Writing Wins and Woes: Spring Cleaning your Writing Life

760I’m finally finishing off this series. The idea for this just came to me in a haphazard way. I’m a cleaner. It’s spring. Let’s write about what I know best. I clean so much that I dream about cleaning at nights. So really I pretty much clean round the clock. Today, I thought I’d focus on cleaning supplies. Without the proper equipment, you can’t clean well. I could use any old rag and a bucket of water, but crayon marks, scuffs and lots of other nasties just wouldn’t vacate the premises. At our job, we use microfiber cloths and I’ve come to appreciate the importance of microfiber. It tends to attract dirt like a magnet. It’s also very soft and flexible. Cleaners are important, too. You can make your own cleaner. I’ve mentioned that before. It’s actually easy. You just use a mixture of baking soda, lemon juice, water and vinegar. The lemon juice helps to counteract the vinegar smell. But these ingredients all help with odor too. I made glass cleaner from two simple ingredients already, dish detergent and water. Mostly, I tend to buy cleaners now. I like anything that smells good and cleans. Other essential equipment for cleaning is a good mop and bucket. I prefer the mops we have at work but have not really found them very available for private use. We have rectangular microfiber mops and buckets that have mop pads. The pad releases from both ends and is squeezed out in a special bucket then stretches again for cleaning. It is light weight and cleans great. A light weight vacuum with good suction is essential for cleaning; also with attachments. We have vacuums at work without attachments and it is frustrating when you want to clean under desks so I now use a backpack vacuum at work which has a long hose and nozzle for picking up anywhere. Here are some little extras that make cleaning easier: Magic Eraser (great for crayon marks, marker and many other things) green scotch brite pad, rubber gloves.  You don’t really need a lot to clean; just the basic supplies.

Now, how does this relate to writing? The proper supplies are essential for writing. I like to put them into two categories. Old School and New School. If you are old school and I’m in transition, you need pen and paper. I use lots of notebooks. I often write ideas down for stories, novels, and even write the story first in a notebook. I definitely do a lot of my research this way. But New School people don’t touch the pen and paper anymore. They just use their laptops, and a good Word program. I love Word. However, it now costs me a lot to have it and I’ve switched to Open Office. Many people say Open Office is just as good and it’s free. I just find it passable. It erased one of my novels and I will never forgive it for that. Writing books are another resource for writers. I like Ryan Lanz’s The Idea Factory which has about 1000 writing prompts. When I first started writing, I bought some of the Writer’s Market books but it’s easy to look a lot of stuff up o the internet now, and you don’t need them as much. Writing doesn’t require a lot, mostly just a lot of hard work and determination. Just like cleaning. So, I hope you enjoyed this series.

As an added bonus to this edition, I am presenting a little book review for Jane Yate’s new book, Octopus Pirate. I really enjoyed this book, and surprisingly I didn’t think I would. I love Jane’s Garden book, which is a modernization of the Secret Garden. It’s beautifully told. But I’m not a big pirate fan and I find  octopus revolting, but this book snagged me from the beginning. It starts on a sea voyage with a wife almost ready to have a baby who slips overboard. She delivers her baby in the ocean, and dies, but somehow the baby is rescued by an octopus and lives. Sounds quirky but it works. The baby is pushed to shore where a nun who lives on an island with lots of goats and cats, finds the baby and raises him. She names him Coco and he discovers that’s he’s quite an unusual individual. He has unique characteristics that come from the octopus that rescued him. Coco has many adventures, including joining a circus.  The only disappointing factor in the book is that Coco doesn’t actually start his pirating. We’ll have to see the next book for that. So, if you’re interested in a quirky story with splashy characters, try Jane’s book, Octopus Pirate.

