Mon. Aug. 19, 2019: Feng Shui for Inspiration — #UpbeatAuthors

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image by silviarita via pixabay.com

Monday, August 19, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

We’ve talked about using paintings to inspire us when we’re stuck. So many other art forms can also be used: any of the fine arts (sculpture, textiles, mixed media) or music or dance or anything else.

But sometimes nothing works.

That’s when applying the principles of Feng Shui to our creativity is useful.

There are two parts to this: applying it to the space in which you work, and applying it to the project itself. It might sound weird to Feng Shui a project, but I’ll explain how I do it.

There are multiple schools of Feng Shui. I like the Black Hat School, which Karen Rauch Carter details in her book MOVE YOUR STUFF, CHANGE YOUR LIFE. In my opinion, this is the best Feng Shui book out there, and makes the most sense to my life.

Feng Shui for Space
Draw a bagua, writing in the nine life areas: career, skills & knowledge, family, prosperity, fame & reputation, relationships & love, creativity & children, helpful people & travel, and health in the appropriate points, per the typical bagua. In this piece, the techniques I talk about are from the Black Hat School. If you use Compass School, or a different technique, you might have to adjust where you stand with your bagua to survey the space.

Holding the bagua in your hand, stand in the doorway of your workspace and look around the room. Look at the placement of furniture, decorations, windows, mirrors, etc., and see what falls into each area of the bagua.

Using advice from the Feng Shui School of choice, start moving around objects so that they fit into the correct area of the bagua. If there’s something that can’t be moved, or something missing, look up the “cures” to balance it out. Even more important, clean your workspace. Tidy things up. Dust. Vacuum. Wash the windows. Water the plants. Rearrange furniture if you can or want to. Change the curtains or tablecloths or throw pillows or pictures. Remove anything that is dead or broken. Remove anything that doesn’t serve you any more.

Look through the rest of the house or things you have packed away to see if you already own something that serves as a “cure.”

You don’t have to throw out items with sentimental value just because they don’t fit the space anymore. Pack them away, with gentleness and compassion. A time will come when you want to freshen your space again, and then it might fit. In lean times and sad times, items I packed away ages ago have come in handy on multiple physical and emotional levels.

I genuinely believe that all these organizers who try to get you to throw out perfectly good “stuff” are just trying to get you to buy more stuff. If it’s still useful and purposeful, even if it isn’t needed right this second, pack it gently away and save it for the future.

Take another look at the space. If something still doesn’t feel quite right, keep tweaking it. But I bet you feel happier just being in the space.

Often cleaning up my writing room helps get me out of the “stuck” place, or the uninspired place.

Additionally, looking at the areas in both my writing room and the overall house, and making adjustments in the relevant areas will help get my creativity moving again.

Stand at your front door, looking at your entire space. Where does your writing space fall within the bagua? Mine is in the Helpful People & Travel sector in this house. So I have power tools in the writing room that serve Helpful People & Travel in respect to the overall house, while also looking at the room itself and seeing where the room itself falls into the bagua. It can get a little confusing sometimes, and I find myself adjusting and readjusting after most big projects. I’m a nester, which means wherever I work — the desk, the reading/writing chair, etc. — I tend to pile up what I’m using.

Feng Shui for Projects
How the heck do you Feng Shui a project?

I bet there’s advice on that out there somewhere. At the time of this writing, I haven’t read any, but writing this piece makes me want to hunt it down, if it exists.

However, I’ve come up with a couple of techniques on my own.

Have Your Character Do Some Feng Shui
See what happens if you write a scene or sequence where your character does some Feng Shui on their own space. Sometimes rearranging the character’s space helps the writer push through. That doesn’t mean you have to leave the sequence in the piece, unless it works. You can always cut it.

Remember that nothing written is ever wasted, even if it’s cut from the final draft. You needed to write it to GET to the final draft.

Use the Bagua on Your Plot
Take a look at the nine areas of the bagua. How do they relate to your protagonist’s journey? What pieces are missing, and how do they serve as a catalyst to the protagonist’s journey? Are any of them healed during the course of the book?

Conversely, when you look at the bagua, is there any area you can think of making more difficult for your character, and upping the stakes on the story? Is anything going a little too well in the character’s life, and needs more complications for a more engaging plot?

