Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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Stopped Writing? Here are 5 Steps to Break the Block

sad sleepy girl

Writing can be pretty lonely. It’s also a proactive act, filled with discipline and self motivation that forces you to provoke emotion with stories and concepts that haven’t existed before. To have to grapple with ideas and how to express them, to distill concepts in thought provoking ways so readers find your material remarkable, hell – it’s a heady task.

Sometimes we hit a day or a week or a month (!) where we don’t want to go inside our heads and pull out ideas and find the words to describe them. We grind to a halt. We self sabotage ourselves. We want to taste that sweet sweet awesomeness we feel when we are in the zone.

Here are a few tips to get you going when you don’t feel like writing.

1) Give yourself a good talking to.

Seriously. Go into a room by yourself and start talking to yourself. Let your words ring beyond the walls of your head. Talk to yourself as if someone is in the room. If you believe in spirit guides or a guardian angel is by your side, then talk to them like you’re Claire from “Six Feet Under” confiding in her dead father or brother.

I know it sounds creepy. I know it might sound nuts, but it’s only nuts if you’re walking down the street talking to no one and people start crossing the street to avoid you.

Talk to yourself in a quite, empty room. Get out your frustrations with why you are not writing. Think about what may be blocking you. Are your scared? Are you tired? Are you stuck on a chapter and your fear you’ll never get through it. Work on this as if it’s a natural mind flush – not something weird. You’re getting words out of your head and into your ears.

You may even want to record your voice to capture a useful writing idea floating through.

2) Get Comfortable Being Alone.

I’m a member of a closed Facebook page with other entrepreneurs. There was a lovely member who posted a message on being nervous about deciding to travel alone to Washingon D.C. and needed emotional support to go through with this. We all cheered her on because most of us have mastered solitary travel. We encouraged her to not think about being alone on this trip and to fill her days doing fun things SHE wants to do. Museums, restaurants, memorials, activities. And she did! She came back feeling refreshed and empowered by the experience.

Go to the park alone. Go to a movie alone. Hell – go to dinner at a nice restaurant alone. You’re not a loser doing this. Bring a book. Read your Kindle, but eventually put them down and view people around you. Watch how patrons interact at the other tables. Talk to the waiter or waitress and ask them about their job, or the patrons they deal with everyday. Taste the food. Drink the wine. Make fun of yourself and lighten up about being at the table alone. Go to a museum alone. Go to the theater alone. Watch other people taking their seats. Observe the ushers and wonder what their lives are about.

Be comfortable with yourself so you can experience life magnified. Scoop up ideas and gain the mental clarity get back to get back to writing.

3) Get Out And Have Fun with Your Family and Friends!

The first two items are pretty solitary so, let’s get this straight: Don’t be a recluse! Yes, get comfy with your ‘aloneness’ from time to time, but get out and socialize. Get down and dirty with experiences with people. Be one with your friends family. Start up a wine tasting get-together in your home, or a book reading club, a foodie club, a motorbike appreciation society, tattooed ladies who crochet – anything to interact with others who share a hobby that may contribute new ideas.

Or just go to a movie with friends. You don’t have to be a social community organizer pulling together cute hobby clubs to interact. Just do it. I know you know how to be with people – now get ‘er done.

4) Get Off Social Media for a Day

Challenge yourself. Make your day filled with museums, art, movies, binge watching fantastically written television shows, podcasts, Ted Talks or cook recipes you’ve been meaning to try. Get really involved at work on a project or activity with co-workers. Live life outside the Twitter feed or Facebook status update. Imagine all the cool stuff that’s going to accumulate on Tumblr or Instagram at 11pm that night for your to read because you were out all day interacting with people, or reading or writing or working on a project at work that will help develop a skill. See how long you can get off your iPhone and internet and keep going one hour more…then another. Hell, just get caught up in interacting with life.

Some of us remember when the internet didn’t exist, and remember how our brains reacted to everyday analog things. I know my imagination has taken a hit since the internet happened. I used to go the library, take out books and spend an entire weekend afternoon reading. Now, I can’t do it without my mind wandering and wanting to check my email. Technology has re-wired our brains away from the creative process. Our imaginations are being filled with digital creations. We aren’t creating for ourselves.

