Posted in My Process, The Writer's Life

Start Where You Are… This Means You!

The biggest hurdle to any worthwhile endeavor in life is getting started. At 39 years old, I’ve learned this to be true of everything in life. Starting as a baby learning to walk or talk and up to now as I truly start to make a concerted effort to change careers to more artistic endeavors. Getting started is always the hard part.

I’ve started many new things in this budding new year. I fully intend to make this my best year ever. If it turns out poorly, it won’t be because I was slacking. There are three major areas of my life that are in a current state of overhaul.

  1. My career – I make no secret about wanting to eventually leave the day job in favor of working my author platform so that I can write books, help others do the same, and really do something I am passionate about in life. Starting where I am in this area means I am writing more, publishing new material, and working on this platform thing. The YouTube Channel is proving the bigger of those challenges. And I think I might have been a bit too ambitious when I said two videos a week. Fact is, I’m starting small here with the wrong computing power to do that. So, once a week is going to be it for a while until I can upgrade here.
  2. My Health – Last year was a challenge. But with heart surgery and things being back to “normal” for me, it is time to get my butt in gear and focus on getting healthier. So, I’ve joined a local 24 hour access gym and this week I start with the concerted effort to move more. I also bought healthy options for food throughout the week to make it easier for me to make healthy choices. So we’ll see how things go.
  3. My social life – To be perfectly honest, there isn’t much going on here. I’m content to be single for once. Focusing on that career and healthy lifestyle changes keeps me busy enough. I know that I should add more time with friends and maybe even try to date on occassion. I don’t really think that I have the time for that. I’m committed to my dog at this stage in my life. Yes, I am chuckling at the idea even as I write it. It is the truth though. I’ve been through the wringer with relationships. The only thing I am sure about is that my dog is loyal, fun, full of love, and super cuddly. I think we have a beautiful thing going on here. Since not many men can deal with the ambition and what it takes to be successful in this I think I’ll stick with the pup. Maybe I’ll add in a few more Saturday afternoons with friends though. I could use some fun in my life.

The bottom line here is that you have to start where you are. None of these areas are at an ideal time for me to start focusing on them. But, I’m making efforts where I can.

The one area that I don’t think needs to be spoken of is creativity. My life is creative by nature. If I am perfectly honest, I’m feeling it may be a bit too creative. I have too many irons in the fire and not enough space to do them justice. I need to give the space an overhaul and bit of a facelift I think.

I haven’t been at the easel in months. It is just taking up space at the moment. I need to try to find some way to organize the supplies so that I can stow it all away until I’m ready to just back to canvas. I’m in desperate need of functional bookshelves. I have research material all over the place that needs to be organized so that I can easily find it.

I need to set up recording space for the Youtube videos. I need better lighting to do that where I am at home. That takes space. So I’m going to have to get creative with that. On that note, I also need digital space and an overhaul in my set up. It is time to make the switch to Mac I think but that takes a big investment. I need a system that I can use for video production though. So, I’m going to have to find a way to make it happen.

I’ll make do until I can make changes though. I’m tired of using the excuses to stop my journey to being a success. I start where I am and with what I have. It can only get better from there. And that’s true for you as well.

What is it you want to do in and with your life that you’re putting off for the right circumstances? How could you just jump right in and get started this week? What small steps could you take to make those circumstances happen for yourself?

Food for thought readers.

Posted in Lessons Learned, The Writer's Life

Writers Aren’t Hermits After All

291826_364783330281701_2094463518_nI fell prey to a stereotype a number of years ago that nearly cost me everything. You see, Hollywood and other media outlets have created this vision of what writers are. So often people have an image of what writers do that includes being sequestered away from the world, agonizing over every word, while we’re chain smoking or drinking heavily. Whether we’re actually alcoholics or just addicted to coffee or teas is another discussion entirely but, it is safe to say that the stereotype has us all addicted to something. I am certain that there are a great many authors out there who fit this stereotype quite well but, I am not one of them.

