Tag Archives: expression

#MondayBlogs Replenishing Your Reserves by Journaling

12 Oct

Intro:

I journal. In fact, I’ve written in my journal/s almost every day since I was seventeen or so, and I found some of my closest blogger friends on OpenDiary.com, back when I wrote in a journal online. I find writing in a journal to be freeing as well as important. So, when author B. Lynn Goodwin asked to write an article about the effects of journaling, I jumped at the opportunity. How about you? Do you journal? What do you think about journaling? Let’s welcome B. Lynn Goodwin today.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Replenishing Your Reserves by Journaling by B. Lynn Goodwin

Has life evolved to a place where everybody else’s needs come first? Do resentments expand like a swollen spring river? It’s a familiar predicament, and you are not alone.

When I was my mother’s caregiver, I often needed to put my personal needs on hold. I drowned my resentments in comfort foods. Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies were a favorite. I’d pull one after another out of the box and stuff them in my mouth mindlessly as I drove to the pharmacy or the post office or even the grocery store.

I got back in touch with my physical needs, as well as my mental, emotional, and spiritual ones, through my journal. In there, I could vent, delve into issues, and untangle messes. My journal allowed me to finish a thought without interruption. It encouraged me to analyze, celebrate, and find the hope that had become elusive. After I processed my own issues, I had the energy and good will to reach out again.

Often I would start with one of these three simple sentence starters:

  • Today I feel…
  • Today I believe…
  • Today I want….

Any response was right, as long as it came from the heart.

Picture 1Here are three responses to “Today I feel…” :

Today I feel poverty stricken. I hate having no income. The money you give me doesn’t count. It feels like an unearned gift. I want to earn my own money, detached from you. I want to feel productive and independent. I don’t want to feel like a nine-year-old doing chores for an allowance.

Selfish? Maybe, but when do I get to do what I want to do? Don’t get me wrong. I love you. I know you need me, even when you toss your head and say, “I can do it myself.” But when do I get to leave the stale odors and draining drivel of this place and do what I want to do?

Today I feel sad. You didn’t want your breakfast. You didn’t want to talk. Neither do I. I want to stare at the dust motes floating in the sunshine that’s streaming through the screen door. So mindless. Like me. If I were a dust mote, I’d have no hands or feet or responsibilities.

Today I feel hopeful because Kristi is coming in while I go shopping and I’ll have an extra hour. I’ve been e-mailing this really nice sixty-year-old divorced man on Craigslist, and today we’re going to meet for coffee at Starbucks. I have a coffee date and I feel like a teenager sneaking away to meet some hottie.

How would you respond? Try it right now.

Journaling releases mental toxins and deepens awareness. It helps the strong, sane, safe, healthy, hopeful parts of you emerge. Do not underestimate its power.

I’d love to hear how you finished “Today I feel…”

Bio:

Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers and Talent, which is coming out this year. She’s the owner of Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in November, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday: Expression

20 Dec

Quick Introduction: 

A short explanation before today’s post is read: This is my first #SATurday post. In these posts, I hope to share more of my personality and life with you all as well as engage in topics ranging from psychology to experiences to thoughts on life in general. Since writing and reading is such a large part of my life, it is most likely they will be brought up often – as you’re about to see below – but my intent is, honestly, your intent. Take these posts however you will and respond about any part. Unlike my previous posts, there isn’t necessarily going to be one message. Think of these posts as streams of consciousness. Hopefully, they’ll open the curtain to a more personal side of my life and your life. Most of all, let’s have fun with it! …

#SATurday: Expression

I don’t necessarily want this to be my first post. In fact, I’ve already begun the one I originally intended to share. It was more positive, less greedy, but also leaning on the creepy side. That’s all I’ll say about it for now. This one is much more punctual (and appropriate) but punctual suits it better since it is much easier to write. The words – in other words – are right on time.

Time is a tricky substance of writing. A novel that required one week to read demanded one year to write, and the story itself spanned over years. Words, in that sense, create time (or, at least, outline the foundation of time.) Without writing – whether it sketches out pictures or letters – we would have less history. Of course there is always oral history, but if you’ve ever played telephone, we all know how that turns out. “I like my cat” turns into “I’ll lick Michael.” And poor Michael gets picked on by the class for the rest of the week. If the class had been playing pass the note instead, the outcome would’ve been very different. Hopefully.

