9 Motivational Quotes that Get Me Writing

standard March 22, 2013 3 responses

Writing, much like running, is one of my greatest joys and one of the things I struggle most to do. I sit down at my computer, ideas bouncing around my head, and instead of opening Word, or even this blog post editor, I open Facebook, my email, Twitter, Pinterest, anything to put off that moment when my fingers will hammer out what’s in my head.

I’m not sure why I procrastinate the way I do; writing is the greatest high possible. And yet, here you have it, even knowing how much I’m going to love it, I always balk at the idea of getting started.

So, much like I trick myself into running, I’ve created a Pinterest board filled with awesome quotes on writing. Reading encouragements from great writers reminds me how privileged I am to be part of their crew and jump starts my desire to get going.

Here are my top 9 favorites.

1) Find a way or find an excuse. (Bonus: Works for running or writing!)

Find a way or an excuse
2) Start with one word and see where it goes.

Letters
3) Everyone finds it hard. Even greats like Hemingway.

Hemingway
4) We don’t write because we like to, we write because we need to.

mad
5) It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be.

draft
6) Writing, it’s how I think.

think
7) It’s as easy as it is hard.

Easy and hard
8) The elves aren’t coming any time soon.

elves
9) Not letting the story out just isn’t an option.

untold
What gets you to stop procrastinating and start writing?

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It’s like dating… except when it’s not.

standard January 13, 2012 2 responses

They say it’s like dating. Hunting for an agent I mean. That you put yourself out there, again and again, you meet people, and sometimes you click and sometimes you don’t and just like when you date, you can’t take it personally when the chemistry doesn’t work out.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I need to mention that I’ve never dated. I know. It’s weird. But I never did the whole, go on a few dates, decide if you like the guy, kiss, etc. In each of my relationships I skipped the whole “does he like me? does he not?” part of things and skipped straight to the kissing.

I like kissing.  (I know. I’m easy. Don’t tell anyone.)

Even so, even without any dating experience, I have to argue that when it comes to the Great Agent Hunt the dating analogy is flawed.

I mean, unless we’re comparing it to Internet dating, which I know even less about.

Seriously, (and again, have I mentioned that my experience is lacking?) when, in dating, do you have to think back on your life, write a short (one to three paragraph) synopsis of it, throw in a one paragraph bio, add a quick letter of interest about why you’re interested in that person, and email it in the hopes of maybe hearing back sometime in the next three months?

Doesn’t that sound more like applying for a job to you?

You scour the web for people you’d like to work with much the same way you’d research appealing companies. What’s the person’s personality like? What have they accomplished over time? Does it seem like you’d fit in? Once you find someone who seems like a good fit, you pull out the letter you’ve already sent out countless times and tweek it to fit the new situation or overhaul it completely if needed. What do you have in common with the person that you could mention in the intro paragraph? What drew you to them?  What can you say that will make you stand out from all the other applicants?

Sending brownies with your query is apparently frowned upon. Sad, but I can see how that could quickly spin out of control.

The end result is the same. When you apply for a job you know there are hundreds of other people doing the exact same thing as you. They’ve worked hard to get where they are, they’re equally qualified. When you query your book, you’re up against hundreds of other writers who have sweat just as much blood and as many tears over their book as you. The only thing that sets you apart is that one little email, an email that can only ever be an inadequate representation of who you really are, a low res 2D representation if you will.

And still, you send out your letter and hope it’s just witty enough to catch an eye and just shiny enough to sustain it, you take a deep breath and move on to the next one, hoping it’s the best you could do, but knowing full well that in the end it’s not just about you, it’s equally about the other person, the person reading it. If there’s no spark there, no matter how wonderful your email might be, it won’t make a jot of difference.

Which I guess really is the same as dating. No matter how authentic you are, no matter how pretty, how well dressed, how witty or shiny you might be, you can’t create that spark and you really can’t take it personally when it doesn’t happen.

And when it does happen? The magic is powerful.

Powerful enough to make me want to kiss people. Though, apparently, much like the brownies that’s also frowned upon. Go figure.

Finding my people

standard October 24, 2011 13 responses

The morning before I left for BlogHer Writers I received my first rejection from a literary agency.

