Monday Notes: 5 Ways to Become a Writer

img_3443Sometimes I jot down a note and it’s very negative. When that happens, I re-focus and make it a positive post, like this one.

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I’ve written since I was in elementary school, fifth grade to be exact. However, I didn’t consider myself a writer until six years ago. Once I accepted this part of my identity, I started observing and listening to writers and “aspiring” writers. I’ve determined if you want to be a writer, then this is what you’ll have to do:

Start Writing Now that my writing is public knowledge, people confide in me. Cousins, the man at the Florida Writers Association conference, and the woman who asked me to ghostwrite her novel each want to write. But when I ask them what they’ve written so far, the answer is nothing. I advise each of them the same. Start writing. Whether it’s a public blog or a private diary, the first step is to begin.

Make Time to Write I often thought my job was getting in the way of writing. That wasn’t the truth. And because no one was going to offer me more time in the day, I had to shift my priorities. Instead of watching the Today Show every morning, I wrote for two hours. Then, I began my regular day. Where could you shift your priorities so that you can make time to write?

Take Time to Edit After you’ve written something, consider that your first draft. All writers have first drafts, and second, and thirds, and…you get the picture. As a former English teacher, rarely have I seen a masterpiece written in one fell swoop. When you take time to write, that means you might find yourself pondering over the use of the word stroll, saunter, or walk because you know each one of those words will change the connotation and flow of your sentence. So take the time to think about the words you’ve written in a meaningful way.

You Think Your Stories Have Already Been Heard Probably. I mean an infinite number of books have been written and read. But not yours and not the way you can write it. Comments about The Unhappy Wife have validated this concept. Recently, Story Teller Alley approved me to sell my book on their site. One of the reasons it was accepted is because of originality. A reviewer said,

Although stories of unhappy marriages have been told before, because these are all true stories and each person is different, the stories are all different.”

I’m glad the innovation shone through. Sometimes people read the title and assume they know what’s inside. But it’s a false assumption. Likewise, if I would’ve thought these were trite narratives, then I might not have written the book. So my advice? Don’t worry about it. Somebody wants to read it the way you’ve written it.

You’re Worried about What Other People Think If you follow my blog, then you know I write about many things that have happened in my life. Stories include family, friends, and people I barely know. I couldn’t write half of what you read here if I stopped to worry about someone’s hurt feelings and reinvention of history. Initially, an Anne Lamott quote helped me forge ahead with authentic writing, “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” That quote changed my entire creative nonfiction writing life. The other part that has helped me write the truth is to separate fact from emotion. For example, it’s a fact that my dad packed up my belongings in the middle of the night while I slept. Consequently, I felt abandoned and pushed aside because of what occurred. Stick to the facts and make clear when you’re describing an emotion.

I hope one of these sparks the writer in you. Trust me. Someone, somewhere is waiting to hear your voice, even if the someone is you.

400 Monday Notes

I have 400 notes. That’s 179 more than when I first began this category, which I started as a way to delete the notes. But what’s happened is because I have the category, I keep more notes. You know…just in case I want to write about something. But as I look through them, they’re not all writing ideas. So, I’m purging.

A few of my notes are simply passwords. I’ve written about this before, but it ends today! There is no reason for me to keep password upon password both on my phone and written down somewhere. Although, keeping the password to get into my work office is handy. Maybe I’ll just keep that one.

Now, I’m down to 377.

There are fourteen notes specifically about my job dissatisfaction. The reason why has become increasingly clearer to me over the past few years. I’m overqualified and that has led to a general sense that I should be doing something else with my gifts and talents. And anyone with a job knows that it’s challenging to write about one’s employer without the fear of losing said job. While these fourteen notes have been helpful in shaping my understanding of the dilemma, they are now taking up digital space, especially if I’m not going to publicly share.

363.

Six of my notes are action steps centered on The Unhappy Wife, a book I published two years ago. I’m not quite sure why I’ve hung on to these lists if the goals are accomplished. Similarly, seven are about how to sell Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships. These aren’t fleshed out marketing plans, but rather, thoughts that I might’ve used to do a soft sell, like this:

If you want closure, then go see a therapist. If you want understanding and empathy, then read this book.

I’m pretty sure I never used it because it sounded a bit harsh. Either way, I’m down to 350.

img_7736There are ten notes specifically with the word “self” in the title. These are ideas I really intended to flesh out, like 3 ways to Be Self-aware, Re-defined: On Being Selfish, One-minute Self-worth Ideas. Because I’ve already devoted February 2018 to self-love, and with the help of others successfully shared varied ideas on the topic, I’m going to consider this mission complete.

340.

There are a fair amount of notes that are just people’s names, so I remember next time I see them, which seems borderline redonkulous because I don’t think I’m going to search my phone when we cross paths. Another part includes random places, like meeting rooms and events people have invited me to.

Deleted. Now, I’m down to 326.