The act of cleaning and rearranging gets you out of torpor and into motion. As your body moves, your brain starts to re-engage, and that helps get your creativity flowing. Plus, a beautiful space is a much more welcoming space for your work!

Change Where You Work on the Project
Where does your workspace fall into the bagua of your home? Is there another place that would work better? Perhaps the Creativity & Children sector, or the Career Sector? The Prosperity or the Fame and Reputation Sector? Trying working in a different spot, and see if that rattles the creativity loose again.

This Week’s Task
Read a book on Feng Shui (libraries usually have several). Compare different styles. Pick one area of your home to Feng Shui and work on it.

Have you used Feng Shui in your home or your work? What style do you use? What were the results? Let me know in the comments.

Also, in the comments, talk about your Artist Date, and what kind of paintings or other art you experienced, and how it helped.

Mon. Aug. 12, 2019: Paintings as Inspiration – #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Monday, August 12, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter DIRECT (as of yesterday)
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Last Week:
Last week , we talked about Still Lifes and taking an object in your home to use as inspiration.

What did you use? What kind of piece came out of it? A story? A play? A song? A painting? A dance? Something else? Leave your answer in the comments (mine will be there as well). I’ll also post the title of the book I looked at with Still Lifes in it. I tend to gravitate to the Dutch painters for that.

Paintings as Inspiration
I love to use paintings as a jumping off point for a new piece. If I’m feeling stuck or un-creative or like any of the various fragments and outlines and Ideas I’ve jotted down are worthless, I go to a museum and look at paintings (I always prefer to do it in person) or I get a book out of the library and look, or a DVD on a great museum.

I find Edward Hopper’s work particularly inspiring. New York Movie is one of my favorite pieces, and it inspired what may wind up as a long short story or a novella (I’ve been working on it, on and off, around other projects, for several years).

I love wandering into a museum and letting the pictures and sculptures “speak” to me. I may not get the story the painter intended to tell; but I always come away with something. I always come away feeling brighter and fuller and excited.

Details
One of the things I like to do in paintings is to look closely at what is not central to the action. For instance, in Canaletto’s “Rio dei Mendicanti: looking South” (1723?), I’m less interested in the men on the sunny side of the canal in conversation than in the darker, right side of the painting, with the laundry lines hanging out of the window, the woman shaking her broom, and the man perched on the edge of the building, nearly in the canal, cleaning the side of the building. To me, there’s something furtive about the man. Is he observing the place in order to rob it? Although it’s a not a rich area, filled with working people. Are the acoustics in that position good, allowing him to eavesdrop on the conversation of the burghers across the water from him? That’s a possibility. Or does he not want them to recognize him? Does he have a dispute with one of them? Or is he simply going about his day, doing his work, and has to adjust his position so as not to get hit with the debris from the broom shaken out above him? (Aside: I’m writing a play about Canaletto’s sisters, so I’m looking at a lot of his paintings these past months).

This painting could inspire an historical piece (probably a mystery) tying those three elements together. Or a short radio play. Or I could take the ideas and sensations it provokes and set them somewhere completely different: A New York tenement or a created world in a fantasy novel.

In Poussin’s “Summer”, the woman with the bowls beside the tree and the man in the background handling the horses are more interesting to me than the central figure of a man kneeling before the other man. Is the woman going about her business, ignoring what is going on? I don’t think so. She may be related to the kneeling man, or perhaps he is her lover. Or perhaps her lover is the man on the other side of the tree, drinking, out of the sight line of the man in charge. What’s going on in the woman’s mind? There are so many wonderful possibilities.

Even a portrait can inspire. Several years ago, I wrote a play about Lavinia Fontana, the first woman painter in the Renaissance who took in commissions like the men. One of my favorites of her paintings is the portrait “Portrait of a Lady of the Court.” This woman looks like she has a secret. She and Lavinia share it. But we must guess. My research into the extensive network of powerful Bolognese women at the time reinforces that idea, and the research helps me look at the painting with more knowledge.

This Week’s Challenge:
This week, give yourself an Artist’s Date (thanks to Julia Cameron for encouraging us to do that) to go to a museum or a gallery and look at paintings. Pick one that inspires you and write something about it.

