How to get some writing done when you don’t feel motivated

You can find my initial post here. I would like to revisit that post and add some more thoughts.

“Sometimes getting myself to do any kind of writing is like trying to get a kid to eat his vegetables. You have to find creative ways to get the job done. Sometimes he eats them whole but sometimes you have to puree it. Sometimes it takes 2 minutes and sometimes it takes the whole day. Some days you’re grateful if you can get a spoonful in and if you have to follow that kid around with that spoonful until he feels like it, then that’s what you’ll do. The most important thing is to get the job by any means necessary. The how doesn’t matter.”

  • Don’t give up on yourself: Be patient with yourself.

I recently had a revelation. I am at least 10 times more patient and forgiving with people close to me than with myself. Being a big proponent of self-love, that hit me hard. If I am not patient with myself: who will? I owe it to myself to be patient with myself in the race for meaning and accomplishment. The same way I have to get along with my boss (to some extent) if I want to keep my job, I need to be patient with myself if I want to last long enough to accomplish all of those things I have set my mind to. Therefore I have to make a conscious decision to extend to myself the same love, courtesy and kindness I so freely and gracefully extend to people who sometimes are not even worth an ounce of my time. This is definitely one thing I plan on working on.

2) Track your progress and action: Keep a list of all of your accomplishments

Nothing can motivate you as much as realizing how far you’ve come, how much you’ve accomplished. But for that to happen you need to keep track of all of your actions no matter how little. When you do get discouraged, because it’ll happen, all you have to do to get pumped up all over again is whip out that journal or that excel spreadsheet with the recording of all of your actions. It’ll serve as a breath of fresh air. 

3) Follow your natural curve of your excitement

Sometimes when we have things to accomplish, we tend to want to force ourselves to  observe a rigid schedule and forget to be watchful of those moments during the day where we seem clearly more motivated for a particular task.

As an example, I use to work on my novel early morning and I kept that schedule for a good while thinking to myself I was definitely a morning person. But lately I have been noticing that during lunch time I seem to have a burst of energy and excitement. I also tend to have another burst of excitement after working hours not a long one but enough to get some stuff done and make me feel like I’ve worked for myself that day. As a result of this observation I’ve switched up my writing routine a bit to work a minimum of ½ hour  on my novel during lunch time and another 40 minutes after work. If there seems to be moments when I feel particularly more inclined to work on something, I don’t question it, I just run with it.

4) Start with 2 to 5 minutes

There are days when I can’t seem to motivate myself to do any writing. In those cases which happen more often than I would care to admit, I just tell myself:”Fabienne, just do 6 stretches of 5 minutes of writing at a time until you totaled 30 minutes and give yourself the whole day to do that”. Once I totaled 30 minutes of writing I go and reward myself by watching an entire episode of Hercule Poirot.

Sometimes getting myself to do any kind of writing is like trying to get a kid to eat his vegetables. You have to find creative ways to get the job done. Sometimes he eats them whole but sometimes you have to puree it. Sometimes it takes 2 minutes and sometimes it takes the whole day. Some days you’re grateful if you can get a spoonful in and if you have to follow that kid around with that spoonful until he feels like it, then that’s what you’ll do. The most important thing is to get the job by any means necessary. The how doesn’t matter.

Thank you for passing by and gros bisoux!

Goal setting for 2019

“Staying the same has now officially become more painful than the actual act of changing:  I am proud to say I have exhausted my options as a loser. “

First of all, I thank God to have made it this far, almost the end of the year. I know I do sound like I am receiving an Oscar but getting to the end of 2018 truly does feel like receiving an Oscar indeed! Actually every day above ground deserves an Oscar:).

I am so excited for 2019, I started compiling a list of things I’d like to be more intentional about.

I know what you’re thinking: It’s not 2019 yet. I know but I just want to start taking a look at what I want to better for the coming year as 2018 draw to a close.

Year 2019: Theme

The theme of the year is ACTION, PROGRESS and TEAM WORK. I know what you’re thinking: My baby is all grown up now (insert tears emoji).

In 2019, I will move in pack. There’s power. Nobody gets left behind!

“Most of the times we plan with the higher self in mind and forget about our lower self-sabotaging self. We have a plan to do but we have no plan for when we refuse to do even after we swear we would do.”

