Thursday, June 16, 2016

Easy Reading is Damn Hard Writing

Easy reading is damn hard writing.

How many times have you read a book and thought, "Wow. This author really knows how to write a story! I wish I could write like this."

From that writer's viewpoint, they are more than likely arguing with themselves about how the story should go. You know they are critiquing their work and proclaiming that they are the worst writer of all time. They, too, are staring at the page waiting for the words to magically appear fully formed and written in the most beautiful prose possible. It's not uncommon. Elizabeth Gilbert said that she has had to sweat and labour and toil with her writing process, only to catch glimpses of the creative muse.

I struggle with this process, too. There are times when I can come up with beautiful sentences in my head, but when I put them onto the computer or on paper, it comes out weird and awkward.

Writing is a long process and I don't think many people can appreciate the time spent in creating that piece of work. Anything creative takes time. And, there is always the big possibility that people will hate it. On the other hand, people might love it. It's always subject to interpretation by the person experiencing the creative work, whether it is a book, a song, or art.

I recently painted my very own version of The Kiss by Klimt. This is my own expression, and it's one that I am happy with. I'm so happy with it that I will probably to it again.

Pablo Picasso said, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." You can't be sitting on your ass, watching TV, waiting for inspiration to strike. You have to get at it, even if you don't really want to. I liken it to going to kickboxing. There are a million and one ways I can talk myself out of not going to kickboxing. But, I love it when I'm doing it and I love it when I'm done.

Jack London said, "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." Whatever way is going to get you there, that's the way you take. If it means writing out a grocery list to start with, then do it. Yes, writing can be hard, but, it can only be as hard as you make it.

I recently published my book Just Between You and Me. It was something I started back in 2003 and it was time to get this book (and a few others I had written) out to the public. Formatting and proofing this thing was a slow process with no guarantee that I would be compensated for my efforts.  

Does it matter? Somewhat. The point is, I just want to create and to share my work with the world. If they like it, awesome. If not? Nothing I can do about it. I just want to do what I love to do. Why? Because I've worked hard for it and it makes me happy. Isn't that what it's all about?

Sunday, February 28, 2016


We all have a purpose in life whether we think we do or not.
A few years ago, I questioned my work and if I was really offering a service or helping others through my writing. If I'm 'just' writing novels, how am I helping others? How am I being of service to others?

I love writing and I feel very passionate about it; however, my passion wasn't the issue. The issue was, how was I helping others?

I wanted to provide some value to help others grow. Writing wasn't solely about me and what my heart wanted; it was also about the bigger picture.

And that's what it's about. Writing (or whatever your work is) isn't just about you. This the fallacy in life and that's what people struggle with daily: thinking that it's just about us as individuals. Separated. 

What's my purpose? Thinking that it's only about getting the golden ticket, whatever that looks like, is erroneous. 

As Stephen King says in the quote above, whatever we do, whatever our purpose, it isn't about the fame, notoriety, the chicks or the men. It isn't about living next to Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, or Stephen Amell.

It isn't about getting chummy with J.K. Rowling or Neil Gaiman.  It also isn't about proving a point to your spouse, your ex, or even to the kids who had bullied you in school 20 years ago.

It's actually about living your passion and doing what you love. It's about self-expression and creativity, and about enhancing other's lives, providing a new perspective, inspiration, and greater enlightenment while contributing to the bigger picture. It's not one or the other--it's all of the above.  

If your work is enriching your life as well as the lives of other people, you have tapped into your passion and your purpose.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Don't Give Up Your Creativity

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Here is the thing about creativity: It is the foundation from which all things spring forth. Amazing ideas are born from creativity, from your creative imagination. Creativity is paramount to keep the world spinning. 

As children, we are extremely creative. Our imaginations run wild with creating games, making up stories, problem solving, and on how life should be lived on a daily basis. 

Then, our creativity diminishes the older we get. Now we have to think 'realistically' and 'logically'. What happened to those days of being creative? Why can't being creative be a requirement in life? Why can't it be nurtured? Being creative means thinking outside the box, thinking beyond those things that have been indoctrinated into our lives. Usually, society wants to hold us back from thinking and creating; society knows that creativity changes things ...and we all know how people hate change. 

Several times, I have heard friends say they were going to give up their creative aspirations because it wasn't working for them; because others weren't see their talent. When do we ever have to wait for another's permission to be creative? Just be creative. If you have to take a job to pay the bills while doing your creative ventures, then do so. If being creative through writing, art, music, dance etc. makes your soul sing, then keep doing it! The only other alternative is a soul-sucking creative-less life. Is that what you want? 

Alan Alda said, “The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll
discover is yourself.” 

Keep on creating, dear friends!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Honouring Your Time

I haven't been here for a few weeks. I got trapped inside this vortex of 'things: 'Things that kept my attention and, when I looked at them, weren't important.

We all get sidetracked by 'things'. Things that take our focus away from what's important, and, in my case, my writing.

It's time to bring this back around to what matters.

If your writing is important to you, then do it. Make sure that others know that the time you set aside for writing is sacred to you. This is so crucial. Just as important as it is for someone to set aside time for family and friends, set aside time to be creative. This is what feeds your soul. This is what you live for.

I can't impress upon you enough the importance of making time for your craft. If you don't make a concerted effort for even 5 minutes a day to focus on writing, you'll find yourself turning on your computer and realizing it's been 30 days since you last sat down to write. Yes. It happens. I know this from first hand experience.

Please do yourselves a huge favour: Schedule time in to write. If it's important to you, your loved ones will understand.

