Writing Tool – Meditation

This week I am bringing you another writing tool. This isn’t something you have to buy, and it doesn’t require a lot of thinking. In fact, it requires no thinking. The less thinking the better!

Our writing tool this week is meditation. By now you should have heard about how amazing meditation is for your health. Indeed, it can reduce anxiety, stress, blood pressure, and it can increase productivity and improve relationships.

Today we are going to discuss how meditation can help you become a better and more authentic writer. Meditation helps the writer to connect with their true self, which ties back into my preaching on writing your truth.

Meditation creates a blank slate for your mind. It clears out blocks that have been keeping your words inside. It pops the cork out of your wine bottle of inspiration, so to speak. If you don’t believe me, the next time you find yourself staring at a blank page for hours on end, go meditate for ten minutes. Go back to your work, and you will find that the words that were once lost are now flowing like a stream of water.

You’ll find that you aren’t preoccupied with the typos that you write or the words you are saying. You will know that you can fix that later on. You will simply be focused on getting the story out on paper. Once it’s out, you can do anything you want with it.

Writing has the power to become meditation, as well. When you get lost in the words and forget everything around you. Once you finish that last sentence and your mind returns to the world, you may feel this fog lifting. You may even feel a bit confused or disoriented like you just wrote up from a nap.

Now, meditation can be intimidating to some. Thinking about sitting for several minutes not thinking about anything can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are millions of different resources online to help you get started meditating. There are even more videos that you can watch on YouTube that will guide you through the meditation. Guided meditations are my personal favorite. I find it easier to clear my mind when I have a voice or music in my head. It keeps me from getting distracted. That’s not to say I don’t find my mind wandering, or my cat rubbing my face, but you learn how to move past that with practice.

To help you out, I’m going to share a few of my favorite guided meditation videos.

Meet Your Muse: This is a short ten-minute meditation that will help unlock your muse.

Writer’s Block: This is 30-minute meditation that will help you work through your writer’s block.

Unblocking Creative Flow: This is 21-minute meditation that helps to get your creativity freely flowing.

Expanding Creativity: This is a ten-minute meditation that will help you to get your creativity flowing. It works much like the last one, but it is shorter when you don’t have as much time.

Get Unstuck: This is 13-meditation to help to get you out of your creativity funk and getting the words flowing again.

There are many more, but these should help you get started. Making mediation part of your regular everyday routine will help you in a million different ways.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

“And there, hidden amongst the pages was a new world, waiting to be discovered.” ~ Alexandra Domelle

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Being Vulnerable is Being True: How to Be Vulnerable in Your Writing

Sorry, I missed last week, but my Mom and I were planning a surprise 50th birthday party for my Dad. To say the least, I was a bit preoccupied. But the party went over well, and I think he was pleasantly surprised.

We’re going to jump right into things today, though. We are going to be talking about another aspect of writing your truth. Specifically, being vulnerable.

Writing is very much an intimate act. It is one way to express yourself without having to talk to a person face-to-face. For an introvert, writing is the perfect way to communicate feelings. That is if you are willing to.

Vulnerability scares the crap out of people. So often, people view vulnerability as being weak, which it isn’t. Vulnerability is one of the strongest things that a person can show.

In order to show vulnerability, you have to understand yourself. We’ve done activities to help you find your truth, so use that to learn about you. Who are you really? Not just the good, happy parts, but your dark parts as well.

Over the years, I have become more of an open book than I ever thought I could. That being said, I’ll faster write down my deepest, darkest secrets than say them out loud. But, if you ask me directly, I will likely tell you the truth if I feel you have any reason to know.

So the first thing I want you to do is write about a dark, vulnerable moment in your life. I want it to be a moment that actually happened.

Write out this moment like you would write a story. Be descriptive to the point that you relive the emotions from that time. Put all of those emotions on the paper. Let them spill out.

Allow yourself to emotional purge before you begin writing something that is emotionally charged.

This is a great way to wrangle your vulnerability and emotions so that you can write something cohesive. This is a good journalling exercise. Start writing out your emotions around the scene and let them escalate how they will. This will purge the raw emotions that were hiding right under the surface giving you a clear place to start. Nobody wants to read something where they have to weed through emotional ramblings.

Write out your actual emotions. In any scene you write, whether you write in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person, there is going to be emotions. Write the emotions you would feel if you were in that situation.

That’s the only way something is going to come off as genuine. Yes, you will have to put yourself in other people’s shoes, but you were going to have to do that anyway.

Let’s be honest, nobody wants to read a story about a gangster who suddenly gets hit with guilt and decides not to rob a bank and gets an honest job instead. (zzzzzzzzzzzz)

Now, if you want a gangster to turn his life around, give him a reason to do so. Give him something that makes him want to change his way. You have to break him down into teeny weeny vulnerable pieces and then put him back together as a better man.

