Writing At All Costs: Morning Pages or No Morning Pages?

Morning pages are not for the faint of heart. They inspire a disciple in you that you may not have had before.

What do I mean?

Morning Pages aren’t the same as journaling. Morning pages have inspired me to trust my own thoughts more. To trust what it is I have to say or would like to say. The goal of Morning Pages are to get you writing, keep you writing and becoming more comfortable in writing.

Now, as someone who writes for a living, and infatuated with language, you would think I would be singing the praises of Morning Pages. I think that Morning Pages are a one of those back-pocket tools writers can have or develop to organize thoughts. Or develop new ideas.

I am a fan of Morning Pages, actually. The act of writing as soon as I get up, or within an hour of me getting up helped me focus. They help me organize my creative thoughts and focus.

I suggest to anyone that does any amount of writing, or may decide to pursue writing as a career to try Morning Pages. The organization of your thoughts through this tool provides the galvanizing of your imagination.

Always a marvelous thing. Morning Pages are a marvelous thing.

[images from blondesandbagels.com]

Keep Going! This Is Why You Write…

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Writing is work! Octavia Butler said that sometimes writers would rather clean toilets than write.

She’s right.

There will be times when sitting at a computer, or pens out lusting for your hand to seduce the pages of blank paper under them–and you will think, “Why am I doing this?” Every writer I know has experienced this. It’s beyond self-doubt. It’s more dangerous than that–it’s apathy.

Apathy is a thief.

It steals all creative joy. It steals all promise that ambition and talent will bring. It lies and tells us that no one will read our novels, our poems or do our workshops. It lies to us because if apathy knows how talented you are—it would be unemployed. It would have nothing to say, nothing to offer, noting to give. It has nothing else to tell you.

In deciding to submit your work, in being a writer either indie or through an agent, you have to know two things.

One:

Not everyone is going to like  your stuff. This is crucial.

Two:

There are people that will like your stuff.

 

 

Some of the most hurtful criticism I have heard gotten was from someone close to me whom called what I did my ‘writing crap,’ Another was when I was writing for another blog, and they changed almost everything that I wrote. Here recently, I was told that my sentences were too cluttered, and my mechanics just sucked. However, I didn’t quit. I didn’t stop writing. I didn’t find sycophants. I took the criticism, weighed it for relevance, and kept it moving.

 

Writing is a constant balance. A constant need to swim upstream and know you can. That is the crazy part—you can do it. In the face of opposition and evil editors and low readership to blogs or mailing lists, you can do it. The question I need to ask you is, do you want to?

 

[image from Google]

 

Trying To Break The Fourth Wall

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The trippy thing about writing is when you get sucked into you own worlds.

 

Has this happened to you? I know it has, at least once. In the creating of a story, mastering of a world, you will be sucked in. That’s how you know it’s good. This is the thing you do with a good book–when you have to orient yourself to where you are or even when you are.

This is the goal. This is the high. This is why we write.

This is the fourth wall.

 

Being able to bring the readers into something you have created is beyond amazing. It is a testimony to power, skill and crafting of your story. Margaret Atwood describes it this way in her MasterClass. She says the goal of writing any story is to keep the attention of the reader. Then she gives this saged wisdom. She reminds her pupils that you want to keep the reader enthralled, engaged in a story–‘even though you both know its fiction.’

This is breaking the wall. This is what we all strive for. To be lost in a world you have created…and leave the door open for other people to follow behind you…even when they don’t know what happens.

 

 

[image from Fight Club]

Empty Pages & Empty Pens

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There is a fate worse than writer’s block. It’s empty pages–and having nothing to say.

It is this  feeling that everything is still. Everything is quiet. There is nothing in your imagination that is stirring. That stillness is disquieting.

Audre Lorde said that this time comes for all writers. This lull, this disquiet,  where the the words don’t come–when writing is like breathing she says. I make mention of this in my book, WriteLife. Click here to get a copy.

Writing is a demanding mistress, beloved.

To chase it with power and passion, there will come the still moments. The moments when touching the gift seems further than it ever was. You have to know this, prepare for this.

The duration for this is unique for every writer. For me, it came after a traumatic breakup. The lull was three years and more. It was only when I was in a healthy place again did the words return.

