Three Ways to Ease Back into the Writing Life

A few years ago my daughter was about three years old and I was home with my second, a bouncing (literally) baby boy. Life couldn’t have been better. I had everything I wanted. A loyal husband, enough money to pay the bills, and now two beautiful, healthy babies.

What more did I need? Besides sleep and to finish a hot mug of tea in one go?

I will tell you – and every writer out there published or not, ‘official’ or not will agree. There was something missing. I was journaling, sure, and reading books on kindle while Benji nursed. But I needed something more. A challenge, a project, that harpy siren-call to write would not let me rest.

Honestly at this point I thought, well, if I haven’t published anything by now it must not be meant to be, or, it’s too hard. It’s too hard to work for hours on a project that may never see the light of day, or worse, gets out there and people hate it. Gulp! Easier to just give up.

But then…and if you’ve read this far you know what I’m talking about…that restless urging to write would not let me be.

I say, give in to it. We cannot control the outcome of where our words will go or who will see them but the journey into ourselves that happens when we write is transformative and infinitely, inherently valuable all on it’s own. Creative writing will change your life. It has a way of drawing the poisons out and laying them on the page in font so bold you cannot deny the truth of it.

Here are three ways to jumpstart your writing journey:

  1. Writing Prompts. Hate them or love them they will get you writing. Here is a free ‘writer igniter’ writing prompt app from diymfa.com –https://diymfa.com/writer-igniter
  2. Schedule it in – and prioritize it. Block it off as important an appointment as a job interview or a much needed massage. Then tinker with the details. Try early morning, try after everyone else is in bed, try the middle of the afternoon. Tally up the moments it all worked and repeat.
  3. Treat it both like a sacred, holy moment and a fun play-date where you get to explore without editing that wide open space that is your inner world and the human condition all at once.
  4. This one is a bonus – write what excites you. Is it vampire-love in a post apocalyptic fantasy world where humans are almost extinct? Is it about a wild woman who throws off the constraints of contemporary life and transforms into a bird at night, hunting and flying free? Write what gets you excited to sit your butt in the chair and write. It’s as easy and as hard as that.

Lastly – as you all know I work for diymfa.com and I read hundreds of emails from beginner writers about their number one problems in getting their writing habits back on track. This week I received a sad email from a man who was told that getting published was like getting struck by lightening, twice.

I will tell you what I told him. If you stand in an open field in the middle of a rain storm long enough, you’re gonna get hit.

So whether publishing is your goal, or writing for writing’s sake – now is the time to get back into it. What are you reading this for? Go to it!

Oh and hey, email me your success stories, I wanna hear them! (yehthewriter@gmail.com)

How to be a Writer

Rumi tells us there is ‘a light seed grain inside. You fill it with yourself, or it dies.’

This is the writing life in a nutshell. You may do it for the dream of helping someone, for the dream of being someone’s favorite author. You may do it for the money (nothing wrong with this but it cannot sustain you in this endeavor if that is your only reason.) There are much, much easier ways to make money my friends.

No, the real pull of the writing life is the act of exploring that vortex of creativity inside yourself you can access no other way. Writing, like dreaming, “sometimes tells us what we are not ready to hear.” (Pat Schneider via Jane Yolen ‘Take Joy‘ – a book for writers’.)

There is no better tool to peel back the layers of your own psyche than the act of pulling words from the ether of your own soul and marching them into single file onto the page.

In fact, the harder you run from the issues you’re struggling with the more relentlessly they will show up in your work. So. If you don’t want to evolve, if you don’t want to grow – don’t write. Not one word. Because if you do it will smack you upside the head as subtle as a careening dump truck no matter how far away from reality you stray in your writing projects.

So don’t be a writer to change the world or help people or make money. Be a writer to change yourself, to push into the unknown, to delve deep into the unexplored darkness, dredge up the monsters most people are afraid to look at. That’s the sweet spot. You’ll know it when you reach it. No one has to read it but you need to write it.

I’ll finish up with sharing my firm conviction that there is no word wasted when you write. Each letter stacks and builds on the other. If you have a desire to write – you need to write. There is only one you in the entire universe that ever was or ever will be and if you don’t write it, no one will.

Now go forth and write y’all!

Being Useful

I mean, is there any better feeling? I’ve got some useful websites for beginner writers and an online writing conference to share details about.

Just found this awesome app called the Hemmingway app: and it does exactly what you think it does – highlight text that is clunky or wordy or too confusing. Where has this been all my life? Only issue is that it isn’t integrated into the Word docs like Grammerly – you need to copy and paste into it if you’ve already got a word doc on the go. If you’re starting fresh have at it!

Thesaurus Online: I do have a hard copy thesaurus, a couple actually and of course there is google but this is online and free, and is giving me more reliable results faster. (Also I often write early in the morning so turning on a light might wake up the littles).

My boss at DIY MFA.com and champion of writers everywhere is offering an online summit of sci-fi and fantasy author panel – sign-up is free but only for the next few days. Interviews will drop Nov 30th and replays will be available for seven days after as long as you’ve registered.

Six days until the conference starts!

You can sign up here: Writer Igniter Sci-Fi/Fantasy Summit.

Lastly – no reason for this meme but I have seen it a few times and it makes me smile:

Where Is Your Mountain?

Where is your focus today? To be honest, I have taken pride in my ability to multitask, multi-focus. I’m working two jobs while studying for a third. And writing my second fantasy novel. Oh, and I’m raising two toddlers. So…mountains are not being moved, needless to say. Unless you count the laundry, every two weeks in an all day marathon I have dubbed ‘Operation Clean Shorts.’

I’m not proud anymore, in fact, I’m pretty sure I have a problem. Life is lived in these small ‘bubble’ moments. The kind that take your breath away, like the birth of a child or when that child has a near-miss with a patch of concrete, or an alligator. And I don’t want to miss even one.

Wait – what? Did I just say Alligator? Yes, alligator. My husband wanted an adventure on Labor day. I voted to stay home in my pajamas and work on my novel but the kids wanted a family day, so off I trudged to drag on my hiking boots, throw in my water shoes, and google ‘how clean is Lake Livingston?’ Turns out, not very. And while alligator mating season has been over for two months, the responsible parent would do well do watch out for them, especially if you’ve got snack sized toddlers splashing in the murky water.

Standing Guard Against Alligator Snacks
Eating Our Own Snacks

On the bright side, we all survived and I have this blog entry about it so…all in all not a total loss of a day. I did not move mountains on Monday, it’s true but I did re-plant the Jasmine bush that was root bound in an enormous, cracked clay pot.

If you’ve ever tried to dig a hole in Texas clay – I mean soil – you know how tough it is. It’s like digging a hole in wet cement. Slow. Going. But I was shoveling mud into a pail, and just when I’d stop for a break and groan about the measly half an inch I managed, I’d look over at the full bucket, amazed. I had dug a lot, it just didn’t LOOK like it. Every pail I filled gave me more motivation to keep doing, and faster than I’d ever done before, I had a nice wide place to plant my Jasmine. If that’s how you feel about your life – you are definitely not alone. I’m here working really hard and feeling like I’ve not budged an inch. Once I stop to keep track of the mud I’ve been slinging, it’s actually quite an impressive pile.

But – did I MOVE MOUNTAINS this week? No. I filled a bucket with mud. But maybe mountains are moved one bucket of mud at a time. Maybe if I can take Steven Jobs advice and focus, keep it simple, maybe those buckets can turn into mountains.

Also – happy grandparents day! Sept 13th everyone hug a grammie and grampie for us, okay? Miss you Nana and Papa!