The Simple Life

Simple Abundance – A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Although this book has been around for a while now (1995) it wasn’t until recently that I got to read it.  Immediately I loved it.  I have to admit that it has sat in my library for a year, maybe two; I just did not have enough time to get to it – but it kept calling me.  Finally, I listened and read it.  I did not read it as intended, one chapter a day, instead I read it until my eyes became blurry, and then came back for more day after day. 

I recommend this book to anyone that is in the path of a simple life and needs inspiration.  Its principles are even more true more than a decade later.  If you are in search of simplicity and abundance, you will enjoy this jewel.

Minding Feedback

Master Po (left) and Kwai Chang Caine (right) ...

Image via Wikipedia

Most of us enjoy getting comments about our work and getting feedback.  Sometimes, criticism may be harsh, rude, in bad taste, or just not appropriate.  When those types of comments are sent your way, they are not worth a response in the same tonality.  The way you respond to comments says a lot about you as a professional.  The way you leave comments for others and criticize the work of others says a lot about you as well.

Minding your own feedback as well as the feedback you leave for others should be up there in your priorities as a blogger.  I used to watch the TV series Kung Fu when I was a kid – I just loved the stories and loved the way David Carradine handled each challenge in the series.  In the series, he would say some philosophical lines from time to time.  One of his lines stood with me, until this day.  It went something like this – “When words are not better than silence, it is best not to pronounce them.”  I have taken that line to heart my entire life.  This applies to feedback left for others and the things that you have to say about someone’s work. 

If you have nothing good or edifying to say, say nothing.

Writer’s Wisdom 100

Are your challenges for writing excuses?

Here it is the 100 post of the Writer’s Wisdom series.  It has been my joy to write them and I hope that you have enjoyed them too.  I chose this topic for this post because we make hundreds of excuses about our writing.  Sometimes, we disguise them and call them challenges.  We all have real challenges, however when we use excuses as challenges, we hurt ourselves and our work.  This applies to writing, but also, to everything in our lives.

Are we using our dated computer as an excuse?  Our lack of control over the assignments we take?  The book that won’t write itself because the Muse seems to be on strike?  Or maybe it is the neighbor that plays loud music and does not let you focus? – (earplugs do exist).

Whatever our challenges are, we should look at them as opportunities to grow in our craft and not as excuses.  Whatever our excuses are, we should not dress them in “challenge attire,” but face them instead.

Everyone has challenges, every one of us makes excuses at one point in our lives; it is what we do with them that will hinder or promote our growth.

Happy Writing!

Writer’s Wisdom 99

Establishing the Identity of a Character

Characters give life to a novel.  How is that possible?  Characters are so powerful that readers identify with them, love them, hate them, dream of them, and can’t have enough of them.  How is that possible?

This is possible because characters have an identity and readers know that.  They have a name, particularities, character traits, and a distinct personality.  They have likes, dislikes, things they love and hate, challenges of their own, triumphs and battles, insecurities … – they are like the people who read them; they just are.

For a character to feel real it is important to establish his/her identity throughout the story.

Writer’s Wisdom 98

Using Real Life as Inspiration

Ever felt like there is no more inspiration; like the well has run dry and your Muse ran away?  Whether you are working on a short story, a novel, a poem, or a blog post, inspiration is right there – in real life.  Think of news clips, bits of conversations that leak around you as you go about your daily routine, images of people at a distance that are without sound but rich in gestures and body movement – all that is inspiration, and it is free.  Use it, it is there for the taking; it is there to inspire you and make your mind awake, but only when you pay attention and are mindful of your surroundings.

So, when uninspired, open your senses, awake your Muse.

Writer’s Wisdom 97

Using work to procrastinate – Procrastination can keep you busy.

Yesterday, I wrote about being scared of success and the many ways in which we avoid change in our lives, even at the cost of our own success.  Today I want to add to the topic.  Procrastination is a way in which we can avoid change or sabotage our success.  While many may think that procrastination is more related to lack of doing or putting things off, this is only a part of it.  You can use work to procrastinate and procrastination can keep you busy.

It may seem a contradiction, but it is just different sides of the same coin.  You can use tons of chores, projects, activities, and keep yourself busy in other assignments to avoid change.  All of this is a form of procrastination, as the busier you keep yourself with other projects, you will not have to face the one that may change your present situation.

Procrastination in the shape of work is a soft and hidden form of self-sabotage and one that we should be aware of as it can trick us into believing that we are working hard towards our success when the opposite is true – we are working hard to avoid change/success.

Writer’s Wisdom 96

Scared of Success

Are you scared of success?  Do you find tons of “important” things to do before writing that story or editing that final draft?  Do you come up with new projects to delay success? 

Many people have done this one time or another.  After all, success means changing the status quo and inviting change in our lives.  Change, even if it is good, can be challenging and scary for many people.  Anything that takes us away from our daily routine, even for a small amount of time, disrupts our sense of security, and puts us in a state of watch.  If we perceive that the change may be a big one, we may do things – without even realizing it – to delay change or avoid it, including delaying our success.

Today, think about this (just as I have) – are you doing something to delay success in your life?

Writer’s Wisdom 95

Pieces of You

When writing a story, inevitably there are pieces of you that leak out, whether an idea, a belief, an opinion, a memory, something you like, something you hate, someone you know, a personality trait of someone you know, an event, a pet, or anything at all that might be connected to you in some way, these are all pieces of You. 

Sometimes, we might take a memory from the past and think, What if?  What if instead of moving to Jersey I would have moved to Italy?  The possibilities of using what if’s in our story are many, and each open doors to the infinite, as far as the imagination can go.

Although the story comes from the writer’s inspiration and hand, little pieces of reality color the black and white pages.

Writer’s Wisdom 94

Writing for a Higher Purpose

Why do you write?  Have you ever thought about it?  Many writers dream to see their work published, or the movie come out, and their name in the best seller’s list.  This is all good, and striving for the best should always be there in our most important to do list.  However, we run into problems when this is all we care about, and all we strive for – becoming published and known.  When you put such amount of pressure on yourself, creativity will suffer. When your focus becomes something else outside writing, and your attention leaves the page, your work suffers.  When being published becomes more important than writing, you have lost yourself as a writer.

When listening to best-selling author’s being interviewed, most of them express that they love to write, and they would not have it any other way.  They are thrilled at how things have turned around for them, but number one seems to be the love for writing.  And by loving what they do, and doing what they love, the money seems to come at the right time.

You may think writers have to eat too.  And that is the absolute truth, however, you can make an income without losing focus.  It is when your attention is taken away from the story and put on the $$$ that your work will become weak. 

Why not write for a Higher Purpose instead?