Writing

Beyond blogging

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I’ve been at blogging for nearly 4 years now and as I mentioned at the end of my thirty days of blogging in September, I’m considering a need to do something else. These days I’m spending more and more time reflecting on what the future holds for my writing. To be honest I am full on fearful to do anything more than this. I will be a complete failure at trying to write a full blown book. It’s too scary. I’m not creative enough. I’m too old.

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Writing

Today has been cancelled

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This is my 30th blog post of the month. It was a challenge I put to myself to get my creative juices flowing again and I would say it worked pretty well. I found I looked forward to writing each day and words were flowing better than usual. The results were a nice lift in stats and followers but now I’m questioning everything.

It all began while digging into my stats, particularly the search terms that got people to my site. And then it occurred to me I have never tried Googling my site to see how it comes up in the result. Maybe that was a mistake or maybe it was a sign to take a step back and reconsider what I’m doing here. What am I doing here?

So what happened is I saw the title of this intriguing item just two results above the one for my blog and being an inquisitive person, I clicked.

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The author listed out several reasons why not to have a personal blog and the first one is it’s a time waster. Personally, I don’t think working on my blog for the past three years has been a waste of time because I was writing, something I have been drawn to do for many, many years. But maybe I’m at the what’s next phase. Do I want to keep writing a blog about my life which admittedly tends to get boring? Should I find a niche and write about something I’m passionate about? Should I give up blogging altogether and start writing something I can hopefully one day publish?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. I’m also feeling the beginnings of a cold or something and my body just wants to go back to bed and cancel today. I have appointments (of course) but the urge is strong to reschedule them. While I’ve been blogging a lot, I have not been reading as much and I’m missing that too. My bed and a book might be my date for today.

MC

Writing

A Writer’s Beginning

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One thing I learned many years ago in my very first college writing class: do not begin every sentence with the word I. In fact, try to start as many sentences as possible without starting with I. This is something that despite everything else I must have learned in college, always stays with me when I am writing. The essays and stories I wrote in that class in 1987 are still boarders in the basement of my home. They have lived in a Rubbermaid bin for over 25 years and have moved with me from apartment to apartment. And there were a lot of apartments.

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Writing

The energy of ideas

Yesterday I had a bunch of ideas about topics to blog about. I didn’t write them down and they have vanished, vaporized, gone. Does that happen to you? You’re in a groove, ideas are flowing and you’re sure you’ll NEVER forget them? So noted.

On the tail of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram post about writing I thought I’d pull out her 2015 book about creativity called Big Magic. I listened to the audiobook when it first came out and loved it so much I decided to pick up the hard cover edition to add to my writing inspiration library. She describes the magic of ideas: how they come to you and how they disappear if you don’t act on them. She illustrates it with an example from her life about a book idea she worked on until her personal life got in the way of her project and how she’d lost the passion for it when she tried to return to it. Poof, it had disappeared.

She talks about how ideas are energy and they are looking for a human to bring them to life but you have to be open to receiving them. And if you don’t take up this particular project, it will move on to someone else. Have you ever had an idea and saw it pop up somewhere else? Someone else brought your idea to life? This happened with that particular book project. Someone else wrote the book.

This got my attention. I decided I better start paying attention to my ideas. Write them down. Be open and see where they go.

MC

Writing

Liz Gilbert Writing Inspiration

Perusing through Instagram I was stopped short by the photo above. Sometimes I berate myself for scrolling through social media when I could be doing other, more useful things. But how would I stumble upon gems like this? I was instantly intrigued. Elizabeth Gilbert has the secret knowledge of how to be a successful writer (and in ten easy steps!). Success and ease are not guaranteed but she does share some ideas that work.

  1. Tell your story to 1 person using your own voice.
  2. Start at the beginng and tell the whole story.
  3. Use simple sentences.
  4. Don’t worry if it’s good, just finish.
  5. Don’t write to change anyone’s life.
  6. Tell stories instead of explaining stuff.
  7. It doesn’t have to be a particular length or geared to a specific audience.
  8. You have been doing research your whole life just by existing- use it.
  9. Day after day, keep going.
  10. Be willing to let it be easy.

