Archive for the ‘ Writing ’ Category

 

  • Ever had a day where you just wanted some quiet and got anything but? You start off your day with good intentions but then everything goes wrong?

 

  • Today I was off and designated this to be a writing day. Since I became a writer I have learned that no one. Literally no one respects the writing day–not even the writer. I often try to sabotage my own writing day with trips to the mall and inane phone calls. But not today. Not…..Today…..

 

  • I told a few people that this is a, “don’t bother Caroline unless your house is on fire or aliens have crash landed into our town and you want to warn me to put on a helmet or something” kind of day.

 

  • This did little to stop the barrage of texts, calls and “can you call this patient back even though we can technically take care of it for you?” phone calls this morning.

 

  • So I bravely put my phone away this morning and pretended it didn’t exist. In my world, that’s as insane as announcing that I’m going to chuck it all and finally become that ventriloquist I was meant to be.

 

  • My phone is like my child. I generally like to keep it near. I miss it when it’s far away. It needs me.

 

  • When people regale me of stories of how they “left their phone at home” or just “forgot to carry it.” I stare at them in shock and horror as if they just told me they locked their kid in a hot car and went for ice cream alone.

 

  • I decided to take a deep breath and calm myself. I went to the couches on the outside patio of my apartment building. There I found an impossible magical oasis where there were umbrellas and 12 couches completely devoid of humans and only the occasional singing of the birds to keep me company.

 

  • I rubbed my eyes and stared at it for a moment. Could this be real? I walked over and touched one of the couches. Nope, not a mirage. I really had the place to myself.

 

  • Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like people. I do. I work with people all day long. For some reason I’m a people person. I don’t know how it happened. It wasn’t part of the plan. Even babies love me. They giggle and coo when they see me. One time a stranger’s baby tried to jump into my arms. My patients love me. They actually think I’m sweet and a great listener–and they want to come back and see me again and again. I don’t know how that happened either.

However….

  • When I want to have a writing day, I’m someone else entirely. I become “the other me.“ I don’t like human contact of any kind when I want to write. I’m a different creature. Anything another person does, whether it’s talking, standing, sitting, chewing gum or even just existing in this dimension is a major distraction and completely annoying. Many writers will tell you the same thing.

 

  • Writers like to hide from the world while writing. Then when they have written enough for that day, they rub their eyes blinded by the sunlight, and emerge into the world and want to rejoin society again. Once again they are friendly, cordial and want to be around others. The urge to stab someone with their pen for distracting them is gone. Not that we would ever do that of course. But we may fantasize about it a little.

 

  • Back to the couches…I paused and marveled at how beautiful this umbrella laden comfortable couch scene was. It was a perfect weather kind of day. It was a writing day and the prospect of no interruptions and actual real life peace and quiet made me want to call people just to tell them what a miraculous place I found. But then calls would defeat the purpose. Besides, who would want to be on the other end of that call?

Me: “I found a couch with no people!!!”

Them: “Umm that’s great Caroline…(awkward pause and silence) Yeah, I’m going to go now.”

 

I’d be sure to hear from them again…

  • For about 5 wonderful minutes, I enjoyed the peace and was able to hear myself again without the barrage of noise and distractions that permeate my mind every minute of every day. I began writing.

 

  • My heaven did not last long.

 

  • Today was the day the building wanted the grounds mowed, edged, gardened and leaf blown–even though there were no leaves. I don’t know what they were leaf blowing. I think they were there just to blow my thoughts and last shred of sanity away so I couldn’t write.

 

  • Soon the man on the mower began happily driving it and passing me going the left, then right, then left, then right, then left, then right, then in front of me, then behind me, then in front of me…you get my drift. (and by “drift” I mean, “aghhhhhhhh!!“) As he slowly and patiently made his tracks in the grass, I tried not to let it distract me. I really tried.

 

  • Then I pretended the mowing was just the sound of kittens meowing or the sound of the ocean. That didn’t work.

 

  • I even began praying to God to make him stop. You know you’re at the end of your rope when you begin praying to a higher power to make a mower stop working.

 

  • As soon as I prayed, the mowing stopped. I thanked God. Then the mowing started again 10 seconds later. God has a great sense of humor. He did get him to stop, I just didn’t specify for how long.

 

  • Soon I began fantasizing about the mower malfunctioning, I even envisioned myself slashing its tires. Not that I would actually do that of course. But a girl can dream. (Who have I become?!!)

 

  • Then the mowing symphony was accompanied by those electric edgers, edging the near walls and creating an awful sound that would make ponies cry.

