Sunday Meditation – Passion

Passion. Those things that immediately spark within our core and summon us to action, that propel us, are our passions. They significantly contribute to our meaning, our mission within ourselves, our families, our communities and our work. They enable us to continue on when change becomes uncomfortable and allows us break through our comfort zones. When we labour on our passions, it is not work, it is pleasure and it drives us towards the visions we have. Life is dull without passion and often when we feel lost and dissatisfied it is because we have drifted away from what makes our heart sing. We know what our passions are, we simply need to cut the noise in the background and focus within and listen. Getting back on track is simple, by taking the smallest action towards our passions we will be reignited and renewed again and ensuring we are living our lives to the fullest.

Sunday Meditation – Hope

Hope. When we reflect on what we haven’t accomplished, on the mistakes made and the things we wished we could change in the past, our focus faces downwards and ensures our journey continues to be painful. Yet with hope, we can look upwards, at the promise of things to come, of our circumstances improving, of passing through our struggles and grasping the dreams we are working towards. Hope enables us to spot the opportunities that linger on our peripheral, and when we reach out for them they pull us up and forward with a force we would not have had otherwise. Hope propels us forward and enables us to tread lighter in the present. Regardless of what has taken place, or where we are in this moment, instilling hope ensures the future will be better, and that future will become our present.

When The Finish Line Vanishes

It is the unknown that keeps people up at night. Pondering how life may look if we did something else, what could have been, perhaps should have been and our fears suppress the actions we would have taken.

It was finished, that idea that sparked a sentence, then a paragraph then many months later an entire manuscript. A vision becoming reality. The bulk of the goal accomplished and now the finish line appeared on the horizon and it called my name. All that was required was an edit or two to polish the piece and go from manuscript to novel. That was 3 months ago. Today, the imminent finish line has vanished.

It was my fault. I thought the writing was close to brilliant. But with my mind in editor mode I saw it was close to rubbish. Then the story changed and I didn’t connect those dots and enveloping those factors was my total underestimation of how much time editing takes. The volume of work required to fix the holes and raise the standard of prose. I am re-writing entire chapters with new scenes and sub plots that didn’t exist in draft one. Is that editing or am I back into the perils of writing.  

Progress is painfully slow. Scenes that took a day to compose are now taking a week. My brain hurts from switching sides; creative to analytical and back to creative again. Procrastination has risen. Writing, once done first thing in the day, the one non negotiable has moved down the list. I’m chasing other things, items that are more measurable. Tasks that can be finished quickly. Anything with visible progress, finish line in sight. I’ll clean, I’ll bake, I’ll do whatever takes me away from the computer. From the tapping of letters on a keyboard followed by mass deletion. 

This is the hard part. Before, what I thought was hard, I realise were easy obstacles. I am now at make or break. It would be easy to stop. I have many excellent reasons for giving up. If I tossed it away and someone asked me why, I could pull out any of those arguments. The other person would nod, they would agree with me that I made the right decision for the justifications I provided and then move the conversation along. But in my heart I would ache and be unable to look at myself in the mirror. My life, like everyone else, a history of decisions. Moments of choosing left instead of right. Selecting A and not B. What if I do stop. But stopping will have me tossing and turning and pondering. I must finish so I know, and knowing isn’t trying it is finishing, and in finishing maybe it will change my life, maybe it won’t. Either way I will have an answer and I can sleep with knowledge. 

I’m tired. The excitement of this venture has gone, it doesn’t exist when I’m in the trenches, trudging along. I didn’t know it would take this long. It feels it’s taken long enough and I’m now doubting I am even halfway. But I’m too far along, there is no going back. This dream has caught me and shackles me. The idea is alive and it has manifested and won’t let me go. Yes you are weary but you are capable it says. So I must push through. Continue to chip away no matter how slow, no matter how much other parts of my life try to derail me. As slow as it is, every sentence kept and moved on from is progress. The finish line may have disappeared from my horizon, yet I know it exists. This is where faith kicks in. In my ability, in my endurance, in my determination. Faith the finish line will appear again and I will cross it. I have faith the finish line has a place for me on the podium and I need to keep going until I’m standing on it. So forward I go. Because once I cross that line that will be the moment I say, thank goodness I persevered. And I will know, what could have been, what should have been. What is.