So, let’s try it for a day. No social media. Let your own brain imagine things for you – not a Periscope feed.

5) Remember…This Will Pass

Sometimes there’s a reason why our brains stop producing ideas and our hands cease to write a single word. We’re over worked or burned out. If your self discipline goes south, and you can’t find the mind space to write – don’t beat yourself up.

But know this: You have to make a pact with writing. You have to promise that writing table that you will return and continue. You don’t get off easy here. I know I don’t. Writing is a constant battle with a little snarky asshole called “Resistance”. Read Steven Pressfield’s “War on Art” and you will get the bare bones breakdown of this nasty little piece of business.

Resistance will make excuses. Resistance will feel like you’re tired. Resistance will tell you you’re lazy. Resistance will say you’re not a writer.

Oh yes you are.

If you miss a day or two of writing, you will likely feel sluggish or crappy. You know why? Because you’re a writer who is meant to be writing.

Rest if you must. Take what I’ve offered as a way to replenish and carve out new neuropaths in your brain. Fill up your shoe with ideas.

Then, get back to the page and keep moving on.

 If you’ve enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your fellow writers.

 

 

 

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National Puppy Day!

baxter

Baxter

Baxter the Basset Hound is six years old, far from being a puppy.  By the time I adopted him, he was a skinny one year old hound with kennel cough who had been through some shuffling around. It breaks my heart to think about it. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t know.

His history is different that the one of my last hound, Baldrick.

Baldrick was bred by a breeder in New Jersey who had gorgeous champion show hounds. Baldrick was a descendant of many winning hounds, with a lineage that placed him solid on the American Kennel Club list. His puppy name was Frito Bandito because breeders Hank and Sharon (with whom we remained friend with for years) named his litter after food, and Dorito corn chips was the association for our pup. My dad and I adopted him. My father decided on the name  Baldrick, because we both loved the TV British comedy ‘Black Adder’ and the character of Baldrick – Black Adder’s “Dogsbody”.

Baxter and Baldrick were different and the same in so many ways.

Baldrickbyboy

Baldrick at four months.

Baldrick was cuddly, funny, playful, human-like, loving and goofy. As an east coast dog, he was bigger, smellier, contracted a chronic ear infection that added to the funk, tri-color,  had thick, coarse fur on his back, velvety head and ears, and rough giant paws that would make you scream with pain if he stepped on your bare feet.  He would lick you constantly. He was 68 pounds and liked to curl up on my lap and stomach which took the breath out of me. He was a showstopper wherever we went. Gorgeous boy.

I miss the hell out of that hound. His sweetness. He devotion. The memories of going hiking with my dad and the little guy though state parks and at Riverside Park. I miss his personality. His way.

Baxter is funny, playful, human-like, loving and goofy. He doesn’t smell bad. In fact, he’s maintained this lovely corny puppy aroma that makes him easy to snuggle, if he lets you snuggle. He’s a loner. A rebel. He’s a ginger boy – as red headed as Conan O’Brien. He doesn’t like to cuddle, although late at night, if you’re sitting next to him on the couch, he’ll nest his head against your leg.

He’s not a licker, although sometimes he’ll give me a wet one on the face when I come home. His way of providing affection is burrowing his head into your leg or mushing his muzzle against your face. He’s 54 pounds. As a west coast dog, he’s softer and more supple than Baldrick was. His back curves with more ease. His paws are more delicate and soft. His fur isn’t coarse, in fact his entire body is soft like plush. The color of his red fur is almost golden, and glows healthily in the sun. He has freckles and everyone in Los Angeles who encounters him loves him. He’s a supreme beauty.

Baxter is also an old soul. He doesn’t care for bullshit. An over zealous puppy met on the street will be met with a grumble. He’s cranky, and refused to let most dogs sniff his butt for very long without a growl. Baldrick was a little more easy going – more inclusive. Didn’t want to be separated in another room for long. Baxter likes his privacy.

