Write Your Book This Year: Give Me Ten

Are you waiting for your retreat, vacation, sabbatical, or retirement to write your book? Uninterrupted time sounds luxurious, and then it can be overwhelming. Whenever I reserve a day for my own project, I celebrate, then usually flounder and remember Julia Cameron’s metaphor, comparing uninterrupted time to a bolt of antique silk. It can be hard to cut into.

As I thought of that recently, I remembered a PBS show, Sewing with Nancy, featuring “10-20-30 Minutes to Sew.” Nancy showed viewers how to create even a fully tailored jacket in tiny pockets of time. She recommended identifying each step, prepping materials the way a chef preps ingredients, and systematically advancing a project day by day.

Sewing with Nancy 30 Years screenshotAnd get this: Nancy is still on the air. It’s the longest running sewing show ever. Teaching her audience to fit hobbies into busy schedules must be one key to her success, and this approach probably renews her own creative stamina.

For her McCall’s patterns, Nancy says, “I don’t have hours to spend sewing every day. Just a few minutes here or there can quickly add up to a finished project!” Go, Nancy!

Few people would wait for a sabbatical to piece a quilt. You don’t need one to write a book either. So drop everything and give me 10, only 10.

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2013. All rights reserved. WritersResort.com

Screenshot of Sewing with Nancy from Wisconsin Public Television

Write Your Book This Year: Do You Hafta?

You’ve been talking about this book for years. Now it’s time to fish or cut bait.

Honestly—I’m here to let you off the hook. Do you mean it? Do you truly want to write a book?

Why???

Gone-Fishin-License-Plate-Letter-Sign-by-DeAnna-Roose

So? If you got that, what would it mean?

And then if you got that, what would it give you?

Dig down deeper, layer by layer, until you can feel why you want this.

Could you meet that need in some other way? (Easier ways exist.) Choose not to write that book. Give it up and do something else. Do nothing. It’s beats doing nothing except berating yourself.

If you’re not writing, this is your homework: do NOT write your book. Figure out what you’d rather do. If you can possibly avoid writing a book, do it! Do it on purpose! Do it with joy! (If quitting your book is difficult, see Evan Harris’s The Art of Quitting for more about that.)

If your book is rolling this week, keep it up—and also spend a few minutes clarifying your Why. Post that reason or that list of reasons over your desk, pat yourself on the back, and write some more.

If you just can’t quit, then come on back. The door is always open.

Either way, here’s your soundtrack for this assignment: Armstrong and Crosby: Gone Fishin’

And for those of you still writing, please answer in the comments: Why???

Love, Gwyn

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2013. All rights reserved. WritersResort.com

Photo © Deanna Roose

Thanks, I Needed That!

WordPress showcased “10 Prolific Post a Day/Week Participants,” and I’m one of them!

Shall I tell you what this meant to me?

I realized today how burned out I’ve become in the last few weeks. New quarter, new classes, new students, new preps, new circadian schedule, forecast of 116 degrees and no rain, no summer vacation. When students whined, I felt their pain all too well, and my short fuse required amends. Already, life had been warning me so strongly of impending burnout that three of the four classroom projectors I had touched in the past week had refused to shine, and today, the fifth worked barely long enough before burning out. Colleagues comforted me, assuring me that vulnerability is wonderful for my growth as a teacher, and my students received me better in that vulnerability. The spill gates had opened and I came home weepy.

My son is writing a musical, Invincible, in which he explores vulnerability. (He’s wise beyond his years. And we were discussing it way too late last night.) So maybe I can receive the message now?

So here is the unvarnished truth: I came home, looked at my computer, and resented my blog for the sixth blogging day in a row. I hadn’t even been here in a week. I wasn’t being consistent anymore, felt I’d lost my stride, and had nothing I wanted to say in public. Vulnerability schmulnerability. (There, Drew, we’ve finally rhymed it.)

Here I’ve been writing all year to encourage your writing fluency and confidence–and my own had fizzled out.

I did check e-mail this evening, where I found several congratulating comments on this recognition. It could not have been better timed. This challenge itself has been a blessing in my life, and today, when I hit that wall and wondered whether I should quit, there you were, handing me a cup of water and cheering me on. Bless you all!

I look forward to visiting the other nine. Maybe one of them is as thirsty as I was today.

WordPress Daily Post
WordPress Daily Post

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Least Limiting Resource

Some years ago, I read that plants required 17 nutrients for growth and that growth was limited by whichever resource was most scarce. I’m not qualified to speak to the botany theory of that, but as a metaphor, I have wondered what the comparable 17 nutrients for human creativity would be (and how many there actually would be) and whether any of these common nutrients could be the limiting factor, or would they be ranked–the way Maslov ranked them–for our individualistic society at any rate?

What do you think?

College Endeavor

NASA Chuck Tintera Endeavor final landing 05 31 2011
For NASA by Chuck Tintera: Endeavor final landing 05 31 2011

With the final landing of Endeavor, this shuttle chapter of space exploration will be closing soon. At the moment, I’m closing a college quarter and identifying with NASA. I have advantages over NASA: my physical life in adjunct teaching is only occasionally at risk, and I do know where I’m working for the summer.

But like NASA, this is also a career more celebrated than funded. Our institutions depend on our intelligence, passion, tolerance for uncertainty, and ability to make course corrections. Our circadian rhythms are rarely consistent, and even off-duty, our creative and critical thinking processes never end. When the project ends, evaluations are only beginning. Like NASA, we reclaim spare parts, including engines, for future study, and possible reuse.

And this time, some of my students are graduating. May they be happily and successfully launched.

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Photo © NASA by Chuck Tintera: Endeavor final landing 05 31 2011

Random Unexpected Blog of Awesomeness

Pokemon Rayquaza Sky Judgment
Pokemon Rayquaza Sky Judgment

Younger son’s blog idea: “It’s time for your random blog of the month.” I didn’t know I had such a thing. He explained, “Oh, you just write about Pokemon cards or how to train a puppy or any totally whacked out blog that has nothing to do with anything you’re trying to tell them. It’s just a totally crazy, random, unexpected blog of awesomeness.”

Well, since I write about writing, anything I write connects to writing, right? It works for your topic as well. Synchronicity and your meaning-making mind machine will connect the most random ideas for creative clarity and pure poetry. So try that. Be random. Ask anybody for a random topic and marvel at what shows up.

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Text © Gwyn Nichols and Young Son, 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Image Pokemon.com

“Show Me Difficult”

Werner Erhard often talks about things that exist only in language: “Show me Difficult. Whales do not find anything Difficult.” And he also says something like, “I don’t have ‘too much to do.’ I have only ‘what I am doing’ and ‘what I am not doing.'” Here’s one of those places he said it. 

At this moment there are dozens of things which I am not doing. And there is this one thing that I am doing. We always have time for whatever we put first. A challenge like this keeps this blog on my DO list, rather than my NOT DO list. There is no guilty-for-not-doing list. Nor any guilty-to-be-doing list. Simply do and do not, to mess up Yoda’s famous line.

Enjoy what you’re doing. Enjoy what you are not doing.

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved.