Why I Write: My Cancer Story

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Seven words kick-started my writing career. “It’s not good, kiddo, you’ve got cancer.” That was almost 5 years ago when the doctor showed up on my doorstep in scrubs, straight from work.

It was 5 years ago that I started taking writing seriously.

I had two types of breast cancer.

I was 34 years old when I was diagnosed and had been contemplating what I wanted to do for at least the prior 5 years before. I found myself getting caught up on technicalities or writing: finding and making time to write, questioning my quality of writing; wanting to do a blog but not sure the proper name to give it… then being afraid that I would look stupid juxtaposed to those amazing other blogs.

The list of excuses goes on. I won’t bore you with them.

But, the biggest fear I always had was that if I did the “thing” I was supposed to do with my life, then I would die sooner. My clouded thinking kept me from writing.

Sure, I was a closet writer. There was nothing that could keep me from writing. It was the sharing of my writing that was shoved to the black hole of the closet.

But hearing that I had cancer solidified one fact for me: if I don’t start sharing my writing I may die before I get to do the thing I most wanted to do with this life.

It’s true, prior to my cancer experience I had a national magazine that paid me for an article but never actually published it. The letter that read “Dear Author,” was enough to satisfy me for a while. But, somewhere inside I just knew I wanted to do more with my writing. Once wasn’t good enough for me anymore. And besides, only the editors got to read it so in some ways that just didn’t count.

It was time to put myself out there. It was time to write and share it. The desire of my heart was sent to heaven and blessings poured down.

Blessings Pouring Down

Once I decided what I wanted to do, my eyes were open to opportunities. After voicing my desire to write, the cancer center asked me to write an article for the monthly newsletter. And since writing workshops encouraged giving of your talents to start building portfolios, it was a no brainer for me.

Though, let’s be honest here, a big portion of me wanted to be paid for my effort. I mean, really, I knew the time I put into my writing. And who doesn’t want a paycheck? After a little internal debate I took on my first free job.
After one article the cancer center told me I needed to write bigger. They told me I needed to expand myself beyond a simple newsletter that would reach a handful of people. I needed to get my words on bigger paper.

This one free newsletter act landed me speaking assignments and it gave me even bigger opportunities.

Soon, the doors started opening. A national cancer magazine, Conquer, contacted the cancer center looking for stories. The editor called me and asked me to write for her.  I even got brave and asked if they could pay me a little something for my time (yikes, scary). Though most of the articles were donations she agreed to pay me for mine.

I worked hard on that article. It was my first real debut afterall. I mean the first one that people besides the editors would read.

After Conquer received my article she called me asking if I was a “professional writer or something”. Booh-yah!

“No. I’m just a girl with a passion for writing.” I am still just processing her words. Wow. Biggest payday ever.

“Did you take some writing classes?” she asked. She had some professional writing background and taught writing classes at a university.

I was a little embarrassed as I had to answer, “No. Just the basics in college. My degree is in nutrition.”

“Well, keep writing. You have a way with words.”

I don’t tell you this to brag. No way. I tell you this because I don’t want you to doubt your abilities. Your passion will be the vehicle to your success. I had no training in writing just a deep love for it. Doors will open in unlikely spots if you put yourself out there. Take advantage of every opportunity to share your passion. Other doors will open.

CANCER STRIKES AGAIN

So. My brave meter started rising. I decided to do that blog I had been thinking about (and overthinking about).

Soon after I decided to follow through with putting together my blog. I stopped worrying about picking the best name out there and just did it. I just plain started to write and publish my writing. I was so scared putting my 1st post out there but soon 1 post turned into over 100 posts and I was doing what I was meant to do. I was asked to join the Thinking Through Our Fingers blog and have been writing for them for a few years.

And somewhere in the middle of all of that cancer struck again.

Just 18 months after finishing chemo, radiation, and surgeries I was diagnosed again with cancer: metastatic breast cancer. It’s stage 4 cancer, which is incurable. It spread to my ribs, my backbone, my right hip, my right arm. The spots were small and they felt it was manageable. Not curable, just manageable.

The last 2 years I have been fighting stage 4 cancer. It has since spread to every vertebrae on my back, my liver, my lungs, my spleen. I don’t tell you this to make you feel bad for me. Absolutely not. I tell you this to let you know that there comes some sort of emotional healing when I write. That the pains of my condition are weakened because I can write. Feeding passions heals heartache and brings power into your life.

And that life is precious. Don’t waste time on wishing you could do the things that you wanted to do. Chase your dreams. Make them happen.

My trials gave sustenance to my writing.

Thank You

I’m glad that the doctor showed up on my doorstep 5 years ago. I’m glad I’ve been able to walk through this cancer journey so I could write. My heart is full of joy from following my desire to write all along while my body is filling up with cancer. I’m glad I took that chance 5 years ago. It has gotten me through my hard times with cancer. Writing has been the healing medication to my soul.

I did only one simple thing: I decided I was going to write. And how it has filled that hole in my life. How it has enriched and blessed my life.

So if I have just one word of wisdom to pass along it is this: Decide to follow your heart, then get to work. Write. And take advantage of those free writing opportunities, you never know where it will lead.

