#AMonthofFaves2016 ~ Best Changes We Made This Year

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writing-chart

I’ve made two big changes this year, both incredibly beneficial (so hopefully that is motivation to keep them going!).

The first is my “Don’t Break the Chain” challenge. I created 365 boxes on a dry erase board and put an “X” on each day that I wrote. I’ve managed to write every day this year. Now, some days it was just morning pages. Other days it was merely one sentence in my WIP. But, the point is, that I wrote something every single day of 2016… so far. Next year, my plan is to make it a little more challenging. Maybe I need to write 500 words on my WIP at least 5 days a week to earn that “X.”

meditation

The second thing I did (and it’s only been since November 9) is meditate every day. Most days it is for at least 15 minutes. 2 days it has been for 5 because the day was so crazy and I just needed to fit it in. I have resisted meditation for years. Even when one of my favorite writers and writing teachers, Natalie Goldberg,  promised that meditation was the secret to writing, I still resisted. But now I am kind of in a groove. I feel like meditation creates space for all of my thoughts, all of my feelings. Nothing is being squashed or pushed aside. Meditation is holding sacred space for all for me. I find myself calmer, less reactive, more mindful, more focused…all great benefits for a writer.

What are some changes you’ve made this years or plan to make next year? I’d love to hear about them.

Check out the challenge here. 

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The More I Befriend my Writing…

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Today is the 130th day of 2016.

I have written every one of those days.

Some days I have half-assed it, just barely showing up enough to call it writing.

But most days I. Show. Up.

I write. I edit. I revise. I re-imagine scenes to make them deeper, more real. I haul out the words and stories buried in my body, in my psyche, ones that are weighing me down, holding me back.

Today, as I rolled out of a 30-minute meditation, trying to stay in that soft space, I picked up my notebook and pen, watching the pink ink spill across the page and I realized that writing is no longer just something I show up for. It’s not longer just a red “x” I make on my board.

Writing has become my soft place to land everyday—even when what I am writing is hard and jagged.

Writing is no longer (well, more often) this “other” that I battle, compare, belittle and judge.

I have finally befriended my writing and it has befriended me.

It reminds of this:

befriending

And here is the fascinating thing:

The more I befriend my writing, the more I am befriending my body—the more I befriend my whole self.

The more real I am on the page, the more I let it all out, the more compassion I seem to generate for myself and all the parts I used to deem as broken or unacceptable or unlovable.

My youngest daughter (19 years old) recently attended my Poses, Pens + Inner Peace class which combines some writing with yoga. The topic of that “inner mean girl” voice came up. Later at dinner, I asked E.if she experienced that voice.

She shrugged and said, “Nah…my voice petty much says ‘You do you, Girl!'”

As her mom, I loved hearing that.

,As a woman I loved hearing that.

As a writer, I realize that is exactly what my writing says to me:

“You do you, Girl. I got your back.”

 

 

 

Without Apology.

Okay…so this is a little anxiety-producing.

As part of the Write Yourself Alive Challenge, I wrote a rambling meditation, then recorded it and now…gulp…am sharing it here. But, hey, this was part of the reason I joined this challenge—to break the hell out of my comfort zone.

Without Apology

This is a rambling meditation through the silky seaweed of thoughts

undulating through the dark shadowy spaces of my mind.

Mining the mind for what is truly there,

not merely what I think is there.

Diving below that still surface of

polite thoughts of please and thank you and,

most insidious of all, I’m sorry.

Those apologies of the soul, for the soul.

Apologizing for taking up too much space,

for saying the wrong thing on the outside though it felt so right on the inside.

Slipping into the crevice between apologizing and owning.

Owning the space inside my head,

inside my heart.

Daring to disturb the mirror-like surface with

one pebble of truth

and allowing those ripples to flow wherever they may go.

Watching them extend far beyond the safety of polite

without apology.

 

WYA Challenge Day 17

Sharon Stone as Muse

Image credit.

