Build: Five Minute Friday

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I’m getting my butt kicked by my February schedule.

Can you relate?

For some reason I keep double-booking myself even with my efforts to keep a bullet journal. There just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. That’s why it is even more important than ever to build into that schedule some time for me.

A few months ago my husband and I agreed on an arrangement that allowed both of us ample time to focus on our hobbies. On an ideal day, we would each get ONE HOUR to ourselves. For him, it would look like a run to the gym or a drill session with five basketballs. For me, that time would be sitting in front of the computer like I am right now and allowing myself some time to write.

Now, it doesn’t happen this way every day.

There are days when my kiddos interrupt that time and days when my husband never makes it out the door. But, our goal is to make this time a priority every day.

As parents it can be so easy to lose ourselves. I could spend over half a day cleaning messes or changing diapers. But one thing I’ve learned after six years of this gig is that I am a much better mom when I’ve taken some time to focus on  me.

I am thankful for a husband who is supportive and encourages me to take that time.

I am grateful for a daughter that understands when Mom is writing she really needs to be left alone.

This ONE HOUR trade-off with my husband has helped to curb my anxiety and given me a renewed sense of purpose in writing. I’ve taken time to dream again. I’ve taken steps toward reaching that dream. And I’ve begun feeling more accomplished than ever.

How do you build time for yourself during the day?

*This post is part of the Five Minute Friday prompt for the week. Be sure to check out the link in order to see other positive writer’s explore the same word prompt.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Resistance

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This blog actually started in 2015 in response to resistance. I was going through emotional turmoil. In my trial I found myself filling journal upon journal with my thoughts. Then one day I decided to play around with writing some of these ideas on a blog site. Before I knew it friends and family were commenting with positive feedback. They helped me to feel like my words made a difference.

I had been a closet writer for a long time, but putting my work out there was scary.

Apart from 2017 when I was pregnant, I’ve been consistently posting on this blog ever since.

As a result, I’ve met so many awesome people and been encouraged in my journey to continue to write. My words are being read and do matter to people out there. And it’s for that reason that I’ve continued to come back day-after-day to this place.

The Ameri Brit Mom is a place where I can be real. I can leave the negativity at the door when I enter my writing space. My community is positive and make me a better writer every day.

I am so thankful that I overcame that resistance.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Write One Short Story a Week…

“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”― Ray Bradbury

Sounds easy enough.

Short stories could be something as short as 500 words, so how hard can that really be? Well, I’m here to say that for me a short story a week is far from what I’ve achieved over the years. In fact, I’ve probably finished six short stories EVER.

The writing world is full of “professionals” trying to give inspiration to other writers. They mean well when they talk about their own magic formula, but writing is not a tried-and-true craft. What works for one writer may not work for another. We all live different lives, write different genres, and use different methods to reach success.

When I first started writing I was tempted to follow the formula of other writers, but I have since learned that every writer is unique. Additionally, every phase of the journey is unique. What works early in the writing process may not be the best rule to follow as you grow.

Adaptation is imperative for the writing life. If you find a formula that works for you it may not always be that way. If you are still trying to build a system keep the focus on yourself. Ray Bradbury’s method of a short story a week obviously worked well for him. He was a renowned author and his pieces were influential in so much of the sci-fi genre. He’s not a name soon forgotten. I wrote a post about him a few years ago because I am a fan. (5 Reasons to Read Ray Bradbury) But I am not Ray Bradbury. I cannot beat myself up for struggling to produce a short story per quarter (that’s my current goal.)

Gabriela Pereira, founder of DIY MFA, says it best when she explains that the only rule for writing is that there is no rule.

What about you? Have you ever found yourself tempted to take someone else’s advice?

The Ameri Brit Mom

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What Feeds Your Creativity?

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I just watched an inspiring TEDx talk by Gabriela Pereira, founder of DIY MFA. In it she discusses the fact that our human nature makes us creative beings. (Side note: our Father is the ultimate Creator and we were formed in his image.)

We can become our own biggest obstacles, but at our core we all have a story or creative spark to share with the world. Our responsibility to ourselves is to put in the work daily that helps us to channel that creativity.

For me, that creativity is in the form of  writing.

