Y is for Yoga

YogaSome of the benefits of Yoga are:

  • Increased flexibility.
  • Increased muscle strength and tone.
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality.
  • Maintaining balance.
  • Weight reduction.
  • Cardio and circulatory health.
  • Improved athletic performance.
  • Protection from injury

While I love Yoga…I really do, in this instance I’m using it as a metaphor for writing. Now how can you apply these wonderful benefits to your writing.

Increased Flexibility – Whether you are trying to finish a book or trying to find a home for a manuscript.  Its important to be flexible.  Life interrupts the writing process.  Sometimes your dream publisher doesn’t accept your manuscript.  It is important to be flexible, remember the important thing is to try again, to be stronger and not break.

Increased Muscle, strength and tone – Have you heard the phrase “Use it or Lose it”?  Writing frequently, dare I say daily, increases your muscles.  If you type on a keyboard, you will type faster due to muscle memory.  If your write daily in a journal, or on a manuscript, poetry, etc., your process is strengthened,  and the tone of your work improved.

Improved Respiration, energy and vitality – Just Breathe.  When you are blocked or your just not feeling it, take a break; A breath if you will, and work on another creative project.  Often times when I “scrapbook” or when I’m cooking, I get ideas for my story.  Writing without other creative outlets can drain your energy.  You need to fill your creative mind.  This will give you vitality, and passion for all your creative works.

Maintaining Balance – As with all things in life, writing is also a balancing act.  When you are an Aspiring Writer, you are balancing work, writing, and whatever life throws at  you.  These same things apply when your are published as well, and then you get to add in promotions, book signings, blog tours, etc.  It’s important to try and balance to the best of your abilities, and what is important to you.  I still work full time so my priorities are Family, Work, Writing.  I know, writing is in there last, but it is where it fits today in my life and I still manage to find balance.

Weight Reduction – Okay writing won’t make you thinner.   But you may need to think about making your book thinner before sending off for publication. 🙂  Basically, “Cut the Fat”.  You want your book to be a lean, mean, selling machine.   Not to say you should write short stories, but make sure your 155,000 word novel doesn’t have redundancies in it.  Be sure you are using strong vs. passive language, and it is the very best it can be before you publish.

Cardio and circulatory health – Go with the flow.  When life throws you an obstacle, handle it and then get back on track.  In my opinion – not all writers can deal with life crisis and write.   I’m one of those writers…life’s challenges often derail my writing.  However, some authors excel at it – Using their writing as a tool to deal with life’s issues, or utlizing it as a means of escape.  Whatever writer you are – Go with the flow.  There is no right or wrong answer to how, or when you write.

Improved athletic performance – Over time all writers seems to innately learn things about craft, genre, editing, publishing, and other business items.   Not all writers will be good at all things, and some writers can zero in on one thing.   We learn to spot passive voice, or what genre a book falls into.  We can craft perfect prose, or create a list of potential publishers with ease.  What we don’t know, we learn from others.  The point is…we improve over time and not just at putting words on a page. We become literary athletes and excel in our performance of specific tasks.

Protection from Injury – Remember that rejection letter, horrible review or jealous writer who made it personal?    Writing doesn’t protect you from these initial injuries,  but writing groups and fellow authors often support those who fall down.  I belong to three groups, and all are very supportive.  RWA – Romance Writer’s of America Online Chapter, F-M Word Weavers – A local writing group and this group Writer Zen Garden.  For any of my rejection letters, bad reviews or other slight I may have felt, there was a support group for me.  They helped heal my wounds, cherish my soul and free my creative spirit to move past the hurt.

Yep, I love Yoga, I think I’ll go do some poses to get some of the benefits.





Q is for Writing Quotes

To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong

One of my most recent addictions is Pinterests. I love browsing quotes and there are so many! Inspirational and motivational quotes for the days when I feel I need a boost to get into the writing zone. Funny quotes for the times when I need that laugh to keep me going through the next writing hurdle. And the advice infographics that help me when I feel a little stuck. There’s everything there, and I complied tons of boards. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to share only the memes I created.

For every time someone tries to tell you to be a realist:

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars. ~Les Brown
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars. ~Les Brown

For the times people ask you ‘why do you want to b a writer?’:

I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say. ~Flannery O'Connor
I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say. ~Flannery O’Connor

For the times when we need an affirmative boost of reassurance:

If we had to say what writing is, we would define it essentially as an act of courage. ~Cynthia Ozick
If we had to say what writing is, we would define it essentially as an act of courage. ~Cynthia Ozick

My favorite writing quotes for when I’m feeling as if I’m not going to make it to The End:

A writer is a writer, not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing shows any sign of promise, you keep on writing anyway. ~Junot Diaz
A Writer is a Writer


And if you’re looking for some more quotes, I have some on my website, on my Pinterest account, and if you feel like taking it to the next step I recommend Sarah Andersen’s funny webcomics.

