to deal with how they talk to people when in crisis mode.  You HALT and ask yourself, am I:
I’ll admit, this doesn’t always help me when I’m in a stressful situation.  I’m too busy thinking about the damn situation, not some acronym!

Image credit: Langstonwitches.org
But if there were one for writers, well, that might be more  helpful.  As a writer, I just sit and think a lot, write ideas down, and think some more.  Plenty of time to glance at a post it with HALT on it before hitting the publish button:
Is it Helpful to my readers?
Does it provide a new Angle?
Will it make my readers Laugh?
Will it bring my readers to Tears (and ultimately to a change)?
And I would add an S as well: Does it make any bloody Sense!?

Nothing loses a reader more than the deadly duo of poor grammar and poor sentence structure  married to a plot that leaves you cross-eyed.

But maybe that’s just me because I’m an ADD reader….

Respect the Reader
This ADD thing is really annoying actually for a writer who’s trying to post every day.  We have lives you know ~ it gives us something to write about.  But we don’t always plan.  Well, at least, I don’t.  

So it wasn’t until I sat down this afternoon and wrote out my goals for the reminder of the month that I realized that I would have to write, edit and publish or schedule five ~ read ‘em, 5 ~ posts before 12:30pm tomorrow.

I almost cried.

Not because I don’t love to write.  I do!
Not because I’m a perfectionist.  Although I am.

But because I love writing so much and I respect you as well that I cringe to have to churn out five readable, worthy posts in a few hours.  Because I know full well how important it is to edit.  And you have taken time out of your busy day to stop by and spend some time with me.

And I don’t want to waste those few minutes we spend together on a thrown-together post.

So Now What?
Thankfully, the weekends are slow.  So I have no problem posting pictures or  little tid bits or just a random “Hey, stop reading and go outside and play” type of post.

Also, it’s just for 30 days.  If you’ve followed me for very long, you’ll see that my problem is not information overload.   Mine is more depression-kicked-my-ass-again-I’m-feeling-lazy-today-I-don’t-post-for-months-on-end-itis.

So no worries.  I’m not going to drop off the face of the challenge just yet.  

But I will use the challenge to hone my writing skills so I can make sure you never leave without feeling encouraged, loved, enlightened, relaxed, and with a smile on your face.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Join Us: I’m now a member of Jeff Goins’ TribeWriters.  Join an incredible group of writers who are finding their voice and becoming better at their craft.  Today is the last day to sign up!!
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