Archive for category Writing
Graceful is not a word I’d ever use to describe myself – as a teen, a young woman or someone in the throes of midlife. Never had much style, coordination, or panache – things I once associated with grace. Am I aging gracefully? Am I embracing getting older with any decorum or style? I’m certainly embracing midlife with more authenticity than my early years. Why? I think my definition of grace has changed.
Grace is the space where I’m comfortable in my skin. The past no longer defines me. My mistakes are now experiments expanding my comfort zone. The recovery process (which I’ve mentioned in previous posts was from food addiction, perfectionism, codependency, relationship addiction, & abandonment issues) had released a grand scale of introspection and hindsight – two key elements to living in the grace that allows me to be transparent with those I work with, counsel, and in my writing. Grace is an attitude that allows others to be who they are in my life without impacting my joy and peace and allows forgiveness to be active in my relationships.
Thoughts living gracefully:
1) Know thyself. Work a program that will allow you to discover your motivation, desires, dreams and emotions.
2) Allow yourself to feel. Denying or postponing your emotions is a pathway to poor coping habits that will only hinder you on the path to creating and living a life that you enjoy.
3) Take control of distorted thinking. Understand that your negative or positive self-image is something everyone else sees no matter how hard you try to project another persona. Your self-talk influences all you do.
4) Recognize your values. Trade compromises, people pleasing actions, should haves and have to’s for actions that truly represent your cores values.
5) Take advantage of hindsight. The past remains with us for a reason. It can hold you back or take you past your comfort zone into creative pursuits you may have never imagined.
6) Be unstoppable. Realize that your opinions, your art, your work, your experiences – your voice matters and using that voice will strengthen not only yourself but others exposed to your vulnerability.
7) Be selfish. Don’t compromise on the time you take to discover you. After all, that time will result in the best version of you and everyone benefits – kids, spouses, partners, friends, the workplace.
8) Boycott ‘busy’ and ‘multi-tasking.’ Both behaviors interfere with how present you are for your life which is happening right now. You’ll experience a different quality of life when you engage fully in the person or experience in front of you.
9) Declare yourself. If you’re a writer, say so, a artist, speak it. There’s no more time for “Well, I like to _____’ or ‘I’m sort of good at _____.” At this point you either are or are not so tell the world and pursue it.
10) Risk love. Yup, I know. Take a leap for love and there could be (will be) hurt. There comes a time when you realize that there is no permanent downside to loving others when you’re living gracefully – aware of who you are and what you want in your life.
How are you living gracefully? Your sharing blesses us all!
Create joyfully today!
© 2013 Carolyn Moore
“Creativity is contagious pass it on” ~ Albert Einstein
Today is the first day of my new life. Life without a steady job – intentionally pursuing a lifestyle that I find joy in – writing & encouraging other creative people to take risks and share their stories and their art with this chaotic world – a world that is desperately seeking connection and meaning.
Risky? Yes, because as most people have, there are bills to pay, mouths to feed, and cars to keep running. Worth it? Absolutely. At this point in my life I’m more aware of how precious time is and I won’t waste a moment more on unfulfilling pursuits. I’m ready to expose myself to the world to make a difference. Fear of failure? Absolutely present, but I rely on the accounts of other artists and innovators (ie. Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison) who have illustrated that what we term as failures are truly the learning process that leads to successes. I also firmly believe in my calling to encourage other women and my need to pursue this full-time.
So let the fun begin! I’m looking forward to the stretching, the growing pains, and the learning – and hope to stir up others along the way.
What are YOU creating today? What motivates you to create?
Create joyfully today!
© 2013 Carolyn Moore
Favorite post of the day: If you’re a writer, read and share fellow Burlington College alum Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s post – Writers: 7 hardly-mentioned tips for submitting to zines. Kristi is an amazing fiction writer whose horror prose is jaw dropping. I highly recommend reading her book Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole: Tales from Haunted Disney World.
