Tag Archives: inspiration

Compression Calf Guards and Performance

I know the title is a little odd, but stick with me on this one.

I’ve been considering this post since I got my compression calf guards early this month. The reason being for that is mostly because I try constantly to make links between running and writing. They’re so similar to me, one because they’re both such great passions of mine and two because they seem so obvious (probably because I work through them both so often).

Out on a run (unsurprising) today, I thought about it again. I ditched the guards because it was short and I had very little desire for big effort. Today it was running to run and help boost how I’d been feeling all day, and putting on the guards is like shoving my legs in tight clothing that I desperately want to wear.

After three years, I’m finally making bigger improvements in my endurance, and that’s in thanks to the guards, because they help block out the pain and make it much easier for me to push without worrying about splints or aches. I’m able to focus on speed and distance instead of my condition and forget everything but my feet on the pavement and my swift movement down the road or up the hill.

Every thing is different. Every skill and talent, every hobby you pick up or class you look into, it’s all got fundamental difference, but in essence, some of it can come to be very similar. What’s similar is the broader parts, like getting ‘gear’ to help you improve.

Which does work. Some things will help your performance in a lot of ways, but another thing I realized in the past few weeks of thinking about this topic was that, really, there is no “compression sleeve” equivalent to writing.

A lot of the time, the only things that help you improve in writing are location, what you surround yourself with visually and audibly, and the kind of inspiration you seek out. It’s about the journals you fill and the programs you use and the music you do or don’t listen to. The other writers you read, the books you immerse yourself in, the worlds you dive into day after day, hour after hour, because you cannot get enough and you don’t want to.

It’s organization or lack thereof. It’s in your head and your hands and less about bells and whistles than it is about expanding on the basics.

All of them will always have one very central thing in common, though, and that is the love, dedication and effort you put in to that work, to get better, to see yourself achieve what you know you’re capable of, to reach your dreams and to be more and more each time.

Some hobbies can take more money to help you get better, others only need you to see things differently. There are no limits, only what you put in front of yourself.

Mental blocks are the worst, and some of the hardest things I’ve ever had to overcome. There’s still one street I run down that I can do easily one way fully, but coming back up it is the worst task in the world because of how I visualized it when I was still a beginner.

Today had been a big eye-opener in this case because, without the sleeves, I nearly ran the entire length of my route without stopping, which I haven’t ever done before, though I’ve been getting closer lately.

We remember where we’ve had a tough time before and it sticks with us. The best way to break through is to go a different route completely. Freshen, liven, and see what you can achieve when your head doesn’t think that you’re doing the same thing. Do something new, and throw in something positive about it, and see how far it takes you.

This goes for everything. If you’re having a hard time with a chapter or story or trying to get something out specifically, you will remember how hard it was before. Changing tone or perspective can make a world of difference.

I’m still trying to tackle that street every chance I get, to make it through as far and as fast as possible, because maybe then, I can overwrite the negativity I wrote in so early.

What I see a lot of when it comes to mentality and running and writing is that it’s all in what you say to yourself. Can you see that you can do it, or are you telling yourself that it’s impossible? Do you know that you have it in yourself, or are you making sure you don’t? It’s easy to short yourself, but look for the more optimistic side of things, even if you don’t believe it at first.

For so long, I wasn’t sure that I could even do much of anything with my writing. After getting a hard conversation out of Friend about my writing and the habits I had with it, I was resigned either to shrug off the idea of writing as a career choice or taking it head on and trying everything I could to make it.

A year later, I sat back with Friend at my side in a resort and was on my way to a journey to 100k words in a month, after writing almost daily for four months, and making so many stories I was immensely proud of at that point.

Getting a little more off topic, I had another friend who told me she thought that achieving her dreams was a stupid ideology and that it’s impossible. Maybe it’s my own personal experience that leads me to believe that you can with hard work and dedication. Maybe I’m naive and haven’t had enough negativity thrown into the mix to keep me down and out. I was convinced at one point, too, that I’d never find a job, and felt completely trapped, but that changed, too.

