In the Mood

In the Mood
Image provided by Universal Pops
https://www.flickr.com/photos/universalpops/

No, I’m not discussing the song, “In the Mood for Love”. What I want to explore is what gets us in the mood to write. This can be a vast subject seeing that depending who you are and what you like can vary beyond a person’s imagination. I thought it would be good to start with the basics though.

Maybe the best way to handle this topic is for me to tell you what works for me and, hopefully, you will tell me your strategies in the comment section.

Random or Special Places

I guess I need the special place. The smallest bedroom in my house is converted into “the computer room”. Although I’d like to write in other rooms like the kitchen or living room, when I do that, I feel my surroundings are strange and distracting.

I bought a laptop just for that purpose, switching rooms once in a while. So far, the only other room that doesn’t disconcert me is the back bedroom. Maybe it’s because it’s cooler in there, which must be good for the laptop. Right?

Noisy or Quiet Surrounding

Kristi faithfully visits a coffee shop in Texas to do her writing. She takes her laptop and tries to snatch the same table every time. Somehow all the commotion with people talking works as white noise for her.

I know other writers who have music going while they write. They tell me they need it to set the mood or for the rhythm of their writing. I understand what they’re saying, but it won’t work for me.

I wouldn’t get any writing done if I tries to pound on the keys in a public place or with music blasting. Even a library gets me feeling a little daunted when it comes to writing, yet it sure is quiet there. The library intimidation could be that I’ve not spent a lot of time in one since the turn of the century. I use the resources on the internet now. Maybe I just need to reintroduce myself to the building.

Until that time comes, I need utter silence in my environment while I try to weave a tale. This can be troublesome at times. My husband loves noise. This wouldn’t be such a grave issue except “the computer room” doesn’t have a door. I’m not sure that would do much good anyway though because one of my cats, Marble, would continuously scratch at the door until it was opened. Whenever my husband goes someplace without me and I know he’ll be gone for more that a half hour, I try to use as much of that time for writing.

What Items are in Reach?

Jacqui has two monitors for her computer. She also has a personal library of books she uses when she writes. Her desk is so clean and tidy. Judging from the pictures I’ve seen, she’s well organized.

My collection of items to use while writing is minuscule compared to Jacqui’s arrangement. I have a traveling mug that will hold three regular mugs of coffee. There’s no way that sucker is tipping over either because it’s got a weight in the bottom of it. I have yet to have liquid all over the keyboard. I have a small bin to the right of the monitor that stores my books about writing. The plastic tray that sits in front of the bin holds Advil, post-note pads, a dinky spiral, and a flashlight. I keep my pens in a McDonald’s Happy Meal glass.

Weather

The weather, for the most part doesn’t seem to affect my desire to write one way or the other. I’ve known writers that have a hard time during the glorious days of summer or can’t seem to find that groove in the winter. Sometimes, but not often, the wind will play havoc with my ability to write. I wish it would have the opposite effect on me.

Without these things, I have a hard time getting in the mood to write. Sometimes I wonder why I even bothered getting the laptop when I rarely use it. Yes, I know, I should get more adventurous.

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Now, even with all this said, I know some writers wait until they’re in the mood to write. I have a hard time understanding this logic. You could be waiting for years for that mood to hit you just right. Some of the best writing I’ve done has been when I’ve had to insist that I get my butt in the seat and just start hammering in the keys.

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What gets you in the mood to write?

“There are times when I think that the ideal library is composed solely of reference books. They are like understanding friends—always ready to meet your mood, always ready to change the subject when you have had enough of this or that.” ― J. Donald Adams

 

What Do I Want?

Image provided by Mike Carroll https://www.flickr.com/photos/druidlabs/
Image provided by Mike Carroll
https://www.flickr.com/photos/druidlabs/

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S.. Although I could’ve done the usual post for this occasion, telling you what I’m thankful for, I don’t feel comfortable spouting off about such things so dear to me. I know, weird, but that’s just me. Instead, I’m giving you a post telling you about a “want” I have.

