How I write

My dear friend and fellow writer, Erin Skibinski of Home Everyday, invited me to be a part of a blog tour this week and buried deep in a mess of burnout and hormonal pimples, I thought this assignment would be the perfect way to resuscitate the creative side of my brain and get my fingers tip-tapping away on my laptop again.

Let me preface this tour around my “office” by stating that I write because I love it, but I also write to make money. To feed my family and pay rent and have health insurance. I try to weave in fun projects so I do not eventually hate writing, which I never thought I would say, but when you are writing all day and night, turning out copy like some kind of mad woman chained to her laptop, it’s hard not to flip a table over and screw writing, running off into the sunset to find another occupation.

#1 – What am I working on?

I write in several different capacities, making my writing life anything but boring.

The Circular Home – My favorite ongoing project is The Circular Home with Inside Shopper where I dramatically boast about domestic life but not to the point of unhealthy obsession. This column is truly me, as I see humor, love and snuggly place to call home the key to a happy domestic life rather than the need for perfection. I channel my inner Erma Bombeck, Mrs. Meyers and Dorothy Parker – real, mostly alive, humor-filled domestic ladies.

Partnering with designers – I work with the lovely Cathe Huyhn-Sison of cdh, who quite possibly could be the best designer I know. I provide copywriting services for her fun clients, which almost seems illegal at times. Our last project together had me staring at designer handbags all day!

eb1590f02fa3040d7a6860133f8e1db8Advertorials – I write advertorials for a local newspaper publication, which means I take gathered information from business owners and make it sound pretty.

Freelance contractor for ad agencies – An often intense (but good intense) gig creating articles and copy in the health and wellness genres, working with an ad agency means being confident enough to research speedily, create concise articles anywhere from 600 – 1000 words a pop, and hit submit – all within 72 hours. I write about anything from reducing pet odor in your home to the misconceptions of Botox.

My first novel – 7 years in progress, I’m finished and just need to woo a literary agent willing to take on a first-time author.

#2 – How does my work differ from others in its genre?

In a sea of other resumes, I decided to specialize in something at the suggestion of Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project. I hesitantly signed up for one of her workshops, as her website literally screams “Screw Business as Usual”, but found her advice for making my writing something people would pay for to be invaluable. After listening to Ash, it was clear that I was born to create health, wellness, and women’s lifestyle content. On a side note, I did not just declare myself an expert. My education and professional background backs me up. Ash just helped peel the onion that is Elizabeth and release the lifestyle swami within me.

#3 – Why do I write what I do?

Because I love it! I tear up writing about crown moulding and scream out in glee at the sight of a new assignment about ways to repair dry skin!

#4 – How does my writing process work?

It’s impossible to predict when the words will flow, so I write anytime the spirit moves me. In the morning, at 4:00 some mornings, in the afternoon, at tea time, at 3:00 picking my children up in car line, at 2:00 in the morning on my way to the bathroom. When I’m inspired, it flows. Now, I’m not saying it flows in a cohesive and beautiful literary masterpiece, rather, a shitty first draft that has the potential to be polished into something I can be proud of.

The funny thing is though, that life gets in the way. I am rarely ever in a “perfect situation” or still state of mind to write and even when I am, it’s inevitable that my brain decides not to function or I’m in a meeting or changing a diaper. But baby needs a new pair of shoes and we must eat this week, so here’s how I attempt at prepping myself for a “successful” day of writing:

Step 1 – I visit the ladies room. For several minutes. And I bring a book. Don’t make that face! Nobody can write when they are full of, ahem, obstructions.

Step 2 – I put on my headphones. When I am researching and writing copy I prefer classical music and when I am working on my novel, Ingrid Michaelson is my music of choice. I am at my most productive listening to the sound of silence, which is a rare occurrence. I still wear my headphones when it’s quiet to muffle out everything except my thoughts.

photo meStep 3 – I eat something healthy-ish before I write. Yogurt with granola – and a cookie.

Step 4 – I turn off ALL devises and if I can, be child (and husband) free. No Twitter, no Facebook, absolutely NO Pinterest, no phone. NOTHING to distract!

Step 5 – I pick a place with blank walls, no windows, and no people. Distraction is the killer of my productivity.

Step 6 – I make the most of my emotional meltdowns and carry a notebook with me everywhere I go to jot down ideas or random things I see that spark something in my heart.

Step 7 – I stop when my brain hurts. Forced writing always reads like it’s been forced, making it sound a bit hinky.

Step 8 – On my writing days, I check my email after I’m finished writing. This is because I usually have some kind of rejection email waiting for me and I can’t let anything negative start off my day to distract my confidence. I don’t take it personally when someone says my writing stinks. Okay, I rant for about an hour, but then I get over it. I have been turned down for assignments and told by editors and clients that I have to scrap an article or assignment and start over. Sure it was awful at first and I would slink around the house embarrassed but in this business, you need to get used to criticism.

And that’s it! Easy breezy!

Now go write! And keep writing. And write some more. Make yourself a cup of tea and call yourself a writer, damn it, because that’s what you are. Take “aspiring” off all your social media bios and believe it…

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Brave

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brave |brāv| adjective – ready to face and endure danger or pain;

showing courage

I’ve always been a tad stubborn and have mastered the art of embarrassing myself. For example, I am writing in a quiet library. People scattered from table to table silently working or reading.

Every piece of my being wants to get up and start dancing around the room to the song I am listening to on Pandora. Would that be considered brave or just silly. Or crazy?