Perspective is everything, sometimes. Whether you need help from gear or programs, or just a fresh scenery, you won’t always be stuck.

– The Novice Wordsmith


As a writer, we rely on generators sometimes to help us when we’re stalling out. They help our creative flow and get us thinking, or they fill in where we can’t fill out.

I’ll say that I’ve seen map generators and name generators so far, but I have never seen an appearance generator until today, and I think it is going to be my favorite thing for quite some time.


You just have a few things to do in the drop down menus, several specific choices to make, and then voila, it spits out something random for you. It can be as vague or as detailed as you like, including a few physical quirks. From there, be inspired, take or leave what it gives you, but I’m determined to think this is one of the most unique things I’ve seen in a while.

So in case you need it(especially for NaNoWriMo), this is at your disposal now! Have fun!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Dream On

This morning, I woke up with some really vivid dreams still playing back in my head, most of which included travel. One included kittens, and snakes, then there was the Stanley Cup match dream, and ice cream.

When I was younger and hearing about Twilight, I got excited knowing that Stephenie Meyer created the books from a dream she had. It wasn’t something new to me, but seeing someone create from a little subconscious spark was a big exclamation point for me. Since I was younger, I was always a total goon for dreams, their meanings, and the research on them.

I found myself wanting of a dream that could do that, that felt so perfect for a story or a movie, and to let it take me on this huge ride of inspiration.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, it didn’t manage to happen while I was obsessed with the thought, but later, it did.

One thing I want to say about this is it’s how you perceive it, how you encounter that little crazy thing that happened in your dream. Is it enough to make something out of? Where does it make your mind wander, and how fast does it go?

For those of you who are apathetic about this topic, that’s fine, I recognized before I wrote this that it wouldn’t be for everyone. And rightly so, some people have very vivid, strange dreams, and others have more simple dreams that stick to normalcy and don’t make them look insane. I am not one of those people.

One dream, in fact, is up for debate on if I want to write it for NaNo. Sometimes your head just brings things together that are so strange, they work. With some minor tweaks, maybe, but they’re no less motivating.

I want to know what you think about this, what is your view on dreams helping the creative process? Do you do it, and if so, how often or infrequently? Are there any current stories that you’ve written that have come from your wild, or not so wild, subconscious?

All in all, I’m a fan of this kind of thing; sometimes my craziness just brings out something that I can’t let go. It’s a good source of creativity, in my opinion, because it’s a brain dump. You’re shaking out everything that you’ve had on your mind for the week, or for the day. When you shake loose papers, there’s bound to be something that makes you go, “Huh… That’s kinda cool.”

Another side to this is the dream sequences of characters, which can be much like our own, but also tend to waver on the premonition side of things. What’s the importance of dreams if there’s nothing that comes of it, right? It’s optional, like everything else, but in a way it’s a little thing that helps make the characters more real. I’m not saying you’d have to map out the entire dream, not unless you want to (refer to dreams being important, or going somewhere with the plot), but little mentions, maybe it disorients them or makes them go, “Uhm, what?”

It can also provide some comedic relief, or get them to briefly think about certain things, as well as putting them on the path of something else, just to get them off the trail of something they were close to solving.

Ultimately, it’s a distraction, but it can be a creative one. It’s up to you whether you let the unfettered subconscious have a say in what you write, the possibilities are endless.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Guest Writer: Write Anywhere, Write Everywhere

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed doing this past week with the Wordsmith is just exploring the world.   It’s one thing to sit at home, with Google search at your fingertips, and Wikipedia at your beck and call, it’s another to actually just _go_ places to see them with your own eyes.

