I think it was about four years ago. Someone once told me that she doesn’t go to any more writer’s meetings nor take anymore writing courses. Her reasoning? “Because I don’t learn anything new.” The weird thing is that I sort of agree. I don’t always learn something NEW when I attend these programs, but I ALWAYS get a light bulb moment. It’s usually something I forgot about or even an idea to look at, something I typically do differently.
So, with that said. Has anyone heard of Skillshare? (https://www.skillshare.com/) I recently discovered it, and the first class I watched was on productivity. Aren’t we all in some way working on this? There was a lot of information I’d heard before, but I was hearing them said differently. For example, one of the things he talked about was a two-minute rule. Meaning, if something takes less than two minutes to do, do it now rather than putting it on a “to do” list. I started doing this, and it really gave me those “I’ve done something” moments—a positive reinforcement type of thing. I try to do this every day with anything decision I face. If it takes less than two minutes, then I just do it. Now…what about those things that take longer? Well…we default to the five-minute rule. What this means is: If you’re faced with a task that you’re struggling to get done, tell yourself, “I’m only going to work on this for 5 minutes, and that’s it.” Now, you’re thinking, if this task takes longer than five minutes to complete, why even start? Good question!
Newton’s First Law of Motion – If something is still, it will stay still. If it’s moving, it will continue moving unless an external force acts on it. So, we must start. Ergo, your five-minute rule. So, let’s apply this to writing, shall we?
How do we make these five minutes less stressful?
We start by prepping the area, get our stuff together and turn on the computer. Open the files we need, pull up a blank document or the current document.
This starts the motion. Think about it. You’ve already got everything set in place to write. Continue that motion by writing.
Okay, I’m giving everyone two minutes to get something to write with. That means a paper and pen, or even pull up a word document.
So, you’re going to start with the words above and think about your current or new manuscript. Now, complete this sentence and go on to explain in detail what you want to happen. You can tell it, no need to focus on showing. But, if you get into showing, that’s fine. Now, I’m setting the timer. Ready, set, go! (Go on…I’ll wait while you try this)
Okay, so count your words. It’s okay if you only got 20 words. Now, you did this many words in only two minutes! How many of you could’ve kept writing if the timer hadn’t stopped you? That’s the external force stopping the motion. You wouldn’t have stopped unless told to do so. Let’s say you give yourself five minutes towards writing new words…you’d have double this amount. If you set up another five minutes, you’d get more, and so on and so on. Think about it.
I’d like to recommend a book: Atomic Habits by James Clear This book is exciting.
One more thing from this class that I thought was really interesting:
Pareto Principle – 80% of the results will result from 20% of the effort. OR 80% of output will result from 20% of the input.
So, basically, first draft (crap draft) is 20%,
next round of edits is 20% (focus on active verbs & dialogue),
next round 20% (focus on plot arc),
next 20% is the character arc.
Think about this for a moment. You only need to input 20%, and you get 80% done afterward with the edits.
It goes back to what we hear all the time: You can’t edit a blank page.
We all need that 20% to start. If you’re a new writer or beginning in a new genre, or anything really. Remember getting those words on the page will get you 80% closer to a final draft.
Although this is focused on writing…you CAN apply it to anything else in your life. Let that stew.
Then, let me know how it worked out for you. I’d really like to know!
So, if you’re a writer, consider if you write every day. If you don’t, try it for two weeks. Write every day and see if it changes your thought process too. I’d love to hear back from you if you try this. You can do it!
I'm sure every year, everyone has holiday traditions. Mine started with my children when they were very young and I wanted to take pictures on Christmas morning without them wearing their most comfortable pajamas. Pajamas that consisted of favorite worn T-shirts sometimes with or without pants. So, I started a tradition on Christmas Eve. All my children were allowed to open up one Christmas Eve gift. A “Santa” gift. It was always a new set of pajamas. When the kids were younger, they loved the idea of opening at least one gift early, even though, as they grew older, they knew it what that gift contained. This tradition satisfied two major things for me. The first being my children got to open at least one gift early, and second, my Christmas photos consisted of children dressed in a matching pair of pajamas. As the years have gone by my children have grown, yet we still maintain this tradition. A tradition which now brings a chuckle to everyone as they always ask: “Gee I wonder what Santa will bring us this year?". It has become a challenge now for everyone to have the most surprising reaction when they open the box and see their new pajamas.
