The Use Of Morning Pages

Writing is one of those careers that is both static and dynamic.

The latest thing that I have come across my desk is the idea of morning pages. I had heard of this concept, or writing exercise from a YouTuber I have followed for years now (Shira:  SugarFreeTV/SynchoncityStudios/VisionClass. If you haven’t followed her or heard of her, she is a gem!). She was going this free (FREE!) YouTube hosted class, Vision Class, and she introduced this concept. This was about 3-4 years ago. The idea, the purpose for this, is to write as the first thing when you get up.

No topic.

No theme.

No erasing.

  The ideal is to create, pour out if you will, whatever is on  your head.

Simple, right?

Now, this is  not a practice a lot of writers that I know implement. I journal, and have on and off since I was bout 8 or 9. Morning pages is alike a heightened form of journaling. It’s stream of consciousness–whatever is on your head–no feelings necessarily involved.

For some writers it could be assumed this will help clear your head. Clean the slate for the day ahead. I get that. It’s a tool. Every writer needs tools. What works for one doesn’t work for another, and that is the glory of writing. Use it if you can; if you can’t, it’s rubbish. Writing is a discipline. Remember that–we can use all the help we can get.

[image from Pinterest]

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]

 

Writing Corner: B.M. Hardin, Amazon Best-Selling Author

If you haven’t heard of the quixotic, eloquent and driven BM Hardin, you are missing a great gift! On the eve of the release of her 37th book, Secrets Of The South, she gave me a few minutes to pick her brain and talk shop.

Shekinah Glory Writing Services:

How did you start writing?

BM Hardin:

I’ve always loved to write. I tried writing my first book at 14. I didn’t know enough. I wasn’t ready. But I continued to win writing and essay contests and went on to major in Communications. In 2012, with the support of friends, I decided to try writing a novel again: it was a success!

SGWS:

Are you published anywhere?

BMH:

Am I published anywhere? Amazon. Some books are in Booksamillion and in tons of libraries. 

SGWS:

Do you have any current projects?

BMH:

Yes. I am preparing for a release but haven’t revealed the title yet.

[Editor Note: As of this posting, her latest book has been announced through social media and has been released on Amazon–Secrets Of The South.]

SGWS:

Do you have a writing schedule? Have you been able to stick to it?

BMH:

No writing schedule. I write when I’m in the mood. When I’m inspired. When I’m happy. [When I’m] sad.

SGWS:

What do you wish people realized about writing?

BMH:

I wish that they realize that it’s okay to find your own lane. It’s okay to mix genres and hit stick to just one. Write what feels good!

SGWS:

What have been your greatest joys in writing? Challenges?

BMH:

Greatest joy has been the amount of support and dedicated readers I’ve picked up over the years.

Greatest challenge is not having enough hours in a day to type out all my crazy ideas.

SGWS:

If you could offer one thing to potential writers, what would it be?

BMH:

I would offer them advice on the importance of being unique!

Don’t follow trends or do what everyone else is doing.

Do your own thing!

You’re title is important! Your cover is important! Definitely invest in them.

Thank you, Ms. Hardin for your wisdom and joy. This is a reminder to keep writing, let us as the writer define the work!

-compiled by Jennifer Harris, Lead Administrator-Shekinah Glory Writing Services

BM Hardin is a freelance writer and entrepreneur. If you want to know more about her, along with a list of writing services she offers, click here.

[image from shereads.com]

2019 Writing Workshops

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Mark your calendars!

From the success of the Fall 2018 Writing Workshop, there are two workshops planned for the early part of 2019! The first will be in January! The second in late April.  will be a Spring session planned for January 2019! The cost for registration is $25, and will cover the cost of your materials, as well as a copy of the book Bend Blank Pages, Volume 1.

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Payment must be remitted before January 10th, as the January workshop will be January 12.

The venue accommodates 30 people comfortably. You can register for the workshop by emailing your name to sgwritingservices@icloud.com, as well as through Eventbrite by clicking here.

There will be some surprises as well as some giveaways!

For more information about Shekinah Glory Writing Services, follow us on Facebook!

 

 

[image from Px.here]

Submit Or Not To Submit: Do You Dare?

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There is something to be said about writing, and then letting other people read that same writing.  This brings me to the subject of submitting your work.

Hold on. Let me get the smelling salts.

Get off the floor.

Remember, I’m hear to help.