Instead, I just tap my feet and settle for lip-synching.

I am determined to be brave this year, and for that matter, the next and the next. Being hesitant and scared did not get me to where I am today and interestingly enough, I have never been so happy in my life.

Keeping up this endurance of bravery is tough, especially when it seems like nothing is happening or people are judging, but, you see, I have been planting seeds. Good seeds of kindness and tenacity. For six years I have been welcoming change and running head first into the unknown. Tears streaming down my face at times, I do not regret one moment of my life. The mistakes, the fashion faux pas, the clumsiness – it’s all me and I am more ready than ever to be brave.

To be bold. Fearless. Gallant. Daring.

Plucky, even!

Peaceful

Tea BagHave you thought about how you want to feel?

I spoke of the professional rendezvous I had with Debra Smouse in my last post and am on to my second word – peaceful

peaceful |ˈpēsfəl|
adjective
1. free from disturbance; tranquil: Everything was so quiet and peaceful in the early morning.
2. inclined to avoid conflict; not aggressive: Elizabeth was a peaceful, law-abiding citizen.

Oh, how I wish to have peace every moment of the day and as long as I stay in the confines of my little bubble and let no one in, I can have peace. But alas, I do not aspire to be a hermit. I am a social being and love to interact with people, especially those who live differently and have opinions that clash with my own. I seem to control myself when it comes to acquaintances and strangers, chalking any conflict or disagreement up to “everyone is entitled to their own opinion” and “to each his own.”

It’s the pesky people I love in my life that usually derail my peace. I would say about 60% of my day I am at peace. After 6 years of meditating on positive thoughts, spilling out my soul to various therapists and sprinkling my brain with a dash of meds, I am only at sixty percent. But everyday, I see myself having peace in my relationships and a calmer state of mind when I am in a battle of wits with a 6-year-old.

Unexpected disturbances to my familiar routine are getting easier to manage, all without a meltdown that eventually only led to a big pimple on my cheek.

I am not perfect and do get consumed by the stresses of life, finances, work and relationships, but with consistency, (and over time) my response to pressure and my overall mood seems to be rooted in patience. The seed I planted 6 years ago to lead a more peaceful life has sprouted.

And I want more.

A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.

― Eleanor Roosevelt

*Definition from the New Oxford American Dictionary

Clever

clever |ˈklevər|glasses

adjective

  • quick to understand, learn, and devise or apply ideas; intelligent: a clever and studious young woman | how clever of her to think of this!
  • skilled at doing or achieving something; talented: she was clever at getting what she wanted | she is clever with her hands.
  • showing intelligence or skill; ingenious

I had a virtual VIP pow wow with my dear friend, editor and coaching extraordinaire, Debra Smouse, who single-handedly helped me de-tangle my life in about 5 hours. Her approach to getting results is realistic and no-nonsense and I like that.

The most powerful part of our meeting for me was talking about how I wanted to feel. To quote Debra:

“In order to fall in love with your life – in order to achieve a life of your dreams – you need to follow your desired emotion.  Let it roll.  It’s deep inside your heart for a divine reason:  it’s a guide for you to fulfill your purpose.”

I dug deep into the recesses of my soul and knew I wanted to feel clever. I like the feeling of my heart beating faster when I come up with a snappy idea. I also want to be quick to learn and have ingenious ideas that makes no one else but me smile.

As I settle into a new schedule, one that finally flows from my professional life to my personal life, I am focused on goals, yes. But at the end of the day, and truly, at the end of my days, my memories will not be about how I got results. It will be about how I felt during my life.

In the next few weeks I will be talking about the words I have chosen to start feeling: peaceful, brave, overjoyed, good-natured, and giddy.

Renewing the mind takes practice and I always up for a challenge.

How do you want to feel?

 

Definition from the New Oxford American Dictionary

Swill

teaSeventy-two hours of skull ripping head aches.

She knew her effort would not be in vain.

Moving from jittery ups to teeth grinding lows, she had enough of this obsessive dependency.

This poison coursed through her for years, clouding her mind and abandoning her just as quickly as it shot into her blood stream.

Clear thinking and sweet peaceful brain power was within her grasp.

A caffeine detox was in order.

Oh, how she longed to be a tea drinker…

“Never confuse …

“Never confuse movement with action.”
― Ernest Hemingway

wavy linesI have been moving and acting like mad lately. Writing here, there and everywhere. While my brain pours out story after story, I realize, I am living my dream. But I must continue to act and resist being distracted by the noise of the world. Yes, I adore certain distractions in my life and do not consider them to be a diversion to my creative process, but adding to the creative supply in my imagination…

Busy, busy, busy

Life seems to be picking up speed whether I like it or not lately. I often feel bound to so many responsibilities,Rocks turning the various roles in my life into consuming (and often irritating) “assignments”.

This saddens me, because I deep down, I am truly happy. But the word busy keeps reminding me that I must feel obligated to do more.

SLOW DOWN is written on a post-it in my kitchen, strategically stuck to the cabinet I frequent the most so I can see it often throughout the day. My mantra today is slow down. Slow everything down. Even the so-called little things, like snuggling with my daughter at 2 AM instead of rushing back to my bed or holding hands with my husband a few minutes longer in the car instead of checking my iPhone.

I have given myself permission to stop sprinting through my day and the more I remember to slow down and observe, smell, touch and feel, the more productive I become. (And incidentally, I am finding an overall sense of peace.)

Are you struggling to keep up and sabotaging your own day?