Influenced Concepts

Influenced Concepts

…the first step in creativity is not focusing on goals but letting go of them. Being open and aimless. Forgetting preconceived notions.

Jill Jepson

Are any of my ideas original thought? Or have I been deluding myself?

Some time ago, I was receiving Jill Jepson’s newsletter in my email inbox twice a month. I unsubscribed from her letters after a while because I was so busy trying to make some sort of progress on my WiP. Her emails were still valid for where I was in my writing, but the time with so many emails had to stop.

Anyway, I have a list of possible blog post topics that sit in one of my notebooks in my OneNote app. I add to it as I see potential phrases and sentences that spark topic ideas for me. When I came across this one written by Jill, I thought maybe getting back to the simplest of basics might be good.

Jill’s lines got me reflecting about times when I let my mind wander randomly. It was difficult to find those old times at first. So much of what I do is planned, deliberate, intentional, methodical. If I do this one thing, then such and such will be next. So much of my everyday life is like this. It’s rare for me to follow the flight of a fleeting thought. Most of my life is far from being original.

Long ago I used to play the flute. It took four years of doing exactly what the teacher told me to do before I let my imagination have a say in what I played. With the flute, I did forget about those preconceived notions and aimlessly made up melodies once I was done with my hour of rigid practice. It was also back then that I wrote stories, letting my young imagination take me wherever it felt like going at that particular moment.

Yes, there was a time when I was utterly and completely creative.

Then life got in the way as it has the bad habit of doing. Jill’s email got me questioning whether I could bring all that originality back or had I lost it forever.

Of course, that question lead to other ones like is writing the right path for me. I can’t play the flute anymore. Still, writing isn’t my only option. I’ve done needlepoint, Native American crafts, web graphics, and even dabbled in painting. Did I choose the right craft to pursue seriously?

I know that one of the reasons I chose writing is that it’s so extremely accessible to me. I didn’t have to buy a thing to get started either. Everything needed was already with me.

Those other options would require me finding stores where I could buy the supplies. There aren’t any art craft supply stores in this town. Even if there were, how was I suppose to get to them and what would I use for money?

Now, accessibility wasn’t the only reason for taking up writing. I’m so much more comfortable writing than I am talking. I think it’s because I can change what I say before anyone sees it. The chances of me being misunderstood are much less.

Jill also mentioned goals as something that might squash the creative pulse. Yes, I most certainly agree. I have a nasty habit of letting my thoughts jump to the end of what I’m trying to do. Often, it’s just for a transit moment but it still stops me from having my attention solely on what I’m doing at the time.

Goal watching can definitely ruin creative flow. This makes me wonder why personal coaches keep stressing the aspect of looking at goals, keep an eye on the big picture, and keep on shooting for what’s in the future. How can anyone get anything done that way? Or does it just put money into the coach’s pocket?

Are your ideas and dreams influenced, or are they more of the created kind?

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham

 

A Big Picture’s Iniquities

A Big Picture's Iniquities Image provided by Tim Daniels
https://www.flickr.com/photos/lapseoftheshutter/[/caption]

How many articles, blogs post, and/or chapters in books have you read telling you to always have ‘the big picture’ in mind? I can’t even make a wild guess as to how many I’ve read. It’s a lot, I can assure you. Most of these readings talk about the goal. That thing at the end that tells you you’ve made it to your destination. Of course there should always be another goal, another ‘big picture’ after that, because, after all, life is an endless series of goals to be sought.

I don’t disagree with having goals. Gazing on the big picture is bound to give me motivation—sometimes. Without pondering about the outcome of whatever I’m doing, how will I know how far away or close I am to the finish line? How will I know that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do?

Nevertheless, always reaching to see that end result and trying to achieve those objectives may have a negative effect. It acts as an obstacle rather than a motivator. It may be stopping me from paying attention to the details of where I am right now. It could be pushing me forward before I’m adequately equip to move onward.

It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of how life is these days. The technical and digital world has me receiving information almost before I’ve requested it. The age almost demands that I progress in my endeavors at lightning speed. My one and only concern with this is I can’t process that fast. Even though when push comes to shove, I can find a quick solution to a problem, my normal speed of carrying out most tasks in my life is at a methodical rate. I’m not a speed demon by any means. Still, because of wanting to belong to the human race, I find myself propelling forward just so no one will gawk at me as if to say I’m less than they are. Yes, I know, a ridiculous way to perceive my fellow human beings, but true nonetheless.

My life journey is self-complicated by a feeling of always playing catch-up with everyone else. Sometimes I suspect there are others like me. I assume they’re the ones who didn’t win any of the races on field day at school and were eternally grateful for that one friend they had while everyone else was hanging out in groups. We are the “non-popular” ones. Popular people don’t need to play catch-up.

What is all this leading up to?

My writing, of course.

I need to get back to writing for the thrill of it. I need to forget about what word is the right one to use in order to make my story sell. My gosh, there isn’t any reason why I should be thinking about my story being sold, not until I get it all written anyway. I would be happier writing with the thought of just getting my thoughts down as they pour out of my soul.