You can leave information about it in the comments below, or wait until next week.

Wed. Aug. 7, 2019: Ups and Irritations

Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Who Know What the Weather Will Be Like?

I scheduled yesterday’s post on Monday afternoon, when we were promised a nice but humid day on Tuesday, and thunderstorms today. Of course, Tuesday morning by 8 AM, it was bucketing down. Hence, the weather line this morning (I’m scheduling this to post Tuesday afternoon).

Yes, I am once of those people who uses “hence” in everyday speech.

I was so excited by my Goddess Provisions box that arrived on Monday afternoon! It contained a singing bowl. I’ve wanted one for years. It’s small, but with a lovely tone. Now, of course, I have to learn how to work with it, but my friend is adept with them, and she will guide me. Spending time with it, practicing, like one would with any instrument, is part of it, I’m sure. Eventually, I want a whole set (and a set of crystal bowls), but I’m taking it slowly.

Meditation was great on Monday afternoon. We have such a great group. Got lots of compliments on the hair cut, too, at meditation, from my clients, at the library.

Had a typical local encounter at the library on Monday afternoon. I was telling the librarians how great UNMARRIAGEABLE is, and how much I loved the book. They hadn’t yet read it, but were interested.

An Old White Woman butted into the conversation. She looked at the cover and said, “Why would I want to read about dirty Pakistanis?”

“This book is beautiful and brilliant and clever and universal,” I said. “If you like Jane Austen, you’ll love it.”

She sniffed and said, “Jane Austen is overrated.”

“I can’t help that you’re both a racist and a barbarian,” I replied.

She stomped off. After all, how could she deny she was a racist after her initial remark? I’m sick and tired of the racism, and I’m sick and tired that the racists think it’s okay to behave this way — of course, they’re getting it from the Occupant.

Who, by the way, delivered a bland, meaningless, teleprompted speech on Monday, and then didn’t even have the basic decency to name the right town where the mass shooting happened in Ohio.

Mitch McConnell won’t call the Senate back from recess to pass legislation. He claims it’s because he fell and broke his shoulder. He was home in the same day. Wearing a sling for the shoulder doesn’t mean his brain can’t work and he can’t lead a vote. It’s all an excuse. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the shootings, his campaign staff built a graveyard for programs like Social Security and for his opponent. Disgusting. Young white boys, of course. Boys, not men. Doesn’t matter how old they are chronologically, they will never grow beyond ill-behaved boys, especially with this type of encouragement.

Client work was challenging. Appointments after were fine.

Slowing down on ELLA — only two pages a day instead of four. But that’s okay, because the pace is picked up on GRAVE REACH, and that’s the one under serious deadline.

Client work today, then errands. Hoping for a productive upcoming four days.

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice to see the latest chapter, where Fred interviews the potential writer candidates.

I’ve been doing an extra yoga session every night before bed, and that’s helping my back.

 

Monday, Aug. 5, 2019: Inspiration Starts at Home — #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Jill Wellington via Pixabay.com

Monday, August 5, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

 

We’re down from five retrogrades to only four, so some of the pressure’s easing off.

The month of August is about inspiration, which is one of my favorite topics. I’ll share some of the ways I find inspiration. I always find that I have far more stories to tell than I have time in which to tell them. I have to pick and choose.

Let’s get something straight right from the start: I don’t understand boredom or people who claim they’re bored. I have zero patience with them.

The world is a fascinating place. There’s always something interesting around, and there’s always something that needs doing.

My dad used to say, “Only boring people are bored. People who don’t have the capacity for critical thought or motivation or interest.”

The older I get, the more I realize he’s right.

When someone whines about boredom, it sends up a red flag, and I use one of the tools of gentle disengagement we discussed last month.

People who are bored suck the energy out of a room and the life out of inspired people. They feed off the energy, without reciprocating anything.

Inspiration is all around us. We have to look at things with fresh eyes. This is where the mindfulness techniques of yoga and meditation pay off. If you are in the moment, that means you are paying attention. Your powers of observation are fine-tuned.

As writers, we MUST be observant to the small, unusual detail in order to bring characters and stories to life.

As I discussed in our topics on kindness and tolerance, start finding inspiration at home.

