Is The Question What To Write Or When To Write?

Many times I have seen posts from other writers that are just starting. A common question is, how to get started. An equally common reply is, just write. Content is not the issue as much as just getting in the habit.

Worry about a topic to write on is really not the issue, rather just doing it. Creating a shopping list, writing about the days activities, anything that you can think of no matter how silly or seemingly inappropriate for a writer.

For example, they still make pencils with erasers, yet a whole story could be written about how something that has been such a symbol of education, school, and writing, is slowly but surely being edged out by keyboards, digital communication and the delete button.

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What happens is once words start to appear, more begin to invade your mind. In no time at all as you give your thoughts free reign it can almost be like magic happens as the words flow forth. In some cases it could seem like a tsunami of words.

I have had both extremes where words would come, but I had to work to get to 500. On other days I have started and more than 3000 words later, I have been amazed at what was written. Having an environment free of distractions, which I do not, can be the seedbed of even greater results.

Being retired would seem to be an ideal scenario for writing. In my case, I start at 3:30 in the morning. After a cup of coffee, time is spent in meditation for about 30 minutes. The I sit down for another 30 minutes to just write. As 5:00 rolls around it’s out to walk 3 to 4 miles, then back to start getting things ready for breakfast with my wife and brother-in-law.

By 7:45-8:00 we are sitting down to eat. By 8:30-9:00 a short drive to drop off my wife where she is Principle of a small, private school. Then back home by 9:30-9:45. If there are no other errands then I am free to research and write until 12:50, at which time I leave to pick up my wife. The afternoon may be free or there could be Dr’s visits, trips to pick up something for the house, any number of the typical things that interrupt the flow of writing.

From that point on the atmosphere is full of phone calls, being in a small office together where we have both computers and the T.V., conversations about the day, people, all the normal activities which create distractions.

Some might think this is ideal in terms of how much time is available from 9:30 on. If that could be spent just writing it would be ideal. Loosing sight of all that goes into writing such as editing, book covers, creating a promo team, time spent blogging, study on writing videos, summits, conferences, reading, reviewing other writers, plus the interruptions life throws in your way all compete for that time.

This has been written in that 30 minutes from 4:30 to 5:00, but there is not time to review and edit the content. The positive part is this has completed writing 500 words in that short period of time.

The point is when there is determination to do it, what to write about is hardly ever the challenge. Sitting down and hitting the keys is!

Are They Crazy Ideas Or Genius?

No one has asked me where I get inspiration to write, or how do I come up with ideas. So I asked myself and got some interesting answers. Now before this gets completely out of hand, a writer asking such questions is not at all weird or unusual. Talking to ourselves is different from those who also answer.

For me it has to be a vivid imagination. I remember Zig Ziglar commenting in one of his books about the greatest nation in the world. It’s the one named Imagi Nation. That immediately resonated with me simply because I got it.

“Crazy ideas! Don’t you just love them?” A line from the movie,  Under The Tuscan Sun, fits right in there, because so many of those ideas spawn from what appear at first to be dis-jointed thoughts. In fact imagination can likely be defined in many ways. One such summed it up in this way. “New ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.”

Not present to the senses. Out of my mind seems to apply, or not consciously entertaining thoughts in a given category. Unconsciously thinking, sure seems like a contradiction of terms, yet to me that seems very natural. How else could you account for ideas that seem to emerge out of nowhere?

To me the so called subconscious mind is like that. It’s sort of out there in that place called nowhere. See, here I go off on a tangent, fully prepared to discuss the merits of nowhere and how invisible thoughts emanate secretly from that noplace. Now my spell checker put a red line under that word as not existing, but I contend that spell checker needs to get an education.

Is it still difficult to imagine where I come up with things to write about? My greatest desire is to pass along this ability to others who desire to write, but find it next to impossible to come up with the “what” to write.

Fiction is not my thing, or at least I have never really entertained any serious thoughts about it. Still, I do have several “Christmas Chronicles” spread out over a period of roughly ten years. Based on the “Night Before Christmas” story, the idea was to create memories using our sons various events throughout the year and weave them into the story in poetry form, ending with a delivery to the birth of Jesus.

So I guess I can’t really say fiction is not my thing. Better said it is not a conscious thing. It seems to come when my fingers get on the keyboard with no particular thought in mind. It comes from “noplace!” Sorta like these words that somehow get the letters mixed up that are different than what my fingers typed. If I type from it seems to change invisibly to form. I may have a dyslexic keyboard. Hmm…that could be an interesting story.

