January 31, 2014

The Month of Letters Challenge

Woman reading a letter
Image from Antique Images

    This past week I learned about an interesting month long challenge.  The Month of Letters Challenge!  Conceived by the wonderful author Mary Robinette Kowal, this is a challenge to send something by mail every day in the month of February that the postal service is running.  You are also to respond to everyone who writes you.  Imagine all the non-bill related snail mail you and your friends could be getting if you all took up this fun challenge.  Get your friends near and far to join you this February and write to each other.  Or perhaps just send little goodies or trinkets in the mail.

    I quite enjoy letter writing.  It is far more personal.  You can choose a lovely card or pick out the perfect paper.  I mean have you ever gotten a scented email?  I trust not. Even the envelope is customizable.  Stamp choice, size, paper type and color.  You can even still send letters with real wax seals on them.  trust me I do it all the time.    I had already decided that I wanted to send more letters this year and as such had set the goal of sending at least 52 letters or notes.  So when I learned about this challenge I was thrilled to participate.  By completing this challenge I will get 46% of my year's letter goal in a single month.  How awesome is that?  I may even convince some of my sweet friends to take up this old time means of communication.

    Do you like writing letters?  When was the last time you sent something through the post?  Would you like to try out this fun challenge?  Here is more info both at Mary Robinette Kowal's website and the The Month of Letters Challenge website.  As always have fun and try something new.  Or in this case old.


January 30, 2014

Things I Love Thursday: National Inane Answering Message Day

Pink Carnations
This week's flowers.

    Despite the frigid weather (frigid for my region) it has been a nice week.  My writing is starting to kick the whole winter blues lull to the side.  I have started making what feels like real progress on my project.  I played a lot on The Sims 3 this week.  I am building a house.  It is a big house and I tend to take my time with each room and try to perfect it.  I feel really good about what I have done with the eclectic home so far.  It is also a nice way to let my creativity run loose.  I have slept really well lately too.  that is always a good thing.  Here are some of the great things that happened this week.
Fluttershy Plushie
Isn't she a cutie?

    What did you love this week?

January 29, 2014

Playing With Decor: My Maps

Wall Clock With World Map
Found this beauty at a dollar store.  What luck?

    Some people have stamps.  I have maps.  Not an enormous collection the size of which requiring a filing cabinet.  Though admittedly I certainty wouldn't mind having that some day in the future.  I started this collection at a young age.  I am not even sure when.  It must have started with just one or two.  I am sure I had three at least by the time I was twelve.  I have eight now, plus my globe.  When I count them up I feel like I really don't have that many and should really get a few more.  But for the moment only six of them fit on my sitting room walls.

My Map Collection
One Wall  In My Sitting Room.

    I must say that my sitting room looks a much more welcoming place now that I have adorned it with most of my collection.  I am not sure what it is I love about maps.  Maybe like books they are a means of transporting a person to other places.  Or perhaps it is the easy visual display of information.  There is so much you can see by looking over a map.  You can learn capitals and the proximity of cities to one another.  You can get an idea of the land features.  I have spent a good bit of time gazing over maps, both in my home and at libraries.  I especially like old maps.  It is wonderful to see what once was and what still is.

    One of the maps that did not make it to the wall is my Texas road map.  It would seem that the state is so large that half the state is on the front side of the paper and the other half of Texas is on the back side of the paper.  I did not like the idea of only seeing half the state.  Much like the fact that I do not like buying half a book for college courses.  I want the whole thing.  I figure I'll see if I can get my hands on another copy of this map so I can post up the whole state.  It will take a large chunk of wall.  It would be fun to pin all the places I have been and want to go.  But this really holds true for all of my maps.  Well, maybe not all.  I have one old world map.

Old World Map
My Old World Map.

