Life and Stuff

How Do You Handle a Setback

wide open door

Some weeks ago, I hit a wall. I’d just recovered from a deeply frustrating lack of enthusiasm and motivation for my writing (actually, the lack had crept into most everything I was working on) and begun to pick up steam again. Then, boom, there was the wall…in the form of lost work.

When I write, I alternate between the computer and old-fashioned pen and paper (sometimes my phone if my notebook isn’t handy). For long stretches, I work almost exclusively longhand. The rhythm of writing by hand, though it’s much less efficient and more time-consuming than typing, often frees my creativity in a way the keyboard can’t. The challenge for me is making sure the longhand stuff makes it to the computer, where it can be backed up and synced.

Earlier this year we were burgled, and my current writing notebook, which was in my computer bag, was taken along with our laptops and a couple other things. Amazingly (it felt like a little miracle, especially because we weren’t expecting it), the police found the laptops and returned them to us. The notebook was not. While I was initially sad about not getting the notebook back, I didn’t fret over much as I thought I had most, if not all, the scenes it contained already transcribed to Scrivener.

Sadly, this was not the case. I had several of the scenes transcribed, but many of the important ones were only in that notebook.

Still, I thought I could power through it anyway. I’d written the scenes once before. The info was all still in my head. I’d write them again, better this time.

I couldn’t. That lack of enthusiasm I thought I’d conquered came raging back. After a lot of savage threats to my muse, digging my heals in and mental hand wringing, I realized the wall I’d hit wasn’t going to budge. And it wasn’t losing the notebook, although that was the final straw. It was that I’d lost too much momentum on my WIP over the last year. Moreover, powering through it wasn’t going to work in this particular case. I had to step back.

I’d invested a tremendous amount of time and heart in this project. I thought it’d be my first published work. Putting it on the back burner felt like losing a friend. Yet, the need for it had been there for a good long while. I’d just been desperately trying to ignore it. All that struggle to write even a little these last few months was the folks in the basement of my brain telling me it was time to take a different path. But it took a big setback to get me to see it.

Once I got over the initial shock of putting the project aside, I found I was deeply relieved. I felt free, my creativity revitalized. Another story idea that’s been bouncing around my brain for months surged to the forefront and is now in the planning stages.

I hope to return to my previous project. The story’s a good one. I loved it enough to stick with it for years. But it’s also okay if I don’t. I’ve learned so much about the process of writing. I morphed from a full-on pantser to  a mostly plotter. I now have a more visceral understanding of plot structure, character and theme and how to apply that to a story. None of that is wasted stuff, even if the story that earned if for me never sees daylight.

So, triumph out of tragedy. The optimist in me knows that good can come out of the crap life throws at us, if we look hard enough. But the cynic in me sometimes has a tough time believing it. I guess I just needed another object lesson.

Oh, and I’ve also learned to transcribe the handwritten stuff at least once a week. That might be the most important lesson.

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A brief note about ROW80: I’m taking a break for the next couple weeks or so. I may not rejoin this round at all. I need to get a firmer grip on the new stuff I’m working on first. However, I still plan to cheer all my fellow ROWers. Good luck with all your goalishness.

***

Have you ever been in a situation where you realized the best course of action was the one you least wanted to take?

Photo Credit
Open the door by Mark Dries, on Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Life and Stuff

Thankful for the Crummy Stuff

turkey running
Hang on, hang on. I’m coming.

It’s almost time, my friends, for the annual ritual of stuffing ourselves silly and the mandatory reflections on gratitude. Over the years, I’ve learned that gratitude is largely (maybe entirely) a choice. It’s hard to be thankful for everything life throws our way. Some of it’s more than simply crummy. At the same time, so much of it hides a good surprise, if only we can look at it in a different way. For that gift, if not for the wrapping, we can be thankful.

It’s been awhile since I last posted. I’ve been working through a setback. I’d set out to look at it optimistically but feared it would be difficult to move beyond the decision to be optimistic to really feeling it. Within the last few days, I discovered an unexpected reason to feel optimistic. More on that next week.

Today, I’d like to wish y’all a Happy Thanksgiving. If you don’t celebrate the day, I still wish you a warm day with good food, people you love and enjoy, and much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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What are you thankful for? Have you ever found something to be thankful for in a crummy situation?

Photo Credit
Turkey-1 by Shelly Prevost, on Flickr | CC BY-NC 2.0

Life and Stuff

A Day in the Life of a Procrastinator

Procrastination, my old nemesis (sometimes friend), has reared its head the last couple of weeks. I found a video that pretty much sums things up:

In my current procrastinator mode, I don’t know whether I’m giving myself a break to replenish my creative reserves (writing-wise), brewing something great (sometimes procrastination episodes have worked out like that for me), or just plain slacking off (which is a distinct possibility). At the moment, I’m just riding it out.

How’s it going for you? Are you a procrastinator? Do you embrace it or fight it?

Life and Stuff

There is Always Light

Be the light in the world

Many of us are still reeling in the aftermath of the massacre in Vegas. When something like this happens, we tend to question everything. We’re in pain, sad, afraid and angry. We want reasons. We want fixes. We want to make something like this never happen again. But we know it will. History tells us it will.

