Tag Archive for claiming time

Had Enough? Conquer Writer’s Block!

Conquering Writer’s Block, Winter dates TBD

Stuck? Fear-filled? Can’t write?

writers.block

  • He read nightly about how to write from a stack of books at his bedside, sometimes realizing he never kept a pad and pen handy; maybe tomorrow…
  • She dreamed of writing for the movies but prided herself on being her own harshest critic; she overthought every creative choice and never finished the first screenplay.
  • His hero and muse was an 80-year old writer with a stellar career and a case full of awards; the young writer felt he could never measure up, foundering at 21.
  • She argued with anyone who dared read and comment on her work; her novel was never revised or published.
  • He had a hit with his first published book; he became paralyzed thinking lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice and never wrote again.

Every reason not to write has an opposite reason TO write. And you have a choice—choose to believe you can write, use your creativity to find the right path, and put action to your belief!

Conquering Writer’s Block is a 3-week workshop designed to crack the code to your block and get you writing. Through personal writing for clarity and group discussion for perspective, you will discover the limiting messages you feed yourself and gain the courage to stop your creative malnourishment and grow a healthy writer’s consciousness.

  • She had so many stories to tell that she didn’t know where to start; she wrote one story, received encouragement and quickly picked another story to write next.
  • He felt too emotionally distraught to write, trapped for weeks in the same loop; he wrote his fears on paper to witness and release them, clearing the space to persevere with his poetry.
  • She has 5 kids, ranging in age from elementary school to college; when they went to school, she “went to school” and finished her novel.
  • He has noise sensitivity to loud neighbors, TVs, and barking dogs that stole focus; he used his creativity and available resources to give himself the calm he needed to write.
  • She bogged down in personal issues while writing memoir; she discovered fiction, freely changing details and perspective in a way to share what had been impossible to consider sharing.

As you share your work with yourself, build upon the ability to share your writing with others. You will learn how to compassionately protect yourself from reviewers’ slings and arrows, transforming critiques into the gift of feedback…and continue writing.

Conquering Writer’s Block, Winter dates TBD

Guest Post: The Charming Light Box and a Literary Fetus

This guest post by Creative Writer’s Workshop member Kim Chamberlain, who is steadily making excellent progress with her memoir. Kim is a music teacher, clarinetist and jazz singer with lots of great stories. Kim can be reached at chamberlaind@bellsouth.net.

My writing coach’s words from a month ago reverberate inside my head: “You have four long weeks to get a lot done.”

Now, my deadline looms at midnight. In my basement writing room, twenty-seven chapters, hiding inside 2 large binders, remind me that I’ve got Writer’s Block.

Light Box by Kim ChamberlainI can write. A lot. I can quickly churn out another chapter for my memoir, sending it on its way to Wayne’s Thursday night writers’ group.  I recall the ending of my group evaluation at our last meeting weeks ago:

“Consider choosing five chapters that anchor the plot best, and start building structure from there,” Wayne suggested.

Five. Yeah, right.

The glow from a nearby lamp radiating off the top of Wayne’s pate inspired me to ponder the reflective quality of human skin. My mind meanders down a trivial trail into a thicket of distraction.

His mouth continued to form words. “Why not start by identifying the setting, characters and theme?”

I wonder if Wayne’s crown feels silky or maybe a little bumpy. That Yul Brenner look requires a nicely shaped head like Wayne’s.

Ann, the first published author among us, chimed in. “It may be difficult to pick five, but I learned a lot by doing the same thing.”

Back from her year-long sabbatical, a time spent publishing her book, Ann has plunged into her second work while still finding the time to promote the first one. She manages to simultaneously write new material and present workshops requiring airline and hotel reservations.

Will I even get to the editing stage?

Ann flashed a wide grin. “Just spread the chapters all around on the floor like I did. You’ll figure it out.”

She had a point. I earned my Masters in Library Science in a maelstrom, broadcasting my handwritten notes, rough drafts, markers, and pens upon a wide table in the library. The debris always managed to write itself. But writing memoir was different.

I imagined a hurricane of papers scattered haphazardly on my already cluttered writing room floor. I pouted and replied, “Well, I’ve put all 27 chapters in 3-ring binders.”

Wayne’s timer trilled, and everyone folded up their notes on my work and passed them to me.

Wayne smiled, “Good work, Kim. Karen? You’re on.”

A masterful weaver of imagery, Karen often apologizes for not producing enough. Yet her book is organically forming itself.