Both Baldrick and Baxter won’t (or didn’t)  bite.  Both patient with children. Both soften(ed) with curious toddlers, and both gave me something to come home to.

Although Baxter is getting a little white around the eyes, he’s still got the puppy in him. And we still have a long way to go together.

Baxter national puppy day

 

 


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When an Off-Broadway Show Hits a Milestone

DLL_Review_Image

Just had to sing some praises! (Despite the fact the coma on my keyboard isn’t working. Pardon the dashes!)

‘Daddy Long Legs’ is the little show that could. It just celebrated 200 performances at the Davenport Theater!

If you’re in the NYC area – spend a matinee or evening with this lovely story filled with heartbreaking and life affirming beauty. Plus – real married couple and stars Megan McGinnis and Adam Halpin are a couple of cuties. Lovely all around!

Because I am slightly obsessed and love to champion good creative work -the producer’s team kindly gave me a discount coupon to share with family and friends. Please click through and grab a seat or two!

Or go to: https://www.telechargeoffers.com/go.aspx?MD=2001&MC=DLLDEBI

And if you don’t – that’s okay. I’ll still love ya! But give it a try. As a written piece – it’s a corker.

 

 


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Monday Writing Motivation: Spring Sprung

purpletulips

Happy day two of Spring!

To those tulips and flowers thinking they had the all-clear in New York and woke up to a layer of snow this morning – I’ve heard the snow has melted and things are looking up!

Such is the advent of Spring. Although the calendar proclaims it the first day of this new season, for most areas of this country, winter will not pry its grubby, cold hands from the necks of winter weary humans and optimistic little flower buds.

In Los Angeles, it’s spring and summer all year round so the transition has less contrast.  The climate is temperate and things are pretty green around here most of the time. Yet, Spring comes along in February when the blooming Jasmine hatch open and the Pittosporum grows its incredibly fragrant white blooms that make you want to climb its branches and bury your face in a bushel flowery sunshine. (That is – if there weren’t bees everywhere, which is a blessing).  That’s the only way you know there’s a season change – when things start smelling like a perfume laboratory.

And then the Jacaranda trees start showing their purpleness a little later in April and May, adding their fragrance to the splendor and raining down purple petals on the street and cars. It’s ‘Purple Rain’ the way Prince meant it to be.

But enough of all this garden variety metaphorical waxing.  Spring does something more to our brain than we realize. Our goals and our intention to complete them flourish. The synapses in our brains fire off endorphins and fun chemicals that make us break out in spring fever.

And then some of us are still trying to catch up on that hour of sleep we lost last weekend.

Whatever the case of spring may bring on your doorstep or out your window, there’s plenty of fodder for writing.  So…

What does Spring mean to you?  What memories do you have of Spring? What hope do you have for this season? What do you smell, taste, feel and see this year that’s different from other seasons?  Are you exhausted? Happy? Wistful? Sad? Hopeful?

Write it down today. Tell Monday to take a hike. Break through the first day of the week resistance blues. 

 


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Wednesday Writing Prompt: Dreams Deferred

In memory of my mother, who never allowed her voice to be heard, and whose birthday was this past Sunday – I’m reblogging so more people see this. Her work deserves to be seen and hopefully liked.

Order of the Good Write

green dangling beaded dress ‘Ana La Habana’ Fashion

My mother came from Havana Cuba after a member of Castro’s staff told her to take her son and leave the country. This was 1959.

Ana Srebrenik was a single mother and shop owner. She ran a little lingerie store in the lobby of, what was then, the Havana Hilton. Castro and his team had their offices in the building, and every day (as I remember her telling me), she’d see he and his minions walk through the hotel after their day in the mountains.

She got to know his side men casually. One of them gave her the heads up about the revolution and how her capitalist ways were no longer going to cut it in post Revolution Cuba.

My mother immigrated to the US and settled in New York and built another business. This time it was a dress shop in White Plains. This…

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Wednesday Writing Prompt: Dreams Deferred

green dangling beaded dress

‘Ana La Habana’ Fashion

My mother came from Havana Cuba after a member of Castro’s staff told her to take her son and leave the country. This was 1959.

