Reason you aren’t writing #1

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I’m sure your days are full (otherwise, that book or writing project would be finished by now, yes?).

Let’s think of ways to build writing time into your busy life.

But first, I have two requests.

1) Please avoid putting pressure on yourself to write every day. If it isn’t possible, it simply isn’t possible. And getting two pages each week is better than no pages, right?Take some time to think about how you spend your days. When do you wake up? When do you go to bed? What do you do in between those times? If you have a job and/or a family, chances are, there are plenty of other people wanting and needing your time.

2) Please don’t put yourself last on the list! As you read in the Intro to Writing Through the Body™ eBook (and if you haven’t, sign up for my email list and it’s my gift to you), Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who coined the term and concept of flow, says—in a nutshell—when we achieve flow, we experience happiness. So—in the interest of your happiness—please stop viewing writing as a luxury or a frivolous desire that you’ll fit in after all the “important” items on your To Do List have been taken care of.

I know from experience that that day will never come if YOU
don’t make it a priority.

You must make a point of privileging your writing
and sharing your brilliant ideas with the world.

Of course, your job or your clients need your attention, as do your important relationships, and if you have kids of a certain age, they still need your help, BUT there are ways to make time to honor the gems in your fabulous, creative brain, extract them, and transform them into stories and characters that will touch people, affect people, and create positive change in the world.

Which brings me to Time Banking.

Time Banking is like saving money, only with time.

First, track how you spend your time for at least TWO DAYS (a week is even better). Be as exact as possible. If your life doesn’t allow a minute-to-minute accounting of your days, get as close to 15-minute segments as possible. Pay attention to the amount of time you spend cooking, doing dishes, taking care of other people, phone conversations, watching TV/Netflix/YouTube, social media, at the job, driving, etc.

Then, begin to sort out which items are absolutely essential, and which are not.

For instance, a few suggestions:

1) If you’re spending a fair amount of time cooking every day, how can you cut down on that time? Can you do bulk cooking on the weekends and store it for use all week? Can someone else at home take care of clean-up throughout the week?

2) If you find yourself mindlessly sucked into Facebook, Instagram, or some other social media platform on a regular basis, give yourself an allowance. As with changing any habit, if we attempt to go cold turkey, it usually backfires. So… allow yourself your indulgences, but plan for them: 3 times per day, 5-10 mins. each time. That’s a total of 15-30 mins. FOMO be damned! Your life will be no less rich if you miss a few random posts. Promise. (In fact, it might be richer if you do.)

3) If you watch a lot of TV, Netflix, YouTube, or some other such outlet (I know I do), shorten the amount of time each day, or allow yourself a one- or two-hour viewing session 3-4 times per week. Or avoid watching all week and indulge in a little binge watching over the weekend. Set a pre-determined amount of time and stick to it! Set a timer if necessary. It will always be there…

4) Do you have a friend or family member who likes to call you and strike up lengthy phone conversations just to shoot the breeze, gossip, or complain? If so, ask yourself if this is truly a good use of your time. Think of all the writing you could be doing, all the words and ideas you could be unloading in the time this uses. If this is one of your time stealers, do what you can to enlist your friend’s/family member’s support in helping you realize your writing dreams. (If they care about you, they won’t want to continue to abuse your time this way.)

Then, after you’ve accounted for all your time and deconstructed your days, reconstruct it.

Make a plan to wake up at least 30 mins. earlier. It’s AMAZING what a quiet house can do for still-fuzzy morning brain. (For some people, this is the BEST time to write.) Or if you’re a night person, stay up at least 30 mins. later, after everyone has gone to bed. If you can’t do this every day, schedule it for 2-3 days/week. As I’ve said before, something is better than nothing. And when your brain gets accustomed to its new schedule…

Magic will unfold.

Then… head over to the closed Writing Through the Body™ Writers Group and let us know what changes you made. Let us know how it’s going after a week, two weeks, or more…

Note: This is not a way to check up on you… it’s a way to celebrate your successes!

I’m pulling for you. I want you to write! And any change or progress you make—no matter how small it might seem to you—will be a gold star in my book!

Sending you mad writing mojo…

How understanding the crown chakra will improve your writing

Believe it or not, your characters’ spiritual lives have a big impact on their stories, whether that’s part of the plotline or not. Just as with we humans, our characters have spiritual beliefs – or not – that inform their motivations and decisions in life. In religion, this is called the eschatology of a belief system: what we think happens to us when we die, whether or not we believe in karma, how we view humanity’s purpose in this life, or whether we believe in past lives.

Even if we don’t embrace any of these beliefs, the fact that we don’t also influences our day-to-day motivations and decisions.

It’s easy to by-pass this part of our characters’ development, but it’s essential, I think. Whether your character is a mystic or an atheist, a Buddhist or a Baptist, their belief system – or lack thereof – has everything to do with their movement through life and their story world.

After you’ve gotten clear about a character’s inner world, as we do when using the Third Eye Chakra, go one step further and think about the character’s connection (or not) to a higher power. This higher power can be anything – even their own sense of inner wisdom. Or their meditation practice. Or their love of literature. Their daily hike. Or their daily cocktail. It doesn’t have to be overtly religious or spiritual.

Understanding our characters to this degree can help us portray their complexities in deeply moving and complex ways. And this is the very quality our stories need to have if we want them to stay with readers long after they’ve put our work down.

What is the source of your character’s higher power, and how does it inform her/his way of moving in the world?

Kate Spade – stories behind the stories

I know this is a little “late,” but there’s something about Kate Spade’s suicide… I just needed some time.

