Writing

Social Isolation and Writing Through Anxiety

Are you weeding the garden? On a Sunday?

Church services were canceled by our Pastor due to our Governor’s decree of no more than 250 people in one area. My mom is in the elderly group (and immunocompromised), so I do take this virus seriously and skipped services.

So this weekend (and probably a few more in the immediate future), I find myself with time on my hands.

Due to our self imposed social isolation and no toilet paper to buy in the markets or online, we are now doing non-social activities, at least until the TP runs out.

Update: bartered books for rolls. Surreptitiously, I picked up, with an antiseptic wipe,  the bag of TP my friend left for me on her porch. I left her and her kids several books.

tp
Books for toilet paper. Yes, it has come to that.

 

Our pantry is now organized and clean. I found out we have oatmeal for the next decade. We found most of the Tupperware lids. I don’t know why we have three picnic baskets.

Our cat, Heidi Ho, is mystified that I’m home and pulling weeds in the backyard on a Sunday. The ground is still damp from the rain, but I need some outside activity.

Here’s the latest decree in California:

California Governor Newsome

 

So much for Happy Hours. We have a burgeoning brewpub industry here. I heard the local pizza place delivers wine and beer.

Last week I returned from the AWP (Association of Writing Professionals) Conference in San Antonio and scored a few books. That and NetGalley will keep me in reading material for a month, plus I’m two books behind on my self-imposed book challenge. (You can find my reviews on GoodReads if you’re looking for a book).

Writing in this time of anxiety has turned out to be a good thing. Writing helps me turn away from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which some people are using to post pics of empty store shelves, stoking rumors, and generally acting out their anxieties-which creates fear.

Understandable, but I need to self-restrict from all things panicky. I do like the memes, though. Humor is a good salve and coping mechanism.

Driver: You can’t give me a ticket. Officer: Of course, I can. It’ll be in the mail.

If you’re working from home:

May I offer meditation for those who feel stressed. Hop over to my friend, Mikko’s page at Elemental Energy Healing, for grounding exercises.

 

My favorite reminder:

 

 

What are you doing during this time of social isolation?

 

 

Inspiration, poetry

What are Your Yes’s and No’s for 2020?

Photo by Denise Karis

 

Re-reading my 2018 journal entry, I see that I wrote: “I am content.”

In 2019, I did a lot of stuff, traveled a few places, wrote a whole lot, read 37 books, spent too much time on Netflix, and laughed a lot.

I hope to do more of the same in 2020.

Another entry that I read in my reflection is this, a part of a poem by Esther Cohen, Writer, and Poet in New York City. I loved the intent then, and now. I say ‘YES’ to this:

 

I’ll try instead to hear more music,

to open my arms wider,

to read more

of other people’s beautiful sentences

and write a few myself.

 

For 2020, Ms. Cohen wrote a few verses of what she won’t do, which made me laugh because I’m like-minded. Here’s an excerpt:

I will not sign up for a Tai Chi class

even though more or less everyone

says it’s a Good Idea.  Tried a few times.

No dice.

5

I will not stop eating

gluten, sugar, and everything else white.

 

So, ‘NO’, I will not go on Keto, or take Pilates, or keep up with Facebook or Instagram, or be unkind, or burn myself out, or burn someone else out.

‘YES,’ I will read, I will write most days, I will take a chance, visit abroad, hike a little more, binge Outlander Season 4 and whatever else I love on Netflix/Hulu, and I will partake of dark chocolate and red wine.

I like the simplicity of saying ‘YES’ to ideas/actions and ‘NO’ to others, especially without guilt or anger.

Now go fill a few lines in a notepad with “I’m saying YES to:” and “I’m saying NO to:”

Here’s to the YES’s and to the NO’s. May you be filled with light, love, and laughter!

photo by Jamie Street for unsplash.com

 

 

 

Writing

How to Declutter Your Frightening Writing Space

Albert Einstein

Please excuse my wording, but I have too much crap in my writing area.

My bulletin board is cluttered with post-its, cards, and pins all askew. To make things worse, someone figured my room needed a few empty Amazon boxes, along with the cat’s scratching treehouse, and I haven’t filed bills in six months.

Given that the new year is approaching, and today’s the last Saturday of the year, my thoughts turned to clear out the old to make room for the new. A form of self-care, if your will.

