Tag Archives: The Artist’s Way

Today Is Two Months

On February 23rd I started writing nearly every day as an exercise. I write at least 30 days in a row about whatever comes out and sometimes I also write on my private blog for my upcoming books. I take a break after at least 30 days of writing in a row and my last break consisted of only writing 3 or 4 days out of a week. I have to check my records, but I know that I’m at least in the neighborhood of 55,000 words. If you want to do this, you can.

My main advice consists of two things:

1) Don’t censor yourself unless you think that what you have to write is offensive enough to make a lot of people uncomfortable. If that’s the case I definitely recommend keeping your blog private.

2) Choose to do this at least 30 days in a row and take a little break. Notice that my break did not consist of not writing at all. And it wasn’t that long relative to the 30 day time period. If you mess up 17 days in or 6 days in or however much, start your 30 days over.

If I think of more recommendations, I’ll let you know.

Now I’m on to other thoughts straining to get out of my head. OK, maybe not straining, but I haven’t had to write blah, blah, blah in years. Almost forgot-

Don’t judge the process. Just let it flow. Keep going.

I’ve written when I’m tired and when I’m really tired and when I’m really, really tired. Soon I’ll be ready for really, really, really tired. And yes, I did notice my tense didn’t match in the first sentence of this paragraph. I’m also not doing much editing. Just occasional misspellings and the rest is a quick edit in my head.

I think that part of the value is the ability to get up a head of steam and keep going and let it flow out of you.

When you judge, if you judge, that can get in the way of the flow.

It’s much like brainstorming. Bet you didn’t know there were rules to brainstorming, did you? Don’t judge when brainstorming and just write it down. Don’t make judgmental comments to people who are in the brainstorming process with you. If you are judging when brainstorming you are doing it wrong. And by wrong I mean that it will on average be less productive than if you simply didn’t judge it. I know that can be hard to do for some people. The key is in the not doing it. So don’t judge.

You have to grow, in my opinion, in order to do this. You can run up against some emotional baggage along the way. That’s ok. Hopefully you will learn to use that as fuel.

I recently got into a slightly depressed space for a day. I don’t mean clinical depression, but depending on what you’re exposing yourself to, you can take it on for a short while and end up not so happy a camper. I’m better – much better – today.

Still, looking at that experience of more sadness than usual can benefit you in more ways than you might think. You can use your experience in your writing and you can be more empathetic with others.

My brain is a little tired right now so I don’t know where I expected to end up with what I wrote above. Hopefully that won’t make it less valid.

I’m making sure I do this writing before I go out tonight. Tonight is the night during the school year that I tutor and I absolutely want to make sure that I get this done before I get home tonight.

So planning is important, too.

Julia Cameron’s original idea was/is for something called morning pages. I have found that as long as you get them done they help you become more creative and productive. But there is definitely value in getting them done in the morning.

If I had an emergency come up right now I would have a hard time getting as many words written as I would like.

So please pay attention to any potential scheduling conflicts. I urge you to create the space in your life to do this writing exercise.

Some people think that they are beyond this I’m sure. Well, simply look at your results lately. If you will do that honestly you will see whether or not this type of writing will benefit you.

Others may think that they can’t do it. How can you commit the time every day for 30 days.

It’s possible that some will take some time getting into it.

My efforts here really started more than six months ago when I started reading the 23rd Psalm every day. My goal is still to read it or recite it accurately every day for a year. I’m more than half way there. I’ve recounted this before and I’ll say this again. I took at least three stabs at it that I remember before I got past about 6 or 7 days in a row. I also had to let myself off the hook a little bit when I stayed up really late one night so it wasn’t technically that same day when I said it at about 12:15 in the morning. I decided to not be too hard on myself. How strict do you want to be? For me, the fact that I did it before I went to sleep was enough.

You decide what your standards are. Don’t be so strict that you knock yourself out of the game before you even get started.

Don’t be too easy on yourself either. I honestly believe that the 30 day mark is important. If you can go more than that at a stretch, that’s great. I also believe that more than 3 or 4 days without writing at all can maybe knock you out of that game.

No matter what. Keep writing during the exercise. (Obviously not if the house is on fire.) And keep going day after day. And really, really, really make sure you get back on the horse if you fall off.

Another thing that has really helped me is WordPress itself. I find this typing away in the WordPress format to be aesthetically pleasing. You may prefer something else like Word or maybe even pencil and paper. That’s fine. As long as it gets the job done.

I really hate this about my computer. I really, really do not like what just happened and I am so grateful that WordPress automatically saves the draft every so often. So I only lost about 100 words.

