Keep Going

Today’s blog:  Commitment

Step One:  Look.  Listen.  Learn.

Three words, one meaning – pay attention!

“It doesn’t get easier, you just have to get better… ”

– Jim Rohn

“Resistance presents itself when you are ready to go to the next level.”

– Steven Pressfield

” Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”

– Stephen King

“You can’t edit a blank page.”

– Nora Roberts

Step Two: Apply. Apply. Apply.

Three words, one meaning – knuckle down!

“Motivation will almost always beat mere talent.”

– Zig Ziglar

Step Three: Stay the course.

Three words, one meaning – commitment .

“A writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull.”

– E.B. White

Advance Confidently

For anyone aspiring to be a writer, I humbly ask, “Who inspires you?  Why do you keep going?”

Henry Thoreau said, “I learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Yes, together, we advance confidently.

Meanwhile, know your story matters.

Sunshine and rainbows!

S. Whitten

 

 

 

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Crossing Over

Today’s blog:  Sink or swim

A good story intrigues.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out;  but generating something worth reading isn’t easy.

A professional writer knows  good writing is an art.

          “A writer learns that easy to read is hard to write…

                                                                                                      – C. J. Heck

A writer can have all the passion, commitment and discipline needed to churn out a book.  Yet, he knows that  “the end” is not really the end.  It is only the beginning.   He now faces that moment of truth and asks:   Is my story good enough?

Crossing Over

Having a story good enough to be published is every writer’s dream.  Crossing the figurative bridge to get there is not so easy.  It can be scary, even immobilizing.  Still there’s no turning back – either you cross and make it over (get a deal); or, you attempt and the bridge collapses (no deal, pal).  You now face the million dollar question:

“sink or swim?”

Uh-oh.  Can’t swim?

The War of Art

Me neither – I was drowning.  I needed help; I was going under.  Then, not one, but two life-preservers were thrown my way.  Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of The War of Art and Do The Work, saved me.

He made me swim across.  No, I didn’t get to walk over the bridge, but I gladly paddled to the other side.  What did that teach me?  I learned nothing is easy; you work hard for it…you work very hard for it.

Writer-to-writer

I challenge you not to sink!  When you need sage advice, read Steven Pressfield Online:  http://www.stevenpressfield.com/category/writing-wednesdays/

I do.

Meanwhile, know your story matters.

Sunshine and rainbows!

S. Whitten

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The Bridge

Today’s blog:  Dare to cross   

I neither look back  nor look for a hand.  I know what lies before me.  Twilight sets in and darkness ensues.  I cling to the map which guides me.

The path is well-worn though I travel alone.  I know many have journeyed before me.  I follow the path and weather the wind, the bumps and snags  impede me.

With open hand, I take from the man, a map to guide and direct me. On this journey alone, at a fork in the road, I let not fear betide me.

Darkness descends where one journey ends,  and then it appears before me.  It swings and it sways, unsteady and frayed,  a ramshackle bridge to slow me.  I stop and it’s clear, the voices I hear – the voices I know are true.

“Come,” they say.  “It will be okay.  We made it and you will, too.”

They continue to call; they beckon with care.  In fear, I count the cost.

“Come,” they say.  “It will be okay.”   I step out and dare to cross.

Ready or not…

Will you dare to cross?  Will you cross the bridge?  Is your story ready for the next step – publishing?

Yes, writing a book is a journey.  Discipline keeps it priority.

And, now you face a new challenge – getting  published.

Share how you moved forward – how you dared to cross the bridge and step into the world of  publishing.

Meanwhile, know your story matters.

Sunshine and rainbows!

S. Whitten

 

                                                                       

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Fork in the Road

Today’s blog:  The road chosen

I look up, it’s 1:00 a.m.  The house is quiet.  The lights are out except for the lamp on my desk.  I rub my eyes and turn off the computer.

The alarm goes off, it’s 4:00 a.m.  The house is quiet.  The lights are out except for the glow of the clock by my bed.  I rub my eyes and throw off the covers.

