Last Day of FEARS Workshop

Today is the last day of my FEARS workshop.  Did you miss it?  No worries.  You can still check it out on the Forum.

You can continue to ask questions and I’ll ask them as they come through.

Hope to see you there,

~Tina

Happy New Year! What’s new in the Garden?

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Happy New Year, Gardeners!  It’s a great time to be in the Writer Zen Garden.

Inside this blog:

  1. Prompt Circles are back – next one is Jan 21st from 2-4 at Open Books
  2. Walking In This World online workshop, Jan 22nd through April 22nd
  3. F.E.A.R.S. Workshop – Finish, Edit, Analyze, Research and Submit, Feb 5th to Mar 4th
  4. Dialog – Who Says What To Whom, March 12th to March 25th
  5. A to Z Blog Challenge is coming in April
  6. Camp NaNoWriMo is coming in April

Check it out:

The Prompt Circles are back!  After a longer than expected hiatus, we’re excited to report that we are ready to start these up again.  Our venue is Open Books, an awesome place centrally located downtown near parking, transit, Metra, and those blue bicycle things.  Not that you’d want to bike in the dead of winter, but hey.  They’re there if you want ’em.  It’s on Saturday, January 21st from 2-4.

We have several online offerings, all of which are free but require a membership on the forum.  How do you get to the forum, you ask?  Visit here!

Did you know that the Writer Zen Garden has a calendar?  If you prefer getting your information visually, click over to Our Calendar and check it out.

On the Artist’s Way track: Walking In This World.  This is a 13-week workshop running from Sunday, Jan 22nd, through Saturday, April 22nd.  You will need a copy of the book by Julia Cameron, Walking In This World, which is available from your favorite bookseller or public library.  This is a participant-led workshop facilitated by A. Catherine Noon; if you’d like to lead a week’s discussion, please let me know.

The workshop will be conducted online through thewww.writerzengarden.com/forums website; you will need a user account to participate. There is no cost to join.

On the Author track: F.E.A.R.S. Online Workshop – Finish, Edit, Analyze, Research, and Submit.  Join author Tina Holland for her popular F.E.A.R.S. workshop, where she will help you Finish your manuscript, Edit it, Analyze it for its best fit in the marketplace, Research homes for it – traditional publishing? digital-first/small press? indie? blog?, and Submit.

It will run for four weeks starting Sunday, February 5th and concluding Saturday, March 4th.

Tina is past President of RWA Online Chapter #136 and author of ten romance novels. She is a sought-after speaker at regional writing conferences and a founding Board Member of Writer Zen Garden. We are super stoked to have her present for us and for her to offer her popular workshop for free to WZG members.

You need to be a member of the Writer Zen Garden online forum.  Membership is free.

For more information about Tina Holland, please visit her website. While you’re there, check out her popular author interview series (and authors, sign up to be interviewed!).

On the Writer track:  Online workshop – Dialog, Who Says What to Whom, March 12th through March 25th.

Join A. Catherine Noon and Tina Holland for a free online two-week workshop on dialog. We will have examples, discuss proper punctuation, (where DOES that pesky comma go? or is it a period?), and have lots and lots of practice exercises. Think of it as the March boot camp to get in shape for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo and the A to Z Blog Challenge.

You will need a free account on the Writer Zen Garden Forum.

April is a busy month in the Garden: We have not one but TWO web-based events for you.

April is the month for the international A to Z Blog Challenge! Find out more, and sign up on the main website.

We’re looking for Writer Zen Gardeners to participate on our blog this year, so if you’re interested, please contact your organizers A. Catherine Noon or Tina Holland.

Also, April is Camp NaNoWriMo!  From the folks that bring you National Novel Writing Month in November comes a fun event called Camp NaNoWriMo. You can set your own word count goal; it doesn’t have to be the full 50,000 like in November. Participants are arranged in cabins for mutual support and encouragement.

Find out more, and sign up, at the website.

If you haven’t joined the discussion on Facebook, you’re missing out.  Click over to the Writer Zen Garden Facebook Group and check it out.

Zen

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End mind, beginner’s mind?  We’re at the end of our challenge for this month, the April A to Z Blog Challenge.  Six of the WZG crew participated this month, and we’ve brought you all sorts of content from, well, A to Zen.  Thank you for coming along on this journey with us.

