Blocked Blogger

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As I’ve mentioned before, I use my blog mainly when I have writer’s block in my novels. I absolutely love blogging. It’s a great creative outlet and it serves as the ideal distraction to jump start my literary engine. Usually I blog for a few minutes, hit post and then I am able to write for hours in one of my novels.

But recently, I haven’t been a very good blogger. If I so much as think about blogging, I get blocked. Or I get a few words down on a particular blog entry and then I almost immediately get smacked in the face with inspiration for whichever novel I’m immersed in at the moment.

Fortunately, I’ve been writing up a storm in my manuscripts, both new and revised! That has been awesome. Unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting my blog. Not so awesome.

I have dozens of blogs started and just sitting in my draft folder waiting to be finished. I promise to finish each of them eventually and blog again (hopefully very soon) when the inspiration strikes.

In the meantime… Sorry.

But I must go where the inspiration takes me.

Write on!!

xoxo

Social Brainstorming

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Writing is typically a very solitary activity. In general, creative types can tend at times to be almost hermit-like especially during our most creative journeys of self-discovery and expression.

Nobody comes to mind, other than maybe the Dalai Lama in all his meditative glory, who can get further inside his or her own head and stay there longer than a writer.

I am guilty of this.

I seek out solitude to write. I need my own space, time, peace. That used to be easy. But these days, being a mom and wife, my time is filled with all sorts of activity and distractions. And achieving solitude is no longer a simple task. I’ve considered taking desperate measures such as locking myself in a closet to find a minute to write. It’s not exactly something I’m proud of but I’ve been known to mentally leave the room mid-conversation or physically go off and hide in the bathroom to quickly jot down notes in moments when inspiration strikes.

Of course I love spending time with my family and friends but, still, I try to make or find the time and peace and quiet to write whenever and however I can. It’s important to me since I need it to achieve my dreams.

But as creative as I can be when I’m alone and as tempting as it might be to stay hidden away in that quiet, creative place, I know that I can’t stay there forever. It’s obviously not healthy to be alone all the time or even most of the time. While we all need some semblance of peace and quiet to catch our breath, we also need direct (and indirect) contact with other people. Finding a healthy, happy balance can be a struggle for some of us.

It is for me.

While I love making new friends and being around people, I also long to be alone so that I can think and create and write. Until the words flow from my brain and onto the page, it can often feel like I am at war with myself. I need to crawl deep down into an almost meditative state to accomplish my goals, but I also need to stay healthy and that requires a level of human contact.

I hate to admit it but sometimes I have to force myself out of my head and out of my house in order to be physically around other people. In addition, I urge myself to occasionally pick up the phone and have real time conversations.

But when all else fails, I turn to my social network of choice: Facebook.

And, in addition to its obvious “social” benefits, I’ve discovered a whole new reason to love Facebook. When I’m stuck on an element of creativity or when my mind has come to a fork in the road or even a dead end, I can simply update my status to ask for help. Until recently, I had no idea it could be such an amazing brainstorming tool!

Earlier this year, I was struggling naming a new character so I posted a description. Within minutes, my Facebook friends were in a frenzy bouncing names back and forth. Some took it seriously while others were more playful, but all were helpful and inspiring in their own ways. Later, I posted that I needed a name for a fictional company. I got great responses for that, too.

When I worked in corporate events, I loved (most) meetings and, more specifically, brainstorming sessions. For one, they helped break up the day. But more importantly, I found that the act of getting people together around a great big table in a conference room was the best way to get and then expand upon some really awesome ideas. Sure, we’d all sometimes bitch and moan about being too busy for yet another meeting but those meetings were productive from a creative point of view. Even the conference calls had their high points, although those were much more challenging for me to pay attention.

These days, conference rooms and boardroom tables are practically obsolete. At least they are in my life. I’m sure companies still use them, but now social networking sites allow us the freedom to brainstorm with our friends, family and even folks we don’t know. It’s an easy, far more efficient and convenient way to get opinions and answers from a multitude of people, near and far, and way more than could possibly fit in an actual conference room or, for that matter, in my living room. Facebook makes it easy to gather my family, friends, acquaintances, work contacts, associates, former classmates and even my dentist all in the same “room” to simultaneously ask a question.