I’m kind of in a lull in my writing right now. I’m not moving forward, and, instead, reworking what I have so far. Yes, I know. Numerous writers out there are going to be saying I should get that first draft done before altering anything. However, the tense I was using was holding me back, making it painfully difficult for me to find the right words to use in so many of the sentences. Anyway, I’m reworking my project and am feeling satisfied with what I’m accomplishing.

I’m close to done with this rewriting phase and will be, once again, making the journey into the unknown of the story. While musing over what I’ll soon be doing and what I’ve done thus far, I’ve asked myself what I want from this whole experience of writing a story.

Sure, it would be marvelous to have a book published with my name showing as the author. My family and friends would be so proud. For that matter, I would be too. Still, I honestly can’t say this is first on my list of seen goals.

When I think of publishing, I think of fame, even though it might be scant. I’ve never been one to jump into the limelight. I’ve been on stage a few times playing a flute. I can’t say I get stage fright, but my anxiety level certainly does do some soaring. I feel this same tug at me when I think of my name placed on a book as the author. I can’t say it’s a pleasant feeling.

After this story is considered done, I would like to write another, and maybe another one after that, maybe more. I do enjoy that rush I get when the words are flowing out of me onto the screen. To have this feeling time after time for many years sounds glorious to me. It is one of my goals, but I can’t say it’s foremost because I experience it now periodically. How can it really be a goal if you already have experienced it?

I think what I want is for one person, one reader, to read my book and be able to say he or she [probably she though] thoroughly got enthralled in the story. It’s this that would make me believe that the journey has been a total success. And I could re-experience this if I find someone who feels this each time I finish a book.

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I hope your day is all it should be. Those of you going Christmas shopping tomorrow, I wish you complete safety throughout your day.

Also, my newsletter will be out tomorrow. If you haven’t subscribed, please consider it. The link is as the top of the sidebar on this page.

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” ― Albert Einstein

 

Assessing Time

Assessing Time
Image provided by skyler817
https://www.flickr.com/photos/sky817/

Back when I was in high school writing short [very short] stories and poems in a spiral notebook while sitting on my bed Indian style, I wrote until I had nothing more to say or until I heard my mom yell for help in fixing the evening meal. I didn’t give one inkling of thought to how many minutes equaled a “good session of writing”.

Most of my poems were free verse with three parts to them. Sometimes I’d write at feverish speed as if I might forget the complete thought before I got it all down. There were instances when this only took five minutes at the most, and then I was done. I’d open the bedroom door and go spend time watching TV with my brother or go offer a hand in the kitchen.

Other times, I’d painfully struggle to get those poems out of me. I’d have to write the first stanza, stare out the window for I don’t know how long, and try for the next one. Those poems could take me days to write.

The short stories were done much the same way, though I always had some idea of where I was going with them. I knew where I wanted to start and end.

No place during those years did I worry about what constituted a “good writing session”. I just wrote. When did all of this change?

Life got busy and complicated until I was in my late forties. At that time, I decided to take a correspondence course through Writer’s Digest. The class was based on the assumption that I knew grammar up past the level of high school, which I did. It was designed to get the creative juices flowing and teach me how to submit my work.

Within all those pages and lessons, there wasn’t one indication, tip, or hint about how long a “good writing session” should be. I can only surmise that I should write until I was done for that day, that morning, that afternoon, or whatever.

It was in 2013 that I felt the urge to get serious about writing again and hopefully stick with it for more that three or four years. I subscribed to a hoard of blogs owned by writers in the hopes of learning the finer points of the craft/art.

Most of the blogs I followed talked about the writing process, writer’s block, and gave prompts and exercises. A little over a year ago though, I’ve seen a shift in a few of these blogs. I’m not sure I agree with the switch. I’ve come to know these bloggers and think of them as reliable for information, yet I’m reading something, not every time of course, about what establishes a “good writing session”.

Although good habits are bound to make life easier in many ways, when it comes to most activity requiring creativity, some of these habits can be too restrictive, making it almost, if not completely, impossible for a person to be imaginative or resourceful.