The passion I have for telling stories is strong. That passion has led me to study and practice the craft  nearly every day. I’m working on my next steps as a writer by working through the DIY MFA Book Club.

After reading some of Gabriela’s advice I put together a “Feed Me” box. This is a box of things I use to spark my creativity. For years I’ve had go-to resources, but it is always a refresher to see what others use to help them create.

I gathered all of my resources into one box and am excited to share that with you.

You could really put anything in your box. For me, I have several prompt related resources, an adult coloring book, dice, and random pictures.

Another item that feeds my creativity is coffee.

With mellow music playing in the background and a fresh cup of coffee in front of me there isn’t much I cannot conquer. When I’m writing lesson plans at school I create a similar environment.

What gets your creative heart pumping?

The Ameri Brit Mom

My Writing Superpower

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The Underdog:

You are the quintessential underdog storyteller and your superpower is creating relate-able characters who have a deep desire to change something in themselves or in the world around them. From rags-to-riches narratives to epic David-and-Goliath-style battles you craft stories with high stakes and compelling characters your readers can’t help but love.

What about you? Take the quiz

The Ameri Brit Mom

Honor Your Reality

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My writing journey hasn’t been a linear one. There have been months of motivated writing sessions and others where I’ve nearly fallen off the map. I’ve taken detours and shortcuts. I’ve even abandoned route several times. While my mind cursed itself for losing focus I’m learning that in those times life needed to come first.

When my heart was breaking for those I love.

When my body was growing a baby.

When work zapped all of my energy.

When anxiety crippled me.

Those are moments in my reality when I set the pen down and just lived. Getting through each day was hard enough I couldn’t push through word counts and pages as well. Some call it survival mode–those days when you do the bare minimum in order to keep your sanity. I’m a human and I find myself on the survivor’s path every now and again.

If you have followed my blog for a couple of years you will remember the year I took off in 2017. My energy was focused on growing my family and my health. I did write here and there, but I put no pressure on myself to produce things for other people to read. I journaled every now and again, but I took that year for ME. Life was changing and my soul was aching. I didn’t live that reality on the page of my blog because it wasn’t the encouraging me that I hope to be as an online writer.

Luckily, that period didn’t last forever.

I returned in June 2018 with a venegence. Strengthened by the trials I resurrected my presence in the writing world. I re-established goals, re-appeared on my blog, and started to think of myself as a writer again.

There will be a day where once again I will have to step away.

We go through periods where the path has been cleared and we can focus on the road before us. Other times, we have to clear that path before we can go any further. We are not robots. We have souls that need rest.

So give yourself some grace. If you find yourself walking through a storm in your personal life it is okay to put your writing life on hold (or at least in neutral.) We have to honor the reality of life. It’s okay!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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I’m working my way through a DIY MFA program based on the book DIY MFA by Gabriela Periera. Throughout the course and book study I will be posting periodically in response to prompts

The Intentional Arc: Fearless Writing

It’s a frigid January day in Ohio.

The temperatures are dipping below zero and ice is coating roads, homes, and vehicles. It’s one of those days when my soul craves a book, blanket, and coffee. Here’s to hoping that the mom life will give me a chance to do all of those things today. But if not, I’m going to reflect on the latest chapter I read in Fearless Writing by William Kenower.

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Have you ever thought about the fact that every act of communication is also the act of story telling?

A phone call home. A status update. A text to your spouse. A smile.

All of these tell a story.

And every story is told from a specific point-of-view. It is our interpretation of facts. For that reason a story is never completely factual. There’s a little bit of fiction in every thing we do. Our minds work to fill in blank pieces or perspectives that we can never know.

Writing is a lot like telling a story. No matter what kind of writing you do there are three arcs that lurk below the surface of every tale:

  1. The Physical Arc– this is the what of the story. The events, characters, setting and plot all comprise the physical arc.
  2. The Emotional Arc– this is the element of the story that traces a character’s motivations and desires. The how of the story is formed by the emotional arc.
  3. The Intentional Arc– this is the why of the story. Every decision you make as the author of a story comes back to this arc. What is the take away you hope to accomplish? What greater truth do you hope to point to? How do you want your reader to be changed after having read your story?

