Joy Held's Writer Wellness

"Be well, write well."

Tuesday Tickle: National Library Workers Day

National Library Week, you belong at your library, April 8-14, 2012

National Library Week 2012

It’s National Library Workers Day. Be nice. Make them smile by returning your books on time and by clicking over to the archived site of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions for some really fun humor to share with your favorite library worker today!

***

Overheard from two library workers going into the library.

“Are you going out with the library staff tonight to celebrate the director’s birthday?”

“No. I’m going to book it home right after work.”

***

A chicken walks into the library. It goes up to the circulation desk and says: “book, bok, bok, boook”.

The librarian hands the chicken a book. It tucks it under his wing and runs out. A while later, the chicken runs back in, throws the first book into the return bin and goes back to the librarian saying: “book, bok, bok, bok, boook”. Again the librarian gives it a book, and the chicken runs out. The librarian shakes her head.

Within a few minutes, the chicken is back, returns the book and starts all over again: “boook, book, bok bok boook”. The librarian gives him yet a third book, but this time as the chicken is running out the door, she follows it.

The chicken runs down the street, through the park and down to the riverbank. There, sitting on a lily pad is a big, green frog. The chicken holds up the book and shows it to the frog, saying: “Book, bok, bok, boook”. The frog blinks, and croaks: “read-it, read-it, read-it”. 

Be well, write well!

1 Comment »

Thursday Thot: Triumph In Spite It All

Writers wrestle in solitary confinement to create work worthy of distribution to the masses.  We listen to our guts writhe and dare to write down the utterances.  We literally tap into the deepest seams of human components and release the secrets of the spirit in print for everyone to see.  Such creatures would be “pedastalized” in a truly free and creative world.  But we aren’t.

Writers are eccentric.  Writers are different.  You never know where a writer’s mind is even if you are standing in front of her looking into her eyes.  Significant others just get used to it. Even though the whole world relies on some aspect of a writer’s abilities, the writer is sectioned off “to work”, but really to put us where they can keep an eye on us!  Lest we indulge in daydreaming, talking to ourselves, or something worse like the historical bad writer habits of alcohol or drugs. 

Almost everyone knows of Hemingway’s alcohol problems or Poe’s drug abuse.  Why does the world have this negative image of writers?  Because history has a passion for emphasizing the foibles of the greats in an attempt to claim, “He was a great writer in spite of his flaws.” 

Flaws.  Imperfections.  Blemishes.  This is the stuff that makes us individuals, that makes us lovable, that gives writers a different perspective on the world.  A writer’s vantage point is precisely where her voice emanates.  What makes a writer is someone who notices that their voice and their turn of mind come from the same immeasurable place.  When I wrote my first short story in grade school from the outlook of two shoes talking to each other in a dark shoe box, I heard my voice for the first time.  Writers can see, feel, think, smell, and hear the worlds of other people and objects.  It’s what we do.

“I’m a writer.  I use everything,” said Truman Capote.  To truly be a writer, regardless of genre, you must ‘muse’ everything in your world and in your mind to the advantage of your craft.  It’s a task that comes easier for some writers than others.  It’s a question of listening and being open to what you hear.  How can you evolve into the grand writer you desire to be?  By leading a daily life devoted to expanding your body, mind, and spirit in every sense of the word.  By following the way of Writer Wellness.

The idea of Writer Wellness happened to me because of a hectic schedule and the natural instinct to “use everything” around me to create my writing.  When I was expecting my first baby, I published a magazine article about continuing to run a dance studio while pregnant.  When a guest artist taught classes at our local community theatre, I published an article about his career on Broadway.  When my life got wonderfully full of children, a household, work, and writing deadlines, I organized a system that would allow me to listen to my inner and outer worlds and maintain my writing voice.

Writer Wellness is composed of regular practices of journal writing, exercise, relaxation, nutrition, and creative play.  For example, depending on my schedule, my daily journal entry may be three pages long or just the front of an index card.  Exercise is either walking the dog, yoga practice, cardio equipment, or walking.  I ALWAYS find at least five minutes a day to close my eyes and meditate.  The food I eat is simple and grown as locally as possible.