I’m not a clean freak, but even I know when too much stuff is too much. I’d snap a photo of the clutter, but I’m embarrassed.

My daughter gave me a cool “Computer Memo Board.” These are two pieces of acrylic that stick to the left and right side of your laptop or desktop. They are meant as organizational tools. I think this was a hint.

Okay, I’m bypassing the shame so I can show you the memo boards:

My Messy Space. You Get the Picture.

 

This is the second photo because I had to hang a yellow piece of paper up in the right top corner, so the boards are visible.

According to a study, having “multiple visual stimuli present within the range of one’s view will result in those stimuli competing for neural representation.”

In layman’s terms, the more clutter you can see, the more quickly you’ll find yourself distracted. If I’m distracted with the sticky-notes, bills, and pins, that’s what I’ll see instead of a blank screen ready for new opportunities.

Now, I’m itching to clean and declutter but need to finish this first.

I Googled how to begin decluttering, and I promise I will follow my own advice (after I finish this post).

1. Clear out the top of your desk

Get rid of anything broken or unnecessary. Start with the pens/markers that no longer have ink. Move on to computer accessories: cords that used to go to who-knows-what equipment, flash drives, unused or outdated external hard drives. Eliminate duplicate office products—you only need one stapler and one tape dispenser.

2. Sort the books on your desk by their importance

Keep books on your desk, which you refer to more than once a week: a thesaurus, inspirational, or book on craft.

3. Declutter the Bulletin Board. 

What defines your writing space. (Any guesses about mine?) Choose what you want to display and get rid of anything more distracting than helpful.

4. Improve your storage system

Place your most used items within reach for easy access. Less important tools can be placed in a drawer. If you did #1 above, the task is much easier.

5. Create a wide-open desktop.

This will be difficult for me. I need to be bold and get rid of stuff I can do without. Do I need so many pens out? Can I file half of the bills? Do I need to have two vitamin bottles behind my laptop?

6. Focus on clearing the space and set a timer to do it quickly.

When you’re satisfied that what’s on your desktop is only what you really need at hand when you’re working, remove all of the necessary items and dust your desk and laptop. Use a compressed air can to de-crumb your keyboard, unless you have a silicone cover like mine (which is way old). In that case, shake it out and wash the thing.

Right now, I think I can handle twenty minutes of clearing and cleaning. The desk won’t look like this one, but progress, right?

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

 

By clearing and minimizing your writing space, you free up your mind to think more clearly and be more creative.

That alone is worth sorting through some files and tossing out some clutter, don’t you think?

If you have any tips or tricks, share them in the comments!

 

Encouragement, Inspiration, Writing

Two Ways to Fight #Writers Fear

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Let’s be honest.

We writers have several fears about writing.

If we haven’t published anywhere, we fear to call ourselves a writer. Many times we fear judgment about what we write, so we stall, procrastinate and write on the surface. We fear we don’t have an MFA and don’t know enough about the writing craft.

When our short story, poem, or novel is finished, we fear to send out our work to a beta reader because we might hear something about our writing that we don’t want to hear.

One of the biggest fears? Our fear of rejection. We spend so much time perfecting a query and sending it to a lit agent only to never hear from them again, or we get a form rejection, which may be our 25th.

Fear stagnates. We stop flowing, we find ourselves trapped, or producing dull work.

Last week, I came across two helpful blog posts. (One I’d never read before). Both helped me reassess any fears I had about my writing. It is no mistake these posts found me.

Photo by Sarah McCutcheon for unsplash.com

The first comes from Krissy at Visionaire Kindness Words.

 

God grant me serenity, to believe,

without a doubt, I’m a writer.

Poet enough to hold this pen,

courage to write the things that secretly haunt me,

and wisdom to always edit

 

The second way to fight fear comes from Rebekah Radice, who I follow on Twitter.

 

F Face

             E Everything

A and

R Run

OR

Reframe that F.E.A.R

 Face It

         Explore It

      Accept It

               Rise Above It

 

The “It” in the above scenario is whatever the fear is:

Face your insecurities.

Explore the possibilities of writing with abandon.

Accept that fear will creep in on days when you’re too tired, hungry, angry or hurt. Acknowledge your feelings and later put pen to paper.

Rise above the particular circumstance you face and get back to your road in writing.

Help out a fellow writer: What are the ways you push past your fears of writing?