Look at things in your space, the things you take for granted, differently. You probably have photos or small objects that give you pleasure. You put them out on a shelf on a desk because they have meaning. You’re so used to looking at them every day that you don’t SEE them anymore.

Change that.

There’s a visualization technique where you pick three objects and stare at them. You pretend you’re an ant crawling over them and look at every tiny detail. You pretend you’re a bird flying over it and look at details from that perspective. Then you close your eyes and recreate the objects in your mind’s eye.

Think of it as “Still Life for the Mind.”

Go online or get a book out of the library on still lifes, and see how those powers of observation inspired painters.

We are going to talk more about paintings next week, but still lifes in art tie in both to this week and next week’s discussion.

Being able to recreate the object in your mind’s eye might not happen the first time you try this, but if you do this every day for ten minutes or so, it gets easier and easier.

Look, really look at the objects in your home with fresh eyes. There might be things that are tired, and need to rest for awhile. Put them away. They will be new when you decide to take them out again. There might be things that you need to release — give away, throw away, remove from your life. We will talk more about this a couple of weeks down the road, how to use Feng Shui techniques to bump up your inspiration. But again, this entire month’s discussions are all of a piece. They build on each other.

Walk around your house. Pick one thing that you haven’t really, really looked at for awhile.

This week, spend time with it. Let it tell you a story. It might be “its” story. It might inspire a story about something or someone else.

In the comments, tell us which object you’ve picked. Next week, we will talk about this experience, while also trying something new.

 

Published in: on August 5, 2019 at 6:02 am  Comments (3)  
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Mon. July 22, 2019: Commitment – The Myth of “No Time” – #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Nile via http://www.pixabay.com

Monday, July 22
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

 

In this month of commitment, let’s explore the myth of “no time.”

“No time” or “I don’t have time” is often the excuse we give for not doing something.

Writers who aren’t serious about writing often give this as their excuse for not writing. So do non-writers, who say they’d write a book “if they had time.” No, they wouldn’t. If they wanted to write a book, they’d sit down and write a book. They don’t want it enough.

We all have 24 hours in a day. How we choose to use them defines us.

It’s not that we “don’t have time” to do something. It’s that it’s not a priority to make time for it. So let’s just be honest, because we are writers, and words matter. Use the correct ones when you don’t do something.

Each of us has different things we need to prioritize to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, our families safe. Then, we slot in the rest of the things.

Too often, it’s not time itself we lack, but time management skills. Time management skills are learned.

We also have to weigh the realities of what we want to make time for with what else is going on in life.

For me, the “necessity” of eight hours’ sleep per night is a myth. If I had bought into that myth, I could not have had a career and earned my living working in theatre and film and television production for decades. That is simply not a reality in that line of work. The profession will not change because I want eight hours’ sleep a night. Either I have to adapt, or I don’t get to be a part of that profession.

Fortunately, eight hours’ sleep a night is more detrimental than useful to me. Granted, I spent too many years not getting enough sleep — from one to four hours’ worth. I spent too much time in a state of perpetual exhaustion.

But six hours’ sleep a night is, for me, optimal. It’s natural for me to wake up after that period, feeling refreshed and eager to meet the day. Eight hours or more? I’m groggy and have trouble focusing all day. I’m more irritable on eight hours than I am on four. My muscles hurt, I get more headaches, I’m not focused. I’m not rested. Less than six hours? I can cope for several weeks, but then need to take an entire day in bed.

Yes, all those studies say you can’t catch up. But I adapted in order to have a career about which I was passionate. A career that was more important to me than demanding to lose ONE THIRD of my life in sleep. I am an individual, and it took a lot of years and a lot of mistakes, but I found something that works for me.

It’s the same with writing. When I have deadlines, I get up earlier or go to bed later. The writing is my priority. That is why I am a writer and not in a different profession. I am the breadwinner in the family. I am, technically, head of the household. “Not having time” is not an option.

Who gets that time changes. I get my time very early in the morning, because that is my peak creative time. That is spent on my novels, short stories, plays, etc. Clients get excellent work, too, but they get it within traditional business hours. Unless I’m on a tight deadline and I’m behind, in which case I do what’s necessary to get it done ON TIME.