Writer Wellness evolved from a personal habit to a community program and then into a book.  I follow the principles and guide others to do the same.  It’s a simple, developmental approach that any writer can try in any degree.  The results are tumultuous productivity and long term good health.  And triumph over flaws by using what you know as a writer to make your life and writing better.

How did you triumph over some imperfections to become who you are today?

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

 

3 Comments »

Tuesday Tickle: Brain Power From Puzzles

Creative people need brain power. Brain power brings the good ideas out in the open so we can shape and form them into novels, paintings, or whatever medium it is we work with. Besides inspiration and the right foods, our mental faculties need regular workouts to stay sharp and focused so we can recognize a good idea when we see it. Puzzles are a quick and easy way to keep our thinking powerful. 

How and why do puzzles help our brains stay alert and focused? The brain’s mini-computer runs on “software” much like our laptops and other digital thinking tools. Our brains require attention, processing, cognitive flexibility, the ability to retrieve stored information, and reasoning skills to get us through our basic day. These functions need regular challenge and are strengthened and more readily available to us if we remember to weave brain exercises into our lives.

Schedule creative play and work puzzles on a regular basis and your brain skills will remain sharp and intact for much longer. We all have so much on our plates these days that working a puzzle for brain training rarely crosses our fuzzy minds. Keep it simple and play games on your cell phone, carry around a small word puzzle book, and keep puzzles readily available in the house where it will allow you take just a few minutes on a regular basis and work it out.

Here’s an interactive word search puzzle using words from the Writer Wellness plan to get you started. It’s fun. Try it and then look for other puzzling ways to keep your brain humming. What is your favorite kind of puzzle and why?

Writer Wellness Interactive Word Search Puzzle

 http://www.wordsearchmaker.net/wordsearchplayer.aspx?puzzleid=42e906f1-39ae-431c-ba09-3847845e5b61

**

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

5 Comments »

Thursday Thot: Filling the well

Look around. Is your work…well, is it ‘work’ and not one exciting, innovative creation after another? Could your material be so predictable that you are in what dancer/choreographer Twyla Tharp calls “a false start?” Tharp defines a “false start,” or a creative rut as different from being blocked and most definitely different from being in a good groove. “A rut is the part of the journey where you’re spinning your wheels, spitting out mud behind you, splattering other people, and not going anywhere. You know you’re in a rut when you annoy other people, bore your collaborators and supporters, fail to challenge yourself, and get the feeling that the world is moving on while you’re standing still. You may also feel that you’ve been here before; déjà vu, with some flop sweat on the side, is a sure sign of a rut. Perhaps the surest sign is a feeling of frustration and relief when you’re done (“Boy, I’m glad that’s over!”) rather than anticipatory pleasure (“I can’t wait to get back here tomorrow.”) Call it consistency, following a syllabus, or teaching a “graded system,” you know when your work is dry and uninspired. It happens to everyone. Don’t worry. There are some simple ideas to help refresh your artistry and renew the feeling of, “I love being me!” that every creative person knows.

If the inspiration inclination has temporarily slipped away and writing another page feels like pulling teeth (your own,) it could be a simple matter of needing to “fill the well” as writer Julia Cameron refers to in her book “The Artist’s Way.” Cameron says that the artist’s brain relies on images and that creativity is sometimes blocked or stymied by a lack of artistic brain food. Cameron recommends regular “artist dates” with yourself to “restock the pond” of artful ideas you seem to be lacking.

For an artist date, you simply schedule yourself to attend a thought provoking artistic event like a gallery opening or orchestra concert and ingest the sensations all around to help replenish your own source of creative energy. Cameron suggests a habitual practice of artist dates until you understand the ebb and flow of your creativity and how to use the work of other inspired creators to support your own creations.

When I first tried the regular artist date, it annoyed me because I felt like I was being taken away from my own work. Cameron and Tharp both claim that resistance is a sure sign that a respite is most assuredly the best medicine. After a year of consistently attending art shows, poetry readings, and independent film showings, I noticed a rush of recurrent creativity to the point where I can hardly keep up with myself today!

