Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RTW: Where Do You Find Creative Inspiration?

From YA Highway:

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question to write about on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. This week's topic:


When you need creative inspiration, where do you go?


For me the answer is simple: away. I wish I had an actual, official getaway but sadly I do not. But the bottom line is when I'm feeling like the creative juices are on empty and I'm a little fried, I just get away from the world and all the hubbub.

A few years ago, I had my dream writer's retreat that always provided me with creative inspiration. The retreat was a family member's lake house.

Oh how I miss it...

Gorgeous!


But sadly, they recently sold it. I found a poor man's version in going out to my parent's house. But that only works when I'm house sitting and am out there for an extended period by myself. Otherwise going to visit mom and dad isn't exactly conducive to recharging the creative battery. But it is nice out there.

Country living...

Indeed.

Basically, I just need some solitude and some nature to get me recharged and eager to write again. Nature is wonderful and being near water is even better, but peace and quiet is really what I need. How about you my writer friends? And even non-writer friends. Everyone needs an escape from time to time to get their mind straight. What do you do? Where do you go?

Monday, July 16, 2012

I Am A Writer

I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer.  I. Am. A. Writer. I AM A WRITER!

Man that felt good...

I'm announcing it to the world because finally I've admitted it to myself. I am a writer. This is who I am and this is what I do. This is my chosen profession and my passion. Writing is my calling. It is not just a hobby. Writing is in my blood. I've always known. But I couldn't find the courage to admit it to myself and to the rest of the world... until now.

While my family has always be supportive, I've never been encouraged to wholeheartedly follow my dream. I was pushed to quietly do it in my spare time when I wasn't working my real job. Be an adult, be responsible, and if there's still time, then make yourself happy. That's no way to live. So I'm done. And coming to that realization feels amazing.

Happy Dance!

All of my adult life I've been stuck in a revolving door of dead-end jobs and supposed golden opportunities that were going to give me the freedom to do what I really wanted while still maintaining the facade of being a responsible, employed adult. But every job, every position, every career has been nothing more than an obstacle keeping me from my true calling. Not anymore.

Late last year my distraction du jour was real estate. I got my license and was ready to conquer the world. And then, not so much. That profession has recently been put to bed. This weekend, I mailed in the paperwork to put my license on inactive status (meaning I could reactivate it with the state at some point down the line) and I can no longer practice real estate in Ohio. I realize this would normally be a sad announcement but I'm thrilled. That was the last one. I'm no longer anything put a writer. I'm not a real estate agent nor am I a customer relations representative, a social media leader, a sales associate, a bridal consultant, a receptionist, a security dispatcher... Man, that's a lot of dead-end jobs. None of those jobs brought me joy. None of those jobs were leading me toward a bright future. All they ever did was stress me out and get in the way of my real dream.

I realize I'm rambling here but I'm okay with that. Because finally admitting to myself and the world that I'm done with everything else that is getting in my way is just so liberating. I can't help it.

So there you have it. My name is Stephanie and I am a writer. Woo hoo!

Friday, July 13, 2012

First Ever Friday Finds!

Hooray! It's Friday. And this is my first ever Friday Finds!

Partay!
(Source)

As I just started this today and haven't been trolling for links all week, the list is short. But I hope to share more fun, insightful, interesting or just plain silly links that I've gathered over the week on each Friday Finds.

  • First up, The Bi-Polar Writer. Cracked me up. Not only was this post a pretty accurate depiction of my day-to-day struggles with writing, it also gave some sound advice.
  • "I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so, so.... scared!" Any blog post that can incorporate a Jessie Spano reference without losing its credibility is a winner in my book. And Five Things to Consider, Aspiring Writer does just that. It's chalk full of insights for aspiring writers and an excuse to watch a SBTB snippet on YouTube. Yahtzee!
  • Finally, I did a lot of updating to my blog list. While I didn't necessarily call out each post on it's own, I do feel the need to point out some of the stellar blogs that I've added to said blog list. Check them out.

I thought I had more legit Friday Finds to share. But then I realized the only other posts I had to share were all from the Tumbler News Cat Gifs. Here are some of my favorites:



"When I go to cover an event and I am told I cannot get in"



"When I'm trying to learn from a webinar"



"When someone brings food to the newsroom"



And my personal favorite...

"When you are accused of misquoting someone and you play back the tape"



Hopefully next week's Friday Finds will be a bit more productive. Happy Friday y'all!


Bad Blogger, Bad!