The mind is a terrible thing to waste, and mine doesn’t stand a chance of that happening. What really is somewhat amusing, is most think it resides inside a skull. All that mushy stuff that works together to make my eyes blink or my lungs breathe. Nope, not the mind.

I contend the mind is simply the brain’s ability to connect to countless thoughts held in the limitless space between quarks. No not quacks such as in ducks, but quarks such as what atoms are made of, or at least what the neutrons and protons that make the atoms.

It’s an infinitesimal space that can contain an equally infinitesimal number of thoughts, that never cease to exist. So how do I know? Well this may be my fiction at work, there may be some truth, or a combination thereof. I do believe that is a relatively simple definition of fiction. Often more truth than fiction as a matter of fact.

So how is this doing so far in convincing you, the reader, that ideas for writing just pretty much can come out of thin air? Just for me? Not a chance. Then maybe it’s like speaking before a group of people. Still one of the biggest fears for the greater majority of people. I’m not one of ‘em! Anyone who knows me will vouch for that in a heartbeat.

The truth is it is a learned behavior, just as going to noplace to discover those crazy ideas that become genius. It takes the “want to” for that to happen. I like what Lisa Nichols says in a recent interview. When asked about her fear to write her first books, she says it this way.

“I hold fear in one hand, and all my commitment, passion and determination in the other.” She led out with the one while holding back with the other. Fear was held in check, while she moved forward with her passion.

I saw it as holding back the fear, while releasing the passion, commitment, desire, determination and belief to move forward. Even an addict can reach the point where the fear of facing the pain of their addiction, becomes less than the fear of staying where they are. So it is for writers.

I saw a post recently of someone who described themselves as a “closet writer.” That resonated with me simply because if my writing has stayed hidden in files on my hard drive, what’s the difference. They may as well be hidden away in a dark file cabinet, or a dark closet.

It was reading a book by Jeff Goins, then another by Bryan Hutchinson, both who struggled with the idea of being writers until the moment came when they could no longer deny it. 
Some things will lie dormant for indefinite periods of time, eventually rising to the surface to no longer be rejected.

It appears this is what has finally happened to me, just as it did to both of them. Jeff and Bryan are published writers, with thousands of books sold. My two little eBooks may have garnered 50 sold over the course of three years. There’s a good reason for that which has nothing to do with the content. Finding a good book has as much to do with promotion as any other one thing. The best book in the world will never be read, if people can’t find it.

Like thousands of others I thought if I wrote it and put it on Amazon/Kindle, why it was there for the whole world to see. That’s true, along with how many millions of others? The ones that get noticed are those with a promo team behind them that starts months in advance of publication promoting the book. Lesson learned.

So for you reading this be aware there is a new voice emerging that intends to be heard. Only because there are those with a need, maybe even a desperate one, to be encouraged that they too have a voice that needs to be heard. Is that you?

Is There An Art To Writing Or Just A Heart?

20150212_104833For years I have been writing for me. In part because I never felt like cowing down to the “rules” so many insisted on when opportunities were available for online publications and such. Change is great in some things, and to be sure all things change and we with them whether we realize it or are completely unaware. Conscious knowledge of those events are normally a better bet than not.

Surprises are a different sort of change, which can be pleasant or otherwise, usually with less warning than the inevitable directional detours on new avenues and exchanges under construction.

When rules get involved, it seems as though the unspoken message, as it applies to writing, says I/we are not capable of creating something worthy to be read by the general public. Blogging has become extremely popular for just such a reason.

During the last few weeks a personal campaign has been started to just write. At the same time writing summits, books by published authors such as Guy Kawasaki, Nancy Hendrickson, Lisa Nichols, along with others, to gain perspective on whether or not I have anything to offer.

My heart first and foremost is to encourage others that have a desire to write but don’t believe they have anything to offer. How this is going to be accomplished is uncertain, other than to be willing to share how this has been a desire of mine, and how it has been fulfilled with the willingness to share the ups and downs, the trials and errors, along with the experience of two eBooks published that have basically gone nowhere.

I know I have something of value to share, especially that of encouragement. This will be even more piercing as the next book will be the one that finally makes it out there where hundreds, even thousands of people can’t wait to buy it.

June 18, 2016, is the date, and September 18th 2016 is when this next book will be out there. That is the intent and now it is in writing. Goals have never been something I have subscribed to. There was something about them, that never seemed genuine to me. Solving challenges is a different story. That seems to be what I rise up to. Give me a problem to solve and let’s see what happens.

Knowing what I have experienced with my writing, and that there are others like me who have felt the frustration of being made to feel that their writing was not good enough, will have the opportunity to see that the rules of editors determining what the populace wants to read just don’t apply anymore.

