Category Archives: Writing

When To Blossom

"In Time, Blossom," Composite Scanogram by Mary Gow
“In Time, Blossom,” Composite Scanogram by Mary Gow
Over the last three years I’ve been writing almost every day. Some days the writing comes easily. Others, it’s a bit more challenging.

It’s gratifying to look at what I wrote a year ago and know that this year, my work reads better.

Last month = 37,217 words.

Two years ago I met up with a writer friend at a party and we agreed to touch base regularly to keep tabs on our progress.

That lasted a few months.

I had no problem being motivated to write each day. But I wasn’t ready to share it.

With anyone.

Over a dozen years ago I wrote a book for my master’s degree project.

I haven’t published it.

But I know I’ll publish several books.

In time.

It may not be the time line suggested in a course I’m taking on how to become a bestselling writer.

It may not be the timeline of notable inspirational writer/coach suggested in a consulation at a writer’s conference.

Even though I’ve had plenty of reasons to publish my essays, I haven’t . . . yet.

Sometimes I feel there must be something wrong because I write so many words each day. But I KNOW I will be publishing my books. I know.

My writing was first appeared in 1980 in the Dallas Morning News. I was working the Features Department and I got to write about upcoming events.

When I was 35 the Austin American-Statesman published a 2,000 word article I wrote for the cover of their Feature section.

Most recently, a few years ago I wrote features about local artists for the New Bernal Journal, then a local paper in San Francisco.

Today I found an essayist whose opinion resonated with me! And experience of being published “later” did too.

I didn’t pitch or publish my first piece online until I was 30 or 31.

I think it’s useful for everyone, no matter what stage of their career they’re at, to know it’s okay to write for yourself first—sometimes only for yourself. There are going to be things that you might need to work out on the page, alone, before you’re ready to share them more widely. I don’t think there’s always a rush. It’s okay to take the longer voyage.

– Nicole Chung

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/10/nicole-chung-e-b-white-and-writing-all-you-can-ever-know/571879/

Who’s to say what the “right” time is to put your work out there?

Friends can give you ideas of when.

Coaches can help you stay on course.

Writer’s groups can give you feedback.

But in the end . . .

You know when the time is right.

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Following the Call

Day One, watercolor by Mary Gow
Day One, watercolor by Mary Gow
In the morning yesterday I read Seth Godin’s blog entry about accumulating 1,000 posts on your blog and how by around then things start to change and people start gaining momentum because they’ve put in the daily work of writing on their blogs.

For years, I’ve been explaining to people that daily blogging is an extraordinarily useful habit. Even if no one reads your blog, the act of writing it is clarifying, motivating and (eventually) fun.

A collection of daily bloggers I follow have passed 1,000 posts (it only takes three years or so…). Fortunately, there are thousands of generous folks who have been posting their non-commercial blogs regularly, and it’s a habit that produces magic. – Seth Godin

You can read the whole post at: https://seths.blog/2018/10/the-first-1000-are-the-most-difficult/

I’m on my way to 1,000.

Hope you enjoy it!

What motivates you to put your work out there?

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A Useful Alternative for Getting the News

Read Hundreds of Front Pages at Newseum.org
Read Hundreds of Front Pages at Newseum.org

Happy New Year!

And Happy News Year?

I hardly watched the news yesterday and I noticed how much calmer I felt. Maybe I was also affected by my runny nose and the desire to relax because my body said so. I had a rather anti-social New Year’s Eve and I loved it.

News watching has been a habit from childhood. My father would watch the ten o’clock news every single night and then go to sleep. Like clockwork.
Every morning he would read the newspaper. Like clockwork.

Newsweek, Time and Life magazines plus the daily newspaper, and watching the news were my predominant news sources growing up. That’s before the days of cell phones and the Internet.

My current habit is to surf the web a few minutes in the morning and see what’s in the headlines.

I remember sitting in on a news reporting class in the journalism department of a local community college. The professor said what’s news is what’s reported. And think about it, think about what gets reported because reporters want to go there.

Maybe that’s why famines don’t get as much coverage as a story about a baby seal biting a swimmer in San Francisco.

This concept has stuck with me and has made me more interested in finding news through bloggers and resources other than mainstream reporting services.

However, I have a desire this new year to cut back on watching the news.

Instead of spending that half hour being teased to stay tuned to hear the latest devastation and “breaking” news, including the most dramatic videos that might tantalize my eyeballs for 9 to 900 nanoseconds, I’m ready to begin a new habit.