Writing has allowed us to solidify the story, the legend, the fable, perhaps even the greatest truths and lies we’ll never surely know. Maybe overanalyzing it is where the art of mystery is born – and overtime, the genre. So many genres. Uncountable amounts. And we’re still adding. For instance, I tried to explain what NA, a.k.a. “New Adult”, was to a friend of mine. Despite being a reader of that exact genre, she didn’t really understand – probably at a fault of my own. I can be rather wordy, a bit overzealous, a little too passionate, but mostly disorganized in my thought process. This disorganization is one of the reasons I write. Slowing down allows me to collect the chaotic conspiracies and theories and misspellings before I explain them in a relatable way. (Or not relatable. That happens, too.) Sometimes, it feels nice to be misunderstood.

Expression is a tricky thing. Being in a comic book helps.

Expression is a tricky thing. Being in a comic book helps.

When I think of my friend’s confusion, I find comfort in it. Her focus wasn’t on the genre. It was on the story. She could not have cared less if it were YA, NA, or Adult. She only loved the words – not the marketing plays my author life succumbed to along the way – and the reminder was a gentle one. Her confusion reminded me of my own story – a history where a love for stories existed before a love for genres before a love for writing – and her silence brought me back to that moment. It was in that instance that I realized we have more than a few ways to tell stories. It isn’t only found in pictures or words or textbooks. Stories are found all around us – threaded into our expressions, mashed by our stances, and even placed in a place not searched in often – in our silence. Maybe that’s why authors always litter stories with words like smiled, nodded, shrugged, and sighed. Emotions have paved the way to expression even before we could understand words at all.

~SAT on #SATurday

Why Genre Hopping is your best friend

27 May

Shannon, here, to announce our last guest blogger. That’s right. Our last. I will be back on May 29, but today is a wonderful day, because Ryan Attard – author of The Legacy Series – is sharing his thoughts on genre hopping, something we both feel very passionately about. Ryan has blogged on here before, so you might be familiar with him, but if you’re not, check out his website and podcast by clicking the links.

This is one of those subjects that gets a bad rep just for daring to go against the dogma, as established by . . . who knows who, and who knows where. Personally, I dislike rules and constraints of any sort – the reason I am an artist is because I wish to express myself in a free manner, and trying to limit art in any way shape or form makes that very difficult. After all most of what we consider rules are nothing more than guidelines that we misunderstood or took too literally.

Case in point is genre-hopping. For most old school authors this is a cardinal sin punishable by artistic death. I fail to see why. From a technical stand point it does make a shred of sense: if you’re just starting out and try writing fifteen different genres at one go your head will implode to the size of a jelly bean. Most likely you’ll end up with fifteen really good idea that are always ‘almost done’.

However I am addressing serious writers, ones who make a commitment (be it themselves or a slave driver – I mean, publisher) to finish their project. If you are that kind of writer then you and I have much to discuss. Genre hopping is your friend, but unlike marketing (who’s the jackass in the corner with the corny jokes) or editing (that anal guy who’s always correcting other), this guy is more like that erratic insane friend whom everyone keeps their distance from until you try engaging with him. And here’s why you should engage with this dude:

Anyone here ever get writer’s block? If your answer is yes, then join the club. Writer’s block is nothing more than your brain going “TAKE A FREAKIN’ BREAK, MAN!”

And how do you take breaks? You do something else, of course. See where I’m going with this? No?

Writing in multiple genres (let’s say 2 or 3, for kitten’s sakes; don’t overcompensate) means that when you get tired of writing, say, your urban fantasy novel, you can always go to your adventure thriller. You are still writing, so you are still productive – you’re just shifting focus. By way of an example I am going to use myself (and shamelessly plug myself in the process). When I was writing Birthright (coming to you in a few months) I was also writing Book 1 of the Pandora Chronicles (coming to you whenever my publisher decides to get a move on). If you’re of a similar mindset as myself, then you’ll easily get bored of the same old, same old. So switch it up – write something else.

And guess what? By the end of it all you won’t have ONE book but TWO. (That’s twice the fans and twice the money just in case you can’t get a hint.)

Now let’s talk marketing. Yeah, I said it: Marketing.

Don’t be afraid of it – it only looks evil. In reality marketing is what puts that story that you worked so hard for in your reader’s hands.