I guess I’m glad I don’t type faster than I do. LOL

I don’t remember exactly what I was saying. Something about 65,000 words being the average size of a novel. We can’t all be Umberto Eco or George R.R. Martin.

Once you’ve written 60,000 words or so you will see that it’s not so hard. So what if not every word is relevant to whatever book you want to write? That’s not the first step in this process.

Once you’ve done it you know you can do it again. If you write 1200 words a day then that’s about 2 months to write 65,000 words. Ok. A little more. If you’re taking a break like the one I took then that about 62 days to write 65,000 words.

If you’re like me, you will have two places to right at least – like my two blogs. I’m writing down the words I need for two different books currently on my other blog.

Today I think I’ll keep going here until I reach 2,000 words. I’ve probably done that once before and come close a few times. So that’s not something that I’ve never done. I simply want to do that everyday. It’s a stretch if you’ve been averaging even 1300 words a day because that’s an increase of over 50%. You may want to be less ambitious – maybe in the 20% range every time you decide to go to the next level.

This is coming easily enough for me by now that I don’t think it’s an unrealistic jump.

So here I am now above 1300 words and I do have to go somewhere, but I’ve left myself plenty of time.

I personally find that some positions are more enjoyable at times. Right now I’m on my bed on my back with this computer on a pillow on my stomach. You may find a different position more helpful.

I feel like I’m flowing some and I’m not letting things get in my way. My son just came in a minute or so ago and asked where the keys to the big car were. No problem.

I had that technical glitch earlier where I lost the words and I’m just going to keep going.

Practice the “keeping going” part. You keep practicing it and the easier it gets.

You’ve been there before and then you know what to do when you see that behavior happen or when you see that circumstance.

Learn to have fun with it and you’ll ultimately get more out of it.

Remember to not judge. Some say it’s difficult to do a negative, but really not judging is just being and being at peace with what’s going on.

That’s where you can let things out of your unconscious that you might have not realized.

I’m considering a different approach to two of my books and I credit this writing process with opening those possibilities up.

Something that didn’t seem viable before all of a sudden seems possible.

You don’t know what’s going to come up and that’s cool.

Learn to love that experience or at least like it.

Your fingers will be moving faster and soon you will just let it out.

Is this a spiritual process? Maybe. It’s definitely a creative one. Just keep going.

Like I am now. If you’re wondering about the pool and is it warm enough to go swimming, that’s ok. Talk about what comes up. This reminds me of speaking exercise that’s similar in a book called Be Heard Now. It’s different than Toastmasters. You get to speak in front of group and say whatever comes up and that includes silence. It’s a powerful experience and the organization is called Speaking Circles. You can Google it.

Since when did we reach the point that searching for so many people has become Googling? Just like Kleenex for tissue.

Interesting times we live in.

This is the Creative Age. Did you know that? I did not make that up.

This is the time when people who are actively creating are going to be more financially rewarded than they were in the past.

Before this came the Agrarian Age, the Industrial Age and the Information Age. People may quibble with little differences – smaller ages that I didn’t mention or what came before the Agrarian Age, but make no mistake. We’re no longer in the information age.

In each of these ages eventually that thing that was central becomes less profitable. Consider how much money a man (and his family) can make as a farmer. If you think it’s a pretty good living, well then, take away the subsidies and see how good a family farmer can do. Most people who are family farmers are not making a good living even WITH subsidies from the government.

I won’t go into all the examples here, but at least consider the commoditization of information which happened at the end of the Information Age. It’s still happening. You can get information much more inexpensively than you could 20 or 30 years ago.

How long will the creative age last? I don’t know. Many people still think we’re in the information age, but those who understand the value of creativity in this age will see more possibilities for creating a better living – more income.

How much more enjoyable is it to be able to do something creative and ultimately get paid for it?

Hopefully the computers and/or robots won’t be as creative as humans for a long while!

Ex

I Don’t Remember The Name Of This Post

If you’re a regular reader of my writing on this blog, AOO, you might be wondering about what does this all mean?

Unfortunately for you I am engaged in an exercise to write and keep writing and get to that place where it flows out of me more readily. I learned this idea from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. One of these days I’ll learn more about typing in italics, too, so I can more properly make the titles of books and/or movies standout.

What happens here is more for my benefit than yours. I apologize.

There can be some extra benefit if you want to look over what I’ve written in approximately two months so you can decide if you want to embark on a similar journey. You will be missing some of my writing which is a private blog containing my writing for two science fiction stories/novels.

