Tag Archives: writing

A Random Thought


Today I was talking about J.K. Rowling with my mom. I was talking about how great of an author she is, but author is not the word that came out. I (accidentally, I might add) invented my own new word and called her an authress

It got me thinking, why isn’t it author and authress? There actor and actress, waiter and waitress, host and hostess. I ended up googling the word and I can see some people have used it in posts, but why isn’t it a real thing?

This is the kind of stuff that runs through my brain when I haven’t had enough sleep. 

And how most models are too skinny. 

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I just did so much work on my novel!!

…is what I was thinking.  Then I realized I had only edited three pages.  Image

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To My Poet Friends…


I have so much respect for you.

Recently I’ve been having issues getting into my novel.  I just finished my first draft last week and now I have the usual slump of I-don’t-want-to-revise-all-of-this laziness.

So, following my “write every day” rule, I decided to try writing poetry.  I follow a lot of blogs that post only poems and I think every single piece I read is absolutely beautiful.

I sat down in my writing chair with a pen and paper and tried to start, but nothing happened.  Instead of doing my daily write I sat there for an hour staring at the blank page.  That page now has an impromptu sketch of my dog on it and I didn’t do any writing at all.


But now I truly realize just how amazing you all are.  Great work.

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Stephen King

Stephen King

“The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of because words diminish your feelings – words shrink things that seem timeless when they are in your head to no more than living size when they are brought out.”

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My Writing Process

My brain does not like to do what I tell it to.  

I can think up endless stories and worlds at any time of the day, but when it comes time to sit and actually write it down, it is a complete disaster.  My ADD only acts up when I actually try, so if I’m not working hard I have no issues.  Here’s a list of what my brain thinks I absolutely have to do in order to write.

1.) Wear comfortable pants.  

Or no pants at all.  I’m not one to wear sweatpants or leggings when I leave the house, but if I’m trying to write jeans are just out of the question.  My waistband is too tight, uncomfortable lines are digging into my thighs, etc.  So either it’s pants off or no work.  

2.) Get rid of the animal.

Mr. Kitty becomes at least 10x cuter when I have stuff to do.  He also becomes more loving. When I’m sitting on the couch watching a movie he hates me and tries to bite my face off.  But, when I sit down at my magical desk and tell him to leave me alone, all of a sudden his undying love for him must be pronounced via belly rub, ear scratches  etc.  Solution? I have close the door to my room and lock him out.  

3.) Fill the silence.  

Silence is killer for me.  I can’t even sleep in silence.  I always have an audiobook or soft music playing when I lay down at night to help lull me to sleep.  If I don’t, every item I need to put on my grocery list and every single thing I have to get done in the next month parades around my brain in a never-ending list.  Solution? I made a playlist of my favorite songs that I play every time I write.  I also have giant, super unattractive headphones to block out Mr. Kitty’s whining and scratching at the door.  This is actually the best thing I’ve ever done to increase my productivity.  

4.) Have snacks at the ready. 

It’s like magic.  As soon as I get 100 words into whatever I’m working on, hunger strikes.  Foods I don’t even like all of a sudden sound like the tastiest snacks on the planet.  So, whenever I sit down to write I always plan a snack to have nearby. 

5.) Set the thermostat.

If it’s too cold or too hot, just forget about it.  Nothing worthwhile is going to get done.

6.) Turn off the phone and the internet.  

No mom, it’s not a good time to talk.  No Meaghan, I can’t go get my nails done.  When I sit down to write I suddenly become the most popular person around.  Everyone wants to talk or go out only because it’s a bad time.  Any other time my phone lays silent on the counter and my facebook notifications remain at 0.  I find it extremely hard to say no to people, so I have to make sure they never even get ahold of me.  Sorry WordPress, but I have to block you too when I write.   

And if I get all of this done within a reasonable amount of time, maybe the I’ll actually get some good writing done.  Maybe.  

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John Sterns is diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (a co-diagnosis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), chronic depression and chronic anxiety. He describes a lifetime of fighting demons in this incredible essay:

I.  I hear voices (“auditory hallucinations”, technically). They come from all directions and fill my mind with hateful, self-destructive demands. One comes from above the crown of my head and commands, “You must die”. Another rests on my left shoulder and says, “You should be dead”. A third whispers insidiously into my left ear, “Kill yourself”.

