Just getting to work

Just getting to work

Imagine that you are late for work. As usually happens when you're running late, you catch every stoplight between home and your office. There's construction blocking a lane of traffic on one road and a fender bender on another. Then, just as you near the office, you get pulled over because your state inspection sticker expired YESTERDAY. That feeling you have when this happens, that choking frustration that tightens your shoulders and makes you want to scream? That's pretty much the feeling that moms who write fiction feel toward the end of every summer.

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10 things I will NOT do when the kids go back to school

10 things I will NOT do when the kids go back to school

The kids are going back to school and that means that I can get back to a working schedule that I can be happy with. Make no mistake, I adore my children, but as an introvert with a sometimes pathological work ethic, being surrounded by chatty kids and prevented from working can be a bit crazy-making.

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So that's what they're for...

So that's what they're for...

I only watch television a couple of nights out of the week. I detest reality shows, and find very little to attract me to network dramas or comedies. In fact the only two network shows that I like got cancelled last week, so I see even less in my future. Nope, cable is where the real TV game is, and right now, my television week mostly consists of Outlander, Game of Thrones. I might slip in an episode of Daredevil or Turn during the week, but that’s only as writing time allows. This weekend provided a very interesting juxtaposition.

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Best laid plans...

Best laid plans...

Well, Scotland is in my rear view mirror. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you have likely seen many of our pictures. Eric liked it so much we're trying to figure out how fast we can go back. 

Of course, I came home to the realization that the kids are out of school on the 19th of May. So i set myself a mental deadline of finishing the draft for Cauldron by then.

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Always leave 'em wanting more

Always leave 'em wanting more

A young boy discovers a time portal inside a hydroelectric dam. A car full of refugees drives into an impenetrable fog. A young woman wakes up to find herself the poster girl for a revolution. Another young woman walks away from the only life she’s ever known.

They all sound like great starts to stories, don’t they? There’s just one hitch. They’re all endings. I won’t spoil them all by identifying the books, but with the exception of the last one, they’re all well-known books by bestselling authors. The last one, of course, is mine (2 points if you know which), but it’s an ending too; an ending and a beginning. And that’s just how I like to end my stories.

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Stalling tactics

Stalling tactics

My daughter (8) is a pro at stalling bedtime. She will wait until right before bedtime to say, "But I need to take a bath." She will think of a dozen things that she simply must do on the way to the bathroom to brush her teeth. She can never find her pajamas and has to tear up her room in search of them. She's a pretty sharp cookie and has figured out that her folks almost never say no to reading, so she'll ask if he can read for a little while. And heaven forbid she not be able to find her Stitch plushie. It's her favorite thing to cuddle with next to her cat and if she can't find it, all bets are off. 

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Meaner, Smarter, Sexier

One of the things that has come up in some forums after The Wedding episode is the question of whether Dougal MacKenzie is made to seem more of a villain in the show than he was in the books. I don't think so. I know what you're thinking, I'm Dougal's chief apologist and to a certain extent, you're right. I love Dougal, because he's a challenge. Who doesn't love a guy who is described like this?

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Daydream Believer

I'm just not creative... This is something that I hear all too frequently. It's usually accompanied by a slow puzzled head shake and a glazed look at whatever creative thing I'm doing. It's like they're staring at that thing and wondering why they can't think of things like that. In my consulting work a similar reaction comes when the client hears a course design and asks, "How do you come up with this stuff?"

The simple answer is daydreaming.

I am and always have been an unapologetic daydreamer. For evidence of this see my writer's confession. At my client's office it may seem like I'm just playing or socializing or surfing the internet, but there is always a purpose to what I'm doing. I'm letting my mind go and eventually it will go to the solution that I'm looking for.

Unfortunately, we are conditioned not to daydream. In school we're told that it's bad, unless we're lucky enough to have a teacher who recognizes it for what it is. In adulthood we have responsibilities like jobs and kids that require our focus. On top of that we now have media content (social or otherwise) at our fingertips with which to occupy ourselves. Our natural inclination to daydream gets shut down or pre-empted by life and noise. But we should never underestimate the power of daydreaming.

Now that my training work has increased, I have less time to devote to daydreaming than I did when I was at home with the kids. So I have been seeking ways to promote daydreaming at the appropriate times. Triggers to shut the world off and set my mind flying.

Music is a method that has worked wonders for me when it comes to fiction. I associate certain songs or styles of music with certain characters or situations and use them to put myself in the right mindset. For general purpose daydreaming I try to find classical music to fit the mood of what I'm writing, such as Beethoven for soaring emotions, Grieg for action or Chopin for working through plot questions. These are good for certain characters and mood, but sometimes even with headphones and repetition these triggers have a hard time shutting off the internal noise of to do lists, chores and general worries.

I have also found that "meditative doodling" or Zentangling as some folks call it is a great way to quiet the noise and spark daydreaming. Zentangling is a method of pen and ink drawing that is focused on weaving together shapes and repeated patterns within a defined drawing space usually just a few inches square. It starts with a simple "string" that gives the shapes the patterns will follow. Choosing which pattern fills each shape and how they fit together forces you to make quick creative choices. It's like a jumpstart for the creative process. While the repetition of the patterns leaves room for your thoughts to wander. It's a very relaxing experience and can get your creative juices flowing, like yoga for your brain.

In addition to sparking those creative juices, you end with a pretty drawing. So, you still have that sense of accomplishment even if what you were thinking about while you were drawing is an ongoing project. I have been using this method over the past few weeks to try to wrap my brain around some of the revisions in The River Maiden with great success. zentangle

Here are a couple drawings that I've done while thinking about what will happen next to Dermot and Sarah.

zentangle2

If you would like to learn more about Zentangling you can check out Zentangle.com for more info.

You can also see some more examples from people better at it than I am on my Pinterest board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you're interested in reading more about daydreaming and how it can be a powerful thing, check out this article from Psychology Today.