The theme for writers today is just write! Speak with your voice and not one determined by someone besides you. Our voice is genuine, original, has meaning, honesty, truth, with no manipulation by another. Readers will sense that and reward us with purchases that signal their approval. Their reviews solidify the acceptance that it’s a fact. We are writers with something of value to share.

Writing From The Heart Or Some Other Place!

Writing from the heart. Getting into those emotions with the intent to expose them is never as easy as it seems. Confrontation that exists between the cast your cares to the wind sensation, against those that make up reason, logic and common sense wage war.

The sense of baring ones inner being kept so well disguised demands removing that mask. Coming into that discomfort zone so carefully avoided feels like playing Russian roulette. Assurances of acceptance afterwards is not guaranteed.

Only the fearless need ever attempt showing true feelings. None indulge this on any regular basis. Tears are often shed to raise up that curtain of defense. Postponing what, for any chance of recovery, is sincerely required.

Yet release and lifted burden are priceless. Relief rushes in to take the place of futile attempts at ignoring truth. A personal prison where efforts to avoid freedom were the norm. Out of which songs, poems and novels are born.

Far easier is writing with fantasy in mind, where truth never has to be faced, and endings can be dark, light, or somewhere in between. Journeys are adventurous, exciting, even perilous, when not your own.

Even you, or I, create characters of escape replacing heroes who endure. Attempting to squeeze out words capable of drawing you into this mindset are among the most difficult. Simple, easy phrases resist acceptance while those which create more anxiety are favored.

The “why” almost demands an answer even knowing that being successful screams defeat. Where do you go when that time arrives? Rehearsal of well known oft repeated words hardly filled with sincerity form themselves for rebuttal.

So let’s go to the heart of the matter. Is hope seen to bypass this, these painful moments? Are delusions in store for those who try? How can this be ignored when it is such an integral occurrence in life?

I’m digging deep here. The attempt at relating to situations which are none of my making nor my concern. Still sensing the raw, ragged emotions that rise above the surface, revealing those infected, festering wounds forces acknowledgment.

Not theirs, but my own. How do I feel what is not mine to endure? With no anticipation of inviting myself to the party, I find myself a guest. That curtain of defense finds it’s way to the corners of my eyes on an all to regular basis. Why? It’s not my scenario, so how do my emotions get cranked up?

Is this what’s called empathy, sympathy, or entropy? Maybe dopy, however the fact remains along with the moisture from my eyes. In truth, for a man to have any feelings other than anger or something related to romance, is rare. That would be me. The rare part of course.

Showing those moments when that of vulnerability is most visible are frequent, which has the tendency to make others uncomfortable because they are unable to relate.

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Yet there are as may spaces where none of this is evident, usually occurring behind the steering wheel.

Are You In The Now, Or Not Now?

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The sweet lure of memories nearly represents the “Siren Songs” attributed to Mermaids, as it draws us back into pleasurable moments, with the desire to relive them even more fully in the now! So clearly etched in mind, recording the smallest detail.

Heart, mind and spirit refuse to acknowledge time, requiring the moment to be suspended like a lingering thought, floating in limbo with a strangely familiar flavor. You can taste memories. Did you know that? Some are ultra-sweet, while others remain bland or sour.

Now has no memory, full of surprises, twists and turns. Each presents itself with no apparent fanfare, challenging the ability to respond with abandon to a greater force. Those choosing to be in the moment are unaware of time, tasting the new essence of life as it unveils itself like the petals of a rose in bloom.

There is a magnetism to experience each morsel passing, sucking the last droplet leaving nothing to waste. No routines present themselves as this depends on the past. Thoughts powerfully explode creating visions of desire, which then reveal themselves in the next moments.

Many aimlessly wander into the endless quagmire of memories, unconscious of the elixir of the now. Absentmindedness rules that the exact experience they most desire to recall was the present at one point. What has become blurred is that being in the moment is what dwelling in the past is trying to resurrect!

Constant moves forward into the known and unknown infuse the spirit with unquenchable fire. Mind, body and heart are constantly rejuvenated by the continued journey. Weariness becomes energy as weakness creates strength. Focus constantly refines direction as signposts remain non-existent. Life is completely exhausted, reborn inside each subsequent moment.

Beauty, colors, aromas, experiences are original, unique, belonging to that instance never to be completely the same. Words inaccurately attempt description. Thoughts clearly reveal with preciseness yet have no vocabulary.

Music, woven together with spirit inspires the moment with each rendition in complete defiance of the past. Phrases multiply with unparalleled feeling, moving beyond limitations of definitions.