What about you? Do you have favorite writing quotes?

Darla’s Writer Wednesday

It’s rare that my scheduled blog posts line up on consecutive days. Since this is one of those cases, I would like to further address creative goals for this Writer Wednesday. Many people who know me are probably aware that I do not consider myself good at setting goals.

And I have a tendency to edit while I’m writing a first draft. Though the dual process may work for some authors, it’s really not conducive to getting the story out of our head and onto the page.

A unique confluence of events has coincided this month to help me with both those issues. I’ve been a proponent of November’s National Novel Writing Month for a number of years. I remain grateful to A. Catherine Noon for the introduction. Folks may also have read recently about my forays into the more loosely structured April and July challenges known as Camp NaNo.

Then there is Alan Watt’s book, “The 90 Day Novel”. I’ve definitely blogged about that. Some local writers decided to give Mr. Watt’s system a try starting June first, and I figured it might be fun.

I originally thought that outlining, let alone a writing guideline, would stunt my storytelling. But Alan Watt urges us to hold it all loosely. He wants our stories to develop organically, for writers to take risks and “write the forbidden”. I haven’t exactly figure out what that means, but I think that’s the way he wants it.

This month I decided to set my NaNo goal at 50,000 words. Now, thanks to Alan Watt, I have some idea of where I want each week’s cumulative writing to lead. And my word count is on fire as a result. It’s exciting.

Now, I’d be in great shape if I applied this same dedication to cleaning aquariums and other household chores. ~grin~ I’ll get there, though.

Best wishes on reaching your own creative goals. Is there anything in particle motivating you?

Just Do the Next Right Thing

I have shamelessly borrowed today’s blog post idea from Corinne Rodrigues. She quoted my blog’s title from a book by Matthew Kelly while I, interestingly, first heard the advice from Julia Cameron.

Just do the next right thing. Sounds simplistic, doesn’t it? And therein lies the beauty.

We can easily bog ourselves down with overly ambitious goals. They often pile on the emotional weight until the whole thing collapses like a house of cards with us smothering underneath.

What can we do when an impossible deadline looms or the in-laws are due to arrive soon and the house is a mess? The next right thing. Maybe it’s asking for an extension from our editor with a realistic and reasonable alternative date. Or you should perhaps shut off the social media, get out of those pajamas, and hang up the jackets piled in your entryway.

Then do the next right thing even if it’s only for the next fifteen minutes. It’s amazing what can be achieved in that amount of time. Now reward yourself. Have a cup of tea and pet the dog or the cat or, heck, watch your aquarium fish for a spell. After a fifteen minute breather, dig back into the writing, the cleaning, or whatever else needs doing.

On that note, I need to head to the gym. After that, I’ll work toward my day’s novel writing objective. The key is to take it all in bite-sized chunks.

So, what’s your goal for the day?

Alan Watt’s “The 90 Day Novel”

I’ve been fortunate to have a warm, safe place to share both my writing successes and frustrations in The Writer Zen Garden forum. And now my friends there have welcomed me to host a workshop based on Alan Watt’s “The 90 Day Novel”.

A local writer introduced me to the idea. I resisted at first, not wanting anyone telling me what and when to write. That’s how I initially saw this process despite her enthusiasm.

Now, I feel totally different.

The fact Mr. Watt quoted Julia Cameron near the very beginning of his book decided me that this is the right time for me to embark on such a quest. Alan Watt truly shares Ms. Cameron’s gentle approach to getting folks creatively working. Granted, he wants his students writing two hours a day minimum, but I feel comfortable with “The Artist’s Way” approach of just doing what I can.

We shall see how I fare as the next three months come to a close. Right now, it’s getting me on the page daily. And that alone is worth the price of the book.

Is there anything getting your creative juices flowing these days? Please tell us in the comments.

E Is For… Event – Camp NaNo

Besides posting some A to Z entries here and the entire alphabet for my Darla M. Sands blog, I am also endeavoring to meet another writing challenge. The Office of Letters and Light, hosts of November’s National Novel Writing Month, provide still more opportunities for writer’s to test themselves. Camp NaNo happens in both April and July, I believe (can’t stop to research details now!).
The rules are much less strict than for NaNoWriMo, and contestants can even set their own word count. I, however, decided to go for broke and attempt another fifty thousand during the month just as in November. Wish me luck.
What are you writing today?

