Tag Archives: 4 chicks

TWIST and BOUNCE to Progress

5 Sep

Attention, OK-Mart shoppers: this month I’m offering a BOGO. Blog One power word, Get One free! Like that multi-tasking TWIST?

Once again this fall, I’ve undertaken a Writer’s Digest online class to force me at gunpoint inspire me to make progress on my historical novel. So August had me twisting to churn out 15,000 words. And by TWIST I mean writhing and squirming on the floor from the pain of an inescapable deadline.

To make it, I had to say ‘no’ to volunteering more at my daughter’s school, which was very hard for me to do. I also put my son in full-day preschool, which was even harder. I thought I would be overridden by guilt. Instead, I was energized and motivated by such a generous gift to myself, a gift that my inner artist deeply appreciates and is returning in kind.

LA InterchangeStill, I struggle with my internal antagonists: insecurity, indecision, imperfection. Once I get going in a scene or section of a scene, I’m happy in the process of actual, you know, writing. To me, crafting dialogue is the icing on the Brussels sprouts. But it takes a lot out of me to get there or decide the exact events within a given scene. I get stalled, even overwhelmed, by the infinite possibilities. It’s like Frost’s The Road Less Traveled but on the twisted East LA Interchange. It’s hard to see where each road will take me, if it will connect to my other roads, and even how to find the right on ramp.

All roads diverged at a point of plot,
And sorry I could not travel each
And be one writer, long I thought
And looked down one longer than I ought
To where it bent in the story line…

This is where the BOUNCE comes in. When I encounter an interchange or detour, my natural inclination is to pull off at the next exit for a Diet Coke and Snickers, maybe catch a movie, flip through my Facebook, alphabetize the cereal boxes in my pantry–anything to avoid driving.  However, I am retraining myself to bounce through it instead.

Taking on a buoyant attitude of BOUNCE propels me from a defeatist all-or-nothing something-is-wrong-with-me mentality to a resilient something-or-something-else whatever-gets-me-to-the-next-sentence outlook. Once through a stressful trouble spot, I can relax again. Even if I’m not exactly sure where I’m going, I took a road to keep traveling. And that has made all the difference.

May Power Word: PADDLE!

1 May

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAImagine yourself in your own personal boat on a long winding river. Like others around you, before you and behind you, you want to move through the waters of your creative project, right?

You could just float on the surface and see what happens. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you might be carried somewhere downstream, where most people end up. Or you might drift sideways back to the bank not far from where you started. Then you could just stay still out in the middle and wait, hoping that those nearby alligators don’t decide you look like lunch.

But NO! You are not like most people, my friend. You are strong. And you are one of my creative Chicks! That’s why this month I, the Muse, want  you to muster your strength and power ahead.  I want you to PADDLE!

Whether the waters are still where you are now or full of currents trying to pull you backwards, I want you to propel yourself forward.  Only then can you view the dramatic waterfall instead of plunge down it. Stroke by stroke, push your creative muscles. Even when you’re tired and soreespecially thenjust keep paddling!

New for 2013: Monthly power words to help you accomplish your goals

1 Jan

During a holiday get-together recently (because they can’t meet for a simple lunch without devising some sort of plan), my dear Chicks came up with the plan for 2013. Each month, they will share a power word with blog readers. The power word will be one that you can say (like a mantra) to push you through the month and maybe even the year.  These aren’t your average words of encouragement—they’re a bit more playful than that — designed to inspire you and keep you moving forward all year long.

And, what better word to start off the new year than zoom!


Use this month to focus your creative energy and zero in on those projects that have been gathering dust. Forget perfection, forget self-editing. ZOOM! Ignore that little voice in your head that says, “This could be better.” Instead, punch out that draft, sketch out your designs, zoom along to the finish line and let the self-editor off the hook until your first draft is complete. Let your heart lead you more than your head. Sometimes it’s the only way to finish that project or idea you’ve been sitting on.

How will you zoom! this month?

Happy New Year!

Inspiration in Paradise

19 Nov

When Tracey’s husband Michael announced we would be going to an island for a weekend of relaxation, my thought was that I would have hours upon hours for writing and editing. With the initial manuscript edits just in from my editor and a short story due, I had my laptop in hand, ready to crank them out.

