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Archive for the ‘NaNoWriMo’ Category

Finding Inspiration Wherever it may Lurk

The Writer’s Dilemma

Time and again I see writers asking the same question: “Where do I find inspiration?” Sometimes, they put it a little differently, like: “How do I get my Muse to talk to me?” Either way, I don’t think the answers are as hard to find as we might sometimes make it sound.

For myself, I’m learning a couple of things. First, inspiration or your muse or whatever you choose to call it isn’t going to talk to you unless you are ready to listen. This means one of two things to me. Either you have to be sitting at the computer with your fingers on the keyboard ready to type what your Muse dictates, or you have to let your mind go quiet so the Muse or inspiration can strike. Maybe that’s why people say they get their best ideas while in the shower or answering the call of nature or anything else which allows them to just relax and be.

Aside from just planting myself in front of the computer and letting my mind go limp, I’ve had success with finding ideas, figuring out a direction for an article I need to write or even getting inspiration, full-blown, for my NaNo novel. Here are some of the things I use when my brain becomes muddled with everyday concerns or I’m just stuck in analytical, internal editor, everything is crap mode.

  • Meditation: Though not 100% successful, I try to meditate for an hour every day. Sometimes it’s 40 minutes, sometimes only 20, but my goal is an hour and I’ve learned to set a timer as there are days I could just float for the entire afternoon. In fact, a meditation the day before NaNo began this year yielded not only the concept for my latest endeavor but the title as well. It was also where I got the inspiration I needed to write an article about an event I attended a week or so ago.
  • Cooking: I love the way my mind can just drift away into its own world when I’m doing something menial like chopping vegetables for a soup or stir-fry. Generally, I just keep pulling things out of the refrigerator, chopping, measuring and putting them into bowls according to the order they’ll be added to the dish. It doesn’t take a lot of concentration so my Muse is free to cavort and dream. Of course, it means I have to stop mid-chop to either run to the computer or grab pad and paper to jot the idea down before it flits away again. Such was the case tonight while I chopped what ended up being 5 mixing bowls full of assorted veggies for my latest stir-fry concoction. Twice, I had to run to the computer and start blog posts; one here and one on my website, e’er I forget them entirely.
  • Dancing: One of my personal favorites. I draw my energy around me and seal that egg-shaped field which envelops my physical self. Dancing in this self-imposed bubble, there is no stress. There are no worries. I’m oblivious to the world and people around me and just for a few moments, release any concerns I might have about the outside world. Here is where the magic truly happens, and I’ve finally learned to carry a pad and pen with me at all times. Sometimes, it’s simply a characterization which comes to me because of someone I see. Other times, it’s a dialogue I’ve been needing for my current Work in Progress. Either way, it’s another inspiration I may or may not have known I needed.
  • Walking: Like dancing, this allows me to close myself off into my own personal bubble while remaining semi-aware of the world around me. (after all, I don’t want to walk into the path of a car, and even when fully aware, I have trouble avoiding tripping over my own feet, a crack in the sidewalk or even a pea-sized pebble.)To be honest, I go into a kind of fugue just grocery shopping sometimes!
Living in a World of our own Creation, as Writers We Have to Find our own Way

As writers, and frankly, anyone with a creative bent, we have to figure out what works to unlock our own inspiration. What works for me might simply frustrate someone else. I know people who relax best when their hands are in the dirt or when they’re sewing: both activities which frustrate the stuffing out of me. I tend to refer to it as shutting my mind down and allowing thoughts to meander through the empty space I leave, but that’s not really it either. Nevertheless, like matter which moves to fill an empty space, thoughts, too will swirl and coalesce when they find a welcoming vessel. Thus, all I’m really trying to accomplish is to make myself the welcoming vessel; the place where thoughts, ideas…inspiration can come to play.

Will You Share Your Thoughts?