It’s obvious I’m a Northerner. I crave the sun. The shutters are wide open, inviting the uplifting light to warm the house as well as my soul. My mind envisions sunbathing and my body longs to go running. I don’t want to miss a second of gorgeous daylight. It’s about 20 degrees too cold for the casual walker to be out. For me, anything above thirty at this point in winter is welcome respite. I’m a Jersey girl at heart though, through and through, enduring the winters, loving the spring-summer-fall transitions, needing the city-country connection. Florida humidity just isn’t my cup of tea. Yet.
I’m so happy to experience this much sun and warmth in March! I don’t mind that bursting outdoors will have to wait till I am fully spent creatively. My butt is firmly planted. Mornings are my creative time but I do have to discipline myself daily not to succumb to distraction. I struggle with maintaining a steady output of words because I love research, brainstorming, reading, and encouraging others. I could spend all day just discovering and posting encouraging quotes and articles from others to stir up my friends.
But that wouldn’t serve the words I want to share and after a several decades of life, I do realize what I have to share matters and is worth something. We all do. Our stories are important; evidence that as humans we have so much more in common than we ever could imagine. Each unique personality paints a compelling masterpiece illustrating that we are not alone in our fears, our successes and failures, and our tragedies and triumphs. People connect through story. They heal; they grow bolder; they reach out to others who need stirring up.
All we have to do is show up. Be vulnerable. Try transparency. Risk everything. Serve your calling to create. Look past the possibilities of embarrassment, failure, ridicule. Sure, all that will probably happen occasionally, but those experiences serve the greater purpose – for growth and to serve others. If you’re not committed to a set creative time each day, make a decision to do it without self-imposing restrictions that hinder – just do it (oh, so Nike, but so true!) Creativity is not about being perfect – make a leap!
What stops you from a daily creative practice? Stir up others and share!
For a little extra inspiration, try a dose of Eric Maisel, creativity expert and author of Creative Recovery. An excellent online course at en*theos Academy – Your Best Life in the Arts course, also by Maisel.
Create joyfully today!
© 2013 Carolyn Moore
It dismays me every time I see that I’ve let so much time pass since my last post. No, it doesn’t bother me to admit that because just like everyone else, my forehead is emblazoned with the words “work in progress.” Here’s what has been on my mind (and plate) lately. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea of uncertainty and creativity for dual reasons – I’m giving my first seminar on creativity at the end of the month and I’ve been rereading Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields.
I do a lot of encouraging or coaching (as is might be termed by some) and I’ve noticed that handling uncertainty is an ability that a lot of artists do not possess. When faced with doubts or fears, I’ve seen artists push themselves forward to success, or self-sabotage, or choose a path that will ensure them the least amount of pain during the process of creation. In recovery, I’ve learned that this is training we should have had as children – to deal with the uncertainty of outcomes in a healthy manner. Not that I’m suggesting that all artists or writers are recovering from some ‘ism,’ but that’s always a healthy avenue to investigate if you find yourself constantly short-changing your creative process to stop the pain.
What’s this pain; this uncertainty about? Fields asserts (and I agree) that the double nature of uncertainty is the fear of what the outcome will be and how the outcome will be perceived (judged.) Like most artists, I realize the fear signals the foothold of what could be a fantastic idea – an idea worth exploring or an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up because the experience will be invaluable. It’s what we choose to do as the pain creeps into our psyche that will determine the depth of the creative process.
Fields details an experiment where subjects were asked to choose a ball from one of two urns. Urn #1 is filled with 100 balls – 50 black and 50 white. Urn #2 also contains 100 balls but the percentage of which is black or white is unknown. The subjects had to bet $100 on a color of their choice. Then they had to choose which urn to pick from. Can you guess which most people chose? Even though neither configuration had a mathematical or logical advantage, the majority of the subjects choose the first urn.
Because pain is uncomfortable and our fight or flight instinct usually prompts us to flight, most people will choose the path of ‘constraint.’ They stop exploring, close off options and create rules, look for systems and processes to justify their choices because of their aversion to the unknown and to being judged. At that point the adapting, testing, and experimenting and evolving is over. Continuing in the uncertainty, on the other hand, can lead to heightened creativity and a level of creative options that would otherwise not have been seen.