For the most part, what remains are actual topics I’d planned on writing about, but as I re-read them, I’m just not. Instead, I’ll share a brief list of blog/social-media starters:

  • “So, I was watching videos of how the FBI infiltrated black organizations,” this is how Desi begins conversations with me.
  • I like confessional songs and memoirs because I’m seeking authenticity. Can I tell the truth in each moment? Can you? And if not, why?
  • Does it matter if your spouse practices the same religion as you?
  • Children are not people who need fixing.
  • 3 top knots in a Nissan Versa doing 48 on the interstate (this really happened and I thought I’d write a brief story about this beginning driver).
  • I hate guilt-trip gratitude. Usually sounds like this, remember someone didn’t wake up this morning. I should be grateful because I’m not in someone else’s shoes? Nope. You should be grateful period.
  • There is nothing you can buy outside of yourself that will make you a better/happier person.
  • I want someone to create a “Blame Trump” t-shirt. I’d buy it.
  • How many lies does it take to make someone a liar?
  • Sometimes you have to pull yourself away from situations, put yourself together, and then re-enter with a new mindset.

Welp, I’m down to 316 notes.

You know I’m happy to talk about any of these ideas. Let me know what you’re thinking. Until then, I’ll be working on a new Monday Note.

Unleashing the Infinite Superpowers in Everyone (Free Writing Challenge)

“Create your own personal super hero alter ego and describe his or her day” ~ Finkelstein & Sons

I once told someone that I wanted to be like a 21st century Harriet Tubman. I wanted to free people from their own societal minds. So if I was a superhero, that’s exactly what I would do. I would go around and help people unleash their own special superpowers: the power of choice, the power of love and the power to accomplish whatever it is they set their minds to.

The power of choice means that you can never blame anyone else for your circumstances. If you don’t like where you’ve landed yourself, then choose to do something else. I guarantee eventually you’ll see a different outcome because you’ve made different decisions. The choice really is yours in every single moment.

“But I have no choice,” people often whine back to me.

My answer is pretty much the same each time; you can always choose to do something else. It might not be easy, but you do have alternatives. We all do.

Loving who you are at the core is also an invaluable superpower. It allows you the freedom to be you and, subsequently, also empowers you to love others for who they are. Realizing that you’re perfectly imperfect, yet still spiritually whole can be liberating. Once you understand this, then no judgments can affect you and you can also release the need to judge others. Think about it. If I love me for who I am, then who am I to judge you for who you are?

With my red cape waving behind me, and my super words flowing, my final goal would be to show people that they have the power to do whatever it is they set their minds to. I don’t intend to suggest that you can be anything in the world. Instead, I think of what my Grannie once said, “The only reason Obama is president is cause you’re not.” If you think of something and feel compelled to do that thing, then you can find a way to achieve it. Again, it might not be easy, but you can attain goals if you want to.

No. of Words = 379 (about 15 minutes)

I wrote this post prompted by Finkelstein & Sons nomination for the Free Writing Challenge. Irene and I met during Writing 101. She has a very down-to-earth, authentic style and I’m impressed that she often blogs in two languages (by the way, love the new layout). The Free Writing Challenge is an incentive amongst bloggers to promote and stimulate free writing, helping each other out with a prompt.

These are the rules:

Open an MS Word document (or Pages)

  1. Set a stopwatch or your mobile to five minutes or ten minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.
  2. Your topic is at the foot of this post.
  3. Fill the word doc with as many words as you want. Once you begin writing, do not stop.
  4. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in MS Word (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules).
  5. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.
  6. At the end of your post, write down ‘No. of words = ______’ so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within that time frame.
  7. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nominations (at least five bloggers).

My nominees are:

Your topic is: If you could live anywhere in the world, rent (mortgage)-free for one year, where would it be?

Can’t wait to read these!

To Whom it May Concern

Maybe we should care before the riots. It seems that riots are what cause upheaval and intense emotion. Like this latest one in Baltimore. People seemed concerned because a CVS was set afire. And others were worried about the senior citizen building that was ablaze. Did you see it? How could “they” do such a thing? Those poor buildings burned and it’s clear why this would provoke anger; those apartments were in the making since 2006. Clearly it will take a long time to re-build another structure. But how long will it take Fredericka, Freddie Gray’s twin sister, to re-build a life without her brother?

Maybe we should care before the police brutality. Perhaps before the inexplicable happened to Freddie Gray in the back of a squad car. Or before Mike Brown was executed and left for dead in the hot summer street. Prior to Eric Garner’s video-recorded, police chokehold. Before John Crawford was murdered for allegedly waving a toy gun around in a right-to-carry state. And well before the cop that shot Tamir Rice in front of his sister. After all, he was just a man-child, pre-pubescent. Yes. Maybe we should care before another police officer feels his life is threatened by an unarmed Black man.

Maybe we should care before the poverty. But I’m not quite sure how to accomplish that one. You see 23% of the total population lives below the Baltimore poverty line. That’s an urban city though. It’s typical. Did you know that Ferguson is considered a suburb? And that Missouri community has about 26% living below the poverty line? I know what you’re thinking. Why don’t they just get jobs? Why don’t they just pull themselves up like my dad, mom, grandma, grandpa? Like me? Why don’t they?

I’m sure if they could find employment, then they would. And their minimum wage jobs would prevent them from being killed like the useless parts of society that they seem to represent. But the fact here is, we’ll never know. We’ll never know if Freddie Gray could’ve worked his way out of poverty. Mike Brown’s mother will never realize her son’s community college dreams, which may have lifted him higher. Tamir Rice’s mother and sister won’t even get to see him graduate middle school, high school or college, much less understand how a job would shift his life’s purpose.

So maybe we should care before the riots, before the police brutality and before the poverty. Maybe we should be active, instead of reactive.