I’m going to get a little technical but stay with me. There are two types of growth in a business: vertical and horizontal.

Vertical growth is when you grow within a level – sort of like building an apartment complex. You get one apartment on top of the other. Horizontal growth is when you build the same ground floor but in different areas.

Let’s translate this into writing markets. Authors usually pick one market and write for that, i.e. JK Rowling is very famous on the fantasy genre for writing the Harry Potter series. That’s a perfect example of vertical growth.

It’s also the easiest in terms of branding. Think about it; it’s easy to establish yourself in one market if you are dedicating all your efforts to that one market. So you get Rowling with fantasy, Keri Arthur with fantasy romance, Rick Riodan with YA mythology-based urban fantasy and Clive Cussler with adventure thrillers. You genre becomes your branding and once this happens it’s nearly impossible to shift to another genre. How many of you can tell me the name of Rowling’s new book? I bet you had to look it up.

For most established (and old-school) writers, genre hopping after you’ve established yourself in a particular market is suicide. It’s like having HP Lovecraft write a historical romance about daisy-picking: that just won’t do (not unless something with teeth and tentacles was involved).

bdedebgfSo does this mean that horizontal growth is better? Not in the least. But it can be smarter if done at the right place, at the right time. Let’s take Jim Butcher as an example. Jim had just begun making a name for himself in the Urban Fantasy market when he released his epic-ish fantasy series. And in recent years, he also released a steampunk series. So why wasn’t the community in uproar? Because he timed it well. He established himself as a multi-genre author whilst growing vertically in his main market, allowing him to expand in multiple genres (markets) at the same time.

One of my favourite podcasts to listen to is the Self-Publishing Podcast. The three hosts, Sean Platt, Johnny B Truant and David Wright, are in full favour of genre-hopping and horizontal growth. According to them (and I fully agree) it wiser to build horizontally and then grow vertically rather than the other way round. To prove their point, they have multiple serials in multiple genres, and only in the past two years have they fully built each and every one of them. Now their library of titles is well over a dozen and that’s what you want as an author.

The idea of a one-hit wonder is not a viable career option. Writing professionally is a hard job: one that requires constant work at improvement and getting more titles out there.

Once again you have to be smart with genre-hopping. Writing in 4 different markets is not the best of ideas. Start with one, and then expand to an adjacent market. That way you get overlap value.

Let’s say you wrote a book for market 1 and later on wrote another book for market 2. When you decide to write another book for market 1, you won’t only get people from that market but also a few from market 2 who are just curious about your work. Those are your true fans.

In my opinion this is one of the best strategies you can use to sustain a long term career. Sure it’ll take you five years instead of two to fully stabilize your roots, but once you do, it’ll be very hard for you not to make it. If you’re concerned with name branding, just use a pen name of an abbreviation like Johanna Penn does. Same author, different pen name, different market; problem solved.

The worst thing that can happen to an established author is to finish their series and then sit on their ass twirling their thumbs. However, when you’ve spread your roots on a wide area, you can always wrap something up and move on to the next project.

After all a writer writes – period. Genre, word count, language – these are all frosting to a cake. So if it doesn’t matter, why bother with it? You’re a writer and an artist. Write what you want to write, in whichever way you want to write it, and power to ya, baby.

– Ryan Attard

The Artist’s Guilt

6 Nov

Win a signed copy of Minutes Before Sunset today

Most people would agree that art is very significant to a culture, especially the older the art lasts. Ironically, those same people might belittle the “starving artists” or any artist for many reasons (the main one generally surrounds an income.) But, even more importantly, artists often belittle themselves, and that’s what I wanted to talk about today: the guilt associated with being an artist.

Granted, I am a writer. I cannot draw. I definitely can’t sing. And dancing might result in a broken limb. So why am I talking about artists like we’re all the same? Because all types of art are a form of expression. With a definition as simple as this, it’s hard to remember why we–as artists–might feel guilty. There’s nothing wrong with expression, right? As long as it’s not violent to others or to the artists, I would say there shouldn’t be any guilt in expressing something, but, to be quite frank, society just doesn’t function on expression.

There are basic necessities needed for survival. There are loved one who need attention. There are bills to be paid. And then there is expression. ( Take the order however you want to take it. )

Because of this, I believe the artist’s guilt comes down to two different categories: (Since I’m a writer, I will be using writers as examples.)