But for now, tonight, here we are. I’m typing and I keep typing unless I get interrupted by a technical glitch that just happened. Does anyone have any idea why that happens and how to avoid it? I’m just guessing that my fingers are a little too big for this keyboard.

Here’s what happens: I’m typing along and all of a sudden the cursor jumps and often this happens in the middle of a word so I end up typing “going to the movies” as going to the mhistoryovies and then I have to go back and change it.

It just did it again as I started this sentence. The cursor was in between the and mhistoryovies in the sentence above and I just happened to catch it as I hadn’t started to type the next word yet. THAT time it really just seemed random and I didn’t notice hitting a particular key or any key for that matter. But it happens so fast when it happens that it is really hard to know if it was cause by me or it’s some sort of technical or programming glitch that someone has figured out somewhere. Just not me.

I did notice it on an even smaller computer with a smaller keyboard and it happened much more often than it does on this one. That’s partly why I believe it could be related to my big fingers.

Oh well…if you know something, please let me know. Sometimes I laugh about it and sometimes I’m not in that light of a mood.

Lighten up. You must have heard someone say that to you at some time or another.

People talk about being “light” and what I’m referring to is your mood or your attitude.

Sometimes I can just snap my fingers and do this and other times it is truly difficult.

I used to know a man who talked about “getting out of your head” and I think I understand that pretty well AND sometimes it seems to be easier said than done. I don’t think I have the idea down perfectly as I wonder about the need to be in my head in order to write some of the stories I want to write. Perhaps all of them. 🙂

Today I was not “light”. I felt pretty – there it did it again and I don’t think I was touching the keyboard. Please, please let me know if you have this problem sometimes and you’ve figured out how to stop it. I’m trying to recall if my HP had this problem, but now it seems like it’s been happening forever. LOL

I’m also interested in hearing from authors about how many books you sell each year – either by you or other retailers. One of the things that has occurred to me recently is that if you could write two books a year that sold 2,000 copies a year, you could have good to great residual income over time. If one of your works turned out to sell 50,000 or 100,000 copies, you’d be doing pretty well.

Many, many people are working on creating residual income and I don’t think I’ve heard anyone talk about that with respect to books. I’ve heard and seen presentations about different products that are sold my network marketing companies. Nothing wrong with that, but writing does allow you more creativity and I find that to be a bonus! Also, if you have the means, buying a property and renting it out is a type of residual income if you are covering the mortgage payment and you keep a tenant in there.

What if you wrote a book about something that you knew there was a market for and it didn’t necessarily strike you as quite as creative as a work of fiction or something you had to research like Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood? Let’s say that you write one book a year that really causes you to “go to the well” of your creativity and one book about say, “How to create a website for your small business using WordPress” or something like that.

When you KNOW that there’s a market for a book and it’s not necessarily your heart’s desire, but a way to make income, maybe you should consider writing a book like that every other book or every fourth book.

I’m sure that adds up over time.

This is not in any way an attempt to kill anyone’s dreams. If you are writing and making the income you want to from writing, that’s great. However, if you aren’t making as much income from writing as you would like, perhaps a strategy like that would allow you to hold onto your artistic integrity (however YOU see that) and create more income so that in the long run you can devote more time to the thing that you really love. I’m assuming that at least part of that thing you really love is, in fact, writing.

You can also do something else to make money while you write completely and utterly the exact stuff you want to write regardless of how well it sells. I’m not saying one way is better than another. Whatever works for you.

Be careful that it actually does work, however.

You are free to choose just like me.

I freely chose to step out in faith a couple months ago and write and then write more and write consistently and soon I’ll be consistently writing more. I do expect to have one science fiction novel published by December 30th and another book about redemption published by the same date.

This process of writing these “morning pages” as Julia Cameron calls them has helped me think about my writing as well. I’m practicing writing without judgement and look at it simply as a way to learn. Insights are a bonus.

If what you are doing is working and you’re not doing morning pages, that is fantastic.

If you would like to get more of your creativity out into the world for others to see and it’s not happening in the way you would like, I urge you to do morning pages even if it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

So here I am on a Sunday night and I’ve had a restful day which my wife let me have because I woke up and my bones ached. I rarely take anything and I took some Advil earlier today. I feel better than I did earlier and yet I considered not writing tonight. I knew I could blame it on not feeling well.

Yet I really want to make this happen and I decided to just get down to it a little while ago.

I urge you to have a writing discipline. It does not have to be like mine.

What will work for you? If you’re looking for something and you’re trying different things, remember:

Morning pages are always available to you. Waiting for you, even.

