Ready for Retreat

stones-530865_1280It’s nearly the middle of the month so I thought I would do an update on the happenings in my life.

I started a challenge of writing a flash fiction story daily for the month of June. As of this moment I am right on track. I have discovered that I like the stories I am creating in this month. Several of them have a lot of potential. I’m not stopping to edit them but hopefully after June I will be able to.

I am also getting ready to head out to this writing retreat. I’ve never done this before. I’ve been to one day writing conferences but this one is four days long and will focus on novel writing. I’m rather excited since I struggle with moving forward with that particular piece of writing.

A few days ago I presented my first chapter to my writing group and got some incredibly helpful feedback. I’m looking forward to taking those comments and the rest of my notes to this event and hopefully putting things together.

While I am gone I will also be attending a one day blog conference at the same location as the retreat. The subject is on the content of blogs so perhaps I  will be making changes in the future. I tend to implement what I learn at these conferences and I believe this will be incredibly helpful. I can’t wait to get there.

I have been reminded how hard it is to get ready for a week away from home. There are so many things to think about, pack and prepare. I’m quite certain I have overpacked but you never know what you might need.

It’s been a busy week and next week will be too. I think I will need a vacation from my vacation.

We forget that peace and quiet is needed too. Though this retreat and summer are proving to be quite a challenge, I am still looking for those still, silent times. If water is involved, all the better. If not, I will still enjoy the moment.

How do you plan to retreat this summer?

Small Moments

blackboard-620314_1280This week Chuck Wendig wrote a piece and posted it on his blog, Terribleminds.com, called “Dear Writers: None of us Know What the Fuck We’re Doing.” If you can get past the language (and it’s not horrible) this is a fascinating piece. You can find the entire thing here.

As I’ve put together my blog I’ve struggled with how to create, build and market myself. I’ve taken classes and read endlessly, I’ve even bought a book about blogging for writers. I’ve wondered about the “right” way to do this. I’ve wondered that about a lot of things. This blog post spoke to me like none other. I could see things clearly.

There is a plethora of information about how to write, blog and generally anything you would ever want to do online. People who have knowledge want to share that knowledge. People who need to know, go to google. It’s a win-win situation.

I’ve long suspected that every road to success in any area is varied and individual. Writing is no different. It is thought that there are some relatively specific rules for writing, though when you truly look at them, there are writers who have achieved success by breaking them, even in spite of the rules. The question is how do you know. Which rules do you follow and which do you ignore. This is the struggle.

Chuck has a bit of advice that I would like to share with you. These are what he calls the Five Constants for writing:

1. Write a lot (and to completion)
2. Read a lot (and read critically when you do)
3. Think about writing and storytelling
4. Talk to writers
5. Go live a life

I think I am going to print these constants out and put them on my bulletin board for whenever I need a reminder. Especially the last one. I forget that one sometimes.

I will continue to go to classes because I enjoy interacting with others and learning new things. As a general rule I learn something from each and every one.

I will also continue to read other writers and their blogs. I believe we can always learn something from others. Whether we attempt their same path or one close, encouraging and upholding each other is the best thing we can do.

And we can live our lives. This is the one that I will be thinking about this week. When I am focused on writing everyday, keeping things going, struggling with my daily job I forget to just live.

We are meant to be and not just do. I forget this with all of my to-do lists. The tasks will always be there, this moment won’t. It’s this moment in which we live. This moment and none other is where we find our joy.

allens-hummingbird-339126_1280The challenge this week is to find joy in the moments.

I want a life well lived, not well intended.

It is in the small moments like seeing the first hummingbird at my new feeder today. I look forward to an entire summer of watching them as stand at my kitchen sink. Hopefully they will get used to me and won’t fly away any time I move.

It’s the small moments that I want to remember.

What are the small moments you want to remember?

Avoiding

writer-605764_1280I love writing. I think about it, I dream about it and I do it.

Except when I don’t. Except when it becomes another chore to be completed. Except when I will do anything to avoid writing at my desk. I mean Facebook has never looked so good.

Creating a blog has been on my radar almost since I began writing seriously. By writing seriously I mean: writing every day at a scheduled or mostly scheduled time, setting goals and actually submitting work.

Building a blog was something I knew nothing about. I’d seen blogs I liked and ones I didn’t but had no idea what I was in for.  So I did what I normally do, research. I began looking into the how to’s and the why’s of building a blog. I signed up for a class which has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I’ve learned a lot and a curse in that I have so much more to learn and to understand about this side of the writing life.

The good news is I have a blog I like. I like the layout and so much of what is there. Yet I am still struggling. Struggling to find my words and to convey them clearly. Struggling to know the right path to take to be a successful blogger. There are so many different way a person can build their business. I have discovered it truly is a business and quite serious at that. For me it has become about pressure. And when pressure builds in my life I tend to avoid. Everything.

Today is a day of honest avoidance. Sometimes just naming it helps. I’ve been avoiding so many things about my writing, not just about my blog and I’ve finally owned that today. I have been making excuses for myself about my inadequacies as a writer. That inner critic has been hard at work and I’ve bought it. It happens to everyone.

In my under pressure avoidance, I’ve also let some normal things slide. Well, not today. While I was avoiding my desk and the butt in chair technique I normally apply, I did manage to get a few things done:

Laundry

Dishes

Changed sheets on my bed

Cleaned my room

Knit a few rows of a blanket for a friend

Online shopping for more books – as if I need any more see this post

Its been a productive day.

The good thing is that while I was avoiding the writing, I was still writing. This also happens to a lot of people. In the middle of the pile of dishes I was working through, I found the words for this post. I finished that work before sitting down to write and magic happened.

I don’t think I am alone in this phenomenon. I’ve heard other writers talk about doing other things when the muse just won’t show up and the words won’t come. I believe we all need this down time because if anyone is like me, the everyday activities never get done if all I do is focus on my writing. Then, I’ve discovered I don’t work as well in the midst of clutter. Its a double edged sword.

So it has been a productive day. My house no longer looks like a tornado ripped through it and I’ve gotten my writing done for the day. I’d say a job well done.

Challenge: What do you do when the words just won’t come and nothing else is working?