Tag Archive for empowerment

Dance With The Deadline

frank.frankenstein.1931As if Frankenstein himself is busting down the door, many writers are freaked slap out by the deadline.  The writer will cower and bargain with the monster, begging for more time to explore and re-work.  Any argument tempts nature like a rooftop experiment in an electrical storm ultimately making the writer feel crazy-mad, defeated and, well, Abby Normal.  The enraged, unsympathetic beast snatches the writing anyway, then escapes deep into the inky night.

The term ‘deadline’ strikes fear in many, not just writers.  Coined during the Civil War when prison camps were spur-of-the-moment and without fencing, guards simply drew a line in the dirt circling the encampment.  Prisoners knew they would be shot dead if they crossed the ‘dead line.’

frank.9The newspaper industry adopted this powerful language to have the latest news printed and distributed in a timely manner. Editors’ deadlines implied “If you don’t submit your writing on time, printing presses will roll, and your story is dead.”  Consequently, so was your career.

When I work with editorial deadlines, I prefer to avoid last minute pressure by setting a personal deadline about three days in advance of the real one.  In most cases, I am able to submit my copy ahead of deadline.  This gives the client extra time, plus it demonstrates a strong work ethic which brings more assignments to my desk.

So what if you don’t have an editorial deadline or a gun pointed at your head?  You can hire a monster (i.e. me, minus green makeup and bolts in my neck), or you can be creative and do it on your own.

Karen wrote consistently as a member of my Creative Writers Workshop, but struggled to finish a story.  In conjunction with private coaching, she decided to try using a contest deadline as motivation.  The word count added more limitation, yet provided her with a crash course in sharper revision and final editing.  She hit the word count with characters to spare and the deadline on target.

Kirby protects her scheduled writing times on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  To complete and publish her book, she set a firm November deadline so she could have books printed by early December. She factored in time for her completion, my editing and the printer’s process.  Even with snags, all ended well with her wrapping up books as gifts for the holidays.

Cammie quickly discovered the necessity to schedule coaching sessions every other Saturday with a deadline of Wednesday midnight to get her work to me for meeting prep.  Using this system, she completed her ambitious project, a major feat considering she had not written beyond undergrad projects, much less 128 polished pages in a new genre.

Basically, the deadline is a commitment to an amount of time, a certain number of words written, or a project completion date.  Your editor, printer, writing group and coach are counting on you, so count on yourself.  Meet your goal.

If you want to be a successful writer, make nice with the misunderstood monster.   If the term ‘deadline’ frightens you, change it.  Use ‘goal,’ ‘aim,’ ‘target,’ or ‘destination,’ whatever feels good to you. frank.3Embrace the deadline’s positive influence as a vital partner in the dance to complete your writing project.

Affirm:  My deadline is a positive motivator.  I do my best work, and I celebrate meeting my deadlines, the final one, as well as every small step along the way.

So, the dance is over.  What do you do After The Deadline?

Images: Frankenstein (1931) with Colin Clive and Boris Karloff; Young Frankenstein (1974) with Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle.

Dear John, It’s Over #breakup

ibeer.bing.images

29 characters of a short-not-sweet tweet broke his heart.

Then she grinded it into the ground with detailed phrases.

Always late.  Earbuds in ears, you never listen.  Forgot bday.  Crappy friends.  Not best lover. #breakup

Not only did they go out to her hundreds of followers including their friends and families, but she hash-tagged it for anyone who wanted to follow her ‘breakup’ rant.  And she wouldn’t return his calls; she had a different audience she wanted to talk to.

Keep stinky dog.  I get DR table, bed, clothes Sat noon.  Be scarce.  Stop calling. #breakup

Her follower count climbed as John commiserated with his pals at the sports bar the next day.  Too many beers for 11:30am on a Saturday with no good game on.  The buds pretended to check scores while following the ex on twitter, shooting grimaces behind John’s back while they tried to console him.

“You’re too good for her, man.  I bet she’s messing around.”

“John, if she won’t take your calls, you should be tweeting.  Let her have it!  Crap, here’s another one!”

Dog bit my friend, ripped his jeans.  Lucky I didn’t kill her.  Trapped her on balcony.  #breakup

“When Shandra was fooling around on me, I figured it out after her phone kept breaking up on the road.  She never drove on the expressway, and that’s the only dead zone between our places.  Where was she going?”

“When I lived with Beth, she’s such a snoop that I just sent myself a sexy text from a girl’s phone at work.  Then I left my phone when I went in the next day, and Beth did the rest.  She was gone when I got back that night.  Trashed the place, but I never heard from her again.”

John emptied the pitcher.  “Maybe I should have tracked her more.”

They reinforced “Couldn’t hurt” and then “Too late now.”

Taking ipod dock you never use.  Leaving dishes.  #breakup

“Shoot, I remember way back before my first wife when I dated a gal who kept getting pages and left me to get to a phone.  Crazy, but I thought she was a dealer or something until a buddy showed me how easy it was for her to set off the beeper.”  He poured some beer on the old wound.  “Just an excuse to get away to find a hookup.  I wish she just could have told me.”