I’d love to hear what works for you. What helps you let inspiration in? What do you do to declutter your mind? What activities do you find most relaxing? Most cathartic? Leave me a comment and share your thought processes.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful I’ve learned to allow.
2. I am grateful for discipline and lack thereof. A time for each.
3. I am grateful for community. Freelancers and writers seem to realize what so many do not: The Universe is abundant and there is enough for everyone. We don’t need to compete with each other at all. Instead, we support and encourage. Would that the world would come to this realization.
4. I am grateful for the network I’m building. I am meeting people from all walks of life because we share a common interest; a common goal. We all want to get out of the corporate rat race and be our own person, our own boss, our own motivator and the recipient of the bounty from our efforts.
5. I am grateful for abundance: community, friendship, camaraderie, love, joy, inspiration, motivation, progress, productivity, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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August 31, 2015 Life Between Universal Head Slaps

I believe the Universe is warming up to deliver a humdinger of a head slap. Why do I say that? In the last month or so, it has seen fit to reintroduce people into my life who were last seeing during a very difficult time period when I was making a lot of poor choices and behaving in a very negative and self-defeating fashion. And it isn’t the same time period. As of tonight, I’ve seen three of them.

The first instance was very positive and friendly, showing me that despite my poor behavior, there were some good times, and good memories.

The second was more like a leech seeking to re-attach itself if I wasn’t able to make it clear I was no longer that person. Fortunately, after a month of intermittent encounters and behavior on my part for which I’m not proud, I seem to have sent that particular less-than-stellar portion of my life back into the past where it belongs.

My latest encounter was only from a distance, and given certain circumstances, wasn’t entirely unexpected. The parting of the ways I experienced with this particular individual was instigated by his recently-deceased wife. In this case, I saw no real reason to make contact. I couldn’t say with sincerity that I was sorry for his loss, and maybe that’s the point. His appearance was a reminder that it’s high time I just forgave the woman. We’d both moved on and hadn’t had any contact in at least a dozen years. We moved in different circles and even the smallest of ripples didn’t intersect. Before that head slap comes, I guess I need to work on that forgiveness; both towards her and for myself. I certainly contributed to the situation by being stupid and unnecessarily vulnerable. It also occurred at the end of what I think of now as ‘the years of negativity’. Shortly thereafter, I was introduced to “The Secret” and began eliminating negative behavior from myself and negative people from my life.

You Win a Little and you Lose a Little

Looking back on those years, since the Universe insists, I carried around a lot of unnecessary baggage. Through a series of events and some much-needed guidance, I finally realized I had the ability to put things down. I didn’t need to schlep every single bad decision and every single tragic life occurrence around with me forever. I simply needed to take the lesson from each experience and let the rest go. I also found during those years that the Universe didn’t bother giving me head slaps; perhaps because I was beating myself up more than enough without any outside assistance. Instead, I was given a lot of opportunities to learn to love and appreciate myself. Believe me, back then I was a very slow learner, but even the tortoise gets to the finish line eventually.

What I’m trying to say in my usual meandering fashion is that we need to look around at what is coming into our life now and then because oftentimes, it is something we need or a lesson we need to learn. If we’re already indulging in self-flagellation, the Universe won’t give us more of the same, even if it feels like that’s what we’re getting. The Universe knows that we’re going to attract what we put out there so it isn’t even necessary to pile more manure on someone who is attracting manure. It takes little effort to become an expert shit-attractor.

It’s only when we’ve learned from those wrong turns and detours that we start to receive some challenges; not to drive us backward but to make us stronger and more certain of our path, perhaps even to get us to open up to options we’ve discarded because they seemed to be too difficult. Forcing us into a detour means we have to figure out how to make the sub-optimal work instead of just taking the easy road. Step out of that comfort zone and try something that makes us think quickly, maneuver better and even get out of our own way.

So in spite of the frustration at having to field some old manure, I know it is in my best interests and is preparing me for a new and interesting detour which will take me someplace I’d never have gone had the road I was on remained smooth and easy.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for life’s challenges as they give me the opportunity to explore new places.
2. I am grateful for my imperfections as they give me reason to strive to be better.
3. I am grateful to be getting back into the edits of “Sasha’s Journey” and to have set myself a goal to finish before NaNoWriMo. So I have another 292 pages to edit before November 1. I didn’t think I could write 50,000 words in a month either, and now I’ve done it twice!
4. I am grateful for my friends and family who, whether they realize it or not encourage me to go farther, do better and be a kinder, more compassionate person.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, encouragement, inspiration, motivation, freedom, happiness, charity, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

May 4, 2015 A Well-Deserved Break

Basking in the Afterglow

I’m giving myself a well-deserved blog post free night while I enjoy the immense though brief satisfaction of having finally completed the first draft of A Dubious Gift which I began during the 2014 NaNoWriMo last November.