I heard a lecture by children’s author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor who summed up how I feel. Someone asked her what she did for writer’s block. “I don’t have writer’s block,” she said. “I have so many ideas floating around in my head all the time that I have writer’s diarrhea!” I now have a habit of enjoying the work of other artists and I’m positive it contributes to my never-ending flow of creativity and ideas.

Inspiration is always available to the artist who understands that creativity is a process dependent on many details. Here are some ideas to consider.

Low budget

1) Read books and magazines on creativity.

2) Start a journal. You will be amazed at the creative freedom you can experience from a regular habit of journaling.

3) Find an online community of artists and communicate.

4) Attend free art events like gallery showings, outdoor concerts, and crafts fairs.

Medium budget

1) Take classes from another local teacher. Online classes are getting better and better. Try one of the online workshops at Who Dares Wins Publishing www.whodareswinspublishing.com. Learning rejuvenates the creative spirit.

2) Analyze the work of other artists. Take pencil and paper and write down what you see or read in videos and books and dissect the creativity of others. Explain to yourself why they did what they did, and then how you would have done it differently and why.

3) Attend poetry readings, art shows, etc. at the local gallery or coffee shop.

4) Cruise through a history museum or see a local theatre production. 

High budget

1) Travel to an artist’s retreat or big city where art is revered and the process is respected. Take part in performances, conferences, workshops, and activities that allow you to deeply experience the art.

2) Take college courses at home or far away that will expand your appreciation of creativity.

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

 

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

 

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

 

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

 

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

 

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

 

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

 

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

 

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

 

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

 Be well, write well.

1 Comment »

Tuesday Tickle: Whooey

“So you see, imagination needs moodling—long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”

                ~Brenda Ueland, author If You Want to Write, A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit

Creative people are dependent on their imaginations. The perpetual answer to, “What if?” fuels the work of artists, choreographers, teachers, writers, and anybody who relies on ideas for sustenance. Ideas are generally responses to sensory input from the world we experience day in and day out. If all it takes is the world to stimulate creative ideas, where did the idea of “writer’s block” come from? How is it possible NOT to have something to write about if all we need is experience? Writers become too comfortable in their surroundings and what feels like consistency becomes boredom. Boredom becomes complacency. When the brain is bored it shuts down. When we stop feeding our brains a variety of sensory impulses, we go on autopilot for a while, then the ideas dry up.

In Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, she describes a process called “filling the well” as the work creative people require on a regular, ongoing basis in order to maintain “focused attention,” or what I call awareness. Many people think they are aware, but most people are secure in their situations because they have created and repeated them over and over until the sensory organs shut down and they think they are experiencing writer’s block. While it’s popular to say you have or have had writer’s block, I think it’s a bunch of whooey. Because if we journal often enough, read plenty, exercise regularly, avoid foods that cause us problems, and engage the world in new ways then writer’s block is a myth. A writer may not have the whole story plotted out or be writing on the work-in-progress every single day, but as long as that writer keeps the keyboard tapping or the pushing the pen or the body and the mind thinking and moving, they are not blocked. Ever. How does it work?

I was in the audience at a book fair several years ago and young adult bestselling author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was answering questions. A  young man asked what she did when she had writer’s block. Ms. Naylor responded, “I never have writer’s block. I have writer’s diarrhea. I don’t have time to write all the stories I can think of.” A very prolific writer, Naylor knew that the more she wrote the more she had to write, but everyone gets tired. That’s when the brain needs entertaining and the chance to feed itself with sights, sounds, motions, smells, and feelings it hasn’t experienced recently to shake up the creative juices and get them spilling onto the page again. This is what I refer to as creative play. It’s when a writer takes a leap out into the world and thoughtfully fills her mind with the ideas, arts, and images of other creative people.