 

  • Then the mower got even closer as if he was mocking me. I began to think crazy thoughts that perhaps the mower was doing this to me on purpose. He somehow knew it was a writing day.

 

  • Let’s forget the fact that I’m allergic to freshly cut grass. I tried to ignore that fact as the allergen particles filled the air and landed all over my face, hair and body. I continued to avoid the fact as water filled my eyes and my nose began to itch. I ignored it so hard that the allergy symptoms actually went away. Mind over matter works people! Except not when you want to ignore noise.

 

  • Suddenly, I heard a loud banging. When I say “loud”, I mean it was earsplitting. It sounded like someone was dropping a large boulder plucked from a mountain right on top of a car–repeatedly and 2 feet away from me. The ground was actually shaking. I felt my soul disconnect momentarily from my body and then change its mind and return again.

 

  • I don’t know where it was coming from. Perhaps from behind the trees there was construction. Perhaps it was just the sound of my own sanity meeting its final breaking point.

 

  • Finally the banging stopped. Then soon after, the mowing stopped. It really stopped. The edgers stopped too.

I breathed a sigh of relief. I thanked the heavens.

Then the leaf blowers began…..

  • The side eye look I gave the leaf blower man who WALKED RIGHT UP TO ME WITH THE BLOWER ON (ok he was just doing his job) made him back away from me slowly. There weren’t any leaves anyway. I think I scared him. I wonder what it’s like to be at the other end of my stare? Too frightening a concept. When someone is disturbing my peace, I think I own a stare that would make a rabid angry dog run and hide. I shiver at the thought.

 

  • Then a lady sat down at one of the couches far away from me and began speaking in what I think was Russian. She was far, but I could still hear her. I don’t know what she said, but I can tell it was gossip– and gossip is an international language. I could tell she was imitating another woman and making fun of that woman‘s laughter.

I somehow managed to keep writing.

 

  • Then a spider fell from above and landed in my hair. It began moving quickly through my strands looking for prime real estate. I brushed it off and kept writing.

 

  • A minute later, a bug landed on my hand, I tried to swat it away but it was too fat and slow and I ended up just murdering it right there on the back of my hand. It left a trail of blood on my hand.

 

  • I left the blood there as a gentle reminder of our mortality and kept writing.

 

  • Then a man came outside and began smoking again. This was his second cigarette in an hour. He had a cough. I said aloud to myself, “if he quits, maybe he will stop coughing.“ I even contemplated telling him this.

 

  • At this point, I realize the fact that I even know this about him, means I’m too distracted. That’s when I began to give up and decide to change venue.

 

  • Allergen provoking mowing, edging and leaf blowing and a gossiping lady is one thing. But trying to murder me with second hand smoke when I’m trying to write is enough to send me fleeing. The disdainful look I gave the smoker was enough to make him back away slowly and go back into the building tossing away a half smoked cigarette. I must have had a pretty frightening look.

 

  • Then I was finally at peace. However, that lady was still on the phone. It had been two hours and she was STILL ON THE PHONE. Who has so much to say for two hours straight? Literally no one. Even the most interesting person will stop being interesting after 45 minutes of non-stop talking.

But it was a writing day…sniffle sniffle….

Why don’t I just write at home you wonder? Too many inanimate distractions there. Which is actually worse…

My quest continues…..

Maybe I can buy my own island…but then a coconut may fall off a tree knocking me in the head, rendering me unconscious–and that’s too embarrassing to explain to my family.

Caroline

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The Life of a Writer

Writing is a crazy, bumpy road where you’re not sure where it’s going to take you, but you enjoy the ride anyway.

  • Sometimes I think the writer’s lot in life is a tough one. What we do is often misunderstood. Too many times people ask me, “So when are you going to hurry up and finish your book so I can read it!” Or my personal favorite, “What’s taking so long?” And “So you started your book last week? When is it going to be in book form? Next month?“

 

  • Unless you’re a writer or in the business of writing and publishing you won’t understand that writing is a process. The road to publishing can be lengthy.

 

  • You can write a book that can take you years to finish and another manuscript, which can take you only a few months to complete.

 

  • Your manuscript becomes a baby you gave birth to, nurtured, fed, and spent many hours of your life creating. You ignored phone calls, hid in coffee shops, bookstores, libraries or in the corner of your house working diligently.

