Where is your concentration?

images_074 Yes, here I am searching for my concentration. As you can see, there is a lot of scraps of paper, twisted paper, eyes staring into space, and nothing getting done. I am in that lost phase of work. I can’t focus and my mind strays to other projects, which are not complete. What is going on? OVERLOAD. One word says it all, but why? We will look into this situation and it is shared by many. A study from Microsoft, about a year ago, discovered we have an average attention span of eight seconds. EIGHT? So, I began counting 1, 2,…..up to 8. Sure is not a long time. Our brain takes in most everything and do you realize how fast it works to keep us going on different projects? No wonder we get lost, confused, when there is so much to do and so little time. We need to step back…STOP, LOOK, LISTEN.
With the stop part, look around where you are and count the ways of instant gratification.  I can name just a few from my desk:  television,  channel changer (or whatever you want to call it), microwave, cell phone, coffee maker, any device that helps us get something faster and faster. Our brain picks these up and gets habituated to the stimuli. This is where we need to STOP from time to time and maintain your concentration. Give the brain a break. Take some deep breaths and slow your thoughts and heart rate down. Inhale in slow motion, and exhale in slow motion. LISTEN to yourself as you list the tasks you need to do. There are scads of them, but do they need to be done immediately? If there are a lot, make a list and do it the ‘old’ fashioned way…prioritize. When you stop to make the list, you are in a sense giving the brain a breather. As you prioritize, the list may get smaller and you can incorporate some tasks.
We have wrapped ourselves around multitasking and then find we need to go back and make corrections. A cell phone is a nightmare when it is turned on 24/7. You may not answer, but always look to see who is calling or who has called and this distracts you from what you are doing. Then we have to look back to what we were doing and sometimes the thoughts are not there or we cannot put them back in the same pace. Bless our brain, it can’t handle more than two big tasks simultaneously. A part of out brain is designed to work on one task while another part of our brain focuses on another task. There is no room for a third task.
Yet we can help ourselves by deep breathing and keeping our mind in the present instead of letting it wonder. This can be accomplished by turning off the cell phone or putting it on a ‘do not disturb’ notification, and then hiding it in a drawer. You will not fall off the earth. Now, think again at the difference between your days and your nights. (It might be backwards if you have a night job.) We all know to dwindle down the TV, the computer, and begin to relax before we fall into bed. At night your breaths become less labored, more relaxed, and your brain gets energized. You wake up to a new day with energy and the ability to make this YOUR CONCENTRATION DAY. How many times have we been told….stop and smell the roses. With our level of activities daily, now is the time to give those roses some sniffs.
This also applies to exercise. We need this to keep our bodies and mind working and in good order. Sometimes, we work frantically hoping to gain the results of a slimmer body, more curves, bigger biceps. Then after a couple of weeks, the gym doesn’t look so inviting. We want instant gratification.  But, do you stop and ask yourselves, how long it took you to get out-of-shape? No. Slow down and get your only body in shape physically, mentally, and spiritually. Time is a great healer of all ails, but it takes time, perseverance, and you will gain results as well as your brain.

Happy Concentration. Healthy You. A Happier You.

 

Where Is Your Creativity?

Do you ever feel like you are in a big dark hole and struggle to find your creativity? Hey, don’t sweat it, because we all have gotten lost in this intense struggle. Instead of digging yourself deeper into the hole, get yourself on the outside and try something new. Seeing things from a different viewpoint shakes up the brain. What about using the brain for push-ups of your mind. Forget the errors, the typos, which will be caught at revision times. Notice I made that plural and just write. Yep, it may come out as ‘crap,’ but even that can be turned into useful material. Your mind is working and nothing should stop the flow.
Okay, you learned about a friend getting  an agent, and you are still struggling to find one. Wish the friend the best and close your mind to all of your self-intended jabs. What you need is to block out the noise or the chatter of social media and hold onto what means the most to you. You matter the most and the creativity is what you want to give to your readers. You cannot create and not write.
Look at your writing as an escape from the everyday world and play with all the ideas that swim in your mind. These ideas could take you away from your story at the moment. Don’t rush the ideas away, rather play with them for a while. That funky little gift shop might be just the place to visit. No, I don’t mean walk through, but meander and look at all the creative ideas non-writers have made. As you leave, your mind is running in circles and you have thought about one of the items and a story you could give it to make the scene come alive. You’ve sparked your creativity.
Your creativity is a gift and is yours to use daily, not just when you think you need it. Creativity is a relationship with yourself and the world you want to share this with. Let your imagination run wild. Do not try to reign this in, rather give it more new things to see, to do, and a lot of extra rope to turn many corners and you never know what you might pull back inside.
Now for some personal news—August 4, 2016 was my last day as a Silver Sneakers® Certified Instructor. I retired.Hard decision, but a necessary one. Our class had been together for eight years, regular members, new members, but eight years and lots of life changes.  If I remember how to download, here are a few pics of the last day.
SS08.04.2016

Look at all the smiling faces. I’m honored.

