Monday, January 1, 2018

One Thought a Day: A Five Year Memory Journal

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          A few years ago I watched a documentary about a photographer in his early 60s who decided he needed to shake up his life. He had spent years traveling all over the world taking photographs for magazines, but one year, starting on January 1st, he gave himself a new assignment. He was staying close to home and taking only one photograph a day.

          He lived with his wife in a cabin somewhere in the snowy MidWest. Every day he would set out on a walk with his camera knowing he could only take one photograph. Not one scene that he could frame and reframe, but just one shot—good or bad.

          He would look around on his walk noticing trees, birds, prairie grass, brooks and ponds, deer, and once a wolf. He could see interesting and gorgeous scenes everywhere, but knew he could only shoot one. He had to pay attention so he didn’t miss a shot, but he also had to consider that there might be a better one on the other side of a hill, in the woods, or by the water.

          Once he took his photograph, he walked back home still looking for shots even though he couldn’t take them. Sometimes he saw scenes that might have made better photographs and sometime he didn’t.

          Since this was a documentary, a camera crew was following his every move so viewers got to see the scenes he didn’t shoot as well as the ones he did. All his choices and the consequences were captured on film.

I thought he was courageous to limit himself to one shot a day when photography is his livelihood as well as his passion. He had to work harder to find the shot of the day knowing all along if he waited he might find a better shot or not—a gamble every day.

I’ve decided to follow his lead.

I just came across a journal entitled One Thought a Day: A Five Year Memory Journal. My choices will be a bit easier as I can reflect at the end of the day which memory to record, but I will also be paying attention to moments during the day so I have lots of choices to consider.

It all comes down to paying attention to life—to what’s happening right now—savoring it even as another moment starts. Then reflecting on these moments to choose which one I appreciate the most.

Or should I be as daring as the photographer and choose during the day knowing a more memorable moment might be missed?

Well it won’t be missed because I’ll be looking for these moments. It just won’t make it into the journal—so maybe I’ll have two: one fearlessly choosing a moment in the moment and one at the end of the day. It will be interesting to see how often they are the same moment. Also, having a record of two memorable moments each day will make for a great year.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Power of the Pen

From Kate's Writing Crate...

          As a writer, I love pens. I have two favorite brands, but I’m open to trying new ones.

          I’m always looking for light-weight, fast-writing pens. My thoughts come to me more quickly than I can write them down so I don’t need a heavy pen that slows me down.

It also helps if the pens are nice to look at as I often stare at my writing hand while I wait for inspiration.

Recently, I discovered a set of six ballpoint pens, sold in two-packs. They range in color from white to pinks to blue to purples. But that isn’t the only reason I like them. Each one has a message on the barrel.

When I look down and see FIERCE AND FABULOUS or BADASS AND BRILLIANT or RISK TAKER, I’m motivated to write fearlessly. MAKE IT EPIC, UNSTOPPABLE, and GET IT DONE work well at deadline.

They make me feel more powerful as I write with them.

They also make great gifts. A friend just said to me that she wants to be a Badass in 2018. Well now I have the perfect gift for her as well as some of my other friends. Who doesn’t want to be a Risk Taker and Unstoppable?

Here’s to a fierce and fabulous New Year!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bonus Post: Perfect Gift for a Writer

From Kate's Writing Crate...

          It’s the gift-giving time of year—so what to buy for the person who has everything, or an office gift, or something for a writer? How about a wall clock? I discovered some fun ones online.

          If you know a dancer, there’s a clock that says only “and 5 6 7 8.” For those who enjoy adult beverages, a clock with all 5s as it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. For musicians, a clock with various notes that equal the usual numbers. Also, a Dr. Who spiral of numbers clock for Sci-Fi fans.

          There’s a Who Cares, I’m Retired clock and a Whatever, I’m Late Anyway clock both with all the numbers in a pile at the bottom of the face of the clock; ones with math equations instead of numbers; and one that has the word Now in every spot instead of numbers.