Sunday Meditation – Let Go

Let go. Our lives are congested, when we feel stale and frustrated is when we need to take stock and remove the old. Relationships that being us no joy have already come to an end, thank them for their purpose and let go. Commitments we have made that are now a burden may be stopped. Instead we invest our time and energy into something more deserving. To bring in the new we need space and space can only be carved when we clear out what no longer aligns with who we are and where we are going. This process may be challenging, yet the release that accompanies it reassures us that we have done what is best for ourselves. When we let go, nothing holds us back and we are free to grow and the opportunities we have been searching for present themselves and now is the time to seize them.

Sunday Meditation – Stop

Stop. Time to lift our heads up, catch our breath and take a look around. Without stopping we will push ourselves into the ground and getting up from there will require a lot more energy. It’s even harder when we have been fortunate to stumble onto our passion, losing ourselves in that is pleasurable. But without a break our creativity dulls and our resources stretch thin. Have faith that pulling away is the best thing in this moment. We have many different aspects of our lives and this is a reminder to check our priorities and pour ourselves into those spaces that are asking for us. What we have toiled for will still be there when we return, and the work forward will be stronger because we stopped.

Make Them Human

@elissa.johnston-3

You will fall in love with my protagonist. She is beautiful, she is smart, she is popular, she is wealthy, she is successful, everyone wants to be like her. In short, she is perfect. Which therefore makes her completely un-relatable and makes the reader want to throw the book into a burning fireplace. Your characters are human and therefore they have flaws. Of course you love your characters, even the unlikeable ones, but it is easy to make your protagonist too perfect in an attempt to make them the hero. Particularly if on some level they are a reflection of you. But it’s the imperfections that allow conflict to occur in the first place, which is the only way a story progresses. Think about the people you love, they have a suite of traits you adore about them. Yet they also have a handful that cause you to complain to others, to want to bang your head against a wall and to make you pick fights with them. It’s the same with your characters. What are their weaknesses? What annoys you about them? What faults do they have that causes them to trip up again and again. In thinking about your characters remember to make them human.

Sunday Meditation – Hibernate

Hibernate. Take a moment to pause, to consciously step away from the world and retreat. Make this an active decision, our bodies know when it is time for us to reflect inwards. Ignoring this advice will lead us to exhaustion. It is ok to stay home, to say no, to be alone and to rest. When we take time away we are able to process what has been going on and use that to strengthen ourselves, our passions, our purpose. The world continues to spin, life keeps going even when we take these moments, a day, a week, an hour, to hibernate. Often we are not aware of how hectic life becomes until we take the opportunity to withdraw from it. When we rest we renew and our mind and body settles, releasing tension and centring itself. Then we may proceed forward, reinvigorated and wiser.

What’s the Point?

point

What a clever writer I am, waxing lyrically about something that is completely irrelevant to the plot. It may be beautiful prose to admire as the writer, but as a reader, you are left puzzled and closing the book to find something more interesting to do. Every scene must have a point to the story and it must move the plot forward, whether that is with action, or insight into a main character, or to highlight the relationship between characters, or to show a key piece of information. After each scene ask what is the point, if your response is not immediate, don’t search for the point because it’s not there. It should be glaringly obvious to you, the creator, of why it needs to be included and less so for the reader. Yes cutting entire scenes, especially the wonderfully sculptured ones is painful, but reading your story with trivial scenes is agonising, and costly.  If there is no point, cut it.

Sunday Meditation – Change

Change. A constant of life. Sometimes we seek it out, other times we fight it, clinging to a situation, someone, something. But change always wins. Whether we go with it or it pushes us with force, it happens. Change is neither good or bad, yet it does move us forward. If it takes us somewhere we don’t want, it will crystallise what it is we do want and we can use this as motivation to actively make a change towards what we desire. If it brings us closer to our goals then we hold on through those moments of pain and ride through. Occasionally it turns up unexpected and spins our life around, more often for the better, leaving us wondering why we didn’t take that direction sooner. There is no point using resources to stop it, it is inevitable. Embrace it.

Find New Words

find new words

If my lead character smiles one more time I’m going to have to kill her off. Editing is that beautiful process that highlights (among other things) the laziness that every writer falls into. Becoming lazy means you become repetitive. Those small actions, the smiles, the walking, the frowning, the sighs, the laughs. When you read your work with few pauses for air, you become pained at the repetitions of these actions. There is only one solution which is to create new actions and observations. Now and in the future. Stay awake. What else is going on in the scene at that moment. Look beyond the initial response in your minds eye and focus on what else is happening. What is behind the smile. Maybe her nose crinkles, or his shoulders relax. Is there a noise? A feeling? Observe in the real world and bring that into your created world. Seek new. And if they have to smile (again) find another way, like a grin or a beam or perhaps a smirk. Finding new words will always enrich your writing.