A to Z Challenge: Z is for In the Zone


Not in the zone.

Do you ever have that moment when the creative work just flows? When it’s easy, and effortless, and the words seem to show up on the screen all on their own? And they’re beautiful words, too. No toiling to craft the perfect sentence–it just appears.

In positive psychology,  Mihály Csíkszentmihályi asserts that flow is the sweet spot between boredom and anxiety. You’re fully present, in the space between autopilot and overthinking.

In those moments, we know pure joy. We feel fully alive. We recognize the truth: that we are creative beings, meant to be doing this work. Those moments make the frustration and confusion of the creative process all worth it. When you’re involved in a creative endeavor and you’re in the zone, everything seems easy and perfect.

But it isn’t always like that, is it? In fact, I’d wager that most of the time, it isn’t like that.

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A to Z Challenge: Y is for Your WHY

create heartWHY do we do what we do? What is it that drives us to write, or draw, or dance, or cook? When you decide to make a living off of something that brings you joy, you’re inevitably going to have moments of frustration and doubt, where you forget what made you even want to do this crazy thing in the first place.

Those moments are when you need to reconnect to your WHY, to the reason you love doing the thing, so you can keep going when the going gets tough. Have methods in place to help you reconnect. Re-read things you wrote in the past, or look at good reviews or comments. Take a break to do something fun and silly. Whatever works (and is healthy), do it!

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A to Z Challenge: X is for X-Men

Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat

Today is National Superhero Day, according to Twitter. I had already decided X-Men would be my topic for X, and since that’s today’s letter and I clearly don’t mind posting out of order, today you get two posts! (Don’t worry, this one is mostly photos.)

Storm, Jubilee, and Shadowcat at Flame Con 2015

 Even though I’m wearing a Wonder Woman t-shirt today, my favorite superhero is actually Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat.

Kitty Pryde

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A to Z Challenge: N is for Netbook and NaNoWriMo

I’m behind on A to Z posts, and this one is out of order. It’s also a little longer than I hoped and way personal, but anyway, here it is!

These stickers tell of my writing journey

I wasn’t going to write about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for N. I’ve written about this writing challenge a lot over the 12 years I’ve participated (10 of which as a Municipal Liaison). But while being behind on the A to Z challenge, and stumped on what to write for N, the perfect topic presented itself.

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A to Z Challenge – O is for On Hold

I have some other writing projects that have taken precedence, but I’m hoping to catch up on A to Z next week!

I’m revising the first 2 chapters of one WIP and doing a 2nd draft (and adding 9,000 words) to another. I haven’t been home much this week to make a lot of progress on either, but my plan is to buckle down and fly through both revisions this weekend and start catching up on blog posts on Monday.

How are you doing with the A to Z Challenge? 

A to Z Challenge: L is for Limiting Beliefs

Limiting Beliefs are something I’ve discussed a lot, but not usually in connection with writing. So I’ll address the topic generally, and you can apply to your life and your characters as you see fit.

An underlying limiting belief is a core belief that exists within your operating system. Your operating system consists of your beliefs, thoughts, memories, triggers, go-to reactions, and more. Underlying limiting beliefs affect your perspective (how you view the world), your beliefs (about yourself and others), and your behavior (how you react and interact). Underlying limiting beliefs usually pop up in early childhood, at a moment when you felt separated from love (for whatever reason) and made up a story about how this separation meant something about you. The belief seeps into your foundation and becomes the basis for how you operate.

Some common limiting beliefs are: 

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m unworthy.
  • I’m unloveable.
  • I’m a failure.

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A to Z Challenge: K is for Kinetic Energy

An object in motion stays in motion. But how do we go from the state of not-writing to writing? How do we build up the momentum to just start? 

Kinetic energy is the work needed to get something from a rest state to movement. In the process of acceleration, it gains energy that it will retain until the speed changes. Let’s apply this to writing.

Sometimes we take a break from writing. Slack off. Burn out. Get busy. Whatever it is, and whatever the reasoning, the result is the same: we get out of the habit of writing.  Continue reading

A to Z Challenge: J is for Jot

 “What a great idea! I’ll totally remember this in the morning.” How many times have we told ourselves this lie? I get my best ideas in the shower or right before I fall asleep, and chances are, if I wait too long to write down whatever plot twist or scene starter has occurred to me at those times, I lose it.

For this reason, I’m a big fan of jotting. Ideas, notions, characters, whatever – I write them down when they occur to me. Even if it means I have to drag myself out of bed and write for the next two hours.  Continue reading

A to Z Challenge: I is for Identity and Essence

Last year I had the good fortune of getting into Michael Hague’s “Identity and Essence” workshop at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) national conference. I was sitting on the floor, crammed in at the front of the room (in a dress), taking notes on my phone with a Bluetooth keyboard. It was totally worth the discomfort.

The main takeaway of the session was the Identity to Essence character arc in romance. I’m going to try to distill this concept into just a few paragraphs.  Continue reading