A Garden of Delights

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As part of the A Round of Words in 80 Days challenge (ROW80), this was one of my sponsor posts nearly three years ago… it’s as true now as it was then. There is always time to write something!

(Reposting here with apologies to the awesome Kait Nolan who runs the ROW80 because I reference this post all the time, and would like more available access to it)

Those (Five) Sentences (by me)

I want to talk to the people who can’t find time to write. You know who you are. (The rest of you free to read and comment—we’re all in this together–, and you may have suggestions to add that will help.)
First off, let me apologize. I’m not one of those people who doesn’t have time to write. I have the time to write–rather I make time to write. I do have a luxury that some don’t: I don’t have a job or a boss or deadlines to write around. My work involves volunteering (a lot), and I set my own schedule. I also am blessed with an encouraging husband and a son who thinks it’s cool that Mom writes stories.

The only real deterrents to my whipping out page after page daily are the occasional bouts of Writer’s Block (often in the form of Brain Drain or fear) and me.

It’s the second one that causes me the most grief, and I’m betting it’s the same for you.

You see, I know how much you are writing and posting and tweeting about not being able to write. I waste/spend a lot of time on Social Media too.

I has a hard time finding time to write recently too. I mean, where are those hours of time we hear about? When do we set up these precious “office hours” that writers are supposed to have to develop their creativity to its fullest?

Maybe they just aren’t there, or we cannot find them without sacrificing all our sleep and destroying our relationships.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find time to write—you can. Here’s what I did. May it help you too.

First, I gave up the myth of uninterrupted creative time. But even then, I still needed a goal to reach toward; I needed something to reach for and measure. Something concrete and yet easy to achieve.

Now if you’ve been around the ROW80 for a while, you are probably familiar with Kait Nolan’s Test Mile. If you are not, take some time to read up on the concept before I share my personal test mile.

You ready now?

It is to write five sentences (I bet you knew that already, didn’t you).

Yep. That’s it. Write Five Sentences, and they can be as short or as long as I want to make them.

There is one other rule. The sentences have to be creative writing. Tweets or Facebook comments don’t count. A new poem? Cool, but it won’t necessarily count unless I want to write poems or the poem somehow fits into my present Work In Progress. I can still write something along the lines of this:

David ate the squash. A bird had pecked one end. He tossed that in the road. He felt exhausted. Nearby a truck chugged past.

It took me less than a minute to scribble out those sentences. Yes, they need some tweaking, but there is a definite sense of a scene here. I see a vagrant who’d picked up a zucchini from the end of a garden, then finding that it probably had been tossed off because some animal had nibbled at it. He’s hungry and eats the squash anyway, tossing off the bad part. He’s tired of wandering. The truck matters to him…

Why? I haven’t written that yet.

When a scene comes easily like this, I might keep writing if I have time. That is the main point of a test mile—to get you started. But it also serves the second purpose of getting something written no matter how busy we are.

So one minute, maybe two… at most five. Five sentences, five minutes, maybe two less tweets or one last skim of your NewsFeed. We all have time somewhere in our day to use for writing. It may not be five minutes at once, but there is time. A sentence written while standing in line at the bank is still a sentence written. Add the next one, spoken into a phone’s speech-to-text app while driving or doing those thirty minutes on the treadmill (and maybe two or three more!) and you’re almost there. Another line, this time at the grocery store? Another sentence…

See how easy it is? If you promise yourself to write sentence as soon as you wake up and one more before you turn the light off at night, then you will be done, if you want to be.

As for myself, I actually don’t own a smart phone. If I’m not glued to my computer, I write on paper. I make sure I always have some kind of little notepad to scribble in (and often much bigger notebooks too, just in case I discover one of those mythic hours of creative bliss).

And for those who may be wondering,… no, things didn’t start out smoothly . I didn’t get up one morning and suddenly every day I was getting those sentences written. I had a day or two where I fell asleep in the middle of the third sentence; I had a few days I missed completely, and despite the best intentions, I didn’t make those missed sentences up the next day either.

I’ve planned poorly. As reigning Queen of Mislaid Plans and Sub-Empress of Disorder, I have scrambled to get those sentences in before bed. I’ve spent several nights recently writing my five sentences on the bathroom floor where I could make sure the light didn’t wake up my husband or son.

I still wrote them. I wrote a full page the other night. It took me ten minutes after brushing my teeth. I started while I brushed…using my left hand for some mirror writing just to get an idea I kept forgetting all day down before I slept and forgot it permanently.

They say it takes 30 days to build a habit. I’m not so sure of that. I still have to be prompted by seeing my fellow writers posting about their wordcounts or the fact that I can’t walk through my house without seeing an open notebook nearby begging for some word love and pen scritches.

Five sentences… If you can’t do this, then perhaps you might not be as serious about writing as you say (and that really is okay too). However, Writers write as fellow ROWer and sponsor Alberta wrote last round. Being someone who writes is part of who and what we are, and we will always find a way to write. There may be ebbs and flows to our productivity; after I’d broken my wrist in December, I didn’t write–I mean, I did write; I wrote notes and blogposts, but nothing I considered creative. But Writers Write, and I made a way.

So start small. You won’t always manage these sentences daily. Try treating your writing like a job in that sense and give yourself a (scheduled) day off here and there. Use a five-day work week with your two days off spread out (say Tuesday’s and Friday’s off or something like that). It’s easy to get in the habit of not writing when you’re already fighting yourself for control over your dream. Don’t let yourself down… write at least every other day. And allow yourself to have a few bad days (forgiveness is important, as important as self-discipline).