Why Zen?  Why Writer Zen Garden?

zen garden symplicity and harmony form a background for meditation and relaxation, for balance and health

One of the central ideas of Zen Buddhism is to be in the now.  By being fully in the moment, we let go anger about the past and fears about the future, and truly live as we are meant to live.  The Zen rock gardens, like the one pictured above, are a visual representation of what being in the flow, or the now, looks like.  The rock is seen as a metaphorical obstacle, something we must acknowledge and move around.  It causes eddies in our energy, which is represented by the flowing lines in the sand.  The more we make peace with that, the more smooth our metaphorical sand becomes and we are at peace.

Writing is a little like that.  When we talk about writing, we aren’t being fully in the moment and writing.  We’re not existing in the now.  By learning to sit down and apply the pen to the page or the fingers to the keyboard, we teach ourselves how to get into the flow and to produce.  It’s a lesson we must consistently relearn, which is reminiscent of the quote, “Zen mind, beginner’s mind.”  Author Natalie Goldberg, who wrote, among other things, Writing Down the Bones, relates a story of speaking with her meditation master.  She lamented that she was spending all her time writing, and not meditating.  He told her to keep writing, that her writing was meditating.

When I decided to start Writer Zen Garden, I wanted a name that embodied this idea of being in the moment while writing.  It seemed natural to include Garden, because we are all growing, and we are all living beings.  Connecting the three ideas of writing, Zen, and gardening made sense to me.

However you found us, I hope you’ve enjoyed your stay here.  There are additional resources in the top menu navbar, and we blog regularly.  Hope to see you again!

Remember, May 9th is the A to Z Reflections Post Day, and the Linky List is open from May 9 to May 13.  Keep an eye on the main A to Z Blog Challenge page for more info and updates, and of course come back here on the 9th for our reflections on our collective experience.  We do regular Writer Wednesday features here and will be coming up with some other regular features, so keep your eyes peeled.  And if you’re a blogger, and interested in contributing, please let us know in the comments.


Thank you for joining us for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave us a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

 

The theme on my main blog, Explore the Worlds of A. Catherine Noon, is The A To Z of the Zoo.  Join me as I explore Brookfield Zoo and finds animals, birds, and insects from A to Z.

My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature and the Built Environment.

The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from me, Noony; my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder (the Wilder half of Noon & Wilder); the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

My friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and I’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

 

 

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.

~Tina

 

 

 

An Alternative to Xanax

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Writing can serve as a path to the self.  In troubled or stressful times, we need this more than anything, but our society’s advice is to avoid the problem – take a pill, a powder, and do anything but face it head on.  As news of Prince’s death trickles out, and his possible addiction to prescription medication, it’s become even more apparent to me that we are a nation addicted to drugs – legal and prescription drugs are just as bad, in some cases, as the street variety.  There were over 25,000 deaths from prescription medications in 2014 alone, according to Drug Abuse.gov (1).

I am not a doctor.  I’m aware that if someone requires medication for their life, then by all means, take it.  But there are alternatives that we can use to supplement medications and, in some cases, supplant them.  For me, writing has provided some of the best psychological assistance in dealing with childhood trauma that I have found in my arsenal.  So, too, has qualified psychological care by a licensed provider; exercise; and a steady, healthy diet.  But it’s writing that I wanted to talk about today.

When we write, we begin a dialog with ourselves in a way that we cannot in other mediums.  And by “write,” I mean literally putting pen to paper.  Studies have shown we access different parts of the brain when we handwrite vs. use a keyboard, and some theorize that using a keyboard is “cross-hemispheric,” meaning using both sides of the brain simultaneously, and therefore is fundamentally different than using just one side of the brain by using the right or left hand to write.

I have kept up a pretty constant journal since about 1986, and in bits and pieces before that.  It’s safe to say I’ve written all my life.  I wrote my first story at the age of nine.  But I didn’t truly encounter my own story, for myself and by myself, until after forty.  This is not uncommon, I’m told, for child abuse survivors, because our stories are coopted by our abusers.  In my case, family complicity and tolerance compounded the problem, because if I tried to speak about what was happening, I was punished for being “mean,” or told that I didn’t understand how much my parents loved me and how hard they worked for me.  And when it came time to talk about me and the family, the narrative was always the same.

