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The Plan is Not the Goal…


Why I write.

I write well.

I have an endless amount of energy.

I have something to say.

It is important to stay on track when you decide you want to write.  What keeps you writing is knowing why you’re a writer.  Or an artist, or why you play the guitar in front of the local bus stop.  As you can see, my list is not that deep. I can add a few more things, but it’s pretty simple.  It took some time for me to simplify & summarize my intentions to tackle such an arduous task as that of a novelist.  There is the quality of potency that a clear intention can possess, and that potency can fuel the fire of your creative journey.

I’ve seen many writers stop dead in their tracks and give up completely because the task either seemed too daunting or whatever plans they concocted didn’t work in their favor.  We have to remember, the plan is not the goal.  I’ve seen writers focus so much of their energy on being published, that once they’re published, and the book doesn’t sell, they don’t write again.  They miss that their intention was to “be published.” These writers get their wish, and wonder why nothing else happens.  If you don’t put intention into what you truly wish to come to fruition with your writing, it will be in a stasis state.  If you’re not clear about what you want to do, you will be frustrated with seemingly puzzling outcomes. I speak from experience.

My advice to myself at this stage of my career as an emerging writer is to make lots of plans.  Experiment.  If one route doesn’t seem to be opening up, I can always try something different.  I can shop one book to agents/publishers, and I can have fun and see what happens by e-publishing another.  If I can’t get a job as a writing instructor at the local community college (which was the plan) due to the recent layoffs, then I can teach my own writing workshop.  And if that doesn’t keep me excited, then I can check out venues that sponsor book readings and try that route to meet and connect with other writers.

Plans are finicky things.  It sucks to know and accept that, but the wisdom to not allow this truth to deter me from the ultimate goal is what sustains my commitment. 

 The plan is not the goal…Ralph Marston


Writing Rules that Work for Me…


Some of the writing rules I live by:

There’s no such thing as no. Keep going until I get my ‘yes’.
If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything.
Don’t workshop any part of your novel until the novel is finished.
Time to write, leave the house..
Have a social life.
You can’t do it alone.

There’s no such thing as no. Keep going until I get my ‘yes’.
-It is my belief that if you’re driven and passionate to do something, you will have your day. Visualize it, feel it, work hard for it, own it, and you will achieve it. If one person says no, there is someone that will say yes. I don’t stop until I get my ‘yes’. There are so many stories I could tell when there was something that seemed absolutely impossible to get, but I didn’t give up, and I got what I wanted. Steadfastness can produce magic, the elixir of life.

If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything.
-Give the writing a break. I don’t believe in ‘writer’s block’. Everything needs to breathe. I’m not gonna die if I miss a day of writing. If its not there, its not there. I trust I will make the deadline.

Don’t workshop any part of your novel (or poetry or short story) until its finished.
-A painter doesn’t need the committee while in progress on a work, so why writers do I haven’t quite understood. I’ve seen too many writers workshop their story right into a black hole i.e. handing over what they started with only for the original magic to get sucked away to never return. You begin to write your story based on every comment rather than fidelity to your own voice.

Time to write, leave the house.
-Writing at home all of the time can lead to getting no writing done at all. The distraction of home can lead my mind to drift at times on everything I need to do in the house, the fact that I need a bigger house, the black lint ball on the rug that reminds me the vacuum cleaner is broken and where can I get a good cheap vacuum cleaner? Then I get up from my desk to pick up the black lint ball only to find myself 10 minutes later on my hands and knees in another room picking up lint balls, and discovering that sock that I couldn’t find on my way to work out earlier that morning.  And of course that leads me to pairing it with the other sock at the bottom of the laundry basket, and oh, I have to do this laundry, which I can do while I’m writing this next chapter that I haven’t started, but I don’t have enough quarters, and when I realize that, I look up at the television only to see that the episode of Deadliest Catch that I missed is coming on, and its the new season…
Thus, I’ve chosen a few gems in town where I go to do most of my writing. Each place has comfortable seating, an outlet to plug in my laptop, soft background music in case I forget my headphones, and a sandwich if I need one when I get hungry. One place has no wifi so that I am not tempted to go on the internet and watch clips of Deadliest Catch. I am forced to get the work done without the temptation of watching a hot sea captain catch Alaskan blue crab. An alternate writing atmosphere breaks up the monotony so that the cold, dark rainy days when I don’t want to go out makes staying home a cozy writing event & not a lazy, distracted grind.

I can’t do this alone.
-I do not espouse to the Virginia Woolfe school of writing. Depression & struggle are sometimes partners in living a creative life, but they don’t have to be permanent visitors. I realize I need to be fed by others along the way. I make it a point to meet other artists, musicians, writers. The presence of others, as well as having a little bit of a social life outside of writing, stimulates the endorphins, and adds energy to my writing.

The Peak…

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. …Buddha

The above quote I found in the spectacular book A Life in the Arts by the greatest creative inspirational teacher and writer, Eric Maisel. I say greatest because his writing was the first I discovered that spoke directly to artists who have to struggle to find their way, their voice. I found his book Van Gogh Blues in a tiny used Vancouver bookstore. I had no idea what the book was about, but it changed my writing life, my approach to writing, and most importantly, his words aided me to find my confidence and take ownership of my creative life, because if you don’t do it, no one else will. Many don’t realize how hard it is to do what we do. It takes a unique bravery to create a work from the ground up not knowing when or if we will have any sort of success. And if you don’t have an Eric Maisel art coach living with you, it’s an almost impossible feat.

Self-motivation is the trek up the mountain. But I hear the peak is awesome…

I have found that once a writer knows what it is they truly wish to express within their work, that’s when the work gets done. I think I’ve come to a place of liberation with my craft, where I can now let go of expectations, and just get the writing done with my own signature. I’m no longer attached to finding conventional methods of writing. I have my own quirky rhythm. Even though, since childhood, I’m naturally a night writer, adulthood has meant me having to shift my vampire schedule to write by day if the deadline deems appropriate (it always does). Thus, I have to re-create night as much as I can during the day. I write by day with a candle burning, curtains closed, headphones with appropriate soundtrack music, the Weather Channel is on mute on my television (don’t ask), and I have a sweet fruit drink that sits on a phenomenal writing desk whose construction mimics the complexity of the Star Trek bridge that I acquired at the local thrift store.

Odd? Maybe.

But since I’m not normally a day time writer, it’s a formula that I’ve stumbled into that works. If I write at night, I lose all sense of time. Night is the safest place to write. If it’s not a Friday night (I live in a college town), then night is the quiet time. No impending appointments. No bills to pay. No nudging feelings that I need to check my email every five minutes because no one is up emailing me in the middle of the night. No gardeners with loud leaf blowers. The dependent is in bed, snoring lightly. I light a candle. Say goodbye to the mundane, and hello to greet the magic of the muse.

No matter how unconventional the flow may seem, I’ve learned to embrace it. It is my own passion for my creative life that has gotten me to that awesome peak…that is the place you need to get, and then you soar.

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