The Pause that Refreshes

30846325906_c37d6b4ee5

“I’m going for a walk.”

“Want me to go with you?”

“No, I just need a little space.”

“Space for what?”

“You know, some time by myself to do a little thinking…to get my thoughts together before the big meeting.”

Jim voices a common need for many of us. He knows the value of a reflective pause.

Juliet Funt, CEO of White Space at Work, calls this pause for restoration—this brief period of reflection, this pause between activities—White Space.

As authors, we may need White Space many times throughout our work day. I often head for the refrigerator to refill my glass with ice, sit on the concrete bench in my backyard, or drive to the dry cleaners. Others may go for a walk or a swim.

It doesn’t really matter where we go or what we do, the fact is we need to let go of thoughts that rob us of productive time at work.

It may happen at specific times of the day or it may be quite unexpected. It may be caused by overwork or fatigue.

The point is we often need White Space to redirect our attention back to the task at hand, so that productivity climbs and creativity is restored.

So, take that nap, or walk the dog.

White Space is “a break with a lofty purpose.”

Advertisements

To Blog or Not to Blog

36327641750_2e35f4d62d

 

“Still posting each week? I can’t believe you’re still at it. I hope it has been worth all the time and effort.”

My friend’s comment prompted me to re-evaluate my blogging habit. Was it just a useless exercise or was there real value to it?

Just how was this use of my time impacting my writing business?

Here’s what I discovered:

1)  Blogging on a regular basis is one of the most effective ways I’ve found to keep my customer base engaged.

2)   Blogging definitely raises my rank in target keywords in search the engines.

3)   Blogging lets visitors to my site know that I am active in my craft.

4)   Blogging keeps me actively learning so I can pass along relevant information to my followers.

For me, blogging on a regular basis is definitely worth it.

If you are a writer without a website of your own, I would strongly recommend getting one. If you don’t feel that you’re ready to commit to at least a once-a-week blog, I urge you to find several sites you like and write a comment on each of them every week.

A Journey Worth Taking

 

29976106396_90c5fd33bb

Diana Nyad is an American long-distance swimmer. In 2013, she became the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage.

This was her fifth attempt to do so.

Did you know that Diana is also an author? Her book, Find A Way, has hundreds of insights into the life of this remarkable woman. Well worth reading.

In a recent interview she was asked how she kept pursuing her goal in the face of four defeats. She replied that she had always had the attitude that, “Even if we never make it, it’s still a journey worth taking.”

That’s how I view the writing journey.

Even if I never

sell a lot of books,

hit the best-seller’s list,

become particularly well-known,

I consider that the writing journey is definitely worth taking.

What about you?

Who Can You Call On?

HA0521 - Bedford staff and M1. A set of images  of HA staff in the Bedford office and new section of M1, north of junction 9. March 2010

 

Whether you are the newly-elected President of the United States or appointed as a group leader in a college class, you will find out early on that you cannot do it all by yourself. You need the advice of those who have certain areas of expertise.

Just like in your circle of friends you find that one is your main confidant, and another makes you laugh when you feel down, so a writer needs to be surrounded with a group of fellow authors which are especially good at certain aspects of writing.

I have a “go to” list which I have labeled “Details”, “Word Choice/Imagery”, “Backstory,” “Historian”, “Show-Don’t Tell”, and “Encouragement.” When I am stuck, I know exactly who to go to for advice.

They have my back.

And, you need a similar network, too.

These people may be local or accessed by phone or internet. They may be members of your critique group or not. But, they should be trustworthy, honest, possess quality writing skills, and willing to help.

And, don’t forget. They’ll need you, from time to time, too.

Think about those skills you will share with them and what positive impact you will have on the quality of their writing.

There are lots of helpful books on various aspects of writing. Most of us have dozens of them.

However, nothing beats the personal investment one can make in the life of a fellow writer.

 

Got GRIT?

5397272930_fcb48d8b4a

 

All writers need it.

Successful authors have it.

So, just what is “GRIT”?

According to best-selling author, Angela Duckworth, GRIT is “sustained perseverance and passion, especially for long-term goals.”

We are able to recognize it in ourselves and in fellow writers.

It’s determination to succeed.

It’s that fire in an author’s eyes when asked a question about writing or when a new idea for a book “pops” into their head.

It’s a lamp glowing on their desk at 2 A.M.

It’s that relentless scribbling of notes as the writer attends their umpteenth conference.

It’s that mesmerized look as a writer meets their favorite author in person for the very first time.

It’s hours, days, months, and even years of hard—and oftentimes—lonely work, punctuated with a willingness to forgo momentary pleasures in order to fulfill their dream.

It’s that smile on their face as they proudly display the cover of their new book for the camera while secretly planning the next one in their head.

Give Your Writing a Creative Eclipse

 

16528000654_8a8db3eb34

 

“What is it that sets you on fire? What gets your creative juices going?”

I asked this question to a group of young writers at an elementary school last fall. Answers were all over the place, as you’d expect. Some said that watching an exciting video was inspiring. Others said reading a good book made them want to write, too. Still others mentioned vacations, friends, pets, and even an interesting lesson at school “pumped them up.”

I’m guessing that some of these very same things are invigorating for you, too.

Right now, the eclipse is on my mind. Due to television and the internet, many writers could write a decent non-fiction piece by tomorrow night.

What about a fictional story about what might happen to a family during the time leading up to and including the eclipse? How about a child who gets lost, cars traveling on freeways, people waiting in line at a bank or grocery store?

Will you be traveling on an airplane during the eclipse? Perhaps having a surgical procedure done? Climbing a mountain? Getting married?

Actually, the possibilities are endless, aren’t they?

With a good old-fashioned shot of creativity, you could have a best seller.

In fact, a new and different “take” on any event can spark the interest of an avid reader.

To be successful, make it exciting. Write it in a fresh new way. See it from a different perspective. Give it a unique twist.

Let the eclipse shed a little light on your creative writing skills.

The Power of the Pen

 

22631101886_b4bd8e4b16

 

Jenny raised her head when I entered the room. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. “I didn’t know I was such a bad mother until I started reading this book,” she sobbed.

Even if what you write is considered “fiction,” words on paper can change the thinking, the hopes and dreams of your readers.

That pen in your hand, that keyboard your fingers rest on this very moment, are instruments that can be used to build up or tear down.

Your stories can bring laughter, they can encourage, and they can spark someone’s creativity.

Conversely, words can destroy, tear down, belittle, and instill fear.

We have an awesome responsibility when we write. We need to keep a fresh vision of our readers in front of us.

So, lately, instead of just continuing my story where I left of the day before, I’ve been conscious to say, “Reader, this one’s for you. Today, I am going to build you up. I am going to speak to your heart through my words.”

Just as an actor faces his audience when on stage, taking a moment before writing to acknowledge those who will read our words can give us an added measure of purpose, keep our writing more focused and serve to remind us just how important—just how very powerful—our words can be.