In journaling, though, I gradually began to hear glimmers of truth from myself.  I’d seen them my whole life, but was scared of them.  This, too, is common to trauma survivors.  Sometimes the truth is too terrifying to admit, too terrifying to even speak much less write.  But as I began to tell my own story, and to realize the official story was a lie, an interesting thing started to happen:  my PTSD symptoms lessened.  PTSD doesn’t go away entirely, not ever; it fundamentally changes the person who has it.  But we can learn to cope with it, and to develop mechanisms that help us to minimize stress and normalize our daily round.  For me, writing served as a gateway to that new self.

What startled me was the fact I was terrified of this new self.  I’m told this, too, is normal among trauma survivors.  We’re taught that our selves are scary, bad, or any of a number of other things; none of which are accurate but to a child’s mind, they take on the weight of Truth.  We learn to internalize this abuse and become self-abusers as we become adults, perpetuating what was done to us as children.  Journaling serves as a kind of mirror for this behavior, allowing us to peel away those layers and to reveal the self within.  In my case, that process has taken forty years.  I’m not done yet.  But what I’ve learned is this:

Keep writing.  Trust the words.  Trust time.  Tell your truth, if to no one else than yourself.  Write what you See.  Story is God.

Write on.

 

Resources

“Overdose Death Rates,” National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse; December 2015, from the following link, accessed 04/28/2016.

Your Life As Story, Tristine Rainer

The New Diary, Tristine Rainer

Life’s Companion:  Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest, Christina Baldwin

What It Is, Lynda Barry

Whoops! R Is For I Gotta wRite Something Quick!

2016-04-21 R

So, I have a cold.  I went hunting around in my archives for a funny picture and came across this gem, snapped by my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder.

With friends like these, …

Of course, it captures perfectly how I feel right at this moment, even though it was taken some time ago when I’d just gotten out of bed and was trying to do morning pages.  🙂

Today is my day to post something crunchable having to do with the letter R.  I totally forgot until right now.  I shall endeavor to come up with something through my cold-medicine-induced fog.  Here, then, without further ado is the World According To Noony (on Cold Medicine):

  1. No, Boria, you do NOT need to sing me the song of your people at six in the morning.  Nor at seven.  Nor at seven-twenty.  I’ll get up at the last possible moment – meow – to – meowow – go to work – meeoooowwowowow – so I don’t need Felini in the Morning!
  2. Dogs take up entirely too much room on the bed when there’s only the two of you and it’s a queen-sized mattress.
  3. Cold medicine tastes yucky, but it keeps me from coughing.
  4. I cough the more I talk.
  5. I had THREE client phone calls – hack – scheduled – cough – for – wheeze – today.
  6. Tea is my friend.
  7. Don’t make a whole pot of caffeinated tea because you like the “hibiscus” part but forgotyoualreadyhadyourcoffeefortheday.
  8. The bus is late when I’m in a hurry.
  9. The bus is packed with people when I want to sit down because my head is pounding.
  10. It’s getting warm outside.  WEAR DEODORANT!

(No, really, #10.  Please.  Yes, Mister Big Fat Dude, I’m looking at you.  And holding my nose.)

And remember:  Zen mind, beginner’s mind.  Except when on cold medication.


Thank you for joining us for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave us a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

 

The theme on my main blog, Explore the Worlds of A. Catherine Noon, is The A To Z of the Zoo.  Join me as I explore Brookfield Zoo and finds animals, birds, and insects from A to Z.

My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature and the Built Environment.

The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from me, Noony; my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder (the Wilder half of Noon & Wilder); the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

My friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and I’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

P Is For Prepper

P Is For Prepper – by Rachel Wilder

All right world I can say it – I’m a Prepper!

So many people give me the reaction that I’m crazy. That I’m actually hoping something horrible will happen so I can break out my canned goods and emergency radio. That people should suffer around me so I can test to see if my batteries are really good for ten years.

2016-04-19 P pic 1

That is the last thing on my mind.

But I watch the news. And it wasn’t always showing far away places and strangers like the tsunami and resulting nuclear meltdown in Japan during 2011. I remember seeing the aftermath of Katrina 2005, of talking to my brother while he weathered Superstorm Sandy 2012. Of my best friend telling me she almost got trapped in her car during  Snowapocalypse 2014.