I really felt it on June 6 when I learned about her passing at her own hand. I have no deep connection to her. I don’t own one of her bags, and I really didn’t know anything about her or her company until I listened to the interview with her and her husband, Andy, on the podcast How I Built This a while back.

As a gritty, motivated entrepreneur, I listen to the podcast religiously. I find it inspirational, and so many of the stories I’ve heard there have inspired me to keep going and to believe that I, too, can build something notable, meaningful.

Kate and Andy Spade’s interview stayed with me. There was something about how they were together, and something about her, in particular, stuck. She had style. There was a sense of calm in her voice and an assured knowledge she possessed as a businesswoman.

The conversation with them created an image in my mind of their life, of her, of them together, and so when I read about her suicide, I was surprised. And saddened.

The precision, the class, the style of her products – of her presence… she brought a certain upscale sparkle to the world. She reminded us that aesthetics matter, that they aren’t frivolous, but necessities of life. Because when we surround ourselves with beautiful things – not for the sake of materialism, but because beauty touches us – our lives are enhanced, and our souls and spirits respond for the good.

Her passing – and the soon-after passing of Anthony Bourdain – made me think of the snapshots we have of each other’s lives. The way we see snippets that we think inform us of the whole of a person, when, in fact, what we know is really only a sliver of their world, much the way photographs work.

The still moment caught by an onlooker, the smiles, the seemingly joyous moments in life that may have been real in that isolated moment, are oftentimes a miniscule glimpse of the real story that lies beneath.

Like so many others, Kate Spade led two distinct lives. The one for the “camera” and the full one… the one embroidered in the variegated emotional colors of humanity striving to do its best, while feeling alone, deserted, desolate.

My fascination with the human condition and with human stories compels me to care about Kate Spade. About her husband, and now, especially, about her daughter. I want to know who Kate Spade was, what she was like, and I want to know about her struggles. I want to know her family. I want to know the woman behind the name change that came not long before she left this plane of existence.

Not in a voyeuristic or intrusive sort of way, but because I crave to hear, understand, and embrace the human condition and all its dark, messy – even dirty – corners… those places where the truth hides… the truths we hide from others and from ourselves.

And it makes me acutely aware that I need to check in on the people I care about regularly and ask them how they are… not in a passing sort of way but in a real way… no, how are you, really? Are you suffering? Can I help? Are you happy? About what? I want the details…

No doubt Kate Spade had people in her life who were concerned about her, and even though they may have reached out – even though we can reach out daily to the people we love – it’s no guarantee that we can stop them from doing what they’re going to do.

But we can form a bond with them based on real human connection. A bond that reverberates between worlds, between realms, and can maybe, possibly, serve as a healing balm in times of loss.

How understanding the third eye chakra will improve your writing

Getting inside our characters’ heads can feel second-nature to us writers, and oftentimes, we gravitate to stream-of-consciousness or interior monologues. This can work – as William Faulkner showed us with The Sound and the Fury (although the novel’s success was delayed… and I found it unreadable, but I digress). However, we need to ask ourselves what we want to accomplish with this kind of invasion to our characters’ minds.

Showing our readers all the troubled, angry, tired, sad, fragile, and destructive thoughts in our characters’ minds is most definitely a way to connect them with and help them empathize with characters. And the way we do that can mean success or failure.

After we’ve gotten clear with our characters’ voices – as discussed with the Throat Chakra – we can explore their Third Eye Chakra, which is the seat of intuition. What do they know, without a doubt? (We typically think of this as a “gut-level” response to life; however, it starts here, in the Third Eye Chakra, a somewhat ethereal part of us that defies “rational” human thought.)

Whether our characters trust their intuition or not is one thing, and the way we portray that intuition is another. We run interior monologues all the time. This is how we sort out life. We run through a multitude of scenarios, trying on all the “what-ifs” for each one.

What our characters think, HOW they think (stream of consciousness, more understandable broken thoughts, or pretend conversations), and what they do with those thoughts informs not just our readers about how to interpret their stories, but us, the writers of those stories, as well.

How do your characters’ thoughts align – or not – with their desires and motivations, and what does this tell you about their ability to make decisions?

Border stories – helplessness and hopelessness

Every day, I’m appalled, disheartened, and sickened by the glimpses of stories I see in the news about families being separated at the border.

A large part of me resists even looking, but I can’t help but see the headlines, images, and videos when I get on social media to take care of business.

To resist – to turn a blind eye – feels wrong, yet reading, watching, and listening, leaves me feeling helpless and hopeless. It’s like watching your house burn to the ground and know that the raging flames are bigger than you and all the other people who’ve gathered to try and put out the fire.

I think about the stories. The stories of the families, the parents, the kids – some babies – and the enduring consequences these separations bring to them, their cultures, and our culture. These separations have set in motion the ripple effects of broken spirits and smothered souls that will reverberate far, far into the future.

The ignorance of the powers that be around trauma and separation are astounding – they clearly don’t see the deeply damaging impact of their actions. Or they don’t care.

It’s likely both.

I find myself fantasizing. I want to tell these border stories. I want to tell all of them. I want to meet these families and individuals, talk to them, and tell their stories. I want to put their faces and voices, sadness and heartbreak, dread and trauma front and center…

And then I think about how the impossibility of one single person without the means to make that a reality stands in the way. And I think about how it wouldn’t likely make a difference because we are in a state of such upheaval and disrepair, that any form of retribution on those who have created this atrocity – and continue to nurture it – as well as all the other atrocities that continue to unfold, feel beyond impossible.

And I feel helpless and hopeless all over again.

I don’t know the point of this post, other than to say that I feel this way. I don’t think I’m alone, but it sure feels that way.