    I am happy to say that I am very pleased with the look of my sitting room now.  It looks far more like a home with the walls dressed up.  I had found a cute wall clock that was perfect to go with all the maps last year and it has been very lonely until now.  I look forward to adding more trinkets over time and collecting more maps.  Some kinds of maps and globes I think I would like to add to my collection are:

  • A current globe.  Mine is about two decades old.  
  • Moon and Mars globes.  
  • A star map.  
  • Maybe even a map of the solar system.  I think I may have had one of these when I was younger.  No clue what happened to it.  
  • I would also like to add a fantasy world map to my collection.  I am not sure which one, but I think it would be an interesting addition.   

World Map And Jade Gourd
Here is my newest map and my jade gourd.

    One of my winter goals was to decorate my home.  It took some time to get to it, but it was well worth it.  If you have not dressed up your home or if you feel like you need to change it up a bit take some time to do it.  Do you have any collections?  Have you decorated recently or are you hoping to?  Tell me about it.  

January 27, 2014

Prioritize Your Writing

Woman Doing Chores And Not Writing
Image from Antique Images

    There are many things we as writers need to learn and overcome.  Many are the countless English lessons (or whichever language you write in).  Grammar, sentence structure, tense, POV.  There are many of these little lessons to keep us busy enough as we are learning our skills.  Some of the other things, however, will likely not be in an English text book or in your friendly copy of "The Little, Brown Handbook."  If you want to be a writer and live as a writer, you need to learn to manage your time and prioritize your writing.  There are plenty of people who will tell you or make you feel like there are more important uses of your time than writing.  What you need to know is that the best use of your time and what you want to spend your life doing is YOUR DECISION.  Let me repeat that.  What you do with your life is your decision.  No matter how many people tell you you need to "get a haircut and get a real job" 1 this is your life and you need to live it for yourself.  If that means writing and you haven't made writing a high priority it is time to do so.  I do not just mean deciding that it is a priority.  I mean taking actions in your life and making changes in your routine to make writing a part of your life.  A large part of your life.

    How do you do this?  Well it is not easy.  You will probably need to change the way you think about writing.

     I participate along with hundreds of thousands of other writers each November in NaNoWriMo.  NaNoWriMo is a great way to "justify" taking time for writing, but afterwards how do you justify how you spend your time?  This is entirely up to you.  But in truth if this is what you want to do with your life then there shouldn't be a need to "justify" taking time for writing.  It is a matter of not just telling yourself that this is important, but truly believing it in your heart and mind and expressing that openly.  People who care about you will care about your goals.  They will be encouraging and supportive of you pursuing your dreams.  So if you start to take yourself seriously and are open about this with others you are less likely to be encouraged to "do other things instead."

Image from The Graphics Fairy

    Not everyone will be so encouraging.  Some people will think your determination is just a faze.  Some people will say, "I'll believe it when I see it."  Some people will openly encourage you to give up on (insert comment of your choice here.)  Others may be more underhanded, offering poisoned words of encouragement.  Telling you they will support you but don't expect you to succeed.  Some will not mean to be discouraging, but have heard the cons of writing so often that they don't see the positives.  It is easy to unknowingly internalize the notions that you can write later or that you really need to be working on something else.  There are so many messages and thoughts like this that a whole post could be dedicated to it.  The first thing to do is to sit down with yourself and think (no meditate) on what YOU want out of life.  Do you want to write?  Take your time and do not rush.  Do not let the words of others fill your head and sway your opinions.  But neither make a decision simply because it goes against those voices.  Remember: Take your time.

    If you have decided that yes you want to make writing a major part of your life then you need to face the internalized notions, negative self-talk, and automatic thoughts that will get in your way.  This applies for many things in life, not just writing.  If you want to be a photographer, artist, entrepreneur, or camp director you may need to wrestle with the negative self-talk.  Do not confuse these poisonous messages for your inner guidance.  They are lies that we have internalized and repeat to ourselves over and over again mercilessly.  We all need to stop.  The folks at Writing Excuses covered a topic not so different from this in their episode, The Internal Heckler vs. The Internal Editor, last October.  Or for some advice on combating negative self talk check out this Wellcast episode.  Automatic Thoughts  There is lots of great information out there on this subject.