My dear sweet Muse,
I implore you to wave your wand, sprinkle your creative dust (or tool of choice) and wrap me in a distraction-free bubble each time I sit down to write.
Shield me from the habitual grooves of my brain (wait, my computer just pinged. Did someone like my post? Which one? Who is it?) that yearn to hop on-line when I’ve barely written three sentences. Keep me encased in a beautifully translucent (yet strong impenetrable)  bubble where I have zero desire to check my Facebook or Twitter feeds or Pinterest boards or play a game of 2048 or do laundry or dishes or watch TV or…or…or.
Please, keep my focus on the page or the screen in front of me. Allow my focus to grow, diving deep beneath the surface of my story, deep into the lives of my characters.
I so envy (Okay, okay… sometimes “hate” is the word. As is “doubt.”) people who claim they lose all track of time when they write. That they forget to eat. Forget to eat? Really? They claim they look up and four, eight even ten hours have passed. Again, really? They didn’t have to pee once during that time? Then they are obviously not drinking enough water.
Me? I am distracted by every itch and twitch, every internal gurgle and grumble. Just once, I would love to be so completely absorbed by the world of my story that I forget about the world I am actually in.
Do you think you can help me with that? Cuz that’d be great.
Sincerely,
Your focus-challenged, distraction-attracting creative charge

WYA Challenge: Day 8

WYA

Before I write, I feel edgy. Restless.

Still , I often resist the page.

I resist the words that long to spill out of me. Words that have gotten lodged in my body, leaving me feeling on edge, fidgety, like I want to crawl out of my skin.

I ignore the page and instead clean or do laundry or scroll through Facebook or call a friend, trying to dislodge the words indirectly. But they are too deep. Only the precise motion of the pen across the page can excise them.

There. A word is shaved off a rib. Another coaxed out from the tender space behind a knee. More peeled away from the wet meaty flesh of my heart. Still more sifted out of the blood flowing through my body behind my shin.

Each word that is freed from the body and captured on the page leaves me feeling both lighter and more grounded.

It’s not the words that create the heaviness but the battle with resistance. All the restlessness that I try to channel into cleaning or organizing doesn’t touch the depth of the resistance. Those tasks merely mask that trapped energy, mask those words that have gotten stuck and no amount of busy work will lure them out.

Only the gentle movement of breath and the steady motion of my pen across the page will release the pent up energy that bubbles just below the surface of my soul.

The effort of writing is always worth the ease of being that follows.

The transformation is almost instant. With each word that escapes from the end of my pen, the easier I breathe, the more content I feel in my skin.

After I write, I am more present.

After I write, I am more me.

•   •   •   •   •   •

Creativity Check-in

How much did I write today?

2 hours

 

What did I work on?

Morning Pages

Healthy Living Journal

WYA Dig Deeper and Writing Prompt

WIP

 

Times of day:

 

M

morning, late afternoon, and night

Mood: 

Eager to show up to the work.

 

Greatest Obstacle:

MY WIP feels like a giant jumble of puzzle pieces that have no edges and are all the same color.

 

Greatest Strength:

Carefully reading through what I have, chapter by chapter, noting the balance of current story versus back story, making notes of questions alone the way.

 

Creative affirmation:

I tend to my writing daily and it flourishes even when it feels dormant.

 

Write Yourself Alive: A 30 Day Challenge

WYA Challenge: Day 3

Day 3

Image found via Pinterest.

“Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.” ~ Annie Dillard

This is one time when time I don’t agree with Annie Dillard. I need my workspace to be appealing on some level. It is so easy to resist doing the work, why put up another roadblock by making the space where I write unappealing?

I am not precious about where I write. I’ve written at my desk in my writing space, in my writing/reading nook in the living room, at the bookstore, in the car, on a plane, at a picnic table by the lake.

The space around me is not the distracting thing. It’s the space in my head that can be distracting. It’s the lure of the world at my literal fingertips with the click of a mouse that is distracting.

So, I guess it’s less of an unappealing workplace that I need and more of a non-distracting one. I’ve found a fe within stop help with that.

I use earplugs when I am out in the world writing. It mutes the sounds swirling around me. I will even use them at home if others are in the house. It creates an instant cocoon of concentration.

Downloading the Freedom app is an amazing distraction eraser. I set the timer for how long I want to be locked out of internet access and I write without the temptation of Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter taunting me.

My biggest distraction can be my own mind. That’s where meditation comes in. I resisted it for so long. Felt like a fraud everytime I tried to meditate. But now it has become the cornerstone of my writing practice. It doesn’t clear my mind of all its clutter. As a writer, that’s not what I want anyway. It’s more like it allows everything to settle just enough so I can focus. It’s easier to let thoughts go, to stay present to what I am doing. As a writer, that is what I need the most. I need to be present to the words, to the characters, to the story—to the next word, sentence, scene that needs to be written.

