Cellphones were created to keep us connected 24/7. No room is off limits anymore, not even the bathroom.Continue reading
If you can’t fit between the lines, don’t try to squeeze into a compromising position.Continue reading
I used to wait until I had a headline before writing a blog post but realized a headline corrals your thoughts. Sometimes you need to let your thoughts run free. See where they lead you, not follow where your headline tells them to go.
That’s when I have the most fun writing—when I let my mind wander, and get that “jump off the cliff without a parachute” thrill while sitting on my ass. Because jumping off a cliff was never my thing, on those rare occasions, I got off my ass to exercise my legs, instead of staying on my ass to exercise my thoughts.
You exercise your thoughts without breaking a sweat or pulling a muscle. Though eye strain is possible. And some people have been known to slam their heads against the keyboard every now and then. Ouch! A Confusion Contusion.
But I’m not talking about timid writers. I’m talking about adventurous writers who live for the thrill of creating something out of nothing. Turning a blank page into a word paradise. Writers who aren’t afraid to jump off the page into an unknown place that gets the heart and mind racing, and keeps the fingers tapping the keyboard, yearning for more.
It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write.
Creating something out of nothing can be scary and intimidating. Yet, most days, life detours off into places “unknown.” Places you didn’t intend to go, which should be a blueprint for writers who want to evolve. Your writing won’t get better if you stay on your comfort cushion with the indelible ass print that says, “Here sits status quo.”
Even if you write about one topic most of the time, you can push the envelope of discourse. Because I bet there are times you get bored or blocked or mad at your keyboard and hurt it instead of stroke it. That’s when you know you’ve stopped writing for pleasure and started torturing yourself.
Ideas are fragile. They need to be massaged, not bruised.
I’ve spent months torturing myself. I’ve been told by the so-called “experts” that I should write on point and keep my content within certain parameters. I tried to cookie-cut my writing, tried to squeeze my content into a box, but I don’t think inside a box. My content needs to speak from me, not someone else who thinks they know me better than I know myself.
Listening to the so-called “experts” broke my writing. For months, I was blocked. I questioned my very writing existence while I tried to focus on four or five topics. The best format for my content I was told. But the experts didn’t know me. Something that may have been best for others wasn’t best for me.
Write from the voice in your heart.
My blog is my playground, a place to think and breathe words, not to smother them. If every time I write I have to worry if a post fits into a theme or a headline, it’ll stifle creativity and the blank page wins.
All the so-called “experts” can tell you what you need for your blog or writing, but if you’re not comfortable with what you’re being told and your writing becomes stifled or even non-existent, you’re not taking advice from the most important person, yourself.
Write for the right to speak the truth in your voice and heart. Otherwise, that blank page will stare at you and say, “Why bother?”
Have you ever gotten bad writing advice?
After three weeks of the dashboard doldrums, I can finally write again without waiting five minutes to login, and another 10 to access a draft.
On the phone with GoDaddy support ten times or more (maybe a billion) over the past several weeks. I had an opportunity to meet everyone on the team, or so it seemed.
Though none of the calls technically fixed the problem — slow dashboard osmoses — all the tech helpers were really nice. They took their time to show me around the GoDaddy dashboard because mine was on hiatus for reasons unknown.
What was the problem? It depends on who you ask. The Google said “my template.” GoDaddy said “my template.” But in fact, the template had never slowed dashboard access before.
I had a theory. It was either the Sucuri security software, activated around the same time the dashboard became sluggish. Or, Colonel Custard in the library with a candlestick.
Since I don’t know Colonel Custard and my house doesn’t have a library, Sucuri became the prime suspect.
None of the “so-called” experts agreed with my hypothesis. But after hours on the phone with tech support, learning how the GoDaddy dashboard worked, someone accidentally nudged me in the right direction. And I stumbled onto the “speed test” button, pressed it and hoped I hit the jackpot.
Instead, a very important looking page, with lots of words, popped up before the test ended. Speed Test Button tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You’ve got issues! Try again!”
I know I have issues. I don’t like hanging out in crowds or making small talk at cocktail parties. But Speed Test Button wasn’t talking about me. I had to remind myself. “It’s not always about you!”
Since learning that “something wasn’t kosher” in the dashboard, I signed up for speed test No. 2. Yes, there was a second speed test.
During speed test No. 2, I received a message from a higher-power, Speed Test Button, who told me, “I can’t find your site, dumb-ass, because the DNS address is wrong.”
“Holy crap! I’ve got a DNS problem!” I shouted. “What’s a DNS?”
I had no idea but didn’t care. I clicked the link that showed me how to fix the DNS thingy, copied the new address into another window with other DNS addresses. (I had never seen so many DNS addresses in my life.)
After I pasted the numbers into the window and saved the settings, I thought, “I can really screw things up if this is wrong.” But I hit save anyway because I knew GoDaddy could restore a backup of my blog if it imploded or disintegrated into nano-bytes.