I’m willing to try any number of experiments. This new year I’ll start with going regularly to a website I heard about in journalism class with Jon Rochmis at City College of San Francisco.

On this site you can read the front pages of hundreds of different newspapers (779 today)!

This is like finding a fresh water lake in the desert!

I am fascinated by the differences in foci of the various publications and what they choose to report.

Within five minutes of reading I can be more informed than five minutes of news watching. Here you can see what’s making headlines from Austin, Texas to Montevideo, Uruguay to Khartoum, Sudan!

The list of papers available at Newseum.org is here: http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/?tfp_display=list

To really bliss out on newspaper headlines go to Today’s Front Pages at Newseum.org at: http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/

Today, I just glanced at the front page of the Modesto Bee, and a new law going into effect January 1 2018 in California that prohibits the legality of any potential employer requiring the disclosure of what their wages were at a previous job. An applicant can provide it voluntarily though. Once a job offer has been made, however, the prospective employer is allowed to do a background check. (Wow, in just half a minute’s glance at this front page I learned something helpful!)

I’m excited about this new year and the challenge to shift the use of this thirty minute slot.

I’m eager to transform an old habit.

And I’m open and receptive to having a miraculous year.

I wish that for you too and may you find news that fuels your needs!

P.S. When viewing one front page (at Newseum.org) you can scroll to the next one or go to the previous front page by using the prompts in the upper right corner.

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Is This the Year You “Do the Work”?

Channeling Van Gogh, a work in progress by Mary Gow
Channeling Van Gogh, a work in progress by Mary Gow
Happy New Year!

I wish you an exceptionally creative, productive and expressive year!

If you’re looking for a quick read that will give you some umption, I suggest Steven Pressfield’s latest book, Do the Work.

The book gives a closer look at what Pressfield calls “The Resistance.” I find this is similar to what Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way calls “Creative U-Turns.” It’s when you might want to give up when you’re a few steps from success and you’ve talked yourself out of completion.

Like Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Pressfield recommends you begin with the end in mind. Where is it you really want to go? The end comes first, then the beginning and middle. While at the same time, he suggests beginning without overthinking where it will end and get started before your critical mind stops you:

“Act, reflect, act, reflect. NEVER act and reflect at the same time.” Steven Pressfield, p. 41

Similar to what Dr. Wayne Dyer said about having a space to create where no one can disturb you, Pressfield stresses the importance of blocking out a time and space when you don’t let ANYBODY or ANYTHING distract you and you focus strictly on your work.

Every so often, for instance twice a week, while you’re working on a project, he suggests you ask “What’s this about?” and “What’s the theme?” and keep doing this as you create.

In the latter part of the book the seven principles of resistance are discussed:

Number One: Accept that there is a force that is working against us.
Number Two: This force against us is unrelenting.
Number Three: This enemy is within and not outside of each of us.
Number Four: Though the enemy is inside of you it is not YOU.
Number Five: You have to See yourself as the knight and the Resistance is the dragon.
Number Six: Resistance shows up after the idea, so hold onto the idea and don’t be scared by the frightened ego’s voice.
Number Seven: There are unseen forces guiding you and will help you see that assistance is available to move through Resistance.

When Resistance comes up it’s an opportunity to test 2 things:

1) How badly do you want what you’re pursuing?
You can figure out where your level of desire is with a brilliant continuum (from p. 77 of the book):

“dabbling … interested … intrigued but uncertain … passionate … totally committed”

2) What’s your WHY for wanting it?

If it feels more like IT has chosen you or it’s because you’re having fun that’s key.

Along the creative path you are bound to experience a crash or feel panic (if you stay on the path). This is good. It means there’s a problem. And you’re about to learn something valuable. The problem is just that, it’s a problem that can be worked through. The problem is not you. The problem is not who you are.

It could be you’re within striking distance of success. This is usually the case when Resistance or the U-Turn shows up.

Slay the dragon. Keep going, you can make your way through the problem and keep going forward.

Pressfield shares how it took him seventeen years to get his first professional writing job. And it flopped, which meant he was a success because he had a real failure.

That meant he was “turning pro” as he calls it in The War of Art and in his book, Turning Pro.

Silence the naysayers in your mind and in your social circles, take action, write and rewrite. Make 2013 the year of doing the work!

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