Archive for the ‘A to Z Blogging Challenge’ Category

survivor_[2013]

In 2012, I decided to experiment with my writing.  I started my first blog, and within a couple months, I experimented with my blogging abilities by entering the A to Z April Blogging Challenge.  As a newbie blogger, I was eager to test the waters, but I was also scared to death.  Even though I had been a content writer since 2008, I knew little about starting and maintaining a blog.  I went into the 2012 A to Z Challenge excited and determined but worried that I would never make it to the end.

Despite my self-doubt and worry, I finished the 2012 A to Z Challenge, and I eagerly waited for April to come again.  I was hooked!  In the beginning, I was afraid that blogging was not for me.  A year later, though, I have three blogs, all of which I entered into the 2013 A to Z Challenge—and survived!  Discovering blogging and then this challenge has changed me forever.

I have grown immensely as a writer through my blogs and the A to Z Challenge.  I have learned more about myself and my writing.  I have discovered my strengths and my weaknesses as a writer.  I have grown more confident and creative.  I have embraced my identity as a writer and learned to allow my voice to flow more freely.   Ultimately, blogging and the A to Z Challenge have allowed me to see that I have been underestimating myself and my writing abilities.

I once believed that my writing depended on a bunch of factors.  I used to think that I needed to find the perfect time, place, and idea before I could truly write.  In life, however, there is rarely perfection.  I wasted so many years of my life waiting for the right conditions so I could I begin writing seriously.  But seeing my ideas and words unfold before me, last year and now this year, through the mad rush of the A to Z Challenge has proven me wrong.  I now know I can produce quality writing even if I am pressed for time and must write around a thousand distractions and other obligations.  I can beat writer’s block and find endless sources of inspiration.  And I can be productive and write daily if only I believe in myself and make it a priority.

For two years now, the A to Z April Blogging Challenge has been my own journey to self-discovery.  Last year I learned to overcome my fears and reservations as a new blogger.  And this year, I discovered how to keep writing even when life throws the most difficult of obstacles.  I can’t wait until next year to see what other valuable insights I might find!

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Purple Feathers

When I am in deep thought I tend to draw zigzags and other doodles on my paper.  When I was still in school my teachers assumed that when I was doodling I wasn’t paying attention in class.  In reality, I can concentrate and retain information a lot easier if my restless hands have something to keep them busy.  Moreover, the graceful, flowing motion of doodling draws out my thoughts and ideas.  It is as though with each stroke, zigzag, or swirl my imagination unfolds and the words are pulled from my mind.

This is perfect for writing.  If I am hounded by writer’s block, I’ll break out pen and paper or open a computer drawing program.  I’ll then allow my hand to go wherever it wants while I focus on the movement.  Many times just a 30-minute doodling session will start the creative juices flowing again.  No, it may not completely rid my brain of writer’s block, but it’s a wonderful start.  I can then build on this rudimentary inspirational foundation using one or more of the other inspirational ideas that I’ve shared with you this month.

We have now reached the letter Z, so this concludes the A to Z Blogging Challenge and my theme of different sources of inspiration for my writing.  Here is a list to review all of the things that help inspire me and break writer’s block:

  • Animals and adorable antics
  • Butterflies
  • Clouds
  • Dawns and sunsets
  • Earth
  • Fire
  • Ghost stories
  • Hatred and harm disguised as humor
  • Icicles and snowy days
  • Jumping jacks
  • Keys
  • Lights
  • Music
  • Naps
  • Order
  • Photography
  • Quibble
  • Rain
  • Start
  • Tacos and other tantalizing foods
  • Unicorns
  • Vacations
  • Water
  • X-Men and other superheroes
  • Yellow
  • Zigzag

Did you find any of my inspiration ideas useful?  Do you have a favorite that isn’t on my list?  I’d love to hear about some of your own sources of inspiration.

Tulips

Blue has been my favorite color since 3rd grade.  I think I like blue so much because it is such a versatile color.  There are peaceful and calm blues.  Some blues are so soft and subtle that they make me want to drift off to sleep.  Other blues are more bright and happy.  And some blues are dark and melancholy.

If I had to choose a color, though, that puts me in the mood most to write, I would have to pick yellow.  Yellow is so cheery, warm, and energetic.  Yellow reminds me of sunny afternoons, vibrant spring flowers, and living butterflies flittering about.  Yellow stirs up some of my happiest memories as a child: banana-flavored popsicles on a hot summer’s day, fireflies glowing in the night, and yellow sundresses that I loved to wear.  Just a splash of vibrant yellow makes me smile.