I pour my first cup of coffee and think to myself,  “Is this journey really worth it?”   As I walk  toward the desk,  I stare at a sticky note above it.   It reads:

“Did I overcome resistance today?”  – Steven Pressfield

I am struggling.  I am human.  Psychology dictates: humans are emotionally weak.   Therefore, my brain is creating  resistance – resistance to change.  My brain considers change a dangerous thing.   Therefore, my mind works against me – fighting new  ideas, new goals.  My brain is dampened  with emotional turmoil.

What am I going to do?

I face a fork in the road.  I know I have to choose.  And, there are only two choices – keep going or quit.  I refuse to quit.

I look down both roads – one is wide, the other narrow. The wide road offers comfort and ease, but no payoff.  The narrow road is cramped and difficult, but great is its reward at the end.  (Sound familiar?)

As I look up, it’s 1:00 a.m.   The house is quiet.  The lights are out except for the lamp on my desk.  I rub my eyes and turn off the computer.

It is the road chosen.

Resistance

Writing is hard work.  We all face that fork in the road, that moment when we have to overcome resistance (thank you, Mr. Pressfield).   Take a moment to share how you did it.

Meanwhile, know your story matters.

Sunshine and rainbows!

S. Whitten

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The Journey Alone…

Today’s blog:  The turning point

I boarded the plane in Reno, NV.

I returned a quick glance and half smile to the flight attendant who asked for my boarding pass.  In just two steps, I found my seat – an end seat on the first row.  I placed my carry-on in the luggage bin overhead, but not before pulling out my writing pad – a $2 college-ruled notebook from K-Mart.

Armed with pen and paper, I sat down – alone.

For the next three hours, I remained planted in seat 1D, lost in another world. There,  I found myself staring into the darkness of night.  I watched as a heavy fog rolled in, making everything difficult to see except for the man in a rowboat.  He sat near the shoreline, waiting.  I couldn’t see his face, but he seemed resigned to wait, as if accustomed to it.  I squinted and strained  to make out another figure moving closer to the water.  It came from between a clearing in the nearby trees.

It approached the man and beckoned to him with a long crooked finger.   Two helots walked alongside while several more circled overhead.  That’s when I knew.  It was the crone!   In a cloak covering her from top to bottom, the man helped her into the rowboat.  The helots stepped back and took flight,  joining the others above them.  She sat at one end, he moved to the other.  The entire time, the man looked down; then faced away from her when seated.  He knew: you dare not look into the eyes of the crone, lest you turn to dust.

He rowed and rowed until land could be seen no more, a rope tied to a raft behind his boat.  Even though I could not see the man’s face, I could see the perspiration drenching his clothes.  It was his only job, rowing that boat – rowing from the shoreline and out to sea, then back again as ordered by the crone.

Through the fog, I saw it.  I saw it and  gasped.  In its element, it was beautiful – majestic; but here, it was pitiful – trapped.  And, like that helpless creature shackled to the raft, the man, too, felt trapped.  He didn’t want to do it.  But, he dared not disobey and watched as the helpless creature struggled to get away.

A single chime, the familiar “ding,” made me look up.  The flight attendant touched my shoulder as she passed,  then took her place in a seat facing the aisle.  The pilot made an announcement over the intercom.  We would be landing soon.  As I closed my notebook and attached my pen to the front cover I kept thinking about the majestic creature struggling to be free.

In fact, I never noticed the flight attendant staring at me.  It was not until she spoke that I realized she had been watching me during the entire  flight.  She was kind and attentive and respectfully asked, “Are you a writer? You never looked up the entire 3 hours. ”

Something inside clicked.

I smiled.  It was an epiphany moment.

I am a writer.   It played out like a scene in my novel…that scene where you can  never turn back, the point of no return.    I liked it.

Everyone experiences that turning point as a writer.  What was yours? How did you react?

Remember, your story matters.

Sunshine and rainbows!

