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Why is it so hard to write?

I don’t know, I really don’t. Sometimes these long bouts of lack of writing make me question whether I ever was a “writer,” or not. I know to be a writer is a very subjective occupation. So, by someone’s standards “I” am a writer, but by (many) others, I am just a scribbler of occasional thoughts and incoherent, uninspired drivel.

As I sit here and think of what all hinders me from writing, I come up with a few reasons, (more like excuses), but whatever, maybe someone can relate.

Lack of Inspiration

Isn’t that everyone? Any artiste – musician, painter, writer – what have you – we all “lack inspiration” whatever that really means. To me, I find that I just don’t see the point in writing about just anything. I’ve tried the whole daily-prompt thing, and while it may boost my energy and vigor to write every single day, it more often works like a 5-hour energy shot – I write 3,000 words in a snap, and then am dry for months on end. Often, I look around me and try “observe the world” for a new angle, a new perspective with which to guide my muse, but I usually get caught up in the gossip and noise of it all, find myself discontent with life, and end up in front of the computer on a Netflix binge while stuffing Ruffles potato chips. (Ice cream, if I’m feeling my sweet tooth.) I know some creatives say that inspiration just has to “hit” you in the right moment. That’s all well and good I guess for most creatives, but I’ve rarely been “hit” by anything – no siblings to swing punches, no fly balls in the outfield, and I would have killed to be “hit on” by a few guys I knew in high-school days. I find that such a strange idea that inspiration is something that is just a happen-chance. I’ve never been a fan of gambling, which also isn’t very conducive for being a writer. By my own people-pleasing spirit and drive to be excellent in whatever I do, I think I must be trying to hunt for inspiration rather than it hitting me. I guess I need to stand on a Mt. Everest with a metal rod super glued to my side and drenched with water and maybe then I’ll get “struck” with inspiration. Either way, I’m tired of my lack of inspiration. I am tired of being on the prowl, and I am tired of inspiration missing me as its target.

Lack of Motivation

Can I get an “Amen!” Whew, probably worse than the first, lack of motivation is a killer to all creative types, but in some ways I think writers have it the worst. Speaking from an amateur artist’s perspective, when I set out to paint or draw a project, I have a clear motive behind it – it’s for someone I love, someone I care about, it has a deeper purpose other than pleasing myself. This is by no means is to paint me out to be a saint (pun intended). I simply know that when I catch a rare glimpse of inspiration, the motivation to follow through with an idea is driven by the fact I cannot wait to make someone feel good with my work. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas – whatever the occasion, the timeline gives me directive to finish an art piece. I am motivated. But with my writing – ha. I am not a poet, and I doubt anyone wants an annotated essay (my specialty) about themselves or any subject for that matter as a “gift.” I do have stories piled high that are unfinished and unread and maybe if I had an ounce more confidence, I would pass manuscripts to my friends and family. Then, I might feel more prompted to complete my works, but because I am shy with my writing, it stays hidden away beneath pages and pages of itself. Maybe motivation isn’t so much an issue as it is confidence, but without confidence motivation isn’t near strong enough to be a force to blast through the layers of self-doubt and years of self-deprecation.

Did I just hear Simple Plan and Linkin Park circa 2002 start up? Let me slip into my darker clothes and heavy eyeliner.

Lack of Confidence

As mentioned prior, this may be the heart of my issue. The whole reason I find it hard to write: I don’t believe I can. It has nothing to do with fishing for compliments, when you truly doubt yourself. Friends, family, and the occasional stranger can compliment your work and you still wonder if that’s all just nice-talk to the shy wall-flower. Well, that’s me anyway. It’s almost as if I am in a bubble and I hear muffled words that don’t penetrate my defenses, and so I will never value or embrace the fullness of a compliment. It rolls off my little sphere and I am not sure what was said, or what the intent was behind anyone’s words. I am sure every writer has dealt with a lack of confidence streak, but my lack of confidence seems to follow me into all avenues of life, not just writing. Because I believe this is part of my core, I believe it is what has very much challenged me in many areas other than writing. Without digressing into a complete puddle of self-pity, which I did not intend to do so, so forgive me, I believe that confidence is the building block upon which motivation and inspiration find footing in the creative process for any artist; all the more reason motivation and inspiration do not come easily at all to me.

