Hey Writer, What Do You Need?

I wasn’t looking. Something happened. I wrote several posts, titled them, and then a theme showed up when I looked back. The titles all started with the same word and had a certain “feel” to them. Have you noticed? It was so obvious I added a category in the sidebar (see “Writers Series”).Writers, What Do You Need? (apple, books)

If it’s a theme and I’m going to be known for it, let’s call it out. Sometimes I put on the “teacher hat” when I sit down to the keyboard. This doesn’t surprise anyone who knows me well, and it certainly doesn’t surprise the boys I schooled at home for most of their lives. *grin* I’m a teacher-type person. I own it.

I’m perfectly aware I won’t have answers to every writerly thing, but I’m really curious—what is it that you, writer, find to be your biggest challenge? What is it the writing community most needs? What should we be talking about?

Inquiring minds want to know. (I definitely do!) If you’ll take a few seconds to share your biggest writing struggle, I promise I will read it. I’ll read each and every one and try to respond personally! I may share your struggle, or I may think about the ways I can offer support and encouragement. Just know you’ll be heard (uh, read!), and I’ll respond.

Are you willing?

Comment below or send me a quick e-mail (whatever makes you feel comfortable). I want to hear what’s on your mind and heart. I want to know what makes you as a writer think or pause.

Thanks for engaging!

~Jennifer

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Hey Writer, Mind the Margin

Speed. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? A drawn-out sigh escapes when the laptop takes longer than a few seconds to boot. Four minutes is forever when the microwave turntable holds a potato. Red lights are always too long as we hustle from one thing to another in our booked-solid schedule. Once upon a time the drive was precious thinking time—creative, playful, plot twist and storyline exploration time—it’s nothing like it was. Rush hour traffic stole it all away, then the rush hours’ intensity and anxiety bled into every part of the day.

Wait. No, really—wait.

The writer’s mind should be tended, cared for with gentleness and respect. Honestly, this is for writers, but it’s not just about writers. Don’t we all find our RPMs too high every so often, or too often? There’s noticeable wobble happening at a certain point. (Don’t make me out to be a liar. You experience this too, right?)

It starts innocently enough. Where did I leave that _______? Why am I in this room? (I was looking for something.) Ooops! I really meant to be there, but I never got the meeting into my calendar. The deadline is when? You get the picture. My though process gets loose and disorganized; and forgetfulness begins to sprawl, affecting more and more brain cells. When I notice these things, it’s time to take the early warning signs seriously.

Additionally, I find the important, scheduled things in my days are dismissed or overlooked altogether. I have a favorite morning practice that feeds my mind and soul. When I see I’m rushing off without some quiet, focused time in the morning, that’s a  serious sign that I’m living too fast.

Writers are mindful of the margin because there are guidelines for assignments, papers, projects, and contest and publishing submissions. The white space is not only necessary but also clearly directed. The reader’s eye and writer’s mind need white spacend the writer gives the margin a close look when red ink feedback is found there.10 2018 Margin jjhowe

Back to the white space in life. The mind needs margin rest. We like to think we can be high-capacity people with off-the-charts productivity. While hard work is necessary and even recommended six days of the week, rest is critical. I even press for something a little more gentle—white space within the day for your mental, physical, and spiritual well being.

The care and feeding of the mind and soul of a writer should include white space in life. That slow (read: boring) time in the schedule allows for creativity not found in frenetic activity. It feeds the mind, and that feeds the theme paper, creative project, or good words a writer hopes for.

More importantly, the writer’s soul needs tending. The good words flow from the soul that is rested, fed, and well-loved. The writer who leans into the emotional state to create needs a stable soul to share the vital message or story that resides deep inside. To share significant, meaningful content, the writer must have significant, meaningful “stuff” inside. That, my friend, comes from reading and thinking and precious relationships.

In my life that comes from reading life-changing, truth-filled words in my Bible, thinking about how I live my life differently because I read that, and talking about the truths with God and good friends. That fills my soul! I wonder what fills yours.

I hope this helps you begin to plan the margin, the beautiful white space, in your schedule. I’m betting, if it’s not planned, you’ll never fit it in. Nature and schedules abhor a vacuum.

Feeling bold? Share how you plan to adjust your margin below. This could be really helpful for those who struggle to know how to make a schedule that feeds and cares for the body, mind, and soul.

Thanks for reading!

~Jennifer

Hey Writer, Feed the Mind

Typewriter_Iván_Melenchón_Serrano_MorguefileHello, beautiful writer friends!

