Stop Bringing Me Down!

You know the type. The melancholy girl, the persecuted guy. That one person you know who spreads their own brand of misery wherever they go. Maybe you’re unlucky enough to have several of them in your life.

There are a few for me, and each one is unique, and I have to handle them differently. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting and potentially detrimental to me. What does that even mean?

Let me give you one of my examples. One of the biggest downers in my life, we’ll call her Sarah, has affected me in ways I am only now realizing. Between her negativity and ‘poor me’ attitude, she tapped into my overly developed empathy and brought me so low I’m not sure how to pull myself back out of the hole she dug for me.

I’ve barely written in months. For some reason, every time I sat down to work doubts, fears, and sadness overwhelmed me to the point of immobility. I stared at my pen or screen and did…nothing. Why should I? It was going to suck anyway. Why bother to try when I would fail in the end. Why move that pen when only junk would come out of it.

WHAT THE BLOODY HELL? That wasn’t me talking! Well, it was the old me, but not the me who wrote steadily for many years now. Nor the me who overcame those fears long ago. So who was it?

Sarah. Poor sad, despondent Sarah. The woman who enjoys living in her hell and spreads her misery in all directions. We all have some degree of empathy. For me, it’s so stupidly strong that I will start actually to feel the intense emotions of those around me. It sucks. I don’t see Sarah all that often, but it’s enough that her wretched aura got to me. For months.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming everything on the girl. I’m fully capable of screwing myself over with writing. However, in this case, she shares some of the blame. The truth is, she’s brought down my entire writing group. All of us have been down for months. Empathy is real people, and we have little control over it. She doesn’t mean to bring those around her down, but damn, she’s good at it. Just like I don’t intend to let it get to me.

Ironically, she complains when others do it to her. She once told a group I was in that she hates people exactly like her. HA!

Anyway, what can one do to guard against someone else affecting you in this way? Wish I knew. I do have some guesses though, things I will try to put into action.

Avoid the source of misery. Sometimes this is mostly impossible. What if it’s a close friend or family member? Unless you live with the person, you can limit the time you spend with them. No matter how you feel about someone, if they are toxic, you need to get away at least some of the time.

Tell them. Okay, this one is hard, and I won’t be doing this. It will only add to her problems. Guilt won’t change her anyway.

Encourage them. This won’t work. Not if they don’t want it to. Some people are content being down. It can be a comfortable alternative to effort and accountability. Still, if they are in your life, you probably care about them, and your good will might mean a lot. Besides, empathy works both ways. Maybe your positivity will fight against their opposing attitude.

Recognize what is happening and do whatever you can to counter it. Now that I know that part of my issue is others bringing me down I can tell my negative feelings to suck it! When I say to myself that writing is a waste of time because I’ll fail, I can remind myself those are not MY words. That aspect of myself is small and tied down. I’ll always have doubts, but they will not cripple me the way they did in the past.

Share your story. I’m well past some of the bad feelings I’ve picked up from others, but they are Not. So I can tell them what I went through and how I overcame these things. It may or may not help them, but at least the effort is there on my part.

If all else fails (in my case), use ear buds. Doesn’t make sense, right? Empathy is about feeling what others are feeling. However, loud music and putting my head down to write can distract me from what is being said and felt. Something is better than nothing when the misery in the air is loud.

What a rant! I’m not as angry as this sounds. I’m simply drained and tired of it all.

As much as I’ve been affected by some others in my life, what I choose to do is my responsibility. Like I said before, not every writing difficulty is 100% Sarah’s fault. But it’s important to acknowledge the effect she’s had on me. I advise you to do the same with the people in your life who did the same to you. If you don’t realize what’s happening, you can’t take steps.

Don’t feel guilty for not wanting to be brought down. Know it’s not your responsibility to fix someone, whether they want to be fixed or not. All you can control is you. I’m choosing to do something about the situation. I have enough roadblocks in my life as it is. I don’t need this one.

File it under self-care and convince yourself that taking care of you is the most important thing.

Merry Birthday (Almost) to a Hypocrite!

My birthday is next week and I need to tell you being a December baby sucks! Well, it did when I cared about presents. Now it’s no big deal. If you were born in the last month of the year you know what I’m talking about. Birthday/Christmas combo presents, UGH!