I tried taking the advice I was reading, but found myself getting stuck as if I was thrown into a bin of glue. I’d sit myself down at the time I had deemed to start my session and begin to write. Within twenty minutes at the most, I’d find my muse refusing to cooperate and flying off into space. The damn thing wouldn’t come back until the following day, and that was only if I was lucky.

Should writers have a strict schedule? Maybe some need it. Maybe some were raised with rigorous rules set down by their parents and have kept up the habit. However, I don’t see how this should apply to every writer. Many writers are the free spirit type. They may not start a project until three in the morning, work frantically for a half hour, and go to bed and sleep until noon. This does not mean they’re lazy. It means they have an unconventional life style.

I consider the above example a little extreme, but I’m certain some writers work that way. I was brought up with rigid rules: set meal times, set bedtimes, laundry day, meatloaf on Tuesdays, and so forth. I only make meat loaf about four times each year now so I think I’ve moved away from the do-or-die schedule.

Most days I want to write as soon as the house is quiet in the morning. I sleep regular hours when I can sleep so morning is when I have the most brain energy. However, while husband watches sports channels in the evening, I’m known to sit my butt in the chair to pound on the keys furiously for a couple of hours. Still, I don’t have a set number of minutes I gauge.

I write until I feel done.

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How do you feel about writing sessions?

“Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.” ― Red Haircrow

 

Alleviating Email Issues

Alleviating Email Issues
Image provided by Megan Amaral
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamsy/

I can remember when I used to wish that advertisers would stop sending mail. You know, those things with envelopes. I’d walk to the mail station down the street to retrieve the bills I needed to pay along with, hopefully, a real letter from someone I care about. Lo and behold, my little compartment would be filled with junk mail.

Sure, some of it I’d scan: catalogs, coupons, and local events. Most of it, though, was tosses into the waste paper basket immediately. Even most of the items I glanced at got dumped as well. I lived frugally. I still do.

Now, I have even more junk mail thanks to the internet. It isn’t just the post person dropping garbage off at my home. It’s even coming in through the wires and air! –Depending on if I’m using my PC or laptop.

I guess I could just close my email account. I’d still have the social media sites to bring me news. Most of the blogs I subscribe to are connected to sites where I can read notification at those host sites: WordPress.Com, LiveJournal.Com, and Dreamwidth.Com.

Still, I do love getting email in the morning. I especially love the ones from friends and family. I read as much of it as I can while I drink my first mug of coffee for the day. My email site, Gmail.Com now, tries their best to keep the junk out of my folders. They do a better job at this than Outlook.Com was doing. At least with Gmail, I can rat on the jerks who are sending me spam and know with some certainty something will be done. Outlook says they do this but they need myriads of improvement. The spam problem with Outlook upsets me a great deal. I had hoped Microsoft would have a better handle on this situation in cyber space. I really did want to stay with Outlook. I was trying to limit my use of Google as much as I could because of their determination to become an internet monopoly. I’m totally against that–obviously.

To say the least, I’m sorely disappointed in Microsoft.

Surfing the blogosphere can get rather time-consuming. Having the notifications come by email helps out a little. More often than not, they come trickling in so I can read a few in the morning, a few a lunch, and more after dinner without my inbox getting overloaded. I know that some people get things so organized within their email account that they have all email of one type going to a specific folder found just below the inbox. It does make the account look cleaner, but those people are still seeing how many emails are waiting for them. It can get quite staggering. They better not take a vacation from this daily chore–or a sick day.

Gmail has made it a little easier to organize the inbox. There’s tabs above where the list of emails show, giving me the option to use the ones they provide or add my own. I never have to look at all of the emails in the list at one time. That is except for at the sidebar. Right after the word, Inbox, there the TOTAL number of emails staring at me.

I couldn’t imagine being the only one who feels the anxiety of the large number. After all, there’s only so much storage in these email accounts. Sure, I don’t have to scan each and every email. In fact, I barely glimpse at the ones in the spam folder before I dump them all. Still, the hankering to read each one that makes it to my inbox can keep me glued to my seat. I’m sure there are others who are like me.