It strikes me as amusing that people think that we don’t interact with others or that we are hermits. We’re artists and in order to write about people, to create characters, we must actually interact with people to have an understanding of different personalities. We must, as Julia Cameron says, “fill the creative well” with ideas and inspiration. And ultimately it is in living life that we find that drive and push to be inspired to create whatever we become known for.

There is no denying that writing takes a certain amount of solitude. We learn that there are critical times in which we must get away and focus on what we need to accomplish. We do agonize over the right words, the grammatical faux pas, and even the right descriptions for our settings. It isn’t difficult to lose yourself for hours, days, weeks, sometimes even months while finishing a project. But the fact remains that eventually, all writers must get out of their offices and experience something outside its confines.

419149_427914573910922_1192315579_nI’ve always been a very vibrant personality. Just ask my mother, or any of my friends for that matter, and they will all tell you that I am quick to laugh, quirky, personable, and compassionate. They will also tell you that I can be quite the ham if you put me in front of a microphone. But that happens rarely these days. They’ll also tell you that for the last few years, I was very different from the person I had been. And they’ll likely say that they were worried about me.

It is funny how things can get away from you before you even realize it is happening. In my case, it was a sort of forced hermitage. Yes, I was writing but things came slowly. I was in a situation where I couldn’t go out and be around people other than my parents. And because I was trying to save a marriage that was failing miserably, I allowed it to happen. In the process I gained a lot of weight, became depressed, and eventually came to feel so isolated that I really didn’t think anyone would care if I just disappeared. There were days in which I sat for hours staring at my blank screen wondering where the words had gone. Other days, I gave up and played computer games or just slept. It was a dark time in my life that I honestly don’t care to repeat.

I suppose my ex thought that by keeping me at home the words would come and I would just be an overnight success and he could stay home after that. I don’t know how many times I tried to explain that counting on the books to make consistent full-time income was unrealistic. I mean, every writer wants to be a best-seller and make a million dollars. It isn’t a bad dream as long as it is tempered with a dose of reality. Keeping me at home wasn’t the way to make that dream a reality though.

Artists, including writers, need to be stimulated. We need fresh air, laughter, people to talk to, and experiences to write about. To relay anything to our readers we need to be able to experience it first hand. From the feeling of silk on your skin on a bed to the rush of riding a roller coaster, everything can be an experience. Emotions need to be experienced. Falling in love, coping with death, the birth of a child, parental love, the loss of a job, or even the thrill of taking a big vacation all of these things we can imagine but, to truly relate them we have to go through them ourselves in some way.

Putting the writing aside, you can’t sell books if you don’t meet people to tell about what you’re doing. You can only do so much of that online. Forums, facebook, blogs, and other social media will only take you so far. If you’re boring and all you post about is the fact that you released a book, it won’t get you any brownie points with the public. It certainly isn’t going to sell books.

Personally, my life has changed tremendously in the last six or seven months. I’ve gone from being at my lowest to feeling as though I’ve found not only my calling in career but also in life. I am experiencing emotions like love on an entirely new level. I am living life again and taking advantage of time with family and friends. I’m meeting new people, reacquainting with old friends, and it is very much a process of rediscovering myself.

My fiance doesn’t let me stay too busy for too long writing. Yes, he knows and understands that I need to work but he insists on getting out and doing things together. Whether it is taking the munchkin to the park, going out for ice cream, or going to church on Sunday morning we try to keep it simple. We try to make the most of the time we get together. He encourages me to go to writers groups and do things that I enjoy even if he doesn’t. We share so much that it seems rare that there is something we don’t want to do together. The truth is, it is really amazing having someone that is truly supportive of my efforts and what I want to do.

You can meet writers everywhere. We are out there among the waking world. We’re at the gym, in your Sunday school class, at the restaurants and cafes you frequent, and no matter when you walk in a bookstore, you’ll likely find a writer somewhere amongst the shelves.