Ten years ago, last spring, after a lifetime of creating stories in my head and on paper, I decided to seek publication. A friend overheard me talking to a coworker in the next cubicle. She walked over and asked me "Are you serious about wanting to get published?" I answered "Yes!". She then told me I needed to join her local romance writers association. So, I did, and I wrote all summer on a book I thought was great. I didn't get it all finished, but I signed up for a pitch appointment, to an editor only three months away. Those months, I spent (outside of my day job), learning how to create a blurb, and expectations of an editor during these appointments. I even read all about my assigned editor. I saw other books he published and loved them. They were a bit darker than my story, but all the same, they rocked. At the conference, I went to a special session to make my pitch even more perfect than I thought possible. Soon, it was time to meet with the editor!
I sat down, said five words and the editor stopped me. He told me, kindly, that he wasn't interested in my type of story. Well, after all the research I'd done, I wasn't going to leave right away. I took the time to thank him for coming, then went on to say how I researched other books he’d published. I mention a few I liked and in a moment of utter surprise, I told him I had an idea for a book that involved dead bodies and dead languages, since I studied linguistics in college. His eyes widened and he pointed to me saying "Now, THAT's a book I'm interested in."
Dead Bodies, Dead Languages is now available for pre-order! Release date is perfect as it is set for October 28, 2020! Since the book takes place around Halloween, this is the best release date I could hope for. This is, by far, my favorite of the series and I hope it will be yours too. Check it out and know I'm giggling just to see it live!
Coming home that fateful day from grade school, my twin sister, Jerrie and I walked with slow steps.
“Mom’s gonna be upset,” Jerrie said.
“What are we going to do?”
“Tell her we won’t talk in class anymore?” I suggested.
“How are we going to do that?” She asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. We have to think of something.”
Silence fell between us as we turned onto the dusty dirt alley which separated the rows of houses of our neighborhood in the small town of Albany, Georgia. The spring sun shone down, warming our faces and we stepped in unison with each other, both staring down at the dust kicking up from our matching canvas shoes.
“At least we have the whole summer to figure it out.”
I sighed. “I’m not spending my whole summer trying to come up with something. We need to know first—”
“It won’t help us now. When mom sees those red letters in our report cards, we’re in trouble, no matter what,” Jerrie interrupted.
“She won’t stay mad. She never does.” I grinned. “As long as we promise never to do it again.”
I stopped. “Wait, I got it!”
“Remember that book we read last week? The one about Helen Keller?”
She nodded. “Yeah.”
“Sign language. The finger alphabet that’s in it.”
Her mouth dropped open for a second before splitting into a big grin. “Yeah, we could do that!”
“Teacher won’t know because we’ll be quiet.”
“Think we can learn it fast enough?”
I blinked. “Jer.”
“Right,” she smiled. “Easy-peasy.”
“Easy-peasy,” I said and started skipping. Jerrie did the same and we giggled all the way home.
Continuing with my prior posts, I thought I'd share an excerpt from one of my essays titled: The Birthplace.
I don't remember that day, the day of my birth, obviously. However, my mother has often recounted the experience to me and my twin, my sister and I, whenever we ask. It would be another twenty-one years, before my sister and I would, or could, return to that hospital. At over twenty, it occurred to us, after we gained access to the building, which was now closed, we trespassed government property for this experience. But, the call, the urge, the need to stand in the room of my birth, our birth, drove us with such strength, we ignored the "no trespassing" signs, jiggled the locked doors until we found one broken and gained access.
There, on that hot summer day, my twin and I stood alongside my older brother (of thirteen months), within that now abandoned circular room filled with dust and dirt from the nearby desert. Staring up at the large windows, I contemplated the image of the then packed pandemonium platform above us. What thoughts ran around the heads of those who watched this miracle birth? Had breaths been held, or gasps released at the screaming cries of Baby B? Immediately after entering my mind, the image evaporated.
This room, this spot we stood in, marked the beginning of my life as a twin. I would never be alone in life, as long as my twin lived. Sometimes I believe even after her death, I won’t be alone. So, it began on that day, a life of not I, but us. Not me, but we. No mine, but ours. We really began together. Would the day come in which we ended together? That’s a thought I avoid contemplating.
As I mentioned last month, I'm sharing a few essays I've written for a non-fiction project. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing each one.
