Posted in empowerment, journaling, Journaling Discoveries, writing

Journaling Discoveries: Enjoying the Journey, Even the Not So Great Parts

click on image for bigger picture

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.” ––Babs Hoffman

It’s not always easy to enjoy the journey, especially when the journey appears to be a struggle. How can we enjoy the struggles? Is that even possible?

I have an aversion to struggles. Maybe this is a universal thing. I mean, really, who wants to have conflicts and continual issues in life? So why is it that people talk about enjoying the journey, or just letting the process unfold like it’s some secret joke as they smile and walk away? Will someone please let me in on the punchline?

My family and I recently went through a particularly “fun” struggle from mid -September, until last week. My husband was rear ended in a car accident that left us without reliable transportation for nearly a month. It was a tough time for us. But it also was a bit magical too. Okay, maybe a lot magical.

I had finally decided that I was done with feeling so upset and twisted up by life events. I wanted to ride this struggle with a little more enjoyment. I decided to try out the sage advice of those who would smile and say “enjoy the journey,” because not enjoying the journey was becoming too much drama for me. Why was I torturing myself so much over a freaking car? It was just a car after all.

I won’t say I was perfect. I had moments and whole days where the situation of having no car really got to me. But then I’d catch myself, shake it off, and try to find the things in life that were going very well for us. And I have to say, we do have a whole lot going right, and I don’t think I realized how much until this incident.

So I spent a lot of time basking in the things I was appreciative for. I had whole days that I decided to “pretend” we had no car issue and that all was fantastic. I even imagined our new car in the garage, and us taking it out for a ride as a family. And you know, doing these things really helped me enjoy the struggle more than I ever managed to before. It was a huge step forward for me.

The car incident also had some magical results too. A big one was my husband’s coworkers stepping up to offer him rides to and from work. It was really great to feel that sort of love and support. We also ended up with a much newer and bigger car than what we started out with. And we love it so very much (and yes, we’ve taken the Chevy Equinox out for several family rides since purchasing it).

Another major benefit from all of this is it’s really made me reevaluate how I deal with adversity. I’ve always looked at adversity and struggle as negative. I always felt a desire to avoid such instances at all costs. But maybe the struggles aren’t so terrible? Maybe they help us find clarity and help us understand what we really do want out of life?

Continue reading “Journaling Discoveries: Enjoying the Journey, Even the Not So Great Parts”
Posted in better writing, build confidence as a writer, free writing, How to Be a Writer, how to write, writing, writing advice, writing discipline

5 Steps to Setting Up a Daily Habit of Writing

image from Pixabay

In order to be a writer, one must write. But let’s face it, it’s not always easy to find the time to fit writing in, especially as a daily thing. But I’ve been writing long enough to know that I’m a lot more successful at writing, when I make writing a daily habit. So let’s take a look at five steps to be a daily writer.

Step 1: Time of Day

First identify the best time of the day to write for you. Everyone will be different, so don’t judge what works for you against someone else’s writing time. If you aren’t sure, do some experimenting. Is it first thing in the morning that you do the best writing? Is it midmorning or midday? Or is it the afternoon, or late at night?

Step 2: Set a Time Period

Next, set a period of time that you will write. This can be anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, to several hours, or more. Even if it’s just a short writing session, if you are writing everyday, then that time will add up. You may find too that somedays you will get more writing in than others, and that’s okay.

Step 3: Have a Routine to Get You Started

It’s a lot easier to start writing if you are in the right mindset. Otherwise you could be sitting for half your writing time or more just trying to get into the piece you want to write on. There are many ways to get into a writing mindset. I will list a few here.

  • Listen to music you have specifically for writing
  • Start by free writing for 10 minutes or so to get into writing
  • Spend a few minutes clearing your mind and setting an intention on what you plan to do
  • Have a specific spot that you write and only write so when you sit down you are automatically put in the writing mood
  • Use a “writing hat” which is anything you wear or have near you while writing

You can do one or more than one of the above, or even come up with your own way(s). The important part is having a routine, so that your mind knows you are sitting down to write, and it’s time to get to business.

Step 4: Do Things to Prep for Writing

It’s important to only write during the time you allot to write. This may mean doing some prepping before hand such as letting anyone who lives with you know not to bother you during this time, turning off distractions like the phone or access to internet, and deciding the day or night before what you will be writing on. If you set an intention to write on something specific, you will be far more likely to have a great writing session the next day.

Step 5: Have Fun With Writing

Most important step of all. Don’t forget to have fun with writing! That’s why you started writing in the first place isn’t it? Writing was fun. It was exhilarating as you created new characters and worlds, or mind-blowing nonfiction. That should still be the case. Don’t let your deadlines or feelings of obligations suck all the fun away. Remember why you started writing, why you keep writing, and how much fun it is to play with words!

Do you already have a writing routine, and would like to share? Please feel free to post in the comments.

Posted in journaling, Journaling Discoveries, writing

Journaling Discoveries: Self-Forgiveness = More Self-Worth

Click on image to get a bigger picture

I used to be an expert at holding a grudge. I would stand firm in my personal righteousness, because that’s what we are supposed to do when wronged, right? Little did I realize that holding a grudge was actually hurting me and the other person(s).