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I believe this is the secret fear all writers have. It’s different than the recovery you need, or give yourself after completing a book. It’s beyond writer’s block. It’s not a block at all–that’s just it. It’s a barrenness. Having everything and nothing. Having the desire to say–nothing. Yet, as a writer–you wanna say everything!

Madness.

I wish that I could tell you a tip or tool to get through this certain scary part of your writing career. Yet, I don’t.

What I will tell you is this, which is scary in itself:  embrace the lull.

That’s right–EMBRACE the lull. It will come. I don’t know any writer–whether they be a newbie, practicing amateur, indie author or a NYT Best Seller–whom hasn’t had a lull. They happen.

What you can do is enjoy the time you aren’t writing. Catch up on your sleep. Learn to garden. Take more walks. As a writer, you are called to record the world. This means every now and then you have to live, to develop, your life beyond creating the lives you create for the people in your head.

 

[images from Quotefancy and Google]

The Intangible: The Belief In You

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In all the encouragement you have found this month, the one thing you need to remember is this. There is no magic ingredient for success, no key, no secrets to tell. The only secret I can give you is to look in a mirror. You are the secret ingredient.

You are the key.

You are the magic.

You are it.

 

The rescue you want is in your reflection and fingertips. You are the intangible. You are the hero of this story. Always remember this.

As a writer, you will have bouts of self-doubt to the point of it crippling you. The doubt reaches into the innermost parts of you and sets every thing you know your talent can bring you on fire–and makes you watch.

Remember your why.

 

Only you know why you write, and you have all the power you need inside of yourself. Unless you believe you can write, you never will. Unless you believe you can write, and determine that you will write, there is no inspirational book or blog which can help you. There must be the inner belief that resonates, catches fire in order for you to continue on this grind. You can do it if you believe you can.

 

If you believe you can, you’re right.

If you believe you can’t, you’re right.

 

It’s a process. Everything you do towards your writing, if this is what you want, determines the width and breadth of what you demand of yourself. If you want to write, you’ll write. If you don’t, you won’t.

The crux is what do you want to do more:  quit or keep going?

 

 

[image from Google]

 

Believe The Blank Pages

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In on of the social media commercials for the Masterclass series of writing classes, James Patterson holds up a blank legal pad, flush with lined yellow paper, says “This is the enemy:  the blank page.”

I concur.

The blank pages are seducing, chaotic, frightening and all-consuming. There is something about a blank page that will either draw you in to the world you wish to create or push you out, tricking you out of your imagination. Empty pages, also, will draw you in, or they will make you curse them out!

There is no high like a blank page you slay with ink from your own hand.

There is no low like believing you can’t fill a line, or a page, thinking what is in your head is not worthy to come out–or may never come out.

However, I come to you to tell you this.

Believe the blank pages.

 

What this means is  just that; believe the blank pages are just what they are.

Blank. They are blank pages.

No more, no less.

The blank pages wait for you–not you for them.

You choose to fill them or not.

You choose to continue the story or to end it all.

 

You are the master of all these pages, all these pages wait for you…

 

Fear not. Blank pages die with ink and on pens…

Bend your blank pages.

 

[image from Google]

The Weapons Of Your Warring: Build Your Vocabulary!

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Writing is work. If you follow this space, you know this. You know that I pull no punches in regards to this craft. This post will be no different.

You only get better at writing, by writing. There is no quicker way, there is no secret, there are no ways to be a writer without writing. One of the ways your get better as a writer is to increase your tools. The essential tool every writer has is your vocabulary.

Build it.

Push it.

Develop it.

 

One of the quickest ways of increasing or strengthening your vocabulary is reading. Any word you come across–look it up! I know, I know. Very rudimentary, extremely low tech, but it works. That word, start to use in conversation. Know that it means, and write it down. The other way? Dictionary app.

The Dictionary App is on of the quickest ways to build your vocabulary! There is a option this app has where you can subscribe to The Word of The Day. Everyday, you can learn a new word, or even look up the etymology of words–especially helpful for expanding your vocabulary horizontally.

Case in point. Let’s take the word witch. The archaic word for witch is beldam. This word, beldam, is also a word for an old woman or a hag–hag is another word for witch. See how that works?

Good writers are good readers. Good writers have an arsenal of words to build words and create.