“I didn’t get much done,“ she confessed, as I unfolded her 2000-word entry of the week and contemplated my commentary next to hot sauce stains that I’d added at lunch earlier in the day: “Brilliant as always! You’ve accomplished so much!”

Enjoying a mini-sabbatical herself, the soon-to-be online published Hana checked in through Wayne. We learned that while she drove her son to a soccer tournament, her characters frolicked in her mind, concocting the next plot twist.

Wayne wrapped it up. “See y’all next month! Do good work!”

Flanked by my fellow writers, I stumbled toward my Subaru, noticing one benevolent star at the far end of the plum-hued sky. It was a hopeful sign.

As soon as I pulled into the carport, I made a beeline for my basement writing room.

I’ll start tonight!

It wouldn’t take long for my chapters to come together and form an embryonic entity, the way primordial organs adjoin in utero. By July, there’d be a memoir, a literary fetus. At group, everyone would coo, “Look! You can see all of its parts, and there’s a cute little ending. How adorable!”

Still warm from group, I hole-punched the group’s notated papers and snapped them into Binder 2.

Better start fresh in the morning.

FullSizeRender 9That was a month ago.

I’ve gotten a lot done over break, but I haven’t touched my memoir.

First, Dave and I spent four days with our son at his future college. Exuberant student representatives plied us with window decals, plastic coffee cups, T-shirts, and brochures. Time had to be spent to sift through it all.

Next, I succumbed to my thrift store addiction. Rather than heed Wayne’s words, I made things from purchased wooden boxes, bric-a brac, knick-knacks and picture frames. Whenever I’d sit down at my writing table, my creative brain focused on crafting.

Hmm. If I remove the glass from that picture frame and put it inside that wooden box, I could make a nifty case for my clarinet reeds.

The hours ebbed into lost time, yielding unique folk-art masterpieces and charming light boxes.  My writing room is ablaze.

I did work on my memoir just a bit. One day I cleared a place at my long folding table, and I skimmed a few chapters from Volume 1. Jotting down the main characters, setting, plot, and themes onto index cards, I realized that some of my work belonged in the “reject” folder.

The next day, I slammed volume 2 onto the table with a thud. I froze. I fell asleep.

Hours dribbled into days until I had less than 72 hours left.

Volume 2 just sat there—a Stonehenge monolith—impenetrable, looming and impossible. Rather than turn to another craft project for diversion, I realized that worry and grief work just as well.  I was seriously nutting up.

Last Friday evening with three days left on the break, my husband and son found me plopped on the couch, as intractable as my binders.The Chamberlains, photo by Tom Marnell

“Do you want to come with us to a show in Marietta?”

“You guys go and have a good time. I’m going to work on my writing.”

I listened to the truck pull out of the driveway and reached for my son’s gaming remote. I turned on the TV and scrolled down to You Tube.

In the search bar, I typed in “The Illuminati and UFOs.”

Five more minutes and I’ll go down to the basement.

I scuttled deeper into the sofa.

Wow, I didn’t know that ex-Presidents are working for some new world order!

The television droned on. I dozed off then jolted awake to fuzzy images of naked billionaires sacrificing goats at secret rituals deep in the California woods.

Goosebumps erupted on my arms as a male voice warned, “Wake up, people! The signs are all around us!”

The weekend vanished with only hours left.

I heard Wayne’s voice in my head, “You have four weeks…”

Forget about the chapters. Write. Just Write.

That’s what I did.

Now at the deadline’s midnight hour, I finished this and emailed it to the group. On Thursday, they’ll tell me they still have faith in me. Then on Friday, I’ll fling twenty-seven chapters onto my writing room floor and see what happens.

Photos 1 and 2 courtesy of Kim and David Chamberlain.  Photo of the Chamberlains by Tom Marnell, mineeyeshavescene.com.

Hocus Focus

In May I did something totally magical: I unplugged. For an entire week.

SGIsland.May.2015.wayne.south.smithI went to a quiet beach with friends and rarely checked my Iphone, which vacationed in my bedroom drawer. For several days, I had stints alone on the beach for big sums of time. After putting up an umbrella, settling into my chair and getting some water from the cooler, I sat and watched the waves.

I breathed deeply as I reminisced on all the editing I’ve completed for writers and myself through the first half of the year. Then I noticed how odd it felt not to have my phone near me, even though it’s silenced for good focus when I work. I pondered the magical world we live in, one where we can simultaneously communicate with various people, use various electronics, surf various platforms, and allow bombardment by a cacophony of various images, sounds, and messages, if we so choose. Yet sitting on that beach, I felt nervous and untethered without possession of my only timepiece.

