Learning More About Me In This Process

Good evening! Or morning! Or afternoon! depending on where you are in the world.  😀

So here I am, showing up. I’ll get right to it.

Writing this book and seeing an end in sight, at least for book 1, I have learned a few things about myself. Who knew? I suppose with every experience is a lesson to be learned. Here are a few things I’ve learned about myself in this book journey, so far:

1. Between being a pantser (fly by the seat of my pants)planner (more structured, writing outlines, etc.), and plantser (a bit of both) – before now I’ve always been more of a pantserI’ve always sat down to a blank screen and just allowed my mind to bleed through my fingers, typing it all out as fast as my little digits can fly, just soaring along with the flight of imagination, anticipation, and allowing my wings to carry me, with no safety net to catch me if I forget how to fly. Sometimes I allow fear to creep in, even amidst flight and start questioning myself. My wings fizzle out, I fall, and splatter all over the pavement below. Feathers everywhere. So, somewhere along the way of this book, I started being more of a planner.

First, I decided Word, alone, was not doing me any favors, so I decided to use my Nanowrimo winnings to purchase Scrivener at the prize price (I’m a creature of habit, so this is a surprising turning point for me).

Second, I revised everything I had, separating it all into scenes, and then putting them in order (one fabulous feature of Scrivener).

Third, I reviewed the scenes and decided where the chapter breaks would go.

Fourth, I made a separate text file, placing titles in an organized chart (Chapter 1, Ch 2, etc.) took every individual thread for each chapter and numbered them, so I have only a certain number of threads per chapter (and some threads continue through each chapter), in order to not overwhelm the reader with too much going on all at once, as well as keep me in line as to what story needs to be told in each chapter.

2. Absence does not necessarily make the heart grow fonder. Taking a break from the book is never a good idea – at least not for me. I am very ADD. When I take a break from something, I tend to put it on a shelf and busy myself so much with meaningless tasks (although I suppose cleaning and organizing my house and reading is not meaningless) that I have absolutely no free time to look at book work. There are really no good excuses for not getting the book work done. If I have a lot going on, I should just get up earlier or stay up later or do it on my lunch hour. At least 1 hour per day is a prerequisite if I am ever going to finish it. Thankfully, I’m on the home stretch but NOT if I keep setting it on a shelf and keep taking breaks. Look, I get up at 4am 2-3 days per week for the gym, and then go home and get clean, walk 7 steps into my office and go to work by 730. There is always an hour, whether at lunch or after work. If I have an appointment at lunch and a supper to go out to after work, I can simply stay up an hour later than I normally do and get the work done.

3. I’m a better writer in the morning, although the occasional evening has provided much motivation AFTER I get started. If I don’t make the effort to sit down and do the work, it won’t get itself done. If I do carve out an hour, I find that after 15-30 minutes, I’m totally in the zone and can sometimes turn one hour into 2 or 3, if I have it to spare.

4. I can actually be funny. I am so NOT a funny person. Silly, yes. Funny? Only in my own mind. But when I was re-reading my chapter 1 to see what I needed to revise, I found a paragraph that made me laugh so hard, I cried. I had forgotten what I wrote, and reading it out loud to Buddy (my dog), that paragraph just made me bust a gut!! And this book is not meant to be funny. It’s more of a dark, adventuresome fantasy/drama for young adults – though there are pieces of humor, innocent romance, suspense, horror, mystery, etc.

5. I have a book deadline text doc in my Scrivener project also, as well as on my desk paper calendar and phone calendar, and while this is useful to have a schedule, I sort of feel the deadlines have been stressing me out and stifling my creativity because it makes me feel limited, so I kept the deadline file but add (or plus 3-10+ days, give or take) to each day’s deadlines, so this gives me a framework to see where I am and where I need to be in any given week. It shows me where I need to go from here. The good thing is I can change it and update it each week, which I have done pretty much every week. Honestly, I’m not sure how the deadlines are helping me. I suppose it lights a fire under me on some days. Other days, fear makes me put it on a shelf.