One afternoon in the middle of October, many years ago, I sat on the front porch of my home with my twin sister and daughter. That day, like the other days before, that year, brought in a crisp winter wind. My twin and I huddled at one end of the wicker bench where the sun shone directly onto our faces. The mild warmth my skin received did not eliminate the nipping of the cold on my face. My thick hoodie, sweatpants and wool gloves completed the job on the rest of my body. However, my face, bare and alone suffered silently. My daughter sat across from us, covered in a small quilt my twin made and smiling as I related a story from that morning. Every so often, her gaze switched from my face to my twins.
As my story progressed, the transferring of her gaze increased until it nearly bounced. I paused and slid a glance toward my twin. Her mouth is frozen partially opened, while her gaze swept from my own mouth to my eyes. Her eyebrows lifted once her gaze met mine as thought to question my pause. I blinked, then continued telling my story to my daughter. Slipping a peek at my twin as I spoke. Her mouth moved as I spoke. In fact, her lips formed my words as I spoke them. No sound emitted from her, yet she followed my speech. My daughter's grin widened and after raising her for twenty-eight years, a bubble of laughter hung on the precipice. Her wide eyes and exposed teeth from her large smile, duplicated the same behavior she'd started when she was just a child. I stopped, faced my sister and tipped my head to the side.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
Her eyes widened, her mouth dropped open farther and she responded. "What?"
"You're mimicking my words."
"I am?" She asked.
My daughter laughter split the otherwise quiet morning and my gaze jerked toward her. "Is that what you were watching?" My daughter nodded, still laughing. "How long?" I ask her. She paused in her giggles and said, "Ever since you started, she's been mouthing your words."
I stared at my twin. "Why?"
"I didn't even realize I was doing it," she said.
"It's okay," my daughter interrupted. "You two do this all the time. It's cute."
I leaned back and frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Both of you lip sync each other’s words. You've been doing it for a long time now."
My twin and I face each other. "I didn't know that." We say simultaneously.
I point to my sister. "Stop." She nods. There is no reason to tell her what to stop. She knows. I turn toward my daughter, continue talking and she continues smiling as she glances between my sister and I. She's doing it again. I slide another glance at my twin. Yep. She's doing it again. "Stop," I say. "You're doing it again." She presses her hand to her mouth and nods.
"I don't know why you bother, mom. You do it to her."
Hmm. I cross my arms, staring down at the small peeling gray paint chips of my porch near my feet. We lip sync. How odd. Or is it odd? How is it possible for her know what words I'm about to say in time to form the letters at the exact same time as I say them? We cannot read each other’s minds. Not really. I mean, after all these years, I can read her face easily enough. I do the same with my family members I'm close to. But, no one ever synchronizes their lip movements with my words.
Only she does. Only my sister. My twin.
My first thought was that I did not have anything to write about. However, in one of my other classes (an introductory to genres class), I had to write a poem. My poem was based on my birth as a twin. This got me thinking of how to incorporate my life as a twin into a writing project. So, it began. Through this class, I’ve completed many essays in my book titled A Twin Like Me. I’d like to share some of it with you and see what you think. Here is the introduction and one essay entry:
From the moment I took my first breath, I earned the designation of “twin.” This label is one I can never remove; a label I am proud to have and will have beyond my time on earth. I consider myself lucky in having a close, positive relationship with my twin. This relationship is special to me. Not every twin is happy with their label. I am and I wrote this book to celebrate being a twin like me.
Twin Enlightenment – Age 15
Jerrie and I exited the car dressed exactly alike from our matching shirts to matching shoes.
Our excitement barely contained between us and marked only by small gasps.
Today, the Twin Cities Twin Club gathered at the convention center.
Invitation to twins only…
Encouraged to dress alike…
Our first meeting with another set of twins whose outfits didn’t match made us pause.
They despised being twins. Only here because their parents made them come.
Why? We’re confused.
“I want to be me, not her. Not her twin. Just me,” one says.
“Yeah,” the other agrees.
“But…but you can’t,” I sputter.
“We can and will,” they say in unison.
We walk away and I lean slightly to the side and bump my arm against Jerrie’s arm.
Comforting in the contact.
“How sad,” I whisper.
“I don’t understand,” Jerrie whispers.
“I don’t think we ever will.”
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