That’s the kind of story a person wants to read.

Don’t shy away from awkward emotions. Negative emotions can be tough to express, but then you have the positive ones that are just as awkward.

This may be something some people won’t have to worry about. It all depends on the types of things you write. But I’m talking about love scenes. Depending on how intimate you get in your writing, you could be facing some of the most awkward scenes that a writer has to face.

Now, I will talk about writing sex scenes in a later post so I won’t get into the logistics of it here. This point simply ties back in with the last one. Be honest with those scenes. What do you feel (you know what I mean) when you write those scenes? If it doesn’t create some sense of warmth inside of you, then it won’t in your readers. You need to back up and punt.

Alright, that’s it for today. Take these four tips and see what they can do for you in writing your truth and being vulnerable.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
― Criss Jami

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

Comedic Inspiration – 5 Tips

This week we are going to look at some ways to find inspiration for comedy. I haven’t written a lot of comedy stories myself, but I say dumb things and people laugh, so there’s that.

Comedy isn’t something that should be overanalyzed. You don’t have to look deep into the human psyche to figure out what makes them tick in order to make them laugh. In fact, the less you try, the better chance you have of making a person laugh, or at least chuckle.

Comedy is a double-edged sword, though. You could create something that makes the first 100 readers pee their pants, and then the next reader could find it as dull as a spoon. But that’s just the horrors of writing.

Let’s look at five tips to help you find some inspiration to write that funny story:

  • People Watch

Some of the best inspiration a person can find is within the lives of others. Head to the mall or park and watch people around you for a bit. See if anything fun jumps out at you that is so hilarious that you have to write about it.

  • Think About Your Day

Take a moment to think about the things you did throughout the day. Find something that you found funny and write about it. Maybe one of your co-workers said or did something funny. Maybe you tripped walking up the stairs. You never know where inspiration may strike. Another option would be to keep a journal and write down things as they happen so that you don’t run the risk of forgetting them.

  • Look at Your Phone Contacts

Scroll through the contacts on your phone and see if anybody on the list reminds you of something funny that has happened to you. You can also take a scroll through your social media friends to see if anything shakes some funny cobwebs loose.

  • Look at Trending Hashtags

Jump on Twitter or Instagram and take a look at some trending hashtags. They may be able to spark some inspiration. If they don’t, make them. Take one of the hashtags, whether or not it is funny, and make it funny. It may not be a story that you want to share, but it can get the creative juices flowing.

  • Look at Family Photos

Look through some old photo albums to see if you can find some comedic inspiration. I’m sure if you dig far enough back, you are going to find somebody wearing a plaid pair of pants or somebody with a beehive hairdo. You never know what you are going to find in a photo album. You can also pick out your favorite picture and turn it into a story. This should help to shake some other ideas loose as well.

That’s it for the tips. Try out some, or all, of these tips and see what you can come up with in the funny story department. Who knows, maybe you might create the next great American novel.

“A tragedy is a tragedy, and at the bottom, all tragedies are stupid. Give me a choice and I’ll take A Midsummer Night’s Dreamover Hamlet every time. Any fool with steady hands and a working set of lungs can build up a house of cards and then blow it down, but it takes a genius to make people laugh.”
― Stephen King

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

Being True to You

I’ve got another post for you about writing your truth. I told you I had a lot to say about this.

In past posts, I have talked about how to write your truth. Today’s post isn’t going to be much of a how-to. I have something on my chest that I want to share. It was something that hit me when I was getting information together for a book I was ghostwriting.

I freelance write through a company. I ghostwrite books. Part of that requires me to do research on topics because most of what I write is non-fiction books. It’s through this research that I found so many books on Amazon that you can tell didn’t come from a person’s truth.

This post doesn’t have to with my ghostwriting or anything to do with that sort of thing.

What I want to talk about is the sheer number of books available on Amazon that are written for the sole purpose of making money.

Now, you may be wondering how I can tell that there are so many books on Amazon that aren’t written from a person’s truth. I’ll tell you, but first I want you to do something.

Head over to Amazon and pull up a listing of books. More specifically self-help books; weight loss, exercise, mental health, those sorts of things. Now, pull up a few and click on the preview book. Glance through to see what you can glean from it and take a look at the reviews and other information about the book.

You’ll probably start to notice that some books just have a better feel to them than others. There are some that feel like they could actually help you, while others are just ‘eh.’

Now, I don’t know what is in the heart of an author when they write a book, but what I do know is that if they wrote from their truth, from a need to help people or share something, you can feel it in their writing. It comes off as much more honest that fluff writing.