Today I have written my last blog post for TTOF. I want to thank you for your amazing support and opportunity I have had to share my writing journeys with you. There is a time and season for all things. It has been my blessing to be able to have this season with you. But, the time has come for me to focus on my family and maybe do a little writing through my personal blog as I feel necessary.

Thank you for sharing and commenting and keeping me afloat in my writing journey. What a blessing all of you have been to me. May your writing journeys explode your heart and fill you with the joy as I have found in simply thinking through my fingers.

Have a wonderful day… that’s my plan.  

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christie-perkinsChristie Perkins is a survivor of boy humor, chemo, and faulty recipes. She loves freelance writing, blogging, and is a nonfiction junkie. Her stage 4 cancer doesn’t knock down her passion for life and writing. Not a chance. A couple of magazines have published her work but her biggest paycheck is her incredible family. Christie hates spiders, the dark, and Shepherd’s Pie. Bleh. Mood boosters: white daisies, playing basketball, and peanut butter M&M’s. You can find out more about her on her blog at howperkyworks.com.

 

 

Overcoming Your Writing Fears

AKA How My Lame Dancing Skills Applies to Writing Well

We all come programmed to have fears. I’ll tell you mine: spiders, dancing in front of people, the popping of crescent dough rolls when you open them (I hoover in the corner, cover my ears, and make my boys open them. Yes. For real.) And fear of not leaving a big enough mark in this world.

I’ve only overcome just one of those.

Well sort of. I’m still working on it. I used to be afraid of dancing in front of people. There’s a few earned reasons. Number one- I got kicked out of my clogging class when I was a little girl. No one wants an echo shuffle in a clogging class. Number 2- I might look funny in front of others. And that, my friends, I call just plain old dumb pride. Stops you dead in your tracks.

Good enough reasons.

One of the most common fears that people have is fear of failure. I think it is the underlying fear of most of our fears (I most definitely do not want to fail at squishing a spider or not being able to successfully open the crescent dough can for dinner… ok maybe not that one).

Here’s a few things I’ve learned about my failed dancing moments that apply to writing and overcoming our fears of failure. Just let me get one thing straight though. You are going to fail. And it’s going to be your awesome stepping stone to success.

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Practice, Practice, Practice

So. My clogging class was not the only time I ever tried dancing. I paid to go to a dance camp. Whew. That was the biggest mistake in my life. I had only perfected the undercover dancing at high school dances. You know what I’m referring to… the wiggling that looks like you’re dancing but you’re not. There’s the slight head and hip bobbing coupled with tiny knee bopping. I was the master at this lame dance.

I had no clue how to really dance. So, when I went from undercover dancing to hip hopping and slip swishing the cha- cha. My brain and feet got all tangled up.

Embarrassing.

I tried a couple of other simple dance classes. All of them ending in a disappointed chick. So I can’t dance. And I contemplated squeezing my eyes shut to dancing dilemma forever until… much, much, later in life.

My friends started group dating and invited us to the annual Valentines dance in our little town. Every year we went. My husband and I just participating in the slow dances. That was easy.

But then…

I got brave. I got brave because I learned that I wasn’t the only one who felt funny busting a move. It was obvious some just had the dancing knick-knack in their sack but most of my friends didn’t. We could dork out the moves together.

For months I would practice in front of a mirror. Did I look as stupid as I thought I did? The answer was yes by the way. I loosened up with the Wii Dance game. It taught me some slick tricks. Go ahead laugh. I started bee-bopping in the kitchen. I would close the blinds and practice. I was building my confidence. I was secretly dancing at home before I publicly made my first debut.

Writers Need to Practice, Practice, Practice

And the same thing happened as a writer. I paid for my 1st writing workshop. I found myself dancing with big wig writers that are smooth and quick and their skills seem effortless. I had no clue how to really write. So I went from undercover writing to big plotting, and mapping, and scrapping my whole idea as a writer.

My brain and fingers got all tangled up.

But I wasn’t alone. I found writers with the same frustrations, the same embarrassing down falls, the same feelings of learning and mastering the skill of writing. Then a friend invited me, an undercover writer, to participate with her in the annual NanoWriMo. It wasn’t long though, until I started writing in the kitchen, I loosened up with pre writing games and all those slick tricks. I was secretly writing before I made my first public debut.

It would be a long time before that ever happened.

But, the constant practicing of writing made me crave more writing. All of this practicing was building my confidence. And though my 1st real attempt was a disaster. I just couldn’t let go of the passion for writing.

Just like I was discovering what dancing was all about.

Ignore Cock-Eyed Looks

Ok. So maybe my 1st break out dance wasn’t as beautiful as I planned in my head. Well, there’s no maybe about that. I still remember my long hair somehow flailing above my head. Yes, above it. It swirled and swished and… oh I wished I would have chosen a different dance move.

I looked like a complete dork.

Embarrassing. But… incredibly fun!

I was tired of playing it safe on the sidelines. Watching everyone else having fun at the dances. I was tired of studying their moves and hoping for the same outcome. I could study them all I wanted and nothing would ever come of it. Do you know why?

I was playing it safe.