It’s so easy to give in to the dark emotions, to look at ourselves and say there’s something fundamentally, unfixably corrupt about human nature. We can point to all the horror we can inflict on one another and say: see, that’s what we are. When the chips are down, and the masks are off, we are the monsters we should fear most.

But I don’t agree. Most vehemently, I do not agree. It’s times like these, in disasters both human made and natural, that we see how good we can be. Yes, we’re profoundly flawed, all of us. But we are good too. Continue reading “There is Always Light”

just for fun · Life and Stuff

Filling Your Creative Well A Little at a Time

Creativity is a bit of a mystery to me.

Sometimes, I feel overflowing with creative energy. I’m driven to make something, anything. My writing calls to me, sweetly, begging me to sit down and pour out the words.

Other times, I feel like I’m looking into a dark, dry well. I send my bucket down, hoping for a few drops of creativity to soothe my parched spirit, but there’s nothing to be had.

What drains the well, and what fills it back up again?

I don’t have the whole answer for you, but it’s at least partly a matter of the balance between play and focus. Sometimes, when we’re working on a big creative task, we get so focused on getting it done, we forget to enjoy ourselves, to play around with it. That lack of play drains our spirit, leaving us feeling barren. On the other hand, when we allow ourselves room to play, even if it’s not with the project at hand, we refill that well.

Lately, I’ve been struggling to find the enthusiasm I need to keep going on several goals, especially my novel-in-progress. We’ve had a couple of big upsets in the family. I think that’s thrown me off. But more than that, I think I’ve been too intent on just getting my goals done. I’ve forgotten why I set the goals in the first place and the joy with which I first embraced them. That lack of just plain fun has sapped my creativity.

My friend and fellow blogger, Jay Squires, reminded me that a little bit of creativity just for the heck of it can go a long way toward refilling the well. Continue reading “Filling Your Creative Well A Little at a Time”

Life and Stuff

How Do You Revive Your Motivation?

bridge
You’ve come to that bridge. Now cross it.

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with a lack of motivation. Only, it’s not so much a lack of motivation in the strictest sense. I want to achieve the goals I’ve set. I’m willing to take the steps necessary. What I’m lacking is enthusiasm. Every step I take on the path to my goal has lately felt like just another thing to tick off my list.

So, is that a lack of motivation? A sign that I just need to keep plugging along until my enthusiasm picks up again? Or do I need some time off to replenish my creative energy?

I found two blogs this morning that I think are helpful for anyone struggling with finding their motivation and/or enthusiasm: Continue reading “How Do You Revive Your Motivation?”

Life and Stuff

Sometimes You Have to Risk Looking Stupid

You ever have those moments where you wonder what the heck you’re doing, if your efforts are worth the time, or you’re just going to end up looking stupid?

It could be you’re learning something new, gearing up to talk to someone new, gathering the courage to speak out for what you believe in, or prepping to do something you don’t usually do. And, boom, you’re seized with doubts. Assuming those doubts are just good old-fashioned irrational fear and not some inkling of the potential for serious and unreasonable harm in your actions, I say check out the chicken below:

Now, folks keep calling this chicken (let’s call her Francine…because I like the name Francine) stupid. But who, with very little effort, walks away with not one but two portable snacks? The other chickens just keep pecking aimlessly, but Francine gets her food to go so she can go on being awesome.

Stupid? I think not. 😉

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Note: No ROW80 check in today. I’ll update on Sunday. I hope all your ROW80 goals are moving right along!

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How do you talk yourself out of the fear of feeling stupid?

Life and Stuff · ROW80 Check Ins

Are You Overthinking It?

*ROW80 update at the bottom of the post

Have you ever gotten stuck on something that you feel should come naturally but it’s not coming naturally and you can’t figure out why so you sit around and try to work it out but then you get stuck in the thinking about the thing and that’s worse than getting stuck on the thing in the first place…?

*pauses for breath*

If you overthink things (or just think you do) this video is for you:

Overthink. That kind of sounds like overlord, doesn’t it? Like something outside yourself is thinking for you. Continue reading “Are You Overthinking It?”

Friday Share · Life and Stuff

How Do You Make Love Last?

Have you ever wondered how to make love really last?

The couple below, married 70 years in the first video and 75 in the second. Their advice is sweet, funny and very real.

*They might be the slightest bit questionable for watching at work, just so you know. 

 

Here’s the updated video from this year:

 

What’s your favorite thing about this couple? What advice do you think is the most helpful?

community · Life and Stuff · ROW80 Check Ins

Should We Quit Social Media?

*ROW80 update at the bottom of the post

I recently came across the TED Talk by Dr. Cal Newport saying , not only is social media not harmless, it is dangerous and addictive.

 

It’s something I’ve heard before, but Dr. Newport makes a few persuasive points. Perhaps the most persuasive point is that social media sites are designed to be addictive the way that casinos are, that having social media apps on our phones is like carrying little slot machines with us everywhere. He further argues that social media is not an essential technology (see the video for a full explanation), and we don’t need it to be successful or well known. He concludes that, for us to make the choice to use social media, we have to show a compelling reason that the benefit outweighs the harm.

Of course, I did find the video of his TED Talk on YouTube. Continue reading “Should We Quit Social Media?”