For writers, the clock has no numbers just “write now” across the face. Of course, that’s my favorite. Genius! 

You name it, there seems to be a clock perfect for everyone. Gift shopping done!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Be a Fearless Writing Warrior

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

Fearless Writing in action: Don’t write what you know. Write what you love.

According to William Kenower, author of Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence, “Love is the foundation on which every successful writing career is built.” (page 43)

I can attest to this. I love my over-15-year-long writing career.

Every month for two magazines and their Facebook pages, I write at least five essays and every topic is one I love. While the word counts run from 450-1,000, I can write them on demand simply because I choose topics I love. Words just flow out onto the page. When the words stop, then I rewrite, revise, edit, and polish until I’m happy with the essay and it meets the word count. This doesn’t even feel like work, but it does take a lot of time.

I also write several articles monthly. While I don’t always get to choose the topics, I love writing these articles so readers discover something new or are entertained, or, hopefully, both. In truth, this feels more like work, but it’s work I love so I count myself lucky.

Added to that, I’ve spent over five years writing weekly posts for this blog. It’s never felt like work because I’m writing about writing—a topic I love.

In another example, best-selling author Louise Penny notes she had spent five years writing a book she thought she should write. Frustrated, she looked at her nightstand and saw only murder mysteries, which she loved, and realized she was writing the wrong book.

Now writing a book a year, she is thirteen books into her Inspector Gamache series. She has won five Agatha Awards and the loyalty of legions of fans as well—including me.

Write what you love and you will never be afraid of a blank page.

You’ll also be a Fearless Writing Warrior.

Next post will be on January 1, 2018.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Fearless Writing Warrior Moves to Monthly Posts

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

As I wrote last week: I’m at a crossroad. Do I continue to encourage others to write even though Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence by William Kenower is the best book on writing/being a writer I’ve ever read? (Frankly, if you want to be a writer read that book. If it doesn’t help you write I honestly don’t know what will.) Do I stop writing the blog and concentrate on my writing projects that have been planned, but now, motivated by Fearless Writing, I’m raring to complete and generate income? Or do I also write the blog as a Fearless Writing Warrior (FWW) as Cheryl now calls us?

I have decided to continue writing the blog as a Fearless Writing Warrior. I am changing this blog to a once a month post as I have a lot of writing to do for my income-generating projects.

Please check in on the first Monday of each month to see fearless writing in action.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Becoming a Fearless Writing Warrior

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          Cheryl and I started this blog to encourage others too scared or scarred to write. We shared thoughts on every aspect of writing we knew from experience: remembrances as newbies and as current writer/author and writer/editor to show readers they could have writing careers, too.

          I am proud of our posts. When we started, we had long lists of topics which we exhausted. However, the pressure of a weekly blog squeezed thoughts out of us so we didn’t disappoint our readers. Many of those are my favorite posts.

I wasn’t sure when or if I would run out of topics so reaching the fifth anniversary was fun and surprising. I thought I could keep going, but then I read Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence by William Kenower.

Frankly, if you want to be a writer read that book. If it doesn’t help you write I honestly don’t know what will.

So I’m at a crossroad. Do I continue to encourage others to write even though Fearless Writing is the best book on writing/being a writer I’ve ever read? Do I stop writing the blog and concentrate on my writing projects that have been planned, but now, motivated by Fearless Writing, I’m raring to complete and generate income? Or do I also write the blog as a Fearless Writing Warrior (FWW) as Cheryl now calls us?

The writing advice that we all first learn—show, don’t tell—makes me think I have told you about Fearless Writing, but I haven’t shown you.

I’m going to give some thought to changing the focus of this blog to Fearless Writing Warrior. I’ll let you know what I've decided next week.

In the meantime, read William Kenower’s book Fearless Writing and become a Fearless Writing Warrior, too.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Reads for Writers: Fearless Writing by William Kenower 2nd Review

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide masterclasses within their books.
          Masterclasses take place when performance artists and musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don’t generally have this option, but I have found some books to be masterclasses for characters, backstories, plots, settings, voice and/or creativity.