Join the battle!

40,000 Words In 42 Days

If you want to write a book you can be encouraged by this: the median length of a book is between 64,000 and 65,000 words. I found the article that points that out here. Interestingly enough, “Brave New World” is right in the middle at 64,531 words.

At the rate I’m going in this blog, AOO, I can reach the same word count as “Brave New World” in 76 days. The next trick will be writing not just what comes out of my head, but stringing all those words together in a logical semblance of a story. I am very sincere here. This discipline is helping me immensely.

If you are just tuning in, I’ve been doing something that resembles Julia Cameron’s morning pages exercise for 42 days. Not exactly every day. I wrote 30 days in a row and then was spotty for about 5 or 6 days and now I’m in the first weeks of another 30 days. I’ve also been increasing the average number of words written in each session a little bit at a time.

I honestly believe that what is the biggest obstacle to doing this is the possibility or even likelihood that you will judge your efforts harshly. In fact, Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” points out that you should not be judging yourself at all in this exercise.

Tonight after I finish my 1100 or so words I will then go to my new private blog and write more about a story that has been in my head for years.

Some of you reading this may have no trouble writing at all during the normal course of your day, week or month. That’s wonderful. Really. BUT, if you ever run into a block I highly recommend Julia Cameron’s book. You can also visit my blog posts here starting February 23rd, 2012 to see examples of what morning pages can look like.

I told my wife’s sister’s mother-in-law today that I had written 40,000 words and that I’m ready to write a novel. She was impressed and wished me luck in getting published.

After I get my first draft done I will certainly be open to criticism. I do believe I will get published. My goal is this year by December 30th.

It’s interesting how some folks in older generations don’t realize how their comments can be perceived as negative. I’m not letting her response get me down, but I don’t think she even realized that her good luck sounded pretty pessimistic. And I don’t think I took it wrong. Many people want to protect us from disappointment and think that if we stay “realistic” we won’t set ourselves up for that disappointment.

It’s important to look for the connections and resources you need to get you to the next level in your project – whatever it is.

Don’t focus on the advice of people who have never done what you are attempting to do or are in the process of doing.

Some others reading this are wondering how you could write 40,000 words anytime soon. One step at a time. One day at a time. One keystroke at a time. (Actually, if you’re a pretty good typist like me then you can probably pound out 60 words a minute or more.)

If you’ve been stuck or hesitating, remember this: WordPress is FREE in this format. You just go to WordPress.com and sign up for a blog.

You can write in Visual or HTML and I write in HTML because I know a tiny bit of code that lets me easily insert links like the one in the second sentence above. Visual is the same as “what you see is what you get” or WYSIWYG (Whizzy-wig). If you’ve seen those seven letters before and wondered what they meant, now you know.

I like very much that WordPress automatically saves my writing every so often and if you read my post the other day you know that even if it somehow logs you out you can log back in and then hit the back button to the page where you were typing and it should still be there.

So for me that means that everything that I have ever written with WordPress has not been lost. Unless I wanted it to be.

For me that has eliminated one of the most discouraging and frustrating things about working with computers and the internet – losing your work. Never happened to me fully with WordPress.

If you’ve been procrastinating and part of it was because you didn’t know exactly where to start, get started with WordPress right now. Really! You can go start a WordPress blog right this moment and come back and read this later. Go ahead. It’s ok. This will be right here when you get back. That goes for you writers who have written successfully, too. If you are stuck right now or if you ever get stuck. Start the WordPress blog now and when you need it, it will be there. If you don’t want it to be public for whatever reason, just make sure you check the private button when you create it. That’s what I did when I created this new one: TheNewWrittenWord.Wordpress.com. Nice humble title, eh? 😉

That’s where I’ll be writing next today and hopefully every day that I write here. These exercises here on AOO are for me to get the foam or the head off of the beer. I kind of like that image which I got from a philosophy professor not quite 30 years ago.

These morning pages are supposed to get you flowing. That’s another reason why you want to leave the judgement out of it. It gets in the way of your flow! You want to get to writing, writing and writing some more. Exercise those writing muscles.

I’ve even noticed a little bit of my style developing in just over a month. And I’m getting better at letting it flow. You will, too, if you give yourself a chance.

AND, if you are not a writer and you want to expand your creativity or exercise your creative muscles, morning pages are a great way to do it. However you want to be creative, start with this.