But the most persistent and long-standing of my voices, which began when I was eight years old, pounds on my left shoulder like a jackhammer, repeating, “I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself.” It never ends. My response to this particular voice was to develop a permanent cringe in my right shoulder. I am now spending thousands of dollars to correct compressed discs in my neck that have caused me chronic pain for nearly 30 years.

Before my treatment, hospitalisations and incarcerations, these voices were all separate and distinct, with individual sounds, tones, rhythms and pitches. Now they are one voice—my voice. Once a chorus, they have become a soloist, though attacking me with the same message. Treatment has meant that I have finally found a “self”, a “me”, after four decades. But the me I’ve discovered is now my enemy.

II.  Not all voices are demonic. I once met a man who heard happy voices. I was walking down the hall of the locked ward in the hospital’s inpatient facility (“Club Head”, we called it) and a young man with dark curly hair approached me, staring into space, smiling, giggling, laughing. He turned his head to whisper to someone who was obviously not there. We passed each other and I heard him chuckle and say, “That’s very funny.” I knew he wasn’t talking to me–I hadn’t said or done anything–and I knew he was psychotic (I recognised the symptoms). At dinner that night I asked my roommate about the young man. “Oh, that’s Kevin,” he answered. “He hears happy voices.”

I immediately hated Kevin. I have been tormented with psychosis and delusions since I was four years old. To meet someone decades later who apparently relished the very same symptoms that have haunted me all of my life felt unfair, an abomination. I avoided Kevin. When I did run into him I wished him the worst voices—the kind that would finally push him over the edge. I wanted him to fall into the endless pit of suffering and pain where I have spent nearly every day of the last 40 years. This is wrong, I know, but I do not yet understand how to be both crazy and compassionate.

III.  During one hospital stay, we were encouraged to use art to express how we felt about ourselves, our illnesses, our pasts and futures. As a child I hated art classes. I was a disaster: my chronic anxiety led to constant sweating, which caused paints, pens, crayons and coloured papers to smear my young face, hands and clothing. The result was often a sickly green-grey mess, a melted miasma. By the third grade I received a free pass from all art classes through the remainder of my school years.

Art therapy required me to sit around a table with seven other inmates and a social worker, and stare at a blank piece of paper and a torn box of broken crayons. I didn’t want to draw anything. In fact, I didn’t want to think about my illness—not my past, my present and certainly not my future. After an hour the social worker announced that art therapy was done and we had to hand in our work. I turned in my blank sheet of paper and walked to the cafeteria for lunch. I told myself I had made an existential statement. Blank was as good as it gets.

The next day brought another art therapy session and once again I turned in a blank sheet of white paper. That afternoon I was called to meet with the social worker who guarded the art therapy class.

“John,” she began ominously, “you are failing art therapy.”

I misheard her, clearly. How can one fail art therapy?

“Unless you make more of an effort,” she continued gravely, “you will not pass. You will not be released.”

The conversation was obviously over.

I returned to my bedroom and considered this exchange. Being called a failure did not surprise me. I am a failure—that I already knew. It was the “You will not be released” part that grabbed my attention. I wanted to be released. Club Head has its advantages: shelter, a bed, meals and the suspension of disbelief for all the problems I’ve caused, the troubles I face, and the remorse, disappoinment, disgust and fear I will feel for hurting others. But I missed my wife and son, so I resolved to make more of an effort during art therapy over the next few days.

So I draw. And draw, and draw some more. Colours fill the pages and I am the most prolific crazy art-therapy inmate ever to grace the hospital floor. Over the next two days I draw and colour geometric shapes, which I had calculated would be safely “meaningful”. My favourite drawing was a rough outline of the state of Alaska that I call “All-I-Ask-Ya”. It has the city “Nome” plotted on the map.

But at the end of each class, I felt sad. The drawings meant nothing to me. I was not using art to express myself. I didn’t even know what that meant.

After three days I was told that I had passed art therapy and would be moved to the open ward. A victory. I didn’t tell them that I still had auditory, visual and kinesthetic hallucinations, paranoid delusions and daily thoughts of suicide. That would mess things up.

John Sterns lives with his family in California, takes five psychotropic medications daily and works as the marketing manager for a leading American commercial real-estate brokerage firm

(source: http://www.moreintelligentlife.com/story/being-crazy-noisy)

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