Tag Archives: writing lifestyle

12 Months of Somedays

As I think about my plan of tackling a “someday” every month for a year, I realize I’ve created something similar to the 12 Days of Christmas where each day something new is added and all become cumulative.  Day One:  Partridge in a Pear Tree.  Day Two:  Two Turtle Doves AND a Partridge in a Pear Tree.  For me it’s Month One:  Daily Writing Practice.  Month Two:  Daily Meditation Practice AND Daily Writing Practice.  Next month I’ll be adding in the physical challenge of a daily four mile walk/run and it goes on from there.  I see myself at the end of the year getting up in the morning and spending the first four hours writing, meditating, walking, playing the drums (I’ll need to save that until everyone else in the house is awake), practicing Italian, etc.  This could become crazy.

I have always said “Embrace the Crazy”.  Many have said my family and I lead crazy, busy lives.  But additional craziness isn’t really on my “someday” list.  Perhaps my 366 Somedays only seems a prescription for crazy.  Perhaps it is the route to sanity…wait, would that mean my life is already crazy?

Sigh.  What a year this is shaping up to be.

Too Much Mr. Ed

People yak-it-ti-yak a streak
and waste your time of day,
but Mister Ed will never speak,
unless he has something to say.
“Mr. Ed” theme song
Written by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans

Today is the final day of my first “someday”. My goal was to write and publish a non-fiction book in 30 days. I’ve already acknowledged I didn’t make my goal, but I’m not calling it a failure. I will continue to work on my book and it will be published within 366 days of when I started. The month has not been a waste. I have learned two very important lessons this month, which is why I’m not calling this a failure.

First, as I’ve written about before, this challenge was a lot harder than I expected. That’s okay as long as I don’t let the difficulty completely derail me – and I won’t. Second, I’ve come to realize I am Mr. Ed in my writing practice. Mr. Ed was a 1960s sitcom featuring a talking horse. Crazy, I know, and not up to the standards of today’s “sophisticated” sitcoms, but I loved this show. As you can see from the theme song above, Mr. Ed only spoke when he had something to say. That’s how I write – only when I have something to say. I’m reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg; she recommends having a writing practice that includes regular writing of any type just for the sake of writing. She makes the analogy of a football team. Nobody would expect a team to run out on the field on game day and play a superlative game without prior practice. So, why expect to sit down and write with quality without practicing writing beforehand? I have trouble with writing for the sake of writing, but I’ve realized this month, I need to do more of that type of writing. Writing just for myself, whatever comes into my mind, just to get myself into the habit of regular writing.

So, my takeaways from this month are: stay the course, even though I’m behind schedule; and, unlike Mr. Ed, I need to write…and write…and write. I need to write more yak-it-ti-yak.

The Shitty First Draft

My initial goal for the month of November, my first “someday”, and the WNFIN challenge, was to write and e-publish a non-fiction book in 30 days.  Now, one week before the end of 30 days, I’ve revised my goal.  Instead of getting the book all the way through publication, I am now aiming at completing the “Shitty First Draft”.  This is quite a shortfall from where I had hoped to be, but I’m okay with the adjustment.  Writing the book has been much more challenging than I expected.  The length alone makes it a totally different type of writing style than what I have been accustomed to.  Then there’s the storytelling aspect – again, quite different.  I have gone from believing I’d write straight through from the Introduction to the final chapter, to writing a hodgepodge of ideas and stories that are only partly related to my initial outline.  Hence, the Shitty First Draft.

In Bird by Bird Anne Lamont urges writers to embrace the shitty first draft claiming it can lead to clarity and even brilliance in the second and third drafts.  Ernest Hemingway claimed, “The first draft of anything is shit.”  Instead of letting my perfectionism and ego rule how I feel about the shortfall of my goal this first month, I’m going to look at this experience and know I’m in good company.  However, I’m not going to say I’ll finish the book Someday – that would be counterintuitive to the point of my 366 Somedays challenge.  Instead, I will commit that it will be done by Day 366 – hopefully significantly sooner.  On to the second draft…

“Writing is an adventure.”

