Round 1

Do It Now by Elizabeth Mitchell

If you want different results, you have to put something different into the mix. If you keep putting the same ingredients in the cake, it will always turn out the same.  Pretty basic knowledge in baking, but still hard for me to put into my life. Many times, I have told myself, “I don’t like/want this [fill in the blank].” Sometime over the past several years, part of my brain has responded, “So change it.”  Now, with my “decade” birthday this spring bringing the dawning realization of my mortality, my brain responds: “So change it NOW.”

 

I would therefore like to add “Change it now” to Kait’s challenge in this first Round of 2015 to try something new and shake things up.  Shake off the comfort of the familiar. Let me assure you, I love my comfort zone.  It has no sharp edges to poke me, but it also does not challenge me, or anyone else.  Full of words I could write in my sleep, it has no bite, no truth.  Honestly, I’m scared silly of the truth, but it is all I have to offer.

 

I have often proclaimed my inability to write fiction. When I force myself to look at it honestly, my protest is a safe way to avoid the challenge and hard work involved in writing good fiction. Am I comfortable writing fiction?  No, not at all.  Three years ago, I shelved a story that occurred in a dream, because not only was it fiction, it was horror, which in all truth, I have no idea how to write. But should I shelve it out of cowardice?  The more I dig, I find there are more stories I want to tell, and each one frightens me more. But I’m going to try.

 

And I’m going to try now.  I hide behind the full-time day job and other responsibilities, saying that I will write when I’m retired.  I have told myself that I cannot write enough with these other responsibilities, but I wrote two academic articles totaling over 12,000 words in less than a year, so that inner conversation is patently untrue. While I will certainly have more free time after retirement, why am I waiting? Might it be cowardice? (The answer is an unequivocal “yes,” in case you are wondering).
My challenge to shake it up now is not just for us few neophytes in this group, but for all of us. Kait’s point that the same process doesn’t always work with a different book is surprisingly freeing for me.  Authors with several books behind them still have to leave their comfort zone and find something new that works. So I challenge those of you comfortable with this business of writing to shake things up and find a new approach. Those of you contemplating something very different–a new genre, non-fiction, or fiction–go for it.  So will you join me in my leap into the unknown?  Let’s do it now.

 ~*~

Elizabeth Mitchell

What I Learned from My Art by Bev Baird

What I learned from My Art  by Bev Baird

 

Trying to find my own inspiration for this post was a challenge. What could I offer that has not been said?

Then I remembered an article I just read by Susan Spann – “Writing Lessons From a Baby Seahorse.”  (http://writersinthestormblog.com/2015/01/writing-lessons-from-a-baby-seahorse/)

I realized that my art had a few lessons for my writing.

 

  1. Have fun with new techniques or media.

There is nothing I like more than to go to my art room and play with paints and just explore, with no agenda and no project in mind. Just as children enjoy the process, so do I. I may end up using some of my papers or other work, but that is not the goal.

When I allow myself to just write, whether it is morning papers or a scene that I envision, I am in the moment and I just write, with no expectations. Sometimes, I can use a bit of the writing, but other times, it acts as a catalyst for my other projects.

 

  1. Stretch yourself by trying new things.

I love watercolour but until I took a course I was afraid to try it. Now it is a favourite technique, even though I am still learning.

Same as with writing, I took a non-fiction picture book writing course and though I doubted my ability, I polished a book I am proud of and through that course, attended a retreat and made many connections.

 

  1. Seek out classes, mentors, competitions.

As with number 2, finding courses or mentors, submitting to contests, really helps push our writing (or art) forward.

 

  1. Keep practising.

Keeping an art journal and taking part in weekly art challenges has kept me creating art almost daily.

It is the same for writing – we need to write consistently and often. When I fail to do this, I know my writing suffers. The number one piece of advice from authors is “WRITE DAILY!”

As Stephen King said: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

 

  1. Display your work. Give it away. Share.

I have several pieces of my art displayed in my home and am reminded of the effort it took to create it and what I learned when I look at them. I have also made gifts to give and know they are appreciated.

Your writing too, can be sent out – to critique partners, to other’s blogs, to contests, to agents and editors. Get it out, get feedback and keep writing.

My art has also been an inspiration for my writing at times. I was having to add another chapter to a book I had written and needed a centrepiece for the chapter. An ATC (art trading card) I had received, inspired an artpiece that I created and then used as a gift to the heroine in the story. It helped move the story forward and was fun to create.

You never know where inspiration will strike.. Be on the look out. It might just be in front of you.

 ~*~

Bev Baird

Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

February.  Tomorrow we find out if spring comes early or if we get six more weeks of winter (I’m expecting winter).  A month into the year and I’m still looking for routine…

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