And if you don’t think of yourself as creative but would like to see if you can get there, do morning pages. Just remember that it’s ok if you don’t start out like Mark Twain. I’m guessing that no one would. And most of us will never be Mark Twain. And that’s ok. You want to be the best you. Right along the lines of Oprah telling us to “live your best life.” We can. We need practice.

We need to be humble enough to realize that there is room for improvement in what we do or whatever we want to do.

Are you ready to achieve more? I know I am. Finally!

Gardening And Et Cetera

Saturday I was gardening for the first time in a while. Technically I was weeding. There are a lot of them and it’s time to get the front and back yards in shape. Have you been putting that off? Have you been putting anything off?

Now is as good a time as any to do something that you’ve been procrastinating about.

In my case recent rains have made the ground a lot softer which makes weeding easier. I still spent 90 minutes on my knees pulling the green stuff out of the ground. Probably have about 12 more hours worth. The thing is – I actually kind of enjoyed it once I got into it. Sort of a whistle while you work thing. I was actually singing a little bit of “Pull Up The Roots” by Talking Heads. Snow White was right. Whistle while you work. Or sing. Or hum. Or whatever works for you.

I also thought about gardening as a kid with my dad and the rest of the family. He was the one that really made us get out there and I didn’t really like getting out there then either. But just like Saturday, it could be enjoyable if you let it be. It doesn’t hurt to let the soil get softer, but there’s nothing wrong with working smart.

Again. What have you been putting off? Can you “whistle while you work”?

This led to me not writing Saturday night or Sunday or Monday. That’s ok. I did do 30 days or more in a row.

New rule. If I’m going to keep going with this, then maybe taking a 2 or 3 days off or a little more isn’t so bad. 30 Days On. 3 Days Off. No reason to get down on yourself. That’s a good ratio. Just have to keep it up. Get back on the horse. Stick to it. Keep the rhythm. You get the idea.

How is your writing going? If it’s not what you would have hoped, consider doing morning pages just like Julia Cameron tells us in The Artist’s Way. Or sort of like it.

I spoke to someone the other day who reminded me that she expected you to put pen to paper. I say – if the keyboard fits, wear it! Do it in the way it works for you. Some of you may actually be speaking into a microphone and having a program convert the spoken word to the written word. As long as it works. You don’t have to do EXACTLY what others do as long as you develop a discipline of your own. Don’t make a law of it. Make sure that it keeps you creatively productive.

Earlier today I posted a video here in the previous post. I suggest you take a look. I actually found this guy on Comedy Central. Be open to inspiration. He could be saying something that’s really valuable for you. If not, move on. But at least check him out. His name is Kyle Cease and he’s more than a comedian. He seeks to inspire.

My wife and I saw The Hunger Games and we both enjoyed it thoroughly. If you haven’t seen it and you can read the books first, do. You only have to read the first book before you see the first movie, but you may appreciate it more than the other way around. Why see it? You’ll have something to talk about with teenagers and young adults now and in the next couple of years. And you may find yourself moved. I know I did. They found a great Katniss and Donald Sutherland does a great job as the President. If you aren’t familiar, it’s post-apocalyptic North America so it’s no longer the United States (or Canada?), but a place called Panem.

One thing that amazed me was that I really didn’t think it was as long as it was. I’m pretty sure it’s close to 2 1/2 hours, but I was wondering why it was so short. I could have watched the movie if it was twice that long. Are there a couple places where you realize that it’s aimed at young adults and teens? Yes. But those parts were brief. They really did a good job of making it for everyone. Lenny Kravitz does a good job as Cinna, too.

If you don’t know who those characters are you’ll just have to pick up a copy of the book or go see the movies.

Was the book better? Yes, but really isn’t that always the case? You just can’t fit it all in on the big screen in the short amount of time you have. I read the book quickly, but it still took me a few days.

I’m glad to be back writing. Keep your chin up. Keep going no matter what. If you take a break, don’t make the break too long. But always, ALWAYS come back and write and write and write some more. See you Wednesday!

Where To Begin

When I’m doing morning pages (or even Sunday night pages) I sometimes have to decide where to begin. I just watch the HBO movie “Game Change” with my wife and it’s very interesting, but I don’t want to go in the direction of politics in this post. In fact, while I know you just write whatever comes out, I want to use this to improve my craft. Writing. Hopefully you see some craftsmanship here. Or will soon.

In not too many more days I’ll be done with 30 days of morning pages and I just want it to be the starting point. You can research and see that I’ve been blogging for years. But now I really want to get books published. I want to get to five hours of writing a day soon. Or relatively soon. 🙂

If you are stuck, I highly recommend the morning pages exercise and you can read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way to find out more about them as well as other exercises she urges you to do.

