On Recognizing the Interim Rewards of Writing

My chapter revision tracking system, with special emphasis given to chapters 7, 15, 21, and 30 (formerly 31)

My chapter revision tracking system for draft 2, with special emphasis given to chapters 7, 15, 21, and 30 (formerly 31)

The ultimate reward of writing, obviously, is publishing a book and having it read to widespread appeal.

But long before reaching that point, should a writer reward the intermediate stages of his/her writing journey?

In the past, I’ve written not only about both the importance of goal-setting, but also of ensuring your goals have corresponding plans to power their fulfillment.

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Everybody Has a Favourite (Quote)

Just like chocolate, everyone has a favourite quote as well. (Image from the 2000 movie Chocolat.)

Just like chocolate, everyone has a favourite quotation as well. (Image from the movie Chocolat, 2000.)

Quotations, it can be argued, second only to cats, are the foundation of the internet.

For they are found everywhere online: in status updates; in tweets; as part of social media bios; within blog posts.  Sometimes an individual blog post will be nothing but a quotation.

I too enjoy a good quote.  Back in 2010, I did the 12-week self-help, self-directed artistic rediscovery course known as The Artist’s Way, which is the subject of screenwriter Julia Cameron’s book by the same name.

It took me 11 months to complete the program.

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Taking Over Me: On writing, obsession, and the search for artistic balance

Singer Amy Lee of the alternative rock/metal band Evanescence, from whose song the title for this week’s post is borrowed.  There’s something about the grammatical weirdness of the song’s name – the fact that, in ending with the subject “me”, it serves to emphasizes it – that really resonates with my experiences in this subject.

Amy Lee of the alt rock/metal band Evanescence, whose song I borrowed for the title of this post.

When a writer becomes utterly fixated on his/her WIP, is that a sign of artistic revelation or that s/he has become a less well-rounded person?

I’ve twice had it happen where writing has taken over my life, the first time being back in 2004 when I was writing my first (incomplete, shelved) novel, and the second in 2005 when I wrote the first volume of my two-volume historical fiction WIP.

In 2005 especially, I fully gave myself over to my writing.

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Living an Artist’s Life in a Workaday World

(A How-To)

A Distractions & Subtractions post for Dianne Gray

It’s hard to know whether there’s been an era more detrimental to living the life of an artist than the current one.

The temptation is certainly strong to say there hasn’t been – that the Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, the Renaissance (wo)men, the Elizabethans, and the Romantics with their sculpture and architecture, their mosaics and genre scenes, their busts and paintings, their music, literature and frescos, their theatre, and their landscape-focused writing, painting, and composing that seem to burst from the pages of history texts all revered their artists.

Maybe they did.

But perhaps their artists suffered the historical equivalent to what many artists face today – that is to say, a stifling daily grind of the working world with all its attendant hassles that is the sworn enemy of creativity.

There’s the commuting, the budgets, deadlines, overtime, stagnation, trying to do more with less, spending more hours a week at work than not at work, and the constant competition for more, better, and now that exemplifies a consumer-based economy.

All of these practicalities of life leave the modern artistically-inclined especially feeling drained, de-animated, and deprived of the space, reflection, and deliberation required to let loose their imaginations and give their creative musings a tangible form.

Such is no different for national/international award winning Australian author Dianne Gray, whose writing subtraction speaks wholly to this artist/workaday dichotomy many of us struggle to reconcile.

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My Writing Journey – finale

Continued from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4:

England’s Parliament building and Big Ben shot from the London Eye, in the rain (Photo: J. Noelle).

I told myself it would be best to take a short break from writing – just until I’d had a chance to settle into my new job and home, and establish myself socially.

That “break” lasted six years.

They say that love is blind.  I’d like to submit my own saying: love can make you stop writing.  Especially when it is unrequited love.  For my time away from writing my novel did indeed involve unrequited love, as well as obsession of an entirely different sort, rivalry, a joking/not joking threat of getting shoved off a boardwalk, and is practically a novel in its own right.

I’m not going to discuss it in any detail, for though it was a significant experience in my life that would go on to shape many things to come and perhaps even still does, it’s not a part of my “story” that I wish to continue living and carrying around with me.

I will concede that it was a time that allowed me to develop other interests, skills, and facets of my personality.  Yet my pursuit of all that stuff (not to mention “the guy”) was no less balanced than when I was deep in the throes of Obsessive Writer’s Disorder – writing nonstop during meals and when I should have been sleeping.

All that’s in the past.

This is the future.

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Writing for Prime Time

Two weeks ago, I was sick.

This, for me, is a rare occurrence.  I take my health, fitness, and diet very seriously, and am also just naturally blessed with an ironclad constitution.

As a result, the minor aches, coughs, and sniffles that many people suffer every other month do not afflict me.  I don’t even really get monthly menstrual cramps.

What I do get is one major illness every year to year-and-a-half that takes me down for about a week despite my prideful efforts to fight it.

That’s what this recent illness was: it started off as a sore throat, quickly progressed to a hacking cough, and before I could say, “I’m fine,” I had a full-blown head cold complete with cement-filled sinuses, pounding temples, aching neck, shoulders, back and abs from coughing, throat scratched raw from the same, tiredness, weakness, and about as much air capacity in my lungs as if I were breathing through a straw, particularly when trying to lie in bed.

I was not fine.

And the thing that hurt the most was my ego in having to admit to my malady.

It was a low moment.  So low, in fact, my body became a metaphor for my mental state: bypassing my bed entirely, I spread a blanket on my living room floor, brought my laptop down with me, and searched for something to watch on YouTube to distract me from my misery.

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The First Rule of Engagement, or “How Routine Can Work Wonders for Artists”

You didn’t think The Rules of Engagement was just a name I gave this blog to make it sound kickass, did you?

Anyone who knows me (which, admittedly, not many do yet by way of this blog, but perhaps, in time, that will change) knows that I love rules.  Seriously.  Someone actually accused me once of taking the proverbial “rule book” to bed with me at night.  It’s hardly something I can deny; I did already out myself on my “About” tab as being fairly left-brained, rational, and rigid, and to quote (or misquote) Popeye, “I am what I am”.  But my love of rules is not because I lack sufficient imagination or ability to think for myself, but rather, I find that when the structure and consistency that rules promote is in place, creativity and imagination are able to flourish.

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