I’ve been thinking about the small steps we might take in our writing journey. The question of the day is this—What am I doing today that will feed my writer soul?

No idea what that might be? Sometimes we forget the building blocks of our writer souls, but I’ve got some ideas. Try some of these:

  • Read something today (learn about craft, storytelling, successful writing strategies; notice the signage around you; try reading an encouraging blog, thread, etc.).
  • Observe the characters surrounding you today (their appearance, mannerisms, obvious emotional states).
  • Observe the environment around you (notice the floor plan, decoration, building materials).
  • Listen closely to the casual dialog that surrounds you (vernacular, tone, communication styles, emotions conveyed).
  • Imagine telling a short story about the moment you’re sitting in right now (find the significance in the moment, even if it seems boring).

Just some thoughts for you today. Remember that you can always think like a writer, even when you’re not actively adding words to the count.

Thanks for stopping by. If you’re feeding your writer soul and mind in a fresh way, share what that is for you. We can all use the encouragement and fresh ideas! Comment below, share at the Facebook page or Tweet away!

~Jennifer

First Memory

I’ve been thinking through my story, and I thought I’d try to capture my earliest memory. I couldn’t help but share it with you.

For those who need a heads up, this story involves a young child and a pool. You know it turns out okay because I’m able to tell the story all these years later. Just wanted you to know.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this piece. Comment below or at my author page on Facebook.

~j


Brilliant cerulean surrounded her. Everywhere—to the left, right, and below—shades of the prettiest blue sparkled and danced before her eyes. Hypnotic shapes flitted here and there, and her eyes followed, fascinated. The visual hustle contrasted everything else.

Time froze as she gracefully drifted in the blue. Her plump little hands floated effortlessly until she tried to move them. What’s happening? she wondered. Everything feels so heavy.

Strands of fine, chestnut hair crept in front of her eyes, obscuring the view of the pretty dancing shapes. A shake of the head only drew the tangles of hair closer to her face, gently wrapping with the lightest feather touch.

Loud, incoherent, muffled voices bounced around with the blue shapes.

Captivating and confusing. In the middle of it all, beautiful silver-edged beads grabbed her attention and skittered upward in hasty, wiggly paths. She tried to keep her eyes on them through the spaces in the gliding, ever-spreading dark hair haze. Pretty! she thought, and she reached too-slow fingers through the heavy blue to catch the sparkles. They raced up and out of sight, up there.

The blues stopped at the edge of “up there” where blotches of color boldly wiggled and swelled and blended into fresh confusion. Partly obscured and partly diced by brown hair strands, up was a new, short-lived fascination. Gray-blue, white, greens, browns, and little shocks of color fought for space together in the wavy “up there.”
This isn’t right! Mommy, where are you? I want my mommy!

“Mo—!” she opened her mouth to let out a yell, but the pretty blue stifled her cry and tasted awful.

The seconds jump-started to a sprint.

Suddenly, out of the “up there” a warped silhouette broke through the mix of colors, shattering them into a million pieces. The hand appeared, decorated with the same shiny beads. Some of them were caught on the underside of the palm until they, too, ran upward in their squiggly paths. Scary and intrusive, this hand interrupted the confusion. She recoiled from the noise but didn’t complain when she felt the strong tug that pulled her through the heavy dancing blues toward “up there” and into the bright, sunny day she’d fallen out of.

Gasp! Cough! “Mommy-y-y-y-y!” she cried in a wavering screech.

Two large hands caught her up and plopped her down a little hard. Hair tangles covered her eyes until the big hand brushed them aside. The cement patio was warm and bit at her soft, pudgy legs and bottom. Water droplets ran down her arms and legs. Between coughs and distraught breaths, the air was good and right. Familiar faces surrounded her, but the one closest wasn’t the one she wanted. Tall, sun-bleached blonde and tanned, Mr. Leon owned the pool she would remember in vivid detail for the rest of her life. As he quickly assessed the two-and-a-half-year-old’s condition, Mommy and Daddy hovered.

Sniff. Sniff. All she wanted was her mom.

“Mommy!” She got up and hustled around the man she barely knew to the blonde woman in pigtails who waited anxiously with a towel. A soft, warm, too-thin towel wrapped around her three times over. She cuddled in Mommy’s lap in a long deck chair, sniffling hot summer air between the smelly water droplets crawling down her nose. Then she fell asleep.