Believing in a Solution

The problem is the difference between what I think and know and what I believe. What I do believe in is God. I believe in Jesus as my Savior, and according to the Apostle Paul, that is all I ought to have confidence in and that is all I should ever need. I believe that, too. At least with my head – I think it to be true, I know that is true. But my heart is slow to follow. Maybe one day it will catch up and actually accept those truths, truly believe, and then my confidence will be as firm as the rock on which Christ built his Church. I think and maybe even know God gave me a gift to construct words, sentences, paragraphs, and author stories. Maybe one day I’ll believe it, too.

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Watch Your Step

Today has been sublime. Spent most of last night in bed, by a cool window, curled in blankets and tasty beverage and a marathon on Netflix of Pretty Little Liars, and this rolled into this morning when I lazily didn’t even shower and dress until about 1130am. And after being told not to come into the office today since the crew would be away, I took the chance to visit a coffee house I’d heard of in the same area. It is very pleasant and they are blasting an assortment of Christmas music – jazzy, contemporary, Christian, silly – and between a comfy chair, tasty pastry, and a dim lit hall, it creates that writer’s paradise. I am sad to be leaving shortly, which is why I had to get this out before I have to pack up my bag and leave.

And let me preface this: do pay attention to signage. 99% of the time it’ll help you avoid a mishap, like tripping, falling, dying – seriously, stay behind the lines at cliff’s edges. I am a rule follower and definitely watch my step, and encourage you to do the same – BUT – here’s some stuff that counters my normal thought on these sort of signs.

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So, I am looking at this door that says “Watch Your Step,” and think “Hm.” I feel like I’ve spent a lot of my life doing just that – watching each step. Head down, eyes fixed on the floor below me, and if it seemed unsafe, I’d step to the side, if it began it begin to fall out from under my foot, I’d freak, if it felt unstable, I’d freeze – so I feel like I’ve followed directions very well, but feel no safer, or better for doing so. In fact, I usually am fretting over the next step I should take.

If you’ve read any of my other entries, you’ll see a roller coaster like pattern of my reaction to life, for which I am not always proud of. I’ve always heard it’s better to respond than to react, and I believe this, but have done a lousy job of adhering to the proverb. In fact, I am seeking some pro-help to see if I can better pin down my anxiety and stress issues. However, looking at this sign has given me an insight into myself I hadn’t realized.

I am far too concerned with each of my steps and have to know every detail behind each step I do take. I have spent too much time looking down at my feet, fearing the future, fearing my steps, fearing falling – all because I have watched each step I take. This is completely contradictory to my belief of God’s control over my life, he directs me and leads me, or so he should – I often look down at the ground just to make sure it’s still there though – ugh. It has been a life struggle of mine to not worry, but every day God is faithful and patient and awaits for the breakthrough when I stop worrying about each step I take and trust him to guide me.

I feel very much like Peter in the moment after he began walking on water toward Jesus, and then suddenly began to doubt and began to sink. He for sure was a bit nervous, stepping out of that boat, but his worry was overcome with the joy of following after his Master. He was too excited to worry about his steps – ON WATER – HELLO – if this man can focus enough on Jesus where he didn’t watch his steps on the water, then what is holding me back from having the same faith to follow after my Master (on LAND)? In fact, it was in the moment Peter noticed the waves, the uneasiness that comes with walking on water (or so I assume it’d feel, no idea though), the moment he watched his steps and look at his circumstances did he begin to fall. But Jesus caught him.

Because Peter didn’t watch his step, he was able to do the impossible because he was too busy looking at Jesus. I want to do the same. I want to even just master walking on dry land! I struggle with that, I can’t see how I’ll walk on water anytime soon with me and my little faith.