I was only playing it out in my head. Trying to get better by thinking about it. I wasn’t taking any risks in looking like a dork. I wasn’t risking the fact that maybe busting a move would bust up my neighbor. I love making people smile- even at my own terrible expense. I was observing everything I wanted to do and playing it flawlessly in my head while my feet napped through the whole process.

Oh dread.

I was living a virtual dancing world. It was time to break out of it. In my head it was perfect, smooth, and cool. In real life it was off beat, rocky, and so very not cool. And there were some cock-eyed looks.

And it makes me laugh now. A grown woman flailing about like that.

Oh… are you so embarrassed for me?

Writers Get Cock Eyed Looks Too

It’s fine. I don’t mind telling you how terrible it was. Because you know what, that’s how writing was for me at first. I remember the first real writing contest I entered.

I studied and learned proper moves of writing but I never really put myself out there. I was playing it safe. I only let myself read my writings. I wasn’t getting any better by keeping it to myself. I wasn’t taking any risks so I decided to enter a real contest. The virtual world of writing came out perfect, smooth, and cool. In real life it was off beat, rocky, and not as cool as I imagined it to be. Meh. And I got some cock-eyed comments from the judges.

I got a really low score on my sample. The judges didn’t like it at all. There were 3 judges. In fact they remarked how they didn’t realize what was going on until the end. It was a short 150 word writing piece.

At first it disappointed me.

But after letting that disappointment simmer for a week or more I realized something very important. I had just received the best compliment I could get. I didn’t want them to know what was going on until the end of the piece. I had purposely dragged them along to surprise them at the end. I realized I did exactly what I wanted to do.

And that little failure inspired me to keep writing. So what if a grown woman was flailing about like that? What if her words were all over the place, getting cock-eyed looks?

My failure wasn’t a sign to give up but a signal that I was doing something right with my writing. Maybe it wasn’t the most masterful writing (I can see that now) but the element of truth that I was doing exactly what I was trying to do was exactly the kick start I needed.

If you can pick up the positivity in your failing moment then you draw a strength from it. Find it. It’s there. But don’t give up because it doesn’t end up exactly the way you played it out in your head.

It’s okay.

Learn To Feel The Beat

So with time I never really “mastered” dancing, per se. But, I mastered the art of enjoying what I was doing. I learned to relax and let my body to feel the beat of the music, to not let my head get so much in the way of what I was doing. I let my heart drive the moves. I learned to not necessarily follow the master dancers (I couldn’t keep up) but to boogie to my own beat. I toned down the craziness and honed in on just feeling the beat. My beat. I love it.

I didn’t care so much if I didn’t catch on so fast. No one could kick me out but myself. And I wasn’t going to kick myself out. I stopped caring if I looked funny in front of others. Looking funny was stretching and growing moments.

But most of all, I was having fun: writing and dancing.

So go ahead flail around, go crazy, and have fun. Look like a dork. Get a few cock-eyed looks and know that you are headed for success. Because those that just study writing never become the master of writing. Put yourself out there. Overcome your fears of not making it and looking funny. Get out there and dance.

(And just for the record. There’s no way I’m even going to attempt to master my fears of spiders. Not a chance.)

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christie-perkinsChristie Perkins is a survivor of boy humor, chemo, and faulty recipes. She loves freelance writing, blogging, and is a nonfiction junkie. Her stage 4 cancer doesn’t knock down her passion for life and writing. Not a chance. A couple of magazines have published her work but her biggest paycheck is her incredible family. Christie hates spiders, the dark, and Shepherd’s Pie. Bleh. Mood boosters: white daisies, playing basketball, and peanut butter M&M’s. You can find out more about her on her blog at howperkyworks.com.

Writing is Intentional: My Wake Up Call

There’s a very big reason I write. I’ll get to that in a minute. I used to have this false assumption that if something was meant to be it would just happen. You know the drill, the stars would align perfectly and a meteor shower of possibilities would open up and by simply star gazing your world suddenly turns amazing.

Funny. Funny, mixed up, twisted up thought globs. And not quite likely at all. It takes much more than that. Writing, my friends, is quite intentional.

Yep. You have to make it happen.

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DON’T WAIT FOR TOMORROW

A big life changing experience helped me realize that. Just over 4 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer with a re-diagnosis 2 ½ years later. It came as quite a blow. I had plans for my life that stretched out until I was 88 years old. Life’s direction was now a galaxy of guesswork. I had a wake up call. My life plans were not so solid any more. But, it also came as a beautiful blessing because this cancer curse helped me focus on what I wanted to do with my life. So, naturally, I decided to amp up my writing. And I can’t complain about that.

It was during that time that I forced myself to follow my dream to write. I faced the reality that life doesn’t wait for big moments… you create it. And if you wait you just might miss your opportunity. It was time to chase mine. It was fun to dream about writing success (and I think that is the magical part of writing) but it was time to set my alarm and get to work.

Sure, before cancer, I did a little writing here and there but mostly it was sporadic.

COMMIT TO A PROJECT: START SMALL

The biggest thing I did to follow my heart was commit to a project. It was the starting point of my personal success.