Sounds logical, right? But as I constantly ask my therapist – what do I do with all these feelings? (now that I’m not stuffing them, eating them, and denying them.) He says – just feel them. As crappy as uncertainty, fear, and anxiety feels – feel them and keep on creating. It’s okay not to know or be able to predict exactly how things will turn out. It’s very uncomfortable at first but it’s a worthwhile pursuit because what we live out in our creative processes, we also live out in our personal lives. What benefits one will benefit the other. Push through, work through the pain, and be amazed at what you produce.
How have you dealt with uncertainty in your life and your creative process lately?
©2012 Carolyn Moore
While I find the idea of resolutions pretty silly, I love goal setting. The act of committing to achieving or acquiring something I desire, plotting out a course of action, and attaching a significant emotional quotient to back up my commitment is heady. Particularly when I’m hopeful about what a new year will bring. So much begins to happen when I actually believe amazing things are possible and not just something that may happen someday if…
This fall my personal circumstances were altered in such a way that a radical course change in my thought process had to occur. If I did not choose a more positive, character-driven direction, I would be faced with choices that were not anything that I actually desired. I had succumbed to a bit of martyr complex as if circumstances were determining how I lived my life instead of those decisions being within my control.
I began to question what I believed God had in mind for my life based on what I saw around me. My faith took a critical hit because I believed I saw failure in following the course to which I had committed. My attitude and my actions swerved off onto different paths causing dissonance and dissatisfaction which led me to rock bottom anticipating a life change I did not want.
As always, coming around again to reassess what God has planned, after a long hike about a mountain of despair and regret, I’m firmly recommitted, attitude and action once again reunited, to my ministry of encouraging others through my business (which has now been redefined and diversified) and personal pursuits (including the 10K and the beach at Christmas!) I’m grateful for the Lord’s persistence and my sisters’ faithful prayers. I prefer God’s path regardless of the obvious payoff. He has shown me His steadfastness this past year and I’m learning the depths of steadfast faith. Let the faith building exercises begin and the blessings fall. Happy New Year!
Today I’m documenting an episode of ‘writer’s block’ I experienced. I hear all writers experience this obstacle at one time or another. Some writers fight it and others let it control their output choosing to believe that it’s just not a good day to write. Blame the Muse. Or the weather. Or bad digestion.
Writer’s block, to me, seems to be another word for procrastination, but whatever you choose to call it, fighting it seems to be the best option otherwise something else (fear, laziness, lack of desire?) is controlling my production or more, poetically, my freedom to express myself. Some fiction writers I know won’t force themselves to write when they feel uninspired but I think they are missing out on the big payback that pushing on can deliver.
When you’re writing business materials, however, you don’t really have a choice but to produce or face unpleasant consequences. In either situation, I think that pushing past whatever obstacle (feelings, the to-do list, the distractions) is going to render potentially superior prose. It’s like choosing to take the mountainous path because you know it’s going to sculpt those muscles with the challenge and improve your health versus taking the flat route which will be more pleasant but not offer any big long term benefits. Here’s my experience this past Monday.
The first couple of paragraphs flowed pretty easily but now I’m fighting the desire to escape. I am absolutely itching to get out of this chair. Is this fear holding me back from achieving what needs to be done today? The classical guitar music I usually find soothing is grating on my nerves. For about a half an hour I stare at two panels of Word documents willing them to meld and make sense out of the chaotic swirl of thoughts strewn across the pages. I can do this. I want to do this. Ok, I really just want to run. Or check Facebook. Again. Should I tweet this?
Sticking with it. Breathing. It actually hurts. Just putting down some words that make some sense until the composition starts flowing more naturally. Now deeply in the moment. Many pages written and I’ve hit a difficult spot again. Urge to delay, procrastinate, write emails, Facebook-stalk old boyfriends. Consciously resisting and then, getting back to work. Determined to spew dreck instead of producing nothing in order to push through to some really good stuff.
Ok, that push did produce some coherent prose and now I’m going to take a little break to rest my brain and return refreshed. No computer for at least half an hour. I continued like for most of the day (on for 30 minutes, off for 30 minutes) and I wrote a large chunk of the e-book that I’m working on. Still behind the 8-ball but definitely moving forward. Tired but I may return to the manuscript later after some family obligations are met. It’s pretty cool that the task does not feel quite so intimidating now that I have pushed through and forced myself to write. And this is only the first draft…Good thing I love writing.