Which brings us to punctuality, which is another part of commitment. Being ON TIME is important. Whether it’s sending something in by deadline or meeting a friend somewhere, being ON TIME is important.

Do we run into obstacles sometimes? Of course we do. And then we let the other party know.

But being constantly late? Laughing it off that “I’m always late, I can’t be on time, that’s just who I am”?

Then you are not someone I want in my life.

Way back, before the age of mobile phones, when I met someone at a location, I waited 15 minutes. If they didn’t turn up, and they didn’t phone the location and have me tracked down to say they were on their way — I left.

Being late is a sign of disrespect. It sends the message, “My time is more important than yours, I am more important than you are, and you need to waste your time in order to fit my schedule.”

That’s not true. It’s part of being an energy vampire, draining energy from all those around you instead of generating your own.

You’re late all the time? We will have a conversation about it.

It keeps happening? You’re out of my life. You’re not willing to respect me or my time. I refuse to remain in that situation. Unless you’re a first responder of some sort, work on your time management and be there, or let me know far enough in advance so I can make other plans. I get to choose who is in my life and who isn’t.

It’s part of our social commitment to each other. I don’t care how funny or brilliant or whatever someone thinks they are — if you don’t respect me, and live that respect, if it’s not a reciprocal relationship, I don’t want any part of it.

Because my writing is such a high priority in my life, I am ferociously protective of my time.

Do I always manage it well?

Of course not. I’m human. I faff around. Often, when I catch myself wasting time (which is different from taking breaks, daydreaming, and doing all those other things non-writers consider “wasting” time, but are actually an important part of the creative process), it indicates there’s something wrong with the project on which I’m working. Once I can dissect what it is, I can either solve it, or complete the project and not take on another one from that client again.

How do you mange your time? What tools do you use to keep on track? What is the biggest thing that derails you?

Published in: on July 22, 2019 at 5:48 am  Comments (1)  
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Mon. July 15, 2019: When Commitment Becomes Harmful — #upbeatauthors

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image courtesy of Open Clipart via http://www.pixabay.com

Monday, July 15, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

For the past few weeks, we’ve explored how important it is to keep your word once you give it, and the importance of commitment to your writing.

But there are times when we must break a commitment, and that is when the commitment hurts us.

Most of us have been in negative job or personal situations, where we feel trapped. We build a case of misplaced loyalty to a person or a situation that doesn’t deserve it. Perhaps it worked for us at one time. But people grow and change. We are as likely to outgrow people as we are situations.

Ask yourself the following:
What portion of the day am I unhappy?

How does my physical body respond when I think of this person/situation, or when I know I have to deal with it?

Do I need a rest/break/sabbatical, or do I need to leave?

Why do I think I have to stay?

What steps can I take to improve the situation? Can I discuss problems or challenges, can I ask for what I need?

What do I need to do to get myself out of this?

Do I need outside help? If so, where can I get it?

It can take weeks or even months to find answers to these questions, but if you keep at it and genuinely explore, you can do it.

Sometimes, you can improve the relationship or situation. But if you can’t, and it puts you in physical or emotional danger, ask for help and get out. It’s not easy, it often takes longer than we want it to, but it’s vital.
If you need to break the commitment, do your best to be both kind and honest. Too often people claim they’re being “honest” when, in fact, they’re being cruel. Be clear, don’t over-explain, and, if it’s warranted, make a clean break. Lying, procrastinating, avoidance all draw it out and make it more painful for everyone involved.

Treat the others in the situation with the gentleness you would wish, if the situation were reversed.

Commitments are important, but your well-being is even more so.

How do you deal with respectfully breaking a commitment?

Published in: on July 15, 2019 at 6:09 am  Comments (1)  
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Mon. July 8, 2019: Commitment To Your Writing #UpbeatAuthors

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Image by Stocksnap via Pixabay

Monday, July 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Enough retrogrades for you? Buckle up, buttercups, it’s a rocky month. But the retrogrades will also help clear out a lot of the deadwood and make way for new growth.

We are Upbeat Authors. We want to make the world better through our writing. That doesn’t mean denying that bad things happen. It means exploring and sharing ways that we can work through the bad and build something better.

It means nothing if we can’t finish anything. If we perpetually start things and let put them aside when the next Shiny Idea floats in front of us.