I started small. I wrote a free article for the cancer center then worked my way up. I materialized that blog that had only been a hologram in my mind (and nearly puked from anxiety when I launched it). And I got brave and submitted some articles (though I haven’t devoted much time to article writing it was quite rewarding). I accepted opportunities to stretch me as a writer by attending workshops, writing regularly for the thinkingthroughourfingers.com website, and said yes to speaking engagements.
All of this was intentional. And all of it stretched me.

Explore your options. There are many ways you can be intentional: start a family newsletter, write the words to a song (youtube it if you’re brave), write greeting cards, wallpaper your bathroom with old journals (ok, maybe not that one). Find something you aren’t doing and get to it. Commit to a project and go.

PREMEDITATE

Ok, so here’s the nonfiction junkie part of me. Bear with me. The Oxford Dictionaries site had these synonyms for intentional: “deliberate, calculated, conscious, intended, planned, meant, studied, knowing, willful, purposeful, purposive, done on purpose, premeditated, preplanned, preconceived.”

The word I liked best was “premeditated.” I find it a strong word, probably because it’s associated with some supped up Matlock case, but if we want to kill it in our writing there has to be some forethought. Think about it. That is the one thing you can do as a writer to make you most successful. Take time to figure out what you can do to take your writing to the next level. Plan your next move and take action. Ask yourselves what little thing you can do to expand your writing experiences.

Then be intentional about it.

I love the explanation found on the nationalgeographic.com site under the topic: stars. It states, “Some stars have always stood out from the rest. Their brightness is a factor of how much energy they put out…” or into it, right? Writing takes work. You have to plan, study, premeditate; pull the telescope out and look closer at the details. Devote some energy into your writing and naturally it will become brighter.

BE PATIENT
One of my favorite things to do with my family is to star gaze from the trampoline. The weight in the middle of the trampoline forces us into some cuddled bump glump. If you lay there long enough you will see a shooting star about every 5 minutes. But, you have to be looking for it. Patience and focus is key.

Give yourself time. According to nationalgeographic.com, stars take billions of years to evolve. How’s that for a black hole of hope? You’re welcome. But, I think we can relate to that, just ask any writer you know. Becoming a writing star takes time but if you don’t be intentional about your writing you will never go anywhere with it.

Every effort counts. Don’t worry if things don’t go exactly as you planned in your head (they won’t). It’s all part of the process to build you as a writing star. Enjoy the process of writing and in the meantime you will see star wonders of encouragement in the sky if you are looking for it. Be patient and stay focused.

BE INTENTIONAL

Once I made the small efforts to step it up as a writer I was amazed at the meteor shower of possibilities that opened up by not just star gazing but by pulling out my telescope and looking for and maximizing my opportunities.

I’ve learned that writing isn’t a matter of destination, some predetermined lot in life that will land gracefully in my lap. Writing success is a matter of where you take it. Writing success doesn’t just happen.

Put yourself out there. Take that step in the dark, get a little scared, look to the stars then board your rocket and take off. Don’t get stuck being star struck. It’s time to be a little more intentional with your writing. You’ve got something amazing to share. I know it because you are here reading this blog. Your passion for writing exists… now don’t miss your opportunity because life can change in a moment and you’ll realize tomorrow may never come. Believe me, I know. Today’s the day, don’t waste it.

What intentional step are you going to take today?

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christie-perkinsChristie Perkins is a survivor of boy humor, chemo, and faulty recipes. She loves freelance writing, blogging, and is a nonfiction junkie. Her stage 4 cancer doesn’t knock down her passion for life and writing. Not a chance. A couple of magazines have published her work but her biggest paycheck is her incredible family. Christie hates spiders, the dark, and Shepherd’s Pie. Bleh. Mood boosters: white daisies, playing basketball, and peanut butter M&M’s. You can find out more about her on her blog at howperkyworks.com.

Visit Your Future Self

If you knocked on your door 10 years from now what would you find? What conversations would you tell yourself about what you’ve been up to? What will you have mastered in 10 years?

It’s kind of horrifying thinking that I’ll be talking about the perfection of the mysterious ring around the toilet, my ploy to tunnel boy noises, and the cleanest uncluttered cupboards.  Oh brother! That image is a dream squished wish when what I really wanted was wondrous words that wows the world… and changes it.

Though these things are all good (who doesn’t love clean toilets?) I know that there’s something more satisfying for me. Something that fills in all the empty places in my soul.

Writing makes me whole.

But how easy is it to get wrapped up in the day and stray from the ultimate goal: to write. So easy. Too easy. That’s why it’s important to pay your future self a visit. Where is today taking you? Today is gearing up for tomorrow and it’s important to scrub toilets, and boy-lets and all but are you doing writing that is even so small? Because these little things will determine the future self you meet.

It’s time to do some time travelling. Put on your door-to –door salesman beaming grin and official pin. Let’s visit your future self. Are you selling yourself short? Today we are going to time travel and solicit to yourself. You’re the only one that can talk yourself into this. Don’t you be slamming the door, now.

Unbuckle. Let’s go. (You totally thought I was going to say buckle up didn’t you? Well, dear, that’s the problem… you’re all tied down. It’s time to let go and take off!). Let’s evaluate your tie downs and get these words welded on walls.

