We’ve all heard it before, “Good writers write frequently, they practice and sharpen their writing skills by writing 500–sometimes 1000-1,500 words each day”. Practice makes perfect.
Stephen King makes 40 million dollars a year for his wordsmithing, and guess what? He writes 1000-2000 words every single day. He’s been doing this for decades, so if anyone’s getting practice writing, he certainly is! Is it any wonder that the people who succeed are getting practice daily?
Nothing comes for free. Not even talent– because it must be continually refined and updated and this takes time of course, precious time that you could be spending elsewhere. You’re going to have to get good at trying… attempting to write and doing it regularly. And you’re going to have to get good at being brave.
Now, here’s an idea, how about using your personal (or public) blog space to practice your own writing? You certainly don’t have to scribe your inner-most thoughts every single day or post anything too controversial that might turn you into a public pariah, but you can find something to blather about. I know you can.
If you haven’t noticed, this is exactly what I do here on this blog! I’ve committed myself to once-a-week blogging (which is writing, right?). My ultimate goal for this blog is posting 3 times each week. Do you have any long-term goals for your blog?
There are these random thoughts that come to me while I’m unloading the dishwasher. Sometimes they come while lying in bed just before sleep impales my brain. Perhaps a stranger makes a crass remark in a parking lot. More often than not, it is movement–physical movement–that triggers a cascade of thoughts. As writers, we all need a cascade of thoughts. We need a supply of input in order to have ANY output. Ironically, now that I have two children, I’m moving so much more and my thoughts are swirling but I have less time to write. These thoughts are the jewels that need to be mined.
In my mind I can think of the two most important things for bloggers:
HAVING CONTENT–you NEED something to write about, to babble about that has the potential to draw a reader or arouse curiosity.
People are unable to blog because of the 2 reasons I listed above. I promise. That’s it!
The content part is the biggie. There are far too many people out there who are worried to write because they HAVE FEARS ABOUT THEIR CONTENT. They worry about how they are perceived. They worry that:
A. they look like they complain too much.
B. they look like they’re bragging/being a show-off
C. they’re making too many (public) errors in their writing.
D. they’re writing is too inane.
E. they’ll leave some indelible mark on the internet so that people can, at some point in the distant future, point to what they wrote and say, :”hahaha, you wrote that piece of crap. You suck”.
F. People will think they’re mentally unstable
How about, who cares? None of these reasons are legitimate reasons for the passionate writer/thinker/creator. In fact, all of the above are great avenues for writing from time to time. Eventually you’ll find other topics to explore, but generating content is definitely going to be the thing you struggle with, so don’t let any of the thoughts above halt your progress if you happen to go into such territory.
Now how about a link with advice from an experienced writer to those of us beginners? Here you go:
My husband said we could come with him on his trip. He had a week-long educational conference in Los Angeles, a city I had never been to before. The hotel was already booked and his flight paid for long in advance.
“Are you sure? Don’t you want a reprieve from screaming children who interrupt your sleep? We would all be sleeping in the same hotel room after all. Why don’t you just go alone this time?”
“Why don’t you guys come? The hotel is going to be the same price whether you all come or I go alone. It would only cost me a couple extra hundred bucks for your plane tickets. The baby could sit on your lap.”
Iweighed the pros and cons. I knew how much work it would be to pack for both myself and the children. But I’ve done it multiple times before, right? I knew that lugging all the extra baby stuff around– car seats, car seat bases, a double stroller, baby carriers, diapers, bottles, formula, baby cereal, bibs and cloths and tons of extra baby outfits would be overwhelming. Of course, this doesn’t include all the contraptions I would bring for myself.
Eating out for all 3 meals (even if only “cheap” fast food) would add up fast. On the plus side, we would get room service every day. The children and I could explore downtown in the double stroller and experience the city-life, albeit temporarily. Meals would be no- fuss, no preparation or clean up–just throw away the packaging and wipe off the kids’ hands and faces. Finito.
“Oh, all right. If you insist. We would love to come.”
On my “list of minuses” I didn’t factor in the flight. What could possibly go wrong on a short two-hour flight with two tots?