6. I have to keep telling myself (and I put a sign in front of me at my desk, as well as on the top of my daily schedule) DO THE WORK EVERY DAY IF YOU WANT TO GET TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE. ACTION IS THE FIRST STEP TO COMPLETION = SUCCESS.

I’ve learned a bit more about myself through this journey but these are but a few of the nuggets I wanted to share with you today.

You have to find what works for you. If you have that dream, that goal, that thing you want so badly you can taste it, don’t let anything stop you from working toward it. If you want the thing, you have to take action. Talking to me, too. Do the thing. Get a few steps closer to where you want to be. Because if you don’t try, you’ll never know how amazing you can be, and how easy and wonderful life can become. Don’t stay in the same place. Don’t allow yourself to get stagnant. One of your many purposes? You were put here to grow. So bloom.

What have you done today or this week to get you a few steps closer to what you want? Do you know what you want?

Love ya!

Carol xoxo

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Plotting Along…

Hi y’all. As you know, I’ve attempted to be mostly off of social media for a bit. I’m still at that point but I may post to the blog a little more often than I have. I’ve had a few friends ask me about my blog and tell me they were missing it so I’ll schedule in time to post at least once every other week if not once a week. I must admit, I have missed speaking to you guys on a regular basis. I miss our engagement, our connection. Alas, the life of a writer is much a solitary one, and I admit to appreciating that also. Working from home is right up my alley, as I no longer have to deal with fake gossipy drama-mamas in the corporate setting. Thank You, Lord! Plus, it doesn’t hurt to love your job, working from home and the people you do work for.

Lately, I’ve been going through so many mood changes, and I’m presently experiencing a shift – hard to explain but I’ll try. The mood changes are mostly just a roller coaster of emotion, due to my daughter being a senior in high school, her being accepted to her college of choice, choosing her dorm roommate, planning her grad party and trip, her just turning 18. It’s exciting. It’s an adventure. It’s emotionally draining and bittersweet. As most of you know, Hallie and I have always been extremely close. Our nicknames for each other are Lorelai and Rory (you’ll understand if you’ve ever watched Gilmore Girls). And it sickens me to think of her moving to college next year and not living in this house – only to visit on weekends, holidays and summer break. I don’t even want to imagine what it’ll be like because I want to cry, and then, honestly, to throw up. I know I have to let go. I’m just not ready. It hurts my heart too much. I’m used to her going on trips for a week or two. I miss her, of course, but I take comfort in knowing she’ll be home, as I count down the days. Don’t misunderstand. I do have things on my ‘To Do’ list that I take pride in accomplishing while she’s gone and I do appreciate my alone time. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss my little love monkey. Maybe I can’t use the word “little” anymore, but she will always be my little one, my wee one, my baby, even after she’s 40. Thankfully, she doesn’t mind my nicknames for her. She has nicknames for me, too.  😉

The shift I’m undergoing is multi-faceted. I’ve been on a journey of exploration – not just for the self but being more mindful of others and taking in all of the possibilities for connection with others – looking out for like-minded people to associate myself with but also “trying” to be mindful of others in the sense that no matter their mood, I have to take into account they may be going through something I know nothing about. Such as the clerk at the grocery store or the clothing store we normally frequent. Many times, we think these people are there to serve us and be kind and high spirited while they do it. However, we must put ourselves in their shoes, if only for a moment. If we do this, we may consider that perhaps their grandpa that they were raised by just died, or they lost their best friend in a car accident, or it’s that horrid time of the month and they are in great pain. 

You never know what someone is going through. These people are not there to only serve us. We are here to serve them, as well. We can offer a smile, a kind word, something funny to say to maybe lift their spirits. If nothing else, we can offer our gentle understanding. They are just like us. They have to work to pay the bills. They have to work when they are sick because they have a child to feed and have to make the rent. I admit to sometimes being a harsh judge of people when they are hateful or rude and I have been rude as a retaliation. What sense does that make?! That’s easy. Why is it so easy to fight back with hardness and more difficult to reply with love and compassion? This is something I’ve been mindful of lately and I feel it’s changing me. Mind you, I do still have much work to do in this department, as I am still trying to rid myself of anger I strongly hold on to. I have no idea why I hang onto it.

