Leave It to Beaver…actually, Wally

Feeling the need for simplicity and–sighhhh–a trip down memory lane, I called up an episode of Leave It to Beaver. [You do realize life was perfect back then.]

Beaver tells his family that he wants to be a writer.

Ward Cleaver (to Beaver): I think you should do what Somerset Maugham did.
Beaver: Was he a writer?
Wally: With a name like that what do you think he is? A linebacker for the Baltimore Colts?

Classic line, Wally.

Image credit: ABC Television [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Sunday afternoon writer’s retreat-Revelations and learnings…up to 10 items.


I’ve started my retreat and I just realized…with the power of an Internet-connected laptop, these speakers and experts can follow me all around the house. I can even do some cooking and not miss a beat.

From Jenna Moreci, I’ve learned:

1. the benefits of writing your characters’ dialogue straight through. Just write the spoken word. Don’t bother with tags or action or imagery. The exchanges will be more natural. You can fill in with the other stuff later.

2. the proliferation of online passive voice checkers

3. a YouTube teacher/speaker’s use of an ‘F-bomb’ feels tacky and lazy. Repeated use of it just feels forced. She has tons of good ideas and information. I’m guessing this whole F-bomb issue is generational.

More as the afternoon progresses…

4. Love that I can rewind video…multiple times when some point doesn’t ‘connect’.

5. With online instruction, I’m afforded [I need my passive voice checker, don’t I?] the ability to slice and dice, clang pots and pans, and curse my clumsiness as I spill wine that I’m glugging into the ribollitawithout the speaker glaring at me and questioning my social graces, not to mention my kitchen skills.



6. Scrivener is an ideal organizing and editing tool for my 50 Stepping Stones draft on my first year of retirement.

7. I could set aside whole afternoon retreats targeting just Joanna Penn videos and website content. Ditto Austin Kleon and Steven Pressfield.

8. Thanks to Joanna’s podcast will soon be buying Tim Grahl’s Running Down a Dream.

9. Most first novels are barely readable, so lighten up and finish it. [Joanna Penn, with my paraphrasing]

10. Sarra Cannon–For those who want to sell what they’ve published, release your work within a single series. [One of her videos auto-played at the the end of the Joanna Penn conversation with Tim Grahl.]

I’m down to 4% on my laptop and I’m using that to get my in gear to finish this post…

So, the more detailed plan for today…

1. Pep Talk on Paper [just a quick riff to get me going]

2. Inspiration from books:

Will try to include excerpts

3. YouTube/SkillShare/Podcasts

Productivity Sessions: [At least 10 minutes apiece; probably 15—interspersed between short inspiration and online skill development/refresher sessions]

  • Retire/Renew Blog Posts
  • ESL Course Module
  • New project: My take on the NFL Network’s RedZone, only I do lightning fast updates on six different kids in a fictional classroom.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers Project: Find graphics/images that pertain to my project
  • At least two segments on my other children’s writing project

Coffee and chocolate cake somewhere in the middle


Gee what are the odds the results will look entirely different from the carefully crafted plan above?

The earlier post—

Yep, get the cooking and other distractions out of the way.

Free up the afternoon

In preparation:

  1. create a playlist of YouTube/SkillShare videos to boost my confidence and expertise
  2. set writing goals–# of words, # of posts, # of minutes actually writing/editing
  3. tools for first draft work [camera, audio recorder]
  4. coffee and home-baked goods nearby

Other necessities:

  • A readiness to change locations if it’s called for. [Move to a coffee shop, a city park, the backyard]
  • Phones are off/airplane mode
  • A timer to maintain focus

Let’s see how it goes.

Sharing a writer’s guest post…


I really liked this post from Cynthia Morris [Rally Your Courage to Write Your Book] on productiveflourishing.com.

Points that resonated:

  • “…we often find a bigger reason for why we’re not writing: lack of confidence.”
  • “I always encourage my clients to write a permission slip.” [=a ‘Yes, you can do this!”]
  • “There are plenty of books in the world. But not your book.

Added value to this post: It really does apply to any ambition to create.


Nothing to write about? I don’t think soooooo….

One of my favorite pages from Austin Kleon‘s book Show Your Work ** encourages creators to become ‘documentarians of what you do’.

Whether you share it or not, documenting and recording your process as you go along has its own rewards: You’ll start to see the work you’re doing more clearly and feel like you’re making progress. And when you’re ready to share, you’ll have a surplus of material to choose from.

  1. Research
  2. Reference
  3. Drawings
  4. Plans
  5. Sketches
  6. Interviews
  7. Audio
  8. Photos
  9. Video
  10. Pinboards
  11. Journals
  12. Drafts
  13. Prototypes
  14. Demos
  15. Diagrams
  16. Notes
  17. Inspiration
  18. Scrapbooks
  19. Stories
  20. Collections

**Not an affiliate link. ;-]

Curation Monday


Interesting thoughts from people much smarter than I am…

#Follow your curiosity and passion. What fascinates you will probably fascinate others. But, even if it doesn’t, you will have devoted your life to what you love…”

Diane Ackerman


Jon Winokur


You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures…”
–Anton Chekhov



Keep A Diary

Keep a diary, but don’t just list all the things you did during the day. Pick one incident and write it up as a brief vignette. Give it color, include quotes and dialogue, shape it like a story with a beginning, middle and end—as if it were a short story or an episode in a novel. It’s great practice. Do this while figuring out what you want to write a book about. The book may even emerge from within this running diary.

–John Berendt



Jordan Rosenfeld @Jordanrosenfeld

Don’t let yourself become bored with your writing or practice. Take #risks. #WritersGuide2Persistence #create

Curation Friday: Austin Kleon gems…

inbox internet overload

I confess to allowing my inboxes to be overloaded with quality resources that I don’t consistently pursue. Not so with Austin Kleon’s weekly newsletters…

Here are two Austin Kleon items that I vouch for:

1. Working On It [5 Quick Thoughts on Writing]

2. How to Keep Going [Take time to watch his 26-minute talk OR, if you’re pressed for time, lock in his list of ten tips and bookmark the page for a later viewing.

Two of my favorites:
The ordinary + extra attention = extraordinary.
Build a ‘bliss station’. [borrowed from Joseph Campbell]
Quote from Austin: “Airplane mode is not just a setting on your phone; it can be a way of life.”

Another of his tips: You are allowed to change your mind. Well, here goes…I was going to add a third A. Kleon gem, but other commitments arose and I just plain wanted this out in the world, so I’m changing my mind and sharing only two. Thanks, Austin, for the license to do so!

And believe me, these two items are value-packed. So, turn on Airplane Mode and enjoy.

Curation Monday: If You Can Talk, You Can Write [more gems]

More worthwhile points from If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman. [Not an affiliate link. I just couldn’t easily find his own website.]

  • ” ‘Who needs another book on writing?’ ”
    I did.
    I needed to write this book for myself–to see if I could take what I had learned over the years and write about it my way, with my particular slant on things.”
  • “Remember: There’s nothing new under the sun. So don’t let an old idea stand in your way, not for a second. Don’t sit around waiting for the Big Idea; start with a small idea (like “two women go on a road trip”) and make it big.”
  • A quote from John Cougar Mellencamp: “All I can really do is entertain myself, and hope along the way I can entertain somebody else.”