Despite having a laptop computer that I do all of my writing on, I still carry a notebook with me anywhere I go, whenever I can’t bring the laptop; it is full of hastily scribbled ideas, notes on things I’ve found, and sketches of fanciful things, along with phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and outlines of novels and short stories yet to be.   I try not to miss a chance to write down an awesome idea, lest I forget it by the time I get home.

Anything and everything you see can be put into a novel somehow.   From the most ordinary objects to the breathtakingly beautiful (or incredibly tacky), to little bits of trivia and history tucked away in corners of the world that don’t always advertise themselves very well.

Then there are those chance events that you encounter in your journeys; live people doing the unexpected,  fellow storytellers able and willing to swap stories, and moments of serendipity — there is no other word for it sometimes.

None of these things will likely happen to you if you remain in your ‘writing space’, content to see the world only through someone else’s eyes.   Text and photos on a web page do not do some things justice.

But is it necessary, you may ask, to go travel anywhere where you plan on doing things on location?    Some of the greatest writers believed so.   While you don’t absolutely have to take a one month vacation to Borneo to write about it, you can’t go wrong with choosing to make your next vacation a writing excercise anyway, wherever it might be.

The world is about textures, smells, feelings, sounds, and local foods you can’t get at home.   It’s unusual happenstances that required the unique combination of ‘right time’, ‘right place’ or occasionally ‘wrong time, wrong place’.    Even unpleasant experiences can be rewarding in their own right — if you survive.

Moments of serendipity are the lifeblood of any adventure novel, no matter what the genre you might be writing in, you can adapt the reality to fit the unreality.

For example, Wordsmith and I visited a museum that had a lot of gold rush mining exhibits and other artifacts of the 1850’s.   A stained glass window of St. Patrick  rescued from a demolished church is destined to find a home somewhere; its sister window had a pair of ornate keys in its display that definitely will become part of a mystery novel.   Meanwhile, the high-pressure hydraulic mining nozzle outside will have a place in a science fiction novel for futuristic mining purposes, while the docent’s recounting of what water wagons (and also where the origin of the phrase ‘on the wagon’ came from)  will likely come in handy in our next steampunk novels, perhaps.

All of this came from a single day, a single ‘hey, what about this place’ and a journey that started by asking not just ‘what if…’  but also ‘when.’

Not all of us are so lucky to have a traveling partner, or a mentor, or a means to get away from it all to see things that are, in fact, ‘away’.   But the truth of the matter is that anyplace that is ‘out’ is some smaller or larger degree of ‘away’.

And every ‘away’ game makes you a visitor in places that are at least passing strange, near or far.

So take a journey, and have a listen.   Maybe stay awhile and make some new friends.   I ran out of business cards today, letting people know I appreciated their time that they shared with me, and offering up a bit more of mine if they ever found a need to share another story.

Don’t just cultivate memories in photos you rarely look at again.  Choose to experience people, places, and things, and tell their story, no matter how imperfectly reproduced or turned into a variation on the theme, and you’ll start understanding that everything you do is a story of its own.  To bastardize a quote from The Lion King:

“Everything your life touches is your realm — of personal experience, that is.   You just have to learn how to be king of it all.”

People Watching

Last November, on my way back from Utah, my friend put a challenge up for me about people watching, since I’d be sitting in the airport for a couple of hours with nothing to do but write and wait. I put people I saw into my novel, the main characters talking to each other about where they thought these people were going, when, if they were in a rush or not. It occupied me enough that the time I was waiting for my plane flew by (pun intended) and by the time I finished, it was about time to board.

Of course, it’s not just when you’re traveling that you should be people watching, and even eavesdropping, or so said my fiction writing professor a few years ago.

These people can often become inspiration for characters in stories and novels and what have you, look at the world around you and see what’s going on. Take notice, give your attention to the detail. This is especially good if you need the inspiration, just let it take you somewhere.

Today, on my way out to California, I’ll be doing the same thing. It’s amazing the stories you hear and come up with from total strangers.

– The Novice Wordsmith