Dolly, Russ, Patricia  Last class before retirement.JPG

Thanks for everything and the flowers are great.

 

A DIGITAL VACATION

dog days of summer

I can hear your voices raised to the highest pitch. I can also picture your fingers twitch as they cannot touch the keys. Nerves bring your blood pressure to the boiling point. Your throat is tight, dry, and even the glass of cold water sitting next to you goes warm.

I CANNOT DO THIS.  YES, YOU CAN. THIS IS YOUR BREAK AWAY FROM ALL OF IT.

You are on your digital vacation. Enjoy yourself, but you don’t know how. This is the biggest reason for getting up, shutting down the machine, turning off the printer, and darken the light above your desk. You are on a sobriety binge-I AM A COMPUTER-AHOLIC. Now, repeat this small statement over and over and over whenever necessary. Why? We become addicted to our instant gratification of fingers and the keyboard, instant answers to our e-mails, instant….instant….instant.
Can you imagine what it was like for our Ancestors? Mail delivery or just neighborly information received when the horse and rider passed through. We did not realize that just beyond the sky, where the sun sets and the other side with the moon filling up the sky, were newer inventions. We accepted what we received and gave thanks for the information. Then, we were told there were more ways to get the news faster, and the roller-coaster picked up speed.
We forgot how to watch the stars, see how the moon became the night focal point, or faded as the huge ball of yellow lighted up the sky and gave us warmth. These special seasons that help us grow crops to feed families, and the farm animals. Then, with the advance of technology, we proceeded to make everything happen NOW. After years of newer inventions we want MORE and MORE, FASTER and FASTER.
Some days are for breaks. A break where you can walk away from your computer without guilt. We all need a computer vacation and RELAX. How can I relax if I am not working on my computer?  OOPS! This is the answer to why you need a break.
We write and write every day. If I don’t write, I won’t get paid. But have you ever felt that some days are not for writing. Some days are for thinking about writing and what will come next. Some days are for planning ahead for your future. Some days are for just doing nothing. Nothing in the sense of getting in touch with yourself and your soul. Some days are for dreaming about the next writing venture and some days are for meeting friends for breakfast or lunch and laughing, talking sharing and keeping in touch with others. You may have to remember how to do all of this, but you need this as much as you need your vacation from technology.
                   RENEW YOUR SPIRIT.  RENEW FRIENDSHIPS.
                             HAPPY COMPUTER VACATION.

 

TIME TO WRITE

screen-shot-2014-03-03-at-9-58-49-am  Time to Write

How many times have you told yourself, whispered to yourself, and promised yourself…it is TIME TO WRITE? I’m certain many times and what did you accomplish–frustration, irritation, defeat, and a blocked mind.

Are you just starting out on a new work?  Have you thought through your process? Do you know where you want this new work to take you and all the characters? Have you done a cheat sheet…AKA as an outline or do you make small notations about your characters?

Authors, I have talked to admit, they have started out as a draft in longhand and used bright colored ink. This attracts the mind to the paper and not floating around the room. There is something magical when writing by hand…the hand and the heart connect. No, it is not always perfect, but a great start. You sit at your desk,computer fired up ready to go, and your fingers cannot move fast enough over the keys. Perfect, of course not, but this is your brain working through your fingers.

Now is the TIME TO WRITE…make a date with yourself every day at a specific time. Yeah, I can hear the excuses before I put in the first period. I cannot block out another minute. How do you think novels get written? We are writers and writers write. If that deep heartache does not get some TLC, and you continue, then you are a writer and CAN block out a small portion of your time.

You know your life, problems, happy times, so focus on 45 minutes of time for yourself. The important part of this is discipline. Some writers are early birds and up before the sun rises, the hubby has to get ready for work, and the kids rush around for school. Take this time and do not squirrel it away THIS IS YOUR 45 MINUTES. Nothing you write will be perfect. If you are a perfectionist throw that away for 45 minutes. Keep writing and your fingers moving. REV up your enthusiasm running to full throttle. After two or three days, you will find yourself waiting for this time with your words. Remember, this is a draft, the fun part of writing. This is where you release your imagination and let it roam, float, and fly high.

DO IT…FIND YOUR TIME TO WRITE…KEEP YOUR DATES WITH YOUR WRITER MIND..LET GO OF INHIBITIONS… HAVE FUN.

I’d love to hear from you and your writing times.

 

Have Fun. Happy Writing.  Happy You.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspire Yourself

images_032How do you inspire yourself when your thoughts seem to be made of clay. Nothing sticks together or when it does, there is no form or clarity to the mold. Some days, my computer screen stays empty. No matter what I write, my words make no sense. Okay, maybe a new sheet of paper will inspire me to write by hand all my thoughts. Oops! Another blank page. Music, this will give me a different inspiration. Soon, I am busy changing stations or channels on the television. Nothing begins to form. And then I get an uneasy feeling–something is not right.