You don’t have to just write novels in order to write your truth. You can write your truth in non-fiction books as well. It means you are sharing truths about you and your passion in order to help somebody else. And this statement is true for fiction and non-fiction because I believe fiction can help people as well.

So many of the books you see on Amazon are books that have been written and published just for the purpose of making money. They weren’t created from a passion deep within somebody. They didn’t come from the heart.

The problem is, though, that all of these books that weren’t written in truth are covering up the books that are written truth. Speaking as an Indie author, there are so many other Indie authors out there that write their truth and have amazing stories to tell through novels and self-help books that get pushed underneath all of these other books that don’t have any heart in them.

I don’t know how these truthless books become successful. (I have my thoughts, but I will keep them to myself.) All I know is, we need to create more books that have heart and truth in them. We need more books in the world that tell stories that help people and entertain people for the sole purpose of helping and entertaining.

There are enough snake oil salesmen in the world. Those of us who truly have a story to tell, who want to share our truth, need to band together and share with the world what it means to love what you do and to love doing it no matter what you get back.

I know there is nothing that can be done about these filler books on Amazon and other sites. They are always going to be there and more will continue to be published. It’s easier today now than it was 20 years ago. You don’t need an agent or a publisher anymore. I’m not trying to start a revolution or what have you to stop these books from being published.

I am here to help and urge those who do have a heartfelt story to share, to share it.

If you are still unsure about what it means to write your truth, you can use these books to help you.

Because trust me, you can tell the difference when you read a book when it has been written from the heart, no matter the genre.

I think I’ll step down from my soapbox for now. I’ve said what I came here to say.

I hope I have helped you just a little bit more when it comes to writing your truth.

“What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.” – Carl Rogers

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.

A Pep Talk For When You Feel Like Quitting

This weeks post is a little different than my others. I think everybody can use a pep talk from time to time. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. A dark cloud will come through and dampen your spirits. I have a lot of those days, so does everybody else, but the important thing is that you push through.

For anybody who has chosen a career that requires others to purchase something from you or like you enough to take a chance, those dark days can come along quite a lot. As writers, artists, or entertainers, we don’t get a regular check for the hours we work every day.

Somebody has to pay for the work we have already done if they like it. We are judged for what we do more so than any other professional. If not enough people like what we do, we will be eating ramen. This is a tough reality we have to face, but we do it because we love it.

It’s a little easier (I hope) once you have amassed a decent following of people who buy what you do. So when you are starting out, like I still consider myself, and like most people probably do, it’s a bit harder to pump yourself up.

I’m right there with you. The rough days sometimes seem more frequent than the good days. But if we support each other, we will make it through and see the light at the end of the tunnel. To help with those tough days, especially when it has to do with rejection, here are some fun facts about other professionals who weren’t “overnight success”. (Like those even exist)

  1. William Golding’s book Lord of the Flies was rejected 20 times before it was ever published.
  2. Claude Monet, a founder of French Impressionism, was ridiculed for his most famous work “Impression, Sunrise.” He and his family lived in abject poverty until his paintings begin to sell in the 1880s.
  3. Margeret Mitchells’ Gone with the Wind was rejected 38 times before it was ever published.
  4. Walt Disney was fired from a job because he “lacked imagination and no good ideas.”
  5. Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting while he was alive.
  6. JK Rowling was fired from Amnesty International because she spent the day writing stories.
  7. Gertrude Stein spent 22 years submitting poems before any of them were published.
  8. Beatrix Potter had to self-publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
  9. Stephen King’s book Carrie was rejected 30 times before being published.
  10. Madonna was fired from Dunkin’ Donuts for squirting jelly filling on a customer.
  11. Robert Frost had Truman Capote fired from his job at the New Yorker because Capote left in the middle of one of his readings. To be fair, Capote was sick.
  12. Louise May Alcott, the author of Little Women, was told to stick to teaching.
  13. George Orwell was told that is book Animal Farm wouldn’t sell because “there is no market for animal stories in the USA.”
  14. Lucille Ball’s drama instructors tried to get her to follow another profession.
  15. Rudyard Kipling was told he didn’t know how to use the English language.

So there you have it. No matter how down you feel, you are not alone. Every profession has had some tough times. The success you will have will be all the better.

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.

10 Ways to Find Writing Inspiration

Being a writer isn’t as easy as some people think. It takes time. You have to come up with ideas. Then ultimately you have to write it down into a cohesive manner. After a while, you will find it hard to find inspiration. Inspiration has evaded me before, and there have been times where I had to make myself write. I don’t like feeling like I’m being made to do something, and I’m sure most of you are the same way. If you’re looking for some inspiration to help you get motivated to write, I’ve got a few tips for you.

