Tag Archives: passion

Push and Shove

Reminder to self and followers: There is such a thing as pushing too hard. Stop doing it. You’re going to effing hurt yourself.

Sometimes, all it really takes is time off. Though you may not want to let your fingers rest on the keys or put the pen or pencil away, or even tuck the sneakers and exercise bag away, it is, at some point, going to be best that you do.

Relax.

As my own experience has taught me, shaped by perfectionism, completionism, and competitive spirits, as well as a fresh and lively fear of failure, you can go too far. You get sick or your head doesn’t work as well, creativity is down, but when you have a streak staring you down that you haven’t broken, and a chance to keep it going, you can become a slave to regulation and forget that you’re human. That you need time off sometimes to recoup and get better.

The story can wait. The words will come. Do not force it. The road is always going to be there, the gym, the laptop, the journal. The only person you are disappointing by not doing it that day because you know you can’t, is yourself.

When I was younger, on a swim team and at conferences, a popular phrase I’d hear is, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” I used to be kind of gray on how I felt about it, but recently, a friend has shown me that it’s the devil. It’s a clever way to force you past your limits and get you injured. The same can hold true for your writing, absolutely, but in different ways.

Stick with me…

On paper somewhere, post it notes or a notepad on your computer, an idea is sitting there waiting to be had, and you love it, you fell in love, which is why you had to write it down. Except, right now, you can’t get motivated, but you told yourself you’d do it, so you start…

Stop. It’s going to feel strained, your writing, your language is going to look like it’s not all there, like your heart isn’t totally in it, and it’s not, is it? When you throw yourself into a pit that you don’t have the strength to climb out of, you trap yourself.

And the hardest thing I’ve had to teach myself is that it’s okay to fail. That it’s okay to stop for the day and let it slide. Don’t let it become habit, but let yourself move on to something else, and come back when your heart reaches for it. Like I’ve said in The Fires of Passion Part 1, and Part 2, if your heart is in it, it’ll be easier, you’ll know what turns and hooks you want to put in, you’ll dig in deeper and put your all in it.

I had a huge lesson smack me in the face about the time that I started this blog. That failure is a part of life and I need to stop running myself through when something doesn’t live up to my expectations. Or it doesn’t exceed expectations, or something disappoints me, or I don’t do well at all. To step back and say, okay, I’m okay with this.

I have gotten better, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and I have a long way to go. When you can see what you have or haven’t done in hard numbers, it becomes more difficult to give yourself a pass. You hold yourself accountable, you hold more against yourself, and you simply don’t let yourself off easy. It’s harder to relax.

Completion is most difficult because you see that you haven’t done something and you force yourself to do it all. I once did exercise on a day I knew was not good for it because I had taken rest days through the week already, and made myself sick for the majority of the day. April Camp Nano was struggled through and I forced myself to finish a chapter and put it in the book when I absolutely hated what I came up with.

Then you have the inspirational crap you see all day, on Facebook, on Tumblr. I personally see a lot of, “Suck it up and keep going,” not verbatim, but to that effect, and I’ve gotten to a point where it pushes me to get off my ass.

It is okay to stop. It is okay, natural, human nature, to feel frustrated and stuck, because it happens, but you know, at least you should, that it will not always be like that. Sometimes, you’re just not going to be able to write every single day, your head won’t be in it, you’ll have decreased motivation. It will happen, and it is okay.

I guess in a lot of ways this is a reminder to myself. Another step forward in seeing what I’ve been doing to myself and forcing myself, in better ways, to relax. To breathe, and to see that I’m human and sometimes, I can’t always do everything.

Progress is gradual, and slow. If running and writing have taught me anything, that would be it. You’re going to hate some things you put out, but someone else might love it. So write on, or feel free to stop. Pause. Recuperate. Breathe. Pushing yourself isn’t always going to be best or wisest. You know yourself and your body and your limits and your brain best, you make the rules, but don’t cut yourself short when you know you can do more, when you’re capable.

My favorite piece of advice I’ve had to myself is that, hard work looks ugly. It’s not all smiling models, it’s gritted teeth and tongues sticking out in thought, it’s hunched over the keyboard and hair a mess. It’s natural and normal and life. Don’t let the pictures fool you. Sweat. Pour your soul in. Let it out, unleash, and without hesitation.

Just be careful of overdoing it. It’s possible.