I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog do dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for oever two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks wihtout notice.
i will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without nottice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let mby blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks wihtout notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.
I will not let my blog go dark for over two weeks without notice.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy Blogiversary - a.k.a. Lessons Learned

The blog is officially a month old today. And while I haven't blogged as much as I would have liked to, I'm still happy. It's lasted much longer than others and I still have a long list of things I would like to talk about. I just need to continue to work on my time management and prioritizing.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I've been busy lately and that's part of what's kept me from blogging. That's partly true. The last couple weeks have been very busy in great ways and the couple weeks before that, not so much. But I'm happy to say that my work in progress is actually in progress and I'm pumped to keep plugging away at it. I love the story and my MC is alive and well in my head. So even though the first couple weeks weren't entirely productive, I'm still grateful for the time because it did still get me to a more productive time.

Throughout my month of mostly being productive, I've learned a few personal truths and I was reminded of some lessons that I've previously learned but clearly needed to experience again. And I'd like to share. So here we go:

1. Procrastination and Distractions are both a blessing and a curse: use them to your advantage to recharge and motivate. 


I'm a natural born procrastinator. I don't really know why but I often have a hard time motivating myself to do something with my life. And distractions often become the focus of my time and energy even though they're mostly fruitless. But sometimes they're necessary. Over the last month, I've tried very hard to walk the line of being focused and motivated but I've also allowed myself to indulge in some less than productive activities. And while I had to make sure I didn't spend all my time on those activities, the time I spent indulging was still useful in the big picture. In the last month I redecorated my office and created a wall-o-inspiration. Combined I think I spent maybe 3 days total on both projects (and I'll post some before and afters later). I tend to be a perfectionist about the smallest and most ridiculous things. So I didn't allow myself to go too crazy on this project. But I did allow it in general and here's why: when I was done, I felt refreshed and motivated. I had a fabulous new(ish) office that I couldn't wait to start writing in and I had some inspiration right in front of my face in said office so I could always look to it if/when I needed a boost. Even though the projects were not necessary, they did help me to recharge my creative battery.

The flip side to that is what I've been doing all day. I've been tooling around on itunes for hours looking for new music and going through my own library all in the name of a writing playlist. While this is great in general and I very much do find inspiration in music, I feel I've taken this activity much too far -- as usual. I'm still working on finding the balance between temporary distraction that is still overall productive and just plain procrastinating.

2. Reading is great when used in moderation.


I've also done a lot of reading over the past month. Which is great! I don't remember the last time I devoured that many books in such a short time frame. But it's also a problem. I don't remember the last time I devoured that many books in such a short time frame because it's not often I have the time to do so. And while it was thoroughly enjoying, it took a bit too much time away from the writing. I am a firm believer in the adage that you should read and read and read if you want to write as it will only make you a better writer. And I also agree that you should focus a lot of energy in your desired genre. And that's exactly what I did. Just a bit too much.

On the flip side, I was entirely moved by some of the books and completely inspired to work that much harder at my own writing in the hopes that I could one day produce something as powerful as what I'd read. And I also spent a lot of time reading books on the craft of writing -- some more helpful than others. But if it weren't for one of those books, I wouldn't have the majority of my overall plot structure on my WIP. Which means, I doubt I would have even gotten around to starting it because I still didn't know where I was ultimately going with the story. So again, I'm still working on finding the balance but I can only be grateful for the time I've spend reading this last month. At the very least, if I couldn't be writing, reading was far more productive than watching TV.

3. Don't sweat the small stuff.


As I've mentioned, this isn't my first blog. I've had others on differing topics all with varying levels of failure. And I firmly believe the one reason why this blog is relatively successful (at least compared to its predecessors) is because I told myself from the very beginning not to sweat the small stuff. Don't worry if you can't always blog. Don't worry how many days have gone by between posts or how many pages views they've gotten or how many subscribers you've picked up along the way (which is zero by the way). Just keep plugging away. And that's what I've done. And because I haven't forced myself to blog when I didn't want to, it doesn't feel like work and I'm still eager to do it. I still have lots more to say, even if I am just talking to myself out here.

The same goes for my WIP. Sure I set goals and wish I was further along. But as long as I'm still ultimately getting somewhere, that's good enough for me. This is something I'm constantly telling myself. And not just in my writing life but in my day to day. And I feel like it's something that everyone could use at one point or another. I tend to get derailed and deflated at the slightest set back. But reminding myself not to sweat the small stuff helps me remember that it's okay. Progress is still progress regardless of the amount and even being stagnant from time to time is still better than going in the wrong direction. It helps me to remember to pick up and carry on.

4. Don't force it.


In the same vein as #3, I try not to force it. Now this may be more beneficial to me because of my personality and not necessary the best prescription for anyone, but I find it helpful. I have to work to keep my motivation and to keep positive. I need small, regular, attainable goals so that I can see my progress and use that to move further. Yet, they can't be too firm so that I feel defeated if I don't make it to one of my goals. (Have I mentioned yet that I'm a little whack a doodle character?) But the point is, I can't force it. And in general, that's pretty true for anyone. Banging your head against the wall isn't going to get you anything but a headache. You can't force it. Sure you need to be persistent but when push comes to shove, at least for me, you gotta know when to pick your battles.

5. Never take your eye off the prize.


This is almost a personal mantra. Because I know I'm quite stubborn and sometimes needy, I allow myself the occasional indulgence. Sometimes it's a bit more than occasional. But that's okay as long as I don't forget the bigger picture. I try to visit the world of my story at least once a day. Even if it's just talking out a problem or situation for a few minutes in the car. I try to spend a little piece of each day with my characters so I can easily enter their world when it comes time to write. I also try to take any opportunity I may get to develop my story, on paper or just in my head whenever I can. And that helps to balance out my weaker moments where I'm less than productive. But as long as I never forget my dreams and goals, as long as I never forget the story within me that I feel bound to tell, than I'm always heading in the right direction.

Those are a few of my rules to live and write by. How about you? Are there any other rules that help you meet your goals? Or rules you have to keep your sanity? Feel free to leave them below.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Music Is My Muse

I realize that I've been absent for a while. And I'd love to explain why. And I will. But not right now. Because I don't have time. But I did want to at least check in. More importantly I wanted to share my new favorite obsession as of about an hour ago...


Amahzing! I lost track of how much time I spent tooling around itunes and youtube trying to decide which song to put up. So by all means, I encourage you to listen to/watch the suggested videos at the end. Because they're great! And on that note, I gotta run.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Funky Cold Medina

Today's been rough, as was yesterday. I haven't gotten much writing done and my main character that's been a constant companion for years is fading. I'm in a funk and it's pushing her away. But I'm trying to not only bring her back but let go of everything else that is blocking her and the rest of the story from coming to fruition. But that's difficult. Because that means admitting to myself and the rest of the world that I'm a failure.

The root of my current funk boils down to me being a 26 year old who has nothing (other than my amazing and supportive husband) to show for herself. I can't hold down a job. I've got no children. I don't have a completed manuscript.  Since May 2007, I've gone through job after job and I'm now on my ninth in five years. I think my average is about 9 months per job.

There has been a common theme over the last few years that would reappear every time I would leave a job: "I'm miserable here. I don't really care about X in the grand scheme of things. This is not what I want to be doing with my life. I really want to focus on writing and pursue my passion. That is what matters to me." And things would be great for a little while. But able-bodied 20 somethings aren't supposed to stay home and write all day. They're supposed to have a "real" job that will pay the bills. So I'd find another job and try to write in my spare time and the cycle repeats.

I recently came to the conclusion that I'm going to break the cycle. My husband and I are finally getting to a place where we're financially stable. He has a secure, well-paying job that he loves. And he wants me to be able to look forward to work as much as he does. He just wants me to do what makes me happy. And I finally decided not long ago that I'm going to do that. I'm done coming up with hair-brained ideas for my next career that is finally going to be a perfect fit. I'm done working for someone else. I'm going to do what I love and I'm going to write.

Things were going well. Except for the fact that I never actually left my current profession, I just stopped going. (No, I didn't just stop going to work. Well, I did. But I recently started a new profession where I am an independent contractor. So although I have an office and a manager, they don't pay me a dime. I work for myself and I make the rules. Which was cool... until it wasn't.) And the last few weeks have been great. I haven't been happier. I've been productive. It's good stuff. But because all I did was walk away, I never actually "quit" my current gig, it's still lingering over my head and comes back every now and then. And when it does, all it reminds me of is the fact that I'm yet again, walking away from something that didn't work. And when thing after thing after thing doesn't work, you tend to start to feel like the common denominator.

(That's the spirit! Source.)

But I'm not the common denominator. Well, I am, sort of, but not in a bad way. I just need to stop making excuses and stop worrying about what everyone else thinks and just do what makes me whole. And that's writing. And that's okay. I'm blessed to have a supportive family that stands behind me and I'm going to make this happen. I just need to figure out how I'm going to finally pull the plug on that other thing...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Facing My Fears, Ripping Off the Band-Aid and Finding My Muse

I know it's been a couple days since the birth of my blog and this is only my second post. But I'm okay with that. I'm trying hard not to sweat it and just let it happen organically so I don't get stressed out and give up on it. And I'm still excited and motivated to A) keep this blog going but more importantly to B) dive head-first back into my manuscript. Which is awesome. (Not so much the manuscript right now. It's not finished and it's rough but it is a good start and I'm still excited to work on it. The awesome part is the urgency to write again).