 

  • You had your crazy rituals you abided by in order to finish your precious manuscript. (I often liked to have Christmas lights on in my house when I wrote and my surroundings had to be spotless otherwise my mind would be too cluttered to write. I would also meditate before writing)

 

  • You fought back those tough days when the voice in the back of your head whispered lies that you’re not a writer and won’t amount to anything in this business.

 

  • You persevered and drank massive amounts of coffee and tea. Caffeine became your unlikely ally.
  • You miraculously found quiet time to write in your otherwise busy schedule. You had to find creative ways to “invent” time that didn’t exist in your life.

 

  • All of that effort comes down to one finished manuscript that’s edited, labored over, finalized and ready to publish.

 

  • Is all of that work worth it? Absolutely. Because there is nothing like that feeling of finishing something and putting it out in the universe for all to see. The result is both frightening and exhilarating at the same time and well worth it. You send your baby out into the wild and hope it doesn’t get eaten by lions, tigers or bears, and comes home to you in one piece.

As writers are we slightly out of our minds for spending so much time with one manuscript after another, and not knowing what will happen to it? Maybe, but that’s the fun part…..

Caroline

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Ode To Writer’s Block

Today I was going to write a post and I literally just stared at the blank screen for a good half hour. The screen was mocking me, challenging me to write a word, any word. I did nothing and continued to stare at the offending screen.

I started to write a sentence then decided against it and erased it. Then I wrote another and erased that one too. It was like my brain was not letting me type. I figured it was a classic case of temporary writer’s block rearing its ugly head. I knew this condition all too well. It attacked me many times when I was working on my book. Each time I swatted it away like it was an annoying mosquito. It would always try to return again with a sly little voice saying, “Hi Caroline, did you miss me?” No I didn’t.

Perhaps it was the fact that I ran around all day today that drained me of my creative energy. Maybe I shouldn’t have done all of that house work first. But I had to fold last weeks’ laundry, and do this weeks, do the dishes, clean my bedroom, empty the trash and clean the floors. Isn’t Sunday supposed to be a day of rest?

A friend sent me a text telling me that I am not the only one on this earth who waits until a week goes by before folding the laundry. It made me feel less alone. It’s comforting when you find out others have the same wierd issues you do.

So laundry folded, housework done and errands run, and here I sat staring at the blank screen. Temporary writer’s block is a frustrating thing. You try to pry the words, ideas and thoughts from your brain but they remain hidden somewhere inaccessible.

You start to let your mind wander hoping that if you let your mind go where it wants to then it will end up in a place where ideas are found. It’s like ideas are found in a special room in your brain and you just have to find the exact door that will open it. Then once you get there you have to make sure you brought the key with you.

My mind did not go to the “idea room”. Instead it wandered into the, “what should I make for dinner? Weren’t quarterly taxes due last week? Should I buy a coffee grinder? Do I really need to be drinking coffee anyways? Maybe tea is better. But I love coffee. Did I mail the bills?” room. I accidentally wandered into the “random thought and worry room”. It provided no information. It only made me worry and want coffee.

Finally I gave up and instead wrote what you are reading right now. If you are still reading it then you deserve a medal or some kind of trophy for humoring my thoughts on this lazy Sunday evening.

The thing to remember about writer’s block is that even though you have it, you should write something anyways. That block is only temporary. It is not just writing, it can be anything in life. If you love to do something, just make sure you show up everyday and do it. For me, it’s writing, even on days when the words do not want to come so easily. For you it may be something else. Just show up and do your best. Don’t give that so-called block the power it does not deserve. Keep moving forward.

Knowing me, I will probably come up with an amazing idea at 2 am. Everyone knows all good ideas happen when our brain is asleep….bad ones too.  But then again, despite the blockage, I just wrote 618 words. Not bad at all.

 I just remembered I still have to put the 2nd load of clothes in the dryer. I always remember to wash the clothes and then forget until it is about 11pm that I didn’t bother drying them. Sometimes I don’t remember until the next day after I have come home from work. Then there are times that I will actually remember to put them in the dryer but then I forget to push the button to start the machine…enough about my laundry issues. At least I don’t have to wash the laundry while wading in a river and beating the clothes against a rock. I have that going for me. Perspective. :)

Caroline

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Saying Goodbye to Writer’s Block

Don’t be afraid to get inspired

Whenever I sit down to write, I pray and hope for inspiration. Every time I do this I hear a little voice inside me telling me that inspiration is all around me.

It’s true. It really is all around us. I get inspired by other people, works of art, songs, just about anything can inspire me to write.

Whether you are a writer or not- we all need a little inspiration in whatever we do. You may need a little guidance and inspiration to paint, draw, make music, design something or be creative in any way. Sometimes we just need a little guidance to find a solution to something at home or at work.

