Equalizing Attitude

Today’s the fall equinox and it’s as good a time as any to re-dedicate my goals and projects. It’s been a chaotic and stressful year so far and to help maintain my sanity I’ve pushed myself to focus on the things that keep my life balanced. When family issues–or life in general–get in the way, it’s far too easy to allow creative endeavors to slide. “I’ll write tomorrow.” “Tomorrow I’ll have more creative energy.” “Tomorrow I’ll make time.”

I’ve pushed myself to do creative projects such as painting, sewing, and even cooking and baking (during which I always “edit” recipes) to keep in tune with my creative self. I’ve also  made short-term goals for little side projects; for example,  a poem decorated with colored-pencil art, or a seasonal craft to cheer up a blah work space. Throughout the summer I’ve celebrated these little artistic victories and tried very hard not to get discouraged when yet another day passed without the opportunity to even write in my journal.

This morning I felt that all that plodding along was worth it. I’m sure it has something to do with the autumnal equinox since I woke feeling more at peace and calm than I have in a long time. It was a true day off and I started it with coffee on the lanai. The air was damp and still. Not a ripple marred the surface of the lake and for once no golfers were out in the early morning. It soon began to sprinkle, and then rain steadily. It was beautiful! The rain seemed to have cleansed away the noise and chaos of typical Saturday mornings around here.

Peace! I poured my thoughts into a very long journal entry and then sipped coffee and watched the rain drops plop into the lake. And soon, I was transported to the world of one of my works-in-progress. Two hours later I took a break, ate breakfast, and then . . .

. .  . joy! I had thoughts for scenes to a different project! This was such a luxury in a challenging year. But I know that the turmoil will pass. I made a few new goals to help me get from today to the end of this year. I feel relaxed and stronger now. I’m confident I can maintain balance. And, I’m looking forward to the adventures — and creative journeys autumn has in store.

Happy Autumn and happy writing!

Summer Buzz

Yesterday was summer solstice–the longest day of the year. It was also the hottest day we’ve had. My AC ran continually and I actually adjusted the shades to limit the sunshine. (Anyone who knows me well knows I thrive in my bright, sunlit home.) The plants wilted and so did my attitude as I began calculating what was left of summer and the poor plans I’ve made to rest and recharge. It didn’t help in learning before I left campus that all the meetings and planning for fall will begin in just a few weeks. I felt as if time were running out!

So my brooding built and escalated with the heat of the day. The summer solstice concluded with heat lightning and severe thunderstorms. Again, it matched my mood until, like the denouement in a story, I took action to better balance my “life wheel” and make a few plans for R&R. That emotional storm changed the “heat” I’d been feeling.

Today is a fresh day, cleansed by the rain. Today I’m tending thirsty plants on the lanai and listening to the buzz of insects. I love this part of summer. I love the sounds, which change during midday because it becomes too hot for the squirrels to chase each other through the trees. Too hot for the usual sounds of dogs or people. Even the splashing from the pool next to my building ceases for several hours.

But I’m tuned into the sound of the summer buzz. The whir of the insects intensifies and grows slightly louder with the heat. (One of these days my curiosity will draw me into investigating exactly what/how that sound is made and by which insects. For now, though, I focus on fiction over nonfiction.) With each cycle of the whirring insects, I am transported to the scenes from my W-I-P. What sounds does my character hear now? What does she smell?

Later I’ll also visit the created worlds of two clients and ask the same questions about sensory details. Today I am focused more on sounds than on other senses because the insects have guided me to notice sounds.

All that matters now is that it’s summer, I love the heat, and story ideas are buzzing through my thoughts. This is happiness. This is one way I want to spend my time. This makes summer wonderful.

Writing Discpline

Discipline is a big part of working as a professional writer. It’s important to focus on the task at hand, but I may take a short break to play with new ideas if I hit a lag and need to get the creative juices flowing. After my deadline is met, however, I will have plenty of ideas waiting. How do I decide which to pursue next? I consider two things: exhilaration and marketing. With which of these ideas am I most intrigued? Which will maintain my interest during all the stages of writing–including repeatedly revising and polishing? Once I’ve selected the three most promising, I’ll consider markets. This is especially important for nonfiction. If it won’t sell, why spend the time  working on it? Of course, trends change and an idea that may not interest an editor today may interest him in 2-3 months or 2-3 years.

Write Through the Year

I’ve had a nice long break from teaching. Writing workshops concluded just after Thanksgiving. Teaching for both elementary arts enrichment students and college students concluded the second week in December. That makes it from 4-6 weeks since some of my students have seen me.
My workshops students, however, have been in contact. Not every one of them, but several. Most have asked for advice on how to keep up their writing, so I’ve decided to add postings to Word Coach to help them out. I’m calling them “Write Through the Year” and I’ll answer questions about finding ideas, keeping a writer’s journal, various craft elements, creating or finding critique groups, and so on. Stay tuned!