Monday, February 15, 2010

A Snow Day

Sorry, this isn't a true Monday post.  You can say I'm taking a snow-day :-)  But I'm trying to get a handle on some changes I want for the Motivational Monday posts and other features of the blog.

Monday, February 8, 2010

You Are Never Too Old For Snow Days

You Are Never Too Old For Snow Days

Snow On Trees

Do you remember how excited you got when school was cancelled due to snow?  No school, no homework, plenty of fun, and snow!  Well, last month I had a snow day, literally and metaphorically.  You see, lately my job has required a lot of overtime.  I clocked about 15 hours per week in January, and this schedule will not change much for the next few months.  Overtime had become routine, until one day late in January I had a Saturday off.  Not because I got snowed in, not because I got caught up on my work, but because the computer program I use was down.  That really put things in perspective.  When all you see is what you have left to do, you never get a chance to see what you have done.  How stressful!

savanaandmom01brSo what did I do?  Well, that is where the coincidental snow comes in.  The last time I had fun in the snow was not long before I was hired, about a year ago.  On that day, my young cousin, my mother, and I all got together and built a giant "snow worm", our most creative and memorable snow-day ever.  The snow wasn't deep enough this time, but you know what?  We got together that weekend.   We played in the snow anyway.  I took pictures.  I had fun.  And I didn't do a lick of work, writing or otherwise, that weekend.  Because I called in a snow-day.

How wasteful, right?  Nothing had been done on my work or my writing, and things needed to be done.  There are so many pages left to write on my Victorianesque vampire novel.  There is so much paperwork left to process and sort through at my job.  "So many".  "So much."  And all negative.  My perspective was dangerously narrow and it took a day off to remove the blinders.    After all, "so much" may be left to do, but "so much" had been accomplished--and I had forgotten until I had a day off.  Now I remembered that while there may be so much left to write on my novel, I had developed so many exciting ideas on so many areas on that series.  And while there may be so much work to do at my job, I had processed so many requirements and as a result so many parts were being made or in the process thereof.  Not wasteful at all!
When we were children, the snow-day itself was the reward.  But as writers we can use that day to get excited about all we have done and become motivated about our day-to-day routine again.  So whether time finds you or better yet you find the time, take a long break and do something unrelated to writing that you really want to do.  And do it.  Watch a movie.  Take a walk.  Read a book.  Listen to music while soaking in the tub.  Just don't fill this time with chores to do or extra time at work.  Rather, go play in the snow.  Writers need snow-days too.



The same thing that happened to me can happen in any writer's life.  Are you busy writing toward a goal that you don't think you can reach?  Is the only thing you can see is how much work is left to do?  Well, Bonnie Goldberg, in her book Beyond the Words, has some good advice on that topic.  She says, "[S]ometimes for all the good reasons there are to write daily, there as many equally good reasons not to write daily. [...] Not writing allows time for percolation to take place, gives your creativity time to replenish, and gives you the distance from your writing to gain perspective on it."  The thing is, it shouldn't take circumstances beyond your control to give you the chance to do just that in your life.  Don't wait for the snow to call in a snow-day.

Need some suggestions on how to do just that?  Click here.

Monday, February 1, 2010



Christian motivational speaker, Joel Osteen, had an interesting sermon on Jan 24.  Don't name your future by the bad or unwanted circumstances of your present.  In the week since that sermon, that message has really hit home.  You see, I recently started a fantasy writing critique or "crit" group and posted a piece for review.  And I got crits, ones that reminded me of why I have a love/hate relationship with crit groups.  It never fails, where ever I go, I receive crits about a lack of clarity on basic prose.  I receive crits on sentences that are weird.  I receive crits on convoluted sentence structures.  I receive crits that readers cannot understand what I wrote. 

Before last week, I couldn't understand why my writing didn't make sense to others, when it did to me.  Before last week, I thought my unusual sentences was my style.  Before last week, I knew it was a problem, but not why can't ever fix it.  Then, in that week that followed Joel Osteen's Sunday sermon, I listened to another podcast I had downloaded and on it a comment came up about a guest speaker, a writer, having a writing style similar to how she speaks, and something finally clicked:  people often write how they speak. 

You see, I have uncommon speech disorder.  As a two or three year old, I was told that I "spoke too fast".  The disorder was not named and it was masked by a more obvious disorder in which I could only say about 30% of my letters.  Speech classes fixed that obvious speech disorder; the other went unchecked.  Until now. 

I discovered what I have through online research.  It is called cluttering, a fluency disorder, and the best description of it comes from Wikipedia:

"It feels like 1) about twenty thoughts explode on my mind all at once, and I need to express them all, 2) that when I'm trying to make a point, that I just remembered something that I was supposed to say, so the person can understand, and I need to interrupt myself to say something that I should have said before, and 3) that I need to constantly revise the sentences that I'm working on, to get it out right."

Cluttering affects writing abilities.  Cluttering affects reading abilities.  Cluttering affects listening abilities.  And most people don't realize they have a problem at all; others around them do. 

Now, I am aware of the problem and I am aware that it affects many aspects of communication.  But that is not the only thing I discovered.  You see, currently my writing is defined by this disorder, but in the future, it doesn't have to be.  Currently, I am defined by this disorder, but in the future, I don't have to be.  My past experiences with speech disorders proves this.  My ability to write nonfiction that is readable proves this.  That is what I discovered through Joel Osteen's message.  Don't decide what your future will be by what is happening now.  I have the knowledge of what is wrong, and I have the will to find ways to fix it and change my future.  Starting now.  How about you?


Every writer has some obstacle that is present now.  Perhaps it is the economy, and no one is buying.  Perhaps there is some imperfection in your writing that is holding you back.  Perhaps you have the will to write, but no time.  Perhaps you have the desire, but the words won't come.  But that is all happening "now".  What are you doing to make sure that is not your future?  Need some tips?  To check out the companion piece to this blog post, click here.


It is such a relief to discover what is wrong so you may begin fixing it.  Since I "came out", the thing I have been most inspired to do is start a community for writers with disabilities.  And I did it.  Right now it is just me and a blog, just me and my journey to improve my communication abilities and stay motivated.  Who knows, this community may continue to consist of just me, and that is ok.  If I can help even one reader of that blog feel better about his own disability and how it affects his writing dreams, then I have reached my goal.  But I invite others to join and become "authors" on that blog, and if that happens, who knows how many people we can reach.  Please check it out by clicking here.