Posted in Writing

Coffee for Two

I’ve made coffee for two

And when you care to join me,

There’s a spot carved out, just for you

Until then, I’ll keep writing,

Loving. Laughing. Living. Dreaming.

Till the day I finally meet you

Here, at this table meant for two

 

 

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Posted in Writing

Stuck in the Mud-5 Ways to Get Your Writing Day Going

It’s not quite writer’s block. Writer’s block is usually a lot more severe. But we have all had those mornings, when you sit at your computer, with all you can think of to do is ANYTHING but write. But the clock is tick, tick, ticking your workday away from you one tiny beat at a time. Every muscle in your body tenses, and you force yourself to type. You type two sentences, and it’s terrible. Just terrible, and you wonder who in their right mind hired you to write.Calm down. This happens to everyone. For those days, when you just can’t get it going, here are few things you can do to get your writing groove back.

  1. Art Therapy

Many times your creative blockage is because you’re trying too hard and damming up the creative flow. If you switch to another art form, your brain will relax, and the pent up creativity will come rushing out so fast you won’t even be able to tame it.

Adult coloring books are all the rage, and maybe a bit cliché, but they work at relaxing the brain. Set a timer so that you don’t get lost. Twenty minutes is a good rule. It’s just enough to relax your brain, but not enough that you can get lost wasting time.

Have fun building a stock of markers, and spice it up with a cup of hot tea. Then, turn an instrumental playlist. Experiment with different music types—celtic music can make you feel energized. Piano music can soothe frayed nerves. Classical music can make you feel pensive. Then, there are nature soundtracks that can various effects as well. Turn the music as loud as you dare, and let loose. Don’t think about work or writing, just color.

Change of Environment 

Creativity is a fickle mistress to serve. We who make our livings on it, only do so because we understand enough about it to know how to handle and respect its power. As such, there are a few somewhat hooey-gooey concepts that all artistic types must acknowledge at some point or another. You can call it, if you will, The Principle of Creative Energies. The concept is that the creative energy in any given space, is finite. Every time you create in that space, you draw upon that creative energy, until it is depleted. Fortunately, it is a renewable source. It just has to have time. In the meantime, you can write at coffee shops, libraries, parks, wherever. So, if the creative energies in your space are depleted, write somewhere else for a few days.

Physical Activity

There is a link to physical activity and the brain. It gets your blood moving, pumping and feeds your brain cells. We writers spend a lot of time sitting at our computers. The human body wasn’t made to be in any one position for too long. It was made to move and change. A jog around the neighborhood can get your serotonin levels up, some fresh air, and the sights and sounds of the street can give you inspiration as well.

If you’re alone, the power of plugging in your earbuds and busting out your dance moves hardcore Napolean Dynamite style should never be underestimated.

It gets your blood moving, and gives you enough distance to open those creative portals. Plus, consuming an art like music, can unconsciously jumpstart your creativity.

Get off the Computer  

Modern writers are trained to compose on their laptops. But, sometimes, our digital lifestyle can work against us. The familiarity can lock our brains up, or we can overthink the piece. Sometimes we are so passionate about the piece, or we have so much riding on it, our need for perfection throws us completely out of the game.

To beat this, try writing in a different medium. Raw drafting in a leather journal, for example, can help. It tells your brain, “This is not the final draft,” and releases you from the paralyzing pressure of “writing the piece.”  With a simple pen and paper, just tell the story, or explain the concept. No big deal, just you and the reader. Once you build momentum, then move to the computer.

This also works with dry erase boards, and you can have fun experimenting with windows and mirrors. You can even enjoy creating your own drafting space by staking out a wall area to cover with chalkboard paint or dry erase laminate. Typewriters are trendy these days, but if you’re blocked on a deadline, they may just slow you down.

  1. Watch a Well-Written Show

Reality shows and formula genre movies aside, there are some really well-written shows out there. BBC’s Sherlock, Arrested Development, Downtown Abbey, among many others. Watching those shows from a writer’s perspective can actually be really good for your writing.

