Category Archives: Writing

Painting with Words: On the Imperfect Process of Writing

Process of Writing“I briefly woke up and found myself staring up at the ceiling, I saw a lot of bright white lights and I heard a lot of noise then I saw people dressed in blue uniforms hovering around me, only then I realized that I was on a stretcher. “

I use words to paint a picture of my world. It requires practice to become good at it. Good is highly subjective; what may be good for me may be horrible for you. It doesn’t really matter what others think of my words, if I deliver an honest and authentic story than I have succeeded. I may read it back in five years and think it’s crap.  For today, I simply know that I did my best at this time.

I will write without the inner critic turned on. The inner critic is harsh — it will tell you that you are wasting your time or you don’t have enough skill to write, or some other self-limiting thought.

There will always be better writers than you and there will be people who know more than you. Only you know your story, and no one can tell your story better than you. No one sees the world through your eyes — your view is unique. Skills come with time — keep writing.

Sometimes I may have an idea for an article or chapter, however, on occasion a blank page stares before me with no idea on where to begin. I will either start typing on the computer or writing long hand in my journal about the day or what I see in front of me.

If there is a topic that requires me to do go deep into an unknown area I will write it out long hand. I find that my journal writing is more profound than typing. When I’m not typing I am able to relax more which allows me to tap into the deep inner wisdom of the universe. The journal writing takes a little longer to produce a final product since I have to type in my chicken scratch and then begin the process of editing.

I set aside at least an hour a day for writing. Sometimes the words will just flow and I can type 1200 words in an hour and another day only 100 words will flow out. Whatever it is, it’s fine. I will do this for several days.  If I don’t have a strong idea, I find that my writing will wander a bit — in a little time the writing starts to come into focus and the topic reveals itself. I simply allow the words to flow out with no concerns with spelling or grammar rules — that will come later.

After I have exhausted this idea over a few days, I will have accumulated a lot of words. Writing is only part of the process — the real gold is found in the editing. I then begin to chip away at the writing. I will pull out sentences that I didn’t enjoy or make sense for this topic. The sentences that I do not use for this project may find daylight in another project. At the end it is like a big puzzle with all sentences that fit in with the topic’s theme.

I then move around the sentences into a logical order, on occasion I will see a gap and I will need to write a few lines to make it coherent.

After everything is put together I will read it over one last time,   looking for typos and grammar flaws. Sometimes I will read it out loud. When I read it out load I will usually find additional mistakes that I missed during the final reading.

I will agonize some more about the article, wondering if it is good enough. James Altucher recently said, “Hit publish — apologize later.” If this article isn’t up to your standards, I’m sorry — I did my best.

What Seeds are Being Planted to Help Your Personal Growth?

personal growthLife is always giving us what we need at this time — we simply need to pay attention to this moment.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I took a writing course from Joshua Fields Millburn (JFM).    In the course he mentioned blog sites that he likes: Colin Wright, AJ Leon and several others. I began to read their sites and follow them on social media with hopes that I may learn some writing and blogging tidbits.  I saw a post from Colin where he listed an event called the Instigator Experiment led by his friend Srinivas Rao.

I felt an impulse to read through the website for the event — nine speakers and a limit of 60 attendees.  I like small events and I only knew one speaker: AJ Leon.  Seeing AJ Leon’s name was a confirmation; I immediately knew that this was the next step after the writing course.  The universe is giving me another experience to grow.

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Birthing my First Book, and Discovering My Passion for Writing Along the Way

passion for writingI was gifted with good health after years of suffering. A lot of family and friends told me to write a book about my experience. At that time writing was not on my to-do list, I was simply thankful not to suffer. I would have been happy sitting on a park bench doing nothing.

My family and friends kept on asking how I did it. I didn’t really know, it wasn’t clear in my mind what I went through. After a few months, I was getting the internal urge to write a book about my experience.

I haven’t written anything of the magnitude of a book ever, the longest paper I ever wrote was probably in school when I had to write a ten page report. I wasn’t even reading that much at this time.

With multiple sclerosis my eye sight was affected, and reading more than 15-20 minutes gave me a migraine. Besides, the bipolar brain was obsessed with thoughts and it was stuck in “the land of poor me.”

After I healed the MS and bipolar brain were no longer obstacles in my life. I was starting to read a few books in order to gain an understanding of what I went through, and none of the books had a precise answer. There was a need for my story, and if I only knew what I went though.

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Writers conference: "Push to Publish 2013"

I attend the “Push to Publish”  writers conference.

This was my second conference for writing that I have attended.

The conference was set on the campus of Rosemont College.   This was my first time visiting this school,  and it was a lovely campus.

At the conference I was hoping to find an agent who saw the value in my project,  perhaps I did.   I won’t know until they receive my query letter and a little sample of my work.  I will either get a rejection letter or a welcome letter.

The conference was a bit of a personal disappointment as no one immediately feel in love with my work.   They loved my story but the project needs some work.   The house is built now I need rearrange the furniture.

After the conference I realized,  as a first time novelist,  it’s not about you.  It’s about getting feedback about your project.  You want your project to really stand out,  and make it the very best you can.    Everyone is here at the conference to help us achieve our goal of becoming a published author.  They are not out to get you.   They went to best for you.

I did receive some great feedback from other authors,  editors,  agents and attendees.   I did hand out a fair amount of business cards since I realize that it’s about making connections.    Many of the attendees did not have business cards,  which is too bad as I would have liked to see how some of them developed their story.

Hanging out after the event at the “happy hour”  was a great opportunity to connect with  folks.   I spent some time talking to the keynote speaker, Michael Martone.   He  offered some good advice on my project.   Before and after photos of my recovery,   never thought of that.   That would really make an impression.    Besides words they could see the difference.

Philadelphia Writers Conference

Yesterday,  I went to my first writers conference. (Conversations and Connections hosted by Barrelhouse)

The day started off great,  I took the train to center city.   When getting off the train,  I went looking for an exit because it was an unfamiliar stop.   When walking around there was a homeless man standing in front of a Dunkin Donuts.    He was asking for money for breakfast.     I said,  “Sure,  I can help.  ”  Then proceeded to talk to him and gave him $5 dollars then we parted ways.  I was heading for the exist and this new friend went into the store.   Folks often think that the homeless are trying to get money for other things then basic needs,  I haven’t found this to be true.  They merely want what we all long for, respect and compassion.

The conference was at the University of the Arts on Broad St.

There was a good crowd with  over 100 folks.    Throughout the day I went to a few panel sessions;  Agents,  Writing about Difficult Subjects,  and Submitting to Editors.

Over lunch there was a Speed Dating with Editors,  this is where you get 10 minutes to show your work to someone in the business of writing.    You cannot choose who you sit in front of,  they randomly place you with someone in your genre of writing.      I was non-fiction,  so little did I know at the time that I was just placed in front of the editors of Story Quarterly.   Three folks led by Paul Lisicky.   I showed them a bit of the first chapter of “I don’t dwell”   They loved the project and gave a lot of good suggestions for revisions.    I have made these revisions on the sample chapter placed on my web site.

This was my first conference and it definitely will not be my last.  I got to talk to many folks about my book and everyone was amazed at recovery.   I am also looking forward to some of the stories the other author’s talked about and look forward to seeing how they progress.