Order of the Good Write

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


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For the Writer, Art is the Motivator

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Palm Trees. Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

(I wrote this post this morning on MarieForleo.com in reply to a discussion about the importance of art in our lives.  This comment felt like a blog post. I’d like to share it here. I hope you find some good in its message.)

Art is essential in allowing humanity to connect spiritually.

I use art to motivate my writing and the writing of others. Each facet of art, especially painting and sculpture (for me), can ignite a bevvy of stories for the world to see. It can inspires other and can change lives. It can shift a mind.

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Street Art/Berlin Wall. Wende Museum. Los Angeles.

Music is also a profound inspiration. Artists who write life affirming and soul searching lyrics have made me the writer I am today. They connect feelings into words. Music and art makes us feel less alone in this world.

I think the one piece of art that changed my life (other than music), was Georges Seurat’s painting “Sunday on the Island of Grande Jatte” and the musical play it inspired. James Lapine wrote the book for “Sunday in the Park with George” and Stephen Sondheim created the most glorious, heart wrenching, moving score to reflect the concept of how a painting can tell a story. How each visage, each person painted were really humans with beating hearts and broken lives painted in dabs of light. The way the painting comes to life with humanity and the love story woven in – showed me how art can be a powerful reflection of our lives. In fact, the entire show has specific lyrics that support this entire theme.

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‘Sunday in the Park with George’

 

Add the wonderful musical ‘Fun Home’ – which shows painful, universal themes in a beautiful, touching way – and we have continued proof that the arts tell the story of our lives.

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Cast of ‘Fun Home’. Photo by Christaan Felber. The New Yorker.

Don’t let anybody, or any negative voice in your head tell you otherwise. We need more art. We need creation.

As good ol’ Steve wrote in “Sunday…”

“Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you’ll be-
Look at all the things you’ve done for me
Opened up my eyes,
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree…”

Just keep moving on. 🙂


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AWP 2016 Los Angeles

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Table of Writer’s post cards: AWP 2016 Conference, Los Angeles

Weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center attending the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs)! I’m intermingling and learning so much from this incredible group of creatives that my mind is reeling. Beautiful fatigue.

From publishers to colleges, professors, writing programs and retreats, to panels upon panels of writers from Jonathan Franzen, Dani Shapiro, Honor Moore, and Aspen Matis – it’s an experience I hope to repeat in the coming years.

It’s incredible what stories abound within humanity. There are times when I think I have an incredible story to tell about my family, my experiences and my conflicts in life, but the depths and trenches people face in life – the horror and the prosecution, stuck in a well where their voice rings out, but no one is listening – or no one believes them, well, it makes me wonder if my own simple life is worth repeating on paper. (It is. All our simple lives are worth the telling.)

There are stories out there, wretched in their creation, stinging in their aftermath, beautiful in realization and in the telling. I can’t believe how much abundance is out there in the world – how the written voice needs to be printed, how our stories must be told.

Amazing world out there.

If you’re a writer and want to be part of a terrific community of writing, and to participate in next year’s AWP conference (not sure where it will be), I urge you to sign up for membership. It doesn’t cost too much, and it’s worth every penny to be part of this collaborative and wonderful group. The conference itself is rich with fascinating writers who share various ideas and experience about various facets of writing.

Meanwhile, I’m letting everything all sink in. Filled up my shoe, as I like to say (and quote Dylan), to bring it to you. To share with writers, and to blog.

Happy Saturday!


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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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Time To Toot the Horn: ‘The Good Write’

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It takes a lot to be a writer. Self motivation, inspiration, dedication. Writing despite resistance and the negative little demons that hold you back can be a major hurdle to overcome.

While writing my book “Hitting Water”,  blogging here on “Order of the Good Write” and while working on my own written projects,  I’ve been slowly building a writing coach business to help other writers get out of their writing rut.

Embedded in the model of this biz is a charitable initiative: A percentage of my fee will be donated to education organizations like ‘Pencils of Promise’ and ‘Let Girls Learn’.

It’s my hope to help less fortunate children gain the means to write their own stories.

So, you can say – I’m building a business with a purpose.

No matter where we live, or who we are – we are brought into this world to produce something beautiful.  Nothing should hold you back – not oppression, lack of education, lack of confidence or self doubt.

It’s kind of like beaming a little piece of heaven down to earth.  Whether you are spiritual or humanistic, there’s no denying it. We are meant to bring forth something wonderful to add to this world.

There are writers out there with amazing stories destined to be shared, but everyday noise drowns out that creative voice that longs to speak.