When we need inspiration, we need to get out of our rut by getting out of our writing space. Exploration is a great way to begin. We need something different, or we need to ‘people’ watch, or be with other people. Sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen or blank notebook, is a lonely life unless you include others into your space. Balancing your life is one important part of the inspiration process. You need a regular schedule that includes, exercise, fun, checking out new places, and getting out with friends. This means getting your life back in balance and when you do, your writing will improve and the blank screen will be full of new words.

Remember, you do not have to go around the world for inspiration, this will come naturally when you become alive and do what you like. When you get outside your writing world, there is another world waiting for you to explore. This other world is your inspiration for writing.  Confused? No way.

Obstacles are there to make certain you know how to overcome them and live your passions to the fullest. Writing is a passion and your creative passion can fulfill your dreams.

Live life. Enjoy life. Be passionate and your writing will show this.

HAPPY WRITING.  HAPPY INSPIRATION(S). HAPPY YOU.

 

 

 

WRITERS WRITE – READERS READ

Books and Pen-300x231Thought this title might cause some confusion or at least
give you a chance to think about it. As writers, we have been told to
read and read all books. Not just in your genre, but in other genres 
that may be unfamiliar to us. This gives us a chance to observe 
different styles, different words, and the opportunity to see how 
writers put them together. Reading out of your comfort zone increases
the writer's ability to visualize, stretch the imagination, and push 
their writing to the 'edge.'Sometimes this takes a writer to a different
and scary part of their experience. What's to say that men cannot write
fantastic romance or women can't write about racing cars? Getting out of 
our comfort zone take courage and practice. 
What about readers becoming writers? Who's to say yes or no. Have you 
read a book and thought, "I could do better than that." Then sat down at 
blank screen and the keyboard waiting for you to pounce on the keys. This
can be a frightening experience and you realize how this can scare you 
away from writing.
I used to go into a library and head for the same content...murder, 
detective genres. Then, I became interested in the same genre with a
lot of romance intertwined. Sometimes, I headed toward the non-fiction
or historic novels such as Personal History, autobiography of Katharine 
Graham, or Savage Beauty, the life of Edna ST. Vincent Millay to name a
few. Did this change my writing?  Yes and No. I became more concerned 
about words I chose to use.
Yes, I read a lot of books and keep a running list in my possession at 
all times. This is a turn-around list. I keep the authors and can add 
any new one at any time. My version is listed under their names by 
titles I have read. Sure saves time returning a read book.
 
Take a look at your own reading and writing and see how this influences
you and your writing. What new avenues this has helped you cross and 
how you did it.

I'd love to hear from you and get your ideas. With your permission I 
will have a post to compliment all of you readers and writers.

On a personal note, the first author I remember reading is ZANE GREY.

HAPPY READING.  HAPPY WRITING.  AND A VERY HAPPY YOU.

Healthy Distractions

screen-shot-2014-03-03-at-9-58-49-am

You walk by your desk, stare at the computer and close your eyes. Even the thought of writing is uninviting. You need more words filling the manuscript and all you have is a blank mind. Empty today, so you walk away. Even your shoulders are heavy as the muse lays more guilt on each one.
Distraction is what you need, BUT it has to be a healthy distraction. Not just a passing idea that lasts a few minutes, but one to jump-start your creative endeavors. You feel shame and clench your fingers. It makes a writer feel unworthy of their words as peers will be disappointed in them.
Hey, wake up and think of something that interests you. Yes, YOU. Now is the time to revisit areas in your memory and pull yourselves up out of the quicksand. Writing is a solitary endeavor and you need a little social life.This will give you a boost forward. Ladies, remember the lunches with friends and guys remember the runs with your friends. These bring back memories of good times before writing took over your lives. Taking time for a social life will improve your writing.
How long has it been since you dug in the dirt? Gardening can grow flower, vegetables as well as your thoughts. This is a ‘healthy’ distraction. Ladies, what about knitting or crocheting like you did eons ago. Or, maybe you dabbled in the paints. Try again. Guys, remember how you used to ‘tinker’ with the car, lawn mower or fix the drip inside the home? When a writer turns to other matters, the pride in their work is returned in abundance. This is what our writing should do for us.
This reminded me of the ‘Adult Coloring Book’. No one is looking over our shoulders to check for coloring outside the line. It is fun and frees the mind at the same time.
Healthy distractions open up thoughts and bursts your energy. These keep your mind alert and excited. When they are release you will find your characters respond to the new freedom.
Watch Out…Healthy Distractions turned loose can invigorate each scene, each page and you will have happy characters and your writing will flow. You will never look at your desk and computer with despair, but elation at the ideas abounding in your head.

HAPPY WRITING. HAPPY HEALTHY DISTRACTIONS. HAPPY CHARACTERS.