          In a previous blog, I explained how I decided whether a book was worth a review. First, I mark up a book as I read it. I underline. I score paragraphs. I write notes. And if there is an excellent point made, I dog ear the bottom corner of that page.

          If there are marks, notes, or dog-eared corners on 25%-30% of the pages, the book gets a good review; more than 30%, a great review.

In the two decades I have been reviewing books, I never hit 50%. I never expected to as that’s an almost impossibly high bar. Then I read Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence by William Kenower which came in at near 100%.

I felt a bit ridiculous dog earing page after page after page, but Kenower’s truths, descriptions, points, and advice were worth every mark, note, and folded corner.

Quite simply, this book is the Masterclass for writing.

Kenower recommends that readers start with chapter 1 “A Writer’s Worst Fear”  and chapter 2 “The Flow”  then choose which chapters interest them. I think beginning writers should follow his direction, but if you are a more experienced writer you might want to start with either chapter 10 “Finding Time to Write Or Why Procrastination Makes Sense” or chapter 13 “Don’t Fear the Cliché Or Relax—You’re an Original”  as these are two big fears of most writers. Once read, fearless writing can begin.

From my marks, notes, and dog-eared corners, I found every chapter important. I’ve read chapters 1-8 twice and chapters 9-18 three times. I feel like reading them all until they are a part of my DNA.

I’m a fast reader, but I had to put Fearless Writing down to give myself time to absorb what the author was sharing. It’s his story, but it’s also a universal one for every writer filled with insights and truths.

I recognized many of the truths Kenower discussed because I’ve experienced them too, but sometimes so briefly I hadn’t realized until he named them. But even more important were the truths I hadn’t thought about—just accepted—without realizing some, like discomfort and procrastination, have their own purposes. (Read chapter 8 “Creative Discomfort Or How to Love What You Thought You Hated” and chapter 10 “Finding Time to Write Or Why Procrastination Makes Sense” respectively.)

The other chapters are: “Feel First,” “Write What You Love,” “Accuracy,” “Critiques and Workshopping,” “The Intentional Arc,” “Writing is Listening,” “How Thought Works,” “Fearless Marketing,” “The Talent Myth,” “Fear of Failure,” “Evidence,” “Becoming the Author of Your Life,” and “A Good Ending.”

I am so grateful and excited that William Kenower wrote this book. It is life-altering.

Here are just a few insights from Fearless Writing:

“…the only two questions a writer should ask are “What do I want to say?” and “Have I said it?” If you are asking anything else, you’re not writing—you’re just worrying. (page 53)

“…You must embrace the reality that your curiosity is curious enough, your perceptions are perceptive enough, your humor is humorous enough. Get comfortable with that, and you will always know what you most want to say—and if you have said it.” (pp. 70-71)

“,,, There is a great distinction between an idea as it appears in my imagination and what that idea becomes on the page…I must trade in that initial excitement for the patient pleasure of discovery.” (page 106)

“How interested I am in the questions I ask my imagination determines the speed and power of the answer I receive. I must remind myself of this often…” (page 107)

“…when you accept the confidence you already possess and understand that writing’s immediate payoff is the pleasure of finding the next sentence, and then the next, you will discover that you have plenty of time to write…” (page 127)

“…The Flow is the experience of pointing your car toward something you love and are authentically curious about, and then riding the momentum of thought that ensues…” (page 135)

“…Writing, after all, is such an intuitive business. Writing is all about knowing what has no evidence for being known. Writing is all about following a path only you can perceive, that is felt and not seen…” (page 196)

“…If I am deliberate with the stories I tell myself away from the desk, I become the author of my day-to-day experience. Now life is a story I am telling rather than one I have been made to read.” (page 219)

          I hope all writers read this book so they can become not only authors, but the authors of their own lives.