So awful things seem to always happen to strangers….until suddenly it doesn’t.

It’s now you or one of your loved ones. A family member or good friend. Heck, even a beloved pet. Anyone can suddenly end up cold, or hungry or lost and homeless. The question is- are you going to look back and discover that you could have helped them or yourself with a little forethought and planning,

You don’t have spend your life savings on things hopefully you’ll never need. Like this family.

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Though, if you look closely, they don’t look too worried about anything. But just get the most basic of extra supplies that will give you peace of mind. Is that three days or three weeks? That’s something you and your family need to think about and discuss.

So in reality, preppers look more like this…

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N is for Nice Girls Writing Naughty

 

Since I am not affiliated personally with the blog Nice Girls Writing Naughty, I feel it’s not inappropriate to promote the group. On the other hand our own very dear and talented team of A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder are very justifiably represented. I can personally vouch that these two are both extremely nice. And they write some extremely delicious naughtiness.

In case you had not guessed the novel content of these authors is erotica in various, glorious forms. To give fair warning, you may not want to open their home page at work. But I urge you to check them out if you like steamy romance.  Here’s the link.

 

They even have a reading club in which various titles are discussed on a regular basis. I hope you’ll check it out!

So, dear reader, what’s on your novel wish list? Personally, I’m looking forward to the next Noon and Wilder publication.

 

For the Love of a Library

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I didn’t like books at first.  I liked it when my dad read to me, but I didn’t read myself.  I learned how to read interesting books around age six, graduating from the boring “See Jane Run” types.  My mother had a set from when she was a child that were graded by year, and I read those.  But something was still missing.

Then my father took me to the library and showed me how to find good books.  The first couple times, he picked for me and I couldn’t figure out how to do it for myself.  When I picked out books, they didn’t have the same “fun” that the ones he picked did – like the one about the cat who lived in a firehouse and was a hero.

One day, I got determined and marched into the library at school.  I found Phyllis A. Whitney’s mysteries and that’s when it happened:  the inner worlds opened and I glimpsed the power and glory of books.  I’ve never looked back.

Recently, two friends on an online writing forums shared how they pared down their book collection because their books were mostly ebooks now.  It unsettled me, deeply, because I adore my library.  I love the look and feel of the books, and I love coming home to the dining room/library.  In January of 2015 I went through on a massive project to re-classify and organize all my books (of which the above picture is only a fraction).  My husband and I have a lot of books.  While there may come a time where I cull the physical library, it will not be this day.  (Thank you, Peter Jackson, for that syntax [from The Return of the King, Aragorn’s speech to the Men of the West and the Riders of Rohan].)

I even have a theme on this very blog called “A Writer In Her Library,” where I explore and ruminate on books, my books in particular, and share a little bit of my love for them.  In preparing for today’s post, I tried to think of something “Zen” to share, and thought of Lao Tzu, one of the Zen Masters.  Then I came across a small blue volume that I picked up at a used book sale for three dollars:  Simple Things:  Some Appreciations of the Small Joys in Daily Life from HOUSE & GARDEN.  It includes such essays as, “Salt,” by Aldous Huxley, and “The Coat Hanger,” by Aubrey Menen.  That’s why I like a physical library – one can wander in and, at random, pull something off the shelf that speaks to one.  I highly recommend you try it – if not in your own library, then at your local public one.  You’ll be glad you did.


 

Thank you for joining us for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave us a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

 

The theme on my main blog, Explore the Worlds of A. Catherine Noon, is The A To Z of the Zoo.  Join me as I explore Brookfield Zoo and finds animals, birds, and insects from A to Z.

My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature and the Built Environment.

The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from me, Noony; my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder (the Wilder half of Noon & Wilder); the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

My friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and I’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

K Is For Using Krav Maga To Kick the Inner Evil Critique Away

Before you’d go into this post thinking I’m some kind of Krav Maga expert about to enlighten you on martial arts, let me assure you that I’m no expert. At all. At any kind of sport…I’m more of a couch potato, really.  ~grin~

What I’d like to do is utilize Krav Maga’s basic principles to dealing with the evil inner critique. Julia Cameron calls the evil critique we have in our head The Censor, and in her book Finding Water, she recommends naming it something silly in order to lessen its power. So, if I’m talking about Cruella Von Poopy, know that I’m referring to my infernal inner evil critique.

A little about inner critiques:

Each one of us is born into a certain culture, a certain environment that have rules and etiquettes. We’re taught not to cross the road before looking both ways, we’re taught that walking around naked is a big no-no, that we need to shower every day and take care of our cleanliness, that it’s impolite to stare at strangers, that we must respect our elders, etc. There are rules for everything and they vary from society to society. And these rules often create conflict when they don’t align with our personal wants and needs.

That’s when some people go to therapy in order to first untangle the voices that create the conflicts, then find a way to solve them.  For example, it could be that a man raised in a religious environment might have been taught from a young age that homosexuality is wrong, thus creating an imprint on his personality and a conflict between his needs and who he’s supposed to be. He might feel shame, he might feel disgust, he might feel not entitled to his own feelings…all because there are voices in his head, voices that have names and faces of the people from his circle, messing with his life.

 

And there might be a woman who grew up in an achievement-focused family. Doctors, and lawyers, and business wo/men who only want what’s best for the woman. They want her to study hard, to get a high education, to advance in the world and make something bright and shiny of herself, something worthy, something…else than what she wants for herself. What she really wants is to live in the country and grow her own organic ranch. She isn’t interested in a fancy degree and title, she isn’t interested in a career in science or law. She wants to live in peace with her animals and plots. But she has all of these voices in her head, voices that have good intentions but they’re messing with her life, with her ability to live the kind of life she always dreamed of.

So, rather than submitting to these voices, we might choose to fight them. And fight dirty, because there’s nothing as confusing as the pull of a river of people trying to carry you somewhere you don’t want to go. You need to hold on to every branch, every floating object, and kick against the stream like you’re life depends on it. Because it does.

Why Krav Maga:

In my humble opinion, we all have a Censor of one kind or another, and we all employ different methods to deal with it. Today, I chose Krav Maga’s principles because it’s a street fight martial art that realizes some fights are too messy to be handled with rules and etiquette and has one simple goal—keeping us safe, no matter what attacker we find ourselves facing. And the truth is, sometimes we’re our own worst enemy, and that’s when our fight, while inside our head, is no less real and dangerous then on the street facing a muggier. We don’t want to get in our own way. Sometimes that means digging deep and locating the source of our inner conflict, and sometimes it means employing a swift counter-attack by any means possible. That’s when the Krav Maga principles come into play.

I originally chose kissing for this letter in the a-z challenge, but after 4 drafts of posts at which Cruella Von Poopy sneered, I despaired and dumped the subject. Recognizing my inability to finish this post as the work of Von Poopy as opposed to me being a boring individual with nothing to innovate on the subject of kissing, I decided to try another word and see if I could squeeze out a few words. So, I went on a Google search, and after reading about the principles of Krav Maga, I decided I’ll embrace them to fight Von Poopy, because something had to give. I HAD to write something for this post. I gave my word. And I’m tired of letting Von Poopy win.

How to use the principles of Krav Maga to fight The Censor:

Counterattacking as soon as possible

There are three primal reactions when facing danger: freeze, flight, and fight. Freeze would be that first moment we recognize the threat, and then we usually choose between fight or flight. Now, assuming flight is not an option at the moment, because our attacker has us crowded in a corner with a gun aimed at our head, we need to find a way to defend ourselves. Some of us might opt to raise our hands and surrender—and that could be a viable, life-saving option. But if we’re talking about The Censor, a voice whispering mean things in our head, then we might opt to fight back. We could first raise our hands to block the worded low blow, but in Krav Maga the principle say we must change from defending ourselves to attacking as soon as possible.

Some Defense Methods against The Censor:

Stop whatever you’re doing and don’t engage. Take a walk to clear your head. Go on a Wikipedia binge and enjoy hopping from one listing to another. Play with the cat or dog. Fold the laundry and cross it of your tasks list. Take a few moments to procrastinate before you get back to the fight. It doesn’t have to be a long pause, especially if you have a deadline, but if you can walk away from the fight for a little while, that might mean the difference between a ruined project and a quick detour before reaching a milestone. That’s the benefit of having a fight in your own head, after all.

Fight Dirty—all bets are off and all clichéd allowed!

Make use of anything you have in your arsenal, rather than focusing on what’s not currently available. If you’re in a street fight, you use whatever object around you. A fist full of sand can blind the attacker. A branch turns into a club aimed to the head. A knee aimed at the solar plexus can bring a man down, and then a kick to the head can knock him out.

Cruella Von Poopy might say I have no grasp of plot arcs, even though I can show her the recipes I have from all the workshops I took on plots. She’s a mean attacker, and she fights dirty, catching me at the most annoying situations. So I’ve gotta be ready to use whichever scrap around me and turn it into an attacking machine. Like choosing a different word to defend myself from the attack on my post drafts, then writing a madcap post about Krav Maga, my take on how Censors are created, and how it’s healthy, and normal, and there are so many methods to prevent it from taking over….

Some Ready Tools to grasp at when fighting the censor:

Affirmations—Turn the Censor’s criticism into an affirmation. Julia Cameron advises to turn blurts (criticism) into affirmations. Take a moment and listen to the blurts, then turn the words around. If The Censor calls your work silly, write down an affirmative line stating that there’s no such thing as a perfect draft.

Go on a Pinterest binge—If The Censor says you’ll never finish a project, tell it you’re already half-way through! If you can’t manage to affirm yourself, try looking for inspiration on Pinterest. I have Pinterest boards that I feel with inspiring, motivational and funny quotes that make me smile and help me battle Von Poopy.

Freestyle writing—if I feel stuck because my brain is clogged with blurts and worries, I take my notebook and write whatever comes to mind. It can be a rant. It can be a stream of unconnected words. It can be an unintelligible poem that means absolutely nothing. The point is to clear my head, puke it all on the page until I feel clearer.

Do as much damage in as little time as possible –Go for the jugular

Do not engage in a fancy battle with your chest puffing up like a peacock showing off his skills. We want this fight to end fast. We want to be swift, economic, go in for the knockout punch and get the hell out of the scene of encounter. Because you can never know if the attackers have backup nearby, or how long it’ll take them to wake up from their temporary swoon. So, you knock ‘em out, then run like hell.

Some Swift Attack Weapons against The Censor

Artist dates—another one of Julia Cameron’a tools, and a very helpful one. The idea is to take your inner child artist out for a date. It doesn’t have to be something grand and time consuming. It can be 10 minutes of doodling, taking a moment to color in an adult (or children) coloring book, taking a trip to the nearby flower shop and gifting yourself with a colorful bouquets, or putting on an upbeat song and dancing for the sheer joy of it.

Call for back up—reach out a friend who’s good at seeing the silver lining, who’ll encourage you and fill you with a sense of optimism.

Laugh—watch a funny movie or a standup comedy show, read a joke, make use of the ample funny cats/dogs video circling around Facebook, or whatever appeals to your sense of humor.

Use your talent—we all have one. If you’re a writer, write a silly scene about The Censor and lessen its power. If you’re an illustrator, turn The Censor into a caricature. If you’re a song writer, write a song about it. Use your talent to make fun of The Censor.

Keep your eyes open—and watch out:

When engaging in a street fight, it’s paramount to be aware of everything that happens around us. You’re crowded in a corner. The attacker flashed out a knife. You froze. They used that moment to jump at you, but you moved in time and avoided being stabbed. Locating a sturdy-looking branch, you snatch it and club the attacker over the head. The attacker falls. Focused on trying to figure out if you knocked him out for good, you miss noticing another attacker coming from behind you. That’s why you need to keep watching your surroundings. You don’t want to be caught off guard.

So, I found another letter for this post. That stemmed Von Poopy for a few moments while I researched, but she came at me again the moment I started writing. It didn’t stop me from writing this time, because I kept watch for her. I scrambled for a weapon, remembered Julia Cameron’s advice about The Censor, and wrote. When Von Poopy called my post silly, I punched her by reasoning that we all have a Censor, and that brought on a sense that I’m not alone in this, and that maybe, by writing this strange post I might connect with someone else out there battling their own Censor.

In this sense, keeping my eyes open means acknowledging the Censor so I’d be able to fight it, then reaching out to others. Because we’re never alone in our fights, even if the Censor might swear that we are. The Censor lies. And if these voices in our head come from an outer source, then we could employ other voices to resolve the conflict. The kind and encouraging voices that push us forward and help us defend ourselves.

What about you? What are your methods to fight The Censor?