Today, I’m launching my website TheGoodWrite.com

Although it currently lacks the bells and whistles of MailChimp, Opt-Ins, Pop Ups, PayPal and all the goodies that will eventually be tied into the site, I’m putting it out there now – in all it’s simplest form.

Because writing, like building a site from scratch, is something you work on a lot or a little everyday. Some days you devote less time than others, but you keep at it.  Little by little – you’ll see something flourish into something amazing.

Right now, TheGoodWrite.com is just a simple site containing my work, some motivational tools and booklets I’ve written, and info on how to get in touch with me for one on one coaching.

But in time, I hope to see it flourish into a subscriber based platform, where others can share their stories and in turn, help children living in oppressed conditions gain the education to enable them to share their own.

So – my wonderful WordPress bloggers and followers (and followees) – here it is — TheGoodWrite.com.

Please check it out!  Let me know what you think.

 

 


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Writing Inspiration From Bowie & Rickman

As someone said online the other day, the planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Aren’t we lucky to have lived in the age of Bowie?

The same can be said for Alan Rickman, a supreme talent who, like Bowie, also left this world, from cancer at the age of 69.  Strange how two beloved creatives, both British, both 69 years old, died in the same week.  And it seemed, within the similar stance of their booming voices, both toiled and created within darkness and light.

Two sucker punches in the second week of 2016. May we, as writers who daily fight and struggle to overcome the negative to tell our story, keep their creative work and words in mind. They left this world a little better for us all.

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“It is a human need to be told stories. And the more we are governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are and where we come from,and what might be possible.” ~Alan Rickman

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“Once I’ve written something it does tend to run away from me.  I don’t seem to have any part of it – it’s no longer my piece of writing.” ~David Bowie

“Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything.” ~David Bowie

 

 


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Mellow Fruitfulness: An Autumn Pause

NaNoWriMo on the brain. Still can’t write. Searching for clues. I’m the one who tells people to just write, not judge it. Just pour it out and the ball of clay can be whittled down to a story.

But I’m not feeling it. I don’t want that ball of clay to be a mishmash of dried dirt and useless material I can’t carve into the story I want to tell.

The fact it’s a biography about the search for my piano teacher makes it even more difficult.

Fiction is freer, more powerful for the writer. You create a story that never existed. You are in control of where your imagination takes you. There’s hardly any limits.

In biography, you’re dealing with reality, with history and with a human being who left behind a loving family whose memories are very clear. You don’t want to disturb the balance or create a fictional situation unless it’s part of the creative license you acquire that allows you to deepen meaning and human themes.  With fictional flourishes, in the end, you have to show readers that this is just a passage of fancy, and how it connects to the real story.

So, as I sit here and thing of how to start my writing up again (after three days of being writing-less), I try to fill up the tank with art and music.

As I continue to sit and think and fill the well, I listen to the great Allen Toussaint – a true artist who passed away this week. Maybe a little ‘Tipitina and Me’ will get me going.


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5 Ways I’ve Distracted Myself from NaNoWriMo Writing Today:

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To any NaNoWriMo writers who come across this blog post – don’t try these at home. Write, write away. Don’t let social media and digital distractions slow you down. I’m already stuck in the rabbit hole and can’t get out. Run! Write! Save yourselves!

Here are the five things I’ve done this morning that have distracted me from writing 1600+ words for NaNoWriMo (note that as of this writing, I’m at 26,303 words, and some of that are lyrics to songs and research material I’ve posted as references I plan on removing during editing.)

1) A YouTube video of dogs playing in a pool at The Lucky Puppy doggy day care in Maybee, Michigan. It’s deemed the “Happiest Place on Earth” and I really needed to see that now since all my dreams of writing something amazing to get me out of my nine to six office day job rut has screeched to a stand still.

2) Twitter, where I’ve been in discussion with another writer about those scammy, cheap online dress shops that show up in AdSense side bars in Facebook that are from overseas and are a rip off.

3) Instagram, where a friend of mine has run into two identical Maltese dogs who wear little tiny bowling shoes on their feet. These dogs happen to belong to my neighbor, and for some reason – seeing dogs look like little dapper bowlers pisses me off.

4) Facebook, where I keep checking up to see if something really interesting has happened in the last five minutes since I last checked it. (Nope. Nothing interesting and I’m still in an argument with a family member which I thought ended last night).

5) Reading some fascinating material sent by the family of the subject whose bio I am writing for NaNoWriMo.  Heart wrenching. Beautiful. The ideas are coming along.

But the kicker is…National Novel Writing Month really makes me want to write so many words in a day that the daily word count makes me sit still and not know where to begin.

I’m wondering if writing a novel in one month is a challenge that squashed my desire to write. Thinking I must write to catch up on lost days feels so daunting.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge, but it’s difficult to the point where I’m a little lost in the process.