Memories are the hiding place for those who relinquish the power of the present. Waiting for an ending opposed to constant beginnings. Each day not only births a renewal of time, but multitudes on new moments which in turn give life to now!

The treasure chest containing those golden moments of yesterday, grow dim compared to the undiscovered gems hidden inside now’s next segment. Eyes may lose clarity while thoughts do not. Life lives now, slowly dying while starving immersed within memories.

Ahh…what temptation attracts us to linger, unconscious of impending ends. Encouraging are those refusing but to begin. Reluctant whimpers sound aloud heard from those uninspired. Too much effort complain all those of whom it is required. Eyes bright toward the newest are those bold, with vigor in their hearts. Ever ready with expectancy, never refusing to depart.

A diversion we call memories seems to many a necessary must. When it’s likely these are the ones who have finally grown up! Those in the present don’t mark the passing of time. Youthful mindset is their prize.

Is Your Life A Good Story Or A Tale Of Woe?

Is Your Life A Good Story Or A Tale Of Woe?

I’ve lived a fair share of a hard life. I did my share of killing in Vietnam, and have seen too many people die in and out of conflicts. There have been occasions where I lied, cheated and stole. I could say it was to live, but that would be another lie. I did those things because I could, and believed it would make a difference. It did, but not what I thought.

There was never a time when I believed I was smart, because all the messages to me were that I was a no good s.o.b. and would never amount to anything. Everything was an effort to prove it wasn’t true. For many years I set out unconsciously on a path destined to fulfill that prophecy. I nearly succeeded.

There have been a few surprises in life, such as the discovery that I was smart, more so than I imagined. Still, it never really took hold because the more negative messages usually shouted it down. I held on to the idea that somehow I would survive from youth, and that was the sole effort of my existence. Some of that still carries over to today.

The turning point for me came in Ecuador. It was here that discovery of what God really meant in my life came full face. From that point on life has been different, yet far from perfect. Still I have always claimed that in Ecuador, I began to live life for the first time.

This by no means is a memoir, or even a small portion of what my life is about. As a writer, there may come a time when I am ready to write all those chapters of my life, but it doesn’t feel like that’s going to be anytime soon.

Recently while taking part in what i will call a “writers clinic,” some encouragement was offered to another in terms of what to write. The comment was made that there are so many incidents in life that there should be no end of themes to write on. Themes are also known as “prompts.”

The definition of a writers prompt by dailywritingtips is  “simply a topic around which you start jotting down ideas. The prompt could be a single word, a short phrase, a complete paragraph or even a picture, with the idea being to give you something to focus upon as you write.”

 With that thought in mind I made the comment on this writers page, “life is a prompt.” And so it is.

Whether it deals with being the only senior in my class with enough gumption to scale the water tower in our small town. Painting our class numbers on it as was the tradition for many years, yet none had dared and school was near an end.

Accepting a stupid dare during one Halloween foray, by one of the least daring of our school, to pour black Testors Model Car paint on a brand new Ford, or holding a live bullet over a candle to see what would happen. That ended with a piece of shrapnel from the casing in my little finger.

Car wrecks, speeding tickets, suspended drivers license, being arrested for a malicious misdemeanor, are just the tip of the iceberg. All are fantastic prompts for some good stories, and you can bet several have been written.

Forest Gump said it. Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. While Whitman’s Samplers may have a variety of flavors and fillings, it can’t hold a candle to the varieties life offers.

My life could have been a tale of woe. I choose to believe it was never intended to be. All the incidents that have been part and parcel of this adventure are just that. Events that lead to the next chapter with little clue of what lies ahead.

How absolutely boring it would be to know what each minute of every day would bring forth. Many strive for that, determined to control each and every moment. Some seem to succeed, at the cost of truly missing out on life. Because while they feel in control, many of the chances to live life to the fullest are shoved away, because it seems to be attached to a risk of the unknown.

There are moments in my life that I would never want to repeat, but in truth the experiences have been priceless. To survive death in the space of an instant, while delivering a fatal blow to an enemy. Living life normally afterwards without being besieged by guilt or constant images of the event. Wondering all the “what if’s?” I don’t have to, because I know why and how it happened.

Broken toe, fractured wrist, concussion, malaria, hepatitis, infectious disease, and so much more. All prompts for writing. Were I a little more daring there are many incidents such as disappearing donut boxes on my paper route deliveries, or midnight rides on my bike to see my girlfriend 10 miles away!

Music is a huge source of inspiration for me. It is being used to do creative spontaneous writing of poetry put to musical backgrounds. it’s by no means new, but it is for me. See one at the end of this post.

