In Life and In Writing - Don't Give Up Too Soon

Business - Not As Usual, That's Life, Writers Comments Off on In Life and In Writing – Don’t Give Up Too Soon
May 032011

Oh, how easy it is to give up. You struggle and claw your way forward and it all looks so hopeless…

And then….

Just when you're sure that all is lost, you enjoy a break through.

This was certainly the case with the fight against Obama's terrorism. It's the case in job searching….It's the case with parenting and with writing, too.

I was reminded of this universal truth today, when I watered my kitchen-table garden. Some weeks ago, I planted an avocado seed. Two healthy looking stalks emerged. Each day I turned the pot half around so they'd grow up straight and tall; and, each day they leaned dramatically into the morning sun that streamed through the east window in what seemed to be a mystical dance..

Then one day, something happened. It looked like the top of each stalk had been nipped (My cats took an awful scolding. Not seeing any other explanation, I reasoned that one of them must have bitten off the tip of each stalk.) Normally, I would have just tossed out the plant without a second thought. It looked like there But, for some unknown reason, I left it just as it was….and continued watering and waited.

Potted Avocado and Spider PlantMy patience has been rewarded.  I'd noticed that one of those stalks has remained fairly static. It hasn't withered up and died. But it hasn't really grown either.  

But just look at the other one.. It's about doubled in height …you can actually see the point where the stalk had been damaged and stunted, and a new shoot sprouted right next to the tip.                  

                                           Avocado Plant sprouts new leavesNew leaves forming on Avocado Plant[]

If you look at this second picture you can see the point where the tip had been damaged AND the new leaves that are now beginning to burst forth.

It's absolutely amazing.

Now, I'm going to watch this a lot more closely. It looks like at various points along both stalks new growth is beginning. I'll take another picture for this blog when the Avocado gets further developed.

By now, you know that I have a habit of making connections between nature and life as we experience it from day to day. This blog post will be no different.

Last night President Obama announced that Bin Laden is finally dead!  This bitter campaign has lasted nearly 10 years. Many have criticized our leaders for their ineffective handling of the matter while the war waged on and our President dealt with such stupid shenanigans as demands for his birth certificate. But without fanfare, he continued to do his job. 

Countless people are still un-employed. Many of them are getting really desperate at this point. When will relief come? We don't know for sure, but things are starting to happen…much is going on in the background. Diagrams of America's employment status demonstrate that slowly, but surely, jobs are being created. We can hope that relief will come to those in waiting soon.

Women understand that babies don't sprout overnight into tiny bundles of joy and bear the wait and the pain of birth…and then work tirelessly for another 18 or so years for that oh-so-tiny bundle develops into a young adult.

Writers, too, have similar experiences. Many a writer complains about writer's block. You'll hear some complain that "I've lost my voice".Outsiders, may assume that the writer is playing around, taking a vacation, or just being lazy. Too often, less experienced writers will give up. It's not an easy task to sit patiently by while the subconscious unravels.

That time of waiting is important in all the facets of our lives. Gardeners understand that. They clear a plot of dirt, and prep it. Then they plan the seeds. If you've ever done this, you may have marveled at just how presumptuous it is to expect those tiny non-descript specs to germinate and mature into the flowers, fruit, vines bushes and trees that delight us throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. 

And yet, the gardener knows the delight of taking that leap of faith and the rewards that come from their labors. Seasoned writers understand that the subconscious is their friend; they will set aside their work on purpose allowing their work to mature enough to be exposed to the world. Writers do understand that ideas that grow into words and thence into stories is a painful process.And they. Mothers understand that same pain and reward in birthing and nurturing. And even in our politics the process is enacted.

That's the nature of creation. It's a  hurry-up-and-wait, information-glutted world we live in, where the quick fix is glamorized,. But if we just "hide and watch" the lessons are clear. Creativity is a process. Just when you think that all is lost…just beyond that point where you want to give up…success will burst forth right there in front of you. You can't hurry it up. 

So, if you're interested in creating something really new and exciting in your life….go ahead and do it. Just be careful you don't throw the plant out before it has a chance to grow. …

So, you're a writer and you want to write a Blog. Whether you're a seasoned writer or a beginner, pursuing Blogging can be a uniquely challenging pursuit.  Blogging might be thought of as writing on steroids.Every skill writers employ when creating magazine articles, books and other written materials meets new challenges in the Blogging world. Here are some things to think about whether you're planning a new Blog or looking to improve the Blog you have:

The first and most important thing to remember is that there is no one-size-fits all. You want to follow the same basic guidelines all writers follow but only your and your readers can determine what a blog should look like.

Begin with the basics:

  • Are your writing skills up to snuff? Can you write interesting, easily understood content?  
  • Do you have something to say – something that will educate, entertain, or challenge your readers?
  • Do you know whom you're writing for.and why they should be interested in what you have to say?

Blog writers face the same challenges that all writers have.

  • Know your market.
  • Write about what you know and your reader is interested in.
  • Write in the language of your reader to stimulate interest.
  • Address Who, What, Where, When, Why, How and So What.
  • The best writing is really re-writing.

All this is important, but Blog writing goes far beyond this.