I feel like I am continually starting life over again and again. I maintain a sense of discipline for a short period of time, produce a slew of creative projects, and then a wave of ‘life’ hits me and I’m thrown from the forward-moving vehicle, sidelined until I can reorganize, restructure, reconnoiter and then join up on the highway once again moving furiously toward the previously abandoned goal. Not an effective way to accomplish anything if you hadn’t gathered that I was leading to that conclusion. This method, spiced with a crazy-making amount of procrastination, makes for a life of insanity. One which becomes less and less satisfying as I walk further along the slope of age. I will begin this blog, once again, but this time without any expectations except that I will sporadically share my observations of life and people and whatever else strikes my fancy. Come along for the ride if you feel inspired. It’s always an awesome ride of twists, turns, and sudden drops. Hopefully, too, a creativity booster, and a moment of empowerment and inspiration. Welcome back to my life.
I believe that anger stifles creativity. Maybe other artists have created great works fueled by passionate feelings, but anger builds a wall in me where I cannot reach anything imaginative or creative. The dictionary defines anger as “a feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.” I think anger is a condition of helplessness seared with fury and injustice; something that can only be resolved by forgiveness.
Several weeks ago, I had one those experiences that while it’s actually happening, you feel as if you’re outside events observing the process. Someone important in my life did something that hurt me and made me angry. Not wanting to waste time sulking, I told this person how I felt and mentioned that an apology would clear the air. Though this person listened to what I had to say, no comments or apology were forthcoming.
So the scenario I’d hoped to avoid became reality. I tried to carry on with my activities as if nothing had happened, but every time I put pen to paper my thoughts immediately strayed back to the encounter. After many frustrating hours of producing next-to-nothing, I knew that needed to become proactive. I felt there were three courses of action I could take.
1) Retaliate – A popular option for some, but would only breed more negativity and goes against my life scripture – Ephesians 4:29 – Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
2) Become Depressed – All my life I’ve heard it said that depression is anger turned inwards. Been there, done that. Not a happy place. Too difficult to encourage people from there.
3) Forgive – The most affirmative of the choices, but also the most difficult. Why? Because I would have to let go of the feelings in me that claimed the person that hurt me still owed me something.
I chose forgiveness. This is the process that helped me bring down the wall.
1) Letting go – I had to consider – was I holding onto the anger because I believed the hurtful comments might actually be true? Yes! I had to remind myself the reality is that there are only two people who get to determine the truth about who and what I am – me & God. No one else should have that power.
2) Affirmation – With that in mind, I considered exactly who I am – God’s words and the truths that I know about myself. This process shrunk the insult to a much less threatening size.
3) Forgiveness – the actual act of it. No, I didn’t go back to that person and say ‘I forgive you,’ but I did utter those words many times during the day as I ‘prayed unceasingly’ for peace and for understanding.
Did it work? Absolutely. It does every time. How long it takes depends on how long I choose to hold on to the words and actions of others. In this situation, it was about a day before I was writing again. And it wasn’t long before I was peaceful enough to consider working on that particular relationship with a clear head that wasn’t focused just on getting what I needed.
I suspect that my friends in the local writers group cringe every time they hear me say the word ‘revision’ or ‘editing.’ I’m constantly sharing my perspective as well as articles, tips, and quotes on the process of revision. I’ve become a big fan since I decided that perpetual procrastination (which allows for minimal reflection) was not producing a quality of work that I desired. It’s taken about 30 years to reach this point.
In high school, revising was not promoted. You did the work; maybe did a little editing for grammar and spelling and then submitted the project. It was graded and the process was over. In college, the process was expanded somewhat, but it really wasn’t until I was working on my senior project to complete my BA about three years ago that I really understood the significance of revision.
Everyone loves the creative process especially when it’s a day that words are just flowing from your fingers to the page. It’s new and exciting. It’s the first time those words – the feelings, the colors, the smells – are in a tangible form that can be shared with others. It’s a cathartic experience full of ups and downs, new adventures, and discoveries about our characters and ourselves as writers.
