As we’ve been discussing a lot here on the blog, ’tis the season for many things. Among these are lists of gift recommendations for the writer in your life (or for we writers to forward to our loved ones). Our own Michille and Jilly shared ideas and links to lists on other parts of the interwebs here and here. They contain writing-oriented games, fun writing tools, and caffeine delivery systems. I should add that Bourbon (or adult beverage of choice), chocolate, and fiction books should be priorities on your ‘what to buy for my writer’ list. But writers don’t just need things. Our care and feeding is complex, nuanced, and – as my husband would like you to know – exhausting.
So today, instead of discussing what others can give me during the holiday season, I’m focusing on gifts I can give myself for the entire year of 2018. It’s going to be a big year for several of us here at the blog, with book launches and marketing, more books to write and revise, and readers to cultivate. Now is a good time to take a deep breath, get a warm cup of something to hold in our hands, and think about the foundations we’ll need to pull off this stellar year. To help jump-start your own thought process, here’s my list.
Self-Confidence. Dorothy had to learn this in the Wizard of Oz. Many of our protagonists have to learn it as part of their journeys, or even as their ‘big life lesson’ in our stories. Writers know how important belief in oneself is. Without it, we won’t have the audacity to brain-dump words onto pages and chip and chisel and shape them for months or years with the belief that someday, someone else will want to read our stories. But that doesn’t stop us from second-guessing ourselves at every turn. Imposter syndrome. Writers block. Sophomore slump. These are catchy phrases that strike terror in writers’ hearts, but at the core of all of them is a lack of belief that we can really do this audacious thing. Continue reading
Glasses: another tool of the craft? (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Just a quick public service announcement: if your vision is blurry and you are finding it hard to read, make an appointment with the eye doctor.
I’ve been struggling for about five years with aging eyes. Oh, sure, I could still read stuff, if I slid my glasses way down my nose and put the screen about 10 cm from my eyeballs. I could read until my hand fell asleep that way. It was a workable solution.
But Thursday, I finally went in and got reading glasses. It took them a half an hour to put together a reasonable package of frames and lenses, and as a result, yesterday I could read about half of Pratchett’s Hogfather on yellowing paperback pages. I also found my computer work to go a little more smoothly. I still slide my glasses down my nose to look at the cell phone, but I think that’s mostly pernicious habit.
My point is, it’s an easy fix. Why didn’t I do it? Some horrible combination of vanity, plus a dread of hassle and spending money, I suppose.
Still, it’s done, and I’m very glad. Dare I hope it translates into more and better writing? Who knows? One does have to fill the well of creativity, and I find reading to be the best way to fill it.
Here’s an article from Reader’s Digest that will confirm your suspicions: https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/need-reading-glasses/
And here are some ideas from the American Association of Ophthalmology to help you decide what you need. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/tips-choosing-right-reading-glasses
And here, amidst the myth-busting, Harvard Health Publishing shares some ideas for keeping your eyesight in tip-top condition. Eat your veggies, take breaks every hour, and make a conscious effort to blink. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/safeguarding-your-sight
This is it, our last monthly accountability thread for 2017! Can you believe it?
For the past eight days, I’ve been a few thousand miles from home. I’ve been sightseeing, extroverting (in my own introverted way), and occasionally (very very occasionally) squeezing in some writing. In a few hours, possibly around the time you read this, I’ll be frantically checking to ensure I’ve packed everything, running off to see a few last sights, and dashing (sitting) through rush-hour traffic in LA to make it to the airport in time to catch my flight home. But all of this is to your benefit, as for this month’s accountability recap and next month’s goal-setting, I’ll be brief!
You know how this works. First, we’ll recap November’s progress. Continue reading
What’s on your wish list for Christmas, or your holiday of choice, or your next birthday? Do you prefer to receive pretty, imaginative gifts or plain, practical ones?
On Thursday, Michille offered a selection of cute and clever writing-themed ideas. I’d be delighted to receive any of them (my fave is the bathtub caddy with built-in kindle and wineglass holders) but if I had my choice I’d prefer something practical to keep my writerly bandwagon rolling.