  1. Books

What better way to find inspiration that with a book. You don’t even have to go with inspirational books, but you can. Any type of book; fiction, non-fiction, young adult, fantasy, horror, whatever your favorite type of book is. That book might just hold that piece of inspiration you’ve been looking for. Stephen King’s book IT helped me figure out how I wanted to organize my book.

2. People Watching

This is my favorite. I’ve always been a fly on the wall type person. Or a wallflower. Whatever you want to call it. So sitting around and watching other people has always been entertaining, and it’s the perfect way to get inspired to write.

3. Brainstorms

Sit down with a pen and paper and start writing things down. Write the different ideas you’ve been playing. Don’t worry about organizing anything, just write. Something on that paper could end up becoming your next big success.

4. Writing Journal

This is great for any writer. It’s not something you have to write in every single day, but it’s there for you if inspiration strikes. You can write down quotes, snippets, plot twists, characters, or dialog. All you need is a simple spiral bound notebook.

5. Dreams

This may not be very easy, but keeping up with your dreams may give you some ideas on what to write about. There was one morning I woke up and I could remember a dream I had that night, and I wrote it down because I thought it would be a great plot for a story. I’ve not used it yet, but I still have it written down and ready if I ever want to write it.

6. Exercise

Breaking a sweet is a great way to find inspiration. There’s something about physical exercise that gets the brain working.

7. History

It’s amazing but looking back at history can give you inspiration. Look back at some of the greats like Leonard di Vinci, Helen Keller, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and Gandhi.

8. Nature

Tired of staring at a blank screen? Take a walk outside. Spend some time and nature and let your mind relax. Appreciate the things around you. Notice the beauty of a sunrise or sunset. You’ll be amazed at how well this will help you find inspiration.

9. Friends

Have real conversations. Spend time with people you like and just talk to them. You never know what’s going to come up, and it might just inspire something inside you.

10. Music

Find some music that inspires you and play it while you’re writing. This could be classical, hard rock, metal, whatever gets your mind working.

That’s my tips for you today. I hope some of these help you to find inspiration the next you are stuck. If you have some tips to help people find inspiration to write, please share them in the comments.

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

 

Stay Focused

I don’t know about you, but staying focused on my writing is my biggest problem. Focus is why it took me so long to write Loved By Death. I enjoy writing, spewing out all the words and feelings, but I am so easily distracted. Hell, I’m lucky if I’m able to focus long enough to write a complete chapter in one day. Ironically, when I am ghostwriting a book, I can have it written in a couple of days depending on the length and the material.

So, we are going to take a little class together today on how to keep yourself focused. Trust me, I’m learning just as much as you are. If you have any tips on staying focused on your writing, please share them in the comment below.

Work With Your Brain’s Schedule

Who knew that your brain had a schedule? Actually, that makes sense. My brain tells me when it’s time for coffee.

Chances are you have probably noticed the times during the day when you seem to be more focused. Most people tend to be the most distracted between 12 and 4 p.m. with the peak being around 2. The brain works the best during the late morning, meaning after 10 a.m. This is when the brain is fully awake. Use the hours between 10 a.m. and noon for some intensive writing, and then take a break about midday to refresh.

Reward the Brain

Your brain learns the things you do. This means that the more often you engage in a distracting behavior, like playing a matching game on your phone every time it says you have lives, the more likely you are to do it. Your mind has been rewarded in some way by these distracting behaviors. This means you need to break these behaviors by stopping them when you notice them happening. The harder it is for you to be distracted, the less likely it will happen.

Take Real Breaks

While work typically involves a constant stream of input: constant phone calls, emails, 20 tabs open, it doesn’t do much for your focus. Find someplace you can go for 15 minutes where you cannot be distracted. A quiet room, a place without wi-fi, somewhere you can let your mind rest.

No Multitasking

The fact is, nobody can actually multitask. The brain can only focus on one thing at a time. All you do when you multitask is switch between different tasks quickly. You’re not actually doing two, three, four things at once. The more often you switch, the more energy you use. Instead, make a list of what you need to do, and work down the list. One task at a time.

Do Something Engaging

Have you ever started working on something and then a few minutes later you are daydreaming?

When you don’t think what you need to do is worth your time, your brain will start to float around to other more stimulating things. You have to figure out if it’s you or the task. If the task isn’t currently engaging you then you should work on something else, and work on the less engaging task during the late mornings.

Chew Gum

This sounds completely crazy, but it works. Research has found that chewing gum will increase the oxygen flow to the attention part of your brain. It will also help your long-term memory and give a bit of an insulin boost. If you don’t really like gum then you can grab yourself a snack. This doesn’t mean you should eat something every time you’re distracted, that could start a bad habit.

The important thing for staying focused is to create an environment for focus. Help your brain out by not making it have to work as hard.

Like I said earlier if you have any tips for staying focused comment below.

The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things. – Alexa Hirschfield