Why do I need to know what the next three scenes are going to be about? Is it so I can write faster? I have a feeling that all that’s going to do is create unfinished details buried along the way, and anxiety I know I can do well without. Is it so I “know” what I’m writing about? I read somewhere that part of the fun of writing is the activity of discovery. I would say “knowing” gets in the way of that.

Oh, but what if I do go off the track a little, or even a lot? I can assure the world won’t end, not for you or me or anyone else. Maybe I’ll find another direction for my story by going off onto a tangent. Or maybe it’ll be the flowering idea of a second story.

Writing this, I’m beginning to see where I might have deranged my writing practice. Although creating outlines, diagrams, sketches, and summaries can definitely help a writer reach his/her goal, assuming that’s the only way I’m going to get any writing done is preposterous. The essays I’ve written that I like the best were penned on the cuff. There wasn’t much forethought to what I was going to write, how I was going to write them, or what angle I was going to use.

True, writing a book (if that’s what it’s going to be) is a little different. There should be a little planning. Still, I think my best bet is to stop trying to go “forward” all the time, and, instead, just write.

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“Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.” ~Don DeLillo

 

Saying ‘No’ Too Often

Image provided by CityGypsy11 https://www.flickr.com/photos/25477528@N00/
Image provided by CityGypsy11
https://www.flickr.com/photos/25477528@N00/

I’ve read several blog posts during the past year that discuss the problem of finding time to indulge in that passion that fuels the spirit. For me, it’s writing. For you it may be something different. Trying to squeeze in those moments of shire enjoyment can be held up by almost anything. And some of those things can be other things you want. It gets complicated, right?

You don’t want to say ‘no’. You want to have time for all in your life. Nevertheless, there are those times when there’s no other choice. You have to choose between one thing and another — so you say ‘no’ to one of them.

Although my passion — my writing — is all important to me, sometimes I question the amount of time I spend on this endeavor. Sure, many are going to tell me I need to stick with it, “keep my nose to the grindstone” if I’m going to reach my goal. I know they’re right. It’s the same advice I’ve heard my entire life. Still, because of what it takes to immerse in this passion, I’m missing out on things that might improve my abilities with my writing as well as enjoying them for their own sake.

Sure, I’m a senior citizen, which means I have many experiences to draw from to enhance my writing. But there’s still some I’m missing because I’m not out there in the world. I’m here typing my life away.

I have no one to blame but myself. I can’t remember how many times I’ve said, “No, I can’t go this time. I’m working on something at home.” I’ve blown opportunities to find new characters, new plots, new scenes, and new settings all because I said ‘No’.

Although saying ‘no’ must be done sometimes so you really do obtain your goal, it can become a crutch for those of us who are introverts. I know I must push — shove, if necessary — to place myself among people and be a part of society. It’s for my own wellbeing.

I need to get out there more. I need to exercise my social skills. And, I can almost bet that my writing will improve by doing more socializing. If nothing else, the breaks will refresh me and enhance a good attitude as I sit down at the keyboard to, once again, type my life away.

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Do you say ‘no’ too often?

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. ~Lou Holtz

 

The Recognition of Goals

The Recognition of Goals
Image provided by
Kabo
@ https://www.flickr.com/photos/kaba/

It was a week ago this last Sunday that I posted the entry, Clashing to Fulfill Goals. I told you how I was taking chances by not making goals for myself. Skipping down the road of life dealing with things as they appear had become my norm since the kids had grown and ventured out on their own.

Maybe I was just weary from all those plans that must be made while children are growing up. Maybe I should have planned an extended vacation or sabbatical to recover from those years of always having something else that needed to be taken care of. Something like taking two or three years off from making schedules and the constant organization was the ticket I probably should have bought. Instead, I was sporadic, sometimes the super organized neat freak, and sometimes the lazy slob.

I can’t say I was happy.

My foresight is  atrocious — obviously.

Here I am getting ready to journey on the rocky path of elderliness and my perceptions of personal necessities have changed — drastically. Don’t most people my age start thinking about slowing down, if only a little bit? Don’t they start relishing the thought of sitting in comfortable chairs on the front porch observing the world as it goes by? Yet, here I sit at my keyboard trying to figure out schemes to fulfill dreams despite the decline of my mobility and probably my sanity.

Who else does this sort of thing? The only answer I can come up with is this: Only crazy lunatics who have a delusional conception of life’s longevity are doing this kind of thing.

Oh well. Such is life. Are there any other crazy old lunatics out there in cyberspace? Speak up!

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When I first started writing my WiP (work-in-progress), I had given myself the anticipated deadline of May 2017 for the final draft that will be sent out into the world of publishing. I still think this is a good estimation of how much time I need. Howbeit, I didn’t go into any sub-goals. I thought about them. Still, I went by way of expecting intuition and luck to guide me.

