IT CAN BE FUN!

This weekend I will be at an Autumn Arts Bazaar promoting my Mrs. Claus book.  Although this is not my favorite part of the writing process, I know it can be fun. I just have to follow my own advice that I tell myself or my class about get the writing done.  Just show up and have fun.

The possibilities are endless if I just show up and smile. I am not trying to impress anyone.

Having no expectations and being open to whatever happens makes this a win -win for me.

My husband follows the same philosophy. He doesn’t put a lot of thought  having into a good or bad day and he usually comes away having really good days when many would only see the negative. It’s all about attitude.

I get to share Mrs. Claus,  a book I enjoyed writing, and a book that is illustrated by a talented artist who spread the humor of my story of Mrs. Claus in a very effective way.

Imposter syndrome can affect us all if we let it. But the truth is if we write, we are writers.

And If I love what I do then why not share it?   The Edison Autumn Makers’ Fair is a  community event that supports    Edison High School where my son went to  high school. I will be among other creative people.

Giving back to my community while having fun and maybe even selling a couple of books makes it all worth it.

 

Oh and by the way, check out these freebies on my blog site and have some fun putting together gift boxes you can fill with treats for your loved ones!  HO! HO! HO!

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My New Acrostic

So now I am an official empty nester. My youngest son, Dylan, has gone out of town to college. It’s a strange feeling for me after 30 years of being a parent. It is a little unsettling.  The life I created had been much more than just parenting. Social groups, school activities,  4H work and community events are now gone.  There are changes in my schedule. There are less responsibilities.  Like my son, I actually have  a new freedom.  So this is where I can recreate myself.

Recently, I discovered an acrostic poem that Dylan wrote on his name when he was 12 years old. I put the poem in his move in bag for him to read after we left.  I wrote next to the poem, “Now that you’re in college, what will your new acrostic be?”

Now that I think about it. What will MY new acrostic be?

 

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Word Care

 

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Words are not always cooperative.  Are they?   They remain invisible, unstable, uncooperative or stale.  My editor self says,  “you are so boring.”

Why do I write?

Author, Julia Cameron,  said in her book, The Right to Write that writers should write …  “because it is human nature to write.  Writing claims our world.”

She also said, to paraphrase,  that our own inspiration connects us to something larger than ourselves allowing ourselves to live with greater optimism.

As a writer, there is always something to do. Writing, editing, researching, learning Scrivener. 

Sometimes  my brain does not want to think about it anymore. If I show up regularly to write I know that some days are easier than others. I also know that NOT feeling like writing is no excuse to not writing.

Yet what can I do to keep the creative faucet open when things seem a little too dry?

Some days it could be just eating a lemon poppyseed muffin. Or walking my dog,  or maybe three pages of ranting on the way the words are not working today.

The thing about feeling stuck when writing is that it is only temporary.  The moment you think you will never be able to write another word is when the faucet starts running uncontrollably. Something that reminds me of a scene from a Supernatural episode.  Like when the bathtub water starts to boil.   Eerie but exciting.

That’s the thing about creativity. It appears when you least expect it. But It’s not like it went anywhere. It’s more that you finally allowed that time portal to open so you could jump in.

Sometimes opening that door to your muse is nothing more than allowing yourself the gifts of living and embracing the wonderful world you are writing about. 

Take a nice long walk, read a book,  taste a piece of dark chocolate and drink a cup of Chai, go to the art museum. Don’t feel guilty about it.  Because after a break, you will get back to the chair and write whatever you can – good or bad.

Because that’s what you do.   You write.

Engaging in the world is  part of the process. 

Julia Cameron calls it a Writer’s Date. But for me it’s living a creative life. Engaging intimately in what I want to write about: my world.  It builds on the knowledge I’ve gathered already  and deepens what it means for me to be a human but also to be me.

Not Just Another Thing I Have To Do

 

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I think writer Brenda Ueland had it right.

She said, “The imagination needs moodling,–long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering. ”

It’s all about play and slowing down.

Writing is enjoyable. Even during a long dry spell. Even when the words feel heavy and meaningless.  Even during these times, it is important to remember that I do like to write. 

When I don’t rush.  When I slow down like I do for any mindful activity like walking or meditating. When I slow down to let the words fall good or bad on my page. 

Writing is joyful.

In my Developing a Writing Habit class, I tell students to think of writing as not just one more thing you have to do. It’s what you choose to do. It’s what you want to do.