Broke shelves laughing.  Glass against wall.  Buy broom.  #breakup

Many operate intimate relationships by rules learned as seventh graders where they tell their friends to tell the other person their feelings, or they do something to make the other person break up with them so they don’t have to look bad.  Now with more ways to communicate, it’s easier.  But do these rules really work?

Is it time to play by new rules?  If you can say “I Love You” to someone in the passion of the moment, why is it so hard to tell them face-to-face that it’s time to move on?

Can you really express your character in 140 or less?  Do you owe the one you loved more than that?  And what do you owe yourself?

Outta here.  Place is all yours.  #breakup

Disclaimer:  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.

Three Bars in a Single’s Joint, Still No Reception

texting.manFADE IN:

INT, INTOWN RESTAURANT, NOON

PHYLLIS, a thirty-something single, sits with her best friend JANEEN eating and dishing.

PHYLLIS

So I order a martini last night and spot this guy on the other side of the bar…

JANEEN waves for the waiter, who passes them by, and PHYLLIS looks at his behind, grins and raises eyebrows.

PHYLLIS

…he’s the right age, got curly dark hair, no facial hair and a nice build, so I stroll over to give him a better look.

JANEEN

Of you?

 PHYLLIS

Of course of me!  The place was dark, and I was wearing black. How else is he gonna see the curves?

JANEEN shrugs and stabs the last bits of her salad.

PHYLLIS

So I slink over holding my cocktail like a prize and position myself in his sight line, only he’s looking down at his smartphone.

JANEEN

Dumbphone…another dumbass hiding behind social media while in front of a possible relationship.  It’s like face time doesn’t exist—

 PHYLLIS

—except in cyber space!

PHYLLIS aggressively flags down the waiter for the check.

 PHYLLIS

So through the whole time I sip, he never raises his head.  And I’m getting irritated, thinking he’s probably sexting, and if I only had his number, I could text him something like ‘Look up and catch my smile,’ then I’m drinking more and getting pissed, ya know, like ‘why bother coming out to meet people if you will never make eye contact?’

JANEEN nods and laughs.

PHYLLIS

And then it gets worse when I’m done with my drink and over this one-way stare-fest while he smiles and laughs at his phone, and I realize this stupid bar that’s a WiFi HotSpot doesn’t let me text the waitress to bring me another lemon drop!

JANEEN

Ugh, more insulting than getting broken up with by having your boyfriend change his relationship status to ‘single’ on Facebook.

PHYLLIS

No kidding!

The women simultaneously pull wallets from purses.

PHYLLIS

I had to go home!

JANEEN

Alone!

PHYLLIS drops her gaze from her friend’s face to –

CLOSE UP—

JANEEN’s hand wrapped around wallet with acrylic nails and a three-carat solitaire wedding set.

BACK TO—

MEDIUM SHOT of PHYLLIS putting her wallet away as the waiter sits the check on the table.

PHYLLIS

I think it’s your turn to pay.

JANEEN takes the check, reads the total, then looks up at her friend.

JANEEN

Then how ‘bout the next time you’re angry, you just text me?

CLOSE UP—

PHYLLIS’ eyes narrow, then widen as she smiles.

MEDIUM SHOT—

PHYLLIS reaches for the bill and JANEEN pulls it away, then with her free hand, takes PHYLLIS’ hand.  They laugh.

JANEEN

Always fun to be with you!

FADE OUTput.the.phone.down

 

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A Blunt Object To Ease Self Doubt

Anne.Hathaway.Golden.Globes.2013Accepting her Golden Globe statuette for her performance in “Les Misérables,” Anne Hathaway humbly thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association “for this lovely blunt object, that I will forever use as a weapon against my self-doubt.”  A humble admission of her truth from this graceful, poised movie star.

As writers, we are just like Hathaway — creative people who do our best work when we access the whole of our being.  The brightest side is often the easiest; the balance to that is found in the dark places.  Like the brave explorer or mythical hero, we have fierce dragons to face and steep mountains to conquer.  Those are the hills and valleys of our lives.  The conflict and resolution is what makes our stories inviting, relatable and captivating as the reader gets a feeling of camaraderie or perhaps simply a reflection into who they are, where they may go and what they may overcome.  This brings the laugh, the smile, the tears.

Don’t wait for an award.  Claim one.  I claimed one early on – my first bylined published feature article.  When I felt that I couldn’t move forward through the insecurity, I would look at it, know I’d achieved, and I could go that far and take, maybe, just one more step.

Perhaps it’s a note from a teacher or an editor, even one bit of feedback you’ve penciled on a post-it from another writer you respect.  Maybe it’s a quote that inspires you.  Maybe it’s a soulful message you affirm for yourself from the depths of your inner truth.

Whatever it is, you don’t have to use it as a weapon.  You don’t have to hit yourself in the head with it.  But get it into your head as your truth.  No bludgeoning required.

Stand up and take the stage as your creative heart enthusiastically applauds your progress.  Firmly grasp your award, smile victoriously, and with all the happiness that pours from you, sincerely say ‘thank you.’

Then move forward and write some more.

Affirm:  I seek and find an honest declaration to motivate writing from my heart.  I gracefully write from both light and dark places as all contain the many colors of my truth.