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10

August Challenges

I love August!  I have loved August since the first year I went to school (in the Chicago suburbs where I grew up, school starts in August rather than September).  There's always been so much promise in the start of a new year for me, kind of like in January, but for me I feel that new year vibe even stronger in the Fall.  I love new classes and subjects and schedules, all bursting with good new things to learn and try and practice.

I think my love of that back-to-school wave must have been seeping in even though I didn't realize it, because this week I signed up for three creative challenges for August--one for writing, one for journaling, one for photography.  I should find plenty of new things to try with these!

Writing: I'm signed up for DIY MFA's Conquer the Craft challenge, which is actually a 29-day challenge.  I'm going to use it in conjunction with a group I signed up for called My 500 Words that focuses on--I bet you know this one--writing 500 words a day.  After August I plan to do it only one weekdays/work days, but for August I'll use if for the 29 days of Conquer the Craft.  This might even fit in with my #Just10Minutes practice, at least on some days.  If I'm on a roll, I can write 500 words in 10 minutes, so I might try to push for it a few times just as an extra challenge.

Journaling: I'm also jumping back in on Lisa Sonora Beam's ROOT 30 Day Journal Project.  I sort of participated in January, but I was still heavily in a Lull phase and didn't get all the way through.

Photography: And finally I'm doing the Life in Black and White challenge. Thirty-one days of black-and-white photography.  Since getting a digital camera, and then an iPod Touch, I never shoot b & w anymore, and I used to love doing that with a film camera.  I'm looking forward to focusing on some photography plus getting back to black-and-white.  I even got two new apps for my Pod (Noir Pro and Hueless) to try out for the challenge.

So what about you?   Do you get the same kind of vibe I do when it's back-to-school time?  Any plans to start something new this August? Tell me all about your plans--I'd love to hear them!

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4

I am really excited to share this with you. I love writing prompts. I also love work that takes me deeper into myself and helps me listen to my own inner wisdom. I think Soul Prompts by my friend and fellow writer Morgan Dragonwillow is going to combine those two things beautifully, and I can't wait to get my hands on it!
And now, I turn this over to Morgan to introduce her latest treasure to you!

I am pleased to reveal the cover for Soul Prompts: Finding and Hearing Your Inner Voice.

Soul Prompts Book Cover2d

Soul Prompts is a spiritual writing experience that gives you a direct line to the source of inspiration.

If you could communicate with your soul would you?

If you could hear what your soul's plan is for this life, would you want to hear it?
What if learning to communicate with your soul could help you get your words on the page?
Soul Prompts will help you connect to that voice within whether you want to have a deeper spiritual life, a better understanding of your purpose, discover which path to take next or to help you get your stories written.
Are you open to the possibilities?
It's time to have a conversation with your soul.
This book is for you if you want to:

  1. Take your writing to a deeper level.
  2. Explore your connection to your soul.
  3. Live a more spiritual life.
  4. Have a better understanding of your writing journey.
  5. Figure out your next step.
  6. Discover where your words come from.
  7. Learn why your soul chose this life.

And so much more.
Soul Prompts: Finding and Hearing Your Inner Voice - Paperback and ebook - coming out this October!

This beautiful cover was created by the artistic and wonderful Andrea Moore! Working with her was a pleasure and she was very patient with my questions and suggestions until we were both happy with the results! If you are working on a book and don't have a cover yet, I highly recommend you have a chat with her!

Andrea Moore a

Cover Artist

Andrea Moore grew up in a town so small, on top of a marsh, that the mosquito was considered the city bird. She uses her degree in computer graphics and her artistic abilities to sprinkle joy throughout local consignment shops and Etsy. Andrea is now breaking out of the box further as she explores the adventures of book cover creating.

Fun Trivia Game
What's a party without a game? In this game you will hop from one blog to the next, finding the clues and when you think you have the answer, go back to Morgan Dragonwillow's post, Soul Prompts Book Cover Reveal Party, and put the answer in the comments. The first person with the correct answer will win a signed copy of Soul Prompts and a $10 Amazon gift card. Have fun!

