Curation Corner: Don’t Delete!

I appreciated Mary Gaitskill’s wisdom in this item I gleaned from advicetowriters.com

Here’s an excerpt from the excerpt:

When you’re writing on the computer, you don’t cross it out, you just delete it. But now, if I’m not sure, I don’t delete it. Instead of making the revision, I just put it in a bracket and write my second idea, and I can look back and see which I think was better, because sometimes the first thing is actually better.

Fellow writers…don’t do what I did.

Get your writing done first because it’s not easy to crank up the momentum and confidence needed to fill your pages.
After breakfast, I launched into decluttering…even before shaving and cleaning up. Not only did I feel grungy [counterproductive in its own right]

  • A. I wasn’t writing.
  • B. I was wasting that precious morning buzz [i.e. creative energy] on sifting through and boxing ‘stuff’.
  • C. I didn’t crank out that initial ‘first 100 words’ on paper, a practice I started when I homed in on mindfully ‘showing up’ to my creative projects.
  • D. I was getting annoyed by A. and B and C.

Luckily, choosing to reconnect with a former student and a former teaching colleague, I did get my keyboarding fingers moving and real words [with value, even!] danced across the screen. AND I’ve even resisted the urge to turn on the AFC Championship game. AND I’ve chosen to not answer a text message till today’s words are done. [Thank you, thank you. You can stop rolling your eyes now.]

So, I guess the lesson for today is: Don’t give up hope. You can rise above all kinds of obstacles, even the self-imposed ones, and move forward with your projects.

NOTE: If your word processor offers the ‘Focus’ feature that displays just your text–no distracting menus, programs running in the background–give it a try.

Rants and Riffs Installment #16: Dogs as therapy. Pie too.

  1. Okay, I admit it…on my DVR, I still have 40 minutes of Hallmark’s A Happy and Friends Yule Log. Gotta say, it’s nice to watch cavorting puppies and kittens to break from the daily chaos and mayhem…and I’m just talking about my latest forays in the kitchen. Such as…

sunshine squash pieRecipe at bottom of post

2. Could someone please tell me where the TV remote is? I know, I know, one of you out there is going to snark that I’d track it better if I didn’t mindlessly pop it in my pocket and drop it off, say, in the garage.

3. I  know, I know…snark is a noun. Language snobs notwithstanding, it works just as well as a verb.

4. Shouldn’t there be holsters for TV remotes?

5. And finally, here’s a very useful and interesting language website that answers the age-old teacher question of, ‘How is that word used in a sentence?’.sentencedict.com


Sunshine Squash Pie

I picked up this recipe from denisonfarms.com, our CSA supplier.

Squash Pie

Sunshine squash makes excellent “pumpkin” pie. This recipe comes from the 1975 edition Joy of Cooking:

1. Line a pie pan with pie dough.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

3. Mix until well blended:

  • 2 cups cooked, mashed squash (see newsletter week 20 for instructions to bake squash)
  • 1 1/2 cups undiluted evaporated milk or rich cream (or coconut milk for dairy-free)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar & 1/2 cup white sugar (I usually reduce the sugar, since squash is sweeter than pumpkin)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt,
  • 1 tsp cinnamon,
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger (or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger),
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg,
  • 1/8 tsp cloves,
  • 2 slightly beaten eggs

4. Pour mixture into pie shell.

5. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 45 min. longer.

[Notes from TH: Blind baking the crust worked out pretty well for me. I also add lots more spice than recipe calls for.]

Curation Corner: The Writer’s Map

I ran across a very interesting item by Sarah Laskow on Atlas Obscura about writers’ approaches to world-building.

Favorite quotes from some of the authors discussed…

“I begin every story I write by drawing a map because it is only when my characters start moving from place to place that a plot unfolds.”
–Abi Elphinstone [Dreamsnatcher]

“Writing is a matter of sullen toil. Drawing is pure joy. Drawing a map to go with a story is messing around, with the added fun of coloring in.”
— Phillip Pullman [His Dark Materials]

This is a strategy I will add to my prewriting course…and will experiment with as I draft The Next Page, my current school-based middle grade novel.


Other project work…

Writing prompts for other ‘creative reinventors’.

 

 

Rants and Riffs Installment #15: Leaf blowers and bloviators…

a man in despair with head in hand1. Leaf blowers…the scourge of Western civilization.