I want to stop worrying about the waves and wind in my life and focus only on Jesus. I want the author and perfecter of Faith to call me out of my boat and walk toward him. I will be so excited to finally be able to step out of my comforts, I won’t even realize I’m standing on water and walking freely toward Him! And I certainly won’t be worried about watching my step.

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Also, The Overall Company in Opelika, AL is grand, take a visit y’all.

Admission of Omission

If you’re a writer of the 21st century and had a computer back to the days of dial up you probably are aware of a little thing called NaNo – National Novel Writing Month that comes around every November. This year I swore to be good and force myself to sit, write, and work at it, even if it meant not eating, sleeping, or functioning normally. Well, another year has come and 15 days into NaNo I have a grand total of 6,000 words that I copy and pasted from a novel I’ve had buried since 2009. It’s quite embarrassing to admit and I loath the fact I have not been better. Maybe someone can make me feel better and admit to this grievous sin as well.

At this point, I feel rather failure-ish as a writer, though I know that’s not at all true. And if you’ve been feeling that vibe of yourself, whether you’re a NaNo enthusiast or not, but are in a rut about your writing, read on, and scoot over so I can sit beside you in your rut.

Why haven’t I been writing? Well, maybe you’ll identify with my list of excuses:

Time

The biggest thing of all, it’s the most wayward friend we have and sometimes it’s on our side and most of the time it’s not.

Work

Go ahead, shoot me for this one. Of course we all have our day job(s), and I have 4 I get officially paid for and 2 I do because I’m nice and desperate to fill my portfolio.

Lack of Ideas

I have run into the biggest wall, as many of you understand and for about three years, there’s been little to tear it down, so who knows when for this particular tale I will be able to push through and continue.

Lack of Motivation

I think this is more or less me whining, but after completing my tasks for my four other gigs, I am just totally drained of anything to want to focus and concentrate on formulating any more original thoughts. Writing is my passion, but it’s not my lifeblood. Maybe it should be.

Other Road Blocks

And here comes another admission: I have a lot of baggage left unchecked and so I’m looking at finding a little help to check it all in so it can finally check out and I can check off this weight on my shoulders.

I hope this is doesn’t discourage anyone. If anything, I hope other writers find some solace to know that just because you don’t participate in NaNo doesn’t mean you aren’t a writer, or a worthy one. Life doesn’t always allow for us to always write when we want to write, but it doesn’t mean we stop or think it’s merely our hobby. If it’s your passion, if you have a story to tell, you can and one day will. NaNo’s will come and go, but you’re a writer year round.

Rut Buddies Unite

I’m tired of our ruts, so let’s help each other out, so stand on my shoulders and I’ll help you out if you can lend a hand down to me and pull me up.

The Year After I Interned Twice

If you know me at all, you know my life has been a crazy hodge podge of experiences and a checker-board of interests and investments. I don’t believe any experience is wasted and you can learn something from every situation, even if it takes a while to figure out a few years in retrospect. Be patient with your life and yourself – you can’t always figure it out the first time.

Anyways, I interned last year for two organizations, both with worthy causes and purposes. My first internship was with iACT in Austin, which is non-profit for aiding refugees in the city become comfortable in their new home. This organization is pretty amazing. I got to meet with some of the founding peeps from it and see behind the scenes of what they do. It is a great group of hard-working, people-loving, men and women and I was proud to be a small part of their team.

They do a lot to help families, and one of the biggest needs is to teach English to people who are fresh from other countries and have little but their family, clothes on their back, and the papers to be admitted into the US – and that’s about it. That would be terrifying to me to have to be in that situation. And iACT does amazing work to work with translators and the systems in place to assist these men and women who start from scratch. In the name of bureaucracy and red-tape, there’s a lot of waiting around, paper work, jargon, and overwhelming stuffs these people have to wade through, trusting that their new English guides will help them, not only that, they bring their kids – lots of them. And those sweet kiddos have to wait, listen, and entertain themselves the best they can during the process. I can’t imagine having to be a child in this situation, when you look to your parents for assurance, but they can give very little than a “Hold on,” and “We have to wait our turn,” and not know themselves when things will come to pass. All that said, these kids need as much hands-on attention as they’re just as new as their parents to our country and need English assistance. And that’s where I came in.