Yeah, not so much. What I didn’t expect was how busy relaxation could be!

But the funny thing is that even though we were always moving and doing things, it always felt like we were on “island time,” as they say in the Caribbean. We did whatever we wanted whenever we felt like it, so we never felt “busy” in the sense a trip to a big city would feel. Instead, we spent plenty of time strolling along the beach, walking along a pier to watch the fish jumping (we had no idea what they were jumping for, but it was pretty funny), and—my new favorite activity—kayaking.

But even though I was “busy” and didn’t spend much time on my computer, I got something even more important—inspiration. I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that a vacation on an island can inspire a person. The day we went kayaking was my favorite. The water was like glass and the sky was cloudless blue. I stopped in my kayak to be “in the moment”—noticing how there was no end and no beginning where the water met the sky, the gentle swaying of the seagrass beneath the water, and the gulls whose wings barely tipped the water as they sailed past. There is beauty everywhere, of course, but we are usually in such a hurry that we miss just how wonderful the natural world around us really is. In fact, it was at the island that I got inspiration for my short story.

As we bid farewell to the sun on the last evening, it was a bittersweet moment. We would be saying goodbye to the island we loved, but we all knew in one way or another we had changed for the better. For me, the lesson that I took back with me is to stop and enjoy the world around me more often. Well, that and to stop eating processed foods. The way we cooked at the island was so healthy that it (with the support of my fellow Chick Eva) kickstarted a whole new way of eating for me, which I’ve continued and will continue for—well, forever.

New Year’s Playfulutions

1 Jan

I don’t believe in resolutions. If Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way books have taught me anything, it’s that trying to impose more discipline and work to any endeavor–artistic or otherwise–is far less effective than learning to PLAY.

Resolve involves being determined, taking a lofty goal seriously, and working hard to achieve it. It also sets us up for all-or-nothing thinking that sabotages our real, day-to-day would-be progress. The stoic martyr sacrifices to reach what end? Their own.

No, this year, I’m determined to take myself and all I do far less seriously. Acting resolute ultimately brings self-disappointment, frustration, and guilt–even if they’re well masked by success. Yet acting playful allows me the freedom to be a beginner, to try something new, to learn, to experiment, to risk, and to have greater compassion on myself and others when things don’t go according to plan.

That said, I do believe in the power of articulating our deepest wishes. A goal sounds scary and is usually followed by its thugs, the shoulds and the should nots. Sometimes a list of goals is more a reflection of our fears than anything else. But a wish is a recognition of what truly lies within our hearts. Great achievements are always driven by passion, a symptom of deep love, capable of overcoming our self-bullying doubts, unconscious pot shots and–worst of all–expectations.

So what are your deepest wishes for the coming year? Forget about all the things you should and shouldn’t do. What do you want to do? What do you love to do? What do you longingly dream of doing when you’re all alone? And how can you take a little step today to do a little more of it? If you’re still hesitant, check out Chick Vivi’s What’s Waiting for YOU? for a healthy dose of positive thinking.

When our theme song video (and details for winning the Kindle!) comes out tomorrow, it will be clear that the 4 of us had a lot of fun making it. Yes, there was plenty of planning, collaboration and time involved, but it certainly never felt like work. Now, to apply that model to the rest of my life and go clean up the strawberry muffin my son proudly mashed into the carpet. It’s okay. It’s just part of this funny game I’m playing called my life.

What’s waiting for YOU?

31 Dec

As a writer, I try my best to avoid the clichés (you know, “tall, dark and handsome,” “dark and stormy night”). Okay, those aren’t the best examples. But here’s the tired old catchphrase I hear every year at this time: What are you waiting for?

Many of us aren’t sitting around, “waiting” for anything. We’re out there, pounding the pavement (sorry, another cliché), submitting our work and making necessary edits and revisions. We’re doing this while running our households and working our “real” jobs as well.

So, to start 2012 out on the right foot, I decided to ask myself this question instead: What’s waiting for you?

Too many people get discouraged from a few rejections or because they suddenly feel their work isn’t “good enough” for publication. Rather than put the work into the revision process and making the manuscript stronger, they give up. I have read so many stories of this happening early in a writer’s career, for some to find out later that they did in fact have something wonderful that maybe just needed a little editing or perhaps just the right agent for it. But they gave up. And regretted it later.