I like that.

And, with no boss looking over my shoulder, I can post any topic or question that strikes my fancy (and I can be pretty darn fancy), then go off and spend time with my daughter, take a walk, make a phone call, workout, bake, go shopping, have lunch or even take a nap while I wait for feedback. And it’s all-but guaranteed to eventually come. Even if half of my Facebook friends are busy elsewhere, there’s a good chance that the other half is itching to be involved. So now instead of getting reprimanded or risk being fired, the answers are simply waiting for me when I return. It’s brilliant!

I also like that I can sit in my PJs and call a meeting of the minds (as well as the wise asses) whenever I want. Morning, noon or even in the middle of the night, there are bound to be people ready and willing to join in and post their ideas or give me a swift kick in the tuchus with an inspirational quote or two when I need it most.

As the song goes, “That’s what (Facebook) friends are for!”

And, not to brag, but my Facebook friends are pretty amazing. Individually, they are some of the smartest, funniest, most creative, inspirational, talented, sincere, thoughtful, charismatic and just plain helpful people out there. Together, they are a brainstorming force to be reckoned with. And perhaps the coolest part is that they come from all aspects of my life: past and present.

Because of Facebook, I have received their combined assistance on many occasions. And for that, I am eternally grateful. In fact, I hope to someday include a special thank you message to all of my Facebook friends on a future acknowledgment page when I finally reach my goal and publish my first novel. Wouldn’t that be a great way to show them how much they’ve meant to me?

Of course, I’ll probably need more of their help to get there!

Take the Poem’s Advice

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Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time inside my head. I’m currently revising two novels and writing a third, while trying to simultaneously work through some real life stuff. There are days when I write and write and other days when I can’t seem to assemble a sentence or write a single word. I know I can do it but there are times when I question even the most obvious things.

Don’t worry. I’m still my optimistic self. But I’m only human.

A friend of mine posted this poem on Facebook. I have no idea who wrote it but I can certainly relate. And today I needed to read it.

I’m reposting it because I thought some of you might need it too.

Don’t Quit:

When things go wrong, as  they sometimes will, When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill, When the funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile,  but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest, if you  must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its  twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns, And many a  failure turns about, When he might have won had he stuck it out; Don’t  give up though the pace seems slow– You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer  than, It seems to a faint and faltering man, Often the struggler has  given up, When he might have captured the victor’s cup, And he learned  too late when the night slipped down, How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned  inside out– The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can  tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far, So stick to  the fight when you’re hardest hit– It’s when things seem worst that you  must not quit.

– Author  unknown

(Thank you to Shelley Anderson for posting this today!)

Blocked!

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I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again… Writer’s block sucks.

I probably shouldn’t complain considering it’s been a while since my last bout with block. In fact, I started this blog to combat writer’s block but then haven’t had it since. Maybe the blog is more effective than I’d imagined.

Or maybe writer’s block doesn’t just happen. Maybe something or multiple somethings cause it. Not quite as obvious as a cold sore or a bad case of the runs, maybe the culprit is not something as simple as a kiss or a day-old bean burrito. But something had to happen to activate the block.

If I can figure out exactly what triggered this particular block, will I have a better chance of defeating it? Or possibly avoiding it next time?

I don’t know.

But not-knowing has never stopped me from obsessing. Instead, it brings out my super obsessive control freaky side. Ha! I bet you didn’t even know I had a freaky side. Well I do. And that side of me will happily accept responsibility for my own writer’s block (and pretty much anything else for that matter) if it means I can control it, overcome it, accomplish it, destroy it!!

OK… So let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I somehow unintentionally caused my own block. Perhaps I did something or simply adjusted my routine and, in doing so, possibly sparked the block through a series of fortunate and unfortunate events. Several things have recently transpired. It would be hard to pinpoint just one thing. And I refuse to bore or horrify you with all of it. Besides, I need to save some of it for future blogs.

