October 2006 Finding Your Moment

FINDING YOUR MOMENT

Oprah and her friends are now on XM Radio (channel 156 for those who subscribe) and she’s got all the wisdom gurus on thereBob Greene, Dr. Oz, Dr. Robin Smith, Maya Angelou and Marianne Williamson. The other day, Marianne Williamson said something that stuck me. She talked about being happy in the moment.

As a mom of two youngand very busys kidsit’s very easy to get distracted from the moment. I’m often too busy trying to get from Point A to Point B, to make this deadline, or that one, to get dinner on the table and clean up after the cat, than to worry about what’s happening at that exact moment.

Coupled with the “living in the moment” thing is that dissatisfaction factor, too. I wish my office was bigger, my kitchen was larger, my kids had a soundproof room to go to for those guitar jamming sessions. 😉

It’s the same way with your writing. Often, we are too busy worrying about what’s to come or what we wish was coming that we forget to celebrate where we are right now. We’re not happy with the fact that we finally picked up the pen after years of not writing. Or we forget to celebrate the great scene we just wrote, the satisfaction of a job well done, the contract we just signed. The achievements of the past year. We are brought down by the rejections we suffered, the brass rings we didn’t reach.

STOP.

All that does is erode your confidence and that in turn does the worst possible thing:

Hurt the writing.

Above all, as a creative soul, your job is to protect the writing. You MUST protect the writing. Part of that process is to live in the moment.

Step one: Celebrate what is good RIGHT NOW about your writing. I mean it. Right this second, what is good in your writing life?

Step two: Sit down and make a list of ten things that are good in your writing list. Then make a list of five more. Don’t tell me you can’t think of that many. Because if you can’t, then you are probably suffering from too much negativity-it is (okay, so that’s not a disease, but you get the picture). Or, you aren’t writing at all.

If you aren’t writing at all, then START WRITING TODAY. Write a paragraph. Just one. That’s more than two sentences for those who forgot what they learned in sophomore English class. Write another one tomorrow. And another the next day. Then, a week later, come back and write that list.

What should be on your list? Whatever you want. Did you write some great phrases? Did you get into a habit and start to look forward to that date with your pen and paper? Did you find yourself daydreaming about your story, start talking about it with your writer friends? Did you reach out to other creative souls for some writer support? And for those of you who suffered a rejection this week, did you pick yourself up and send out another piece?

Step three: DON’T DWELL ON THE NEGATIVE. Live in the moment and celebrate the good things. Rejections happen in this business. Career stalls happen. It’s part and parcel of being a writer. When you find those bad things happening, take a moment to look back over the past months of this year and make a list of twenty great things that have happened with your writing career.

Not just the achievements (contest wins, contracts). Too often, I think we only focus on the “tangibles” in this industry, rather than the building blocksthe reader letters that said you touched someone’s heart. The new readers you gained who said they will be lifelong fans because you opened their hearts and eyes to a new genre. The new writing techniques you learned and employed. The way you marveled at a new turn of phrase, a new way of expanding your writer voice.

For example, last year I was asked to write more emotional stories. Deeply emotional things with death, kids addicted to drugs, things like that. Some of you have read my books, you know my specialty is writing stories with fainting goats and kissing pigs. Funny stuff. Not tears.

I was literally dragged into this career change kicking and screaming, thinking my editors had picked the wrong author.

They hadn’t. When I look back at that year, at all the things I have learned and how this experience has shaped and changed me, I am so glad I have gone thorough it and am so proud of how I have changed. When I look at these moments, I am most proud NOT of the contracts I have signed or the stars on my reviews (which tell me at least that the reviewers were pleased with the change in direction), but the letters I am receiving from readers as the books I labored so hard over last year are now hitting stands. Their hearts were touchedand that means everything to me.

The moment is here and I intend to savor it every step of the way. So the next time you find yourself bemoaning your career, take a moment to live IN the moment and celebrate. Make a list of the great timesfind them and cheer them.

It’ll make every word after that come so much easier.

Shirley

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