It’s more than reading a good book or going to the movies. It’s going to museums, taking walks, taking pictures, doodling in a journal, taking a class in ceramics or ballroom dance, and attending concerts and lectures that open your awareness to the possibilities out there. The practice of creative play or “filling the well” is the opposite of what most writers do all day in their jobs. That’s primarily why it’s such a challenge. Our writing is about us and just us. We manipulate fictional lives and imaginary settings, but creative play demands we go out in the world and gain a new awareness by appreciating the work of other artists. It’s that simple. Appreciate someone else’s work in a deep, thoughtful manner on a regular basis and you will never run out of anything to write.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

3 Comments »

Thursday Thot: Matches

 

“Women with clean houses do not have finished books.” ~Me

There is a wonderful chapter in the classic writing text by Brenda Ueland titled “Why Women Who Do Too Much Housework Should Neglect It for Their Writing.” The title is enough to liberate me from the toils of the home but others may need a bit more convincing. Before I encourage you, male or female, to reduce the amount of housework you do so you have more writing time, I will qualify my remarks with saying that complete abandonment of the necessary tasks to keep a dwelling sanitary is not what I’m advocating. It’s a matter of accepting other people’s help.

Ueland’s chapter is in her inspirational book If You Want To Write, A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit first published in 1938. The copy I never let get too far away is a 1987 edition, and even though she was a turn-of-the-century woman, her advice is applicable to anyone who wants to write today. Her ideas have influenced my belief that everyone is a writer to some degree. Some take it farther than others. In this clever chapter, Ueland presents the work of former writing students from her classes and shows how as women they are quite talented writers but the demands of being mothers and wives seems to prohibit them from knowing the satisfaction of publication.

Online chats and luncheon table conversations at writing conferences never fail to spend some time bemoaning the fact that women have too many household responsibilities and civic chores to get any writing done. Whooey seems to be my word of choice this week, and I repeat it here. I homeschooled my two daughters for 18 years and published a non-fiction book, finished a historical romance novel, wrote weekly columns for three regional newspapers, published many poems, published book reviews online, and wrote 1-4 articles monthly for a trade magazine all while they were sitting at their desks beside me doing social studies and English. When it was time to focus on work where I couldn’t be interrupted, I made sure they were safely ensconced and closed the office door. The sign read “Do not disturb unless it’s bleeding, broken, or on fire. Love, Mommy.”

Ueland’s advice is similar: “If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say: ‘Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!’ you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.”

What strikes me the most honestly about her comment is that my daughters reacted this very way to this very practice. My oldest called me this week to tell me she has arranged for me to speak to the undergraduate playwriting group in her college theatre department to talk about Writer Wellness and how it applies to their future careers as writers. I didn’t intentionally set out to raise more writers. Both daughters write really well. I set out to respect myself and model what a woman with a passion for something looks like so that when they find their passions they’ll know it.

If they grow up to be writers, I won’t be disappointed. I just hope I still have their rooms relatively “clean”. It’s a feast or famine career but one that even a mother can be proud of doing.

Of course, there’s the story where one day I heard the youngest child saying, “I don’t think Mommy likes matches,” and I flung the office door open pretty quickly.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well

Leave a comment »

Tuesday Tickle: Head Games

 

In the exploding world of brain research, it’s being proven that play is healthy for your brain. Most people love to play games. Growing up my house was filled with games and gamers, although we didn’t call ourselves gamers back then. We played card games, board games, music and dance games, and learning games in my house almost every day. My mother was a dance teacher and my father played alot of musical instruments so our house was pretty busy with some kind of creative endeavor all of the time.

We not only learned skills and strategy, we learned competiveness. And we learned to think like someone else. If we could figure out how someone at the game table was thinking, it was possible to win the game by thinking like them but ahead of their thoughts. That’s strategy training.

Games were really big and the holidays were really special because it meant we didn’t have to stop playing a particular game to go back to school. My favorite Christmas was at age seven when I received Monopoly as a gift and my dad, sister, and I played the game for four days without stopping until one of us won. I couldn’t wait for the weekends as a child because it meant extra time to play games.

What good is playing a game? Were you “taught” that games are a waste of time? Too bad, because playing games creates new brain cells and new brain cells mean better quality of life because new brain cells help use function and cope longer and better. Work a crossword puzzle, play a video game, or play cards with family friends. It is proven that playing games challenges your brain and increases its ability to function.

