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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."

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So, it’s a New Year and a New Start…..

…..where the dust of the last three hundred and sixty-five days can be shaken off and the next three hundred and sixty-five days have yet to be written.  I often find some kind of inspiring quotes and themes to use as a springboard for what’s to come.

Last night, I found this particular theme floating around.  I rather liked the challenge it presented, because, 1.) who doesn’t have a book lying around; 2.) sometimes there is a truth to be found; and 3.) it’s actually kind of fun and silly.

So I found the nearest book at hand (literally, not even a foot from me) and opened it to the named page.

“So say it.”

At first, I thought it was just a throwaway sentence in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, that nothing important to be found in just three words. I was tempted to slide past it to the third sentence, which also rang true and which I do anyway. [1]

But the more I looked at those three words, the more I realized what power they had in their simplicity.  People often dismiss simplicity as unimportant. But I’ve found that simplicity can be the most potent magic ever devised.  ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ are simple words and yet, they can open doors you never imagined were there.

“So say it.”

Speak your truth.  That’s what those words, in their utter simplicity, are charging me with for the year 2019.  This is not a new charge – in fact, speaking my truth had been a huge part of 2018 and the changes it wrought had a major impact in many positive ways.  So, I’m interpreting this as a sign that I’m on the right path, that by continuing to speak my truth, the way will become clearer.

So.  Grab the book nearest you and open it to page 119.  Find the second sentence.  Use that as your challenge and task for 2019.

You’ve got this.

 

[1]  If you want to know that third sentence I was tempted to use, find a hard back copy of Big Magic and turn to page 119. Those who know me will recognize its truth and that I live it every day.

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So, I’ve been thinking a lot about chances…..

…….and its cousins, opportunities and risks.

We go through life making choices that present us with one or all three.  It’s up to us to decide whether or not the outcome is worth it.

There’s a lot of fear that goes into making that choice and that’s okay.  Fear of the unknown is what helps us be alert to red flags or, in extreme situations, keep us from harm.  And fear is a good survival instinct.  It lets us know that maybe there’s a situation out there that’s too much or too dangerous for us to handle.

But you can’t let fear be the ruling factor in your life.  Stopping before you even start or because of thoughts of failing is fear.  You can’t let the possible negative outcomes determine your choices.

If you have a dream to write a novel, go write it.  Don’t let your real-life responsibilities slide, but do make the time to write every day, even if it’s 20 minutes.  Set a time and just do it.  Same thing goes for any other creative form.  Or if you want to add to your skill set in your field, if it’s medicine or law or cooking.  Add to those skills.  Make the time.

You have a dream.  Accept that there’s fear in making that first step and push through it.  There will be failures and false starts and rejection and obstacles.  Stick with it.  The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.

So, my little challenge in January…….

…….of writing a post every day, proved to be a valuable exercise.  I’m writing more, I’m feeling energized about it and I look forward to it (sometimes).  I’ve always been chewing over ideas and plots and writing them down in my journal, but now I’m looking for the bigger picture that’s framing the story.

All writing is good – whether it’s jotting down notes for your character or plot or shaping a poem out of a couple of key images, you’re working the writing muscle.  My challenge in January was like an exercise regimen, shaping and refining the muscle that was beginning to lose some of its shape.  I’ve still got some work to do, but I’m encouraged.

Like in my tap dance lessons, I’m gaining confidence.  Keep writing, keep doing your creative and artistic thing, make that muscle strong.

So, I’m excited about my Patreon page……

…….and what I have planned there.  A lot of thinking went on behind it, long before I even really understood what Patreon was about.  And the more I learned about it, the more I observed on other pages, the more I realized that this could work for me.

A little over a year ago, I decided that I wanted to write a column, so I contacted a local on-line zine.  They were eager to have me on-board……with one catch.  It was not a paid position.  Still, I was more interested in the process as a challenge than anything else, so I let that slide.  Then, of course, I started seeing stories about writers not getting paid for their work, whether it’s from small publishing houses or Pulitzer prize winning newspapers.

And that got me to re-think the column I was writing.

No one sees the work I put into my writing, except my cat and he’s usually asleep.  If I’m going to write for free, then I’m going to write for myself.  I actually turned down offers of having a by-line from another global news site because they don’t offer compensation, other than ‘exposure to a wider audience’.

If people want my stories, then I need to be paid for the work that went into them.

I know my worth.  Know yours.  Whatever your passion is, whatever you’re creative and artistic form is, know that you deserve to be paid for your time and effort.  Granted, if it’s a volunteer situation, such as community or college theater, that’s one thing.  But don’t ever sign onto a job that expects you to work for free.

You deserve more and better.

And so do I.

So, if you’d like to view my Patreon site, you can follow this link.  I am excited to see how this site develops.  🙂

So, I’m developing a Patreon page…..

……which will feature my creative work. Meaning, excerpts from my stories will be found on my Patreon page.