This brief but well-deserved respite will be followed by a frantic and lengthy embarkation into what I think of fondly as “rewrite hell”. Two books await my gentle ministrations and the less gentle ones of my critique groups. A Dubious Gift will go hide in the closet for a while, fearful of losing its very soul on the cutting room floor.

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and my website, http://www.shericonaway.com. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

I will leave you with tonight’s gratitudes:
1. I am grateful that I finally finished the first draft of my second novel. (does that sound amazing or what???) Typing the words “The End” has never felt so good!
2. I am grateful for the family and friends who have supported my endeavors to this point and tolerated the associated lunacy.
3. I am grateful that after almost a year and a half of being a full-time writer, I actually have something tangible to show for it (between the two novels alone, there are close to 200,000 words!). I’m not even going to try to count the words I’ve blogged. What I do know is that almost exactly 2 years ago, there were already close to 400,000 words, and I’ve been far more prolific since then.
4. I am grateful that my muse seems to show up whenever I kick the procrastination fairy out and actually sit down at my computer with a Word document open and the cursor blinking at me with malicious intent.
5. I am grateful for abundance; words, ideas, stories, friends, family, love, joy, opportunities, blessings, health, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

November 18, 2014 I trust my feelings, but sometimes I just don’t get their message! #shericonaway

Sometimes, I wish my feelings came with an instruction manual.

When I went to bed last night (way too late again as I simply had to watch the latest episode of Castle before I started writing) I had what I’ve come to know as “Anxiety Tummy”. You know that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you’re worried about something very intensely? Like when you’ve interviewed for a job you really want and are waiting to hear if you got it. Or you’re waiting for the results of tests at the doctor. That sort of thing.

The only problem is, I don’t have anything like that happening in my life right now! The worst part is, I woke up this morning and my stomach was still doing somersaults.

What do you do when your body gives you messages you just can’t decode?

Our bodies are wondrous things and, if we pay attention, can really point us in the right direction (or send us running really fast the other way if we’re heading for disaster, also known as “a learning experience”.) Sometimes, we ignore those messages, to our own detriment, but at other times, like today, I just don’t know what I’m being alerted to.

When I went to sleep last night, I asked my guides for clarification, but if they gave me any, I don’t remember. I’ve sat quietly, trying to allow thoughts to just float into my brain which might explain this weird feeling. The only thing I’ve come up with is my upcoming income verification with Covered California. I wouldn’t think that would be enough to upset my stomach, especially after all I’ve been through with them over the last year.

One thing I have learned is that if I spend a lot of time worrying about what I’m worrying about, it only makes things worse and I get nowhere.

It really is true! Exercise helps put things into perspective!Harvest box 11-18-14 view 2

I opted to refrain from fretting and went about my daily business which, on Tuesday includes a workout at the gym and a trip to Underwood to pick up my veggie box. Call me weird, but I get very excited over things like artichokes and kale, both of which appeared in this week’s box. This week’s new veggie to try is a butternut squash. I’ve had it in ravioli, but little else so I’ll enlist my daughter’s assistance in determining what to make with it. We are both looking forward with gusto to another kale, potato and chicken sausage stir fry this week. I’ve also grown rather fond of the purple carrots which once again were part of the week’s yummy bounty.

Getting back to the point I was trying to make before I waxed eloquent over my veggies, is that going to work out was the best thing I could have done with regard to understanding my body’s signals. Not only did my chest and tricep workout loosen up my shoulder, not completely, but range of motion is much better, but I realized what was bothering me.

I was on track when I thought it might have to do with my Covered California renewal, but as it turns out, the real issue was only indirectly related, and goes something like this: I haven’t made as much money this year as I’d hoped, but to be honest, I haven’t put as much effort into the writing as I could have. BUT when I started looking at what I had accomplished rather than what I hadn’t (sound familiar?), I was pretty pleased. Conservatively speaking, if I say I averaged 30,000 words a month blogging, that’s 300,000 words just in this blog! Add to that the 30,000+ words I added to the novel I started last November plus the 29,000 I’ve already written this year…Do you see where I’m going here?

Now, add to the list the fact that I’ve gotten through two and a half chapters of the copywriting class (chapter 3 alone is over 300 pages) plus the first 10 or 11 exercises, and I’ve worked on two new clients’ books as well as spending some time for my former employer in the early part of the year.