The Novice Wordsmith

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Guest Post: Getting By With a Little Help from My Friends

Writing a blog is a daunting task. Everyone and anyone can have a good idea, but past the initial ‘hey this is cool’ aura, a public blog lives and dies by its readership and authorship. But not in the way you might think.
Authors are driven by two opposing forces; writing and being read.

Some of us are heavily on the ‘writing’ side, where we can churn out mountains of text, some of it looking like snowy peaks, and others like coal mines with smoke pouring out of them, or the occasional volcano of a novel that blows up in the middle and spews ashen destruction everywhere.

Others are deeply moved to write by a need to  share writing with other people. To teach, to entertain, to be loved for your art of the amazing prose.

Writers block hits both types just as hard.

For a writer-side person, all it takes is a good kick of inspiration.

For a read-me type person, a little outside help is what’s helpful.

So here ya are, Novice Wordsmith.

It has been an honor and a pleasure to read your work, and to inspire you to write things. No matter what you do with this blog, you will always be a writer, and you will always have a fan in me, as long as I can see, and tell you just how far you’ve come along from where you were writing story fragments and leaning on cliches to where you are now, spinning worlds and universes and coming up with ideas and plot twists on the spur of a moment. I love the fact that you’ve chosen to share your love of writing with the rest of the universe of the ‘net, whether they care or not; you want to show others that writing is for everyone, writing is a passion, and with passion comes power.

Everyone has a novel inside of them. Whether finished or not, the more important part is the Idea, the Character, the constant Struggle to Succeed that they go through, and life — yours in particular — is a novel that is unfinished. You’re writing the hard chapter now, where the heroine is at loose ends and looking at a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in front of her.

In the novel, the hero or heroine can’t always solve things on their own. You learned as a writer to develop good supporting characters, whether foils, confidantes, staunch allies, comic relief, or constant reminders of why they do what they do.

You learned that obstacles make you stronger when you defeat them – and the hero or heroine (almost) always succeeds in the end by …what?

NEVER GIVING UP.

I’ve written blogs before. Advice blogs. Writing blogs. Ways to help me connect with friends and strangers, and strangers who became friends. Eventually I left those blogs behind, but they’re still there, as a reminder of who I was then, who I met at that time, and a smile or twenty of good memories because I lived through that part of the story, and though the folks I crossed paths with there have moved on, and so have I, sometimes I peek back at what I’ve done and remember. And say…

“…I wrote THAT?”

Exercise of whether it was good or bad is up to the reader. Hindsight is everything, concentration is often what’s lacking, and inspiration comes of being able to accept that not all ideas look good on the surface, but sometimes start as obnoxiously ugly first drafts.

And sometimes, as you’ve found, it takes a little help from a friend to get things going again. Of being able to fall back to where you were before you were this awesome, giving yourself permission to be bad for a little while so you can find the good parts in the brain-muck that is writer’s block.

Some of the best novels have come out of horrible ideas.

Some of the worst novels started out amazing but ran out of steam or premise.

Some of them have even been published.

Quit worrying about being perfect today. That’s what editing is for.

Give yourself permission to write badly. But write something. Nobody judges painters when they create misshapen faces, bleeding clocks, or crayon drawings — some of them even get paid for it, too. Perhaps you’re trying to beat out the writing of some literary idol you aspire to be like, and you shouldn’t — because they have editors too.

Wordsmith, you have people who like your stuff here. And others will find it in time. For being someone who doesn’t market herself much at all, you have a following — and even if they aren’t a legion, it only takes one fan to make you realize that someone likes your stuff.

Hi. Can I be your number one fan?

Whether you accept it or not, I’m here to help you out (for her amazing fans, I’m giving her a break so she can get her writing chops back under her — don’t worry, she’ll be back, but you could speed up the process by leaving her a note or giving her a like or something….).

Beware! I am invading your blog with bizarre ideas that are not your own!

…um… prompt, please?

The Fires of Passion: Part 2

The first part of this post, was meant as a reply to the Charlie Hebdo attack, but also as a segue into the topic of letting your heart help you write. To say that what you believe in, or what makes your heart race, the ideas that make your eyes light up and keep you awake at night, can be one of the best vehicles for your writing.

The opposite of this is hating what you’re writing and dragging your feet through it. “It wrote itself” versus, “I am so glad this is over.”