  •  While all writers relay on the input of others (proofreaders, editors, publishers), Bloggers tend to be a team of one, unless they partner with someone who is technology-savvy enough to handle internet connections, troubleshooting, traffic control, SEO and more. The Blog writer needs to be able to finesse technology as well as language. .No longer is a pen and paper – or even a computer sufficient — unless you're a part of a team. Blog writers typically need to be editor, technical support and marketer wrapped into one.
  • Blogging doesn't leave a lot of room for re-writing and editing. In most cases a writer produces written materials on a fairly frequent schedule. It doesn't have to be every day, but Blogging requires the ability to process, assimilate and apply huge amounts of information. In order to achieve this kind of production and to keep a Blog timely, a writer needs to be able to write quality material on demand. The practice of writing, setting aside for a couple days, re-writing, then having someone proofread and edit the work, doesn't work very well in Blogging. 
  • Focus is critical to avoid burnout. There are, after all, only so many things you can talk about when discussing many topics. Too tight a focus will lead to dead-ends and writer's block. Too loose a focus will be difficult when working through issues of Search Engine Optimization and Traffic Generation. Writing to Interest your readers is not enough – Blog writing needs to be easily search-able. The best-written Blogs fail to be effective if no one reads them.
  • While it's normal for a writer to strive to write so that they cannot be misunderstood. Writing user-specific copy for a global market requires an understanding of the nuances of the language. English, approaching  the status of being a universal language. is not universally understood. Within the United States, different industries and different English-speaking localities, spelling and idioms can be more than a little confusing. Beyond that Blog writing requires particular attention to detail, inclusivity and accessibility as well as care that the language and posts do not offend others..
  • Oh, and Blog writers also strive to build community. To do this Bloggers write so that readers will be interested enough in their posts to comment and to come back for more.. Point of view, opinions and controversial content can be helpful here. 

Blogs are growing entities. A Blog doesn't sprout full-blown all at once. It develops over time. In the growing process, a Blog takes on a character all its own. It isn't really practical to try to cover any topic comprehensively in a single post. Borrowing from popular wisdom in entertainment, Bloggers understand that "Practice makes perfect" and strive to "Leave them wanting more".

More on Blogging from an expert:

George Brock Shares What He's Learned Here: About Blogging, This Much I Know

Senior Creativity Built On Youth

Seniors, Writers Comments Off on Senior Creativity Built On Youth
Apr 052011

Writing, song, dance, and  all other creative arts are built in youth but enhanced with age. 

When I was a teenager, I was absolutely certain about everything. Life was simple then. Writing was relatively easy. All that was necessary was to copy the formulas and rules set forth by our peers and teachers. Writing simply was the act of putting on paper whatever was acceptable to others.

Then I had children. They taught me to see life through a completely different prism. Every time my little ones asked me "Why…..?" my believe system was challenged. I stopped accepting the obvious and started looking for what was hidden beneath the covers.

They're grown now, those delightful children who gave me a second chance to grow up. But the lessons they taught me have proven invaluable. As they grew and became more worldly wise, they taught me that every individual's experience is unique. They showed me that two people can have the very same experience at the very same time and yet that experience could affect them in dramatically different – sometimes opposite – ways. They helped me to understand that what worked for me in my world doesn't always work in theirs. And, with their help, I learned once again to ask "What if….?"

Now, as a senior citizen, I know beyond a doubt, that I know very little indeed. I know enough sit back and think a little more…. to ask those same "Why…?" and "What if….?" questions. I've learned to respect others' view points and opinions.But I've also stopped caring so much whether what I write falls into the formulas that  once were so important.

Age puts a different spin on writing. As we grow, our writing matures. We incorporate years of experiences and insights into the words we string together. We reach a point where we are more willing to question whether our work is actually a reflection of who we have become or just another attempt to mimic the status quo ante.

Senior citizens bring something very unique to writing and the other creative arts. They have a legacy to share. Their insights have been honed through the years.

Some would say that youth is wasted on the young.  I prefer to say that youth is the foundation upon which the creativity of senior citizens is built. And, I celebrate all those seniors who share their legacy through the written word, song, dance and the arts. . .  .

What writers do

Spring, Writers Comments Off on What writers do
Mar 092011

Do you have what it takes to be a writer? 

Take a quick quiz – and decide for yourself: Answer the following questions on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being least

  1. Do you look for the unexpected in everything you do?
  2. Do you look beyond the obvious?
  3. Do you have an insatiable curiosity?
  4. Do you see only what's in front of you?
  5. Do you have many passions? Are you a jack of all trades? Do you dig in and get your hands dirty? (or are you singularly focused on putting words on paper?)
  6. Do you really pay attention to what's happening around you?
  7. Are you a perennial student – always asking questions and looking for new discoveries?
  8. When you see something that catches you eye, do you take time to experience it – and, then, do you have a burning desire to share that experience with others?

Writers are often misunderstood. They often give the appearance of being flighty. Their work frequently is done at times when there's no paper, pencil or computer anywhere to be seen.

Here's a very simplistic example.

It's March. Most, but certainly not all, of the snow is melted. Most of us are looking forward to Spring and spending a lot more time out of doors. But have you noticed that Spring is already here? Proof is in the pudding:

..

And yet another…

Ushering in Spring

Now, not everyone is "into" plants or nature. You may have other interests. But in this particular case, most of us are so busy that we don't even see that spring is busting out all over the place right now. We're rushing from our cars to our homes to our offices and thinking of so many things that we're missing the wonders that are right there in front of us.

How the heck can we share such marvelous experiences if we don't take the time to discover, learn and experience the world we live in? 

I'm so excited that I can't stand it…I have to find out more about these plants and look for more. And I absolutely have to share what Ive seen and learned with others.It may take only fifteen or twenty minutes to share the good news…but I will have spent easily several hours exploring and soaking up the emotion that comes with this new discovery. And then, moving forward, I may develop half a dozen uses this one experience – articles, reports, scenes in books…   And, I'll most likely expand this one interest, exploring and developing new markets among others who will appreciate the insights I've accumulate along the way.

Whether you decide that you're a writer or not, I urge you. Take time to look beyond the obvious. There's a whole world of wonder right there in front of you.

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