Does Your Writing Next Need Reweaving by Shan Jeniah Burton

Fall is at hand – a time when many of us scurry about like busy rodents, sprucing up our family nests to better suit the long indoors months. But, since this is ROW80, I have a question for us all:

What about our writing nests?

I love imagery – since I was a little girl, it’s helped me to make sense out of complicated ideas. I envision my writing life as a sheltering construct woven from interconnected threads, and from time to time, I need to look these over, replace frayed bits, get rid of the debris, and tighten things up. The energy of fall is perfect for this, and that will be my focus for this round. 

Want to join me, and reweave our writing nests together? Here’s a few ideas to get us going.

Assess the Framework:

A nest needs a base structure, a frame to hold all those threads together. Without our bodies – well, we wouldn’t exist in the physical plane, and writing would be much trickier! Let’s give our bodies what they need to support all those other threads:

  • Feed the need. Sometimes, when I’m deeply engaged with my writing, I forget to eat. Not good for creativity or my body. Let’s remember to schedule in food breaks, and eat things that make us feel good.
  • Get a move on! Writing can be sedentary, and time can pass without us being aware of it. Let’s get moving every hour or so, to oxygenate our blood, stretch muscles, and get a better perspective. I do hometending projects in short bursts while writing; I get a happier body and a cleaner house, at the same time!
  • Go into training. Getting up and moving helps, but we need more intensive exercise, too. I’m making room for these in my life – working out or swimming, fitness classes, dancing, jumping rope, going for a walk or a bike ride – what appeals to you? Let’s do it together!
  • Sleep matters. Learning what we need to do to get enough good sleep can do wonders for our writing – and our attitude! 

Give Me Shelter:

One of my goals this year is to make my writing spaces inspiring and functional, with elements that stimulate imagination and promote a calming flow. Small changes can make a big difference -let’s take a look!

  • Repurpose items to suit new needs. Sometimes, just looking at things we have in a new way helps. My desk was once my Grandma’s hoosier cabinet, where she baked and made ‘jells’. Writing there connects me to my own past.
  • Treating ourselves does wonders for creativity. When some small item makes me smile or feels just right for my space, I feel more creative. That’s why my stapler is turquoise!
  • Engage your senses. Colors, scents, textures, and sounds all add magic to my writing nest. Candles, fabrics, music, bits of nature – these give our senses more room to explore!
  • Use symbols. Let’s make space for the personal touches – items that remind us of loved ones, capture a treasured moment, or simply inspire us.

Mindful Matters:

When our thoughts are scattered and disorganized, things we want to learn, explore, or play with can get lost…

  • Taking stock. When thoughts and projects are tangled up, reassess. Bringing even a little order to things gives us something to build on.
  • Make lists; set goals. There’s lots of ways to do this – like ROW80! I have a WIP bulletin board, and my laptop’s calendar feature gives me a visual idea of what I want to accomplish, and when.
  • Make a plan. Knowing the what, when, why, where, and how of our projects keeps momentum moving forward.
  • Learn something new. Like bodies, our minds stay sharper if they get lots of exercise, exploration, and play!

Emotional Threads:

Writing is best when it comes from our deep, powerful places. Who and what feeds our souls, and helps us tap into our deeps

  • Are we connected? Getting enough time with loved ones and friends? Scheduling a visit, even if it’s just coffee or a quick chat, can do wonders!
  • A change of scenery. Creativity soars in places that inspire – even if it’s just the backyard!
  • Let’s indulge ourselves! Yup. Spending time with favorite books, foods, shows, activities – whatever gives us that ahhhhh! Feeling.
  • Breathe. Seriously. Let’s inhale and exhale with intention. Air is life!
  • Smile, laugh, and hug. Need I say more? =)

Shared Threads:

When what we share reflects who we are, we connect with the wider world, and touch others with our words.

  • Sprucing up our blogs or websites. For me, late fall and winter are perfect times to freshen things up byplaying with new layouts, designs, and sidebar items.
  • Oversharing? We can get overwhelmed by all the social media in our lives. Evaluating what suits usnow, and stepping back from what’s less suited, can help.
  • Undersharing? Writers can also feel disconnected, or bored, or like we’re talking to the void – that’s a good time to branch out and try something new. Joining a challenge or group, or even wandering around online to see what’s out there, can inspire connection and ideas.

With a little time, attention, and affection, our writing nests can be strong, beautiful, and inspirational!

Acknowledgment: The inspiration for this post is the essay Building an Unschooling Nest”, at Sandra Dodd. It’s an unschooling site, and so much more! 

Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

Two weeks in!  How’s it going?  Why don’t you take the time to pop by and cheer on some of your fellow ROWers?

And now for a little poll.  There has been some confusion from folks since I always start the Round on Monday, which means we always end on a Thursday, but we do check ins on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Would y’all rather do check-ins on Mondays and Thursdays to line up with the start and end of the round?  This would move the inspirational posts to some other day (Fridays maybe).  This inquiring mind wants to know.


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The Backdrop of Darkness and Turmoil by Stephanie Nickel

A light, fun, airy, romantic story makes for a great read, but I’ve rediscovered the three-dimensional effect of including darkness and turmoil in my writing.

I entered a contest years ago that won second place. I admit I was confused as to why the Crossings Book Club was sending me a check for $100—until I read the memo line. I’d forgotten entering the contest. I’d also forgotten which piece I had entered.

I found the short story and gave it to my mom. “That was sad,” she said. And yes, it was.

There is a richness to love magnified by loss. And that’s what served as the inspiration for the piece I wrote for the Write to Done Flash Fiction Contest. (Thankfully, I sent it to a few trusted fellow writers and am getting some great suggestions on how to make it better. Seems my protagonist is completely unsympathetic and unlikeable. Perhaps she is a tad too dark. Sigh!)

Even after I tweak this story, it won’t be wrapped in a pretty package. No big, bright bows to tie everything together.  I want it to be raw and real.

In The Slumber of Christianity: Awakening a Passion for Heaven on Earth, Ted Dekker says, ““We Christian writers must paint evil with the blackest of brushes, not to sow fear, but to call out the monsters to be scattered by our light.”

No matter what your religious persuasion, I’m sure you realize it’s hard to recognize the light without some concept of just how deep the darkness.

What is joy without gut-wrenching sorrow?

What is elation without emptiness?

What is hope without despair?

When I wrote “Shattered Hope,” my 440-word flash fiction piece based on my novel “Becca’s Journey” it gave me a whole new perception on how I want to rework the entire manuscript. Granted, it will take longer to write. It will take more soul searching, more connecting with my characters and making them relatable if not actually likeable, more bleeding on the page. But in the end, I’m sure it will be worth it.

I very much like the Paul Gallico quote, which long-precedes a similar one attributed to Ernest Hemingway. It reads like this: “It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader.”

As many of you know, I’m all about relationship, about establishing contact with my readers—and others whose lives intersect my own in various ways.

Here is a brief quote from my flash fiction entry. What do you think? Have I established contact? Is the darkness deep enough, the turmoil palpable enough, to act as a backdrop to the glimmer of hope I sought to include?

“And then it happened, the horrific high pitched whine I’d only heard on television. The straight blue line raced across the monitor. The nurse slipped in, flipped the switch, and disappeared without a word . . . the DNR order taunting me.

“Now I couldn’t tell him forgiveness and love were starting to take hold—but they were.”

How do you incorporate darkness and turmoil in your writing?


Stephanie Nickel

Midweek #ROW80 Check-In

We’re just now getting going, but how’s your start going?  Are you flying straight out of the gate or still settling on goals? Let us know in your check in and then swing by and check out your compatriots!

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