Now to be fair, most parents who combine birthday and Christmas presents have every intention of it being a larger gift, to equal what they would have spent on the two separate occasions. It doesn’t always work out but the effort is there. Other family members though? Forget about it. To the others like me out there, how many times has your uncle or aunt, maybe grandparent bought you a combo gift that was maybe a few bucks more than your non December born siblings’ birthday gift and then they still give them a good Christmas gift for them? The numbers rarely add up to the same amount. And we all know how important it is that there is equality between siblings.

I don’t know if people mean to undercut Christmas kids or if it’s because they’ve already spent so much on gifts for so many people at once, but us December babies always feel the injustice keenly. It doesn’t help when our brothers, sisters, or cousins snicker and gloat over it either.

These days I’m lucky, I don’t care about Christmas presents too much. Don’t get me wrong, gifts are great but at this time of year I’m more interested in spending time with my family then getting stuff. If there is something I really want I will get it myself.

I am a sucker for birthday cards though. For me I think it’s about the thought behind the gift or card rather than the value that matters. I hope someday my kids feel the same. Right now if I were to spend two dollars more on one of them, the rest would have a fit. We bought the youngest a new phone for her birthday in September and I’m waiting for the reminders to start rolling in.

So, what’s the point of all this? If you know someone who has a birthday near Christmas don’t give them combo gifts, ever. Unless they grumble about it. If they complain they can suffer the consequences because that’s against Christmas baby code to actually complain to a gift giver . Therefore I’m complaining for all.

That said, Justin, if you read this, I really want to sign up for that class. What a great Birthday/Christmas gift idea. right?

Adopt A Story Part?

I came across a section in the Nanowrimo forums titled Adoption Society. Under this category were many adoptable story parts. It’s meant to help writers who need some inspiration or ideas. It had everything from Adopt An Opening Line to Adopt An Antagonist. There were threads for plots, setting, creatures, back story, dying words, magic systems, titles, names, characteristics, etc.

What I’m wondering is would you find them helpful? There are several different ways to see this:

  • Are these threads simply prompts or would you feel like you’re stealing an idea?
  • Can they inspire or would it be restricting?
  • If you wrote a great story using one would you be thankful or feel guilty?
  • Would you prefer the entries to be detailed or vague?

For me it depends. If the adoptable part isn’t very detailed than it’s exactly like looking up writing prompts. If it’s very detailed then not only is it just somebody’s rejected idea but it would restrict me too much to work with. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like prompts requiring you use specific words and I see the elaborate ones the same way.

I definitely think reading these concepts can inspire new ideas. It’s the same as coming up with story parts based on something you’re watching or reading. Some don’t do a thing for me. One of the threads is: Adopt A Character. One person posted a name, gender and age. I can do that myself. Another listed name, gender, ethnicity, detailed description, personality, and background. That’s a bit much, practically the entire story handed to you. I want to make my own characters not take up someone else’s abandoned ones.

Some of these story ideas are funny. For example: The hairpocalypse started when Cyrus Riley choked on his own beard. It goes on to say mustaches have subjugated all human hair follicles and the world is about to have one BAD hair day. I’m not going to write this story but someone should!

Plots are probably the most likely to spur new ideas for me, assuming they aren’t too precise. Maybe an adoptable first line could get me started, as long as I don’t feel compelled to actually keep the line, only the thoughts it provokes. As I’m scrolling through I’ll ignore the long ones and scan quickly, maybe something will catch my eye. What do you all think?

If you want to see for yourself, click here: Adoption Society. If you decide to check out the forum I recommend setting a timer. There are so many threads one could get lost in the reading! Also every year the forums get purged some time in October so if you want to see it, do it soon.