Meditation also allows me to befriend my mind. To notice with a light curiosity what exactly goes on in there. Seeing how the mind is one of a writer’s greatest tools, anything that bridges the gap is welcome. It also teaches me to become comfortable with being uncomfortable which is also a great asset as a writer.

Meditation is a tool just like my notebook or computer at this point—essential and non-negotiable.

 

Creativity Check-in

How much did I write today?

3 hours

 

What did I work on?

WIP for 3o solid minutes. ( I set a timer). It was the firs thing I worked on which helped my concentration.

Morning Pages

Healthy Living Journal

WAY Dig Deeper and Writing Prompt

 

Times of day:

2-4 at the bookstore

9 PM – 10 PM in my writing nook

 

Mood:

A little tired. Mid afternoon is not prime time for me. Also a little frustrated with my WIP. Feeling a little stuck about about the sequence of events and some backstory. Started taking notes on what happens in each chapter and whether it is Current Story or Back story. That is helping.

 

Greatest Obstacle:

Feeling stuck.

 

Greatest Strength:

Instead of needing to produce more words, I used my time to figure out what I have and what the story needs.

 

Creative affirmation:

Any time spent working on the story is well spent even if the word count doesn’t increase.

 

Write Yourself Alive: A 30 Day Challenge

WYA Day 1: Why I Write

Dive deep

Image found via Pinterest.

Why I write.

I write to dive in past the shallow surface of life.

I write to remember who I was, who I am and who it is possible for me to be.

Writing is a thread that ties my experiences together and reveals something deeper.

I write to dislodge rage, to soothe anxiety, to revel in joy, to ease shame, to immerse myself in the beautiful chaos of being human, in this body, as this woman, at this time in history that feels as if it is teetering on some huge precipice.

Writing keeps me sane. Or saner amidst the chaos within and without.

If I couldn’t write, I would paint huge sprawling canvases and petite fragile ones and every size in between using line, shape, color and texture to connect with the world around me. Crescents of paint dried under my nails, smudged on my cheek, scraps of paper glued to the delicate bone on the side of my wrist.

Or perhaps I’d weave notes into the air from a piano or guitar, creating a cocoon of sound to both comfort and liberate.

That, right there, is why I write.

It both comforts and liberates me.

I seek solace on the page and I find liberation when the mask is finally shattered and my raw whole self is there, just as I am.

If I couldn’t write or paint or create music, perhaps my creativity would just be me, fully embracing each messy, painful, blissful moment of my life. Writing is my doorway to living from that space.

Writing keeps me awake and present to all of it.

There’s no place to hide when I write.

I’m present to the light and the dark, to the angst and the bliss, to the lies and the truth, the heavy and light, the calm and chaos, the fear and boldness, the mundane and profound.

Me, awake and present to all of it.

That’s why I write.

 

Creativity Check-in

How much did I write today? (time, words, pages)

2 hours

What did I work on?

3 Morning Pages

3 WYA pages

A blog post

Mood:

Tired, brain foggy

Greatest obstacle:

Taught three yoga classes so my attention was spread thin today.

Greatest strength:

Making the time anyway, no matter how I felt.

Creative Affirmation:

I show up to the page daily to keep the creative momentum going.

 

 

Wednesday Writing Prompt.

Darkest before the dawn

Image found via Pinterest.

Words are the lantern I carry deep into the darkness of my psyche. Deep into the wilderness that is my soul. They light my path when the path feels imperceptible. When that path is strewn with the debris of my mind—fear, jealousy, rage, expectations, blame, loneliness. Words shine a flicker of light so I can see where I actually am, not where my mind thinks I am. I can see what actually is rather than what I imagine it is. Words. These tiny black marks on a screen or blue marks scribbled on a page contain all the light of the universe within them. A light that illuminates the universe that churns within me, lighting me up from within in the midst of utter darkness. Breadcrumbs that lead me back to myself. Back to the path. Beacons of light that offer hope, that dispel the despair, that lead me even deeper into the wild, swirling universe of who I was, who I am  and who I am meant to be.