My husband and daughter sat next to each other on one row and I clutched onto our 6 month old across the asile. We sat next to an over-sized lady who was spilling over into our space.
Unfortunately for her, this meant my son would be thrusting his little feet into her fleshy sides throughout the flight. She didn’t appear to be the child-loving type either– as she squeezed herself against the window, hoping to merge into the the airplane wall and disappear from existence.
This doesn’t even begin to describe the misery my son inflicted upon this poor woman. Picture, if you will, an intensely high-pitched, screaming intermingled with an annoying whine, that lasts for almost 1 hour straight. It wasn’t just our airplane neighbor who experienced the cacophony of the flight. My baby’s screaming was enough to inspire the agitation of everyone on board.
Even the flight attendant tried energetically to distract the baby–offering him crackly packages of pretzels or crinkly plastic cups to playwith. “Won’t he take one?” She pleaded, as he threw the items onto the center aisle.
The baby refused to breastfeed. No matter how many times I tried, my efforts were met with even louder squeals as he pulled away. He’s not a pacifier baby either. My daughter was the same way.
On the other side of the airplane aisle, another battle was ensuing. My 2 year old was furiously trying to unbuckle her seat belt and jettison herself out of the seat. She was vigorously kicking her legs on the back of the seat in front of her. I’m sure a mild amusement to the passenger seated here. *Sarcasm*
My tot was requesting that the overhead light be turned on, then off. On, then off. She wanted the window shutter open, then closed, open, then closed. Repeat 693 times. My poor husband.
Once our flight from purgatory landed, we piled the taxi high with suitcases and baby equipment. Thankfully paradise was waiting for us.
We got to stay in the luxurious Biltmore Millennium Hotel in downtown LA among all the skyscrapers. This is a gorgeous hotel that is infused with art deco architecture. Shiny marble floors greet your feet. Bell Hops jump out of no where to grab your belongings and make your dreams come true.
There are towering ceilings in the lobby and hallway that lure the eyes towards paintings and sculpturesque adornments that flaunt every surface. For a fraction of a second, you feel like you’re in a European cathedral.
The next day, I took the kids outside our hotel for a spin in the stroller–something I would do every single day, all-day, until the day we left.
One of the first things you notice about downtown LA–besides the exquisitely beautiful buildings, palm trees and perfect weather–are the bums. Demographics are ALWAYS the first thing I notice anywhere I go.
And you guessed it, I noticed right away that these homeless individuals were disproportionately MALE.
Throughout millennia, men have been more likely than women to fight in battles; many becoming wounded veterans. Men have been the ones to work in some of the most physically unbearable jobs like building cathedrals or castles with heir bare hands until old age, and then dying with little more than a legacy of brutal, laborious hardship (at least in Europe, that is). If you haven’t noticed, the male gender is ALSO more likely to be in prison or homeless– at least compared to their female cohort.
Does this reflect some sort of over-arching social inequality for males in modern society? Homelessness occurs for a variety of reasons of course–criminal history, physical disability, poverty, mental illness, a history of laziness or bad luck–and let’s not forget one of the biggest reasons–ADDICTION–but the gender issue is clear. I SAW MANY MORE HOMELESS MALES THAN FEMALES ON THE STREETS. Does mental illness disproportionately affect males? Many questions and thoughts like these were assaulting my consciousness.
I wanted to check out Skid Row and find out if my male-to-female ratio suspicions regarding homelessness were accurate. I pushed the double stroller in every direction within a 3 mile radius all over Los Angeles this past week and became familiar with the names of every street, but we never made it past Main Street (the tough area, let’s just say).
One evening, my husband was out for a conference related dinner, I strapped the kids in the double stroller for a night ride. We explored more territory and came across an incredible bookstore called, “The Last Bookstore“–I highly recommend taking a peek at this charming spot if you’re in the area. It’s quaint and stuffed with splendid books–both new and old. The cashier countertop is propped up by hundreds of old books. I even purchased a couple of books for the kids and came out with one for myself called, “The Perfect Nanny”, an international bestseller.
We found another amazing art deco building one day. Check out the stunning architecture and colors here:
I also took the kids to the LA public library. These were the murals on the walls inside the library:
…and the library courtyard garden was a delightful space for honing those Zen moments of contemplation.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without an arm load of goodies from the library bookstore.