Not only with others but within myself. I’ve always been my toughest critic, being more hard on myself and sabotaging myself rather than romancing myself, appreciating myself and my accomplishments. I tend to beat myself down over everything – every little thing. But lately, I’ve been watchful of my words, noticing how negative I tend to be on myself, trying to change the language I use. If it’s negative, I’m trying not to say it or change the wording I’d normally use. I’m trying to believe in myself, have faith in me and my abilities. I’m writing down all I’ve ever been good at, then and now, and everything I’ve accomplished. Turns out, I truly have been more of a success than a failure. Many of the things I’ve wanted to do and truly made an effort with have come to pass and I’m practicing daily gratitude for each of these things and in everything I have in my life that makes me thankful and happy.

Normally, I have resting-bitch-face – not because I’m feeling bitchy or depressed or irritable, but because I don’t think about how my face is resting. LOL! Often, I’m contemplating something and that’s how my face is – in contemplation mode, or I’m extremely tired because I walked the dog like 10 times during the night, got up at 4am to go to the gym, worked all day, worked on my book after that, had to go to a meeting or event after that and I’m feeling very DONE with the day.

Lately, I’m practicing mindfulness on the muscles in my face. I actually think I may have inherited my grandmother’s facial expressions. She even frowned in her sleep! I don’t want her facial expressions. So I’m focusing on a slight constant smile, just barely there, enough to lighten my forehead muscles. I’m focusing on every blessing I’ve been granted each day and I’m being actively thankful – meaning thanking the Lord daily, telling these special people how much I love them and how amazing they are, hugging and smooching and laughing at my silly dog, appreciating our home and land more, loving working from home and the jobs I do and the income to pay our bills and save for important things, appreciating going to a great gym and getting healthier, and just every special thing and person, even what may sound small to some – sometimes it’s the smallest blessings that make the biggest impact/difference, and I’m thankful for each one.

Another thing I’m trying to learn is to Let Go and Let God. Being a control freak, this is a hard one, but I’m learning little by little. I am letting go of things and people that no longer serve my life in a positive way. I actually just joined a group that I thought would strengthen my character and spirituality as well as offer friendship and connection but learned that group was not the answer so, after 2 meetings, I let that go. I no longer have space or time in my life for what does not assist me or help me grow in some way on my journey. Joining and leaving that group only helped to further teach me that lesson.

Another mood swing is the novel I’ve been working on since 2013. I cannot count the varied emotions I’ve been going through. I birthed this story with great enthusiasm and excitement, only to set it on a shelf because I had too many clients at different times, too many things going on and I did not have any further time to devote to it. I did have to pay the bills and that was more important. As time went on, I got better clients, bigger contracts, but didn’t want to face the book, because I let fear distract me – fear and lack of faith in myself.

So now, I’m happy to say that I am 95% finished with the book. I thought I was actually finished but am reworking chapter 6. I’m thinking I may even interweave it with chapter 5 or 7 or just leave it the smallest chapter in the book. I kept giving myself a deadline, which in many ways is helpful, while at the time was putting an obstacle in my path. The deadline was more stifling my writability and creativity than bolstering my motivation and ambition to get in touch with my muse. My muse heard DEADLINE and ran for cover! So I will work on my book daily, finish when I finish, revise, revise, revise, then query agents and publish. And then become a #1 New York Times bestselling author.

I am learning to have faith in myself. I am learning to trust myself, love myself, believe in my pursuits – my dreams – my goals. I’m learning to lift myself up to new heights and tell myself only good things and reaching, stretching for a higher plane of existence. There is nothing wrong in bettering myself. I have everything I have ever prayed for, except the one. And the one? It’s only a matter of divine timing, inspired action, and persistence.

What have you been up to lately? Share all your joys, your pursuits, your progress, your fears, your expectations, your news. I have missed you greatly and I only wish for you good things, always.