Too many of us sit around waiting to be inspired. If you want inspiration, then get inspired! It really is all around you.

Pay attention to the things that go on around you and within you. Whatever tools we need are inside of us and all around us.

A friend of mine one day told me that she sees me as someone who designs things and suggested I make jewelry. I filed that advice away in the back of my mind until one day I remembered that this was something I used to do as a child and had forgotten about it.

I paid attention to the cues around me and thus got inspired to start making jewelry with the hopes of starting my own side business. It all began with the inspirational words from a trusted friend that opened my eyes to something that was already in front of me.

Ideas and inspiration can come from anywhere. Don’t discount anything.

If you are an artist, remember that art is all around you. The world we live in and everything and everyone in it is a part of a larger canvas.

Too many artists complain that they are blocked. Writer’s block is a frustrating thing that can happen to any writer. However, inspiration is the life raft that can pull anyone out of writer’s block.

If you are inspired then it is impossible to be blocked. Don’t complain that you are blocked. Put the pen or keyboard away and stop thinking so hard. Get up and look at the world around you. Everything you need is right in front of you.

If you really pay attention to the world, you will find ideas, inspiration and anything else you need to keep going.

Artists are not meant to suffer despite what the stereotype says. We hear phrases like ‘starving artists’ or ‘writer’s block’ all the time. When you hear the words ‘writer’s block’ it can bring to mind an image of a person pacing a room, nervously sipping coffee in front of a lap top or notebook completely alone in their misery, and screaming at the heavens for inspiration. It doesn’t have to be this way.

If you feel you are blocked in any way here is what I recommend: (this can work for any type of block)

1) Get the idea of being blocked out of your mind The more you dwell on it, the more you will feel blocked. Just like a person constantly dwelling on the headache they have, will only make them feel worse.

2) Walk away from whatever you are working on Whether its a writing project, song, a design, or anything else, just get away from it for a while.

3) Remove the pressure from your mind that you have to finish whatever project you were working on. When we put pressure on ourselves it only blocks us further.

3) Go spend time in your favorite place. We all have busy lives, but try to make time for this task. It could be anywhere that makes you happy and brings you peace. Go alone if you can.

4) Get quiet. Let your thoughts come in and out as they please. You don’t have to meditate. Just allow your mind to clear.

5) Return to the task you were working on when you are ready, and only when you are ready. Don’t rush yourself. The break you gave yourself can refresh your mind and open it up to inspiration. It is hard to get inspired when our minds are constantly full of worry and anxiety.

Repeat these steps as many times as you need to. Give yourself a break whenever you need it. Once you learn to remove the pressure you put on yourself. You will learn that everything will get easier and your so-called ’block’ is a thing of the past.

It worked for me and I hope that this helps you too. :)

 

Caroline

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A Writer’s Daily Commitment

 

This post is dedicated to the writers of the world (even if you aren’t a writer you can still apply these rules to your life)

Every morning I get up before my brain does and just start writing whatever comes to mind on paper. I sit at my writing desk (which for some reason is my dining room table- my writing desk is left vacant and my writing room is now my ex-dining room) and I write to unclutter my brain for as many pages as it takes to get whatever thoughts need to come out.

Sometimes I write about nothing important at all. Other times I write things that I want to put in my book. Regardless, this is my time to unload the clutter in my brain. (and we all have clutter)

What amazes me is that sometimes the best writing that I do is before my brain is fully awake. I think this is because the still sleeping brain leaves room for the heart to express itself.

Its an everyday committment if you want to be a writer. You have to write every day. Simple as that. Just write everyday. Ingredients you need to be a writer are as follows:

1) The desire in your heart to write

2) Something to write with or type with

3) A desk (or in my case a dining room table or the table at Carabou Coffee)

4) An unwavering belief in yourself

That’s it. Write something everyday. Even if you don’t  think you can’t come up with something, just do it anyways.

That’s part of the reason why I started this blog. It forces me to write something new everyday. I feel like it’s a part of my job. Just like I get up every day and go to work, this is my job too. I make it my responsibility. It keeps me on task.

Try it with anything in your life that matters to you and you will see that it really does work.

Oh, and I highly recommend writing by hand as much as possible. You will find that some of the best things you write will be handwritten. You are more connected to the task when you create things by hand. Try it, and wear that writer’s cramp in your hand like a badge of honor!! I know I do ;)

Happy Writing!!!

Caroline

 

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