Just for You, Our Muses

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend and/or Mother’s Day.

If you read the A to Z series in April, you might have caught the news that I’ve spend much of the last year training to become a life coach specializing in creativity, the creative process, and writers. YOU are the inspiration for that endeavor. This community not only gave me the courage, you gave me the vision for how I can give back and share all I’ve learned over a lifetime of creativity.

Because I feel so blessed to be part of the Muse community, I wanted to share with you a couple of opportunities before anyone else sees them. In fact, I’m not offering these anywhere else, though you are free to share them.

The first is that, now that training is complete, I need to amass 100 coaching hours for my first certification rank with the International Coach Federation. Though I’m well on my way, I discovered I could “give away” 30 of those hours. This is first for the Muse community and then for anyone you know that might be interested: up to ten sessions of coaching on subjects of your choosing, m. The best thing about coaching is that it serves YOU, not the coach. If you are interested in becoming a pro bono client (or know someone who is), please email me at robynalruecoaching [at] gmail.com. Preference goes first to this community and then to the people we know.

The second is that International Coach Week begins May 15th. In honor of ICW, and again for the Muse community, all coaching is 50% off if booked through midnight on May 21st. For a description and more information, I’ve set up a page here for reference.

In addition to individual coaching, I also offer group coaching, with the enhanced opportunity for peer-to-peer learning. I’m only running one “program” at this time, which is Habit Builder 45, designed to help you establish new habits for a lifetime. Again, click here for more information.

I am so honored to be of service to a community that has been so supportive. I’ll be writing posts here with what I’ve learned that is both of general benefit and specifically of benefit to writers. I’ve got a whole year of post ideas backed up between my ears!

If you have any questions at all about coaching or anything in this post, please do not hesitate to ask them in the comments below or privately at robynlaruecoaching [at] gmail.com.

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P – Patience

One time, ,when I was very little, I climbed a tree and ate these green, sour apples. My stomach swelled and became hard like a drum, it hurt a lot. Mother said that if I’d just waited for the apples to ripen, I wouldn’t have become sick. So now, whenever I really want something, I try to remember what she said about the apples.
Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

I often think I was put on this earth for the sole purpose of learning patience. Though I am SO much better than I was 25 years ago, I suppose I will wrestle with patience all of my life.

It’s enough, I tell myself, to wait for things like houses, websites, businesses to get off the ground, to recover from a cold–do I have to exercise patience in my creative life as well?

Yep. Without a doubt. In so many ways. Sigh.

Wait for the amorphous inkling to coalesce into a character or plot.

Wait through the cutting and pressing to assemble a quilt top.

Wait for paint to dry to add the next layer.

Wait for adhesive to set, wait for materials to be purchased, wait for this, wait for that.

It’s all tolerable because I am a maker. It’s what I do, and patience is necessary. I’m fairly good at pacing myself and keeping steady momentum whether I’m writing a draft, assembling a mixed media piece, or binding an art quilt.

Except for one element.

It’s the span of time a draft is resting that fills me with the most impatient frustration. Why, when I want so much to be one of those authors who publishes six or eight times a year.  When my drafts come so fast, why must I be the writer whose novels must rest for upwards of two years?

Perhaps it’s simply another lesson in patience, or the price for other elements coming easily. Perhaps I am to easily frustrated with myself, too stubborn to accept reality.

Like eating green apples, I’ve felt the discomfort of not waiting. An unripened draft leads me to fret, struggle, and whine. I can’t revise my way out of a paper bag. But if I wait, if I let the draft ripen and separate itself from me, revision is easier, cleaner, and almost enjoyable. It’s all about the emotional distance, and I simply need more time than most.

I feel the most common time for impatience for creatives of all types is when they are learning a new skill or a new medium. What is seen in the mind is so far removed from what appears from our fingers, it’s a wonder artists aren’t bald from pulling their hair out. All I can do is ask the new and the untried to be . . . yes . . . patient with themselves while getting through the first few projects. So much of what we learn is learned by doing, not by research beforehand. And thereafter, be patient with the elements of your process that just take more time than you would like.

For me, it’s absolutely a matter of patience, and I’m still learning that lesson. How about you?


What part of your creative life leaves you feeling impatient?

Writers Tips for Getting Unstuck

Sometimes a writer just gets stuck in the middle of a story. The potential causes are numerous, but most writers go through it. Getting unstuck is the goal. I’ve had plenty of experience getting stuck in the “middle slog” of a novel. These are a few things I’ve done.

Free Write

Writers Tips for Getting UnstuckSit down with paper (do this by hand if you can) and start writing about the story: plot, characters, locations, how you feel about it all. Keep writing until you have it all out. If nothing shifts right away, wait 24 hours, re-read your free write, and repeat if needed.

Forced Write

This is different from above only in that you are not allowed to stop your pen from moving or take time to contemplate. Set the timer (15 minutes is a good start) and don’t stop moving that pen until the timer goes off. This method works best for me if I’m having a conflict with the plot or the character and I have opposing morals.

Best And Worst

If stakes are a problem, take your main character aside and create two lists together. The first is a list of the best things that could happen to and for your character, including best outcome for the story. The second is a list of the worst that could happen to and for your MC. Use the latter to create stakes and hurdles. use the former to provide the relief moments, the desire, and the reward for overcoming it all.

Change Locations and Stress Scenes

If your characters have you stuck or remain uncooperative, surprise them. Take a character out of the setting of your story into something totally different (put the small town boy in Paris or the driven career woman at the mercy of a housebound elderly relative). Keep them in character and take notes on what they reveal. If the fish out of water scenario doesn’t do the trick, put your character in an extremely stressful situation and let them figure it out. In either method, the goal is to know your character better and to uncover both their secret fears and hopes.

Write Out of Order

If the scene is holding you back or you aren’t sure what happens next, skip it and write a scene further into the story. The advantages are that it gets words flowing and you can usually figure out what (if anything) must happen when you know where events are headed.Maybe it’s just a panster thing, but it helps me during the middle slog.


 

What’s your favorite way to get unstuck in your stories?

Writing A Novel is Like…

Writing is like . . .

Baking from a recipe in which the measurements and ingredients come only one at a time and you don’t know what you’re making.

Being lost; you’re not sure where you are but you know you’ll find your way home eventually.

A scavenger hunt. Just follow the clues.

Sinking into a bathtub with frequent temperature changes in the water.

The weather, with all its daily and seasonal changes.

Driving a bit fast on a dark, twisty road. With no headlights.

Writing a Novel is LikePutting together a big puzzle with no picture to guide you.

Having someone else feed you each bite of your favorite meal.

Stringing beads blindfolded and not seeing what you created until after you’re done.

A long conversation with a total stranger.

Waiting in line for hours for a ten-minute ride on an awesome roller coaster.

Waiting in the wings for your first public performance.

Navigating with a map full of holes.

The best sunrise after the longest night.


 

What is writing like for you?