For about nine weeks, I help facilitate English camp and activities educational and fun for kids ages 4-18 every day. The word “tired” doesn’t even scratch the surface of how I felt at the end of my day. It was exhausting, it was draining, it was hard, it was a mad house most days, it was 50 kids with 2 helpers, it was organized chaos, and it’s amazing not a single injury or lost child the whole time. Thank you, Lord. Seriously.

If I can be honest with myself, I can’t sit here and say, “It was the best time of my life.” Or anything so profound or pretty. If I am honest, it sometimes straight up stunk, to put it nicely. Not to mention (though I will) I also was helping facilitate an ESL camp for Russian orphans – ages 5-16 – oh my goodness. I do not think my patience, grace, mercy, compassion, and kindness have ever been stretched this thin. I even had the classic “kids made the teacher cry” moment, when I had rude remarks (in Russian) murmur throughout the room while my back was turned, then total anarchy one day with my oldest teen boy go AWOL and walk out, and me standing like an idiot not sure what to do. It was downright embarrassing and incredibly frustrating – teachers you totally get me, right? Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for my summer to be over. I cried most days after doing this.

I still say I am proud to have worked with iACT and overall, I am proud that I stuck through the ESL camp for my Russian kids – I learned a lot about compassion and with retrospect vision, I can see the good that God allowed for during my time for both. These kids needed a teacher, needed some guidance, needed to be loved on (and not in the cuddly warm way necessarily), and their parents and foster parents needed a break. I am not sure how God did it, but he gave me the strength to get through one of the most trying summers of my life, and I am thankful to have been the tool he used.

I was drained though.

I felt absolutely and completely used up emotionally, physically, and mentally. And there wasn’t a single molecule in me that had an ounce of desire to teach English anymore, especially to children.

It really depressed me. I just spent a whole year believing this was my calling, this was my pursuit, this would be my livelihood and stay. But now that was gone, and now what? I felt empty.

Enter internship #2. The Posh Chapter.

After my internship with iACT, I took a vacation on my first cruise, and I don’t think it could have been better timed for me. All the stress and tears of the summer melted in the Cozumel sun. It was literally the most relaxing trip I had taken – and I mean relaxing – food on demand – water, sun, and sand – drinks – romantic walks on the deck under the moon with nothing but water for miles. It was incredible. If you’ve been on a cruise, you understand. But once I returned, the “Now what?” Came down on me once again. I thought about it and over the years, the one thing that does bite at my ankles for attention is writing. And so, it was finally time to turn and consider my options for a writing career.

After many applications and rejections for various positions as admin assistant or various odd-end jobs, I got an unpaid internship offer to be a blogger for The Posh Bridal Lounge. Unpaid? Wait, hold up. No money?

Yeah…well, ok. So, that was the bitter part about it. But I didn’t care at the time. I just wanted a chance to test my wings in this new area and explore the potential. Unpaid didn’t mean not worth it. And sitting here, I cannot believe the year I have had as part of the Posh Bridal team.

I learned an incredible amount about so many things – weddings, planning, delegating, leadership, web development, analytics for social media, wordpress, SEO – I could go on a while. All the while, I have been able to write and improve my writing. My boss is a rockstar and I owe her so much, you don’t even.

It’s still hard sometimes feeling like I should be teaching, but that part of me is still a bit drained out of my system, but I can feel it rising up slowly. And until then, I have had a year with Posh Bridal, and I continue to learn and refine my skills and abilities. I know that it was a good move and if anything a break from teaching so that maybe one day I can return to the classroom for adults – and maybe one day – kids again.

Because of my position at Posh it’s opened up a whole new world to me that I never knew I had an interest for in marketing – content and social media (and don’t judge me and think that it means just playing on FB, well, sometimes), but for real, there’s so much that goes into it that I love learning. And at the core of my heart I am a student and I love to learn new things. I was that annoying one in college who asked too many questions, by the way – so you can throw paper balls at me.