In fact, I’m working on a serial novel, where the readers will be given a determined number of choices (four) and whichever choice has the most votes, will be the next chapter.

Whether that will end up as an actual, hand-held paperback, I’m not entirely sure yet. I’m inclined to think that it will depend on the number of chapters this experiment will inspire and if it will even see a satisfactory conclusion.

There will be some other posts, as well, but I’m excited to see how this will work out. I love writing, I love seeing how people respond to what I write.

And now it’s time to make my words pay for themselves. When I’ve got it set up and running, with some posts behind it and the beginnings of the serial novel, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, keep writing, keep singing, keep dancing, keep drawing, keep being creative.

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So, I neglected to write a blog post yesterday……

…….breaking my resolution (of sorts) to post one a day. I won’t bore you with the details on why it didn’t happen yesterday, but to make it up to you, for today, I’ll post two.

This exercise of writing a post per day has been a challenge (which is partly why I chose to do it), but it’s also been fun. And because I’ve gotten back into the habit of writing something – anything – every day, I’ve been able to go back to my novel and continue editing, revising and re-writing it.

The observation that writing (like any other creative outlet or sport or subject) can only be improved by practicing every day is not lost on me. I’m exercising that muscle, which has been dormant for several months now. Because the topics I chose to write about were random and, for the most part, not planned, I was able to shape my thoughts, provide links where needed and get out what I wanted to say (and, hopefully, with an ironic twist of humor).

A few years ago, a book called The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron came out. One of the exercises she recommended doing was to write three pages, every morning. It didn’t matter what you put down – the exercise itself was about using your stream of consciousness and writing down whatever pops into your mind.

I suppose my blog resolution is sort of like that. And I’m one day away from really making this a habit. I may scramble, wrack my brain for ideas and get it in under the wire, but this has been an experience that has lifted my creative block and I’m going to continue doing it.

Some posts will be long, some will require research, some will be about questions of an ethical and philosophical turn.

It’s gonna get interesting.

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So, this would be the third post…..

……that I’ve been working on under the wire. Depending on how tomorrow works out, there may be another under-the-wire post.
It would appear I didn’t quite plan this out well. Still, I’m putting in the time and committing to getting it out there, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself.

The upside is that I think this exercise of writing a blog post every day had been beneficial to my other writing. I’ve edited a total of six chapters on my novel, which is great. I’ve got two more to go on the original notes, then I need to go back with the new notes and revise again to get it smoother, more active.

I’m feeling more energized about writing than I have been in a long while.

There’s hope.

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So, I’m finding this ‘blog post a day’ challenge……

……..er, challenging, to say the least. Not from a lack of ideas, but from a plethora of them, some requiring more attention than others. Which means I’ve got at least three or four posts that I’m working on, fleshing out, trying to fully realize what I’m writing about before I release them into the world.

It ain’t easy.

The initial excitement is starting to wear off and the reality of maintaining it is starting to set in, but I am starting to find a little joy in meeting my daily goal. It’s only day 7 and I have another twenty-four days before this becomes a new, established habit. Par for the course, I find that I’m questioning myself, my self-discipline, my own ability to keep this goal.

Then I remind myself.

I don’t make promises I’m not sure I can keep, either to friends or family.

I should hold that standard for myself.

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So, part of my goals for 2017……

…….is to write one blog post per day, with a minimum of five per week. In a previous post about this subject, I’d indicated that I wasn’t counting the first week, as I was considering it more of a dry run. After some thinking and mulling over, I’m going to alter that thought.

It takes anywhere from 21 to 30 days to create a new habit. The best way to start is to go small – remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This makes the new habit easier to keep and when you’ve succeeded at establishing and keeping that new habit, you can build on it. Whether it’s becoming more physically active or learning a new language or even cutting out or reducing certain elements from your diet, taking small steps is better than not taking any at all.

To that end, my goal is to develop a habit of writing a blog post every day. It could be long, it could be short. Topics could range from something I’d been thinking about for years or just stumbled upon that day. Historical or current, books or films – if something about the subject resonates or is off-putting, I will find a way to put it down in words.

Hopefully, this will be helpful to you, that you find something in what I write inspiring or amusing or motivating. This is my opinion only, but artists of all backgrounds and disciplines want us to experience their work, be affected by it and come away with a new thought.

That can only happen if the artist puts in the time and effort to better themselves at their chose craft.

My decision to write a blog post every day is part of my effort in that discipline. This post is the seventh one I’ve written since January 1st. I suppose, technically, I could take a couple days off and still meet my quota, but that’s not how to create a new habit.

So – my goal is one post every day, no weekly minimum. There may be more than one per day, which is just fine with me.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t start on the first day of the year. The important thing is to find a goal you want to make for yourself, pick a date and start. Hold yourself accountable, find a support group, remind yourself why you are doing this and go for it.

You can do it. I believe in you.

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Recommended*:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

*To be updated as I find more relevant suggestions. JJB

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