Those of us who write full-time know that we have to juggle multiple projects and meet our commitments to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. Part-time writers and hobbyist writers face different challenges to also keep sheltered and fed.

Finishing projects is vital.

It’s great to play with ideas. Some of them will work. Some of them will not. You don’t want to hang on to a project that’s not going anywhere and drains energy.

But unfinished projects drain creative energy, and if we let too many unfinished projects hang around, it’s like drowning in quicksand.

I actually teach a course on this, and have a Topic Workbook called THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS.

Also, some ideas formulate before they are ready to bloom into full projects. I have pieces where the idea arrived years before I actually write the project, and I’ve often had several false starts along the way.

There’s a big difference between DECIDING to put a project aside and just LETTING it slide.

Contracted projects on deadlines always get first attention. They have to. That’s the deal of being a professional writer. Earliest deadline/highest pay = first attention.

But there are always other projects begging for time that need to be slotted in around it. You need to be a time management whiz without feeling like you’re trapped and never have a minute to do anything fun with friends or family or just hang out and do nothing. All of that is important.

Ideas tend to come in batches. Some ideas demand to be spun out a bit. Some won’t work.

How do you handle it all?

I’m offering some suggestions that work for me, and there are specific exercises in the workbook.

When I get an idea, I jot it down as soon as possible. I try to keep a “Fragment” or “Whatevers” notebook with me at all times.

I DATE each entry. Like a journal. Because sometimes, when I go back to the idea, the context of WHEN it hit me winds up being important.

Contracted projects, like the Coventina Circle, Gwen Finnegan, and Nautical Namaste series, are outlined in advance. I need to be able to drop right down into them the moment I work on them, and not have to wonder about what happens next.

However, I consider outlines roadmaps rather than prisons. I deviate often. I follow where the story leads. Sometimes it leads back to the outline, sometimes not. Sometimes the tangents are cut, although I learn something important from writing them.

Remember, as a writer, nothing is ever wasted.

Uncontracted projects that have to work around the contracted ones, have a different process. Sometimes I’ll outline the whole piece. Other times, I’ll make notes, and then write my way into the book for about four chapters to see if it’s viable.

If it is, I find a way to work it into the schedule.

If it’s not, I write a temporary ending scene, wherever it stops. I either retire it or put it in stasis, and turn my attention back to the viable projects.

Every few months, I review the projects in stasis. Is there a project in there that’s calling? Has it reached its time? If so, I read through it, make notes, and fit it back into the schedule. If not, I leave it in stasis. Because it has a temporary ending, it’s not an unfinished project that’s draining energy through lack of attention.

Every couple of years, I review retired projects. Often, they stay retired. I needed to work on them to learn something — readers don’t need them.

But, every once in awhile, a project from the retired pile shows promise, and comes back out. Dusted off, freshened up, maybe a new perspective, and becomes viable again.

My minimum goal for my own fiction, plays, etc., (separate from marketing writing, articles assignments, reviews, etc.) is 1K/day. I generally do that first thing in the morning, and the pages add up. I up my game as I need to when under deadline pressure.

Right now, I’m working on contracted fiction and play projects at 1-2.5K/day and another 750-1000 words longhand on an uncontracted projected. This is around the other paid writing assignments. I will have to adjust upwards on the contracted fiction a bit, but the uncontracted — there’s no pressure, no deadline, so as long as I do a little every day, no guilt, only pleasure.

There are days I don’t write. Most of those are planned days off, and then I try to write more in the days BEFORE planned time off (because if you wait until after, you never catch up). I lost a few days a couple of weeks ago, when I was unexpectedly sick and couldn’t even think or sit up, much less write. It happens.

But, for the most part, I keep a steady pace. It keeps the momentum going, the pages adding up. I keep my commitment to the work, the deadlines, but most important of all — I keep my commitment to myself.

If you don’t respect yourself and your writing, no one else has any reason to, either.

How do you keep your commitment to your work?

Mon. July 1, 2019: Commitment – Your Word Matters #UpbeatAuthors

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image by kabaldesch0 via Pixabay.com

Monday, July 1, 2019
Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

This month, we explore the topic of “commitment” together. What does it mean? When is it (if ever) okay to break a commitment? When is it an asset, and when is it a weapon?