On top of all that, I’ve done a lot of decluttering in my house this year, managed to keep up with most of my chores and improve my environment. All this, and I got away to visit my daughter at least a half dozen times this year.

Whew! Needless to say, anxiety tummy is a thing of the past, though my shoulder is telling me that a massage and energy session should still be part of this week’s agenda.

The moral of my story is, listen to the emotional signals your body sends, but don’t stress out if you don’t, at first, understand the message.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for a system which reminds me to focus on what matters.
2. I am grateful for my workouts which do my body a world of good and take me away from things which used to tie me in knots.
3. I am grateful for my weekly box of fresh veggies.
4. I am grateful for the opportunity to focus on what I have done rather than what I haven’t.
5. I am grateful for caring friends who share life’s ups and downs, both theirs and mine. It is heartwarming to know that we travel life’s roller coaster in good company.
6. I am grateful for abundance: faith, love, joy, friendship, inspiration, accomplishments, health and prosperity.

Namaste

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

November 9, 2014 Is it time for the holidays already?? #shericonaway

Is it just me, or did the last two weeks go by in a blur?

Between traveling back and forth to my daughter’s, having her here for a few days along with my grandpuppy and starting the 50,000 word writing challenge, I feel like the last couple of weeks passed in a matter of hours. Is it just me, or is the world speeding up yet again?

Although tasks are getting done, I’m not always clear on how it’s happening. I seem to move through the days, going from one thing to another without any real thought or plan, yet things are getting done.

Chores and gym visits are happening on a regular basis. My kitchen has recovered from my daughter’s latest baking frenzy. Dylan still spends a good part of the day on my desk, joined by Toby or Munchkin and sometimes one of the boys. There’s coffee in my pot, groceries in my fridge and cabinets and a box waiting for the last couple of things to send off to my son-in-law.

I could go on and on about what hasn’t happened, but frankly, it’s not only boring but doesn’t really matter in the overall scheme of things. The holidays will be different this year, for a lot of reasons, but this has been a year of change, so it is inevitable that the holidays would be affected as well.

For now, I continue to meet my writing challenge goals, keep my household going and keep myself open to income opportunities. Having faith and feeling grateful are the building blocks which make everything fall into place. So my faith in myself and the Universe is strong, and I am grateful for every little thing!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the changes which have made this year very interesting.
2. I am grateful that I am still ahead of the curve as far as my latest writing challenge.
3. I am grateful for the faith that keeps me moving forward, firm in my belief that the wheels are continuing their forward motion.
4. I am grateful for a quiet day at home, absorbing, relaxing, accepting, and acknowledging…in complete joy.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, inspiration, motivation, laughter, joy, friendship, family, paying forward, great kids (both blood and adopted), harmony, peace, health and harmony.

Namaste

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

November 7, 2014 Day 7, and I’ve finally caught up! #shericonaway #nanowrimo

It’s amazing what can be accomplished with a little concerted effort and a clear goal.

Yesterday, I took myself to task for being behind on the minimum word count for my latest novel in the NaNoWriMo challenge. I set myself a nightly goal of 2,000 words, and exceeded it by 300 words last night, bringing me closer to the minimum needed to complete the challenge on time. Tonight, I improved upon last night’s effort by adding 2,687 words!

What does this mean in the general scheme of things? It means that I’ve just blown past the minimum word count needed by today in order to finish on time. But even more, it means that, at the rate I’m going, I’ll be ahead of schedule so when Thanksgiving weekend comes around, I won’t be forced to do another marathon writing session to complete the challenge!

I learned a lot from last year’s challenge. First, I came in more prepared with my plot and initial characters. I had a couple of weeks to just let the story bounce around in my brain. Although it bears little resemblance to those initial bounces, it is definitely off to an interesting start, and has headed in a direction I hadn’t even considered.

In reviewing last year’s stats, I had several times when I wouldn’t write for two or three days in a row. Granted, I was still working and putting in some long and stressful days in an effort to leave my successor with as much information as possible. This year, the only thing I have to combat is my own laziness.

I am finding that, hard as I try, the best time for me to write and just stay focused is still after 9PM. I’ve tried sitting down to write in the middle of the day, and have yet to achieve success. The way I see it, there’s no reason to mess with a system that works.

Don’t you hate it when anal accountant brain kicks in on a project that’s supposed to be creative?

