I should be writing. Instead, I’m driving…

handwritten notes on a piece of binder paper
and—ssshhhh–writing at the same time. 

Don’t worry. No fatalities…though running that highway cop onto the median wasn’t my finest moment.

And then there was the burrito cart guy who…well, anyway, yes, making a drive up north and a notebook is on my lap and I’ve gotten pretty good at writing without looking. It’s almost as if I look forward to slowed traffic so I can decipher a few items where the pen [or the mind] went a bit astray.

Some mid-trip observations:

1. The reach-for-popcorn instinct is irrepressible.

2. The reach-for-popcorn instinct while driving and writing is dangerous, especially for those humans with only two hands.

3. Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity by Josh Linkner is worth repeated readings/listenings.

4. James Taylor’s Christmas Album–pretty nice August road trip listening, actually.
It came along for the ride during a hurried toss of CDs into the travel bag.

Favorites:
Here Comes the Sun He teams with YoYo Ma for this version.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Some Children See Him

 

Rants and Riffs Installment #10: July 4th Fireworks ‘Solution’

black dog asleep

Total rant: We’re doing it all wrong.

Rather than go to the trouble of buying and administering tranquilizers to skittish pets on July 4th, how about we track down and tranquilize the mouth-breathers who set off fireworks in the late night?

Not enough? Partial lobotomies or personality transplants come to mind.

“No need to pay a fine, you guys. Just step right in for a quick noise abatement orientation…”

***

And while I’m at it, how many of the folks who slap together those fireworks stands for a quick buck are also owners of skittish pets?

 

Not writing? Stop the fingerpointing.

MacBook coffee mug and tablet
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

My last post dealt with blaming others for my not writing.

Hey, whatever gets me generating text…»

But on a more serious note, I ran across Steven Kotler, who has a popular course called Flow for Writers.

So I looked further into the topic and ran across this informative interview. Compare your strategies to his.

https://www.writingroutines.com/steven-kotler/

Highlights:

Do you listen to music when you write, or do you prefer silence, or something else on in the background?

“…70 percent of the time I will listen to music with headphones so it’s right up in my ear. I will usually make one or two playlists for a book and I will listen to the same playlist over and over and over again…if I find a playlist that I kicked into a flow state with really early on in my process and was very successful I will keep using it because it will keep driving that flow.”

When you’re staring at the screen at 4:00 AM, do you just start clicking away? What’s going through your head at that initial moment? 

“Even if the day before was a terrible writing day, I am so fired up to go at it again. I can be an absolutely miserable writer sometimes, but I wake up every day so fired up to do this.”

And finally, to put me to shame with all my finger pointing…

“When I wrote West of Jesus I had spent three years in bed with Lyme disease and I needed to tell that story to open the book, but I thought, ‘I spent three years in bed with Lyme but who cares? Compared to getting cancer or losing a limb, so what?’”

***

What’s your favorite music to carry you through your writing sessions?

What do you do to help you get into ‘flow’?

Not writing? I’ll blame anybody.

I directed one of my morning pages blaming others for my not writing.

Sooo satisfying…

For starters, I blamed Hilary Mantel, who said,

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie exclamations

, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” [The Guardian, 25 February 2010]

One small segment of her message seemed to resonate…

I repeat…all her fault.

And I blame Trader Joe’s who is selling organic strawberries for $2.50 a pound. Let’s face it, most of those gorgeous ones in the supermarket have very little flavor and considering they are one of the dirty dozen, well, that doesn’t help in the ‘appeal’ category.

But back to my relentless search for scapegoats…let’s see…yes! Sam Merritt’s to blame for serving up this winning recipe for strawberry cream cheese pie.

strawberry cream pie with dog lying nearby
Always good to have a member of the quality control team nearby

My only complaint: “Return to refrigerator and allow to set at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) before slicing and serving.”

Okay, in what world do people actually wait that long?

 

Rants and Riffs Installment #9: Thoughts while eating za’atar popcorn…

popcorn seasoned with za'atar

I wonder if the result is better if I sprinkled the za’atar in warmed olive oil to allow the seasonings to bloom…Worth trying the next time out. I know readers are riveted.

***

By the way, my favorite popcorn maker is this easy-to-clean Likue [sounds Hawaiian, doesn’t it?] brand of microwave popper. [BTW: Not an affiliate link.] Drop in the butter [I use olive oil.] and about a quarter cup of popcorn. My microwave’s ideal settings are: Two minutes on high. I don’t use the ‘popcorn’ setting. Bit of advice: Start tuning in at about the 1:50 mark. If corn is still popping at faster than ‘pop per one second’, let’er run. If the pops are less frequent ‘shut’er down’. [Geez, that whole rural twangy terminology gives me such a rush.]