Writing group

The older I get the more I realize the power of accountability, so many things we did growing up we simply owe to our parents being on our back 24/7 double checking on us. There is power in having someone to report to. Someone to makes us do what we want to do.

Barbara Sher said it best: “Isolation is a killer of dream”. Nothing can motivate you more than a group of people who are bent on making it and who refuse to give up on you. I’d like to build a network of people who writes and are even more serious with their writings as I am with mine. There’s a lot of motivation to be had in such groups. There truly is power in numbers. It keeps you motivated, focused and accountable.

Among things that are on my radar: QWF (Quebec writer’s federation) shut up and write sessions. These are intense writing sessions where writers of different levels and at different stages meet and write. I also want to set up other writing sessions with writer friends.which means I need more writer friends.

Progress tracking

I’d like to start tracking my actions/progress. A lot of time I get discouraged thinking I haven’t made any progress at all or very little because I have no record of my progress or actions. I want to change that, I want to be able to have a clear view of what I have accomplished as the year unfolds.

Accountability

Who’s going to make sure I do what I said I am going to do?

Most of the times we plan with the higher self in mind and forget about our lower self-sabotaging self. We have a plan to do but we have no plan for when we refuse to do even after we swear we would do. I suppose that’s what societies have laws : to make sure their citizens do what they swear they’re going to do.

Why am I doing all this? Why all this motivation all of a sudden? What has changed? Don’t get me wrong, changing is still very much painful. It is just that staying the same has now officially become more painful than the actual act of changing. I also feel like I have exhausted my options as a loser. I honestly didn’t think it was possible but yet, here we are. Looking back you’d think I was trying to earn an Oscar. Also I feel like my belief as a writer has somehow solidified a bit more. One thing for sure :I want to do. I want concrete and tangible progress.

Next week I am planning on going into more details wit h tools and other bits of planning I want to add to my arsenal. Gros bisoux and thank you for passing by:)

What makes for a satisfied and memorable meal: Writing about food using all your senses.

I recently signed up for a food writing class and it’s been a blast! Lately I’ve been trying to spice up my writing and attack the whole process from a different angle which is why I’ve specifically signed up for the class. Here is an excerpt of the class introduction on the QWF (Quebec writer’s federation) site:

“But it isn’t just what’s on our plates that we write about when we write about food. As the famous American food writer M.F.K. Fisher once wrote: “It seems to me our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it… and it is all one.” 

As a first  generation immigrant, food is a way for me to carry a bit of my culture’s ADN with me wherever  I go and being able to hopefully pass some of it down to my children some day. I am Haitian and the surest way to kill me is to prevent me from eating rice or all sort of grain for that matter. You do that and you’ll have my death on your conscience :). I was raised on grains, healthy grains that is. I have been eating that stuff since I was a baby! In fact, in Haiti, we don’t really have food specifically dedicated to babies, except for the occasional Gerber baby pot which is not used that often. Our version of baby food is usually a mash version of adult food except that it’s packed with a lot more food designed to fortify and nourish like spinach, carrots, bananas, beans, plantains, etc.,. All of this is introduced as soon as the doctor allows solid food.

“Food is not just about fuel and sustenance. It’s about people and places and the history behind those people and places. It’s about a mood, a specific time and place coupled with a specific emotion…”

Throughout the class, one question that keeps coming up time and time again is: What makes for a happy, satisfied and memorable meal? Is it the people we share it with? the emotions and memories it evokes long after the experience is gone? Is it a specific time and place? I am inclined to think it is all of the above.  Food can carry so much memories, so much meaning fueled with faces and places and emotions. In class, we are encouraged to use all of our senses when writing a piece of food review.

Our third class was about food photography. For this class, our teacher prepared a tray full of all kinds of sins worthy of a game of throne gathering. Here is a pic below. It is not one of my best because we were pressed for time and my phone was dying:

Mood: “A lazy Friday night in with sex on the menu and possibly a few episodes of Game of thrones…”

Taste: “This bread right here tasted like the first day of Spring after a long harsh winter…” and yes I am on a low-carb diet 🙂

I came to this class to better my writing and instead it’s been like a trip down memory lane and a reminder of my roots. Our exchange in class makes me realize food is one of the few small pleasures we can all enjoy to some degree. A way to make life more full and happy. Since starting the class, I try to be more appreciative of what I eat and enjoy it a bit more more and not rush it. I am also happy to report writing scenes demanding a  great deal of description  in my novel has gotten a lot better and easier. I now feel like I have the right tools to progress in the right direction.

