Round 1

Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

Spring is FINALLY around the corner (for some of you that might be wishful thinking but THINK POSITIVE, YO!)…take a walk in the warmer weather and get the blood flowing.  It’s good for your creativity!

If you’re interested in sponsoring for Round 2, check the FAQs and dash me an email at kaitnolanwriter (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Midweek #ROW80 Check-In

Rolling on toward the end of this round.  Only 3 weeks to go!  Push it hard for a solid finish!

If you’re interested in sponsoring for Round 2, check out the FAQs and dash me an email at kaitnolanwriter (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Let Your Mind Go By Skye Callahan

Since I stepped in as a sponsor for this round, I’ve been tasked with writing an inspirational post to get you through this stretch, so I thought I’d talk a little about distractions and inspiration. A while back I had a long discussion with a few of my author friends on the differences between distraction and inspiration. As writers, we’re often told to make time for writing and to avoid distractions—cut the cord to that TV, forget video games, or hanging out at the bar with your friends, you have a book to write, and the only way it’ll get done is if you sit down and write it.

But is that the best way to finish a project?

With so many things in life taking up our time—jobs, family obligations, etc—sometimes it seems hard to justify taking that extra time out of the day for a purely fun distraction. But, ideas aren’t developed by locking ourselves in an office, sitting at our computers looking at a blinking cursor. We develop ideas by getting out of our own heads, getting away from the computer, and living our lives.

Is watching an old Hitchcock movie a distraction from what you’re supposed to be writing, or does it have inspirational merit? For me Hitchcock movies and his TV series have a great way of making me think about things differently. What if, after getting lost in that half hour of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, I suddenly have a new insight into my own character’s motivation? Then, the distraction was well worth the time.

There’s a connection between distraction and inspiration.

The best writing tool you have is your brain, and it has its own stubborn and cockamamie way of doing things. Often when we’re completely engaged in other things, our brains are working the hardest on creative ideas.

It’s important choose times to write during which you set aside as many of the little distractions as possible—yes, teasers need made, emails need answered, and the world of social media isn’t going to pause for a second, but just as we have to decide which projects are worth our energy, we have to decide which distractions will be most beneficial to our goals.

My advice to stay inspired is to not think so critically about the “distractions” in your life. We all need a moment to unwind and enjoy what we have in the moment.

~*~

Skye Callahan

Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

We are already in MARCH.  Lord, how did that happen?  Spring through these last few weeks of Round 1!

Now is around the time I start thinking about next round sponsors, so if you’re interested, please dash me an email at kaitnolanwriter (at) gmail (dot) com.

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The Glass Is Always Full By Elizabeth Mitchell

In her New Year’s post, Kait mentioned Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, especially her remarks about the culture of scarcity, which I wager is familiar to many of us.  We focus on the lack of sleep from the moment we awaken to the shortfall of things done that day when we hit the pillow that night. Our self-perception is that we consistently fail to meet our expectations. As Kait says,“[t]his is a self perpetuating cycle of making us feel like we’re always behind and we suck.”

Kait urges a change to a culture of gratitude. “Be grateful for what words you get, grateful for those bursts of creativity, grateful for the community of writers we have here to support each other.”  The idea of escaping from the culture of constantly not measuring up has great appeal for me. Although my father was generally optimistic, he often focused on the half-empty glass when it came to my grades.  My mother, who would have been diagnosed as melancholic in the Middle Ages, focused on the half-empty glass in all areas of her life.  Her only full glass was of things lacking–not enough money, time, or attention.

After a tough Round Four, I am concentrating on the half-full glass in all areas of my life.  I gladly strive for a culture of gratitude toward writing.  In this vein, I model my behavior on two posts from last year, which point out looking at small things with gratitude, and sometimes squinting to see the half-full glass.

Last summer, Eden Mabee wrote about finding the time to write, pointing out that sometimes the difficulty lies in our notions about time and word count.  Eden suggests five sentences grabbed from little spaces of time throughout the day.  I used to pride myself on finding the little spaces of time in the day–the five minutes before the meeting starts at the day job, the fifteen minutes wrested from the lunch break, but Eden has broken it down into miniscule spaces of time.

Especially in the maelstrom of NaNo, I clung to the idea of five sentences.  Often it was more, and it became even more as the habit ingrained itself, but I could always count on the time to write five sentences.

At Thanksgiving, Kristen Lamb wrote about unseen blessings, which is really a way of finding gratitude in things that don’t at first engender gratitude. I especially liked her example about being grateful she has to wash the dog blankets, because it means she has a dog for a companion.

Every time I put on my bathrobe and it smells like my Weimaraner, I remember to be grateful for the dog who knows from three rooms away when I am crying.

I encourage you to look for ways to see the half-full glass in writing.

Be grateful for the five sentences written, words that didn’t exist yesterday.

Be grateful for the tendrils that those five sentences send into the ether, today or the next day, buzzing in the back of your mind during cooking, cleaning, meditation, or sleep. They hold promise for the next day with all the directions they can go.

Be grateful for the “zero” draft that was written in a near channeling trance, because it contains flesh that can be carved to fit bones you will create in the future.

Be grateful for the character who will not shut up because she is showing you what she needs and wants.

Be grateful for the quiet character who needs to be coaxed into revelation, because often the cliché of still waters is true, and adds depth to your writing.

Be grateful for the critical beta reader who points out the flatness of the character or the dialogue, because instead of being overwhelmed with the task of editing, your focus is clear.

Be grateful for the reader who loves everything you write, because we can always use a cheerleader.

Be grateful for the distraction that pulls you from the writing, because it gives you a chance to look at the words anew when you return.

Be grateful for the quiet time before anyone is awake, or after all are asleep, because words found in peace often resonate.

Be grateful for the laundry, the dishes, the dusting, because when the hands are busy, the mind is often free to invent worlds.

Be grateful for the helping hands that free you from the chores more quickly, and loose you into the world you have invented.

Be grateful for the words that come, whether they come easily or slowly. They are a creation that did not exist before you, and will last after you are gone.

~*~

Elizabeth Mitchell