If you can’t do that; if you can’t find five minutes for something you say you want to do, then you need to find out why. That’ll have to be the topic of another post however. For now, just write those five sentences.

A Round of Words in 80 Days

I want to talk to the people who can’t find time to write. You know who you are. (The rest of you free to read and comment—we’re all in this together–, and you may have suggestions to add that will help.)
First off, let me apologize. I’m not one of those people who doesn’t have time to write. I have the time to write–rather I make time to write. I do have a luxury that some don’t: I don’t have a job or a boss or deadlines to write around. My work involves volunteering (a lot), and I set my own schedule. I also am blessed with an encouraging husband and a son who thinks it’s cool that Mom writes stories.

The only real deterrents to my whipping out page after page daily are the occasional bouts of Writer’s Block (often in the form of Brain Drain or fear) and…

View original post 1,116 more words

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Yes! Oh, so very much…. YES!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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We live in a wonderful world. We are connected more than ever. Through Facebook, I’ve connected with friends and family that I couldn’t even FIND before 2005 without hiring a P.I. Through this blog, I am able to help authors all over the world and that is wonderful. I’m able to keep up with all kinds of news and world events and be a better citizen.

But all this technology has a steep price and we are wise to remain vigilant. Lately some things have me really overwhelmed (verklempt) so let’s chat.

Tawk amongst yuhselves. Just do what Barbara does….

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Social media sites like Facebook now keep us abreast of all the horrible happenings in the world. In a way this is good. In the “old days” news and opinions were filtered through media gatekeepers. And sure, news is supposed to be unbiased, but so long as humans are relaying…

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Where do you want to be in the end? Plan ahead to get there!

A Round of Words in 80 Days

Start thinking ahead.

If I could give one piece of advice to new writers, it is to think ahead right from the beginning. Stop your writing and take an afternoon to think about all the things you want to happen, and what you can be doing now to make them happen. Here are just a few examples that I’ve learned over the last year since bringing out my first book, things I wish I had known earlier.1. Call Yourself A Writer From The Start
The sooner you start calling yourself a writer, the sooner you will start seeing the world is full of opportunities for writers. If you introduce yourself as an office worker, your conversation will start off focused on what everyone knows about office workers, which is not much. If, however, you start by saying that you are a writer, people will immediately think of all they know…

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I can’t “like” this post by Kristen Lamb because of how close to the heart it hits. I just know it makes me want to hug her and share a cup of commiseration disguised as tea and cookies with her.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Today is a tad of a touchy subject, but in this New year, I want everyone to have a the greatest gift any of us can have…peace. Bullies, in my opinion, are among the lowest known existing lifeforms. I wouldn’t want to insult cockroaches and fleas by drawing a comparison.

Kristen’s History With Bullies

I grew up most of my life being bullied. I switched schools at least once a year and there was always a new gaggle of Mean Girls to make my daily life a veritable hell. I think this is why I grew to love books. I skipped school so much (to seek sanctuary at the public library), that I’m fairly certain I’m the reason for the current Texas truancy laws.

I couldn’t get out of bed. I became ill at the thought of even walking through the front doors of my school. I was poor and…

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A wonderful interview by two very talented writers… The Butterfly Storm is in my “to read” pile, but now I’m tempted to move on it sooner.

Dreaming of Other Realms

One of the best things about the on-line writing community is making friends with other writers, and then getting to ask them all sorts of things about their books and writing processes. I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon Kate Frost’s blog last year, but  we really hit it off during chats in the blog comments and a shared journey through WIPpet Wednesdays. So I’m thrilled to have her on the blog today to answer all my questions about her debut novel The Butterfly Storm.

With an MA in creative writing under her belt, Kate teaches lifewriting for the undergraduate Creative Writing course at Bath Spa University. She’s also published articles and short stories in Scriptor, QWF, Bullet Magazine, Peninsular, New Welsh Review and The London Magazine. For those are you who are a bit star-struck (not me at all) – she’s appeared in Vanity Fair with Reece…

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I don’t think I’ve seen a more perfect description of why we do what we do… at least not for a while!

A Round of Words in 80 Days

I posted a while ago on the theindieexchange.com, I mentioned a budgerigar my sister once had. It was one of a pair. Flying loose in her dust-sheet clad room.  A brief recap of his story, one day he suffered a stroke. The vet said, too much, it will die. It didn’t die.  Mum never allowed such disasters. However, maybe it had been too much, he was left with deformed legs, unable to perch.

Life with a capitol L had slapped him hard.  I made padded balsa wood platforms for him to sit on. He hated them; he was born to perch. Recovery was long, Mum fed him by eye dropper some kind of mash (I never enquired too closely what it was she had mashed:) minor setbacks occurred, minor triumphs. That tiny bird was determined, had grit; knew himself for a  bird and birds perch.  Home birds can also hang…

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Because sometimes little reminders are just what make life special

It’s time again for Saturday’s Share: Reflections and impressions inspired by images from the lovely chaos of everyday life.

Three summers ago, I spent a lot of time cleaning my house. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with cleaning house. I still enjoy hometending, when I am inspired, and have a purpose.

But, in those days, I tended to clean out of a sense of obligation, because I “should”. My mother had instilled that in me throughout my life – “good” wives and mothers kept their houses clean. She was a good wife and mother. Rules, chores, days her four children spent in school, and long summer days we spent mostly outside, on her command, helped her to keep the common areas of our home tidy. Punishments, threats, and sometimes the forced removal of our items kept our rooms, if not up to her standards, at least…

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