Thanks Pam Grout

This picture speaks for itself

“Show up, show up, show up and after a while, the muse shows up, too.” ~ Isabel Allende

This week I’ve been doing the week 6 exercises from Pam Grout’s Art & Soul Reloaded. We were supposed to write seven blog posts, which was a bit of stretch for me. I’ve been posting once a week since spring or summer of 2013, yet as I put my mind each day to what I was going to write for the next post, ideas came to me. Now I won’t say that they were fantastic ideas, but since I’m in the habit of doing lots of self-reflection, I was able to come up with enough ideas to complete my assignment.

The amazing thing is that this week my in-laws have been visiting and we’ve been doing some galavanting. So, I’ve had to fit my writing in where I could. And that’s the real advantage of doing this exercise, making writing my priority. Doing that is what Steven Pressfield calls being a professional. In his book The War of Art, he explains the difference between being an amateur and a professional: Don’t fit your creative endeavors around the rest of your life,  make your art a priority and do it every day no matter what.

I have to say that I write almost every day, but I’m not sure I’ve got that professional attitude quite yet when writing my novels. I am always thinking about my novel, but I’m not always sitting in the chair writing new scenes, rearranging, or revising everyday.

After doing these exercises, however, I’m going to commit to two things, I’m going to add a blog post on Saturdays so that I’m posting twice a week, and I’m going to sit down and do some work on my novel every day.

That’s all for today. We’re going on an outing again today, the last day or my in-law’s visit, so see you Wednesday.

Thanks for reading, commenting and liking my posts. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list

I Almost Fell into the Trap

Let’s Get Working

“Turning pro is a mindset. If we are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, we’re thinking like amateurs. Amateurs don’t show up. Amateurs crap out. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.” ~ Steven Pressfield.

“Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Whew. This morning I almost fell into the trap of thinking that I was stuck on my novel. I haven’t been able to work on it for a couple of days because of chores and teaching duties. When I left it last, I wasn’t quite sure what to write next, which precipitated my assumption that I couldn’t write today.

Thank heavens I remembered what Steven Pressfield, Elizabeth Gilbert, and so many other authors have said. Just sit your self down and start writing. It might not end up in the final manuscript, but that doesn’t matter. Once you begin writing you’ll get unstuck. So, I had one little idea which turned into a much bigger scene than I thought. That was nice.

Something I learned while acting and directing stage productions is that some rehearsals are just bad. There would be so many times I’d hit a roadblock on understanding, or being able to portray my character, or as a director I wasn’t able to make my actors understand what I wanted from them. The thing is, there are limited rehearsals. So, in those situations, it’s not possible to take a break, or do a retreat to work stuff out. You have to do it on the fly. You have to keep plugging forward.

Writing is sometimes like that when there is a deadline to meet, like when I’m working on these blog posts. In those cases, I just have to finish my piece as best as I can and call it good. When I’m working on my novel it’s a little bit different. I have more leeway in terms of time limits, but even then there are stages of writing that are more fun than others. I usually start off well, then after I exhaust my initial ideas, the writing gets more difficult because I have to find my way from point A, to point Z and I’m not quite sure how to get there. On the hard days I’d rather wait for inspiration, read my book, take a nap or even do housework, which I hate, rather than push forward.

To me writing is like building a house. You have to make sure you have a strong foundation. That’s the stage I’m in now with this new book. Even though much of what I’m writing won’t end up in the finished manuscript, I need to write it out. It’s like creating the blue prints. I can’t get to the sprucing up and decorating the story until I have written all the important details of the foundation that I can later pick and choose from for the final version.

I’m still young, in terms of being a writer, and I have to remember that every new project has it’s own set of problems; every first draft is crap. But as Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, “Done is better than good.” With each blog post, I write a rough draft, then revise it. But I have limited time, so done is better than good is my motto because I’ve pledged to myself that I will write and post once a week. I’ve done that since 2013, a fact that I’m proud of. I have now pledged to myself that I will write a sequel novel to The Space Between Time. My goal is to get the initial draft finished by next August or September, so pardon me, but I’ve got to go and get cracking on that project.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Creating is an Inner Journey

“Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk.” -Poet Antonio Machado

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” -Stephen King

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”-Somerset Maugham

“A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.” -Albert Camus

Cochise College Roses

So do you do what I do, read books that speak to your inner struggles? It’s one of my favorite personal growth tools, so, I don’t know why I’m surprised when I get an insight from a book that metaphorically fell off the shelf and hit me on the head.

Last week I read The War of Art: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. by Steven Pressfield and the week before that I read Daring Greatly by Dr. Brené Brown. Of course, they each spoke to the exact issues I’ve been mulling over for quite some time.

In The War of Art, Pressfield writes about the struggles creatives face when our inner voice calls to us to write that manuscript, design that building or paint that painting but we fail to do it. He calls it resistance, others call it their inner critic, and some call it laziness. Brené Brown suggests that shame plays a big part of our resistance to be our true selves.

Whatever it is, I know exactly what it feels like, because most of my life, I’ve been doing battle with it. At a fairly early age, some part of me knew that if I was going to accomplish anything, I was going to have to learn to love and respect myself first. If I didn’t I’d be just a complaining lump of human misery my entire life. That definitely didn’t feel good. So, learning self-love was the first thing I set out to do.

Along the way I always sought ways to be creative. That just felt like a good place to begin. Fortunately I found my muse, as Pressfield calls our co-creating companion. Her voice was that quiet inner voice that encouraged me to keep trying to discover who I am and why I’m here.

It was the muse’s voice that told me to join my college acting troupe, where I’d learn essential lessons for life; one of the most valuable was self-confidence. Before I became an actress, I felt shame whenever I made any kind of mistake. In the theatre, mistakes happen during a performance, but you go on with the play no matter what. In most cases, the audience doesn’t know you messed up. They’re too involved in the magic of the play. The day I understood that, was a great day!

Keeping a journal is another tool I use. It’s no coincidence that I began keeping a journal at almost the exact same time I began my life in the theatre. They worked in perfect harmony helping me let go of having to be perfect.

Sharing my struggles with my fellow artists has been another wonderful tool. I’ve found that each person has to forge their own way to self-love. Some have a harder time than others. Each artist is on a separate path, but we can support each other along the way.

Now, after all these years, I’m much more comfortable with who I am, and my creative process. I learned one of the great lessons Pressfield expounds upon in his book. To be a professional in any line of work, you have to overcome resistance and commit to doing that work every single day. When I read that section of his book, it was like graduation day. I’d found that path for myself and begun to do it all on my own.

What I’ve learned is that writing every day, gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Now instead of lists running through my head upon waking, I have ideas for what I plan to write that day. I have to say, that’s much nicer than waking up to the list of what I need to accomplish.

Waking up with lists in my head makes me feel anxious. It’s as if some cosmic list keeper is judging me if I don’t accomplish everything I have planned to do that day.

Waking up with ideas for writing projects is comforting. The muse is trusting me to share her insights with the world. I’m grateful for every step of my journey that led me to her.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014