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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If you read my blog post from last week Is the Pursuit of Writing Excellence to be Enjoyed and then hop over to some of my friends blogs like Rosslyn Elliott, Are You Fast Enough For Your Deadline?, and Mike Dellosso, The Contract: Blessing or Curse? you might see why I'm so preoccupied with the need for sleep. This is not an easy road even though we all love it. Writing to deadline is very challenging. So as a way of meeting that challenge we all need to evaluate how sleep plays into what we are or are not creating.

We all need sleep. There's days I wish I didn't have to sleep because there is so much to be done, but sooner or later the mind and body call me to sleep. Of course I try to cheat my need for sleep now and then by drinking my coffee. Read this article on Caffeine and Sleep Is it worth it?
I'm currently blessed to be on an eight week break from the college where I work. I've rediscovered that I'm not a morning person. I've tried and tried to become one without success. I'd love to be able to get up at five am and write, walk, and wonder how I did that, but I've never been very good at keeping that schedule for more than a couple of days. What I have discovered is that I get most of my writing done in the afternoon and the evening. So I'm finally coming to terms with that. But now that I'm on break I'm staying up till one and two o'clock in the morning. Not good. Not for me anyway. I'm going to pay the price when I return to my day job unless I start adjusting that schedule as I get closer to returning to my counseling position.

You all know how much better you feel when you have enough sleep. I'm a full-time counselor for nursing students and I'm a writer, wife, and mom. If I don't get enough sleep I don't function to the best of my ability in any of these roles. Yet there are times when I push past my need for sleep which typically leads to getting sick.
It seems that many are sleep deprived today and that's why I want to challenge you to study up on the importance of sleep and encourage you and your families to get enough rest. These Sleep Facts may help you sort things out.

Some of us deal with insomnia and others with sleep apnea. Some of us can't sleep because our spouses are snoring or our spouses can't sleep because we are snoring. Others take medicine to help them sleep and some have no problems getting to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping try listening to The Music Box Lullaby

And then there are more dangers behind the wheel with those of us who don't get enough sleep.

Sleep Deprivation Risks: 1 in 20 Fall Asleep at Wheel, CDC SaysMore Than One-Third of Americans Say They Get Fewer Than 7 Hours of Sleep a Night

Unhealthy Sleep Habits This segment aired on ABC World News last night (3/3/11).

I wish our entire country would just take naps in the afternoon at work. Wouldn't that be nice? So when is the last time that you took a nap, had trouble sleeping, or just wished you could capture some more zzzzzzz's?  

Proverbs 3:24 ESV reminds us: If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

I'm adding this video link on 6/30/11 about the positions we sleep in and our personalities. :) Sleep personality What's yours?

If you could have an extra 24 hours added to your week for just this week, how would you spend it? What hours of the day do you write best? If you're not a writer, what hours of the day are you most productive?

Wishing you wonderful nights of sweet summer slumber.

Is The Pursuit of Writing Excellence a Journey to be Enjoyed?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. How can I do my best and keep loving what I do? My first novel has been available for a bit more than a month now. I wrote the very best novel I could at the time. I've done the best I can to market the baby and will continue to do so. We all know how much time can be spent on line promoting our work, building our platforms, hoping that the elusive something makes a difference and that we don't disappoint our readers, our publishers, agents, and so on. I've about driven myself bonkers this last year trying to do everything well. More than once recently I've been hearing others talk about the importance of writing a good book and not stressing so much about the rest. That doesn't mean we ignore our part in marketing our own books, but there's a choice to be made about how far you want to take it. There are some great conversations going on out there on blogs. Here's just a few of the ones that have hit home to me lately.  See if you can relate to any of them.