Question:

Where in the world is one of my favorite places to sit or walk and connect with the source of creation and to remember we are all one?
CLUE: There are a lot of trees. Next stop L.S. Engler's Writing Blog
Good luck but most of all have a great time!

 

Me aAuthor

Morgan Dragonwillow is a poet, survivor, lover of all things magical, dancing with words, recovering perfectionist, and indie author that (mostly) doesn't let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam and creatrix of #OctPoWriMo. She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she's a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn't.

 

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4

Do you ever catch yourself wishing that things were easy or saying things like, "Why can't this be easy?" or "I want this to be easy!"?  What do we mean by that?  Do we actually mean that we want a life that is effortless, where we never have to exert ourselves or stretch ourselves in any way?  I don't think that's actually what we mean when we're wishing and hoping and longing for easy.  I think if we didn't have things to work toward and strive for, we'd get bored.  I don't think we really mean "easy" at all.

Now this is easy!
Now this is easy!

So what do we mean when we wish for easy?  I think we might really be longing for a clear path--knowing where we're going and the steps to take to get there.  I think it's the uncertainty of what comes next, of what our next move should be that makes us wish for that chair on the beach and effortless days.

I think when I find myself complaining that something is too hard, that I wish it (whatever the current "it" might be) was easier, I'll remind myself that easy isn't what I'm looking for.  Instead of asking how things can be easy, I will ask myself "how can I clear the way to move forward?"  Semantics, yes, but I think it's important.

Does this relate to my ROW80 check-in and NaNoWriMo?  Oh yeah.  I've been whining to myself for the past two days that this next section is too hard, I want it to be easy, why won't it be easy?  Today, just a little while ago, I realized it was the wrong question.  I don't actually mind spending hours writing, staying up a little too late, skipping other things to get in some words.  So it's not easy I'm looking for.  What I'm really needing is a focus, a plan, a clue.  So the question I need to ask myself is "how can I figure out what I need to write next?"  "How can I make the next section make sense as a lead-in to what's going to happen after?"  "How can I plan things so I don't have so many stops and starts and stuck places?"

Maybe just writing along getting all the thoughts down, knowing the basics of what I'm going to put in that spot before I get started is a form of ease.  I don't know.  But I do think I need to be focusing more on how to know what I'm going to write when I sit down rather than focusing on how I want things to be easy.  Because the truth is, I don't care that much about easy.  I just want to get my words flowing again.

What would you like to have going more smoothly in your life?  What would you like to get unstuck?  How can you clear the way for yourself to do the things you want to do?

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6

I have a million things on my mind, and I want to write about all of them.  I want to do a Row80 check-in, I want to talk about JuNoWriMo.  I most especially want to talk about Lisa Sonora Beam's Creative+Practice class and Jill Badonsky's Creative Realignment Workshop, both of which I've stepped into this week.

I've been hesitant to talk too much about my flaws and failures.  What kind of coach falls prey to the same things she helps other people deal with?  Oh yeah.  A human one.  A human one who needs to remember what she tells people all the time--we all need to connect with mentors and teachers and people who support and cheer us on our paths.  We all need help.  So, here's a little bit about me getting caught up in a downward spiral and my journey back out.

Journal 2
My Creative+Practice journal, created (and not quite completed) last year but not used because I kept meaning to get to the work but wasn't doing it. I see a pattern...

This whole year, plagued by illness, injury, car troubles, and the accompanying money woes that go with all of that, I have been trying to make plans, jump into things, busy my anxiety and depression away.  Coupled with a leaning toward self-sabotage and procrastination, I've just been setting myself up for failure and a reinforcement of my "I never do what I should, never do anything right" feelings.

This week, though, a few things happened to push me into acknowledging that I've just been plunging into plans to try to shake myself out of my doldrums.