Love you!

Carol

(P.S. Oh, and that picture? I’m just dreaming of cool Fall weather, wishing for long-sock-wearing, gushy-sweater-wearing weather. Please, chilly Fall breezes – come to Mississippi?). And sorry for the very wordy post…

Write in Your Own Unique and Magical Way

We writers try to get our hands and eyes on every piece of information regarding the myriad of ways, forms, and fashions in which well-known writers write/have written. We try to imitate, emulate, grasp for any minuscule scrap of inspiration in which to awaken our creative muse. Stop and think about that for a minute. WE are looking at THEIR stuff to awaken OUR creative muse. And then we wonder why we have writer’s block?! Maybe it’s because we are trying to be more like them to get at what they have. We want what they have. We need to embrace what WE have.

We will never shed the skin of incompetence if we are trying too hard to grab onto what someone else has. It’s like comparing ourselves to them, trying to study them, trying to be like them. Don’t misunderstand – it’s all well and good to study and read and enjoy the works of others. It does feed the creativity and inspiration bug. But studying more on how someone else does something to improve your own writing might stifle your efforts just a bit. You can take all the creative writing classes in the world and study the works of every NYT best-selling author in your genre and still fall flat on your face.

Face it. You want to be the next J. K. Rowling. C. S. Lewis. Tolkien. No. You want to surpass them. Your first step in attaining this goal? Stop trying to be like them. Stop trying to write like them. Stop trying to beat them. Be yourself. Write from your own unique perspective.

Each person on the planet was born into a unique set of circumstances. We each were born with a mission, and we each have many purposes. We were not placed here to be someone else. We were not replicated. We are not clones nor robots. We have our own mind, behaviors, imagination and quirks that no one else has. We are each unique and special and it’s from that uniqueness you should find your writing groove. There is no one else quite like you. No one else has what you have. No one else has your voice nor can write like you. Own that. These are TREASURES!

Do you find yourself stuck quite a bit on your writing journey? There are so many reasons for this: Trying to be like someone else. Trying to be as good as… Not enough self-worth, not enough faith in ourselves, overthinking everything, the thought of “One day, I’ll be published. I’ll be famous. I won’t have to worry about how to pay the bills ever again!” All these things block us, psychologically and creatively, as well as emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

So my advice? And this goes out to me, too. Write from your own heart, your own soul, your own mind. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike, or for your muse to awaken, or a free hour in your day to show up, to actually sit there and write. You make the time each day, wherever you can. You do it because you cannot live your life without making time to do that thing you love – writing, imagining, playing/conversing with your imaginary friends. Get up 2 hours earlier. Stay up 2 hours later. But work it in somehow. Write during your lunch hour. Write instead of watching 3 hours of tv.

Make your inspiration:

Use a coffee cup that inspires you – either sit it on your writing space & fill it with writing tools or fill it with coffee/tea.

Fix yourself a glass of wine, or two, or three, if that helps with your flow.

Put on a “magic shirt” or “magic cape” in which to stir your muse.

Buy a “magic quill” and bottle of ink and sit it on your writing space. Or just a photo of it.

Heck! Go break off a limb and craft your own “magic wand” if that’s what gets you inspired! Or turn your pencil into a wand by decorating. Point it at your screen or tablet of paper or your brain and command, “Wake, Creative Muse! Create! Work through my mind and fingers! Make my writing great!” LOL (Go check out this cool page I found on creating your own magic wands out of pencils!)

Find something fun and add it to your writing routine. But make it your own.

And don’t focus on the end goal of being published. That’s putting way too much pressure on yourself. Just write because you love it. Do it for the fun of it. And if, one day, you finish the book and you revise and revise and revise and proof and proof and polish, then perhaps you can attempt to get it out into the world. But even if it never gets there, you have accomplished a great feat! You finished what you started. And that’s big. HUGE!

Ciao for now. Smooches! xoxo

-Carol

Nanowrimo 2016 – Time to lose our minds

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-200

“Are you crazy?”