2. On a similar note…I hear these bubbleheads/celebrities/semi-celebrities with the cash to buy radio time to spout their views of the world order [or disorder—take your pick]. Lately, I’ve caught myself telling them to just shut up…and it doesn’t even seem to matter whether I agree with them or disagree with them. Huh…go figure. I think I’m just tired of all the noise. [Unless, of course, it’s legit noise from cranky pantses vilifying leaf blowers.]

3. Why don’t presenters armed with PowerPoints and expert knowledge take a couple of minutes to learn how to zoom their projector’s image so the audience can actually see what the laser pointer is aimed at?

Writing Warmups for January 4

writing in a notebook
If you need a little warmup today, toy with a few of these ideas.

  1. “You look like your unders are creeping up on you.”
    “Naaah, he always looks like that when he’s outnumbered by dorks.”

  2. “Harvey! Here’s a show for you!–How Doers Get More Done.”
    “Funny, Margo. Very funny.”

  3. “I made over $10,000 and now I can buy my own car!”

  4. I was now officially out of the loop.

  5. “Get free delivery on your hardware equipment!” the TV blared at us.
    “Oh, great, and once it arrives, we’ll need help simply opening the boxes.”

  6. Just when we thought the world was safe from…

  7. “Even I know that!” I said and strolled away, hoping against hope that I could find out what I was supposed to know…

  8. There was very little reason to enter that room. But against my better judgement…

  9. “Yes, I guess you could say I am your latest ‘convert’.”

  10. I was afraid to close my eyes. We all were, actually.

 

Could 2020 be ‘The Year of the Cheat’?

In my previous post outlining resolutions for 2020, I caught myself proudly ‘cheating’.
Of no surprise, I detoured from finishing the post to tracking down this item from the British Broadcasting Corporation.

A few key points:

  • Cheat days, also called ‘structured flexibility’, can help us stay motivated.
  • By reducing the guilt over breaking the streak, cheating can help us keep focused on the long-term goal.

If this works for you, make 2020, the Year of the Cheat.
Let me know if you have other successful cheats.
Happy New Year
…and if you’re reaching for an extra hit or two of chocolate, we’re not watching [or judging].

A writer’s resolutions

Well, that ‘dying young’ ship has sailed. All the more reason, then, to launch [perhaps, ‘lurch’] forward with my life.

With 2020 on the horizon, then, it’s time to ramp up the resolutions under my creative reinvention umbrella.

Resolution #1: Be a pre-crastinator. Click to the 1:47 mark of Adam Grant’s Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers

“I know, I know,” I say to myself, “Keep dreaming.” But what the hey? Why not fool myself…even if it’s one day a week? One fevered creative surge every seven days is still an improvement.

In the interest of pre-crastination, then, I’m going to cheat and get a head start on…

Resolution #2: Read 20 books this year. That may not sound like much, but I’m aiming for ‘attainable‘. I seem to read plenty, but I don’t finish books like I used to. First on the docket: Art Matters by Neil Gaiman.

I will juggle it [it’s a short read] with Someday Is Not a Day in the Week : 10 Hacks to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life

In fact, as I’m doing a little editing on this post, I have this TED Talk running in the background. [Maybe I’m onto something with this whole ‘cheating on your resolutions’ thing.]

Resolution #3: Publish four books. I’m soooo close on at least three, but really, folks, I spend more energy finding excuses to not close the deal on my projects than I do crossing the finish line. Unacceptable.

Resolution #4: Publish at least three online courses. As you can tell, this year is all about finishing. One of them is ongoing, but I’ve stalled on it. The other two are just rattling around in my brain.

Resolution #5: One post per week [at the very least] on my blogs. [Not thrilled with those times when crickets creep from the audience/peanut gallery to the production room.] I forget that posting is a way of keeping myself accountable on various projects. Keeping that perspective should help me stay on target.

Key ‘self-talk’ points:

  1. “Done is better than perfect.” At least one punctuation mark is missing and it’s killing me, but, in the interest of this point…
  2. “Just keep ‘showing up’, especially in the morning.”
  3. “Do the mindless, less creative work while TV is on or you’re on the exerbike.”
  4. “If it feels like drudgery, walk away.”

Any suggestions or comments or mere scoffing? Chime in.


Note: Goodreads links are non-affiliate.