Random Writing Tip

Finding the time to write is easy. Just follow this advice:

  • Don’t get sick.
  • Never get injured.
  • Inform your family they cannot get sick or injured either.
  • Let the baby change his own diaper.
  • The three-year old will eventually stop screaming.
  • Family chauffeur service for soccer/dance/football/science club? Forget about it.
  • Dinner? Pfft, who needs it?
  • Supporting your family until you’re rich and famous? Come on, who really wants a roof over their head?
  • Visiting your parents, siblings, and extended family? It’s not like they will get mad at you if you disappear for 3 years!
  • Writer’s block? Fake it til you make it.
  • Showering? Step out in the rain occasionally and invest heavily in deodorant.
  • The sun? Do you really need vitamin D?
  • Don’t mow the lawn. Your neighbors are only pretending to be angry.
  • Not able to afford writing tools since you listened to the advice on not working? Chalk is cheap and sidewalks are everywhere. Bonus vitamin D included.
  • Give up your social life completely.
  • Stop reading.
  • Nothing to write about because you’ve lived in a void? Keep thinking, eventually something will happen.

Obviously life it going to intrude into your precious writing time. Unless you actually want to follow the ridiculous steps above you’re going to have to deal with it. The trick is to find the times in between to write. If your life is really busy all you can do is squeeze in minutes.

If you have young children you know the moments when the house is quiet because of naps, during daily kid shows, the tiny snippet of time while you’re cooking – waiting for water to boil or while something is baking, after they fall asleep at night, right before they wake. If you’re lucky enough to get to go grocery shopping alone. These are the moments you want to sneak in some writing. Even taking a couple of minutes to jot down ideas will make a world of difference. Dictating while driving could mean the difference between writing the most brilliant book of your life or simply forgetting the idea. If you walk or run for exercise, dictate instead of listening to music.

If you work you know how hard it is to find moments to write. Take ten minutes on your lunch break to write. Again, dictating while driving to and from work can help. Get up 30 minutes early to write, or stay up 30 minutes longer. Always take some time on at least one of your days off. A couple of hours a week of writing will add up over time.

I strongly recommend using a timer to train yourself to write efficiently and effectively in short bursts. I’m going to follow that advice myself. The list says to never get sick or injured. Well I broke that rule rather strongly. I haven’t really be able to write much for months, especially in August. I could get depressed and stop completely. I could feel sorry for myself and piss and moan about not being able to write, or stare at my story boards despondently. Instead I’m going to suck it up and write when I can. I know I can sit at my desk for at least 10 minutes straight so I’ll set my timer for that long and write in as many bursts as my aching back lets me. I might still feel a bit sorry for myself though.

I’m not saying you should force yourself to write when it’s going to hurt you. When my appendix decided it liked New Jersey enough to want to stay there instead of coming home to Texas, writing was impossible. Pain like that wouldn’t allow me to think about writing, let alone do the actual act. After surgery to get rid of the ungrateful, useless body part I was so sick that sitting up for longer than 2 or 3 minutes was not happening. I couldn’t even read for days. Then I had to ride in a car for 30 hours (across 3 days). So you can imagine the amount of writing I got accomplished. It sucks but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’m healed up from it now and I can work on getting back to my normal writing schedule, or at least as normal as I can due to my back problems.

That’s all you can really do. Write when you can. Make the time, if possible and take advantage of the moments you do have. Do get outside sometimes. Take a spiral to a park once a week, your muse will love it. Take care of your kids and as they grow teach them to respect your writing time. Spend time with extended family, it will improve your writing being around people and you won’t have to feel guilty (besides these are the first people who inspired your characters). Hang out with friends so you remember how to adult. Mow the lawn and while you’re doing it be thinking about your story. Jot down your thoughts before you jump in the shower afterwards. Keep a notebook on you at all times. You can’t plan for when a great idea hits so it’s better to be prepared. The writing while waiting for water to boil thing may sound silly but why not try? There is dictation software out there that will let you use your smartphone to record. Never stop reading. The more you read the better writer you will be.

Mostly remember that life can and will get crazy but eventually there will be calm times. Most of these things are hurdles to get over not permanent road blocks. Don’t give up on writing if you love it.

Oh and please do shower!

Sidenote: This is what I wrote for my Saturday Six Minute Challenge. It took longer than 6 minutes which makes me happy since it’s always my goal to write for longer. I feel like a writer again! Now I’m going to go work on my ghost story. Happy writing everyone!