There’s the unmistakable joy of a frenzy of writing because you love it and because you want to, because something about the topic speaks to you. Fiction, non-fiction, journalism, memoirs, biographies, whatever it is, there’s pieces that capture you and don’t let go.

“It writes itself” when you’re on fire, when you can see the scene in front of you clearly and you’re in love with the view. From where you’re sitting, you should be able to blast through whatever comes up, and by the time you’re done, probably you’ll be stunned at the volume you accomplished in the amount of time you did it.

Even if the story doesn’t lay itself all out to you at once, isn’t to say you have no passion, either. With excitement comes a varying degree of push and desire, controlled by a few factors including how important the piece is, how strong the different scenes are playing in your head, and what you feel about the scene or scenes themselves. Why not add in if it’s a big project, with it’s intimidation, mild or not, and if you know you’re looking to publish, the worry you get from making sure everything is perfect.

My personal view on the other side of this, the sluggishness, has always been to change something. Figure out what’s got you stuck and move things around. Find a way to dig yourself out of the rut. In those cases that you can’t, which I experienced first hand in November, you just have to hunker down and find a way through.

With gusto behind your words, all things are possible. Your stories can take you where you want to go if you let them, if you get out every bit of care and painstaking effort that you can muster. Zest peppering each paragraph and verse puts more weight and meaning into the words that are taken down and consumed in reading.

Because if you don’t like what you’re writing, who’s to say the reader will?

-The Novice Wordsmith

**PS for those interested in half of what inspired this post, you can read the quote by Ray Bradbury here, which is part of an essay he wrote about the same thing.

The Fires of Passion

In the midst of writing about the recent attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, I found myself caught up in the idea of writing and speaking and drawing and expressing for what you believe in. Putting every bit of your soul and your energy into getting something down and/or out that you feel strongly about, speaking loudly, if not yelling, about a change you know should happen.

With passion, all things are possible. With a fire in your heart and a frenzy in your head, you can accomplish and achieve in ways you never thought you were capable of.

When we let loose with this fire, it can spread wildly, across whatever it is that you’ve unleashed it on. Whether it’s political injustice, or the careen of a space ship around asteroids, our outlet for this is suddenly much easier to work through. Typing becomes fevered and fervent, you lose track of time easily while drawing, finishing or coming out of the frenzy leaves you in a daze, your paints leaving behind a trail of your efforts.

Removed from the equation, passion is instead replaced with other things, but the need for expression never really dies. Whether it’s depression or agitation, we’re spurred on by a desire of some caliber that tells us to go forth and release what we’ve had stored up and waiting. It helps us feel better or it gets us to evaluate what’s going on.

To see change, was one of the first phrases I remember used to describe satire. It finds a way to crack open and show the glaring faults in something, whether it’s unethical, legally wrong, ignorant, blaspheming or any number of other things, and brings it all to light. In some cases (see: not Animal Farm) satire can be funny. It’s tongue-in-cheek, a subtle but painful jab. The point is that it is a way of expressing that something is wrong, and being sarcastic or ironic about it in a way that gets attention.

The power of censorship means to take that voice and bury it as deep in the ground as it’ll go. Whether it’s done by gunpoint or by the threat of legality, censorship is everyone’s problem. With it, there is no room or freedom to speak your mind, there is no way you can write or paint or sculpt or create in the style you do or want.

As Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said about Voltaire’s beliefs, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

With more and more details coming out about the shooting, the deaths of the suspects, and of course, the stunning displays of solidarity in the face of terrorism, I find myself at a loss of words. It is nothing short of gorgeous to see what has come from such a horrendous massacre.

Passion, from pain. When one voice yells, the whole world shouts back.

We need expression, to free ourselves, to see the emotion and the fire we hold manifest into something else. To transform, alone, together, singularly or fully, as one. No matter if it is about something ethical, or if it is an idea for a story you’ve been working on and chipping away at for years, stifling the voice kills not only creativity, but individuality.

Extremists may seek to silence the voices that shout at them and their religion, but they cannot silence us all. Least of all can they do so when we stand together.

Thank you.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Meaning and Sentiment

The holiday season is choc full of sentiment, no matter if you think the days have become entirely commercialized or not. It’s a time for family and togetherness, to show how much we care and love others, by giving as much as we can.

Meaning has two different thoughts here in this post for me. One is the association with semantics and what something is comprised of, what it means, and the other is tied in with sentiment, it means something, it has value. The meaning of getting gifts this Christmas is mutual love and abundant desire to see someone happy, but how much do those gifts mean to who is getting them or giving them?