Soon, those thoughts and worries were out to sea. My mind focused on what was in front of me: the beauty and mystery where I’d yearned to spend time. Thoughts washed ashore and receded back with the undertow. Bliss. Each day when I went inside and checked my phone for the time, I was surprised by how long I’d been basking in relaxation.

Upon my return to Atlanta, I followed my usual strategies. Phone alerts off. I know to do my best work, I must be as present as possible, to not only be in my complete self but to be in my total project to face it fully.

SGIsland.May.2015 110I know writers who don’t, and oftentimes their process and work suffer the consequences. Can you be aware when writing while listening to the radio or TV, eating lunch, and glancing at your phone for texts, emails, tweets, and posts? And here’s one—how can you hear your own thoughts while combining writing with listening to an instructional video on writing?  Writing can require fancy “footwork,” but it isn’t Zumba…

You split your focus and your creative power as you attend to other things—even if randomly and for a flash of time—while trying to write. And since the opportunity to write can be hard to secure, when you find precious time to write, honor it. Recognize your creative time as a divine gift. Treasure and treat it as a blessing. Be grateful for it, make choices with the integrity of your heart, and use it wisely.

Many have proved the ability to do a lot all at once. When you do, you may collect tidbits of awareness and nuggets of wisdom. But imagine what can happen when you focus your efforts into one determined energy, and nurture the writing in front of you? Magic, that’s what.

Chart A Course To Write Your Memoir

Like clients Kirby and Jonathan, you can write and publish your memoir.
Consider the Memoir class as getting your feet wet, the Creative Writers Workshop as training, and personal writer’s coaching & editing as the swim toward the finish line.

 

Start Somewhere.

nyad.espncdn.com.1 - CopyDiana Nyad, 64, an American long distance swimmer, became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without using a shark cage in September 2013.  She attempted the 110-mile swim in 1978, then three more times during 2011-2012 without success.  Undaunted, she kept trying.

Some take to writing easily, while others need encouragement.  All could become successful writers.

I’ve seen those who keep dipping their toes rippling the surface ‘thinking’ about writing while others tread water.  These waste mental and physical efforts.  With practice and determination, others jump in to navigate their past and write their memoir.

Get in the Water.

SWIMMING-CUBA-US-NYADOn earlier tries, Nyad was stung by jellyfish, harassed by harsh currents and battered by storms forcing her to quit.  Still, her quest wasn’t over.  She changed tactics, updated equipment, and kept trying.  Obstacles were just lessons to examine and conquer.

Many hindrances can slow writers, but our self-doubts can sink us.  My greatest lesson in how to deal with doubt came from my swimming practice.

Whenever excuses weigh me down, and I really, really don’t want to swim, my motto is ‘get in the water.’  This never fails: I begin with the assurance I can stop whenever I want.  All the negative messages float into my mind like stinging jellyfish or attack my gut like sharks.  I endure and keep swimming.

Interestingly, whatever was blocking me – sinus issues, achey body, ornery mood – improves or dissipates.  Each time, I accomplish my goal of swimming my usual number of laps.

Jump headfirst into your writing.  Enjoy the weightlessness of freedom, the unburdened feeling of writing what comes from your pool of memories.  See what surfaces.

Swim with Friends.

diana-nyad-florida-to-cuba-swimNyad, like any seasoned athlete, dove to mental and emotional depths to acquire physical strength to complete her goal.  She didn’t swim alone; she had community onshore, as well as a boat load of folks for moral support and to watch her back.

In teaching memoir for years, I’ve seen group after group coalesce and support one another to dive deep into consciousness and bring up treasures.

Join the Memoir class, a guided group of no more than six participants. The expedition is more fun, even more enlightening, with others.

Go for the Goal!

nyad.cbsmiami - Copy“I have three messages,” Nyad said on the beach after her historic swim (Associated Press).  “One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”

Compassionate, honest fellow writers are crucial to your success; they want you to win! This happens with every Creative Writers Workshop I’ve led, a group of no more than 4 writers.

As your writing coach, I mentor you to chart your writing’s course and hold you accountable as you move from writing and revising to editing and publishing.

With friends and a dedicated coach on your team, you can more easily write and complete your memoir.

nyad.gmanewstv - Copy
Memoir Class

Creative Writers Workshop

Personal Writer’s Coaching & Editing, by appointment

 
References: Associated Press; Mike Smollins.
Photos:CBS/Miami; ESPN/CDN; GMA News TV; IlPostIt