Thank you for passing by and don’t forget to comment, like or share this article. Gros bisoux!

 

 

 

When I don’t feel like writing, I read these quotes:

Hi peeps just want to share with you a few quotes that have been keeping me sane for the past few weeks: Hope you enjoy them as much as I did and refer to them often. Here we go:

On not feeling like writing and waiting for motivation to kick in, this quote is my all time favorite:

“You are never going to feel like it. Ever.”

Mel Robbins

I used to think if a book is beautifully written, it is automatically guaranteed to be published until I read this quote from Ginnie Sayles

On putting the work necessary to be fulfilled: Pursuing meaningless goals while meticulously avoiding putting in the work in order to find true fulfillment for your true hear’s desire. In other word trying to escape your own good:

“When we are afraid to pursue our true heart desire we hide out from ourselves. We hide out in jobs that are not really who we are and that are not fulfilling. Oh, we may fill up our lives with lots of interesting ‘activities’ and interesting people and we may enjoy all of them on some level but by and large a deeper ‘core’ satisfaction is missing.” Ginnie Sayles, How to write a book in 3 weeks

 

”…Publishers are not in the business of publishing books, they are in the business of making money. The sooner you accept this truth, the less confusion you will have about writing books..” Ginnie Sayles, How to write a book in 3 weeks

It is easy to forget that far more than talent, good writing is a skill that can be developed if you have enough passion for it. At times when I feel I am not skilled enough or good enough a writer and I get discouraged, I read this quote:

…”A book can be brilliantly written but if publishers think it will not sell at a profit, then it will not get published, no matter how beautifully written it is is. Conversely , a mediocre manuscript—-or even a trite one—-that has a good market (people to read it) ready and waiting—will be published immediately. That is because publishing houses have a staff of editors who can whip a mediocre manuscript into shape in no time and sell it. This knowledge should make you feel better! Why? because it means that you do not have to write a masterpiece—which means you can stop prejudging your book as not good enough—-because it does not have to be good enough, just marketable. “

Ginnie Sayles, how to write a book in three weeks

When I need to put failure in perspective:

“…Not taking a a risk is dangerous because we risk never knowing the joy of fulfillment…….Hiding out from ourselves deprives us—and in the end not taking a risk to be who we are is the only true risk, the only failure….”

 

THE SADDEST ART CLASS I EVER TOOK

“What we often call art or see as magic usually hides a debilitating amount of work.”

I’ll never forget the day I attended my first drawing class. I know it sounds like I am about to relate a death scene but I can’t help it. I’ve always wanted to learn how to draw but somehow never got around to it. In retrospect considering how long it took me to actually set foot in an actual art class I am forced to recognize that maybe I just wanted to indefinitely entertain the idea of drawing. Nevertheless the day of the class I was so excited  I could hardly wait to leave work. In fact I spent so many hours daydreaming about it I actually forgot to buy art supply and had to borrow a sheet of paper from a couple of lovely classmates. I could already picture my drawings leisurely hanging on every wall of our little home with friends and family deeply impressed and throwing around sentences like “Oh my God, you did that? You are so talented” with me trying really hard to fake that deep layer of intelligent detachment usually required from famous show dogs. Sadly those happy dreams were to be savagely crushed.  I was the first one to arrive and found a stern-looking little lady arranging class materials. I prayed to God she was just a very helpful student and not the actual art teacher I’ve fantasized about about the entire time.

“The art teacher looked more like a retired math teacher from the 50’s.”

You see I was either expecting this:

Idris-Elba
“What an art teacher should look like…”

OR this:

Why can’t my art teacher look like this…

Prayer unanswered. The art teacher looked more like a retired math teacher from the 50’s.