But I’ll share one biggie from each side of the spectrum…

On the fortunate side, I had family in town last week. Yep, the Zanes invaded Iowa. My mom, dad and brother flew in from Philly for 8 days of family, fun and (for them) extreme culture shock. We had a great time celebrating my daughter’s 2nd birthday, discovering new things in Iowa together and hanging out. Having a houseful of people was stressful at times but mostly it was fun.

But while they were here I didn’t write (almost) at all. I took a mental vacay. While my husband swears I needed it, I’m not 100% sure. But I definitely needed them here. I’d missed them so much (and now that they’re gone, I miss them more). So if their visit caused part of my block, well then I’ll anxiously look forward to being blocked again in the (hopefully near) future.

On the less fortunate side, an agent rejected me. She did so in the nicest “it’s not you, it’s me” way possible. But still. It’s not that I think I caused the rejection or could have done anything to prevent it. I am simply not the writer she wanted me to be. That’s OK. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer. But I may have handled it poorly. I got overly emotional and maybe even a bit depressed. I typically handle rejection better than I am doing right now. The funny (not ha-ha but interesting) part is that I didn’t even really want her. I’m not trying to sound like the bitter x-boyfriend who announces that factoid after being dumped. Really, I’m not. She’s great, amazing actually. I couldn’t and wouldn’t say a bad thing about her. And don’t get me wrong. I would have jumped at the opportunity of being represented by her and I certainly wouldn’t have kicked her out of my proverbial (for lack of a better word) agent-author bed for eating crackers… But she wasn’t (and still isn’t) my first choice.

My first choice agent is still considering me… and my writing samples… hopefully. Well, at least, I have no reason (knock on wood) to think otherwise. I want to believe that she hasn’t secretly stopped considering me. But what if she’s one of those people who break up simply by halting communication? No calls. No texts. No emails. Nothing. Not even a fax. Just the assumption that she fell off the face of the earth. I did that once (not fall off the face of the earth, but break up with someone in that manner… don’t judge me!). This paranoia isn’t helping my blockage. It’s just that, in my humble opinion, she would be my perfect agent. We bonded immediately and had a solid rapport. But I promise not to stalk her (even) if she dumps me (I might cry, but I will not stalk!).

I think I’m just nervous. I’ve gotten myself all worked up worrying that this recent rejection might spark other rejections. I guess I’m concerned that the other agent (let’s call her #42 and not for the reason you might think). So #42 was the first agent who I loved at first chat, who made me laugh, who spoke to my inner nerd, who seemed ~ and still seems ~ so perfect and who I met at the same conference as the agent who sent me the Dear John letter. What if #42 feels the same way as agento-rejecto? What is she rejects me too?

Well I’ll eventually get over it.

I know it’s not doing me any good to think negatively and worrying never helps either. The only thing that ever helps is action. But what action should I take?

The little fat kid inside of me wants to stuff his face with Cool Ranch Doritos, but that’s not the kind of action that will help. The pissy pissed off angsty teen in me is picking fights. That’s no good… for me or for you. The neurotic workaholic adult in me is running an extra mile on the treadmill and trying to write through the pain. That helps more but I’m still blocked.

What I need is a writing enema or a chunk of writer’s Ex-lax, if only there was such a thing!! One of you good-at-math-and-science types should invent that!

In the meantime, I’ve taken all of my own advice and none of it has helped. I’ve walked away, then came back and tried to restart my engine. I tried to push through it. When that didn’t work, I took a nap. I woke up and meditated. I worked out feverishly. I played with my daughter. We went swimming. I did some yoga. I went for a long walk… then a drive… then went shopping (just groceries, but still). I came back and tried again to write through the pain some more. Nothing. I took a shower (always a good move!), watched some TV (an hour of Judge Judy never hurts… but didn’t help either), cooked dinner for my family (I made a very healthy stuffed peppers that involved an actual recipe!). I ate. I sulked. I’m still blocked. What the $#&!

Ugh! What should I do next?

Seriously, tell me what to do and I’ll do it.

Tonight I’m going to make and then drink a whole pot of coffee (please don’t tell my nephrologist) and write, write, write… well, I guess I’m actually writing right now… hmm… maybe I’m not as blocked as I thought…

OK, gotta go!! See ya later.