  1. The Reality of Book Promotion posted by Jordan Dane at The Killzone.
  2. The Best and Worst Writing Advice posted by Michelle Gagnon at The Killzone.
  3. Ten Commandments for the Happy Writer posted by Nathan Bransford in 2009.
  4. What's Your Speed? posted by Tess Gerritsen in April 2011.
  5. The Gift of Insecurity posted by Rachelle Gardner.
When all is said and done I want to be a writer that turns out quality work time after time. I want a long and satisfying writing career. I realize that everyone won't always love my work and that each reader has expectations that I may not always live up to, but I'll always do the best I can. It's part of who I am. So after allowing fear to suck away part of my writing week I'm now getting my head on right. I'm focusing on what I need to do; one of those things will be to post Nathan Bransford's blog post near my computer and go back and read some of these other posts from time to time when the going gets tough.

So what do you think? Is the pursuit of writing excellence a journey to be enjoyed? Is it possible to maintain after publication? How do you plan to approach your writing journey? What's your path look like?

Facing Monsters Under Our Beds, In Our Closets, and in Our Dreams

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I've been revisiting the old fear monsters lately. I didn't want to; they just sort of crept up on me.

I’ve wrestled with different types of fear my entire life. My parents separated when I was six. I had nightmares until I was in college related to the fear that many kids believe, and that’s that they are somehow responsible for the break up of their parents. Not true, yet many kids feel or have felt this way.

I was very sick and hospitalized when I was in second grade. In 1963 children were on wards and in beds next to each other, (at least it was my experience). The children on either side of me died. I became afraid of death. My brother died when he was 27 years old and I was 29. I became even more afraid of death.

I experienced a lot of other reasons to fear in my lifetime: car accidents, my own children’s illnesses, the death of friends, the death of other family members. The list goes on and on. I’m 56 now and I’m not afraid most of the time. Do I occasionally let my fears slip in? Yes. One of those fears is sometimes related to my writing. Jody Hedlund posted a blog recently that addressed those issues here. As Jody mentions it's important not to let our fears paralyze us, push through it. One of my favorite writers in the general market is Laura Kinsale who experienced the full out anxiety that can attack those of us who write. She shares a snippet of this experience on her website where she talks about the Renegade Muse.

I’m not able to banish my fears completely, but I finally figured out that no matter how hard I try, in my human strength, I cannot keep bad things at bay. Sometimes it helps to remember good advice such as Overcoming Fear of Failure. I don’t have control. God does. All I can do is the best I can do, trust God for the rest, and remember the mustard seed.

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20 NIV

So have faith, not fear. Peace, not fear. Trust, not fear. Hope, not fear.

In my counseling Bible, The Bible for Hope, NKJV, the introduction to Numbers talks about fear. The first paragraph states, “Fear can immobilize. Fearful people often do not think straight and run off in the wrong direction to escape the source of their fear. The world can be quite scary, and at times, Christians will become afraid. On those occasions, they can either run away from God, thinking that he cannot handle their fears, or they can run to God for protection.”

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV). 2 Timothy 1:7

Question: What are you afraid of? How do you cope with your monsters?

All photos courtesy of photobucket.

The Perfect Recipe

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When you write books lots of people will ask you where you get your ideas? I get them from everywhere, but I guess I could equate it to those who can really cook a great meal. Some writers might use recipes and some don't. As a writer I would say I use a type of recipe conjured up by the seat of my pants. For instance 2 cups of characters, + 1 cup of plot = brilliant story. Okay, so it's a little more complicated than that. So you add a 3 tablespoons of setting, a dash of romance, and hmm lets see, a quart of dialogue. Yep, at least a quart. This is getting complicated isn't it? And you know what? It is! I can't just throw a bunch of ingredients in a bowl and blend and expect the recipe to come out perfect. Maybe those plotters can get pretty close but they might miss that dash of cinnamon along the way if they get to orderly about the recipe.

I've had to study the craft of writing for years and prepare much like a Top Chef Master. Everything is in the kitchen and I set forth with my special recipe to prepare. Sometimes the story bakes up well the first time around but most of the time the story needs an extra pint of setting, a heaping teaspoon of passion, and a hefty cup of adventure.

Maybe the ideas we bring to the recipe are half the battle. If we are pulling from the wrong place or not thinking enough about what we really want to bake we may end up disappointed. So back to the kitchen. What is it that you want to cook? Are you looking in the right place for your ideas? Is there a right place? What's the secret in your recipe?