Revision, by comparison, sounds like drudgery. Correcting verb tenses, tightening up sentences, deleting unnecessary modifiers, and perhaps deleting a finely crafted section of our masterpiece. It’s this possibility that makes the revision process seem so heinous – suggesting perhaps in a perfect moment of spontaneous creativity that a sentence or a paragraph or a scene, even, may have been created only to be thrown into a void. Could something that is written in this perfect state not be necessary to further the story?
For that senior project, I spent a year writing and revising the first 100 pages of a novel. I learned that the revision process has an exciting energy of its own. It’s quite different from the energy of creation, but equally is creative and just as important. It’s not just about grammar and spelling or verb tenses. Revision is a stage of listening, gauging, questioning, and evaluating. Instead of being in my character’s shoes, I’m now walking by her side making sure she’s following the path that is truest to her nature. I’m listening to her voice to be sure that it’s genuine to her personality and observing her actions for authenticity. It’s like falling in love again with your story from a mentor’s point of view instead of a participant’s.
And I learned through 365 days with these words, that even if there is such a thing as the perfect sentence – there will always be others and that holding onto an awesome sentence when it doesn’t further the story is pretty silly. I highlight and delete at will now. I don’t even copy and paste the words to a separate file anymore. There will be other words; other sentences.
Revision is about breaking free from the fear that you’ve already put down all the good words you have about a story. Revision allows us to stop and reflect, observe, and commune with our characters and themes. It’s the time to make that fine detail even finer; the voice even stronger; the ideas richer. A time to develop as a writer.
I’m going for consistency here so I’m at the keyboard once again though I’m not sure what it is I’m going to share. Today was not as stellar a writing day as Monday was, but I’m starting to get a little more perspective on the reality of what procrastination is all about. I have always believed that procrastination is fear. Along that vein, I have identified some fears I let prevent me from writing, but this hasn’t been an entirely successful strategy. Awareness of what stops you from doing something you love does not automatically set you on the track to pursuing your passion wholeheartedly.
Among the dozen or so books that I am in the process of reading is Heather Sellers’ Page after Page – Discovering the Confidence & Passion You Need to Start Writing and Keep Writing (No Matter What!) She points out the common resistance we have to beginning anything new. Instead of focusing on the reality that we will spend much time alone just writing and writing, we resist the very thing we want to do by deciding that the whole experience is ‘not what we expected it to be’ or by saying ‘this was not what I wanted.’
Pen, paper, and desire is all you need to write. Not the right space or time or materials. Just sit down and do it and don’t stop. Realize that you are going to be alone – a lot. This is a tough spot for me. I like people. I am drawn to people. I’m not incredibly outgoing, but I enjoy people even if it’s simply via Facebook, Twitter, or email. I crave connection. Ironically, I feel the same way about my words. I want to be with them, to know them intimately, create ideas and place with them and that’s difficult to do with the distraction of people.
Sellers suggests that the writer’s life should be filled with other writers (I’ve only gotten involved in a writing group about a year ago), multitudes of books (got that one covered!), discussions of books (working on that one), and an obsessive desire to carve out a portion of time each day to release the words we have locked inside us. This, of course is the hardest part – making time to write. I’m a very deadline-driven person, but also an excellent procrastinator who has always believed that I do my best work right before it is due. Granted I can produce writing quickly, but I’m old enough now to know that writing needs time to be created, simmered, and revised to be worthwhile.
Acknowledging that your writing is valuable enough to make time for is the first issue particularly if writing is not your main profession. How can I say that I didn’t have a chance to grade homework, do laundry, or make dinner if my priority is supposed to be home schooling and taking care of the house? Raising the status of your art above ‘hobby’ level is as much about self-esteem as it is about respecting your work itself.
So now, whether I’m writing a press release or a chapter of my latest manuscript, I try to give my creativity the time it deserves instead of shoving the task into my schedule when I can grab a few minutes. My writing matters now regardless of whether I’m making a living at it yet. If you can’t reach this point as a writer when it’s a part-time thing, how will your art be important as a full-time venture? I’m thinking I would still be surviving on that last-minute attack-the-project mode letting the busy-ness of life give false meaning to my day rather than filling my day with my passion.