S. Whitten

 

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Bumps in the Road

Today’s blog:   “The End” 

You finish the first draft of your book.  You type “The End” – no applause, no cheering, nothing.  You sit quietly in your chair and stare at those final two words, thinking, “Voila, all done!”

What now?

For me, it was a mix of emotion – relief on the one hand, sadness on the other.  I felt confused.  I had crossed the finish line, yet I wanted to keep going.  Saying goodbye felt unnatural.  Hours toiling at my desk had birthed something special and I didn’t want to let go.

I took a deep breath and sat there. Slowly,  I came to the  realization:  Writers don’t stop; they merely change course.  It was my ‘aha’ moment (as Oprah calls it).   Yes, one chapter ends where another begins.

This was not the end; it was only the beginning – the beginning of a new journey.  Thanks to The Write Practice, I learned the value of establishing a routine.  I learned to pick up the pace; build momentum.  I learned to write, write, write – write every day.  Morning after morning, I dragged myself out of bed  until gradually, it  got easier.   Writing became a habit – a habit I liked (a lot).   Stationed at my little desk, armed with a cup of coffee, I’d begin.  Days became weeks, weeks became months and Willoughby Glen was born.

Stephen King

According to A Memoir of the Craft on Writing by the master of macabre, Stephen King, I learned  another valuable lesson.  Once you finish your book, take six weeks of “recuperation time.”  Yes, put it away.  Take a break.  Step back. Absolutely DO NOT look at your manuscript for  several weeks.

Obediently, I took my computer printout of  Willoughby Glen  and attached to it a single large sized binder clip.  Carefully, I  filed it away  (in a pretty pink  folder, I might add).  Then, I put it out of my mind (sort of).

When I later revisited that first draft, I saw it  through a fresh pair of eyes. Whoa!  It was in dire need of some fixin’ (Southern expression).   Would it be easy?  Nope.  I could see the bumps in the road.  In fact, I had another epiphany moment.  I needed a fair and honest critique of my manuscript.

So, I turned to my friends at The Write Practice for help.  I cannot tell you how much their expertise, patience, and guidance meant.  Once again, I learned another valuable lesson.  Writers connect with other writers.

I would love to hear your story.  Where do you turn for support when you write?

Remember, your story matters.

Sunshine and rainbows!

S. Whitten

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Follow the Path

Today’s blog:  Why I choose to write

Stories are powerful. They evoke emotion.  They make us laugh; they  make us cry. In fact, really good stories not only entertain, they remain a part of us.

I love stories.  For me, writing is a passion.  Yet, I confess, my family tree never touches that of Ernest Hemingway’s, nor does it show a relation to Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling, for that matter (sigh).

Yet, I choose to write.  Why?

She stands 3′ 6″, has blonde hair and blue eyes.  She  is six years old and thinks my stories are  ‘fantastical’ …so much so that she claps and giggles when I tell them.  It is during one of these moments that I have an epiphany.   I shall write a book.  Yes, I will write a book – a book for her. 

REALITY HITS.  

I am struggling with my first draft.  In this moment, I learn an important  lesson. Writing  is a craft. It is hard work and not for the faint of heart.  I am unprepared and lack the basic tools to get from point A to point B.   I feel a pit in my stomach; fear sets in.  My dedication wanes and I want to quit.   I am floundering like a fish out of water.

THE SOLUTION ARRIVES: The Write Practice  100 Day Book Plan.

I join the program and gain:

  • accountability
  • feedback
  • structure
  • daily lessons

In the program, I learn reading is essential to writing and writing is a daily exercise. It is empowering.  I finish my book.

I owe a great deal  to The Write Practice , Joe Bunting and his excellent team of authors for teaching me the basics of writing.   

We all need a mentor.  If you are struggling to write that book, do not fret.  One click opens the door to a community  ready and willing to help.  With the team at The Write Practice,  I no longer write alone.

Please share why you choose to write and where you draw support.

Sunshine and Rainbows!

S. Whitten

 

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