The practice of using your brain to think through a game’s strategy and then implement your plan keeps things like memory and focus in tact. Playing a variety of games such as working puzzles and playing board games encourages your brain to build new brain cells in response to the mental challenges. These cells prosper when challenged continually. Playing games helps your memory to function better just because you practice using your memory when playing games.

Don’t play games with other people’s heads. Engage in gaming to strengthen and lengthen your own brain’s capabilities. As my college teachers used to say, “Play is learning.” Cool.

What is your favorite game? Do you know why it’s your favorite game?

(Fall Fairy by K. Held)

Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity

Who Dares Wins Publishing  www.whodareswinspublishing.com

There are  five primary areas of practice to the the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

 

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

 

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

 

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

 

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

 

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

 

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

 

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

 

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

 

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

 

 

 

Be well, write well

 

5 Comments »

Tuesday Tickle: Renaming Today “Muse-day”

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

                ~Stephen King, On Writing

Waiting on inspiration? Really? That writer must not need the money or realize how important the process is. It’s just as important as the product when it comes to writing. Lots of us know we have a mysterious “writing muscle”, and true, it needs a kick in the thing we use to hold chairs down with but the process doesn’t require inspiration to be put into gear. The process requires perspiration. And since the advent of the psychological term “writer’s block”, the invention of a muse is popular when it comes to needing the proper impulse to write. What is a muse anyway? Is it the inner critic? Is it a secret font of ideas stored in our subconscious we just have to tap into for stuff to write about? Is it some guy sitting in the basement smoking cigars admiring his bowling trophies (more Stephen King) while we struggle for the stream of words that make us writers? Muse, inspiration, whatever, are all just another word for courage. Are we brave enough to be the writers we dream we are?

What the muse or the inspiration may actually be is the time it takes for our brains to sort through the muck of stimulations we absorb constantly and bring something cohesive to the surface. That’s why English professors have a far off look in their eyes all the time. It explains why novelists spill things. Brain work for writers is the equivalent of an intense cardio workout for not the recommended thirty-minute session with a cool-down afterward, but a continual mind boggling distraction until we figure it out. Then we have something to write. The muse is our minds organizing the clutter of the process until the words fall into place and we can fill the pages with them. There is no inspiration. There is only the process of thinking, connecting, writing drivel, and more thinking until it becomes the answer to the question we have asked with our stories. The muse is the imaginary delivery girl dressed or undressed in the costume of your own mental doing. She (or he or it) gives us somewhere to place the blame while we’re waiting on the brain to tidy up the mess of stuff we’ve fed it. But it’s the writing process that enables the brain to have what it needs. So keep the process going: journal, write ugly grammar, blog, and read, read, read until the muse is inspired enough to bless you with the story.

 

“Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite:

‘Fool!’ said my Muse to me, ‘look in thy heart and write.’”

                ~Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)

                Astrophel and Stella, Sonnet I

This inspiration-muse thing has been going on for quite a while. But notice the Muse says, “…and write.” She doesn’t say, “Take a seat, honey, and when I get this figured out for you, I’ll call.”

Will you take the process challenge this “Muse-day” and give her something, anything to work with?

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well

Leave a comment »

Tuesday Tickle: Heat Up Creativity With These Jan. Celebrations

Who doesn’t need a moment or two of mental game playing to relax the mind? When we are deeply engrossed in a project and start to feel bogged down or out of focus, taking a mental play date with some fun or nonsense notion can provide the respite we need to feel refreshed enough to finish the chores. These out-of-the-box January holidays may be just the ticket for giving you a moment of merriment and perhaps provide you with an idea or two for conversation or blogging like this first date did for me.