“…She asked us to draw a second shoe…. I ended up drawing something that couldn’t possibly come out of a healthy human mind…”

Moving on to the actual setting. The classroom was located at the very end of an extremely long and impersonal corridor. This corridor was so bleak it could easily qualify as a star feature in a big-budget horror movie. I was clearly not expecting pictures of grand masters hanging down the walls but a couple of students artwork could have added some much-needed appeal. The classroom itself was a very large and cold-looking room with class materials heavily piled up in a remote corner. There were big windows but a tall and dull building was blocking the view.  A large and square table sat in the middle of the room like a sacrificial stone in a dark dungeon.  

More details on the teacher. There was no whimsy, no magic at all in the way she dressed. I mean you’re an artist for God sake! Do something out of the ordinary even if it is just wearing your clothes inside out! Her look and matter-of-fact behavior was a giant slap to my tortured artist spirit. If you’re short of ideas at the very least throw a can of paint on your shirt, forget to wash it and wear it the next day. I was open to the possibilities of meeting a free spirit but what I had in front of me did not in any shape or form represent my idea of what an art teacher should look like.

“I blame those movies featuring stylishly starving artists lugging around big portfolios that look like they’re smuggling giant pita breads.”

She took the magic out of the entire thing. I felt slightly rushed. I mean I thought we were going to do some theory first like talking about the grand masters and possibly crack the mystery behind Mona Lisa smile but sadly that was not to be. She reviewed the class material and put us to work right away. Isn’t art supposed to be magic or something? Or maybe the magic only happens after years of practice. But then again isn’t it always like this in real life? What we often call art or see as magic usually hides a debilitating amount of work.

As practice, she asked us to pick a shoe from a giant shoe pile and try to draw it. I somehow ended up with a drawing of the magic school bus. She asked us to draw a second shoe. This time around, setting all dignity of manners aside I rushed to the shoe pile and literally jumped on what to me looked like the simplest shoe style of all time. A classic pair of kitten heel pump. I still ended up drawing something that couldn’t possibly come out of a healthy human mind. And yet, each time, she would take a long look and say the same words “keep going, you’re close”. I must admit a couple of family member did try to warn me but I didn’t listen. I hyped myself up by thinking I was naturally talented. I was looking for shortcuts and found none. The advice people offered seemed so simplistic that I chose to ignore it.

In the end, I was forced to realize there were great discrepancies between my idea of what an art class should be versus the real thing.  By the end of the class she said something that profoundly resonated with me. In essence she told us that ‘As in any creative process, when drawing an object there is always a choice even if purely unconscious made by the artist on how to best render the said object based on what the artist is trying to say”. I guess that’s what makes art so subjective. It is always a reflection of oneself. Even when we choose to render our deepest emotions, we still feel the need to put some kind of order into the chaos. The very fact of picking up pen and paper automatically forces one to streamline the process. Although you won’t see me exposing my chef-d’oeuvre in any gallery any time soon I am happy to report I did manage to learn something…after all….:)

Don’t be shy dear readers and do share your budding or tortured artist experience:)

Interview with the vampire: Eternal life ain’t shit!

“If life’s a bitch, eternal life is a three-headed shape-shifting hungry bitch, and these vampires are here to prove it!”

First of all I just want to say I really really enjoyed interview with a vampire. I was reluctant to read it at first considering I had already watched the movie and loved it very much so why read the book when I already know the high points, right? So I said to myself I’ll read it in due time. That due time came in the form of dear husband first granting me a copy of said book and then nagging me every single time his eyes fell on said copy lying around.

And you know what? I am glad I did because boy these vampires are a mess! Naturally there is nothing I like more than a big mess to roll around in and analyze.

The title of the book alone is quite arresting. I mean the opportunity to Interview a vampire?  I suppose it would be exceedingly cool to a journalist. But let’s say I am just me…a normal human being who is very keen on staying alive and also a big coward…..would I still go? I think I would…yeah, I definitely would. I’d probably need to marinate in a mixture of garlic and holy water the night before, just in case. Hubby would also need to be nearby although if it’s Brad Pitt he can take the night off 🙂 And I am not even the bravest person around just to show you how enticing the whole idea is. 

“The world changes, we do not, therein lies the irony that kills us.”