Although I am firmly set in my life as a writer now, I find that taking the girl out of the accounting department does not turn off the accounting mind completely. As such, I had to calculate how many days it would take for me to finish if I continued writing 2600 or so words a day. At this rate, I could finish the 50,000 words in about 15 days. But then, the rules don’t say I have to write a maximum of 50,000 words, but that I have to write at least 50,000 words by November 30 in order to meet the challenge. I, for one, do not have a problem with writing more and actually finishing the story, in rough form of course, by November 30.

There are some opportunities to use December to fine tune the first draft of my novel, and I would love to accept one of those offers so I don’t spend another 8 months or so refining my novel’s first pass! As I said, I have learned a lot from last year’s effort, and am endeavoring to avoid at least some of the mistakes I made last time.

I hope you’ll stick with me through this challenge, offering encouragement, energetically, if nothing else. I don’t know how many people are participating this year, but we can certainly use all of the good energy you might want to offer up. Writing an actual novel is a great deal different than writing a bunch of random thoughts or the occasional well thought out and researched blog post.

It occurs to me that I live to learn.

I stagnate when I’m not learning anything. I know that about myself and it is probably why I never stayed with one company for longer than seven years. Either I rot away from boredom or I dig into things management didn’t want me to uncover. Either way, I’m screwed.

With writing, finding a place where learning stops is just not possible. It is an avocation with ever expanding horizons where there is always plenty more to learn and infinite new directions to take. This is why I’m here.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I’ve gotten into the flow of writing every night, and am back on track to complete the challenge on time.
2. I am grateful for the lessons and challenges of being a writer.
3. I am grateful for completing my fourth week of regular gym visits, and have, in fact, increased my average number of weekly visits from 2 to 4.
4. I am grateful that inspiration is flowing my freely now.
5. I am grateful that I have recognized and accepted that my optimal writing time is after 9PM.
6. I am grateful for abundance: inspiration, words, encouragement, love, friendship, health and prosperity.

Namaste

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

November 6, 2014 Getting serious #shericonaway

Setting goals and not quitting until they’re reached.

Five days in and I was already 1300 words behind. Something had to be done! After dancing tonight and a little unwinding, I told myself that I would continue writing, no matter how long it took, until I reached at least another 2,000 words.

I’m happy to say that a little bit of self-flagellation was wondrously effective. I wrote 2303 words tonight and the same number of words tomorrow will put me back on schedule! The stupid thing is, I know I can knock out 2,000 words a night if I just focus! I have to allow my subconscious to drive the story instead of agonizing over each word with my logical and much less creative brain.

It was tough going for awhile, but once I got past the first 1,000 words, the rest started to come more easily. Yes, I can DO this!!!

Of course, the crazy writing sprees mean shorter blog posts (or in the case of last night, so short they’re non-existent). But I promised to keep you updated on my progress, and even, time permitting write something for the CSA blog about my culinary escapades. But this week, with me arriving home from my daughter’s on Monday and her arriving here last night, about the only program I’m sticking to religiously is going to the gym.

OK, now that you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, let me assure you that I’m neither joking or on drugs. I really have been to the gym every day this week except Monday (after driving for 2 1/2 hours I gave myself a pass) but I also plan to go tomorrow. For some reason, I’m starting to enjoy the sweating and am further encouraged by my friend, Stacy, who has now joined my gym, is getting me to at least one if not two pilates classes a week, and has designs on getting my ample tushie into a spin class in the near future. Yikes!!! But it’s all good.

Combining regular exercise with healthier eating is making my body very happy and kicking my energy level into overdrive. Not to mention, making my FitBit sing several days a week with glee as I reach the 10,000 step mark (for today, it hit over 11,000 by the time I sat down to write!).

I could easily go off on another tangent here, but if I want to keep my promise to myself, I must get some sleep though 6 hours or so seems to be doing it these days.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the healthy habits which I really seem to be enjoying this time.
2. I am grateful for time spent with my daughter.
3. I am grateful for friends who both encourage and push me.
4. I am grateful for my kitties who keep me company while I reach for the stars.
5. I am grateful for the setting of goals as it gives me something to reach for on my way to the stars.
6. I am grateful for abundance: loving, living, energy, writing, imagination, inspiration, friendship, harmony, peace, acceptance, forgiveness, health and prosperity.

Namaste

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

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