Writing Wins and Woes: Spring Cleaning your Writing Life

I can’t believe I am on part 3 of this series. I didn’t really anticipate this series lasting more than one session, but here I am again. I am always trying out new cleaners and cleaning gadgets. I clean a school and a church and I’ve invested more money than I should in trying to combat different cleaning issues. One thing you have in cleaning a school is smelly bathrooms. I’ve tried Fe-breeze, Mr. Clean Foaming Spray, a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice and some baking soda and a lot of blue toilet bowl cleaner that is similar to the Lysol brand. I also get very frustrated with window cleaning at my church. We have big door windows and I finally found the perfect window cleaner; Invisible Glass.

The point I am making is to be a successful cleaning person you have to do your research and this works with writing too. I actually like the research aspect of writing. I do most of my research through the internet. I love looking up things and learning new things. This is why I really enjoy writing articles for Guardian Angel Kids.

There is more to research with writing, however, than just information for a story itself. There is researching publishing companies, story themes, anthologies. Because so many stories are rejected, I am always looking for another place to send a story. Usually, it works this way. Write a story, send a story, get rejected, edit the story again to improve it, send the story to another place. I’ve sent stories out more than five times. Eventually I will give up if it’s too many times rejected.

What I am weak at is actually learning through interviewing. I am not a people person. Most writers really aren’t. I tend to be a wallflower at parties and find myself awkward in society. While I really enjoy talking to individuals and learning about their lives, I lack the social skills of introductions, so I don’t really meet a lot of people. I need to improve in this area.

Unfortunately, and I don’t know why, but my novel is a science fiction story. I don’t really have a lot of science background and it’s proving difficult to seem knowledgeable about what I’m writing about. That’s why I prefer writing fantasy.

So far this week I’ve done well with my goals. I’ve made it through all the first three day goals. Today is day four and I’m not sure what I’ll be able to accomplish. Hopefully, more than this blog.

Next week, I will finish this series and have a book review. Next month starts a new series on mothers. I’m not sure what direction I’m going with that. Have a great writing week.IMG_1597



Writing Wins and Woes: Spring Cleaning your Writing Life Part 2

Part Two of Spring Cleaning your Writing Life is about Listing. I clean for a living. I was talking to a co-worker about this and mentioned that everybody thinks that you love cleaning if you clean for a job. Not so. I hate cleaning. I only do the basics at home and I find it very unappealing. For one thing it never gets truly done. You clean something and it gets dirty right away again. You do dishes and someone makes another dish dirty. I find it frustrating because it is never finished, and I like to see things finished. In this way I like my cleaning job better because when I’m done with a room, it’s finished. I cleaned it. The bathrooms like bright and shiny and the desks are clean and the paper’s all picked up and nobody is going to mess it up again until the next time I work.

What I like about cleaning is organizing. I love to organize things. You’d never know it if you saw my house, but I live with a clutterer, so I have a pass. Part of organizing is making lists. I don’t know if you are a list maker. I make lists sometimes if I really want to accomplish things, but often lately I don’t find myself even having the spare time to make a list, but with writing, I think it is good sometimes to make a check list.

When I talk about a check list, I’m not talking about a bucket list. My bucket list has grandiose things on it, like publish a book, have my own book signing, etc etc. This is just a list to keep moving forward writing wise. My list for this week is four day increments. That’s because I’m working so much lately. One day a week I do two jobs. I can’t write that day and weekends I have to do all the stuff I don’t do during the week. Like grocery shop. Or fun things. Or like this weekend, help my daughter with moving stuff. My spring and summer is going to be busy. I’m transitioning to full time work, (probably) and I’m expecting a grandchild.  I’m very excited because my life is going to change. I’m also nervous because my life is going to change.

I digress. My four day list looks like this: Day One: Write a Daily Science Fiction worthy story. Day Two: Write more on my novel about eternal winter. Day Three: Write more on my novel about Heaven. Day Four: Edit and finish my One Life to Live story. I’m going to try to implement these lists into my writing life and see how it goes. I spoke about baby steps the last few weeks. Progress can be short and sweet as long as there is progress. 1606

Writing Wins and Woes: Spring Cleaning your Writing Life

This has been a fun week. Dripping sarcasm. Besides dealing with extra hours at work and doing twice as much work in those extra hours, I was sick. Saturday which was also the funeral day for my boss at work who unexpectedly died last week, was also the day that I got the flu. Although, I wrote Friday for the five minute challenge. I was down for the count all day Saturday after the funeral. Sunday I felt some better but still didn’t write and Monday I felt crummy again. Finally, Tuesday I wrote an article and Weds. I researched for another article. Thursday, I worked two jobs and didn’t write.  Today, I will write. I am writing here and will write some more, even if it is just journaling.