Pen, Fan, Pearls

     Another thing you will have to do once you decide that you want to write is just that.  Write.  Everyday.  This applies to other skills too.  Practice everyday, even if it is only a little.  If you don't know where to start you could keep a  creative writing journal or get a collection of writing prompts.  The key though is to practice everyday.  This will help build your writing into a normal habit or routine.  And if you feel like you just don't have time to write there is a plethora of advice out there.  Really look at your day and look for any down time or find tasks you really don't need to be doing.  Could you be writing then?  Could you get up just a little earlier and squeeze half an hour of writing into your morning routine?

     Don't wait to be a writer.  Make it a part of your life now.  Respect yourself and take your goals seriously.  Start your writing today.  Examine your priorities and make the changes you need to.  There is lots of advice out there from published and working authors.  You just need to look for it.

Other helpful articles and podcasts
Challenging Negative Self-Talk
Urgent vs Important: Prioritizing Writing Time When You Have No Time
Writing Excuses Episode 16: Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard
Writing Excuses 8.52: You Think You Don’t Have Time to Write, with Mette Ivie Harrison

Writing Exercise:  Free Writing On Your Blocks

    For this weeks writing exercise give yourself at least ten minutes.  Sit down to your preferred or most readily available writing medium and just start writing without stopping, editing, or censoring yourself.  The question you need to look at in this exercise is: What is stopping me from writing?  Go into detail.  Get those things out of your head and on the page where you can step away from them and analyse them.  Don't worry about writing for an audience.  This is just for you.

1 Get a Haircut by George Thorogood & The Destroyers

January 23, 2014

Things I Love Thursday: Flowers, Music, and Fun

    It has been a busy week with up and downs.  But that is why it is important to take note of the good stuff. Here are some of the things I loved this week.

    It is supposed to get chilly this week, so perhaps I will pick up the stuff to make hot chocolate from scratch.  That is always an enjoyable way to spend time especially if I am making some for a friend too.  Hope your week was great.  If there's anything you loved this week you'd like to share just let me know in the comments.  

January 20, 2014

Writing Exercise: Sadness

Typewriter Girl
Image from The Graphics Fairy

    This week lets work with emotions.  Take a character and make them cry.  Now, make us feel their pain.  Extra equipment you may need for this writing exercise includes a box of tissues.  Good luck.  Have fun.

January 16, 2014

Things I Love Thursday: Unplanned Trip Out of Town

Image from The Graphics Fairy

    I took a wonderful unplanned trip to spend time with one of my best friends.  We didn't do anything out of the ordinary (for us), yet it was like a little mini unplanned vacation.  It is amazing how great things can be when you spend quality time with people you love.  When was the last time you just hung out with one of your best friends?

  • Violin lessons.
  • Lolita blogs and RSS feeds.  
  • Here are this weeks 8tracks.  I hope you find something you enjoy.
  •  This chemistry demonstration, Iodine Clock demonstration
  • Decorating my home with fresh flowers.  
  • Hanging out with another science nerd and talking shop over dinner and a drink.  
  • Star gazing.
  • Walking and climbing over rocks.
  • Disney's Brave.  Just saw it this week and loved it.  
  • A fluffy warm kitty that will cuddle with you at bed time.  And just kitties in general. 
  • Great stories.
  • Picnics.
  • Trying new food places.  
  • The flow of creativity that seems to hit when you put yourself in a new setting.  
    It was a great week and I can't possibly list everything that I did and loved this week.  Not in a reasonable amount of time.  And that is a part of the wonder and adventure of this week.  I hope your week is going great.  Be adventurous and try new things.  Try things you haven't done in a while.  And most importantly make time for friends.  Never under estimate the awesomeness of a good friend.   

January 13, 2014

Writing Exercise: Nature Poem

    Pick something out of nature (a tree, the wind, a mouse, etc.)  Write a poem about it.  Chose the words carefully and try to breath life into it.  Maybe even give it a personality.