Getting a bunch of gifts mean that people are able and wanting to give to you. Getting gifts that are maybe small, they’re toys, they’re little things that not many would consider to get you, means that someone knows you, or has inside jokes with you, or something to that effect.

There’s sentiment in getting something from someone you care about. You know what they went through to get it despite how quickly or how much you’ve outgrown it, and you’d rather hold on to it.

Writing goes sort of in the same direction, but differently, if that makes any sense. What you write can have meaning in two different ways. It can mean something about your life or society, or it can mean the world to you because it was the first thing you felt so great about writing in a while. It can mean enough to put a dedication to someone in it, it will have that sentimentality that it’s for someone else, that there’s more to it than just a crazy, creative idea that you had and masterfully marked up throughout a period of time.

It is what you put into it.  If you put your heart and soul into it, if it’s filled to the brim with your passion and gusto (as Ray Bradbury would put it), it will be obvious. With passion backing your words, there’s bigger, stronger support to it, there’s more emphasis and feeling.

Sentiment is a big part as well. Like with writing for a gift, there’s more to it than is tangible. It can help sculpt the story, the chapter, the article, into something else. Like with dedication to someone you’ve lost, the sentiment of writing it for them makes it into a piece that has your heart in it. It has reminders of them or it has a message for them that you maybe couldn’t have told them before.

Even if, overall, the piece ends up being some of your worst work– either in your eyes or someone else’s– there is sentiment in it. You see it, others may not, but it becomes what it means to you. And, in some cases, those who know what the meaning is in it.

Writing comes from the head, but the heart contributes just as much. It is a compilation of passion and ideas, the collaboration of your imagination and where your heart wants to soar. When there is one without the other, what does the meaning become then?

-The Novice Wordsmith

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

Hopeless Romantic

I have been trying for months to write this post and do it justice. Romance as a genre and a subgenre have made a huge impact on my writing, as they’ve been a big part of it since the beginning. Action was always a close second, but romance had my attention from the get go and it never let go.

Romance, and any intimacy, really, is as personal as it gets, sometimes. When it comes to love, it’s an  emotion in control of you, it has you wanting to press up against someone, brush your lips across theirs, slide your hands up their sides, pull them in close, kiss them hard and hot and not come up for air until you have to. It’s intoxicating and exciting, with a strong draw and a very good chance to write itself.

Sex itself may not be the most personal. Anyone can do it, it can be a one-night stand and a bad experience, or it can be the most invigorating thing your character’s done, but still make them feel like they’re missing something.

The first step for romance is always chemistry. How does your couple get along at first? What draws them to each other, or are they butting heads from the beginning?  The cultivation of their chemistry, from weak to strong or strong to stronger, can be just as slow or quick as you like it, something that is sometimes dictated by the pace of the novel itself.

The second step is obviously to plot out the course of the relationship. It can range from rough and rocky with triangles galore, to mostly smooth sailing with bumps to overcome. What sort of problems do they have to overcome together or separately, publicly or privately? Is one of them heavily guarded or scatterbrained?

Step three is previous partners, which can have a wild impact on the way they treat the current one. The damage done, or not done, can set the pace for the next romance just as much as the chemistry can, and it can give you more or less to work with depending on what you decide. Old partners who hurt them, psychologically, emotionally, or physically, can contribute to intense scenes, unexpected reactions, and long, quiet nights curled up together, or apart.

These elements fill out what you need, but above all else, you’ll need passion, care, the intensity I mentioned, and a fire to blaze, however tall or short it reaches.

Love, in its own, is a strong, beautiful emotion that can turn ugly or be something so deeply cherished or longed for. It creates comfort and happiness, warmth, amusement. It is a turn on a ride that you never want to end, where being held by them can be either the most satisfying or excruciating thing to endure, depending on when it happens.

Some genres/sub genres may be just as easy for you as this is for me, how natural it is, how effortless it is to write out the way to people come together and chronicle their passion, however short-lived it is, or if it lasts the rest of their lives. Their intimacy and struggles in the midst of a large conflict, those sweet moments captured in the soft language and loving glances.

I figured I’d end this with one of my favorite quotes, which comes from a book I’ve never read: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Gorgeous as it is evocative.

Happy loving~

-The Novice Wordsmith