Where was my brain? There are so many holidays coming up and I just know how my GAD (general anxiety disorder) is going to act up. It’s manageable, but only if I organize and schedule every little thing that’s important to me. Finishing my first book falls into this category, doesn’t it? Of course it does!

With this pointed consciousness, I have set up the following schedule for my ‘baby’.

2nd draft, halfway point
Dec. 15th
2nd draft, end point
March 15th
(Ides of March)
closed critique
(2 or 3 people)
3/15 to 4/15
start 3rd draft
April 16th
3rd draft, halfway point
June 30th
3rd draft, end point
Sept. 15th
semi-closed critique
9/15 to 10/15
make appropriate changes in draft
10/16 to 10/31
beta reading
11/1 to 11/30
make appropriate changes
12/1 to 12/14
send to professional editor
Dec. 15, 2016
???
until May 2017

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For blogging, I thought I’d still keep that kind of loose. Oh sure, I’ve got my schedule for when posts on published, but I’m not going to designate what type of post for what day of the week. My blogging ideas run in spurts by subject. When I tried to organize my posts by topic, I got apathetic. I hope you can bear with me on this.

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Now I have a question for you. Please, don’t be wishy-washy. I want some usable feedback, please.

What specific subjects within my categories would you like me to explore more? (The category list is at the bottom of the page. I’ve updated it a little.)

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
Theodore Roosevelt

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ATTENTION!

If you look at the sidebar on your right, you’ll see that I’m helping a friend with a giveaway. Please check it out by clicking on the image.

 

Clashing to Fulfill Goals

Clashing to Fulfill Goals
Image provided by
Antonio Martinez
@ https://www.flickr.com/photos/poper/

Some of my readers who are knowledgeable in the world of writing have mentioned at one time or another that I may be taking on more than I can realistically achieve with success. I might agree with them if I had a job to go to outside the home, but, except for my endeavors in writing, my only tasks are within the realms of being a housewife. Everything is confine within the four outer walls of my abode.

Taking care of a home adequately isn’t anything degrading, mind you. A home is a sanctuary for the people who live within. Letting the surroundings get filthy and sloppy will have a negative effect on the dwellers both physically and mentally. Furthermore, there’s the preparation of meals and cleaning garments that, most assuredly are necessary chores. Still, because much of what is done depends on the time of day and what is needed by the other members of the household, there is ample time to take on passions and crafts that will enrich the housekeeper’s total wellbeing.

My passion/craft is writing, of course. I could try to take it to the level of sending articles to magazines but my heart can’t get into it unless I feel strongly about the subject I write about. Additionally, I’m writing about these topics in my blog. True, I’m not getting paid for writing this way, but I sure do enjoy it.

When the aforementioned readers expressed their concerns, I believe they were referring more to the book I’m in the process of writing and how I might let unneeded distractions prevent me from finishing what I’ve started. I have taken their wisdom to my depths for consideration. The outcome is I’ve taken their advice in hopes that it will speed up the process of my writing.

In my reflections on this matter, I, inadvertently, hit on the subject of goals. At the time of the initial thought, I believed I had everything set up in an orderly fashion.

Then I got my weekly email from David Stevens, a life coach who lives down under. And what was his topic for the week? GOALS

david-goalsYou should have a Plan or at least a guideline of what/how you want to achieve.

You need to be passionate. There has to be plenty of meaning & purpose.

And there has to be the will to see it through.

You can’t go in to any goal setting exercise half assed. Well actually You can but you are likely to fail.

Many, if not all of you have heard of S.M.A.R.T. Goals … being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time framed or very close definitions of that.

I had to take a good look at how I’ve been going about achieving my passion. Am I planning the way I should so that I reach my goal? Or am I wandering down the road hoping I’ll come across the needs and opportunities demanded for my success?

I came to the conclusion that I’m doing both. I do have a plan, but I’m also moseying down the path, hoping and praying things will go my way. Is this a bad way to do this goal setting gig? I don’t know what David would say, but I, personally, think doing both means I’m being flexible and am not forgetting the unexpected that can so easily happen.

Nonetheless, since I hit middle age (now on the cusp of old age), I do ask myself occasionally about what the balance should be between the two techniques. Have I gotten lazy relying on luck too much? Have I let my self-doubt curb the aims I set for myself?

If the answers to these questions is Yes, I need to find a way to change it around. There are very few intentional goals I’ve set for myself during my lifetime. So far, there’s only been two that I seen all the way through. This unnoteworthy statistic is most likely the underlying reason I have ended up leaning toward serendipity.

What do I have to lose if I, indeed, plan for a goal, plan for a success? I could lose a small lump of pride if I don’t reach the target. Pride is a hard thing to swallow. I know this because I’ve done it a few times. Yet, somehow I’ve gotten it down without gagging. Besides, swallowed pride is calorie-free.

I suppose you’re wondering what my goal is. Sure, you may have some suspicions; and they may even be correct — maybe that it, but only to a point. I won’t be revealing my objective(s) until September 29th. That’s four posts away I hope you can wait because I’ll not tell until then. 😛

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.Steve Jobs