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Know What You Want

What do you want to be remembered for? The Tidy Wife, Candy Crush King, The Goopy Mop Plop Stopper, The Rusher (from here to there) Crusher, Hair Swirling Twirler, Facebook Fanatic, Piling Paper Skyscraper Caper, Filing Foreman.

If you want it… awesome. Go get it.

But if you don’t, today’s the day to change it.

You can do a little time travel by evaluating what skills you have been mastering in you free time. Because where you put your free time determines what you’ll become. Yes. It is important to spend time connecting with people (huge fan of that) but it’s also important to feed your passion. If you want to be Word Dragon… a daily and simple writing snack will do. A simple 15 minutes a day can make your writing take off and change your current status.

Knowing what you want is half of the battle to becoming what you want. The other half is fed by simple efforts to get there. It’s simple: write if you want to be a writer.

What Things Are You Putting First?

The principle of first things first (Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) is the key to becoming what you want. How you organize your day will determine what you get out of life. We all know those days that we crawl into bed and the torment that’s racking through our head is “What in the world did I do today?”

All day was so stinking busy but you realized that you were just being whipped around by the whirlwind of the day. Only led by the things that pulled you from here to there.

No plan was intact on those days. And life feels cheated by a wasted day. We all have them.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to put writing at the beginning of the day but to schedule it in and protect that time. No phone calls, no last minute lunch with a crazy bunch, no putting off what you scheduled in. In the moment it may feel like a loss…

But in the long run it’s an incredible win. Just ask the self-soliciting salesman knocking on your door in 10 years from now.

Throw away that pencil and permanently write down 3 things that have to happen today. Make writing one of them. Be specific when it will happen and hold your promise to yourself.

As a Man Thinketh, He Is

I’m a firm believer in this principal found in the Bible. Thoughts and what we do with them determine what we will become. And if you keep finding great excuses for not writing your thoughts will excuse you right out of what you really want.

Simply listen to the excuses you tell yourself as visit your future self. Evaluate why you won’t write. Yeah, won’t. Simply listen to your dialogue in your head. I can’t today. There’s no time. I don’t have anything to say. There’s too much to do. I can’t solve the issue I’m working on. I can’t write as well as Word Worm Wendy. I’m not very good.

Any negative dialogue stops progression.

I’m a huge believer in the power of positive thinking. Positive people get places. When the negative words come crowding out your efforts fight back with a positive response instead.

I can write 10 minutes before bed. I can write while I wait. Words won’t flow unless I let them go, I’ll give it a try. Writing is more important than organizing my socks. Watch out! I’m here to tackle my writing issues. I bet Word Worm Wendy squirms at her writing too. I’m awesome.

Is your negative thinking causing your future self regret? Don’t’ you think it’s time to change your thinking and get to it? You’re going to be amazing.

How would your visit with your future self go? Evaluate these three important areas and make adjustments so when the doors-a-knocking, you’ll be rockin’ your writing!

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christie-perkinsChristie Perkins is a survivor of boy humor, chemo, and faulty recipes. She loves freelance writing, blogging, and is a nonfiction junkie. Her stage 4 cancer doesn’t knock down her passion for life and writing. Not a chance. A couple of magazines have published her work but her biggest paycheck is her incredible family. Christie hates spiders, the dark, and Shepherd’s Pie. Bleh. Mood boosters: white daisies, playing basketball, and peanut butter M&M’s. You can find out more about her on her blog at howperkyworks.com.

Getting Your Wishful Writing Couch Potato Off the Couch

I hover happily where I am in my writing world. I write so many hours a week, maintain a blog, attend writing conferences (sometimes), journal, network with other writers, and spend way too long on a simple thank you note (you know, it has to be all the right words). I’m happy where I am.

The problem is I’m flat lining. Yep. I’m experiencing this cushy comfortable lifestyle of writer riding where I do nothing but drive the same highway of writing. And that’s why the perk of writing is falling flat.

I’ve got a disease. I suffer from fear of the next step syndrome.

Instead my wishful writing dreams lounge out on a couch somewhere. And, really looking at it all, where I am is not a bad place to be. It’s just that where I am is not taking me anywhere. Scratch that. I still get somewhere I just end up ignoring places I could go. I’m in my comfort zone with writing. And let’s face it, it’s hard to progress when you don’t push yourself to explore new territories.

Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. But, I know that the next step will be good for me I just don’t make time for it. The next step requires research, planning, failing, and reworking the already comfortable schedule.

But, what I really want from my writing begs for my attention. My wishful writing parks its long legs on the back couch and reminds me of its presence and stares me down.

Hey girl. You ignoring me!

Yep.

So I go back to my comfortable writing world and my wishful writing couch potato continues to invade my living room. I can’t ignore it. It munches on crunchy chips while I write. It sits in the presence of company, it tucks me into bed at night, plays boogie man, and it greets me every morning. And  it especially makes its presence known  when I witness other people mastering “their thing.” The reminder of my next step quietly makes its presence known.

So, um… you just gonna sit there?

It’s time to give it some attention so it will go away.

I know I’m not the only one that has these nagging feelings. I love the line in the movie, Babe. The narrator says, “Farmer Hoggett knew that little ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to away should never be ignored, for in them lie the seeds of destiny.”