We also spent an overcast day at the beach in Santa Monica.
And I made sure to take the kids to any park I could find in downtown LA anytime we encountered one.
Finally, on one of our walking excursions we found this neat HUGE antique shop, “Olde Good Things“. I regret not buying the cool antique globe I found.
We also went to Hollywood where we walked along the famous path of stars and Universal Studios too. What fun! I just LOVED the Simpson’s ride. Los Angeles was much better than I had expected it to be.
One day I pushed the double stroller into the LAFashion District where there are material and fabric shops galore.
Pushing the kids around in the double stroller was entertainment for everyone. People stared in partial disbelief combined with surprise. Everywhere we went people were EXTREMELY KIND to us and made whatever necessary accommodations for the children.
It’s difficult, I know. Maintaining general order in as many areas as you could attempt was that one thing keeping you sane, giving you some sense of comfort and control. You didn’t realize the sense of relief you derived from an organized, uncluttered, esthetically pleasing environment. You are a type A, an ambitious, non-time waster. You accomplish things and make plans. You’re not one of these people who allows messes to build-up. You don’t follow the crowd but chart your own course through life.
Alas, no more. Messes are strewn throughout every corner of your home. Whenever you make a laborious, time-consuming initiative to straighten one space, you’re being taken down in another– often 2-3 steps back. Your tot is creating havoc in every possible dimension with the help of a pair of gooey hands.
Meanwhile, you get to enjoy the non-stop screaming chorus put forth by your 6 month old. You’re frantically trying to remove objects that could trip anyone. You can barely think.
You’re not embarking on any kind of major “spring cleaning” adventure. You’re only trying to make your surroundings safe and prevent an ER visit. That’s it. If you had any spare moments you would be doing the have-to’s: diaper changing 2 kids, meal preparation, folding laundry, taking out all the garbages, vacuuming the entire house, filing the baby’s (longish) fingernails, taking a shower, …even these activities would provide a glimmer of hope that you’re succeeding at something.
Tony Robbin’s aptly said, “Happiness is Progress”. But it’s so hard…because you’re not getting this feeling of progress. Ever. And to make matters worse, you’re a perfectionist so this is kind of your M.O. You live for the feeling of progress. Here is a picture of our mantel: This is how I think of perfection…or, my-kind of perfection, at least. Ahhh, this is what I like.
And this is my kind of imperfection–our house when we first moved in. Stuff everywhere, in disarray. And, to be honest, there are many days where it looks like this ALL OVER AGAIN. This is what I don’t like. My cortisol levels
I often like to joke, “How does one torture a modern, western woman?” ANSWER: You prevent her from accomplishing anything. No career for you, young lady. We will just give you some money “to get by on” and you can clean up all these messes over and over again and you won’t have to learn anything new. Bonus, we’ll bring you fast food and prevent you from exercising.” NOW THIS IS TORMENT.
Joking aside, How can I ever get away from this incessant, mind-overtaking need to be a perfectionist…to get things done and done perfectly? I honestly don’t know. I’m trying different strategies right now. .. everyday. What to do…what not to do.
I guess what I’ve learned aboutmyself is that I do many things for my own psychological comfort– not because they are that necessary. I want to learn as much as a I can because I want to have the skills and education to fall back on if I were to need them. We all are lucky and unlucky at different points in our lives. It’s easy to assume that you’ll always be lucky or that you’ll always be unlucky. You’ll probably cross back and forth on that road a few times in life.
I’ve recently decided to turn down my perfectionism a few notches. That is, I pick one (maybe two) areas where I allow myself to be a perfectionist. It’s important for us perfectionist-types to have at least 1 area where we can still manage our perfectionism–otherwise, things seem so chaotic to our brains that we can’t even think. For me it’s floors. I hate dirty floors. So I let myself vacuum frequently; every other day for sure…sometimes every day. The other area that I’m committing myself to (besides occasionally taking care of the children) is exercise.
So that’s it. I had to set some limits. I give myself 2 areas to be a perfectionist and try to let the rest go until I have more time in my life. Once I get more time, you can bet that I’ll be crazy.