January 9, 2014

Things I Love Thursday: Studying French

Eiffel Tower
Image from The Graphics Fairy

    Well the first week of the year was a full week.  How are your goals and resolutions going?  Here is my list this week.

January 6, 2014

Writing Exercise: A Chaotic Interview in the Making

Girl on the telephone.
Image from The Graphics Fairy

Writing Exercise

        This week I have an interesting writing exercise for you.  It calls for two people.  The two of you will be writing an interview.  But it is not as straight forward as it may sound.  Each of you will only write one side of the interview.  Decide who will be the interviewer and who will be the interviewee.  Now go write seperately.  Do not discuss any details beyond who is the interviewer and the interviewee.

    In isolation of each other write out some basic details about your assigned characters.

    For the interviewer: What is your character's name?  Who or what do they write for?  Add other details as you see fit.  Then write out ten questions to ask the interviewee.

    For the interviewee:  What is your character's name?  What do they do?  Add other details as you see fit.  Then write out ten answers.  (I know you don't know what the questions are and that is okay.  That is part of the fun. Trust me.)

    Reconvene.  How do your questions fit together?  Probably not well.  But that is okay.  We are going for amusing here.  So on that note, just reorder the the questions and answers as you like.  (Whether that be for a little more coherency or for humor sake.)  Add a little extra dialog to make it sound like a real-ish interview.  Most importantly.  Have fun.

January 5, 2014

January Try-Its

Painting on an easel and pink and red carnations.
Image from Antique Images

    I have come up with a short list of Try-Its this month.  Part of the goal with these Try-Its is getting away from the computer.  I am doing well so far.

  1. Eat at the table instead of the desk.
  2. Make time for crafting each week. 
  3. Write and study everyday.
  4. Decorate.  
    What are you going to try this month?   

January 2, 2014

Things I Love Thursday: First TiLT of 2014

Memory Jar
My 2013 Memory Jar

    This is my first TiLT post of 2014.  Could your life use more positivity?  Do you ever feel like nothing goes your way?  There are a lot of things that we can not control.  Our attitudes however can make a huge impact on how we feel.  And on how others perceive us.  I well know how frustrating it can be when someone tells you to just change your attitude though.  Changing your attitude takes time and effort.  However, little steps will make a big difference over time.  My life has become much more positive since I started doing these lists.  I think everyone could benefit from writing a gratitude list.  Taking some time out of each week to take note of the good things and write them down so you can see them later.  It is a great practice that I learned from Gala Darling.  If you want to be more positive and happier in 2014, give gratitude lists a try.  Here is this weeks list.  

    So what did you love this week?  

January 1, 2014

Advice For The New Year

Image from The Graphics Fairy

    Are you ready for the new year?  Are you suffering a hangover?  I hope not.  Did you make any resolutions this year?  If you did, I wish you all the luck with them.  Today is January the 1st of 2014.  The first day of a whole new year.  So let's all start off the year with our best foot forward.  Take a refreshing shower.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee, tea, yerba mate, or whatever it is you like to drink in the morning.  Make yourself a healthy, hearty breakfast.  Then sit down with yourself and take a little time.  Think about how you want to change.  Think about how you need to alter your regular routine to keep your resolutions and make your life the one you want to live.  Write down your resolutions and post them where you can see them every day.  A daily reminder of your goals can be invaluable.  If it will make you happier art it up a bit.  Put some paint, stickers, or glitter on your memo.  As you go through the days and weeks ahead, remember to celebrate the little victories.  Remember to do this for yourself.  Don't make goals that are dependent on another person's approval.  There is no sense in setting yourself up for the disappointment of a perceived failure.  Do your best and keep moving forward.  Give yourself enough time to rest and reflect.  And most importantly do not let the words of the naysayers get you down.  In fact it would be a good idea to share your goals with friends who are positive and encouraging.  If they have goals also, try to be positive and encouraging for them too.  This is my advice to you for the new year.  Go forth and be fabulous.


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