Any of those topics pique your interest? There’s a least one that does and that is the point. For aspiring writers this is a great example of where to find themes to write about. Your life, and every life is a prompt. If not yours then anothers.

So if the question ever comes up as to your life being a good story or a tale of woe, either way it’s a story.

 

Are You An Encourager Or Discourager?

You tend to spend a great deal of time pointing out others mistakes. You feel justified in showing your ability to observe and spot where the problem is. The downcast expression when you approach someone confuses you. Why should they feel that way when you are helping correct their performance?

Ah, there may be the answer. Was any correction offered, or just the critique? It’s easy to see the splinter in anothers eye, completely ignoring the log in my own. Wise words and true. This I must address to myself and no other, for I find myself both accused and guilty.

How easy is it to see anothers mistake? I have no idea what the percentages are, but I’d say it’s even more difficult to see my own. I’m making this personal because it is one of those “blind sports” for me. We all have them but yours is something you have to see for yourself.

There are legions of people all too ready to let me know when I screw up. I suppose it feels justifiable to me to return the favor. It’s entirely likely that my efforts are geared to do them one better. Why is that?

Ego. Lack of self esteem. The constant need to prove self worth and value. This in a world and cultural environment where so many that surround you are addicted to negative input. Most are unwilling or unable to see the good and positive, because it’s not popular, doesn’t get any attention, and the negative is easier to find.

For me most often it is a conversation starter until I catch myself doing it. I would be the first to condemn such actions. That of constantly focusing on the negative, yet I am not without fault. Ordinarily I would present myself as a positive person, because that’s the way I want to be seen.

However the truth is a different matter, as far as how others see me, who know me best. Those who meet me for the first time are generally moved to think I am that positive, energetic, take action person. Two of the three would be on the money. It’s that one that tends to work against me, and the one I work on the least.

Outside of the home front, I tend to be more on guard against wallowing in that negative mindset, and am the first to speak up against any conversation headed in that direction. That is of course unless it’s on a topic I feel strongly about, and then it seems all bets are off along with the “kid gloves!”

Recently I have been involved in a writing clinic of sorts, with the focus on encouraging writers both old and new to develop a daily writing habit. In the process many post their challenges, obstacles, mind blocks and the like on this Face Book site.

What I love are the numbers of other writers that offer encouragement, as it rubs off on me, prompting me to do likewise. The more positive comments received from those who feel encouraged is like an elixir. It simply creates that desire to do more. The challenge for me will be to figure out how to get more of that elixir! The answer really is simple. What goes around comes around! The more I encourage the more I will be encouraged. Out of that can develop a habit.

Have I learned a lesson here? Time is the ultimate judge of that. As long as desire results in determination to change, eventually that becomes a habit. It is no longer a conscious effort. Let it be so in me. The encouraging factor is I have seen that part of me and accept it as true. Equally strong is the intent to change. In the end, action speaks louder than anything else. I want my actions to ROAR! Want to roar with me?

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Do You Just Listen To The Music Or Do You Hear It?

Someone is talking, but are the words going in one ear and out the other? Are those words just so much verbiage to be deposited in the ether with no where to land? What gets the attention other than some drastic event, motion or sound? All those sounds floating around with nowhere to go, or is there?

I don’t know the answer to that question, as it just occurs to me to ask it. The thoughts of an overstimulated creative mind. No, stimulants have not come into play here so use of the aforementioned may have caused those curious minds to wonder, therefore clarification given.

Music comes back to me as something I have ignored. It will not give up it’s patient, relentless pursuit of me, and I think at last I finally understand that. How it intends to manifest itself in, through and with me seems destined to unfold in ways still mysterious.

There seems to be a leading towards combining that with writing, or even spoken. This may be a fulfillment for a desire to use all those elements of personal communication meaning voice, recording and video.

Years ago poet Rod McKuen and Anita Kerr collaborated on his poetry and her musical experience to produce a three part series titled The Earth, The Sea, The Sky. McKuen spoke his poetry to the sounds of the San Sebastian Strings, all composed, arranged and conducted by Anita Kerr.

How well I remember listening, hearing and feeling something so very different from lyrics sang by any vocalist. I found myself to far more moved, and touched deeper in my being than with many other songs.

I wanted to do this. There was no doubt in me that this was something yearning to get out. The ways and means then compared to now were not nearly as available.

Over the last many years a number of my efforts have been successful creating videos, and voice overs, using many of the available musical sound bites.

These days there exists a large number of musical recordings that are now public domain. So there really is nothing preventing me from finally giving release to this urging, desire, that challenges me to pay attention.

So adding a compilation to this blog, may just be the first of more to come. Let’s see what happens next!