Annie On Writing

December 31, 2013

Anti-Resolutions for 2014

Filed under: Articles from Today's Author,Goals — Annie Evett @ 11:55 pm
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With the new year desperate to make its presence known, its time to dust off the lists we all made around Christmas time last year and groan, realising that there were very few actually pursued and less with any intent to complete.

For many years, I have participated in an Anti Resolution campaign, firstly with writers in Write Stuff, then to its successor, Write Anything; finally with Todays Author, made partially from a group of writers who have known each other from these writing sites. It is a light hearted look at the promises we solemnly make each year at this time. The main idea is to commit to NOT doing something. Why not try a list of your own?

1. I will not enter stationary shops under the pretence that I am buying journals, fountain pens or glittery anything in order to coax my muse out to write.  I already have drawers full of magnificent leather bound journals which I have deemed far to pretty to write my rubbishy thoughts down into.

2. I will not push my children to the front of the line in order to see fairy lights and Christmas displays, squealing with delight when Santa comes out. Although they edge away from me now rolling their eyes, but still can’t escape my steely grip. It is all for the kids, after all.

3. I resolve to continue my avoidance of gyms, running tracks and exercise programs; after all, statistically 100% of people who exercise regularly also die.  I don’t like those odds much.

4. I will continue to stay up too late, continue to connect with other writers round the world in the name of networking and moan loudly in the mornings when I have to get up. This resolutions works in nicely with number 1 as I can compare unused writing journals with other authors and swap writers bock solutions as an extra avoidance technique to actually write.

5. I will not carry chalk or permeant markers around in order to correct common signage faults, which I believe form the basis of the disintegration of our language. I will leave signs which shout “4 sale”, “your so great” , when “who’s” and “whose” are swapped indiscriminately and the over usage of double negatives.

6.I will not offer the answer to peoples questioning looks when they look at my business card – announcing that I am a Writer and a Thaumaturg. Nor will I look apologetic when they don’t understand my sense of humour when I attempt to explain it. Get a dictionary, you uneducated plebs.

7. I will continue my avoidance in rushing over to teenage boys and offering to buy them a belt for their ever lowering pants. I couple this with my resistance in contacting fashion manufacturers to demand the return of braces for said teenage boys, and the ban of all fluro material.

8. I will not indulge in writers block though out 2014. After all, I have a stack of pretty journals and enough glitter pens to arm a small platoon of tweenage girls; not to mention countless tips on how to overcome said writers block.

9. I resolve to continue not to stress about getting a real job and settling down. Anyone can work 9 – 5 behind a desk for a big corporation or stand in front of a class in a public school; allowing their life and creativity to be sucked dry by the emotional vampires haunting the hallways, meetings and boardrooms. Instead my kids and I have no plans as we travel around Europe, bouncing from one menial job to the next, not knowing where we will be the next week. this sort of gypsy existence will not only build character, as if I need any more of that; but should boot said writers block in the pants; or at least provide fodder for a short story.

Perhaps to get you going, you’d like to gather some despair from this site; specialising in demotivation posters.

I wish you and your writing every success in the new year.

June 1, 2013

A Writers Space

There has been a great deal written about the physical space a writer uses to create their texts.  It’s something many of us need to juggle with family, where the actual space within the home along with the time space to commit to our passions. Within writing circles, there is less written and discussed about the head space an author needs to enter before their creativity can flow. While some will refer it to calling upon their muse or getting into the groove or flow, its the same thing – making space in the busy mind to dedicate to writing. Knowing that you need to enter this space is one thing, knowing how to do it is quite the other, and something that many writers struggle with.

Getting into the right headspace means quietening down all of the chatter which fills our lives. This chatter is normally instigated by our conscious, reminding us about the chores and tasks we aught to be doing, the guilty voice judging us on what we are and aren’t doing and the distractions; either visual or audible which attack us.

To demonstrate the level of headspace clutter you may have stashed away, try this exercise right now.

Close your eyes for about a few moments. The longer you close your eyes the better a demonstration it will be; so try for five minutes at the very least. During the time your eyes are closed, focus on your wish for silence and stillness. Some people call this setting your intention. Make your intention for the next five minutes as being still and calm with no distracting thoughts pulling you away from this sanctuary.

Do it now.

So truthfully, how did you go with that activity? Did you do it – or did you wimp out?  That alone speaks volumes – especially if you think about the excuses you gave yourself for NOT doing it.

For those who tried it, you may have noticed the moment you attempted on being still or silent, that random thoughts began to pop up. They probably become an increasingly annoying distraction, which eventually pulled you away from your intention of calmness. All those random thoughts are the clutter and ‘junk’ that stops our minds having clarity. While some of it may be useful to us, without order, these random snippets of information and thoughts become lost and pile up gathering dust.

Before your mind can hear the characters voices, reason with them and begin the relationship required to write their story, all peripheral noise and the ‘junk’ thoughts need to stop.

By gaining a certain state of inner calm, a writer is better equipped to access their muse, their words or to connect to their story. Differing philosophies and religious groups promote different ways to achieve a state of inner calm.  While not promoting any one over another, for me, I have found I can achieve it by following a few steps each time. They are in no particular order as it depends on the task at hand as to which one needs to be done first.

Each step needs to be customised to your own needs and beliefs and the list below acts only as a guide to your own pathway.

1.Prepare

2.Focus

3.Deep breathing

 Prepare

Prepare your physical and metal space for calm by eliminating as many of the modern distractors we surround ourselves with. This may mean taking the phone away or putting it on silent, turning off the wireless internet so that you can only write, rather than suddenly need to research medieval pigeon keeping. Carving out that physical space to prepare for the mental space can be extremely challenging, but without the foundation step being solid, anything done afterwards runs the risk of crumbling and being destroyed the moment a distractor raises its head. Preparing for inner calmness also means being organised so that you can do the activity of writing, without being distracted with trying to find things. Before you start, ensure you have all the equipment you need to write, whether its a fully charged laptop, pens or pencils or a new notebook. Give your mind not reason to be distracted with thoughts of not being ready to write.

Focus

Once you have prepared your mind and space for the task of writing, you will need to calm all other thoughts and focus on the scene or character you wish to specifically write about next. Set your intention for the time you have set aside. Some people believe that if you set this intention, then your muse is more likely to guide you towards it.

Deep breathing

Deep breathing relieves stress and anxiety. It’s a physical trigger for the body to relax.  Breathing slowly activates things in the body which basically stop the adrenal glands from secreting.  When they are under stress, people often shallow breathe, which triggers the nervous system( and stomach, digestion and brain) into an emergency – causing more stress and adrenaline to be pumped through the body. Stop this cycle by exhaling slowly through the mouth and breathing in as deeply as you can. Hold each breath for a few moments and continue for at least five mins, focusing on your writing task.

Its not to say that a writer needs to take them selves away into the hilltops or zen monastery to achieve quietness. Certainly physical quietness makes it easier not to become distracted but the hurrying demands of modern life itself pulls us away from our intentions of writing. Stillness of the mind is a state of mental quietness and freedom from adrenaline and requires regular practice and commitment. With regular practice, these steps can take moments to undertake and can be performed in nearly any setting.

Good luck in finding your inner calm and sanctuary. What other things do you find help in carving out your writers space?

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