Try to figure out what the scriptwriters are doing. Listen to the dialogue and watch the plot devices they are using, just like in English class. Imagine the scriptwriters, and think about how they aren’t that much different than you. Think about how really, with some more practice, you do the same things they are doing. Then turn off the TV, and decide that you can.

 

Posted in Writing

The Coffee Shop

Soft jazz unwinds overhead in meandering strides, evoking images of the final hours of a wedding reception—discarded bouffant cake on plates and final drunken revelers stumbling about a hotel ballroom. But this is not that place.

It is instead a brightly lit coffee shop with sober patrons about their business. A college boy in basketball shorts, a t-shirt and sandals, lightly perches at a table with printed handouts and unopened textbooks. He highlights judiciously, with his car keys a mere inch from his fingers.

Next to him, a businesswoman does the same. highlighting her own pages, with much more care and and discretion. Her manicured fingers pop in an out of a coach briefcase where her notes are all neatly arranged in folders and files, and a clunky sterling bracelet jungles with every movement.

Behind the counter, the baristas bustle, talking on headsets, clanging ice, and a blender whirrs, and then a shaker.  Then someone tells a joke, and the comic relief lasts for but a second, before they are moving again…forever to make a buck.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Writing

When Your Passion Becomes Your Bread and Butter

I am sitting in Starbucks today, trying to write something. Anything. For once, I have a break in the things that I “have to write,” and have an entire day to write the things I “want” to write. And what is that? I feel like I don’t remember anymore.

I have spent the last hour going through old projects, and making new notes over old ones, just trying to get somewhere. And I’m getting nowhere. And it’s frustrating.

I spent an exhilarating decade going through my starving artist period. I lived out of suitcases. I ate instant oatmeal three meals a day. I held a series of part-time odd jobs, and slept on couches, all so I could indulge my unhealthy addiction to coffee and Microsoft Word.

It was a great time, and I am so grateful that I even got to have those years. So many people get snatched right into the corporate world, and never get to pursue their passions until their golden years.

Or, that’s what I kept telling myself every time another one of my friends got married, had a baby, or closed on their first mortgage. I am doing exactly what I want to do with my life, I told myself. I get to write. This is the price. Now, I am no longer a starving artist. I am certainly not ready to close on a mortgage or anything.

But I can afford to buy a car produced within the last ten years, and my answer to the question, “What do you for a living?” isn’t precluded by that cliche post-collegiate-millennial response, “Well, right now I’m…” No. My answer is a one hundred percent truthful, and simple, “I’m a writer.” And I’m so incredibly grateful for that. Don’t get me wrong.

But yet, somehow, by monetizing my passion, I’ve found as of late, I seemed to have sucked the life out of it. So much so, that I can’t find the part of it I truly loved. So, here I am in Starbucks, trying to find my passion again. And all I can find is the work.

It’s my day off, and I choose to spend it sitting in the same coffee shop I frequently work out of, and typing away on the same word processor. And the familiarity blocks my creativity.

I’ve never understood people that would rather not spend their entire lives pursuing their passion. It’s never made sense to me. Now, I get it. Not that I would want it any other way at this point. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else in this world for money.  Or at least being happy doing it. But, maybe, in retrospect, they had the right idea.

There’s this song, a fairly cheesy pop song, that says, “Every time I run you’re the one I run to.” I think that line describes how I feel about writing. There’s a part of me that wants to take a break, and “get away from it all.”

 

But, when I envision what this blissful, heavenly break would look like–it looks just like my daily grind. Just maybe with some waves in the background, and a different coffee shop. So what is that?

Maybe I’m just uninspired and need a hobby. But, there is something about making your bread and butter out of the one thing that truly makes you happy. I haven’t got it all worked out yet, but I wonder now if it’s an entirely good idea.

I guess I can say this now that I’m there. If I weren’t in this place, I’d probably be sitting in a darkened room, sobbing, and drowning in Jack Daniels, while lamenting on why God gave this passion and never gave me the opportunity to use it. I’ve been there.  It’s no fun, and your eyes get sore, and you’re snotting everywhere, and maybe slobbering, and your face is all sticky. Nah, no fun. I think I’ll have this problem instead.