I will follow the creative muse and write. I will continue my learning journey with the help of writing conferences, critique partners and the hundreds of helpful blogs. I will edit until my fingers turn raw (or keyboard falls apart), because there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s just waiting for me to find it.

What’s waiting for YOU?

Don’t forget to come back on Monday, Jan. 2 to check out the debut of our 4 Chicks music video. What’s waiting for you could be a brand-new Kindle!

Random Thoughts From A Wigged-out Writer

20 Aug

I’ve been absent from this site for a while now. Bad Chick. Bad, bad Chick. In all honesty, I’ve found myself between various rocks and hard places. My list of to-do’s seems to have grown, and I’ve found myself stretched beyond belief (can I just blame it on summer?). But I’m happy, that’s for sure. So here’s ramblings from the past month or so:

Rambling thought #1: Recently, I joined a critique group to help shape my writing and edit my novel. What a great group! I’ve written, rewritten, and rewritten again the first chapter of my novel until I finally felt good about it. If you’ve just started writing or intend to write, here’s a tip: writing first chapters can suck. It’s hard to stay away from the “telling,” the temptation to info-dump, the struggle to introduce new worlds and new concepts without giving away too much. But now I have it where I like it, and I have that group to thank. But oh, my, am I exhausted. And that’s just with chapter one!

Rambling thought #2: I’ve started doing a lot more research online. There are so many incredible resources for writers out there, including agent blogs, twitter, online conferences, and so much more. It’s always interesting, at times overwhelming, and frequently eye-opening. Sometimes I have to force myself to close out the Internet and write.

Rambling thought #3: In the past several months I’ve focused so much on writing that I’ve left very little time for reading. Someone recommended DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth, and I read it in one day (great story!). Suddenly, I remembered why I started writing my novel in the first place. I’ve now made room for reading at least one new book a week. The funny thing is that now I read like a writer, noticing the use of tense, character development, phrasing, etc. It’s always a good thing to read a lot if you’re going to write. I had almost forgotten.

Rambling thought #4: I hate spiders – they really freak me out (yes, I KNOW they’re good for the environment). I just don’t know why they seem to show up in movies and books all the time. I have to skip over those parts.

So that’s it, my latest random thoughts. I realize this isn’t the most fascinating essay, nor is it particularly well written, but it’s certainly indicative of my life at the moment. Crazy, busy, funny…

…randomly wonderful.

Father’s Day Special (part 2)

17 Jun

Father’s Day Special (part 1)

15 Jun

You’ve heard from the kids, so now, in honor of Father’s Day, hear from the men in the Chicks’ lives as they discuss their wives’ pursuit of the artist within themselves. The guys also spend time “muse-ing” over who this Muse is that their wives are chasing. Do they hit the proverbial nail on the head? You be the judge!

Of course, you can’t get this group of guys together without the occasional beer and tasteless jokes. Here’s a toast for those handy editing tools. Thanks, guys, for supporting the Chicks as they continue their pursuit of…who else? Me!

Expand Your Creative Identity

26 Apr

The 4 Chicks Chat about Chapter 2: Discovering a Sense of Proportion (PART 1)

This [chapter] inaugurates an ongoing process of self-definition.  As you redraw the boundaries and limits within which you have lived, you draw yourself to a fuller size. Coming into ourselves, we sometimes encounter resistance from those in our immediate environment.  The readings and tasks of this week aim at bolstering the sense of a realistic self in the face of difficulty and even discounting.

– Julia Cameron, Walking in this World: The Practical Art of Creativity

If you’re burning to find me–the Muse–YOU can be a part of  the Chick Chat, too.  Here’s how to play at home:

    1. The 4 Chicks read a chapter.
    2. The Chicks meet and discuss the chapter.
    3. Over the next month or so, the Chicks do the tasks in the chapter and blog about it along the way.
    4. You’re invited to do the same and/or comment on the blog, sharing your own experiences and Chick Stories.
    5. You may even consider starting your own 4 Chicks group to simultaneously work through either this book or its prequel, Cameron’s ground-breaking The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.
I’m waiting for you to find me…
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