Hm. Destiny, eh?

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4 Tips To Get That Wishful Writing Couch Potato Working Out:

My wishful writing couch potato is getting fat. I need to put it to work because the longer I wait the harder it is to get momentum. I have always discovered that something grand is on the outside of a little extra effort.

The next step is like getting back into exercise after a long haul of couch potato writing. Here’s a few of my favorite exercising tips that apply to writing as well. It’s time to get your wishful writing couch potato off the couch and start feeding him your little seeds of destiny. Here’s how to get started without baking the potato in the first week. Don’t get ambitious and burned on your first week. A perfect baked potato takes time.

Start Slow

It’s easy to get overambitious on the first attempt of the next step. If you plan to get too much done you will be disappointed that things aren’t moving quicker for you. You have to ease into it and do simple steps. Be very specific. Maybe today I will research how to write a proposal or how to design a web page. Give yourself small, achievable deadlines. By Friday I will begin my proposal, completing at least the hook or the marketing plan. Whatever your next step is, go slow but the point is to go.

Go Hard Enough You Can Carry On a Conversation

So yes, it is possible to take it too slow. That won’t give your dreams their proper attention. In the exercise world you need to be working out hard enough that you can still carry on a conversation while you exercise. Stressing a little is good, it shows growth. So you need to push yourself hard enough that you are sweating it out (or stressing) a little but that you are also able to attend to your other needs. I’m a big believer people connections. So for me this is a necessary element to being successful in writing. That’s just my personal opinion. Take if for whatever you want. New, big, steps can take a lot of time but I think that proper balance keeps you happy in your writing. Make it a goal to squeeze in meaningful conversation even amid working out your couch potato dreams. Of course I write then talk (I rarely mix the two). I simply do this by setting a timer and tell my midget genetic counterparts that I will be with them when the timer goes off. I work hard now, and then later I am still able to carry on a conversation. I have to have this goal because it is very easy for me to work hard and neglect meaningful conversations. Writing makes me happy but so do my little people.

Log Your Writing Time

Seems pointless right? But, if you are having a difficult time seeing your progress then monitor it. People use tools all the time to measure their success. Fitbits or ancient yesterday pedometers measure how active you are. Or you can simply take a slice of the clock instead (that’s my method). Log your success and feel an instant reward for not creating a to-do list, but for creating a log of successful writing moments. You’re creating a backward to-do list. It feels much more satisfying tracking what was done rather than gawking at what wasn’t done.

Track three main areas of writing:

1-Writing time. Count words, pages, time, whatever you want to track.

2-Planning and Research Time. Studying things out sometimes feels like you aren’t getting writing done but it is an important element in being successful. Simply track what you spent your time on and how long. You will feel better knowing you were moving when it appears you weren’t.

3-Business and Marketing Time. This has always been my biggest beef with writing. I just want to write so it feels like this takes away from what I could be doing. But, this is a very important element that keeps your writing up. Take a regular time to connect and keep the business side of writing in balance. Track your connections. Use these methods of logging and see yourself inch along as a writer but be miles ahead of the wishful writing couch potato friends.

Enjoy It

This is the biggest measure of success as a writer and new ambitious exercisers. Over and over you will find that those who have stuck with an exercise regimen are those who enjoy what they are doing. The same is true of writers. If you find satisfaction with writing then you will most likely stick with it. Satisfaction doesn’t always equate to being the star player. Most of my delight in exercise and writing comes from learning and applying new techniques or breaking new norms. Simply find one thing you love in your new push to get that wishful writing couch potato up.  Yes, there will be hard days, but if you consistently look for one perk in your efforts you will continue to find joy in writing.

Do you suffer from the next step syndrome? What nags and begs for your attention? It’s time to get that wishful writing couch potato up and moving. Today’s your day to start feeding your “destiny.” Take that next step. What are you going to do?

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christie-perkins

Christie Perkins is a survivor of boy humor, chemo, and faulty recipes. She loves freelance writing, blogging, and is a nonfiction junkie. Her stage 4 cancer doesn’t knock down her passion for life and writing. Not a chance. A couple of magazines have published her work but her biggest paycheck is her incredible family. Christie hates spiders, the dark, and Shepherd’s Pie. Bleh. Mood boosters: white daisies, playing basketball, and peanut butter M&M’s. You can find out more about her on her blog at howperkyworks.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,200 Writing Failures; Lightbulb Moments

 

We all know the story of Thomas Edison. He got his “lightbulb” moment after never giving up. Yes, it is true that the lightbulb itself is an amazing creation. But, what really makes him unique, relatable and a hero is not so much the lightbulb but the fact that he never gave up.

(And yes, I like the lightbulb… I’m afraid of the dark.)

But when a journalist asked him how he dealt with 1,200 failures Thomas simply replied, “I did not fail twelve hundred times. I was successful in finding twelve hundred ways the lightbulb didn’t work.” (Leeds, Dorothy. 7 Powers of Questions. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 2000.)

I love that response.

I love that response because I have come to nearly twelve hundred ways that writing doesn’t work for me. And that has been the key to my success.