Keep on writing! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Finding the Sweet Spot

Finding that thing that makes us 'sing' can be a bit frustrating. We try our hand at different genres, different creative outlets, spinning the writing roulette wheel, not really knowing where it's going to land.  We know that finding that 'thing' is where the creative sweet spot is. It's the place where we can get our writing groove on. 

I love writing fiction stories because you can take them anywhere you want to. However, I recently discovered a new focus for myself, something that is near and dear to my heart. 

After experiencing a tragedy of heart-wrenching proportions, and after looking all around me at other people's relationships and their struggles, I decided to combine my psychology degree, my experience, and my writing into something that may open up to new and amazing experiences.

Last year, I started the Soul Love Awakening blog and Soul Love Awakening Facebook page with the purpose of helping others to find love in themselves and in loving relationships. At the time, I wasn't sure where it was going or what I wanted to do with it. But, as I continue writing my blog posts, observing others around me, and learning about love, I am gaining clarity on where this is going. 

That being said, my friend, Michelle Ponto, of Michelle Ponto Fitness, has asked me to facilitate a couple of Soul Love sessions at an upcoming women's wellness retreat she is hosting in Arizona in July. You can check out the details here at Michelle Ponto Fitness Arizona Wellness Weekend, and, if it speaks to you, we would love to see you there. More details regarding the retreat will be added in the next couple of weeks. 

Dear writing friends, find your 'thing'. Try different ways of expressing your creativity in your writing through different genres or different media outlets. If there is something calling you, then give it a try. If it doesn't seem to fall quite into place, but you know you have to pursue this, then adjust and try again. The biggest lesson here is not to give up. 

Keep on writing!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Allowing Creativity

No matter what you create, I'm sure you have experienced 'the creative block from hell' at one point or another. Whatever you name it, it's the moment where you can't catch a whiff of creativity to save your life. It's like waiting for the resounding applause but only hearing crickets chirping in the night. 

How does one find creativity when creativity is no where to be found?

When we are lacking in the creative department, it means we are too busy over-thinking things. We have stepped into our left brain logic and can't find a way next door to our beautiful right brain.

How do we get over there?

You may have noticed that children are super creative. They come up with stories, ideas, plans...whatever they want, because they don't over-think things. They have not been tainted by a world forcing left brainy-isms on them. (Brainy-isms...I made that one up.)

Act with child-like curiosity. Go play on the swings and laugh. While you're at it, yell out, 'I can see my house from here.' Just don't go to the playground when there are kids around--you will get glaring looks from other parents.

My sister and me on the swings. No other kids around, except our own.
Photo credit: Tamara Hanson 
Another thing you can do is step away from your project and pick up a new project. Colour, paint, draw--tap into another creative source that will get your creativity flowing. If you feel like writing but can't get into your current project, then write something else. Write a love letter, a grocery list, or just random things on your mind. I find that when I'm stuck, I'll write whatever is on my brain at the time. It spills out onto the page and I let it loose. These thoughts want to be heard, so let them have their 15 minutes of fame. Once they have been satisfied, you will be able to move on to your project.

Go for a walk, do yoga, read a book, cook a meal, play with the dog--any of these things will help you get clear minded.

Meditation is also helpful. Meditation helps calm the chatty mind and put you into a state of clear thinking.

Also, while you are at it, go to YouTube and find music that is for focusing and clarity. Or, just find music that you love. Put on your headphones or dance around. Focusing on the music will help kick start the right brain into doing what it's supposed to do--Create! 

Finally, do not get upset. That's the worst thing you can do. Getting upset will push you further and further away from your creativity. I don't have the statistics on this, but I'm willing to guess that every creative person has felt the strain of creating; it's almost like banging your head against a brick wall.

You aren't alone in this. Grasp whatever inspiration you can and run with it.

For other ways to find more inspiration, click on this link: The Amazing Creative Inspiration Blog Carnival . You will find some fabulous tips from amazingly creative people.

Keep on creating, friends!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Love Your Writing

Several years ago (too many to count) I went on my first writer's retreat (unless you count the one time I had 1.5 hours of alone time in my office!).

Strawberry Creek -Photo Credit by Tamara Hanson

I loved it and it was a great way to sit and write without being disturbed. There were only 11 of us at a beautiful log cabin out on an acreage with no distractions: No TV, no Starbucks, no nearby mall, no internet, and no one vying for your attention.

Everyone had a purpose and were taking advantage of this time to do what they love...write. Some were writing poetry, a couple were writing screenplays, and others were writing short stories, articles and memoirs. I was working on my novel plus, tidying up other writings that I never got around to fixing.

It was quiet and beautiful. I walked and talked (briefly) to the other writers. I read, I wrote and I wrote some more. Not only did I eat amazing food that was lovingly prepared by three awesome women, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the cabin, award winning Canadian author, Rudy Wiebe.

The last night that we were there, we all read from our own work. It didn't have to be the stuff we had been working on at the retreat; we could read anything we had written. I chose to read something from a book I wrote a few years ago.

I'm not one for reading to an audience--it's a bit unsettling, and this was my first time reading my work to anyone. But, after it was all over, I was so glad that I did. It was a moment of getting out of my comfort zone and opening up to something that I had never done before. (Read my blog about comfort zones here.)

The point of this is: Even if you think that you can't read your work to someone else, give it a try anyway. Even if fear has gripped you tightly, think about how you will feel many years down the road or on your death bed: will you be sorry you didn't take the opportunity?

Taking that seemingly daunting step to share your work will be one of the greatest accomplishments of your life. You will not regret it!