First, Lisa's class started up again, and I realized that it's an invitation.  It's an invitation to slowly build up to something lasting, something that can keep me afloat during dark and stressful times.

Then Thursday Jill did a call about self-sabotage and not showing up for yourself.  It was like someone shined a spotlight on my behavior.  It became so clear that I was making sure that I don't move ahead with my dreams.

At first I found myself starting to make all sorts of new plans to "get myself going" and things like that.  Then I stopped myself.  I asked one question: "What do I need?"  Not what do I want to be doing (writing, coaching, teaching), or what do I think I should be doing (cleaning and organizing, making better plans for my life). What do I need?

  • I need breathing space, calm, peace-of-mind
  • I need a support structure, regular practices that help me sort my thoughts and get that calm space I need
  • I need to care for myself

A huge problem of mine is impatience.  I want all of this right now.  My plan (oh, I just can't help myself--I love to make plans!) is to take things day-by-day.  I'm going to finish out this round and begin the next one with the goal of making one daily step, connecting with people here, on Twitter, on Facebook to have some accountability.

So what does this mean for ROW80 and JuNoWriMo?  Writing is in my soul, I can't stop thinking about writing and stories, so I'm not going to stop doing either of these.  I'm just going to really dial back my goals.  For the rest of this round, and for the rest of June, I am going to set the goal of writing at least two sentences every weekday.  Small steps, one of my favorite tools from my Kaizen-Muse™ training.  And they work when I remember to do them (have you ever noticed how hard it can be to follow your own advice?)

I've been rambling.  I hope you're still with me.  I hope you'll remember that even when you're not practicing your creativity, even when things are dark, this is normal, and you are not alone.  And if you want to talk about it, I would love to connect so we can help each other along.

 

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12

It was 1992.  I was back in school getting a post-grad teaching certification and taking my first steps from being a storyteller and occasional poet to being a writer.  I started taking some workshops.  And I bought some books.  And one of those books is still with me.  It's right here next to me as I type because I think it's time for a re-read.

Basics 1
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Re-reading this (and probably Wild Mind after) seems like the perfect accompaniment to this round of ROW80.  Taking my goals back to the basics, simplifying, just focusing on the process of writing practice is what these books are all about. These books are where I first learned this stuff!  It feels really good to be returning to this starting point.

I've been doing some very short journaling, mostly on the back of my collage cards, and it feels good to be connecting to my world with my words again.  I know I'm on the right track for me, and I think that's a pretty good check-in for right now.

Wishcasting

This week, Jamie asks, "What do you wish to believe in?"  Here's a little bit of freewriting to answer that:

Fairy 4

I wish to believe in magic.  In fairies and miracles and bright, shining amazement floating in glittery bubbles of fairy dust.  I wish to believe that there are secrets to the Universe, things I can catch glimpses of if I open myself up and look in the right directions.  I wish to believe that I have magic inside me that I can bring out and share with the world if I keep trying.  I wish to believe that there are ghosts and aliens and Bigfoot and wild, unknown things out there and that maybe I can see some of it while I'm here.  I'm like Fox Mulder on the X-Files--I want to believe.

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I finally got last week's 52 Stories piece finished.  It took me a very long time for a rough draft of a four page story.  Not because it was a hard story to write but because I kept running up against my ego like a truck slamming into a brick wall.

I was getting hung up on the story being "good" again.  I was worried because there are parts of it where I didn't really know what I wanted to have happen.  I was anxious because my descriptions felt bland and flat.

I kept having to remind myself that it's a rough draft, it's not meant to be good, it just meant for getting the basic ideas down.  This is a hard lesson for me.  I will probably run up against this brick wall again.  But meanwhile, I have a story up.  I also have a quick sketch of a flash fiction piece that I will write up and get posted sometime between now and Sunday, and then I'll be back on track.  And headed for that next collision with my ego, I'm sure.

Week 8: The Heart of a Home

Copyright © Kim Switzer 2012

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