–Winston Churchill

The Enemy of Soul

I haven’t yet told anyone except my husband the topic of the non-fiction book I’m working on this month for my first “someday” and during the WNFIN challenge, but I’m revealing it now.  My book is about marriage and how to do it right.  My husband and I married when we were only 19-years-old (too young to get married), but we’ve been very happily married for 38 years and I think we’ve done a lot of things right along the way.  So, I want to share our experience.  I’d love for every married or long-term committed couple to have what we have; to know what we now know.  But remember back to one of my first entries about “Resistance”?  Well, Resistance is back and it’s talking smack to me.  “You’re not a marriage expert.  You don’t know enough to tell people how to be married.  Hell, you’re not even a writer!”

I’m not one to crawl back in my hole, but I must admit to giving Resistance’s resistance a bit of a listen.  My project has stalled and I realized this morning the stall has been caused by Resistance.  So, once again, it’s time to smack Resistance upside the head and get back to what my soul is telling me to do.  Yes, it’s true:  Resistance does not live in one’s soul.  Resistance is the opposite of soul.  Resistance is the enemy of soul.

Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.

–Anne Sexton

Fuel for the Brain

This weekend marked the halfway point in my first monthly “someday”.  During the month of November, I am participating in a challenge to write and complete a work of nonfiction (WNFIN).  On this halfway point weekend, I decided to do something contrary:  instead of writing, I read.

2015 has been a year of transitions for me.  My husband and I bought a company in a different town.  He’s actively engaged in the company and is spending part of each week in that town.  In order to make his commute shorter, and to complete a long held dream, we moved from the home where we’ve raised our family to a dream home four hours away.  We have one child left at home, a high school senior, who has moved with us.  The move has dragged on for months.  The old house is not yet ready to put on the market.  It’s been a crazy year.  To compensate for my lack of time, I’ve pretty much given up reading.  Then, with the beginning of my yearlong personal challenge on November 1st, reading took a seat even farther back in the bus of my life.  This weekend, I remedied that by reading.

I realized, while I love to think ideas through in my head until they’re ready to put into readable words, I also crave the influx of ideas and knowledge I get from reading.  Reading is a fuel for my brain and creativity and cannot take a back seat to writing, cleaning, moving, or any other task I come up with to banish it to a low priority need.

“Reading is fuel for the brain.  Writing is fuel for the spirit…"
                                         –Megan S. Johnston

I need both!

Let the Spinning Wheel Fly — December’s Sneak Peek

Blood, Sweat & Tears’ song Spinning Wheel has been spinning around in my head since I woke up this morning.  At first I thought there was nothing in the lyrics that is particularly relevant to me, but my husband pointed out it’s actually quite relevant.

Did you find the directing sign
On the straight and narrow highway

I’ve planned out what I will do for the coming year in order to harness all those ideas and dreams floating around in my wish list – I’m heading down the straight and narrow highway.

I thought the song was in my head simply because I have so much stuff spinning around in my brain.  Working on writing my book plus journaling the process through this blog has meant ideas are constantly spinning ‘round.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I do a lot of thinking prior to writing.  I’m finding that trying to write a book, not just a short blog post, means I’m almost always thinking about my topic.  I feel my brain isn’t getting much rest and I’m not thinking about much else.

My December “someday”, in contrast, is going to be to learn about meditation and begin a meditation practice.

Drop all your troubles by the riverside
Ride a painted pony, let the spinning wheel fly

Yes, I guess the song is relevant and, yes, my brain will be ready for December!

Time & Space

I’ve been writing regularly for almost eight years.  During that time, I estimate 95% of my writing has been done before the sun comes up.  This month, while I’m tackling my first “someday”, write a non-fiction book in 30 days, I have found I need to write at other times as well.  Part of the issue has been this blog because I write here first and the book writing gets pushed to a later time.  Writing by the light of day – interesting idea.

Prior to November 1st when my “someday” project began, I worked at prepping my office/studio so I could write there.  We moved recently and my space is the last to be organized.  It still isn’t completely organized, but it does have a comfy chair with a table beside it.  Still, here I am, writing in the living room.

I guess the takeaway is it really doesn’t matter where I write or when I write.  If I want this “someday” to happen, I just need TO WRITE!