I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I love to talk about it. I love to imagine myself doing it. I love to read about it. I love to plan to do it (when, where, how...). I love it in theory. And sometimes I love it in execution. But sometimes I hate it. No, hate isn't the right word. Sometimes I dread it. Not because it makes me unhappy or that I think I'm a poor writer. But I'm insecure in my talent and I'm afraid to face it head on. I can talk about writing to my friends and family all I want. But until I actually put fingers to keyboard and produce something, there is nothing to judge and therefore nothing to fear. But to have a completed manuscript in hand, it's concrete. My talent in black and white for all the world to judge see. *shutter* (Okay, really Stephanie. This is post #2 of a blog that no other person on the planet even knows about and you still panicked and minimized the blogger window when you heard your husband coming down the hall...) Alright, so I've got some work to do. Like not being embarrassed to sit down at the computer to compose when others are home and can catch you in the act leading to questions like "whatcha doing?" and "whatcha working on?"

But despite the fear inducing panic that comes with the hope of one day living my dream of being a writer, I still can't imagine doing anything else. I still love to write. I still love to get lost in my own head and brainstorm new characters, new stories, new worlds. And I really do love sitting at the computer and letting life flow from my fingertips and getting lost in a story.  I am an insecure woman by nature, but this is my passion. Writing is in my blood. I will face my fear and put all I have into this.

Well, this post took a turn. I had set out to share how excited I am that my joy is still outweighing the fear. I wanted to share the story of how I blew WAY too much money on frivolous office supplies at Target the other day all in the name of writing and creativity.


No seriously. I blew a good $50 on pens and note cards and journals... One of my favorite indulgences is to go into Office Max/Office Depot and wander in new office supply bliss for hours. That is my Toys R Us. By the way, am I seriously the only one who thought the two companies were owned by the same parent company? Their names, their logos, everything is so similar. I always thought Office Max was more the personal office supply store and Office Depot was more commercial/big business. Apparently not... 

But more importantly, I wanted to share how many pages of said journal are filled already with various tidbits, ideas, quotes and topics for this blog. That's exciting. I've got a good 12 posts lined up already to keep this thing alive (which is far more than I could ever say for the myriad other blogs I've tried before). And best of all, I wanted to share that my muse is back. My main character and her story have been lodged in my brain all week. New ideas and story lines are percolating and I couldn't be more motivated to follow my passion despite the vulnerability that comes with that.

So there, I just did share all those things with you and set out to complete what was my original post. But I feel like I've also moved into post #3 territory which was to revolve around being brave, following through and actually sharing this with the world. But my little pep talk came earlier than expected and, I suppose, there's no time like the present. (And I may not feel this brave again the next time I sit down to write). So here goes nothing. I'm officially sharing my blog on Facebook. No more hiding behind anonymity and obscurity. I'm forcing myself into the spotlight. (Be gentle.) 

(Taken from here)

Friday, May 25, 2012

And So It Begins...

This is my new blog. I say new blog because I've had a number of different blogs that I have started in the past which very quickly petered out.

What's that? If that's the case, why on Earth would I start another blog?

Excellent question! Because I'm weird and a glutton for punishment. And because despite my many failures previously, I still feel compelled to do so. Because this blog is going to be different. (But Stephanie, you said that about all of your other blogs too). I know, I know. But I mean it this time. (Yeah, you said that before too). No seriously, I mean it. (No seriously...) Oh shut up!

Well this is off to a grand start.

But it's true. Even though I've crashed and burned in the past, I still feel like I need to do this and I really do think this is going to be the one to make it. Why? Because I'm not hiding behind pithy personas and anonymity. Because I'm not over thinking it and freaking out about needing a gimmick. Because I'm not focusing on tertiary topics that really don't mean that much to me in the first place. Because... because I said so. Take that inner critic. And this:


That's right. What do you think of that?!

So this is my new blog. This is Stephanie Zarecki. This is me and my daily(ish) musings. Mostly on writing because that's my passion and what keeps me up at night. But I'm not stressing things. I'll probably go off on goofy tangents and chronicle the occasional shenanigan -- it's cool. I'm in this. For real. 
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