If you keep the intentional arc of your story at the forefront of your mind nothing else matters. You filter every decision through the sieve of your intentions. There are organic ways to carry this out in your writing. It should never seem forced. But returning to this arc again and again will help you to write fearlessly.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Origins

My earliest memories as a writer were journals of misspelled words and imaginary characters. They were learning to grip a pencil and writing until my fingers bled. They were thumbing through the pages of books in my bedroom. Before I read a single book by myself I had penned my own creations.

Growing up, my parents taught me the value of trips to the bookstore and library. And once I was reading on my own I wanted to read EVERYTHING. I loved the characters, settings, and beautiful artwork on the covers.

I was the weird kid that spent hours sorting through my books in my bedroom. The room itself may be a wreck, but that bookshelf was always in order. Stacks upon stacks of picture books soon morphed into shelves of chapter books. And as much as I loved to read I was also inspired to produce my own stories.

If I watched a movie that I didn’t like I would rewrite the ending. If I loved a series I would create my own installment. My parents still have totes of my old notebooks in their basement. It was an obsession. I can remember them joking that I always needed a notebook, but it was truth. And they always provided for my hobby.

I owe a lot to them. I was blessed to have educators and intellectuals for parents. Both of them still read and encourage me in my own journey as a writer.

Now, as I inch closer to the end of my twenties I am still an avid reader. My oldest daughter is six and already reading chapter books. I’d like to think that I’ve fostered some of those same desires in her that my parents passed down to me. Just yesterday she sat with me and we each journaled about our day in our own notebooks.

I’ve only had one poem published in a traditional market, but my dream of becoming a published author is not dead. I’m continuing to pray and believe that one day a novel with my name on the cover will make it through the wolves. But for me it is all worth so much more than that. Even if I never see that dream realized I am still a writer.

I don’t write for anyone but myself.

I don’t do it for fame, money, or recognition.

I do it because there are stories within me waiting to be lived. If I don’t give them space to breathe then I cannot be satisfied.

I’m a busy mom, teacher, wife, and WRITER.

The Ameri Brit Mom 

I’m working my way through a DIY MFA program based on the book by Gabriela Periera. Throughout the course and book study I will be posting periodically in response to prompts. 

 

 

Fearless Writing: Accuracy

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The worst motivation for writing is to please other people. In fact, people are never really pleased to the level of your expectations when your goal is their acceptance.

As human beings our preferences are unique to each of us. Some people will pick up a book and absolutely love it while others read the same text and loathe it completely. We all read with our own experiences to draw from and because of our differences we come away from the same piece with original opinions.

You cannot please everyone. It is an impossible goal. Much like last week’s discussion on Writing What You Love you need to give yourself the freedom to write things other people might hate. You rob yourself of creativity when you care about the reader as you write. Your job as the author is to transcribe for a reader not to make them love every word you use.

In this chapter, William Kenower offers some replacements to “Is my writing good?” Instead he suggests asking these two questions after each session, “What did I want to say?” and “Have I said it?”

The answer to those two questions is objective. It is not based on someone else’s viewpoint therefore setting you up for rejection. As authors we must, “set aside the notion that you will ever write something so good that everyone in the world will like it and no one will criticize it.” (Kenower 59)

Practice: Start Documenting your preferences.

Since we are all unique it is important to figure out what works and doesn’t work for you. Find a way to document writing that you love and writing that you cannot stand. Then, evaluate what it is about that piece that you like or dislike so strongly. Knowing your own preferences can help you to develop a genuine voice as an author. That’s the goal…not pleasing others.

For me, in my new 2019 Writing Journal I am keep track of what I loved from books I am reading.

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The Ameri Brit Mom

Fearless Writing: A Writer’s Worst Fear

A couple of years ago I did a chapter-by-chapter review of several different books on writing. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is still one of my very favorite writing books. It’s been a while, but nine months after giving birth I am starting to feel like myself and ready to get back in the habit of writing on a regular basis. I ran to my bookshelf to Fearless Writing, a book I received last Christmas but haven’t had a chance to read yet.

Fearless Writing was written by William Kenower, Editor in Chief of Author magazine, he is most known for his teaching on the craft of writing. This book focuses less on craft and more on the thought-process necessary to develop in order to be a successful storyteller.