One of the facets of commitment is keeping one’s word. There’s a saying “Your word is your bond” which means that your word should have more meaning than any signed contract. In this age of litigation and easily thrown out phrases with no meaning behind it, this saying should matter more than it does.

Don’t promise if you know you can’t deliver.

Too often, we say “yes” in the moment to save us argument or stress, and then back out later on.

That’s a habit we need to change.

When it’s appropriate, say, “no.”

Someone wants to assign you a volunteer job or a task that you don’t want to do or doesn’t fit your schedule without causing major stress and conflict? Don’t agree and then back out. Say “no” upfront.

When they try to shame you or challenge you into doing what THEY want (because it’s always “when” not “if”), just say, “Because I said no.” If they press, just stare them down and say, “The reasons aren’t your business.”

That is far healthier and more effective than to lie and say “yes” because you’re afraid to say no, and then back out later, leaving other people to hold the bag and clean up your mess.

Trust me, I’ve been the people left to clean up the mess, and I lost all respect for those who backed out.

If you have no intention of keeping the commitment, don’t take it on.

If you DO take it on, see it through. Too bad if it’s inconvenient. You gave your word. See it through AND THEN DON’T SAY YES AGAIN.

How often have you agreed to do something, had an awful experience, vowed to never do it again, and then been coerced into doing it again?

Once you say yes, see it through. Then don’t agree to do it again.

Remember, if you say, “I can’t” — you invite questions as to the why, with people who will offer solutions THAT BENEFIT THEM, not you.

Instead, say, “I won’t” or “I’m not.”

You don’t need to give an explanation.

Sometimes, we can’t say no, especially in a work-related situation. I’m talking taking on tasks outside our realm, not allowing inappropriate conduct. Sometimes, they change the parameters of the job, and we are forced to grit our teeth and deal, especially when we’ve voiced our discomfort and been ignored.

In that case, look for another job. Nod, smile, perform your duties professionally, detach, and look for a better situation. If and when the opportunity arises, let the person assigning the tasks know you are uncomfortable. Maybe after a few conversations, things will change. Usually, though, if they didn’t listen the first time, they won’t once they have you performing the task. Keep a log of when and how the tasks changed, and your discomfort. Should you need to offer proof, for any reason, you have it.

And get out.

The problem with being the person who keeps their word is that others flock to you and try to coerce you into doing what they don’t want to do because once you say you’ll do it, you do.

It’s important to keep your word, while, at the same time, learn how NOT to give it in situations that make your life harder, when at all possible.

Not giving your word up front, is much better, for everyone concerned, then making the commitment and then breaking it. Because when you do the latter, you’re hurting other people in order to spare yourself some initial discomfort.

Make people prove they’re worth your commitment, worth YOUR WORD — before you give it.

Remember, as writers, words matter. The words themselves matter, and what’s behind them matters.

How do you keep your commitments? Do you learn from bad experiences and refuse to repeat them? How do you feel about people who break their word?

 

Published in: on July 1, 2019 at 5:43 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. June 23, 2019: Attitude – Balance #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, June 24, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

If you look at everything with positivity, you run the risk of repressing what you really feel. Do that, and it will leak out at another time and in another way that can be harmful.

If you look at everything with negativity, you miss a lot of beauty and joy in the world.

How do you keep it in balance?

For me, one of the most important things is acknowledging what I actually feel, not putting it in terms other people find acceptable. I get angry, I get frustrated, I get restless.

That doesn’t give me the right to lash out at people, especially if the lashees aren’t the ones who caused the anger, the frustration, and the staleness.

But admitting what I feel is important.

Taking a breath. Taking a moment of mindfulness to feel what I feel.

So often, we think of mindfulness as being in a moment and only thinking/feeling good things. That’s overly simplistic and unrealistic in the complexity of life.

Mindfulness is accepting the unpleasant, uncomfortable feelings, along with the good ones.

Acknowledge what you feel.

Try to figure out the cause.

Decide on an appropriate response.

An appropriate response fulfills maintaining your core integrity, while also acknowledging that we are all a part of a society containing other people, and we have to give each other a certain amount of physical and emotional space, and find a way so to do without hurting either of us.