Any of these would put a smile on my face:
Free: Creative Kickstarters
I’d love somebody to spend a little time and trouble curating (say) a dozen recommendations especially for me—could be novels, or biographies, music, movies or experiences. The idea would be to offer suggestions that the giver thinks would be new to me and that I would enjoy. Part of the fun for me would be to investigate the suggestions, to think about why the giver decided to recommend them for me, and to decide whether to go ahead and invest in them.
Inexpensive: Screen cleaning cloths
Do you use microfiber cloths to clean your phone and computer screen? It seems as though all my electronic devices are perpetually smeary, and there’s never a clean microfiber cloth to hand when I want one.
Inexpensive: Kitchen timer
When I’m in a good writing rhythm, I like to write for 45 minutes and take a break for 15, rinse and repeat as often as I can. At the moment I use the timer on my phone, but a mechanical timer for my desk would be fun and useful. The UK version of Amazon has a mind-boggling 173 pages of products to choose from. Continue reading
We’re heading into a big holiday season for many. Personally, I celebrate Christmas. Even if you don’t celebrate something in December, you likely have other times of year when you do, like birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc. I’ve gathered a few ideas for the writer or reader in your life that are a little different than, say, an Amazon gift card. Last year’s edition of this included Aqua Notes. I have since found Eureka Shower Idea Whiteboard. Amazon also has The Writer’s Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the ‘Write’ Side of Your Brain and I love this bracelet. Continue reading
‘Tis the season of giving and caring, at least for most people in the States. We’ve just passed the annual milestone of stuffing ourselves silly on Thanksgiving Day, and have entered the mad dash toward the holiday finish line of gift-giving and merry-making. Along the way, there will be holiday parties, too many drinks and more rich food, and (sometimes too much) time with extended family.
At its best, this is a time of reflection, of being thankful, and for thinking about and hopefully doing something to help those less fortunate. At its worst, this is a time of feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and even depressed. With so much to do and finish and remember, it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves.
Unfortunately, lack of self-care and self-compassion isn’t limited to the holiday season. For creative types, it’s easy to fall into harsh self-criticism traps year-round, which can shut down creativity in no time. Continue reading
In the US, it’s that time of year again: the beginning of the holiday season. First up, American Thanksgiving. From an historical context, this holiday and the ‘facts’ we Americans know about it have their problems. In the modern era, the day has become associated with overeating, dealing with disagreeable relatives, and watching a lot of football. But at its core, both historically and currently, there is something truly lovely that Thanksgiving reminds Americans to do – be grateful.
Speaking for myself, fellow Americans I know, and the general aura we project as a nation, we are not great at gratitude. So, an annual holiday that reminds us to give thanks – whether we do it in a spiritual or secular context – isn’t a bad thing.
Earlier this year, I began a (sporadic) practice of meditation to help focus my energy and calm my nerves in these…er…troubling (to say the least) times. One of the most interesting guided meditations I’ve done is to be used before a meal. It leads the listener through a series of gratitude exercises, thinking about each person who ‘touched’ the food – from planting to harvesting, to packaging and shipping, to stocking shelves and checking out food at the store – and being grateful for the way each of them contributed to getting that food in front of you. Even for the most basic salad, it takes a village to make a meal.
As I’ve gotten back on track with my writing and have been following the Jen Louden’s GSSD (Get Scary Shit Done) program, I’ve been reminded by her lessons and my own reflection to be grateful for all the things that allow my writing time to happen, from the weird way my brain works to create story, to the amazing technology that allows me to get it all out onto the page. Even during a crappy day of writing, I can find reasons for gratitude. I’m grateful when I have the strength and energy to show up, the support of other writers when the going gets really tough, other stories to read for inspiration and solace when my own story is stuck (like my WIP is today). And it turns out, I’m reaping a whole host of positive things from simply finding and reflecting upon a reason to be grateful every day. Continue reading