Is anyone else feeling intimated by the daily word count? Does it stop you from writing?

 


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NaNoWriMo Half Way Point

nanowritmowrite on

I’m participating in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. I was doing well. I really was. The first two days of the month were write-less due to travel, but as the days carried on, I was able to start a novel and catch up – writing an average of 1660 words a day, on my way to the 50,000 words that maketh a novel.

Yet, here’s the deal: I’m stuck. I’m writing the same thing over again just to have a word count. I’m jotting ideas down, but there aren’t enough ideas to build upon. I’ve missed two days of writing, and I’m once again behind track.

It’s not that I’m not writing – it’s that I’m writing so much that it’s becoming a mishmash of the same idea written in different ways.

This is in spite of an already prepared outline.

However, I’m trying not to judge the actual writing. I am pouring out more thoughts and ideas,  putting up the big blob of clay – the mishmash of paragraphs and visuals that come pouring from my imagination. It doesn’t have to make sense right now.  Re-writes and editing is what chisels down the story into the form we  view with the human eye and transforms words into visuals of story. I’m just frustrated with the days that are unproductive.

Undertaking this challenge reminds me a bit of my old Track and Cross Country days in high school. I was determined to tackle the sport of running. Something about it terrified me – standing at the starting blocks, hearing the gun, running my slow ass off – that made me want to do it.  I also loved how running made me feel. The freedom. The effects of good fitness.  The fact I did not have a runners body or form did not deter me.

I came in last on all the events I participated in. Yet, in the end,  I finished them. All of them. There was one time in a Cross Country race when my body grew weak from over training and lack of food. (I was a silly teenager who thought a bottle of water was lunch).  I walked it in –  in tears.  I wasn’t just physically tired, I was emotionally tired of being so determined and dedicated to a sport where I busted my body everyday yet came in last every race while my team mates, who had finished earlier and already had their pants on, cheered for me. Call it pity, but it was really annoying to keep losing when I worked so hard (but not intelligently).

Despite the challenge of writing a book in a month – just finishing is the goal. If it’s not on November 30th, but rather on December 10th – then so be it. At least it’s done. At least the  mound of clay is there to be formed into a story.

So what if you’re team mates have walked through the finish line, pulled on their track pants and gone home. This is your personal challenge.

We’re all individuals just trying to add something good in this world.

 

 

 


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Whither MFA? Redux

hannahgriThe writer’s conundrum rises again!  Should writers go for an MFA in Creative Writing?

I wrote about my own quandry a few months ago entitled, “Whither MFA?” –>https://orderofthegoodwrite.com/2015/03/12/whither-mfa/   I’d love to think the NYTimes (my former employer) read my blog, because their website has just published  an article about the subject  (Hey – a lady can dream.)

I’ve decided to say – “never say never” to an MFA. I’m always open. Yet, there have been many people in the writing world who’ve come to me and said they don’t know anyone with an MFA.  Needless to say, many men and women of words weigh the pros and cons of taking two years off from a paying job and sinking almost $50,000 to further improve and enrich their writing talent.

In the end – you have a nice piece of paper to frame on your wall and credentials to add luster to your qualifications as freelance writer or coach.

Then, there are others (like me – for now) who feel their fresh, yet sometimes wobbly ability to express their experiences and subversive concepts of life are enough.

I’m on the fence.  I’m open to both possibilities.  But right now I’d rather use my personal experience to express my stories. Let me lead by example to help other everyday people who love to write – write.

I’ve been through the wringer of after work Non-Fiction and creative writing classes. Late evening workshops were spent with aspiring essayists who wanted to be David Sedaris, ultimately reading their work on NPR.  Other writers just want to write a book about their family – to galvanize proof of their existence on this earth so their vital memories and experiences live on.

Read more literature, join book clubs, attend writing forums, participate in Goodreads boards where you analyze the basics of Jane Austin?  Yes!  That replenishes the font with good thought and practice.

I applaud the MFA in Creative Writing. I think it adds depth to the writing experience, allows you to think about the social aspects of your work and provides an intense connection with other writers and mentors who can boost your network and fortify your expression.

Yet, I believe you can do this yourself. Look around on Google and take a proactive approach. Volunteer at social groups. Be persistent with editors on your new ideas. Travel and explore different cultures. Join groups in person and online where you are provided with opportunities to lean forward and step into your own MFA of Writing.

The education of life can be the best diploma of all. And you can still go to your full time job and save about $50K.

Here’s that NYTimes article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/education/edlife/12edl-12mfa.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=mini-moth&region=top-stories-below&WT.nav=top-stories-below&_r=0