I look forward to re-establishing a weekly routine of cracking open a good book, sharing some thoughts, and practicing new skills. I will approach each week with some thoughts I had while reading the chapter and then I will also post my 5 minute practice that follows the prompt at the end of the chapter. I hope that these posts inspire you as a writer. Feel free to follow along with the prompts and if you should post in response on your own page I’d love for you to send me a link in the comments.

Welcome to Chapter 1.

A Writer’s Worst Fear

Most writers fight a battle before they ever touch pen to paper or open a new document on their computer. For some, the battle is in finding the time and space conducive for writing. But more often than not the battle is one waged within the mind of the writer. Its weapon of choice is doubt and it attacks every creative thought or ambition before it lands on the page.

The biggest fear affecting writers is What will other people think of my work?

It feels great to receive positive feedback. But when readers aren’t singing your praises after a heartfelt post, story, or chapter it can damage the confidence of the mind behind its creation.

Rejection is part of the process. If your writing is intended for anyone else to see there will be rejection–there is no question about it.

Writing fearlessly is all about approaching fears in a new way. Instead of allowing fear stifle your creativity use it to propel your writing into bold confidence. Start your writing with accepting the fact that someone will dislike what you have to say, but don’t let that become an excuse for censuring your creativity.

Writing is a highly personal venture.

Every writer picks up the pen with a different purpose. Every reader approaches a piece with their own experience and lens as well.

Getting beyond fear already puts you at a 1-0 record. And when you start your writing session with the mentality of a champion then fear is pushed down to its healthy dwelling place and your imagination has the license to embrace every idea.

5 Minute Practice- Create two characters. One is a confident, experienced writer while the other is struggling. Through their conversation offer advice to the struggling character. Then heed that advice yourself.

“Stacey, it’s so good to see you!” Mel reached around her friend’s back balancing the paper cup in her hand. “I’ve missed you so much.”

Stacey’s face emitted a small smile contrasting with that of her friend. Through layers of clothes and a large coat Stacey allowed the warmth of her friend’s embrace to throw off a little of the weight she was bearing that morning on the ride over to the coffee shop.

“Go ahead and order. I’ll find us a table.” Mel spoke as she left Stacey at the counter in search of an empty corner of the shop for the two to sit down and work.

What am I doing here? Stacey thought to herself. It’s been months since I’ve thought about writing. Why did I agree to meet Mel?

She allowed her eyes to browse the menu and settled on an order of hashbrowns, since she skipped breakfast, and a hot mocha to sip on as she worked. After placing her order Stacey joined Mel at a small table in the corner of the shop.

“Oh, it’s been so long. Tell me what is going on. How are the kids?” Mel jumped right in as Stacey peeled off her dark coat and pulled her laptop from her secondhand bag.

“The kids are great. Bill has them this morning so let’s hope they survive.” Stacey pretended that had been a joke and not the reality of her thoughts on the ride over. This was the first time she left Bill alone with both girls since Becca had been born nine weeks earlier.

“I’m sure all is well, Mama.” Mel chuckled. “I’m just so happy you could escape for a little girl time.” Mel pushed her paper cup to her lips as the waitress approached with Stacey’s order.

“I hope you don’t mind I ordered some food. I’m starving.” Stacey said apprehensively.

“Not at all. I get it.” Mel smiled. “So tell me about your work. Any new chapters since we’ve spoken?”

“Well, there isn’t much to tell.” Stacey began as she picked up her fork and weaved it through the shredded hash browns. “I haven’t powered-up my laptop in three months. Let’s hope I still have the magic today.” She placed a hand on the closed computer in front of her. The companionship she once shared with the device had been replaced by a layer of dust that she only removed that morning before packing up for the date.

“There’s nothing wrong with that, Stacey. And I’m sure as soon as you are ready all of your magic will return. I love your work and I cannot wait to read something new.” Mel encouraged.

Stacey smiled back doubt and shoved her mouth with a forkful of potatoes.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. We all go through seasons and even the best authors need some time away. Having a baby is a perfect excuse for taking a breather. It’s not like you’ve been sitting at home doing nothing. You’ve had a baby to feed and care for. I think you will find that the confidence will return and you’ll be back into it very shortly. How about coming with me this week to Writing Group? I’m sure seeing everyone again will help.”

The Ameri Brit Mom