The afternoon before I left for BlogHer Writers I packed up my desk at work and traded in my gainfully employed status for the more uncertain status of entrepreneur/freelancer.

The evening before I left for BlogHer Writers both girls melted down completely and utterly at the news that mommy was leaving town… again.

The night before I left for BlogHer Writers I discovered tat I’d flubbed my plane reservations; instead of coming home mid-Saturday afternoon, I was scheduled to arrive at 9:30pm… three hours after the planned start of M’s surprise birthday party.

To say that I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to travel cross-country to attend an event that I really didn’t feel like I deserved to attend is putting it lightly.

I almost cried while waiting to board my plane.

A writer’s conference for me, wannabe novelist who had just been rejected? What was I thinking?

Another trip with the family after the utter debacle of the last one? What was I thinking?

Another expense after giving up my regular paycheck? What was I thinking?

And yet… I went.

And I’m so glad I did.

I’ve been to a writer’s conference before. One for more “traditional” writers and I felt so out of place there. Those authors saw being online and active in social media as a chore. A thing they “had” to do to appease agents and publishers. As an active and avid user of social networks and blogs I was an oddity, a not so welcome oddity.

I’ve been to blogger conferences where most people focus on how to make blogging lucrative, how to turn social media into a bill paying, family sustaining career, not as a simple vehicle for writing. I’m an oddity there too. I created my blog as an outlet for my words. The marketing part came after and has always remained secondary in my heart.

BlogHer Writers was the middle place. The reunion of the bloggers who blog to write and the writers who write in a social space.

Again and again I heard it:

“It feels like I’ve finally found my people.”

I’ve never wanted to join a writing group because I knew I’d feel out of place among “traditional” writers. I worried I’d become their social media tutor rather than their writing peer.

This week I finally felt what it would be like to be surrounded by writers who truly “get” me and how I work.

It was incredible.

Yes, of course I learned more than just that. But aside from some practicalities about the craft itself, this was my take-away from my time in New York.

I’m not alone in this. My people exist and I’ve met them. 

And yes, sometimes you have to ignore the voice in your head pointing at all the signs telling you not to do something and follow your heart instead. My head yelled at me and told me to leave the airport and go home. My heart told me to board the plane.

I’m so very glad I did.

Willingness to be vulnerable

standard February 16, 2011 9 responses

Every year, right at the beginning of February, no matter how disgusting and rainy January might be, the Bay Area is always privy to a short burst of Spring. The temperatures rise, the sun comes out, and we get all giddy with the promise in the air.

Just as I’m marveling at the fact that I’m turning on the AC and not the heat in the car, the trees burst into bloom.

The flowers are beautiful – pale pink and so delicate. Our entire street is lined with these trees and they never fail to fill me with awe.

And then, without fail, every year, the week after everything blooms, the weather turns. The temperatures drop and the rain clouds roll in, dark and ominous. A few good gusts of wind and the pale petals start to fly. It doesn’t take long for the street to look like it’s covered in pink snow.

I watched it all happen again this week, the same way it has happened every year since I moved to the Bay Area, and once again I wondered why nature plays it this way. Why allow the trees to bloom this early? Why not realize that this is a fake spring and that the trees are better off waiting a few weeks?

And yet clearly nature does know what it’s doing. The trees probably have to bloom just then so that the impending wind storms and rainfall will do their thing and spread the petals and pollen around. (Or whatever the science behind that may be. I enjoy the flowers and trees, I don’t pretend to understand them.)

What struck me most of all is the utter vulnerability of the delicate flowers in all this. They bloom, like clockwork, and shine as hard as they can for their short week, and then they go where the wind takes them. They don’t fight it. They just are.

I envy them that vulnerability and willingness to just be.

Yesterday I did just that. I wrote from the heart, I opened my soul, and I let it all pour out. I hit publish before I could rethink it, and then I walked away.

I never intended to make people cry. I never intended to worry anyone. And yet I did. But I also didn’t expect the sheer number of people who reached out to say that my post resonated with them or who just reached out to offer friendship and support.

It’s not easy to be willing to be this vulnerable. It’s scary and daunting both when writing and when dealing with the fallout. But the outpouring of love I’ve gotten in return was the most beautiful, amazing, and unexpected thing. It was exactly what I needed and I feel blessed to have the friends and family that I do. Thank you.