One day at a time

One day at a time.

I practically live by this mantra. Thinking about the future sends me into a frothing frenzy of anxiety. Thinking about the past causes me to pick apart every little thing I’ve EVER done and cringe at how awful a person I am. So the only option left is to live right now, in the only moment I will ever be able to really live in. This one moment, this second and the next. Slowly. Breathe.

For the most part, this method of living does help but there are times where it makes things so much more difficult to navigate in life. For example, when living day to day, the day I’m living in becomes that much more important. Every single little thing that happens in that one day will have a bigger overall effect on me than it should.

A couple of harsh words can send me spiraling into an abyss with pain so great that I feel I don’t deserve–or want–to live anymore. It’s not over-dramatization. In that moment of time, I don’t want to be alive. That scares me, especially as I’m naturally afraid of death when I’m not consumed by mental anguish.

The same can be said for the happiness of a moment. When I close my eyes and I’m listening to my current favorite song, I am swept in that moment. I’m in the song, I’m following the notes, the lyrics, the voices. They’re taking me on a journey. I love those moments. I feel truly at peace.

One day at a time.

It sounds so simple and it can be quite effective but one needs to remember that it also has its pitfalls. There is no single way of living that doesn’t come with a few unpleasant side effects.

I just have to remember in stressful moments that I’m living that moment, that I can’t rely on the fact that tomorrow is a new day. Striving for that new day brings hope but it also doesn’t help me in the moment. I need to focus instead on the moment I’m in and to find ways to enjoy it, to remind myself that the things that are trying to crowd my mind and overwhelm me will all have THEIR own moment later. Not NOW. LATER. There’s no use in going into a panic attack about an upcoming test, not if I am still taking each moment as it comes. Arrange time to do that work and leave it in that moment.

It works for me most days but occasionally, I take a little tumble. I’ll be okay though.

Novel Updates

My novel’s up for critique and I’ve received several reviews already. I’m pretty excited about the direction of this novel. I’ve also commissioned artwork of the three main characters, so keep an eye out for those. I plan to link them here when they’re finished! In the meantime, check out this review excerpt:

I enjoyed reading this a lot. You immediately drop the reader into situation where there has obviously been a fair amount of action already having taken place—so I’m interested finding out how we got to this point—and clearly there’s a fair amount of action yet to come—which I also want to know.

Some Good Advice

Wow, I just saw this linked from a link in an article from Ongoing World’s Facebook page. I fell in love. I’ve been saying this kind of thing for ages but I usually rant in a pretty distinctly harsh way. This guy says it all in a positive tone. I love it! Here’s the link!

Prompts!

Well, I finished up the writing prompt that I can’t post yet. So now I’m thinking of picking up this one next:

Imagine Person A trapped in a time loop, forced to relive days over and over every time Person B dies. And B dies a lot. A has to keep saving them and at first tries to explain the loops to B, but after each rehearsed explanation, each drawn out conversation is erased by B’s many deaths, A eventually gives up and just works endlessly to continue each day a little longer until it might eventually stop.

Now imagine this from B’s perspective. B doesn’t know anything about the loops, doesn’t remember any of their deaths, only knows that A has become strangely overprotective lately—and that A looks so terribly weary.

It sounds like it could be pretty interesting. I think I’ll work on this one tonight! If you try it, post it in the comments. I’d love to see what you do with it.

*Prompt from OTP Prompts on Tumblr.

Soon!

October! It’s coming up really soon. My excitement not only comes from the fact that it’s now autumn but because the approaching Halloween holiday means even more inspiration for NaNo. I’m still not finished with the outline but I do have a few things picked out and a general direction/ending that I want to take the book. It should be an interesting ride!

Keep an eye out for previews and teasers (as well as a few building blocks along the way.) I also have another writing exercise to complete in the next few days but I can’t post it until after the event. Maybe I’ll make this one horror themed as practice.

Music and Writing

So why does music help me as a writer? I don’t have any cool sciencey answers for you but I can take a wild stab at why it works for me, personally. Basically, music has been in my life since before I was even born. My mother is a huge fan of music so in the womb, I was listening to her favorite rock gods–The Rolling Stones was the most notable for me, as they’re still one of my favorites today.