Shaking Things Up – Darla’s Writer Wednesday

Tired of feeling like a lump, I recently discovered the joys of working out. I’m learning as a novice that increased fitness relies on alternating exercises. No surprise there.  No doubt circuit training has its place, too – set routines using the same equipment for X number of workouts. Switching seems to suit me well right now, though, especially as it keeps things more interesting.
Of course, “interesting” sometimes translates to wandering around until I find the correct machine. All devices are numbered, but some sadistic soul made sure their placement follows no pattern.
Anyway, the same principal applies to my writing.  (um… not the numbers, and usually not the sadism… ahem…)
Point being, I find my productivity remaining satisfactory with variation as the key. Whether editing or writing anew, I sit down to a document every day now. And breaking from a frustrating dry spell feels fantastic.
Flexing my muscles, on the page and in the fitness center, is something I intend to continue. I hope you’ll join me in creative reshaping. Whatever my future brings physically, though, I promise right now that I will never, ever refer to my upper arms as “guns”.
What gets your creative juices flowing?

Writing Tools and Tricks for Getting on the Page

Wisdom abounds about writing goals – so many words written a day, keeping certain routines, having accountability.  Many kindly authors will share their valuable tips when asked.  Yet each individual is different.  To this day none of these ideas have worked for me.
Once the glorious bustle of November’s National Novel Writing Month ends, so does my grand output.  Good habits fall by the wayside and my output trickles to little or none.  I don’t necessarily even wallow in editing.  Some of my novel manuscripts have remained untouched since the day I met that year’s NaNoWriMo goal.
This time I wanted to continue the joy of storytelling beyond November.  So far, I have.  As you can guess it hasn’t happened through goal setting, at which I’ve never been particularly good.  Nor have I set a particular routine.
The madness in my method seems to tie more into what many experts suggest to help break a habit.  I’ve shaken things up this time.  Routines are being broken.  Times, locations, even methods have been altered according to whim.
No longer do I feel the need to get my writing done early in the day.  The day is far from over by afternoon or evening.  Why not save the best for last?  Yet if I wake with inspiration from a dream, I may certainly get the words down before they’re lost.  The words may be recorded in a notebook, Microsoft Word, or the Scrivener software I recently purchased.
I also have been writing out some character and setting sheets in Scrivener, adding more topics as I go.  I usually just carried details around in my head.  Besides cementing a few characteristics, I’ve found myself learning new things about my fictional peoples/places.  And it’s been a pleasure getting to know them, whether those details make it into the story or not!
As for one huge change, I went to some write-ins during NaNoWriMo and blessedly got invited by some nice folks to year round gatherings.  I’ll be going to one tonight, in fact.  I just have to decide which project I’ll open.  Edit the latest novel or write something new?
On that note I’ve also rekindled my love of short stories.  Somehow, they seemed inferior to novels.  How could I consider myself a writer if I wrote tales under a few thousand words?
I seemed to have forgotten some famously beloved short story collections.  And as several wise folks have told me: the fact I’m writing makes me, by definition, a writer.  I hope you’ll join me and dive into whatever speaks to your heart.

Happy Writing!

Darla’s Writer Wednesday – Dabbling with Drabbles

Many years ago I discovered a website through which people shared their stories.  I met some really great people and read some remarkable fiction.  Another unexpected discovery turned out to be learning a miniature story format termed the drabble.
Each drabble should be a mere one hundred words and sketch a complete scene.  Some readers and writers despise them.  I became addicted, which is not necessarily a good thing.  But positive results have stayed with me to this day.  For one thing, pithy storytelling can be some of the best.
(Flowery language certainly has it’s place, though; don’t get me wrong.)
In addition, I have learned to tackle the challenge of National Novel Writing Month a hundred words at a time.  The concept is no different than taking baby steps, of course.  Still, it works for me.
On that note, I better get back to my NaNoWriMo story.  There are about five hundred more words to go before I reach today’s goal.
Oh, and if you decide to adopt my ploy, try not to be obsessive about counting.  ~grin~  Stopping to constantly hit alt→ t → w in Microsoft Word contributes unproductive key strokes and takes time away from the actual composition.
Happy writing!

Darla’s NaNoWriMo Update

Now that National Novel Writing Month has begun, I’m really finding my stride.
No, I’m not a horse.  ~rolls eyes~  But I am writing.  My word count is in a range I haven’t produced since last November.  Quite frankly, NaNo inspires me.
And inspiration is what I’d like to spread today.  I read a terrific pep talk on the NaNoWriMo website.  Author Chuck Wendig shared ideas very much like Julia Cameron with her creative workshops.  He essentially encourages writers to let loose their creative inner child.  Here is his amusing and perceptive insight garnered from observing his own toddler:
“…He’ll grab a Transformers toy and half-transform it into some lumbering robot-car monstrosity—and when an adult might say, “No, no, it’s like this or it’s like that; it’s a robot or it’s a car,” he’s like, “Uh, yeah, no. Go back to your tax forms and your HGTV, stupid adult, I’ve just created a Frankencarbot and you can go hide your head in the sand-swept banality of grown-up life, sucker.”
I’m all for creating a Frankencarbot.  What about you?  Has the NaNo bug bitten this fall?