Besides this, I almost had a major melt down at work due to the added stress of having to do too much work with too little time. I kept it in check, though, and just told myself “Just shut up and do your job.” Things aren’t right, but there is nothing I can do about it. Being sick isn’t helping my attitude right now.

So, I thought I’d do a little series for the rest of April on Spring Cleaning your Writing Life. Spring Cleaning your closets is something some people do to get rid of stuff they haven’t worn in a while. I was thinking about this idea applied to writing of getting rid of the things that bog down your writing life. I’ve come up with a few purges that might help you if you’re struggling with writing.

  1. Do a Facebook cleansing. Some people are into cleansing. Cleaning out the body of toxic stuff, so they do a cleansing. I don’t do this but I know that I waste way too much time on Facebook. So to encourage your writing juices, stay off of Facebook for a set amount of time; say a week, or two or even a month. Apply that time to writing.
  2. Set a small goal for a limited amount of time. Last week I started this with the five minute challenge. But don’t beat yourself up if you fail a day or two. Things happen. Just jump back in the game the next day. Increase the challenge weekly. Keep yourself accountable.
  3. Lenten your life. Some people give up something for Lent. Even when it’s not Lent, give up something, then replace that something with writing. (This could be a t.v. show, a newspaper time, or even something that is not fun like cleaning. I’m always happy to give up cleaning something for a week. Nothing terrible will happen, trust me if you don’t clean for a week.)
  4. Reorganize a writing atmosphere. I was thinking about doing this. My writing area is normally the kitchen table which is full of clutter. Right now, it has napkins, salt and pepper, the coffeepot, my husband’s meds, my tea, etc. You get the picture. Make a nice, cozy spot to write in. Make it appealing. Put a scented candle there, some special pictures, inspirational words or whatever. Make it appealing. Half the battle of writing is making it attractive. My kitchen table is not attractive. It is cluttered, and it makes it distracting to write.
  5. Have accountability. I talked about this before. Melinda Moore has Spark Tally nearly every week where a writer can record how many words they write or what they write. Join in. Or find another buddy to fess up to; maybe another writer friend. Being consistent is important with writing. Once you get out of the habit, it’s hard to get back in. So, these are some tips for Spring Cleaning. Hope they’re helpful.0703151114

Writing Wins and Woes: The 5 Minute Challenge

Do you feel like your writing life is lagging? Inspiration is needed. I certainly do. I’ve decided to take the 5 minute challenge. If any of you have ever seen the movie, “What About Bob” you’ll understand what I mean when I say, Baby Steps. You can’t always take giant leaps of faith. It gets overwhelming and daunting and you give up. I know I do. So you start small. Baby Steps.

I had a lousy writing week. I had legitimate excuses. Due to a tragedy at work, I had to take on extra hours. I worked day shift one day, which is prime writing time. Then I worked every day this week. Excuses aside, everybody manages to make time for what they really want to do. I didn’t write.

So I am starting the 5 Minute Challenge. I’m going to write 5 minutes every day. It’s laughable, I know. What do I expect to accomplish in 5 minutes? I don’t know. I may write more than 5 minutes. I may not. I encourage any reader I have out there to take this challenge with me. Write anything. Write a poem. Write a letter. Write in a journal. Just write.

Next week I’ll let you know how I did and what I wrote. Then I’m going to add another challenge; maybe increase the time or something else. Whatever I do, I hope you’ll join with me and challenge yourself to write.

And please read my article, published today in Guardian Angel Kids on River Horses. What is a river horse? You’ll have to read the article to find out.