Writing is a great hobby, and is also a competitive sport. The idea of sending off a thought to someone else to get validation (or publication) is horrifying. It’s horrifying thinking someone can read what you have researched, conjured and written–and with a blink call it nothing.

There is so much that goes into writing that submission seems like that last thing on your mind. It seems the scariest thing is to let someone else read your work! However, let me help you again.

Two things:

1.) Writing is a craft, art and a profession.

2.) On some level, all writing is subjective.

 

This means there is an  audience for your work, and you have to find it. And if there is n audience, they deserve to read it. They deserve to read your genius, your suspicions and your recorded joys. Someone wants to see it. What you must confront is why you won’t let anyone to read what you’ve created.

There are things you may be working on that no one may ever see. There may be things you are working on where you may just need the confidence to allow it to be seen. Writers can be some of the biggest control freaks on the planet! We want everything to be perfect. From grammar. To syntax. To content. Asking a writer to submit something?

Man. From writer to writer? It’s hard.

It’s hard enough to be a writer. Having a writer give glimpses to their work? Monumental. It doesn’t make you less of a writer if you don’t submit your work. It doesn’t make you an elitist as a writer to have your work submitted and published!

There is no grand moral. No shaming. No swift kick in your writer’s butt.  I leave you with encouragement. Keep writing, dear ones. The first audience is you, the next is the world.

 

[image from Google]

 

 

For My Grandmother, Arceal Williams

Today, this morning marks 5 years since my grandmother has passed. Here is what I would want:

I want to go over her house today at 4221 Prairie Avenue, with the swinging gate that creaks. I want dogs to be barking as soon as the gate shuts with a metal clanging protest. I want to walk up the brick walkway—looking at the lush magnolia tree. I want to talk up the gray stairs to her front porch. I want to knock on her front door with the ‘family knock.’

I want her to open the door without her walker, glasses and eyes bright. Her gray hair pulled back. I want the smells of Lysol baptized floors to greet me. “What made you come by!” I want to kiss her cheek, clean and smelling of Nadiola cream. I want to smile at her, betraying nothing. “I just wanted to see you.”

I want to sit in her front room, on that same cream colored couch, inviting and warm. “Did you eat?” I smile, stomach rumbling. “No ma’am.” I want her to laugh loud, her drawl evident and soothing. “Come getchu something den!”

I want a plate she’s make me; making me full with her presence, strong with her whit, ready with her strength. “What’s been goin on baby?” I want to kiss her face again with the plate of leftovers in front of me on her dark oak table. She would sit across from me, snapping beans or wiping counters. Bleach and lemons steadying me.

I want to tell her I’m writing. I want her to know I took her advice. I want her to know the girls want to know how to sew in the Spring. “That’s good, Jennifer.” She never did call me Jenn. “Grandma, I finished my first novel!” I want to drink her sweet tea, watching her reaction. “I knew you could do it! You was always so pretty and smart!” I want to study her favorite red house dress. The paisley pattern making her look more regal than I ever thought. Her hair coifed and short. Her hand would be on her hip. She would look at me, giving me future and past. The one standing as the ten-thousand Maya Angelou spoke of.

As I finished my plate, she’s come close to me and just hug me. She was never one for words. But in her love, in that embrace, her love would soothe the jagged parts. The parts that wonder how, why and keep me dreaming. “So proud of you, Jennifer. And bring me a copy of all those books to put in the China cabinet.”

I would hug her back, “Yes ma’am.” I’d squeeze her once more. I’d help clean up, and she’d tell me how I’m not doing it quite right. I’d ask if she needed anything. She’d lie and say no. Fiercely independent at almost 90. Don’t wait so long to come by!” She’d pat my hand, kissing it. “I’ll see you later, Grandma.” I’d say. She would smile at me, and I’d hug her again, going towards the front door. Leaving the solace of her warm green kitchen, the sleeping watch dogs to go face the world again.

*Note: This image was taken on the actual front porch of my grandmother’s house here in St. Louis, MO. It was also used for the cover of my book, WriteLife. If you would like to purchase a copy, click here.

The Eerie Infinity: Is It The Death Of Words?

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Genre. Troupes. Ideal. Retellings. Protag. Antag. Plot.

Falling action. Rising action. Climaxes.

It can be utterly maddening and terrifying to be a writer. There are so  many opposing forces at work which would drive you to burn everything in your immediate vicinity which would would lend yourself to writing!