Recently I’ve been having more frequent memorable dreams. I’m guessing that this means something about creativity and the direction I’m taking. Perhaps is just diet, but I don’t think so. The other night I had a sci-fi dream where I was showing my wife around a prehistoric earth. It was really wild with some severe ice in places and giant bacteria-like creatures and huge alligator type animals. I do want to write some science fiction and I think that desire has led me in the direction of some dream state sci-fi.

Have you ever had a change in your dreams that you thought was because of where you wanted to go?

The more I write, the more I like it. For a long time I was stuck on writing on paper, but there is something about WordPress that works very well for me. I think we all need to take a look at what might be holding us back. Whether or not that is an attitude on our part or physical limitations. The real world can be less than helpful sometimes. By that I mean, just as we have different learning styles, some of us have aesthetic ideas that we’re more comfortable with. I actually bought a program a couple years ago that lets you speak and translates (pretty well) what you have spoken into the written word.

Just couldn’t bring myself to open it. I’m sure it seems wasteful to some, but this is all part of what I’ve mentioned about morning pages. Judging yourself can get in the way of the flow of creative ideas. Now that I’ve found that doing morning pages on WordPress really works for me, the sky’s the limit!

Or like some have said, the sky is NOT the limit. The limit is out there somewhere way beyond the sky. I know some people might just think of this as nonsense.

I’m sure there are some incredible well-disciplined writers out there who think this is just a waste of time. Maybe for them it is. Maybe they’ve got their structure and their habits and they just turn work out like a machine. A happy (or at least contented) machine.

If whatever you’re doing is working for you, great!

But just putting your head down and forging ahead hasn’t necessarily worked for everyone.

Find a routine that works for you.

The first thing to do is start writing. The next thing to do is not judge the writing. At least, not right away.

We’re not all Vermeer. Don’t know who that is? Google him.

Vermeer doesn’t have a lot of paintings like Picasso, but most people see every one of his paintings as great or a masterpiece.

Have you heard of The Girl With the Pearl Earring? That’s Vermeer.

Most of us are more like Edison in our creativity. And I don’t think we’re trained to think that being as messy as Edison is ok. That’s not what I learned in school.

What do I mean by that?

Motivational speakers talk about Edison and one the most famous things they attribute to him is this:

I didn’t fail at inventing the incandescent light. I just found 1199 ways to NOT invent it.

There are variations, but the general gist of it is that he didn’t look upon what many would JUDGE to be failures as failures. He saw them as steps to help him on the way to inventing the electric light. I’m absolutely sure he learned from his mistakes.

So, will we make mistakes in writing? Absolutely. Will some of them be published for all to see. Quite possibly.

Is it still possible that we will crank out a really good, even great book? Absolutely.

You have to believe that.

When I say that we shouldn’t judge our morning pages, I don’t mean that we shouldn’t ever judge our work at any point. It’s just at this point in the process, we want to get those ideas out there and get them flowing and expressly NOT impede the flow of ideas.

Keep going even if it’s dah, dah, dah. Remember that song? Trio. That was the band.

ANYway…

Judging our work comes much later.

Remember that Carpenters song?

Don’t worry that it’s not good enough, for anyone else to hear.

Just sing. Sing a song.

That’s what we have to do with our writing. That’s right. I said HAVE TO.

Allow yourself the freedom to succeed.

Judge Not, Lest Ye Miss Out. (That’s MY quote – the first one attributable to me. That’s right. Me.)

Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

Then, keep going.

Winston Churchill – Never give up.

OK. He said it more forcefully, more eloquently. But that’s the gist of it. Never give up.

When you’ve got a lot of material together, then you can have someone take a look.

For feedback. But that’s a long way off. For now, write. Write some more. Then write some more.

If you really don’t believe it, then I suggest that you purchase or borrow The Artist’s Way.

If you still don’t “buy” it, then I suggest you attend a personal growth workshop or at least an artist’s or writer’s workshop.

But beware of too much criticism too early on in the process.

Don’t let that flow be interrupted. Don’t do it.

I remember a supervisor in insurance (of all things!) telling me that momentum is a funny thing and you don’t want to lose it. It’s sometimes difficult to get back. No. I think he said it’s almost always difficult to get momentum back.

So that’s one big reason to not stop writing. Every day. Or if you really, really think you need to take one day off a week, then ALWAYS write the other six days.

The consistency is a type of momentum. I’m writing on this first day of daylight savings time. Do I want to snuggle with my wife? Yes!