Acknowledge what doesn’t work.

writing failures

Looking for the Floodlights

I remember when I first started writing seriously I went to a big wig writing workshop. I was searching for the best way to write and manage my time. I was on a quest to find that pointblank floodlight. Here I was surrounded by people who had it all figured out. I wanted to know where their electricity was stemming from.

Their writing light seemed bright. I wanted to sign up for their electric company.

With my flickering writing flashlight in hand I leaned on their floodlights. So I took vigorous notes on what I should do. I asked questions and searched out a bulk of methods. I came home excited with three new methods to try. But the excitement didn’t last long. Everything I was told wasn’t working for me. Yes, for them it was a success but for me it was bogging down my writing groove.

What?

What I didn’t realize was that I already had some of my writing tips figured out. But, I didn’t know it until I tried following their light. I found that their lights were too yellow or too blue.  By evaluating what didn’t work for me, I actually found what worked. They weren’t failures, just steps to success. I had my own magic electric company I was already paying but I had to stand in someone else’s light to figure that out.

Failures: My Writing Lightbulb Moments

You will find that some of these are your writing gems. That’s great! Keep it up. Do what works for you. But if it’s not working then figure out why and realize your failures are just getting you closer to creating your own writing light. Failures are the best way to success. Yet even in my quest for the light bulb moment I still found a little light that directed my writing. Look here for what didn’t work for me but what I learned in the process:

Don’t Edit While You Write. Wow. This was my biggest struggle. I had writing fallouts when I tried this method. I wrote a book in this method and couldn’t write for an entire year after. (Those were my writing dark ages.) I have always edited when I write. I totally get the point of “just getting your story on paper” mentality but for me it ends up being a big pile of wasted paper. I don’t enjoy the writing process when I just spit. For me first time thoughtful writing works (with a few comb overs to cover unsightly baldness).

Writing Lightbulb Moment: So I did learn something in all of this, though. When I just randomly followed the ramblings in my head I found that a magical 6 rewrites did the trick. So although I don’t love throwing words on paper, when I occasionally flip into this method- 6 rewrites fixes it all.

Keep all versions of your drafts. I found myself bogged down by multiple drafts of the same story. I hated them all so it was only tormenting me to keep them. I found I was saving several versions on the computer and suddenly writing was a bear in the forest ready to eat me. For me, keeping all of my drafts depleted my writing enthusiasm and made me avoid tromping through the writing forest at night. Now I just ditch it and move forward while twirling in green daisy infested sunlight hills. (Enter smiley face.)

Writing Lightbulb Moment: I hate paper piles.

Write in the Morning. I was sure this was the big secret ingredient. Most successful writers claimed this one. I was already in the groove of writing in the midnight hour. But, I am a night owl so maybe that’s the difference. I tried to get up and do my best writing in the morning and I found that my to-do list was clomping me over the head. It was driving me crazy because I couldn’t focus. Suddenly all of my writing inspiration was sprinkled with lame to do items. (Wow. And to think that won’t bore someone in a hurry.) But even now instead of midnight writing, I do midday writing. I guess for me “write earlier” is really the trick.

Writing Lightbulb Moment: I have to get the most pressing things done before I can start writing.

BUILDING EDISON’S LIGHTBULB

I have since found many other methods that writing doesn’t work for me. It’s great. It’s all helping me to be a more focused writer. I’m finding my own groove and occasionally the light bulb blares brightly and I can clearly see what I need to do. But, mostly I am just working in the dark. I’m twisting, tweaking, and rethinking through my writing processes to find the ones that make the difference. I’m muddling through my 1,200 ways that don’t work. And all of the so called writing failures- they aren’t failures they are the very important steps that are going to help you make it as a writer.

How close are you to the 1,200 ways that writing doesn’t work for you? Pinpoint what doesn’t work so you can find what really does work. And as always, keep thinking through your fingers.

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christie-perkinsChristie Perkins is a survivor of boy humor, chemo, and faulty recipes. She loves freelance writing, blogging, and is a nonfiction junkie. Her stage 4 cancer doesn’t knock down her passion for life and writing. Not a chance. A couple of magazines have published her work but her biggest paycheck is her incredible family. Christie hates spiders, the dark, and Shepherd’s Pie. Bleh. Mood boosters: white daisies, playing basketball, and peanut butter M&M’s. You can find out more about her on her blog at howperkyworks.com.

 

5 Ice Fishing Tricks That Work With Writing

I don’t love ice fishing. I mean really who intentionally sticks themselves in nature’s freezer and taints their fingernails to garlic infested fish bait and burley earthworms and the inappropriately called “meal” worms… not to mention the creepy factor of these fish food dudes? Bleh. (I’m holding down the gag reflex.)

And quite frankly, the hours on end on a frozen lake with no bites… well, that’s just insane.

I would never intentionally plan an ice fishing trip. But, my genetic counterparts would. So, we go despite my love for the sport.

And how does this apply to writing you ask?

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Here’s how. If you are a writer you love to write. That’s obvious. But, if you are a writer and you consistently work hard at your work you will find times when you tell yourself this: I’m passionate about writing but right now I just don’t love it.

Congrats! You’ve made a true stride in your writing if you’ve found yourself in a writing slump.