Writing Troubles

I’ve had trouble writing lately. If you read this blog you know all about my recent medical woes. Obviously pain and unexpected emergency (redundant?) surgery will hamper getting work done but I’m mostly recovered from the appendix nightmare and the back thing isn’t going to change anytime soon. I want to write, hell I need to, but finding my stride again is hard!

I sat at my desk and started trying to come up with things to write about. I figured doing some flash fiction was a good way to get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately I couldn’t come up with anything. Well I did glance around the room and saw all the empty prescription bottles and thought about writing something about an addict but I have no experience with that kind of thing and I hate drugs above all else so I squashed that idea quickly. Mostly all I could think about was how I couldn’t think of anything! I went through my archived posts containing prompts but I’ve used most of those already.

I switched to looking up writing prompts here on WordPress. I wrote down a few that were interesting but I don’t yet know where to go with any of them. I plan to expand the search in a few minutes. It’s all guesswork on the tags the bloggers used. I’ve only looked up writing prompt. I can still check writing prompts, prompts, flash fiction prompts, simply flash fiction, etc. One problem I’m having, and have had in the past is there are plenty of wonderful prompts out there, but not many that work for me presently. I’m not even sure what will. I saw one that asked for a 50 word story posted in the comments. I did that but really it was just about my appendix problem.

Maybe it is a good idea to write about someone being injured or almost dying, something along those lines but in a way, that hits too close to home. Part of me thinks I should write something happy and peppy to push all the negativity away but it’s hard to write something pleasant when I’m feeling gloomy. Self defeating at it’s finest folks!

I started a hundred word story about a girl doing physical therapy because it’s in my zone at the moment but won’t bring back all the fear I felt last week but I’m struggling with it so I put it aside for now. There was another prompt called ‘the fifth door.’ My muse is mulling it over as I type this because I’m intrigued.

Sometime next week I’ll have a skype chat with Holly Lisle, the author/creator of How To Think Sideways. Perhaps it will help me. She’s recently gone through some things that kept her from writing as well so she’ll have some advice on how to overcome it. I actually have a workshop from her called “21 Ways Too Get Yourself Writing When Your Life Has Just Exploded.” I’ll go through that tonight. I did it once before but my life hadn’t really exploded. Now it has and I’m bound to get something new out of the course.

I know I have it in me to write. I glanced down at my word count and clearly words are coming out of me. Yesterday’s ridiculously long post is also encouraging but I want to write fiction! Any genre, preferably multiple stories. I’ve already tried working on my WIP but I’m too intimidated by it now. I still can’t sit at the computer for long spans of time and leaning forward is particularly unpleasant so I’m sticking with shorter stuff for a while. I need the reassurance a finished story can give me.

Anyone have a tip to get me back to writing?

Maybe this little guy I got on the boardwalk will inspire me:



It’s ripping itself out of the book! For perspective this little box is no wider than a tube of Chapstix and only a little taller than that. I haven’t decided if the dragon is male or female yet (leaning towards male) and for some reason I want to name it. Any suggestions are welcome. Pardon the shaky pics, they were taken with my phone with the box siting on my clipboard while on my lap lol.

Yes Thinking IS Writing!

I came across a blog yesterday that stated thinking isn’t writing. I have to respectfully disagree! First and foremost, everything is writing for a writer. Every experience you have, each thing you witness. Anything you learn from (or don’t if you’re stubborn). It all lends itself to your writing so all of it is writing.

When you are thinking about what to write, that is pre-writing. If you’re researching for a story, that is part of the writing process, therefore it too is writing. Writing isn’t simply putting pen to paper or your hands on the keyboard. If you didn’t do any thinking about your story, there would be nothing to writer. Now I know it’s possible to sit down with no plan in mind and write but whatever comes out of your head in that moment comes from something you saw, did, read or heard about, or maybe wish you did.

Imagine you were getting paid by the hour to write several stories/articles. Wouldn’t you charge for the time you were researching, editing, outlining etc? Of course you would, because it’s all part of writing!

Thinking may not be doing the physical act of writing, but without the thinking there would be no writing. That said, there comes a point when you have to put pen to paper or start typing what’s in your head.

To the girl who wrote the blog post about thinking, go ahead and write it out with a pen. It won’t waste as much time as you think and it might even help you to write in a way you’re unaccustomed to. Good luck!