Right now I know it’s important to stay with my discipline of writing every day. Every day.

The other day I had computer problems and I thought I was going to have to write with pen and paper.

I got the computer fixed just in time.

That brings me to another point.

First, write everyday with consistency!

Second, don’t get stuck on your strategy. That’s another phrase of mine. Getting stuck on a strategy. (Although, I don’t mean that with regard to writing every day. The consistency will get you there.)

The strategy that I was stuck on the other day was using the computer to write. Yes, that’s my preferred method now. By a longshot!

But, if that method is not available…

Don’t let that keep you from do the thing you really want to do. The original goal – writing every day. Writing on paper qualifies and sometime in the afternoon in dawned on me that I could write on paper and stay consistent with writing every day. Not too long after that the computer was fixed.

Minus our taxes. But that’s another story.

I’m getting tired now and don’t remember if I even had a third point, but I’m sure we’ll get to it during a future session.

It is interesting to write when I’m tired. Not too long ago I would have just hung it up when I started to notice that my body and brain were not quite as chipper as 15 hours ago or so.

I think the freedom that this style of writing exercise affords is very beneficial here.

Maybe those of you who are writing somewhat successfully, but you’ve just been stuck for a little while could experiment with doing morning pages precisely WHEN you’re tired.

You don’t know what you might find out.

Even if it’s not the most profound stuff you’ve written, it could be fun.

I know I don’t want to stop right now. And I’m moving ahead like Edison.

By the way, Picasso wasn’t the best example earlier because some much of his work is considered great or a masterpiece, BUT he was prolific in a way that Vermeer was not.

Maybe it’s more like Beethoven. He was definitely no slouch, but did you know that one of his first public performances was badly reviewed? Yet he didn’t give up.

I learned that originally from The Partridge Family, but you can google it, too.

When I was a kid, my favorite symphony was Beethoven’s 5th. I didn’t know much about classical music, but that was pretty recognizable. Dum, Dum, Dee, DUM…Dum, Dum, Dee, DUUUM…

My writing doesn’t do the sound justice, but you can YouTube Beethoven’s 5th.

Most people, whether they know Beethoven’s music, know OF Beethoven.

I confess right now that I haven’t read Toni Morrison, but I definitely know OF her.

I don’t know about her process or how she has progressed, but my guess is she’s more like Edison than Vermeer. But, she could be like Picasso, too.

What does this mean for me and you?

Practice. Keep going. Keep doing. Don’t interrupt the flow. Don’t get stuck on a particular way of doing something. (Except the discipline of ACTUALLY writing.)

Don’t judge yourself very much and NOT early in the process. When you DO find someone to give you feedback, get feedback from more than one credible source.

Yes. You want a realistic assessment at some point. You don’t ultimately want to be in denial.

But, you CAN learn and grow and become a better writer. Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing. You can get better and you will if you let yourself.

If You Want To Write

I’m starting this post off with a link:

Andrew Stanton @TED

I think I’ve found someone who can be an important influence for me. Maybe he’ll be of help to you, too.

Just to remind you – this – these – recent posts have been morning pages. Morning pages are an exercise in creativity that I learned about from Julia Cameron who wrote “The Artist’s Way.” I’ve known about Julia for nearly two decades.

Part of what you have to do as a writer is simply write. Julia wants you to write without judgement.

Another influence, Marshall Rosenberg, who wrote Nonviolent Communication, would agree.

When you brainstorm, judgement gets in the way by stopping the flow of ideas.

But what about when you get the effluent out of your system. What happens when you are really getting down to writing the stories you want to write?

Joe Ezsterhas is another influence, but he may be too good for a beginning writer to emulate. Or too, I don’t know…can’t quite put my finger on it.

For those of you who might be turned off by his subject matter, you might be surprised to know that he has found his way back to God.

But, for the art of storytelling, maybe Andrew Stanton is the one I need to watch and read more of. Yes, that preposition is at the end of the sentence.

That’s how we talk in real life. Often. Wasn’t it Mark Twain who first started writing that way? As opposed to James Fenimore Cooper who had Native Americans speaking the Queen’s English perfectly?

There are a lot of influences to choose from, yet I see something in Andrew Stanton that I “get”.

Sometimes you just need someone to speak to you in a way you can hear.

I remember nearly a decade ago when I hosted a networking lunch I called The PG Lunch, in Del Mar, California, which is immediately north of San Diego. I had a friend who is a chiropractor who owned her own business and she came to my lunch several times. My friend and mentor, Fran Cannon, was there nearly every time and he would give a mini-blurb every time about his seminars for business owners. I had told my chiropractor friend about Fran’s seminars more than once. More than twice. More than three times. And she had heard him give his presentation more than once or twice.