You intentionally stick yourself in a situation that is not producing any warm fuzzies (at the moment) and it appears that your fingers are tainted from writing sprints (uh, yeah… it’s my fingers that are all gooey ewe from writing). You use all of the writing baits out there but some days it just seems useless because you don’t get any bites. “Am I insane?” you ask.

But, we love the sport. So, we go for it despite the lack of love that we feel in the moment.

The trick is to keep going. Here’s a few tips that work with ice fishing and writing. Whether you love it or you hate it at the moment these are tips and tricks that work. Find one that’s the right bait for you and maybe you’ll just get that bite and thrill of writing will all come back to you.

Fish At the Right Time.

Ok, ok. So most ice fishing goers typically like the crack of dawn. I think that’s just plain stupid. It’s because shaved legs don’t last at 6 am in that kind of weather. So last time we went at 2 p.m. The weather was perfect and though the fish weren’t super munchie but we did get a few. I checked it off as the perfect fishing trip.

Timing is everything. You pick the time that makes you most happy to write. Maybe switch it up and you will find something that works a little better for you. I have always preferred afternoon or evening writing. But, most writers I know love writing in the morning. You pick and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks is your “perfect writing time.”

When You Walk Away From Your Pole You’ll Get a Bite.

I’m not exactly sure how this works but it’s proven itself true over and over and over. My little guy gave up the biggest fish in the lake while checking out the forest. His buddy caught it on his pole.

Be careful not to walk away from your writing. I believe that the when you are most likely to give it up is when you are on the brink of success. I have found it in my own writing. When you are most tempted to walk away… just stick with it a little longer. There’s a big one waiting for you. Persevering is the biggest challenge for writers. You’ve got this. Watch the words fill up a page and take necessary breaks but never go wandering through the forest. Stick with it. Give yourself a set amount of time you have to meet each week then tend to your keyboard.

(But maybe someone else’s bite becomes your bait to stick with it. Hmmm??? And that’s okay too as long as you come back.)

Put a Prize In Front of the Fishing Trip.

So I wasn’t planning on fishing until my husband suggested prizes. That perked me up. Who cares about fish… but when you could get $5? Weird how cash from my own pocket changes my motivation to fish. So what was going to be a reading and relaxing moment in the freezing sun bath became a meaningful war path. Fishing suddenly turned from hum-drum to fun.

(Even though I got skunked.)

Writing needs perks too. Find a reward system (even if it comes from your own pocket). Your motivation will change if you just give yourself personal landmarks and rewards. Find treats you love, movies, girls nights out, permission to buy that decoration off the internet shop, racquetball with the buddies, whatever. It doesn’t even have to involve money. I sometimes set up simple rewards of reading or window shopping if I meet my agenda. Set it up today and keep yourself writing. Make sure you are rewarding yourself often.

Bring an Ice Fishing Tent.

I hate being cold, almost as much as I hate spiders. Everyone needs some kind of insurance. I need my back-up plan if things go south. There’s a sense of comfort knowing that we packed the ice fishing tent… it gets me in the Tahoe. Though we haven’t had to use it I know that it is there and that makes ice fishing so much more enjoyable.

Writers need writing insurance also. They need to know that when the wind picks up and their blood is freezing solid that there is something that will keep them warm. They need a back-up plan.  You have to keep up your “other passions” so when writing gets too cold for you that you will have a fall back. Now, you don’t give up writing (no way) but it keeps you balanced and happy.  It is necessary to always keep just one ice fishing tent in the back of the truck. Maybe it’s cooking, basketball, or organizing social events. Maybe it’s or building things or jumping on the trampoline. I don’t know what your ice fishing tent is but I’m sure you do. Don’t neglect it. It adds an extra layer of happiness. So if you don’t know what it is… figure it out.

Surround Yourself With People Who Are Excited About Fishing.

Wow. Ok, this is probably the most fun thing about ice fishing. Though I was not particularly in the groove with the ice fishing move I was having such a great time watching my little pals fish. My six year old was so excited to be there and kept telling me how much fun he was having. Every time a fish was caught there were smiles and a rush feet. So sweet. I realized that that was the number one thing that kept the fishing trip alive. Enthusiasm is catchy… even if you’re not catching anything.

I believe that surrounding yourself with people who love to write is number one thing you can do to keep you writing. The truth of the matter is we are not all passionate about our writing at the same time but I’ve noticed someone always is. I had a friend call me recently who was on fire with her writing. And since I was in a slump I was reignited by her enthusiasm. Find blogs, like this one, join an online writing community, talk to other writers regularly, and feel and feed off their enthusiasm. You will find that though you may not be catching anything you will be having a wonderful time and soaking up their love of writing. And though you may not love writing right now… you soon will again.

Which ice fishing tip do you need to incorporate to keep you writing? You’ve got this. Keep thinking through your fingers.

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christie-perkinsChristie Perkins is a survivor of boy humor, chemo,
and faulty recipes. She loves freelance writing and is a nonfiction junkie. A couple of national magazines have paid her for her work but her biggest paycheck is her incredible family. Christie hates spiders, the dark, and
Shepherd’s Pie. Bleh. Mood boosters: white daisies, playing basketball, and peanut butter M&M’s. You can find out more about her at
howperkyworks.com
.