1. The art is conflicting with every day life: it either prohibits life’s needs or life’s needs prohibit the art.

I see this mainly with money. It’s a necessity to life. We buy groceries, see the doctor, and get clothes with money. But it’s hard to make enough money with art, and it’s difficult to pursue art while working a full-time job. Beyond that, we see a time guilt as well. This happen a lot with parents. Mothers and fathers take care of their children first which often takes time away from writing. (This is not to say this is a bad thing, of course.) But I also see it happen with students, who feel guilty about writing instead of studying or studying instead of writing.

2. The art is unsatisfactory to the artist: that can rely on the final piece or how people react to the piece.

I think many artists feel guilty for all of the time they spent on a project if it doesn’t satisfy the viewer or if they failed to meet their own expectations. But my biggest guilt hits me when I realize some of the topics I write about are truly traumatizing to people, and I’m afraid I might offend, hurt, and/or misrepresent those very people. Honestly, I’ve seen reviews of readers saying an author was disrespectful to a topic, and I found myself wondering how a reader could assume the author hadn’t gone through it themselves and that the author was actually being honest rather than disrespectful? It’s hard to say. But I think this guilt–whether it be a reaction from the artist or the viewer–happens a lot.

So what can we do to cope with this artist’s guilt?

A good cuddle session with Bogart also helps with the guilt :]

A good cuddle session with Bogart also helps with the guilt :]

Like everyone else, I have responsibilities: school, work, relationships, etc. But writing is a must for me. My emotional and mental, if not physical, health depends on my ability to express myself. Even if it’s for five minutes, I need it. But that’s not to say I don’t feel guilty when I spend an entire night writing instead of seeing a friend or running errands that I should’ve done last week. I do. And I definitely have anxiety over a reader feeling I’ve misrepresented a group of people. But these two worries are overcome by one fact: Writing brings me happiness. It completes me. No matter how much guilt I feel, I am quickly reminded by how much happiness I feel following my dream, knowing that expressing myself through art will allow me to be the best person that I can be. 

Basically, I think it’s vital for artists to remind themselves why they became artists in the first place and what/why art brings them happiness. We can also remind ourselves that we are definitely not alone in this.

To prove this, you can look at my Facebook Author Page where I asked, “Do you have any guilt associated with being a writer?” And here were two fantastic answers: 

Patrick Dixon: (Insomnia, Nightmares, and General Madness)

“I tend to suffer from an overabundance of guilt in general, but two kinds directly relating to writing are pretty common for me:

First, that I don’t do it enough or well enough, so the concept of even calling myself a “writer” feels like a bad joke. This has been especially common in the last couple of months since personal, financial and health problems have kept me away from the keyboard for far longer than they should have. There isn’t really a cure for this other than just sitting down and writing, but that has a way of making it’s own guilt complex (“What am I ignoring to do this, which is actually just a hobby or a joke or a waste of time, hmmm?”)

Second, similarly to you, that what I write will offend, irritate or otherwise alienate readers, especially those sensitive to the source material. One of my novels deals heavily with a suicidally depressed (and possibly schizophrenic or otherwise delusional) individual and ends… well. Quite poorly for him, we’ll say. I’ve received several angry comments, claiming that I don’t know what it’s like (and, actually, given a background of abuse and mental and physical health issues, that’s kind of where most of it came from…) and some that claim it’s essentially an endorsement for erratic and suicidal behavior (when I was trying to write it out of my system, not “infect” others with it.) Again, there isn’t much you can do except stand by your work; you wrote it, the “truth” as you knew it, and it’s bound to upset somebody… but it’s also likely that there’s just as many somebodies who found something useful in it.”

Josephine Jones Harwood: Romance Writer

“This is an excellent question and topic, Shannon. I just read this post and I hope I’m not too late to make a comment: As a first-time author there has been a transition that has occurred in my life. Writing is no longer a hobby like putting a puzzle together for relaxation. I feel a true passion and need to write and keep on writing…and this is when the guilt settles in like a stone in the pit of my stomach. I am a wife, a mother, and I am also a family caregiver. Writing must take a backseat to obligations and responsibilities. I have no regrets, and I have a very blessed life. I truly appreciate the quiet moments when it is my time to write…but this is always accompanied by guilt…because it is “my” time.”

So do have any guilt associated with being a writer? Or being any kind of artist? 

Comment below and share your story!

~SAT

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