Writing is about exploring, expressing and playing.  Writing is about making discoveries, solving problems, creating new worlds, and feeling a whole spectrum of emotions.

Never make it seem like it’s just a chore that you need to do or you’ll never do it.

Yes, there will be times when it’s frustrating and difficult and you won’t feel like doing it.

 But hang in there just a little longer and things will change.

They always do.  

And when it does the magic of writing will return.

As Sherlock Holmes once said to Watson, “The game is afoot.”

MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

 –Neil Gaiman
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There are a ton of books, blogs and classes out there with advice on how you should write.

Sure it’s interesting to hear what other successful writers do but in the end it’s not about them.

It’s about YOU.

What I think is important about writing and creativity is that you do it your way.

Writing practice on any given day is like anything you practice. Some days are good but other days not so much.  Why you like to write comes from inside you.

Find the structure, the books, the rituals, and the reasons you like to write and use them to better yourself.

You are a unique and creative individual who has his/her own light that needs to shine.

Consider writing as a practice that you enjoy and want to do.  Lower our expectations.

I also believe writing comes from a healthy curiosity and a playful mood.   We never tell a child how to play. Likewise, we need to give ourselves freedom to explore our own creativity.

HAVE FUN!!

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If we think that in order to be a real writer that we have to sit down in a chair for eight hours a day when we genuinely don’t like to work that way and ignore the things that bring us joy, we destroy our own confidence, creativity and willingness to grow as a writer,  in our own time.

Inspiration goes where attention flows.

The basic definition of a writer is someone who writes.

How you do it is up to you.

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FOCAI

There’s so much out there in this world eating up my time, getting my attention. SO much to read, so much to see, so much to experiment with, so much to learn, so much to do and also so much to write.

Yesterday I was enjoying a sunny morning in my study writing, reading and sorting through old work. And mumbling to myself as I went.  ‘I forgot about this. I need to get back at this story. Oh this was a good idea.’           On and on I went.

I soon started to get frustrated with myself.

What have I been doing with my time all these years?

Look at how much I want to do and how little time there is!

I found a story idea that I wanted to expand. I found some postcards to color. I discovered a book to read on my book shelf.

And then there’s my long list of emails with newsletters  full of inspiration every day for me to read.

Today would also be a perfect day to walk in the woods or by the river.

FOCAI: The plural meaning of focus.

Every where I turn I see abundance. I see new discoveries and wonderful experiences waiting for me and I see even more stories to write.

When will I find time?

The most appropriate answer for me is to focus.

Focus on today. What fills my spirit? What do I want to do now?

The most important thing I can do is to continue to live my creative life, moment to moment. Let go of the distractions that do not serve me now.

Today my room is a well of inspiration. I need not be frustrated.

Stay focused on the joy of what I am doing and that well will never go dry.

And there’s plenty of time to enjoy everything.
Focus

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The Library of Babel.     Artist: Douglas Argue

Writing in an Itsy Bitsy Notebook

When I was a teenager, I carried around a tiny notebook to write down my thoughts, ideas, poems, and stories. I bought a bunch of these notebooks at Woolworth’s. They were only about 3” x 3”in size and were spiral bound with a picture of a wild animal like a fox or deer on the cover. They were perfect because I could write really really small and take it everywhere I went. I could capture everything that happened in my teenage day.

I also felt these tiny notebooks were very inconspicuous. I could write without drawing
attention to myself or like in the case of my nephew David, my tiny notebook was not as easy to steal. I also didn’t want others to know that I liked to write.

Why?

I was embarrassed. I felt it was a nerdy thing to do as a teenager like listening to Wayne Newton albums (although I did that too). Real writers, I told myself were supposed to have this successful quality about them. You just couldn’t pick up the pen and put down words unless you were already a successful novelist.

Then if people saw you writing, they might ask if you had been published or if you were writing that “Great American Novel”  because isn’t that the goal of all writers? I often felt on the defensive and a little embarrassed to be impersonating a writer. Who was I but a 17-year old kid? I wasn’t allowed to be a writer, yet. So I hid my little notebook.

But that changed.

I’ve graduated into writing in journals of all shapes and sizes and I write everywhere and I don’t care. My nephew also does not care about reading my journal. In fact I believe 99.9 % of the world could care less about what I am writing unless I was writing about them and then maybe they might care a little. And just try reading my handwriting now!