One day the lightbulb went on and she said, “Oh, this is the guy you’ve been telling me about!” She ended up going to his seminar within a few weeks from that realization.

Maybe that’s what’s happening to me with Andrew Stanton. I don’t know if he’s incredibly unique and that’s what appeals to me. Maybe I’m finally ready to hear what he’s saying.

I’ve been in Toastmasters nearly 11 years now and we’ve learned that telling a story is very important in giving a speech. I’ve attempted to do so with varying measures of success.
I’ve won contests within our club and competed at the next level.

Recently, writing down stories has become much more important to me. How to do it “right” has been on my mind.

I’ve listened to people before who spoke about storytelling as well as many who were simply great storytellers.

Now I think I am finally getting somewhere. I’ve got my computer, such as it is. I’m practicing writing every day. People in my life are giving me more space to write. Some are even intrigued. Now I can put together stories that people care about.

That’s a big part of what Andrew Stanton is saying. But he’s not just saying that. He’s telling us how to put the elements in place that will make people more likely to care. He’s not saying that it’s an exact science. It’s an art. It takes practice.

Are you writing the kind of writing you ultimately want to write?

I say:

First- Judge Not, Lest You Miss Out, er, Disrupt The Creative Flow.

You can always edit later.

What about your ending? How do you want the story/characters to end up?

How do you get people to care about your characters?

I don’t know all the answers, but I honestly believe you should take a peek at Andrew Stanton.

He’s the guy who did Wall-E, among other things.

If you’re a purist about some things and don’t think he’s in the right category for you, remember #1.

Judge not.

You can always throw that stuff out later.

I’ve always been confident that I can learn. Can you learn? What if it’s a new trick?

Don’t be an old dog or stubborn mule.

We have to be humble to learn. We have to know that we don’t have all the answers. Maybe you have everything you need as a writer. If that’s true, I’m sorry for wasting your time.

If you don’t have absolutely everything you need or want as a writer, take a listen/watch Andrew Stanton.

What if you were my younger brother or sister?

I’d just say, “Hey! Do this thing for me, ok?”

Writing When You’re Tired Is Possible

I’m doing it right now.  I don’t just mean physically tired, but when you can feel the fatigue in your brain. I remember reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron years ago and she says that you want to write every day.  No matter what.  If what comes out is gibberish, so be it.

Write no matter what for 30 days and see what happens.

What happens is that the habit helps you.

Less of what you write is nonsensical and more and more of it makes sense.

All you have do is write.

If the changes in the back office of WordPress have set you back on your heels, that’s ok.

Write about that.

If your right ankle or heel are hurting, you are free to write about that.

Although you could maybe uncross your feet and see if that helps.

If you think your paragraphs aren’t proper, that’s ok.

If Sony VAIO should be renamed Sony VOMIT, just put pen to paper.

If it doesn’t make sense the way you KNOW you can – go ahead.

If your punctuation is not looking good…do it anyway.

Whether someone likes it is not the point.

Writing is the point.  Do the exercise as I am doing it now.

Years ago I wouldn’t have even thought of attempting to be instructive

in the middle of an exercise like this.

Yet here I am.

Amazingly, my wife and son left me alone instead of taking me along to Trader Joe’s.

So here I am. Desperately seeking growth.  Though I miss Susan. 😉

ASDF is acceptable.

You see.  You have to get out the stuff that’s in the way to get to the great stuff.

So, my apologies. I want to BE a writer and I know I have a way to go.

Are you a writer?  Would this exercise help you?

I like potatoes! No! You’re ruinin’ it!

Thanks, big funny man whose name escapes me right now.

I started this in December, really.

That’s when I let a space alien speak through me on Twitter.

Twitter, er, TweetGeistGuy has been a help in opening me up creatively.

Maybe Sony VAIO sucking is helping me, too!

And Donald Yap! And Fran Cannon! And my wife?!

I’m so glad we went to Big Bear this last weekend.

It was so nice to be among Democrats! LOL

But, it doesn’t matter who you vote for if you want to write.

Just write.  And keep on writing.

Find an exercise that works for you.

I recommend Julia Cameron.

Maybe you’re a fan of somebody else.

We’re all attempting to do something we haven’t done before.

For some of you it’s writing.  For some writers maybe it’s skydiving.

Put it out there. Take a risk. Let it flow.

Make your dreams and maybe someone else’s dreams come true.