As a kid, I remember receiving a tiny pink handheld radio from my grandmother for a gift. I can’t remember if it was for my birthday or Christmas or whatever but I remember that I went everywhere with that thing. When I went to bed at night, I would hang it on my bedpost from its little pink wrist strap. I barely even remember the kind of music I listened to. A weird mix of korean pop, Michael Jackson, Elton John, and of course, my mom’s rock dudes.

I also wrote a lot as a young kid, although most of my tales were copying my own favorite stories, with my own spin on them. I remember hiding my tales from the adults but my mother and grandmother found one story at one time. One notable story from my younger years involved Floppy, my old stuffed dog, who accompanied me on many adventures. I even took him away with me to a show and tell at school! (And I still have him to this day.)

The two combined and now I love to write while listening to music. The music comes in many varieties. A favorite would be music without lyrics from various soundtracks, from movies to video games. There are also groups, like Two Steps From Hell, that make a lot of inspiring music without lyrics. These are great mood makers. Then there are angry rock songs for angry scenes and gentle love songs for romantic scenes. And there are soul crushing emo songs for sad moments. I listen to so many different genres of music that it really helps in the writing process.

I also tend to create soundtracks for characters. I have playlists for specific characters that I write the most. These lists grow the more I write with them and even now, songs associated with older characters still remind me of those characters!

I think music tends to color my writing and inspires the scene. So that’s why I write while listening to music.

Transient

The following is for a character prompt exercise. I was given five words to use in two paragraphs. I might have cheated a little with the one word dialogue paragraph. Shhh.

 

My words: School, tropical, glass, benefit, hands.

 

——–

 

Creak. The chair groaned and squeaked beneath him as he leaned forward, hands wrapping slowly around the glass sitting in front of him. How long had it been? Two whole years. Sobriety never did agree with him. I’m not getting drunk, he told himself. It’s just one drink. Amber liquid swirled as he lifted the glass to his lips, finishing off its contents. Ahh… He closed his eyes, head bowed. Clink. He pushed the glass back and away.

 

“Rory?”

 

He opened his eyes, tensing. His gaze darted to the side but he didn’t see anybody immediately in his field of vision. He did, however, scent something tropical in the air. Frangipani? Lucy used to school him on various flowers, tucking them behind his ear while her lips curved up in that knowing half-smile. He remembered frangipani because the name sounded so ridiculously made up. The only benefit? Frangipani happened to be one of Lucy’s personal favorites. Rory narrowed his eyes and turned to look over his shoulder.

Getting The Mojo To Write

Sometimes, I think the most difficult part of being a writer is getting the mojo–the get up and go, the inspiration–to actually sit down and write. I don’t know how many times I’ve poured myself a soda, positioned myself nice and comfy, turned on the “mood” music for the next chapter or post, and then found myself simply staring at the screen. Don’t we all have that problem? The worst part is, you then forget what it was that you were doing! You see all the pretty bookmarks you’ve managed to collect over the years and think “Ooh, maybe I’ll just check on so-and-so place, my facebook, my email, this forum…” and before you know it, a couple of hours have passed and you still haven’t written a damn thing.

I still haven’t found that magic bullet to cure writer’s block. Many writers say you need to power through it, write through the block. While that does work, what makes you write the first word on the page? And the second? The third? Admittedly, once I begin, it doesn’t seem so daunting a task. I’ve surprised myself by what I can accomplish within a scant hour or two of writing. That doesn’t stop the blocks from coming.

So, other than powering through, what else do you do? I find taking a step back also helps. (I know, conflicting advice FTW, right? Power through, take a step back.) It helps to move away from the computer and go watch a movie that inspires, listen to music that tells a story, or just plain take a long car drive. I don’t know how many brilliant ideas have popped into my head while driving out to Bakersfield. The drive combined with music is the best inspiration for me. Gives me time to actually listen to the music, rather than use it as mere background filler while I’m writing.

I also find that it helps to keep a notebook near the bed. My ideas love to strike when I’m drifting into sleep–or sometimes my dreams give me ideas that get my mojo running again!

There’s no getting around the fact that there are just days when nothing wants to be written, but don’t waste the time you’re not using to write. Observe what happens around you, ask questions while watching movies or television like “What would have happened if she wasn’t saved at the last second?” Ask yourself what the story might have been like told from a different perspective. Alter the ending of the movie!

So power through, take a step back, get inspired. There are so many stories waiting to be told; you have only to look for them. Decide how you want to tell the story, choose your protagonist carefully. Nobody said a story written in the perspective of the murderer’s cat would be boring.