I’m writing a book.  I’ve got the page numbers done.
                                            –Steven Wright

Pings & Zings

I’ve always thought I would be a writer.  I’m not sure why the English Department at the University of Oregon didn’t agree with that assessment when I took a writing test to challenge a required writing course.  That’s okay, though, I learned a lot in that class that later helped me with the professional writing I did as part of my job as a bank trust officer.  But that type of writing isn’t the type I always imagined myself doing.  Neither do I see myself as a novelist.  I’m a real world type of person and the idea of creating a make believe world is simply beyond my comprehension.  Even when I read novels, I frequently find myself disbelieving the events, actions, and plot lines.

I’ve always thought I have somewhat unique insights about life and human interaction, so I’ve always thought I would write about them.  The thing about writing is, when I’ve worked a thought over in my mind and managed to transfer it from pings and zings inside my brain to a readable format, I feel great.  I get a feeling of release and satisfaction.  However, getting from pings and zings to readable doesn’t just happen.  It’s work.  Sometimes it’s easier to just let my brain skate along, not worrying about what to do with the pings and zings.  I’m feeling that way now.  Why did I sign up for this writing challenge?  Why did I announce it to the world?  Sorting out the pings and zings is so HARD!  I keep reminding myself about Dr. Seuss’ mountain in the quote from my first post, Hello Inspiration!  I don’t want to skate; I want to climb that mountain.  I want to write this book.  I want to harness those pings and zings.

Writing is thinking and thinking is hard work.
                               --Lewis Black

Prepare to Plow Your Field

My “someday” for November is to participate in Write Non-fiction in November (WNFIN).  The challenge is to spend the month writing and completing a non-fiction work.  My challenge did not begin with November 1st, however.  Once I decided to accept this challenge, I began preparing.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
                                       –Abraham Lincoln

For me, part of preparing to write is to think – a lot.  I often know exactly what I will write before I sit down to put words on the page.  So, in preparing for this challenge, I thought about my topic.  I also searched the internet for ideas on how to accomplish the challenge of writing daily for a month and actually finishing a book.  I read transcripts of interviews, watched videos, took notes, and I thought.

The thing about thinking is, even though it does require some brain-quiet and a little dedication, it is relatively easy.  I can think while working out.  I can think while cleaning the kitchen.  I can think pretty much anywhere.  But in order to get something done, the thinking has to move to doing.

“You can’t plow a field by simply turning it over in your mind.”
                                          –Gordon B. Hinckley

I am now off to plow my field.

Resistance be Damned

There are seven days in a week and someday is not one of them.

November is a busy month.  In addition to having two national holidays, November is also National Adoption Month (a recognition near and dear to my heart), No Shave November (which I just learned is a way to raise cancer awareness since many cancer patients lose their hair), and it’s also the month of two writing challenges:  NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and WNFIN (Write Non-fiction in November) aka NaNonFiWriMo (National Non-fiction Writing Month).  That’s a mouthful!

I began writing in earnest seven years ago with the launch of my blog, Debbie Does 50!  At first I wrote several days a week, then my writing became less and less frequent to the point where I haven’t really been writing at all this past year.  I knew I needed to get back to writing regularly.  I like what writing does for me personally and I have things to say.  I knew I needed to set aside time in my day to write and to organize my writing if I was ever to actually write a book – something I have always thought I’d do someday.

A couple months ago I started receiving information about WNFIN and my interest was piqued.  Perhaps this was the impetus I needed to get my fingers back on the keyboard.  I spent several weeks rolling the idea around in my head and having multiple conversations with myself about my writing abilities (or lack thereof), my available time (or lack thereof), and general naysaying (of which there was a great deal).  We all have these conversations with ourselves (at least I hope I’m not the only one talking to myself inside my head).  I recently listened to the book Do the Work by Steven Pressfield.  He refers to the other half of these conversations as “Resistance”.  Let me just say, Resistance was alive and well in my brain, but I’m a strong person and after much discussion, I put Resistance in its place and signed up for WNFIN.

November has 30 days.  For me, someday is one of them.  Someday is Now!

Tomorrow:  Gearing up for WNFIN