January 4 Trivia Day

I’m always looking for connections and synchronicity in my life. I needed something to jump start my blogging for the week and my husband has been obsessed this holiday with reading a particular book. It’s wonderful when my husband reads because usually he’s quiet, and I always know where to find him-in his comfy reading chair in the family room. But this book has been a noisy intrusion. He’s reading BRAINIAC, ADVENTURES IN THE CURIOUS, COMPETITIVE, COMPULSIVE WORLD OF TRIVIA BUFFS written by Jeopardy game show phenom Ken Jennings. Like I said, it’s fine when my husband reads, but he’s way too excited about this book. I know because instead of being quiet, he’s sharing out loud as he reads. And there are obviously many banal trivia questions in the book that he simply must ask me if I know the answer to. The holiday break has been a daily game of Jeopardy in my TV room while I’m trying to watch something serious like the New York Jets get their rears handed to them on a silver platter. But I’m patient because trivia, I’ve decided, is a form of higher intelligence. After all, as my daughter said during one of the quiz sessions, “I’m not so sure there is such a thing as useless knowledge.” Okay. I can agree with that because I’m a word person and the juxtaposition of ‘useless’ and ‘knowledge’ intrigues me. But when she immediately searched for useless knowledge dot com and started to add to the trivia swirling around the room, I went to another room to finish the cooking show I was watching. Cooking and food. That’s important.

In all fairness, Jennings’ book is well written and who would have thought to organize the world of trivia into a “Trivia Timeline: A Brief History of Time Wasting”? And I admit, I finally picked up the book and as my habit, read the last page first and was rewarded with trivia I consider valuable.

“Trivia, to borrow a phrase from Walt Whitman, is large. It contains multitudes. In fact, it contains everything. That’s what we love about it.” (Brainiac, Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs, Ken Jennings, The Random House Publishing Group, New York, 2006.)

January 20 Penguin Awareness Day

Again the connections and synchronicity of this observance caught my attention. I don’t typically have much use for penguins. I don’t understand how they can be so content waddling everywhere, but I guess if that’s all you know… The holiday information site Holiday Insights provided me with the loosely structured information about this day. While not a holiday or a national recognition of penguins, it provided me with a bridge to this post. I received a copy of the dvd The King’s Speech for Christmas which has an endearing scene in it where the king (played by Colin Firth) tells his daughters, (the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret) a bedtime story about a father who had been turned into a penguin by an evil witch. He is subliminally complaining about having to wear the tuxedo he is dressed in and claims that in the story, the papa is heartbroken because as a penguin he can’t hug his darling daughters because penguins have no arms. I loved the movie but I still don’t have much use for the poor penguin except to notice how the image cropped up twice in as many days on my personal radar. Well, that’s my contribution to Penguin Awareness Day January 20.

Here’s the website if you need some more random, synchronous connections to notice in your own world Holiday Insights.

Do you have any January observances you are especially looking forward to?

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

 

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well

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Tuesday Tickle: Guest Bob Mayer on the unsensual art of writing

#Nanowrimo Writing as the only art form that isn’t sensual

by Bob Mayer

I’m still continuing posts for Nanowrimo, focused on craft, since it’s not over yet, is it?

Remember something about the art of writing: It is the only art form that is not sensual.  I’m not saying you can write sensual material, but rather the way the art impacts your senses.  You can see the colors and strokes that make a painting, feel a sculpture, and hear music.  The manner in which each individual piece in those fields impacts on the senses is different.  But every writer uses the same letters on a piece of paper.  You have twenty-six letters that combine to form words, which are the building blocks of your sentences and paragraphs.  Everyone has the same words, and when I write that word and you write it, that word goes into the senses of the reader in the same way.  It’s how we weave them together that impact the conscious and subconscious mind of the reader that makes all the difference in the world.

A book comes alive in the reader’s mind.  You use the sole medium of the printed word to get the story from your mind to the reader’s.  It is the wonder of writing to create something out of nothing.  Every book started with just an idea in someone’s head.  Isn’t that a fantastic concept?

Writers learn by writing.  And before that, by being voracious readers.

In essence, writing is no different from any other profession.  It’s a simple rule, but one that every one wants to ignore:  the more you write, the better you will become.  Practically every author I’ve ever talked to, or listened to, or read about in an interview, says the same thing.  I saw Stephen King on C-Span and he said the most important thing to do to become an author is to write a lot.  That is one of the reasons so many people are participating in this month’s Nanowrimo. One writing professor said you needed to write a million words before expecting to get published.  I’m currently around word five million and still learning so much.