With these thoughts in mind, I created a newsletter for my blog. It’ll be delivered to subscribers’ inboxes once a month, the last Friday of each month. There’s a short article you may or may not want to read. The important element of it is the list of posts from the prior four weeks in the sidebar linked to the posts themselves. The people who subscribe will be able to stop the notifications from WordPress.Com, thus lessening the number of emails in their inboxes by a small but significant three per month from yours truly.

True, probably quite trifling in the big scheme of things, but if more bloggers offered this, the email inbox won’t seem to daunting.

Anyway, the sign up is at the top of the page here on the sidebar if you’re so inclined to subscribe to my newsletter.

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P.S. Jacqui Murray asked about continuing my series of #weekend coffee. Jacqui, one of the posts will be just that. This means one post each month will be a little late so it coincides with Daily Post’s Weekend Coffee Share.

Blogging is great, and I read blogs all day long. However, my goal is really to have a deep, meaningful discussion with people. For some reason, I’m able to accomplish this best via email. —Jason Calacanis

 

What Should My Blog Be Doing?

What Should My Blog Be Doing?
Image provided by Cassiopee2010
https://www.flickr.com/photos/cmoi30/

Back Then

When I began this blog, my aim was to practice my writing and get a feel for what readers wanted. Both of these endeavors gave me more than amply room to explore. I figured I could “discover what my voice was”, dig into what genre I would be most comfortable with, try on different styles of writing, receive feedback from visitors, take advantage of constructive criticism, and get a good following going.

 

What Now?

That was a couple of years ago. I’ve become more focused, at least more often. My “needs” have changed. And the blogosphere has done some shifting as well. Most of the bloggers I follow aren’t posting every day as they once did. Other aspects of life have their attention.

 

Aims Forward

I’ve learned that “my voice” will discover itself. I can tell you that I enjoy writing in the more casual frame where verbs are often found hooked to nouns by apostrophes, and word usage filled with slang. Does this mean I’m a lazy or sloppy writer? Some of you may think so and you’re welcomed to include it in your comments. Just so you know though, I don’t think of myself that way.

Finding the genre I think I should write in has been a bewildering ramble. I know what fires me up to write, but finding the name of that genre has left me thwarted. What would you call a story that deals with inner conflict as the main theme? The story may, at some point, have a death in it, or it may not. It may not have a happy ending, or then again… The main character may be worse off than when s/he started, or may have come upon the solution. Would this be called a psychological suspense, maybe? Whatever it’s called, this is the genre I like to write in. I’ve done a few flash fictions, character sketches, and scene sketches in this blog, although it’s been a while. I’ve pondered on doing more, but I think I’d narrow them just to this genre now because then it would be a practice session for my WiP and hopeful others. As a visitor, would this interest you?

The past few months I’ve been mentioning my WiP often in my posts. Most the time, I’ve been questioning how I’m approaching the process of writing it. Although I’ve seriously considered the organized methods of authors with a few books under their belts, I always go back to setting my butt firmly in my swivel chair and letting my muse do most of the guiding through the story. All of it is trials and tribulations. Are readers, in particular, are you interested in that?

The life of a writer can be intriguing. That is, if the writer is doing something other than writing and is willing to share those times with the audience of his or her blog. I’ve been falling way short in this category. Most of it is due to the fact that I don’t have what I’d consider an exciting life anymore. This is an area I need to work on. I doubt that my life will get fascinating anytime soon, but there must be some things I can tell you so you know me at least. I’m hoping you, as my visitors, will give me some critical feedback on whatever I write in this persuasion.

I’m told that as a writer, my blog should be promoting me and my work. The problem is that there isn’t all that much to me or my work right now. I want to write essays for magazines once in a while, but I haven’t a clue as to which magazines I should submit to other than what my essays would be about. Even at that, until I write the essay, I don’t know what the topic is. What magazines are more likely to accept a writer who’s been unpublished for over twenty years? If you know of any, please click on the Contact link at the top of this page. [By writing essays, maybe I’ll find more content for this blog.]

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During these last two months of 2016, I’ll be working on a newsletter for this blog that will be published once per month starting in January. This is in the effort of raising the number of followers I have. In December, I’ll tell you more about this project.

“Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.” ― Charlotte Eriksson