“No, I’m a writer.”

“Om…isn’t that the same thing?”

____

Join us, one and all (children and teens included), and join in on the intense month of intense writing. Get your writing frenzy on! I’m ready! *coffee in hand*

Breaking up with Tech

panic

Final Day of our 30 day Challenge!

Day 30 of Happily Ever After and since I’m a bit late in the evening rather than this morning, you can postpone doing this until one day that you are off work, like next weekend, since many of us have to have tech when we work.

Day 30 – Give tech a rest.

If you wrote down the time you spent on social media or reading emails or reading stuff online, I bet it would add up to hours over a day’s time, if not your entire work day, and then some. Get away from tech for one day! It won’t kill you. If you have to stay in contact with your family, use it for emergencies only or to know when to pick someone up but other than that, give tech a rest. And as far as that goes, TV too. Play board games, talk to your people, play with your pets, read a book.

I know tech keeps us connected and for many reasons, it’s a good thing, but we have become too dependent on gadgets and gizmos and living our lives completely around technology. Sometimes, we need to get back to nature, shut off electricity, live by candlelight, live by daylight, embrace the freedom from being tied up with tech for what seems like 24/7.

Break up with Tech, just for 24 hours. You might actually like it and it could become a new staple in your household, like one day a month, no tech, only connecting with each other and nature and the natural sounds around you.

Hope you guys found some happiness within some of these challenges. Let me know?

Until next time…

😉

#happilyeverafter

Take a Day Trip

Five friends in convertible car, waving arms in air, rear view

Day 29 of our 30 day challenge.

Today or tomorrow, plan (or don’t) a day trip. Gather your favorite peeps, get in the car and go somewhere fun, spend a few hours doing fun things and then come back home before bed time. If you are a spur-of-the-moment kind of person, or not, shake things up and do something different.

However, I should say to pick a place within 3 hours drive and google the place to see if there’s at least one interesting thing to see or do or place to eat. I did a spur-of-the-moment day trip and it was not at all what I read it was. The restaurant was probably the most horrible place we ever ate, the worst food, the worst service and had it not been for the fact that we enjoy each other’s company sooo much, that trip would have been an epic fail. Plus, we were in the middle of nowhere land and I don’t mean now-here, I mean no-where. We weren’t in the sticks. We were in the toothpicks. There were fields and grown up grass and trees and that was it. I think this was the one restaurant in the entire one-horse town.

With that being said, just be sure to do at least 10 minutes of research once you pick the place you are headed and find something there you and your peeps will enjoy. And take off!

Share with us where you went, how far it was and what kind of time y’all had!

Hope y’all are having a groovilicious weekend, so far!

*smooch*

#happilyeverafter

Do Lunch with a Friend

Welcome to Day 28 of our Happily Ever After 30 day challenge.

MARCOS VASQUEZ/©2008 RAMEY PHOTO 310-828-3445 Los Angeles, Oct. 30, 2008 EXCLUSIVE! EMMY ROSSUM enjoys lunch with a friend in Beverly Hills. PGmv

For today, make plans to do lunch with a friend. Or breakfast, or, supper, or dinner and drinks, or even with a family member if you consider them a friend. It’s important to cultivate happy, healthy relationships. We must establish strong friendships to be happy.

Some of us may consider ourselves an island, because maybe it keeps us feeling safe. No one can hurt us if we are on our own and have no connections but is that really a happy way to live? I don’t think so. I’ve gone through years of not having close connections with anyone, and for a while, it was nice to protect myself from being hurt by people but I see I’m much happier when surrounded by people that love me and that I love in return, those who are silly and make me laugh, those who are deep and I can confide in and somehow, they understand. It makes life a lot easier when you have such people in your daily life.

So have a meal with friend, either out or have them over.

How’s this challenge working for you, thus far? How many of the challenges have you taken on? Do you feel happier as a result? I’m eager to hear how it’s going for you. Please drop me a line and let me know.

Have a fantastical kind of Friday, y’all!

Love ya!  xoxo

#happilyeverafter