Things I learned this week…

“Resistance is not a peripheral opponent.  Resistance arises from within.  It is self-generated and self-perpetuated.  Resistance is the enemy within.”  – The War of Art:  Winning the Inner Creative Battle – Steven Pressfield

“Resistance has no strength of its own.  Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us.  We feed it with power by our fear of it.  Master that fear and we conquer Resistance.” – The War of Art:  Winning the Inner Creative Battle – Steven Pressfield

This week I learned…

…that if I want to succeed at this writing business, I need to suck it up and just do it.  My fellow WC-er Bill Chance turned me onto a book by Steven Pressfield called The War of Art.  Absolute brilliance.

The-War-of-Art_Pressfield

…that discovering a new thing, no matter how small and insignificant, can really change my whole outlook.  This week I discovered how to make comment notations is my Word documents.

What?

You’ve been doing it for years?

Nobody likes a braggart.

This is eye-opening to me because I struggle with the  need to produce perfection.  I think it comes from my profession.  I am a paralegal.  When I write, it needs to be damn near perfect before I hand it over the my attorney for review.  Otherwise, I look like a complete moron, and they wonder why it is that they are paying me good money for crap they have to rewrite.  Unfortunately, this bleeds over into my personal writing.  It’s a habit I have vowed to break – not at work, at home.  These little notations help me tag something that needs review, ask myself questions, offer suggestions, and move on.  By getting it out, even if the issue is not resolved, I am free to continue.

…that meeting my first weekly writing goal within two days of making it was a great feeling.  Maybe I should up the ante.  Or maybe I should just wait and see how next week goes, and the week after that.

…that the holidays are finally over.  Finally.  I can file them away under “done” and move on to the next thing.   Though, I don’t really have much to complain about this year.  I had one of the most laid-back, stress-free holidays ever.  I can only think of a handful of instances when I seriously contemplated body dumping sites and weighed the likelihood of a criminal conviction over a temporary insanity plea.  That might be a record for me.  Usually, during the holidays, I fantasize about having a Bond car with a machine gun and rocket launchers.  Maybe I am mellowing.   Yeah, what are the odds of that?  Maybe I just had an off-year.  Maybe I should go book my December Caribbean trip now.  You know, just for peace of mind.

…that aside from the fever, ringing in the New Year from the warm, cozy comfort of my bed was fabulous.  I spent New Year’s Eve battling a nasty little cold and watching a Jason Bourne marathon on one of those “not in HD” channels.  I should try that again next year – well, minus the fever.   I might even splurge and dig out the DVDs.

…that on January 6, 1540, Anne of Cleves married England’s Henry VIII.  It didn’t work out too well for them, but at least she didn’t lose her head.  On January 6, 1996, I married the love of my life.   So far, so good.   At least I think so.  He does keeps telling me I’m no picnic to live with; that I’m snarky, moody, and unreasonable.  I’ve no idea what he’s talking about.

…that the Kardashians have entered the building – or more accurately – the city of Dallas.  Hold on to your hats, folks.  We now have ourselves a couple of genuine Hollywood “celebrities” in our midst, and they are taking the metroplex by storm.  Screw substantive news, or anything else that might enlighten or educate our feeble minds.  We are now to be subjected to a chronology of every breath they take, every move they make, every vow they break…

****Warning – Pet Peeve of the week****

…that with the New Year, my gym has been inundated by folks who have vowed to get in shape.  That’s great.  Awesome, even.  I applaud anyone out there willing to get fit the old-fashioned way – by sweating.  What I don’t applaud are the newbies with no manners.  I realize that there are those among us who believe their time more valuable; that waiting their turn is a foreign concept.  However, I will not be cowed by the intimidation tactics of others.   I will be done with my reps when I’m done.  Not before.  Staring at me will not make me move on.  Asking me how many reps I have left will only motivate me to do more, at a slower pace.   I can’t wait until February.  By then, they will have either learned a little gym etiquette or fallen off of the fitness wagon.  I hope, or else I might need to find myself a good criminal lawyer.

…and last but not least – this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this prehensile tailed porcupine.  Look at that face.  Don’t you just wanna hug him?

Stop surfing and start writing

I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump that last six months or so.  I’d like blame it on a grueling work and school schedule, but that would be a lie.  The truth is, I haven’t been applying myself, and I’ve allowed self-doubt to wiggle its way into my subconscious.

In an effort to rectify this bad habit and regain some much-needed confidence, I sat down at my computer this weekend, pulled out my binder labeled Retribution, and opened the Word file of the same name.  I scrolled through page after page of text until I found the spot where I last left my main character dangling off of the side of a yacht anchored in the middle of the Danube.  I reread the preceding paragraphs, noted the word count.

I was ready to write.  It was going to be brilliant.  I knew it.  I could feel it.  Creativity surged through my veins, setting my soul on fire.

But first, I needed to know how to say “I am going to kill you, you piece of shit” in Hungarian.

That’s where it began – and ended.

A productive afternoon of writing derailed by the time sucking abyss known as the internet.  Sure, it started out innocent enough.  I did go to my favorite online translation source.  I did find a comparable and acceptable phrase.  I even wrote it down. But that’s when I “accidently” clicked on the Facebook toolbar tab; then MSNBC; then OMG Katy Perry and Russell Brand are getting divorced?

Squirrel!

Three hours later, my character was still dangling over the side of the yacht; still waiting for an opportunity to make good on a promise to kill the man who is responsible for her predicament.  And I was no closer to get her down than I was when I started.

It was at this point that I realized I have a problem.  I am too “plugged in”; too prone to distraction these days.  I am by no stretch of the imagination the queen of procrastination, but it seems that if left to my own devices, I will choose pointless, brain cell killing pop culture uselessness over substantive creativity.

So what to do?

Unplug.

Duh.

Of course, this is easier said than done, especially, in today’s society where we are programmed to need instant access to everything – emails, voice mails, status updates, news, the Kardashians.   We are a bunch of instant gratification junkies.  As a writer, the internet is an invaluable research tool.  It’s convenient, efficient, and quick.  But I am finding that I have to draw a line in the sand.  I need to make the conscious effort to avoid logging on and signing in.  After all, I’d like to finish this damn novel before I am too old to type.

How am I going to accomplish this?

I am going start by disabling my wireless when I sit down to write.

I am going to learn to mark what I don’t know and move on.

I am going to learn to accept that a draft is just that – a draft.

Of course, none of these things will be easy for me, but then, nothing worth doing is ever easy.  It will take some time to adjust, but I am confident that with a little practice, I will begin to see some real progress.

Now, excuse me.  I have to go write my character off the side of a yacht.  She’s been there since October and is starting to get a little belligerent.