Not every response has to be immediate. Sometimes you respond in the moment, as positively and calmly as you can, and then give yourself time and space to figure out a better, long-term solution.

The constant question is, “How do I do what’s best for me without causing harm?” Or, in certain situations, causing the least harm.

Being aware of that balance and maintaining it is part of a healthy attitude. You might not succeed all the time. You won’t be balanced at every moment of every day. But these steps, and keeping that inner awareness of the need for the balance, will help you with some equilibrium, and give you time and emotional space to make better decisions.

Better decisions feed into a healthier attitude that winds up more positive for everyone.

Namaste!

Published in: on June 24, 2019 at 6:12 am  Comments (2)  

Mon. June 17, 2019: A Presumed Negative Attitude Can Be Positive — #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, June 17, 2019
Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

How often have you heard someone complaining about another person’s attitude? Or even stating, in a derogatory tone, that so-and-so “has attitude”?

How often is it really a person standing up for themselves, and not allowing someone else to dictate their lives or responses? Someone being assertive (not aggressive). Someone who has enough self-esteem not to be bullied?

If someone says or does something derogatory/harmful, you have both the right and the responsibility to speak up and stop it.

“Keep your hands to yourself.”

“Please keep your tone professional and cordial.”

“Stop making racist remarks and expecting me to agree with you.”

The person hearing these statements will say you have attitude. Good. You should.

The person making these statements has the attitude that they are right, that they are entitled to decide how others think, feel, and behave, and that they are better than those they disparage. They are wrong.

The next time you stand up for yourself or someone else and are accused of having “attitude” — smile and say, “Thank you. That’s the best thing anyone has said to me today.”

Shuts them right up!

Published in: on June 17, 2019 at 6:10 am  Comments Off on Mon. June 17, 2019: A Presumed Negative Attitude Can Be Positive — #UpbeatAuthors  

Mon. June 10, 2019: Attitude #UpbeatAuthors

bridge-53769_1920image courtesy of Pixabay.com

The last few weeks have been a real struggle, and I’m fighting to keep a positive attitude and get back on track.

Most of my favorite tricks for regaining and maintaining a positive attitude are not working. Extra meditation helps, but nothing else is.

The long-term positive is that it’s making me face several realizations about even more changes that need to be made moving forward. I can’t discuss them yet, but when I can, you can be sure I will here.

What are your favorite tricks to regaining/maintaining a positive attitude?

Published in: on June 10, 2019 at 5:35 am  Comments (3)  

Monday, May 27, 2019: Find Inner Peace By Taking Time Off #UpbeatAuthors

beach-1868047_1920

Today is Memorial Day in the United States.

I plan on working on my Inner Peace by taking time off and making up the day as I go along.

What are your plans?

Whatever they are, enjoy!

Published in: on May 27, 2019 at 5:37 am  Comments Off on Monday, May 27, 2019: Find Inner Peace By Taking Time Off #UpbeatAuthors  
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Mon. May 20, 2019: Inner Peace in Times of Adversity #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, May 20, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

Hey, when you have a handle on today’s topic, share, will you?

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with this. I had an unexpected car repair, and I had to ask for help, including starting a Go Fund Me. I was worried I couldn’t get the car back on the road, or that it wouldn’t survive long if I did, and I didn’t know what to do.

If it wasn’t for my daily yoga and meditation practice, I would have had a complete breakdown.

I came pretty darn close, as it was.

But every time I was sure I would lose my grip on “the edge of the verge” as a theatre colleague used to say, I would go to the mat or I’d go to the zafu and try to find a few minutes of peace. Those few minutes of either movement or stillness helped me steady. Helped me refocus. Helped me think clearly, so I could do what was necessary to take action and make decisions to deal with the situation.

I still had sleepless nights.

I still had days when I fell into bed early, because I couldn’t function any more.

There were tears and fears.

But, with the help of friends and colleagues, and the help of my daily yoga and meditation practices, I survived.

It clarified a few harsh realities of my life, and means the upcoming changes for this year may need to happen sooner rather than later.

I wouldn’t say I found “inner peace” — but I found a few moments of reprieve, and those helped me cope.

How do you cope when life throws adversity your way? How do you try to achieve “inner peace?”

 

Published in: on May 20, 2019 at 5:32 am  Comments (2)  
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