I’ve chopped her advice into tiny nuggets here so if you want to read it in her own words, take a meander over to Instagram. She’s a voice I find inspirational to follow.

MC

Writing

Just keep writing

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For a moment I got sucked into the vortex of blog stats. How many people are reading this? How many visitors did I have last month? This year? Look at how many more I had last year. Gosh. Why did I even look at these stats? Why do I care? How can people read what I’m not writing? Write for yourself whispers my soul.

I’m not going to lie. It isn’t easy to stick to writing, especially when the inspiration isn’t there. I see how much I wrote last year, particularly February when I committed to blogging every day for that month. I had stats! I had likes and follows. I’m not going to lie. It felt easy and good. This year I’ve been adrift and honestly (why do I think I have to keep prefacing myself about honesty!) when I lost my job, I lost my mojo, even though it had been steadily seeping away for some time.

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Writing

Taking Action

You may have noticed I haven’t been writing. You may not even miss me but I miss you. Who is you? An anonymous reader? Me? The me who was writing for me. Does that make sense? When you want to write but you don’t and then day after day goes by and the more you don’t write, the less you write. I’ve picked up books on writing. I’ve done some exercises. But mostly I just haven’t been writing. Something finally sparked inside and said, “you have to write!”.

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Most recently I picked up a small book I read (75% if you go by the bookmark tucked into the latter part of the book) during a writing course from a couple of years ago called The Memoir Project by a local writer, Marion Roach Smith. I had time between lacrosse games over the weekend so I thought I’d pick up where I left off but then since it’s been so long since I’d picked it up, I decided to start over. One of the very first things she recommends against is to do the writing exercises! She wants you to dive right in.

Maybe that’s the push I need to get me in front of my computer today. To open my blog pages and start writing. I decided I needed to give the desk a good clean since the only person using the computer as of late is my twelve-year-old who is usually eating snacks and putting fingerprints on the screen. It’s time to wrest control of the computer from him! Then, in cleaning the keyboard, I accidentally flipped the monitor orientation sideways (Ctrl/Alt and the arrow keys will fix that in case you ever need to know).

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Writing

What do you love?

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Lately, I have been doing some fun writing exercises (exercise and fun in the same sentence!). One was to choose several books and copy the first lines. As I was looking around my house for various books to pull first lines from, I ended up in our loft which houses all the papers and stuff that has no particular home. I found some long lost (and beloved) books and after copying a few first sentences, I began to write about a particular memory of reading a book I hadn’t seen in many years. It was pretty cool.

Another exercise challenged me to come up with a list of 100 things I love and I almost skipped it. Do I love 100 things? It turns out I do and once I started, I couldn’t stop and I’m adding to it every day. It is somewhat akin to a gratitude list. Here it is: Continue reading “What do you love?”

Writing

A New Routine

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Today is day one of my new, unemployed life. What came before, these last two weeks was just the trial run. A period similar (but certainly not as devastating) to the events experienced after the death of a loved one. The period that is suspended in time where your tribe gathers around. Makes daily inquiries as to your well being. There is much to do in those first few days. Organize and prepare for what lies ahead. A pre-planned getaway to Florida followed my first week away from the job and there was a flurry of activity awaiting me there. But now I am home and everyone is back to work and school and I’m here to let the dust settle around me and find a new routine.

This is exactly what I have wanted for months on end. Time to write. Time to see if I have what it takes to birth a book. I’m hopeful because it is early days and I see nothing but time stretching ahead of me. I have a bit of money saved and with unemployment kicking in soon, I’ll have enough to get me through the next few months. I know how lucky I am. If I can’t make it work now, I don’t see how it’s going to happen for me. I know I have to sit my butt in front of my computer and let the words out, even if they are gibberish and nonsensical.

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