From the start I was almost mesmerized by these vampires tribulations. This isn’t a vampire horror-type story. It is basically the story of life.  And death.  A story of redemption and perversion. Of good and evil and so much more. But the lines are blurred…terribly blurred. So blurred that you are sort forced to construct your own truth or at the very least come up with your own version of things. What is good? What is evil? Is there a God? Does love justify everything? How do you look at things with fresh eyes when well, you have truly seen it all. What makes life worthwhile? What makes human life precious? Is it the thought of losing it? Do we change? Can people change?

“Let the flesh instruct the mind”

At times it became the story of my life when I witnessed Louis wrestle with what he has become versus what he was or could have been but surprisingly Louis wasn’t my favorite either. I found him whiny. Always trying to look like the good guy. I was like relax you’re a vampire, nobody trusts you anyways. But if I am to be honest with myself there is a deeper reason why I just couldn’t fully like Louis. He reminds me of that part of myself that I am constantly trying to change. The part that never seems to be able to enjoy the now. Joy is always to be found in either the past or a seemingly glorious future. The do-gooder, the model child, model wife, model citizen part of me. I was so invested in these characters that at various points in the story I found myself wanting to bring a cup of warm milk to Louis and invite Armand for super. I also started imagining what a night out with Lestat would feel like (I told you I was invested). I am quite sure he would have entry to all the cool clubs and such. Of them all, I felt like Lestat made the most of his condition so far. Well, at least he tried and I admire him for that.

So many contradictions. So many emotions. What about Claudia? I mean being forced to walk the earth inside the body of a child when you’re probably old enough to be a grandmother? How cruel that? If I were Claudia I’d definitely have mixed feelings about my maker. I envy and pity them all at the same time.

I enjoyed Armand thoughts about handling change and staying relevant. According to him there are vampires who are so afraid of change that they literally become mummified in a certain time period. They sport the same clothes over and over and entertain the same thoughts over and over without allowing the passing of time any kind of influence on their behaviors. I don’t think it is because they refuse to change. At least it is only a mere part of the equation. Instead, I think at some point, once you become more and more acquainted with yourself there comes a strong need to anchor yourself and being able to stay “this is who I am and that’s that”. Of course, there’s always the danger of looking like Mary Poppins when most people are now wearing star wars type of clothing. But hey at some point you’ve got to chose, right? Anyways I’d probably be the only vampire walking around naked because she can’t decide what to wear 🙂

“Don’t you see? I’m not the spirit of any age. I’m at odds with everything and always have been! I have never belonged anywhere with anyone at any time!” 

I started asking myself all types of questions. For example, if I were to become a vampire who would I turn first into a vampire? My niece? My husband? These are the two people dearest to me in the entire world. I think maybe my husband. Why? Well, our wedding vows said: “Till death do us part” and I ain’t dead, aren’t? Plus somebody has to brave the sun😊 while I am having my beauty sleep. If I were given the opportunity who would I play? I’d probably want to play Armand (wise, annoying and slightly stuck up) provided the casting crew doesn’t just take one look at me and cast me as Louis. Story of my life 😦

The synergy between the characters is amazing. Louis is always questioning. Lestat is living it up and Armand is reflecting. It allows you to experience the story on so many different levels.  

Now dear readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the following questions: Would you go if you were given the opportunity to interview a vampire? Who’s your favorite character and why? Who’s your least favorite character and why? Who would you turn first into a vampire if you yourself were to become a vampire? Feel free to also add some more questions to the list!

As for turning my niece into a vampire if I ever become one? The jury is still out…

Thank you for passing by and if you enjoy this article please feel free to like, comment or share! Next time I’ll tell you about my 2017 goals and see if I have achieved any of those goals or if I am, at the very least, on the verge of accomplishing some of them any time soon… so stay tuned!

How to get back to writing when you lack the necessary motivation

As time passes I realize it is not about acing it but rather, it is about keeping yourself in the game no matter what. As long as you’re still in the game, you’re bound to win or at the very least learn why you didn’t. So below are a couple of rules that never fail to help me find the necessary motivation to keep writing. 

