Monday, February 24, 2014

Don't Get Too Comfortable...

It's Monday. Sometimes I like Mondays because everyone's out of the house and I enjoy the serenity and chance to work (mostly) undisturbed.

But it's Monday. That means I have to drag myself to the pool.

Swimming and writing evoke the same feelings for me; I love to do both, but each one has aspects that make me a first class procrastinator. For swimming, it's getting out of my toasty, pillow-soft bed. Creaking elbow and aching (formerly broken) toes are telling me that it's okay to miss one day. And that first dive into the water, when it's snowing and freezing outside? That takes a bit of masochism to do it three times a week.

With writing, it's the revisions. Once I know what to do it's not a problem, but forcing myself to sit and think about a plot problem (currently) is worse than going to the pool. But procrastination for avoiding sitting at the desk to fix edits can be good. While I turn over the problem in my head, I clean, do laundry, run errands (because gardening when you still have almost a foot of snow on the ground doesn't make sense), and talk to the cats. (Sometimes that helps!). When a great revelation hits, though, and I know it's going to require going through every last damn sentence (numerous times, ugh), I procrastinate (like now although Mondays are new blog post days, so I'm not really procrastinating, right?).

Logically I can reason that going to the pool regularly is good for my health (summer's coming! bathing suits, ack!) and I sleep better because I'm exhausted. So getting the edits done means I can work on sparkly new project(s).

It's just that I'm so comfortable... not going out in the cold/not sitting at the desk.

But no one ever got anywhere important by staying comfortable. So I'll get my cup of chai latte and tackle those edits.

What do you need to get 'uncomfortable' enough to achieve?


Monday, February 17, 2014

Bare Necessities

I look at the pile of 'stuff' in my basement and dream of the day when I can start clearing it out. There are a number of boxes with stuff which will go to our church youth group for their yard sale to fund charitable activities. There are more boxes and furniture with things for when my son (possibly) gets his own apartment in a number of months. There are skis which the younger one has outgrown. Rockets that no one shoots off anymore, too many pieces of luggage, my Bowflex which I've kind of abandoned in favor of swimming at the Y, cabinets with my hurricane/emergency supplies, vases, cookware I use once a year, and a bookshelf of books, games, crafts, and puzzles.

I'm coming to the point in my life where I want to simplify; have fewer things to fuss over, enjoy a clear view.

It's the same in my writing. I'm not a fluffy, overly literary type. I find long explanations, a character's thoughts about every little thing, and detailed setting descriptions tedious. (Hence, I have no love for books like Great Expectations- get to the point.) It's hard for me to wax poetic as the cliche goes because I'm a lover of  action, dialogue, and progression. When another writer whose style is the opposite of mine critiques my work, it's hard for me add all the 'extras' they suggest, whether it's words or scenes or internal dialogue. And when I critique their work, I find myself cutting and trimming where it feels too dense to me.

When I critique, my pen immediately looks to red ink extra words like: that, of course, have, had, could, etc. When I clean the basement, I bag broken toys, clothes that don't fit, and things we don't use. In both cases, although it may be hard to let them go, once these things are gone, they won't be missed.

Whether it's in manuscripts or basements (or garages, attics, sheds, or closets) I don't want clutter anymore.

Is it time to de-clutter your life?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Walking In The Right Direction

The ad says "Walking for Life."

It's a class on walking.


Through a public park.

And you get to pay $80 for it.


Doesn't it sound ridiculous? I had to look twice when I saw it. I mean, who doesn't know how to walk? With all the scams out there to take your money, some so sophisticated that it may be impossible to avoid them, I thought, really, who's going to fall for this?? It's one of those things that once you learn how to do it, like riding a bike, you never forget.

Reading the rest of the ad, it said it focused on endurance (tip: walk a little more everyday), walking 3-5 miles in all weather (dress appropriately)  and cool down afterwards ( walk slowly until you're not breathing hard).

I just saved you $80. (Feel free to send me a check.)

But maybe that's not the point; of course we all know how to walk. Maybe the point was getting up and making that commitment to walk, and slowly increasing the distance, taking care of ourselves along the way, and safely concluding the walk.

It's like writing. Yes, we all know how to write, but like some athletes, there are those who are instantly exceptional. The rest of us fall into the other categories of 'good writer' or 'average writer' or 'poor writer.' Just because you've been doing it so long doesn't mean there is no room for improvement (go back and read the early works of your fave authors and see how much they've improved...)

So continue that education- take writing classes, take advice, take a trip to a conference.

And take a chance on improving a skill you already know how to do.


photo courtesy of Microsoft Clipart