Don’t fear it–build it.

 

Happy Writing.

Words, Wisdom & Writers: You Are A Life-long Learner

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So,  you want to be a writer?

Awesome!  Let me be first to welcome you to the guild.

You are now a part of the body of artists that keep strange hours, weirder company, and have a sense of time, place and season out of step with the world.

This is a good thing. I promise you.

In this the ninth of twelve months, I must take it upon myself to remind you to write. One of the ways you become a better writer, a stronger writer is by doing.

There is no other way to become a writer aside from writing! There will be no other way to be a better writer other than writing!

The secret weapon not seen or shared among other writers is this: lifelong learning.

Writers are readers.

Writers are learners.

 

Whether it is learning a new vernacular English, such as AAVE, as a writer, you must embrace the fact that you will remain, a lifelong learner. A student of the world, and perhaps the world behind it.

Do no shy away from this!

 

In shying away from it, you limit the power of current and future work! You limit your potential in and to your writing! As a writer, being challenged is never a bad thing–and comfort can stifle.

You agitate the gift by working it.

Work the gift, dear ones.

Work them and unwrap them.

 

[image from Google]

Writers’ Self-Doubt: Part 2

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Self-doubt can be a sumo wrestler that sits on your chest and yells in your face. It tells you that you can’t write, who are you to be a writer, who would even what to read your work and what you create? It’s not work.

Self-doubt is the roommate that won’t move out, and will never seem to get off  your back about dishes or laundry and eats the good leftovers you asked them not to.

But there is a way for you to make it better, to make it move. And it will never not involve work, or belief in yourself or writing. There is no other way.

Write.

Rewrite.

Read.

Believe in every word.

Self-doubt can ever motivate or cripple your ability to create. This sumo wrestler will taunt you and tease you until you collapse on the floor. Once you are on the floor, it’ll sit on you to make sure every portion of your that is writer and creative is dead. It will make sure that you won’t do anything your mind has already seen.

                                           

Push off the sumo wrestler.

In becoming a writer, in writing, you must be able to contend with sumo wrestlers whom become inner demons hellbent on never letting your write another word–and the only way to shut them up is to write, and keep writing. Your talent and your own ability must sync together to form an army—there is no other way to shut the hoards that oppose you.

Today, at your reading of this, you have the power to shut up the wrestler sitting on your chest, pining you to the floor telling you not just that you cannot, but you will not.

That story on your desktop or in the drawer? Read it again.

That idea you have been rolling around, and scared to write down?  Write it down.

That person in your life, intimate partner or casual acquaintance, whom tells you being a writer is a pipe dream? You must decide what voice, what desire will carry more weight–your desire to write or the desire to please someone else whom does not value what is important to you.

Rage against the dying of the light–don’t let the sumo wrestlers and inner demons kill the words.

FIGHT.

WRITE.

Jennifer P. Harris

Founder, Shekinah Glory Writing Services

Writers’ Self-Doubt- Part 1

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You are never so open as when you are being creative.

There is something of a more wily  enemy writers fear or confront aside from writer’s block. It is the monster of self-doubt. There is a source one accesses, even taps into, when you take the idea you are rolling around your head and convert all those thoughts to a document for someone else to read. In this area where you are most powerful, you are exponentially more vulnerable. Here is where the war begins.

You must get what is in your head–out. This is all writing is, boiled down to base component. All the words you know, all the words you were taught, all the dialects and experiences–writing allows you to get all these things from head to hand.

Self-doubt as a writer is the roommate that doesn’t pay rent, wrecks parties, and says inappropriate things in front of your friends. Self-doubt is the bastard son of all creativity.  And the more you feed it, the larger it gets–an the more unmanageable it becomes.

Self-doubt is a permanent roommate for every writer or creative person. As soon as you accept this, and realize this, the faster you can put your earplugs in when they play loud music late at night.

The easiest why to shut up self-doubt is to do the very thing you are afraid to do:  write. Write scared. Write when you’re frustrated. Write when you’re mad. Write when you’re happy. But write.

The more you write, the faster self-doubt loses weight, the quieter its voice gets, and the doubt is replaced by confidence.

That self-doubt may never go away, but you can always shut it up.

 

Jennifer P. Harris

Founder, Shekinah Glory Writing Services