It didn’t matter if I had a reason to be upset or not, at the end of the day I still felt like crap. In giving my anger and frustration to others, I was giving them power over me. I allowed my happiness and peace of mind to be disturbed by unhelpful emotions.

Yeah, but what about being angry and upset at myself? Because over time, I began to realize that I was far more upset with myself for “falling victim” or getting myself stuck in a bad situation, than at the situation or person that “did me wrong”. I should have known better. Why did I let that happen?

This happens to be an ongoing theme in my journals, but it was this journal entry (see image) that was the first real conscious moment in time that I realized how much I blamed myself for a vast amount of things. In fact, pretty much anything negative or anything that went wrong, I found a way to cast fault with myself.

And I know I’m not alone, this is a major issue that plagues so many people in our world. An inability to see how much we cast blame or throw guilt on ourselves, is a major cause of self-worth and self-esteem issues. And it’s such an automatic process that most people don’t even know they are doing it.

I didn’t until it started popping up in journal entries. After awhile, I started to realize that maybe the reason I wasn’t getting very far in life was because I was pointing the finger at myself too much. How can we step out in confidence and be our best, when we are constantly belittling ourselves?

It dawned on me how important forgiveness is. All forgiveness. The forgiveness of others, and of ourselves. Once I started actively forgiving, my life started to change. All the hurt feelings and old grudges started to heal, and slowly but surely my self-confidence started to emerge.

I still have a long way to go, but I acknowledge the fact that as long as I stay open to forgiving, my life will see even more improvements. Sometimes I have to do daily forgiveness. But that’s what my journals are for, so I can pour out what needs to be addressed.

I do catch myself holding grudges against others and myself from time to time, but I work through them. The important thing is I caught it, and then I do the work to address it. Sometimes a simple journal entry will do, and other times I need to write out an actual letter (that only gets seen by me). Both ways work, and both ways help me release the damaging emotions so I can be open to love and understanding.

My life has become far more peaceful and happy as I have learned the power of forgiveness. It really is true that love makes the world go round. Love really does conquer all (in a very good way).

Note: Image was taken from my book A Writer’s Wings:A Journey of Discovery and Transformation.

Posted in empowerment, journaling, the writing process, writing

Why Journaling is Important to Me

I do not think I will ever find the appropriate words to express how much journaling has benefited me and my life. I began journaling as a way to help my writing process many years ago. I figured if I started keeping a journal of my progress, and jot down ideas for stories, it would be a great help. And it was, but also it became so much more.

It took a few years, but once I started expanding my journaling to all parts of my life (not just as a writing tool), I really began to reap major benefits from it. I started to understand myself on a much deeper level, and it caused me to expand the way I thought about myself and life in general.

Journaling has helped me experiment and work through ideas in my writing and personal life. It opened a door to repeating destructive habits I had not allowed myself to see before, and catapulted me toward living a far more satisfying and empowering life.

With all this in mind, I have decided to start doing a lot more blog posts focused on journaling. I will talk about what journaling can do, many ways in how to journal, and any other journaling topics I can come up with. In fact, I will be beginning a new blog series called Journaling Discoveries.

This series will be where I will take one of my past journal entries and talk about how that entry persuaded me to make certain choices, or helped to change my perspective to understand something better. In doing this, I am hoping to show just how empowering journaling has been for me, and can be to others.

Continue reading “Why Journaling is Important to Me”
Posted in action, beginning, better writing, great writing, how to write, The Writer's Toolbox, writing

3 Ways to Make an Engaging Start to a Story, Chapter, or Novel

How does a writer start a story, chapter, or novel to make it engaging and keep the reader interested? After all, a story can be good, but are there are some key elements to making a story, chapter, or novel stand out? There are actually, and this post will address three of them, and I’ll give some examples of really fantastic starting lines I’ve come across in my reading.

Have you read some of the classics (even just dating back a few years ago) where the authors take the time to build a relationship with the reader? The stories start at a leisurely pace and it may take awhile to see any real action. That was nice and great, but unfortunately to be a writer in this day and age you have to forego the hand holding and get right into it. You can do the hand holding stuff, but do it while you are hooking the reader.

1. Start in the Middle of Action

One of the best ways to engage and hook the reader is to start in the middle of some sort of action. If you are starting a story or novel, then it should be bigger and more attention grabbing action.

What sort of action? Ask yourself this question. If you were starting to read a new book or story what would grab your attention?

Maybe your character is in the middle of fighting off a mugger? Or maybe your character is in the middle of a car accident. You can even do a smaller action like maybe a student just dozed off in class and smacked his head against his desk. Or maybe your character is driving down a dark road and the gas light is blinking and there’s not a gas station in sight.

How big the action is isn’t nearly as important as the action itself. Start with that blinking empty fuel tank light, or your character dodging a fist, and go from there. Engagement in this way creates interest, and then the details can be filled out as you continue further into the story.

Here’s an intriguing action line that opens the book The English Assassin by Daniel Silva.

Marguerite Rolfe was digging in her garden because of the secrets she’d found hidden in her husband’s study.

Continue reading “3 Ways to Make an Engaging Start to a Story, Chapter, or Novel”