Face yourself

I used to feed myself a lot of bullshit about myself. I don’t anymore. Not because I don’t want to but because I don’t believe myself anymore. I have wised up in spite of myself. Plus my husband never fail to provide me with the necessary but much dreaded reality check. I had to face myself. I had to accept that I was this lazy person who could not commit to writing and kept lying to herself about not being able to commit. You know, just like an alcoholic claiming he/she can get by without attending AA meetings . Or better yet just like my husband claiming he’s only getting back on eBay to buy that one star wars action figure. He bought it and is still on eBay maybe now buying his 4th or 5th action figure….go figure. The minute I stopped believing my lies about myself,  things got better. Or course they got worse at the beginning. My pink and lilac dreams were shattered 🙂 But things got better in the end. I started seeing myself objectively. When you face yourself you can deal with yourself efficiently and prescribe a proper course of treatment. I sincerely wish there was a “delusional want-to-be writers anonymous”. I swear I’ d go to meetings.

Consider yourself a scientist

Except that you’re also the sole lab rat. You see whenever I used to promise myself to do something and fail to do so I would get discouraged, think I am doomed and give up. But now since I am a scientist on my own case, I press on. I conduct little experiments and I tell myself “Fabienne, you’ll keep trying until you succeed”. As an example, before my surgery I had my writing schedule all figured out (before February 2017). I wake up at 4:45, make coffee and starts writing at 5:00. And then I exercise at 6:00 o’clock sharp. Took three months off due to surgery and I found myself back to square one.

It was actually quite frustrating trying to get back to my old schedule and realizing it wasn’t working anymore. What happened I asked myself? Did I leave my ambition in the surgery room or what? I tried writing at night after work. Still to no avail. The minute I get home all I want to do is relax with dear husband. Still I carry on. Then it hit me that instead of coming home to write after work I could go somewhere nearby my workplace, grab a coffee and write. It worked for a little while until I started spending my time being distracted by people watching. Still I didn’t get discourage. I press on determined to succeed. I researched shared workplace and found the Gab cafe (There are plenty other options here in Montreal).

IMG_20170729_130825

Tried it, loved it. The staff is amazing. The coffee is great. It is 3 dollars an hour. I am currently on the monthly membership but I think I’ll get back to the per/hour basis as I find that working with a limited amount of time (due to the 3$/hr rate) can be very motivating as opposed to the monthly membership where the amount of time is unlimited. Which brings me to rule number 3.

Tie it to a treat

About the GAB cafe, if I am to be honest, I don’t go for the writing. Yes, you heard right! I go for the coffee.

IMG_20170729_151719
The delicious GAB coffee and sandwich combo

I go for the staff. They are super sweet. So I get there. A fresh water bottle is waiting for me. My coffee is brought to me prettily served (Their latte is to die for). As for motivation there are other people working and appropriate silence. Once I am done with my writing I can pay a quick visit to my favorite stores because they are all at walking distance. I am not sure how good that arrangement will prove to be for my bank account but I can assure you it is money well spent 🙂 For some reason there always seem to be a new item waiting for me. Although I don’t always buy, it never fails to put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. So whenever I don’t feel like going to write, all I have to do is think about the good coffee and the possibly new item waiting for me at one my favorite stores and my motivation goes up to 100 %.

IMG_20170729_130744
And the lighting is good 🙂

Give it time

Everything takes time. A lot of time. Life gets in the way sometimes. We get in our own way as well. Give it time all the time it needs. Take breaks when you’re tired. Then get back up again. Keep at it until you figure it out. Stay flexible. There isn’t just one way to do something. Different things work at different times and different stages of our lives. And last but not least:

Anything count as writing: Not writing is the building block of writing

You are a writer even if you’re not writing at the present time (emphasis on present time, provided you have written at some point). To me writing is a way of recycling our experiences into something better, something useful and healing. This way of thinking helps me not to get discouraged. Lately, I’ve realized that the more mature I get, the better my writing becomes. I am able to tackle certain subject with much more assurance and depth. I now have a much more nuanced understanding of human nature. I have always had a highly attuned sense of  psychology but the older I get the more I am able to grasp how simultaneously fickle and wonderful human nature can be. The downside is I can now smell my own crap. I can no longer lie to myself and pretend I’ve moved on. All of this knowledge will hopefully help me create  multidimensional characters that adequately reflect the human experience.  After all, what is writing if not an attempt at translating our human emotions into something everlasting?

I hope you enjoyed this piece and will be back soon with a review of “interview with a vampire” by Anne Rice. Stay tuned and don’t forget to comment, like or share this article!