I immediately hung a U-Turn back to my blog and logged into the dashboard rather quickly.
“It was the DNS thingy!” I shouted to my dog, who yawned and went back to sleep. “Woo-hoo! I didn’t break anything!” (that of which I was sure).
But what caused the DNS outbreak?
I have a theory and it involves Sucuri. I think the software install settings were wrong.
For three weeks, I had to sloth my way around my blog dashboard. I’d click on the posts list and wait while GoDaddy loaded the page, and waited, and watched the spinny thingy somersault in place in an endless display of its gymnastic abilities. Of this I soon grew bored.
Interestingly, I still can’t login to my dashboard on Google Chrome unless I’m in incognito mode. Yes, I put on a wig and glasses and sign in to my account. Not really. It’s a double-secret setting in Google Chrome in plain sight on the taskbar.
What did I learn from my three weeks of DNS hell? Next time hire somebody to fix it.
Back to writing. I can stop dabbling in the nuances of tech support which is above my pay grade anyway.
Where thoughts run free…
I’m back at the keyboard trying to put together a sentence. Woo-hoo! Got one! Now, where do I go from here?
Down the page, of course, keyboarding my way through a bramble of thoughts.
Ouch! I wish they’d stop needling me. Yet, they continue pushing their prickly points. Bramble! Bramble! Bramble!
She lays on the rug in the family room, old and broken, a fixture of decline. Her gaze holding onto a moment.
I’m always, sort of, almost there — Butt on the chair. Thoughts up in the air.
Focus is a temporary condition as variable as the Comcast channel lineup, which changed again.
Comcast and I have a lot in common as I shift my line of thought to the next thing, away from the “this” thing–completing a piece of work and summing up what I don’t know yet.
Up seems to be the theme, as in “up in the air” where my thoughts float searching for an anchor.
Will they land upstairs in the shower or downstairs in Dog World?
The shower equalizes me, prepares me for the real world, while in Dog World, my thoughts run free chasing tangents.
I don’t know when they’ll come home again.
Guessing is as good as it gets. It’s my specialty, along with mind travel, to escape the voices in my head. Will they ever shut up?
And we’re back to the “up” theme. But, that will change.
We’re seesawing in the improv playground of deranged spontaneity. No rubber mats here to cushion a fall or audible hecklers. Only internal voices taunting me, vying for attention.
“Hey! Hey! Pick me!” OCD Voice screams.
“Forget her! She’s boring!” ADHD Voice says while spinning around.
Instead, I focus on the keyboard in an attempt to ignore them, but it’s hard in the silence of the house–the house always wins. If I stay, I lose.
I leave in a daydream and find a time when I mingled with people, not dogs–before I joined the ranks of the underemployed.
As a member of the “too many hours in the week club,” today is a non-working day of sedentary discontent, idling without a schedule to reel in ADHD tendencies.
I embrace distractions that lead me through a parallel world where time speaks softly from a faraway place. “Come back,” she whispers, in a tick-tock way.
Of course, I ignore her and continue corralling wisps of thoughts as nebulous as clouds.
Whoops! Another thought gone. Another thought wrangled, ends up on the page.
Every day is a contest between thoughts I catch and the ones that get away.
Is there flypaper for the brain?
This inquiring mind wants to know, as I meander toward the end, wondering when the last period will leave a mark.
During the President’s first address to Congress, television viewers watched the relaunch of President Trump. A New Trump, who looked like the Old Trump but didn’t insult anybody. Before stepping behind the podium, Old Trump pressed an imaginary reset button he thought would erase all the bad things he said over the years.
It was obvious that he had perfected his new personae. No hateful rhetoric from the New Trump who stuck to the script and played a role that he executed as flawlessly as the Hollywood counterparts he had lambasted in the past as “overrated.”
New Trump read words off the TelePrompter really, really, well without going off script *mostly.* He didn’t demean Mexicans, Muslims or the disabled and even used some of them as props. He spoke about the need for a family leave bill, comprehensive immigration reform *giggle* and passing bipartisan legislation *LMAO*. New Trump didn’t demonize the press or intelligence communities but still managed to zing Obama on the “incredible mess” he left behind. Then, blamed the generals for the botched raid in Yemen which somehow was Obama’s fault, too.
This Trump didn’t insult women and even magnanimously introduced Melania as the First Lady, who smiled and waved on cue. The audience clapped while waiting for Trump to announce the Second and Third Lady, too. Disappointment overtook the room when he never did, prompting a negative response from a Frank Lutz Focus Group.
After the applause died and the GOP tired from standing, they fell back into their seats, ready for the TelePrompter to continue spiraling into another episode of the Twilight Zone. Everyone sat with anticipation as New Trump promised to revive a dead coal industry and actor Rod Serling who never popped in from the afterlife to take a bow.
New Trump continued his Academy Award-worthy performance, spewing Ambien words he hoped would calm a jittery electorate, nervous about the Old Trump who constantly loses his shit. New Trump dispelled their concerns as the GOP smiled collectively, pleased by the performance of their reality TV show celebrity, reciting his lines at the podium without a glitch. New Trump enjoyed the attention bestowed on him, emitting a pulsating orange glow.