More than the new skills and fields I have learned, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I am much more confident than I realized, I am lot more capable than I knew, and I can be brave, believe it or not (still working on that, see my previous post).  But I would not have learned any of that without both of these internships last year. One was hard, and the other eye-opening. I value both experiences and I am thankful to be where I am. I forget that too often, and then God gently reminds me to spend some time with him and in retrospect, and I think, “Huh, God you know my little student heart gets excited when you remind me of those lessons you taught me.” And now I am just working on the new lessons he’s teaching me now in this time without a full time job.

No matter my experiences, I know they all bring me a little closer to knowing Him more, knowing myself a little better, and how I can use those lessons to love Him and others more.

Thank you iACT and Russian kids for teaching me about compassion and patience. Thank you Posh for teaching me about courage and confidence. Thank you God for being a good teacher.

(I do love kids, I really do, just not the best at teaching them English.)

 

Be Brave Today

I am SO excite!!! I am happy to say my first week at my job went very well. I was assigned 4 pieces to write, and although there’s a whole new process I had to learn for it, I figured it out (mostly) and am happy to say I am officially paid to write. I am a bit scared and nervous and really feel like I don’t know what I am doing, but I think that is all normal. Whatever, I’m being paid. I will have actual money at the end of the month and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

So, I’m not swimming in it yet, and will not see any movie deals soon, but there are really cool projects I will be a part of in the future and can’t wait to talk more about what we’re up to! I apologize for the lack of material here. It’s a whirlwind lately. I am of course having to make my “job” job a real priority, not complaining. But I am also trying to launch a few other personal projects.

Social Media and Content Marketing are a couple of skills I have learned this past year and I am starting to feel like I am honing them in to a point I can make it a profitable endeavor for myself. The dream job? No. But, I certainly enjoy doing it. Funny, it kind of hit me suddenly to really make a push for this as I was sluggishly filling out an 8-step process for an application to Target (and nothing against them, it’s corporate, I know), but I was boring myself to tears and realized that these sort of applications (a necessary evil) don’t allow any room for a person to share their story. And I don’t care who you are – you have a story to share and it makes you valuable and it’s worth listening to! (So, some of us aren’t as great at storytelling) but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share yours!

I hesitantly clicked the little red “x” on my application window as I thought, “No. I am more than an 8-step process, and I can prove it.” Probably a dumb move, since the job is offering benefits and paid leave, but I couldn’t stand the fact I would be sending my application (not even resume) into a corporate office with dozens of other e-applications only to be lost in a sea of faceless applicants.

I know pursuing the entrepreneurial life is hard, and often below minimum wage at best, but for now, I have to try. I will be brave for the rest of 2014 and face 2015 with new confidence that I will continue to be brave. I will figure it out, I know I can. Target isn’t going anywhere anyway, so that little application window and I could very well meet again, but for today, I clicked my way through the “Are you sure you want to leave this page?”

Find your skills, use them, practice them, find someone to teach you to use them better – even better – learn new skills, be willing to make mistakes and sit through online tutorials and read forum after forum about how to be better. If you’re as lucky as me – 20-something, no spouse, no kids, no major responsibilities (ok, the school loan), but nothing tying you down to one spot – be brave too and explore new opportunities.

This post is clearly that “…” moment, since I am somewhat running on adrenaline, can’t keep my thoughts completely together, and am trying to figure out what is going to come next in life. For now, be excited about your life, regardless of what stage it’s in. Maybe you’re not a writer, or someone trying to get their “big break.” Maybe you’re plate is full of crazy life stuff that seems overwhelming, maybe you’re reading this from a library chair in the back corner of the building because you’re homeless, maybe you are a critic who has found about 30 different grammar and spelling errors and are laughing at me. And I don’t need to know who you are, because I know if you’re eyes are reading this, you have a story to tell. Whether you write it down, video it, draw it, record it on an old-school tape recorder, or simply tell it to the person sitting next to you – be brave today and tell your story because you never know who’ll listen and who’ll need to hear it.

 

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