There are certain things about writing which indeed are immutable. Grammar. Spelling. Syntax. Punctuation. Spacing. Margins. Just like with breaking the fourth wall, it can feel sometimes as if writing is less an exercise in creativity and more like a practice in regurgitation. It can be scary to go into a traditional genre, or specific character troupe and feel that you cannot draw an audience.

From that doubt, it is easy (or even expected) that here is where you quit. Here is where you decide whether or not you will trust your talent and imagination. Here is where you will be told that you don’t have what it takes to write, to pursue this as a career. Or, as Anne Rice was told,

“What makes you think you be a writer?”

Let me tell you, it is this fear that kills writers. It rips words and will out of you…giving nothing back.

As a writer, as an editor, I cannot prevent this from happening to you. This is the fear every writer, everyone that desires to write must overcome.

 

Word by word. Letter by letter. Thought by thought. Contend with the doubt, so that you may know it, and overcome it.

 

[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]

When The Dam Won’t Break

There is nothing more stressful to see the words in your head and can’t get them to your hands. Don’t confuse this with writer’s block. This is what I call The Hitch.

The Hitch differs from Writer’s Block in one way:  accessibility.

Writer’s Block is the drought; there is a drought. There are no words.

The Hitch is when there are words, and somehow, someway, there are none.

Think of it in the case or form of the above image. The water is representative of the writing talent, the mastery of words as it were. Sometimes in all our rush to create, we don’t take time to listen to what the waters of talent are saying. We don’t pay attention to whether this is a drought or a hitch.

The Hitches I fear more than Writer’s Block. Why? You can almost explain it or explain it away if necessary. The Hitches are assassins. They rob you of cohesion to thought, creative insight and mock you when you try push through.

The Hitches are imps of the creative process.

In including this quote from Stephen King, it is your inoculation against The Hitch. It acknowledges, and identifies yourself as you are:  a writer. A slayer of words and pages. You have worlds to create and people to direct! You must break the dam!

This is done by confronting whatever it may be that has stopped you from going forward. This can be defined by three topics:

  • Fear
  • Doubt
  • Exposure

 

Fear. Margaret Atwood says fear comes to writers because we indeed are afraid of something. What are you scared of? The worst thing that could happen is either people not read what you wrote, or they read everything you wrote.

 

Doubt. This rears its ugly head when you think what you  are creating isn’t good enough, or not worth your time because ‘someone else wrote it.’ This may be true, but you haven’t done it! You haven’t created it. The people in your head haven’t lived it! Let the people in your head out!

 

 

Exposure. There are things, stories, appetites that writers roll around which may be alien to what you may be used to writing. That linguistic trepidation  is normal. The choice then becomes–will you chase after the thoughts? Will you indulge the strength of your imagination? I’ll give you a hint:  YES. This is the beauty of a free write and other writing tools in your tool kit.  You can write down what is in your head–and never show it to another living person. Then, when you are ready, you can take that file or those pages and make an entire world. Which people will read.

 

Your blank pages are waiting on you. Don’t keep them waiting long.

 

 

[images from Google; screenshot from YouTube Channel, BioGraphics]

From The Crates

LEAVING:

(c) October 2015 JPHarris

The voices are aging. The forebarers that lit the path through the igniting of thought are leaving towards the same light that sent them.

In contemplation, I find myself going to these people: my mother Bessie Bush, Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. It was my mother whom introduced me to the worlds books hold, and the solace they provide. In my darkest moments, she would ask me, “Are you still writing?” I would answer her as my situation dictated. I recognize there will be a day where I will no longer have benefit of her voice on the other end of a phone. Despite past contention, she has been graced to be my mother. I will need her until the Lord will need her Home. I thank her for being my mother when it would be easier not to be.

Anyone that knows me understands my love for the other 2 aforementioned women. With the nation losing our grandmother Oracle in Maya, I grappled with that sense of loss-I have enjoyed her work since age 9 when my mother gave me her copy of I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS. All we, yes we, have left of her, is what she left: her letter and voice.

Toni Morrison is 84. The same age as my grandmother whom would be 86 this year. I found Toni Morrison in high school and was rapt with her tone and description of anything. I knew then, this gift of words and being a writer, was indeed a craft. Indeed a craft. There will too be a day where the world will only have her letter…and voice.

The Word of God says “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” In this space, I commit these intangibles back to Him seeing as He is the giver of all good gifts. In that process, in the beginning of the becoming and faith in its end, I believe a portion of my legacy will be left to treasure in letter and voice.

See mom, I am still writing.