Clearly, New Trump had convinced a skeptical crowd that he was up to the job of TV President and now had new legions of devoted fans, all of them staring at him with an unwavering focus, never leaving their seats to go to their gender-specific restrooms. His lovely captivated audience wouldn’t dare leave the theater because their ankles had been manacled to their seats.
“No shoe shots,” yelled the director from inside the control room. “Everything needs to look authentic. Like with all fiction projects, it must be grounded in reality.”
On Twitter, I attempted to write 140 characters of prose for the 1st-line Wednesday hashtag game. Instead, I wrote 116 characters, which included the hashtag #1linewed, falling short of my 500-word goal.
Writing is hard. I know this and have accepted it, embraced the work ethic required that I haven’t yet mustered.
I castigate myself every time I get distracted and end up on the Internet. “You’re better than this,” I say.
If only I listened to myself.
I know I should disconnect when I’m sitting at the computer or use a distraction blocker to keep my focus on the screen, but I don’t. I allow the allure of whimsy to attract me.
I allow my thoughts to get stuck in the dusty light of fleeting things and end up writing something only 116 characters long, not worthy of the word “accomplishment.”
Why do I let myself slip into this redundant behavior of idling nothingness, the place self-control gives in to a quick digital fix? Why do I embrace the instant gratification of a social media high after which I drop into a hole so deep I can’t climb out?
Why do I allow my attention to mindlessly float in a sphere of whimsy? A conscious coma in which my thoughts slip into a montage of talk show appearances where I promote that book I never wrote.
Fantastical mind-wandering thoughts that float in my head like pond scum, eventually get stuck in the drain suck of inertia where passion nods off.
A sudden reflexive jerk snaps me back to another meaningless hashtag game, the rush of instant gratification gone as soon as I leave the page.
Nothing gained from my mindless wandering. Just fleeting thoughts of fancy that embrace you while you drift, then slip away.
Drifting is pleasant. Writing is painful. It’s black and blue. Dark and light.
It’s acceptable human torture when you’re not in the zone. Getting there requires discipline and a workable routine. That’s hard to harness when you’ve got time to squander on a week off (without pay).
A rigid time-constrained schedule keeps you within the designated lines on which you need to write. Without them, you fall off the document into the gray moat around the page.
How do you discipline yourself?
Do you have a regular writing routine?
I had every intention of writing a blog post but that same old dread enveloped me like a noxious fog — President Trump.
I tried to calm myself by meditating: ohm, ohm… Oh, my God, President Trump.
I tried taking a walk to get inspired: Trees, birds… Trump.
I’ve got nothing, I said. Any thoughts? I asked Myself, usually a very good listener and purveyor of good advice.
But she wasn’t helpful this time. “I don’t know,” Myself said introspectively. “Maybe write something about Trump.”
“But that’s depressing,” I grumbled. “Thinking about Trump makes me grumpy, or dare I say, Trumpy. You know I haven’t written anything in months because of Trump.”
Myself just sighed. She knew that Trump’s bigoted, unhinged comments stifled my creativity and provoked me to yell at inanimate objects like the shoe I just tripped over.
“What the hell, shoe!” I yelled. “Are you trying to kill me?”
The shoe offered a laced up rebuke. “You left me here,” it said. “… abandoned me like all the ideas you’ve scribbled on torn pages in your notebook. This one is on you, missy!”
But, there were no more buts. The shoe was right–literally.
I had no business yelling at anything and went on an apology tour to all the inanimate objects in the house.
I realized that being depressed and stuck is exactly what a bully would want from the ladies he’s grabbed by the pussy, metaphorically or figuratively.
It didn’t matter. If I allowed Trump to victimize me from afar, my voice would be silenced–exactly what Trump would want.
So, I’ll do my best not to get Trumped and rant in run-on sentences with protruding cartoon eyes. It only upsets my blog who stares at me blankly, sputtering nonsensical words across an anemic-looking page.
“Damn it!” I screamed. “Write something smart!”
At which point the sidearm of my chair slapped my wrist and said, “Stop choking the monitor!”
“My God. I’m a monster!” I unclenched the computer and wiped my fingerprints from the screen.
“Sorry blog. This anger thing is unconscious and scary pervasive. I need to get a grip without getting a grip. Use my hands for good, instead of evil.”
“The power of Christ compels you” to purge the beast and write.
But write about what? Puppies or politics?
I love puppies but their cuteness is wasted on words, best captured in video or pictures.
I love politics but lately just see the giant orange burrito spew guacamole on TV. It sends me on a taco spending spree to crush them in the compactor.
No, I need a Trumpectomy, to turn off the TV and get Trump out of my head. Once there’s nothing left of him, I’ll be able to write again.
Now, if I only could think of something to write about.
Has your writing been Trumped?