***

Answer me this: Why in the name of Arnold Palmer do I even listen to the Dennis Silvers’ Golf Minute? Maybe I’m just a captive audience between segments of other stuff, but really, what part of ‘positioning your club face’ keeps me listening? I haven’t picked up a club in over 40 years.
Note: I’m still haunted by a psyche-scarring event when I was 11 years old. I scuffed a drive over to an adjacent putting green and it found a woman’s left calf. She was writhing in agony. I guess I too have been writhing ever since. [Pssst…probably not. Small comfort>>My ill-targeted shot bounced at least five times before making contact. Still, it does cross my mind whenever I revisit the idea of my hitting the links.] Okay, confession is over. Not sure if my penance has ended, however…I guess St. Peter will let me know…assuming I’m sent to the ‘escalator-up’ line.

***

escalator
I’m not exactly comfortable with the deep red glow. I’d be hoping for a relaxing azure blue…

And yes…now you’re all wondering…what about our post-mortem transport mode? If we’re directed toward an up-escalator, is that sometimes painfully deliberate climb the equivalent of ‘purgatory’? As opposed to a high speed ‘blink-and-you’re-there’ up-elevator? And is there music involved? And is TSA involved at any point in our journey? Gotta tell ya, if I’m issued one of those flowing robes, I’m not cottoning to any security frisk.

Ten Writing Prompts for March 11

 

  1. “Ready? Now close your eyes and count back from twenty…”

  2. They had everything and we had nothing…

  3. We never expected our innocent little lemonade stand to…

  4. It was pure joy/boredom/hate/love at first sight…

  5. Title: Night of the Zombies


  6. Title: Donald Trump Meets Forrest Gump

  7. My cruel words hung in the air…


  8. He had bit the hand that fed him…


  9. Luckily, Superman does exist…

  10. “Okay, soldiers/kids/Mr. President, pat your head and rub your stomach…”

Ten Writing Prompts for February 12

writing prompts word cloud

  1. This was the moment I had waited for…I marched into his office.

  2. “Yes, I know what you mean. I threw a fit yesterday about the same thing…”

  3. “Hello? This is Vegas Vacations. Have you heard about our latest deal?”

  4. “Whatever you do, don’t take a side.”

  5. “Chain your attack dogs, please.”

  6. This was the last lecture I’d ever have to hear from her…

  7. “Shepherd’s pie? It looked more like third base from last night’s game.”

  8. I had to admit it. I needed a friend.

  9. “Here he comes. Get out the butterfly net.”

  10. Breaking up on Valentines Day? What was I thinking? More important, what was she thinking?

  11. I tried to hurry past the deli. It was no use…

Ten Writing Prompts for January 17

writing prompts wordart

  1. “No, no! Not in the car!”

  2. All we needed was a hundred pounds of ice…

  3. “I have to tell you something, but you have to keep some perspective.”

  4. “The cell phone could only be in-oh-fifty places…”

  5. “What am I supposed to believe?”
    “Based on your past history, whatever you’re in the mood to believe.”

  6. “I don’t want to hear it. Besides, I’ve heard it all.”
    “Okaaayyyy, so if I told you that she wants to marry you…”

  7. It was a tough decision—rob the store or have some pie and coffee.

  8. “I couldn’t leave you guys behind.”
    “Of course you could and you nearly did until…”

  9. “The lying part made it all worse.”

  10. “Why didn’t you just come home?”

Ten Writing Prompts…“I’m telling you for the last time…”

word art ideas circular mind mapGreetings, readers and writers.

Just touching base on this blog with some writing prompts from my third book. I am also repeating the 31-day My 500 Words challenge. It was instrumental last January in my building a more consistent writing habit.

I’ve decided this year that I will direct my daily word count toward a single project I’m working on. Here was today’s post to the group. [Day 3 for me.]

610 words on my project of the month. I’m using the words to work through my process–steps I’m taking toward completion, including my responses to books and resources I’m using to help me. [i.e. Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau]. Two things are ‘freeing’: 1. This 500-word challenge because Jeff Goins says, ‘Don’t edit!’. 2. The project itself because it is just an experiment anyway, without much skin in the game.

For me, merely completing the project will be the reward.

Here are the prompts:

  1. “Whoa! Hold on there. Don’t start throwing out terms like ‘nutritional’ and ‘organic’ around here!”
  2. “So, you have no alibi and you were the last person to see her alive and you don’t think you should be in this room?”
  3. We were going to let her sit and stew awhile before we delivered the news…
  4. “Please! Take the gun. Just put the accordion down!”
  5. All he ever talked about was food…
  6. We knew we had found his weak spot…
  7. Customers lining up around the corner. Angry customers…
  8. This was not the time to get sentimental…
  9. “You really have no idea where your money comes from, do you?”
  10. “I’m telling you for the last time…”

Note: Always feel free to request a PDF of one of my books of 1000 prompts.