I no longer care if people know I write. And sometimes I still get the the silly questions about where I have published and if I was working on that Great American Novel.

Writing is a practice. Writing helps me make sense of my life. Writing is so much more than just trying to get published. It goes deeper than that.

It’s a part of who I am. It’s what I do.

And it’s what more and more people should do too.

Write!

It’s worth every itsy bitsy notebook I’ve bought.

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A Space of One’s Own

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I am fortunate. I have my own room on the second floor of my house where I write. It is small but with built in bookcases and full of light. Two windows face east and three more face south. From this room, I can watch everything from the neighborhood to the wildlife around me. If feels like I am in my own treehouse.

Last year I was not happy with the way my room looked. It was messy and I was tired of the furnishings.

It has to be creative. After all I will be writing there, I told myself as if the room itself gave me my inspiration.

So I redecorated. I painted, bought a desk, hung new art on the wall. It looks nice. I like it but…

It came to me that no matter what I did to my room, it would still be messy if I was truly working. Paper drafts thrown in one corner. Art projects in other piles. It is really part of the creative process.

Which brings me back to the purpose of the room. Whether the room is messy or that “perfect studio” in my mind, it is the place where I write. And that is what I must do.

And really, I don’t need a special place to write in. At times, I write in coffeeshops, libraries, on buses, and in parks. Often the creative muse shows up when I least expect it and not always in my spiffy new writing room. I am reminded of Stephen King writing Carrie on his kitchen table.

What I need to remember is not that I have a room of my own.  All I really need is a pen and a piece of paper and the space to write wherever and whenever I can.

Let the words fall as they may.

And to listen to that small but persistent voice that keeps whispering in my ear, “ Write, Robin. Just write.”

 

 

More or Less

 

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On this last weekend of 2017, the Minnesota meteorologists on the news are telling me to look forward to 90 continuous hours of subzero weather. Too cold to go out, I have this glorious weekend of “unplanned time” ahead of me.

I plan on using this indoor time for creativity.

Writer, Brenda Ueland,  in her classic book,  If You Want to Write, said, “…So you see, imagination needs moodling —long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering.”

The words moodling, dawdling, puttering  all make me happy.  They are fun words. Words that we are not encouraged to really think about doing today.

“Idling! How dare you be idle!  There are groceries to buy, floors to mop, clothes to wash!”

For imagination to strike or allow to surface, puttering is a necessary technique.

I know time is not wasted when I dawdle.  When I start going through my piles, drawers, boxes. I know I will find things I had forgotten about. And I know I will strike gold.  Ideas, stories, and words will start appearing.  New connections will be made.

And I will wonder, “Why haven’t I done this more?”

But that answer is way too easy.  Busyness is a product of our culture.

Perhaps in 2018, I will declare more days to puttering without having an excuse like the weather.

Appreciation for Inspiration and Good Old Words of Advice

Inspiration is a gemstone It’s dynamite. It is power and possibility.
And it is there for all of us.

Where to find it? It can be sneaky.

The good news is that inspiration abounds! I am always on the lookout.

One way I become inspired is by others. I appreciate the people sharing both their advice and encouragement. They have helped me along my own creative path. People who know that generating the positive and to promote the possible is what it’s all about. Inspiring others has a domino effect. It’s all about positive energy. And I am all for that.
Attention goes where energy flows.

Inspiration given by others may be just what you need to get that poem started or that book finally finished.

So here are a few people worth checking out:

Pam Grout is author of several books including Esquared and the newly released Art & Soul Reloaded. Her blog is all about possibilities and accentuating the positive. Read it when you are and are NOT down in the dumps.
Bane of Your Resistance Rosanne’s blog covers topics like writers resistance and brain science. Her book, Around the Writer’s Block is worth a read.
Hope C. Clark’s Funds for Writers newsletter is another positive resource for advice and lists markets looking for your writing. The newsletter has been on Writer’s Digest list of 101 Best Websites for Writers since 2000.
Author, Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite children’s authors. She can tell a good story to an adult as well as a child. Follow her warm and fresh posts on facebook.
There are many others I haven’t mentioned and my list will continue to grow. But for now I hope you will check them out when you need some inspiration or a new perspective.

 

 

 

Robin Dyson is a Minnesota published writer. She teaches writing in her community and enjoys flash fiction, memoir and poetry. Currently she is working on a memoir about her sisters. She enjoys everything quirky. Her new book, Mrs. Claus, came out just in time for the holidays on Amazon.