Thursday, May 29, 2008


The hyacinth are in bloom which means...

...that it's time for graduation ceremonies. Okay, maybe that was a weak link to a pretty photo, but certainly the color is celebratory. Which is what I'll be doing for the next week, celebrating my niece's graduation!

So, I'll be back to blogging around June 6, no doubt with a post about what taking a short break from creative endeavors does for the creator.

Anybody else celebrating a transition?

Sunday, May 25, 2008


This post is inspired by my good friends and fellow bloggers posts, Kathy's post at Well Placed Words about Letting go is hard to do and the Muse's post at Inspired day by day on Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

It also follows the previous posting about knowing when to stop editing. The comments by Jim Murdoch and Swubird got me to thinking about "ownership." What is ownership? In writing, it's "owning" every word--in other words, it's being too engaged, too close, too much owning your writing. Every word is your hard won baby. It's tough, ownership--and not useful overall.

How to get rid of the dreaded "owning"? One way: write lots more. Hard to care about a word or sentence or paragraph when you've got thousands and thousands of them. Another: put a piece aside for at least 3 weeks (or more). Or perhaps the best way is exemplified by my mom's words (who was the wife of an artist and the mother of a writer): "Once you create it, it isn't yours anymore. It belongs to the reader, viewer, etc."

Do you catch yourself "owning" some of your work? If so, why?

Monday, May 19, 2008

When to stop editing

What Does this photo have to do with when to stop editing? Read on...

This is a photo that I took with my cell phone. This is the third attempt to get something because the light was bad and it was a cell phone. As you can tell--still not perfectly focused or centered, although the best of the bunch. I stopped after this attempt. Why?

Because after a certain point it's not worth the time to repeat and tweak a simple photo taken by a cell phone. Deciding when to stop editing can be the same decision process. When is it no longer worth the time or effort? How much importance does the creative piece possess? A poem may require more going over than a short story and a short story more than a novel. Or perhaps not.

Editing is necessary, essential, critical. But after several go-throughs far too often we can get caught in endless editing. A tweak here a tiny change there and at best we are creating a minor improvement. At worst, all the energy and freshness gets stripped out of the work.

So take a pause and ask, "How many times have I gone over this? Am I improving or only changing? Does this piece need another go-round or not?"

When do you stop editing? Never? Or do you have a fixed number of editing attempts?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shifting from the outside in

Lilacs change moment to moment

Above are two photos of lilacs taken only a couple of days apart. Lilacs begin to wilt as soon as they are cut. So why even plant lilacs? Why bring the blooms inside? Granted, they give off a glorious smell, but still.

Could it be because they are so transient? Because they are a reminder of how fleeting beauty and therefore life is? And what does this have to do with shifting to success?

Because shifting is also changing. Yes, that sounds like only semantics, but it goes deeper than a different word. It's also a hint as to how to shift from the outside in.

When was the last time you changed anything in your workspace? Do something new--a new plant, move around the pictures, shift your laptop to a slightly different space. Put a different wallpaper on your monitor. Or even cell phone. Little changes, but they help "wake up the brain" to new possibilities.

When was the last time you tried something new to read? Tried a different way to write? Stepped out, in a small way, of your comfort zone? Done some tiny thing in a different way? Even walking in a different direction or driving to work can help the brain with larger paradigm shifts.

And finally--itsy-bitsy visualizations. Visual yourself finishing a chapter, or mailing a manuscript, or even hearing back with a positive response from an editor or agent. Be detailed with this tiny visualizing--glory in it, if you can.

Any and all of this will shift from the outside in.

What are some of the small changes you can think of to make?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Workshop Wisdom

Last of the spring tulips

Time for a new season. Time to move on up to another level. So how to shift?

The last post was about success. The excellent comments there could be a prelude to this entry. It was obvious that success means different things to different people at different times. In other words, what we perceive as success is always changing. So why worry about it? Why even bother to think/fuss/stew over success?

Well, we're human. But perhaps a better use for our energies would be to focus on shifting our internal world. Oh yeah, real easy, just change how we are. Uh-huh. Inside. Uh-huh. Change the subconscious traps that hold us down. Uh-huh.

There are ways. First, ask these questions:
1. What is your dream life?
2. What are you doing right now that helps create that dream life? (There will be something, no matter how small, even if it's only reading this blog, I promise.)
3. What's one more thing you could be doing? Give yourself permission to imagine big or small, practical or outrageous, or anything in-between. The operative word is doing. Be an active verb--even if the action is sitting down to work five minutes earlier.

Next post--shifting from the outside in.

Dear readers--what are your answers to the above questions? Do you have more than one?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Success Inside Out

Here's my good friend Kathy of Well Placed Words at lunch after the High Tension Workshop.

Donald Maass is an excellent teacher. This post is about perhaps the most important aha moment for me that occurred in the entire workshop: Success comes from the inside out. Now before you groan and say "Well, duh," think about these questions:

For you, in your creative endeavor (other artists, take note) how do you see yourself successful? Go beyond the obvious of fame and fortune. What would truly be success? A fan letting you know how the work impacted his/her life? The knowledge that you are "following your bliss" when you create? Embracing your passion? Or is it even more intangible? Why do you torture yourself with whatever your creative work is? What would happen if you stopped?

What do you NEED to be successful? Again, go beyond the obvious answers, money enough to quit my day job, my kids to be older, etc. Those are wants--but a need is something else. A need is perhaps a need to overcome what makes you use excuses for not following your bliss in the first place. Is it a fear of change? What would happen if you succeeded? What would your life be like then? Do you embrace what the change would mean?

So, dear readers, what do you think? What other questions might you need to ask yourselves? What can you do to have success from the inside out? What has worked for you in the past--and maybe isn't working now? Or is working? Let me know.