Let’s look at the positive side:  The odds are strongly against getting published.  But simply by taking the time and the effort to learn from these words and participating in Nanowrimo, you are increasing your odds.  By continuing to write beyond your first manuscript, you vastly increase your odds.  Many writers gush over the amount of money John Grisham made for The Firm but they forget that A Time To Kill was published previously to lackluster sales and failed.  What is important to note about that was that Grisham realized he hadn’t done something right and worked hard to change.  Note that Grisham did not sit still and bemoan what his agent/editor/publisher etc. didn’t do to help the novel.  He didn’t complain that the reading public didn’t understand his brilliance.  He worked on the one person he knew he could change:  himself (a tenet of Write It Forward).

From talking with other published writers, I have found it is common that somewhere between manuscript numbers three and six, comes the breakthrough to publication.  How many people are willing to do that much work?  Not many, which is why not many succeed and how you can vastly increases your chances of beating the odds.  Publishers do not want to make a one-time investment in a writer.  When a publisher puts out a book, they are backing that writer’s name and normally want to have more than one book in the pipeline.  Multiple book contracts are very common; with their inherent advantages and disadvantages.  As soon as you type THE END on your first manuscript (and I mean THE END after numerous rewrites), the absolute first thing you must do is begin writing your second.  With self-publishing, I recommend having at l east three books before putting much time and effort into marketing, as I describe in this earlier blog post.

Publishing has changed drastically and there are new opportunities for writers to get their novels into the hands of their readers. Traditional publishing isn’t the only viable option for the 21st century author. Self-publishing is quickly becoming the new medium for mid-list authors, and new authors. Amanda Hocking self-published her way into a two-million dollar contract with St. Martins Press. Myself, Connie Brockway, Barry Eisler, LJ Sellers and JA Konrath have all either written ourselves out of NY contracts or turned down a NY contract and ventured out on our own and have been successful.

As someone who wants to be in the entertainment business, you have to study those who have succeeded and failed in that business.  Read interviews with people in the arts and entertainment industries and you will find a common theme:  a lot of years of sweat equity put in before the big “break” came.  I’ve read of and heard actors and comedians talk about spending decades working in the trenches before they became famous.  Musicians who sang back-up for years before becoming lead.  Painters who toiled in squalor (and often died) before their work was recognized.

Study the lives of writers.  Read interviews with authors and see what they say.  Go to conferences and talk to them.  Listen to them talk about several things:  how they became authors, how they live, how they feel about writing, how they write.  Many worked very strange jobs before getting published.  Almost all struggled and spent many years of suffering before they succeeded.  I say suffering in terms of financial or career terms, not in terms of the writing itself.  Most writers enjoy writing.

People seem to think that writers are different and, while in some highly publicized cases they are, most published writers have spent many years slugging away before even their first novel was published.

Simple perseverance counts for a lot.  I think many people with talent lack the drive and fall out of the picture and people with maybe not as much talent but more drive take their place.  It’s the difference between having a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.  People with talent often believe they know all they ever need to know, so therefore their mind is fixed.  Those who believe there is always something more to learn, have a growth mindset.

Let’s get back to where I talked about people in other professions doing a work practicum.  Besides writing novels and reading, the other advice I would give would be to attend conferences and workshops.  It is a worthwhile investment of your time and money to go to workshops and conferences.  Not just to learn, but also to network.  Because of that, the first Write It Forward ‘short’ my publishing company released is How To Get The Most Out Of Your Time And Money At A Writer’s Conference.

A college student once interviewed me and she asked me what she could do to become a better writer.  I replied with my usual “Write a lot,” then thought for a second, looking at this nineteen year old woman.  Then I said:  “Live a lot.  Experience life, because that is what you are eventually going to be writing about.”

What things do you suggest writers do in order to help themselves become better writers?

My thanks to Bob Mayer for permission to repost this insightful blog.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

 

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

 

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

 

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

 

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

 

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

 

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

 

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

 

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

 

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well

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