Ana Srebrenik was a single mother and shop owner. She ran a little lingerie store in the lobby of, what was then, the Havana Hilton. Castro and his team had their offices in the building, and every day (as I remember her telling me), she’d see he and his minions walk through the hotel after their day in the mountains.

She got to know his side men casually. One of them gave her the heads up about the revolution and how her capitalist ways were no longer going to cut it in post Revolution Cuba.

My mother immigrated to the US and settled in New York and built another business. This time it was a dress shop in White Plains. This time she designed some of the clothes and hired a tailor to run them up for her store. I believe she had a partner in this venture because I used to hear about a couple with whom she had to settle  when the store closed. Their names are forgotten.

Ana placed her career on a shelf, met my father, got married and had me. Maybe it wasn’t all in that order. I’m never sure. Details got fuzzy. When she was alive, she wouldn’t go into detail. I only knew she always thought she’d get back into her own store again. But she never did.

When she passed away unexpectedly in November of 2009, I had to do what we all have to do once in our lives: clean out the family home, send things to donation, organize estate sales, sell off property.

Among her things, I came upon a portfolio of her fashion sketchings.  They were likely done after she gave up her store. She always loved clothes and good fashion although she never allowed herself to buy many things. Mom would re-purpose old clothes, re-design a skirt, or use a scarf as a belt. Like Little Edie Beale of ‘Grey Gardens’, she’d find a perfect outfit for the day.

fitted orange dress

Smart business attire for the day. ‘Ana La Habana’

While going through these drawings, I see a creative side to my mother I had never explored. To me, she was the mom in the kitchen, the mom in the car driving me to school or to the store, the mom in the dark room. Her dreams stunted by responsibility placed upon her as a woman of a certain generation.

bluedrapeddress

Cocktails? ‘Ana La Habana’

Each dressed devised by her hand evoked glamour and chance situations. There was a bit of glory and opportunity with each sash and button. The lines and shading promoted a dream world she wish she could step into, or to allow a potential customer to live empowered through a frock devised by her own vision.

Yet, those ideas were left frozen on a page, hidden in a binder sitting at the bottom of a trunk. So many years ago, measured by the passage of time where she wouldn’t allow her true creative self to flourish. That it was her duty as a wife and mother at the time. That her way of handling a career and motherhood as a young single mother in Cuba caused a riff between her and her son.

Not this time, she likely thought when she had me. So she shut the dream down.

She encouraged me to be successful.

She was proud of my athleticism and independence.

I think back at the times she never brought up marriage and grandchildren. Never guilted me about it.

She once even told me I should run my own business.  But the everyday corporate life seemed like a societal obligation, having seen my father find security at IBM for entire career.

How wrong I was. The world isn’t the same.

I think of the song *”Days and Days” from the musical “Fun Home”.  It’s sung by Helen Bechdel to her daughter Alison after dealing with her husband Bruce’s closeted life for so many years. She had just asked him for a divorce.

Although the family circumstances are not the same as mine, the feeling of wasted days due to what was expected of her comes to light.

She sings of the ordinary, mundane things, “…lunches and car rides and shirts and socks. And grades and piano…and no one clocks the day you disappear,” and “bargains I made because as a wife I was meant to, and now my life is shattered and made bare.”

Days and days and days. Just like my  mother, married to a very nice, sweet, adorable man whom I worshiped, but held her to what was expected of her. He was likely resentful of her depression, not understanding what she needed.

There is no one to blame really. But lessons are learned. Parents strive for their children to have a better life than the one they leave behind.

I can hear my own mother say it in my ear.

“Don’t you come back here. I didn’t raise you to give away your days…like me.”

Writing Prompt:

What are your dreams? What have you sacrificed in order to live a certain way? What creative activity have you allowed to sit on the shelf?  And if you brought it out of the darkness to make it a part of your livelihood or your hobby, how will you continue to use that talent and never give up?

 

‘Days and Days’, from the musical ‘Fun Home’. Music by Jeanine Tesori. Words by Lisa Kron.