And we all know that if we are worrying, stressed, or feeling pressured, writer’s block is bound to settle in.  So, my advice is to surround yourself with things that make you happy.  No matter where you write, ascent your workspace with what you love.  It will help you clear your mind and focus on your writing.

If I ever have an office, I know I will definitely paint it yellow.  But right now, I only have space to write at the desk in my kitchen or wherever my laptop will take me.  That doesn’t mean I have to skimp on my workplace accents.  Right now I have a small glass filled with dandelions, which my children picked me yesterday, sitting on my desk.  Some of my favorite upbeat instrumental music is playing in the background.  And a number of my children’s recent pieces of artwork are hanging around me.  It is an inviting place.  It is my happy zone, and it helps lure me back to my writing even when I am tired after a long day.

What do you have in your workspace that helps put you in the mood for writing or makes it more inviting?

a-to-z-letters-x

I am still a child at heart and maybe a bit of a nerd.  I’m a big fan of the X-men and other superheroes.  My fascination with superheroes started when I was a little girl.  When I was a child I became ill too often and I would live vicariously through the stories, TV shows, and movies I enjoyed from my sick bed.  I would imagine I was off on some amazing quest or saving the innocent from evil.  I even used to imagine that my illnesses were slowly mutating and transforming my body, so one day, I’d wake up and find I too had some great superpower.  It was a wonderful way to pass the hours away until I was well enough to play again!

Even all these years later, I don’t think I will ever tire of superheroes.  I believe there is a desire in all of us to be special…to have a talent or power that no one else has.  When we watch or read about superheroes we see a little of ourselves in them, as well as the strength and invincibility that we all wish we had.  We long to make a difference in this world, and how much easier it would be with superpowers at our disposal!

With some of my story writing, I’m inspired to explore these desires.  I try to create characters that are believable and everyday individuals.  Yet, I often give them horrible limitations or difficult challenges that they must overcome.  I love to explore how ordinary people face improbable or even impossible situations.  Will they crumble under the pressure?  Or will they somehow rise above their obstacles and become something more…something stronger and better?  Will they, in a sense, find their own superpower and use it to help themselves and then others?

These characters reflect my own internal struggle.  As an individual with a painful chronic illness, I’m still exploring what I’m meant to do with my life and how I can make this world a little better.  Consequently, when I write my stories I learn from my characters.  Being in the thick of all the chaos, it is difficult to think clearly or to understand anything.  However, as I watch my characters’ lives unfold and see how they react, struggle, and try to overcome the impossible, I can see my own life a little clearer and understand myself a bit more.  Ultimately, when I’m peering into the souls of my characters I can see a glimpse of my own.

Water Words

When I was a little girl I had a little accident at a public swimming pool.  A friend of mine accidently knocked me into the pool, and I didn’t know how to swim that well.  Although I was more scared than anything, I’ve been afraid of deep water ever since.  Breathing in water is a terrifying experience, and it leaves a lasting impression!  My fear has lessened more and more over the years, but I still haven’t gotten up the nerve to resume my swimming lessens.

The craziest part of my water fear, though, is as long as I’m not in it trying to swim or float, I love it!  I love fishing out on boats.  I have been canoeing and kayaking on lakes many times.  And sitting on the shore and watching the movement of the water (whether it is a small pond or the great ocean) is the most peaceful thing I can think of.  If I could live near a body of water, I know I would be there every chance I could.

Every form of water mesmerizes me.  And no matter how many times I go visit a body of water or see different states of water in the world around me, I can’t get enough!  I remember when I was a child I was content to play with water for hours.  Simply pouring water from one container to another and then back again made me happy.  I was amazed by how water so effortlessly takes the shape of its container and I would try to imagine what it would be like if I could do the same.

Now that I am an adult, water can still entertain me just as easily.  Yes, sometimes I still play with water, pouring to my heart’s content with my children.  However, these days I am more focused on the way light reflects off of the water’s surface or the varying colors of bodies of water.  Water is truly a magnificent work of art.

I also actively seek the many sounds of water.  Rain, waterfalls, trickling streams, and even ice crystal hitting the ground are like music to my ears.  Water sounds relax me and put me into a content, reflective mood.  This frame of mind is perfect for creating writing that is deep and personal.  I feel most in touch with myself and my inner thoughts during moments like these, and it definitely shows in my writing.  I tend to be a lot less humorous and witty and much more to the point and eloquent.  Although I enjoy my lighthearted creations, a simple, meaningful style is better suited for certain topics.  Ultimately, I can now create writing that fits my project perfectly because I understand (1) who I am as a writer, (2) what my writing styles are, and (3) what sources of inspiration produce which type of creativity.