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Sometimes my ideas come from questions from other bloggers or readers.  I had two ideas given to me by my readers in the last few weeks.  Today's post is in answer to a question posed in a comment and went something like this: "How do you center yourself and clear your mind before writing?  I have a tough time clearing my thoughts..."  I was in a rush that day so I'm not sure I answered my reader in a very organized fashion so I'd thought I'd address it again here today.

First off, I told my reader, it all depends!  The days are so different!  I am just getting back into this writing thing...  I'm very serious about it but I do still place my family and God first.  So the writing, as much as I would love to do it 16 hours a day sometimes  (I do need to sleep too) and my ideas keep spilling over into my cooking hours and homeschool hours, I need to just squeeze it in when other things have been addressed.  So sometimes my mind flows with ideas and other days not so much.

Most importantly,  an active writer should always have a notebook on hand.  I have my main notebook/journal that everything gets written in, but I also have one at my bedside, one in the car and one in my purse.  This way, no matter where I am, I have paper handy to write things down and can transfer it to my main idea journal later.  I'm thinking of starting a 3 ring binder...so I can categorize the ideas better.

Now when it comes to actual writing time, there are days I can sit and the ideas just come... no prepping needed.  But there are days that I do need to prep....set the mood so to speak so that I can get that mind ready to flow.

  • Try to have a writing space. One that is comfortable and hopefully away from too many distractions if at all possible.  Right now  my place is at my computer at a desk. (I always dream about my own little room or a small cabin, an oasis of sort,  out back with a big comfy couch, chair, pretty white curtains, gorgeous antique writing desk, a stash of chocolate, tea, a maid....oops....getting carried away...) Sometimes I move my laptop around if the mood suits.  But at my desk I am surrounded by my materials... my files of manuscripts and ideas, my folder of resources I've saved for blogging material, my pencils, paper, dictionary and The Synonym Finder and books on writing, etc.
  • These are the times I make sure I sit down at my desk with a nice hot cup of tea (that's my preference.... I'm sure coffee does nicely for others!) and perhaps a bit of chocolate (any form.... brownie, chocolate bar, chocolate covered almonds, hot chocolate if it's cold... it's chocolate... it works in any shape! ) or a yummy snack that will keep me satisfied and not pulled back into the kitchen if my mind drifts.  I pick something soothing.... this isn't necessarily my time for raw veggies or a salad ( though that might be good too depending on the day) but, in other words, something that will make me go "hmmmmm....that's nice!" and plant a smile on my face.
  • Another mood setting technique is music.  If I'm writing pertaining to picture books, I might put in something of my toddler's into the computer or CD player.... Burl Ives for instance or the Wiggles or Raffi.... something that makes me feel lighthearted and energetic.  If I'm writing about Orthodoxy or a picture book related to my faith, then faith music may be more appropriate.  If I'm writing for a middle grade chapter book or YA, then I might choose something more upbeat or even depressing...depending on the character I'm trying to invent.  If I'm blogging...well, it could be a whole range of music!
  • Sometimes a little reading is in order.  If I have more than a few minutes of writing time, I may take some time to read for 10 or 15 minutes first...let my mind drift into the land of make-believe to open it up to a world that is not filled with my stress laden daily tasks and challenges...it's relaxing and has an effect on the creative mind! Reading other blogs may help sometimes or a few picture books if that's what I'm going to be working on.  Sometimes another writer's words may trigger something for me.  I don't mean I take their idea...that's not cool.  But in reading other material, it may trigger something I can work with.  For example, if I were reading a non-fictional article about George Washington, it may cause me to recall that old tale of how he chopped down a cherry tree and I might think...hmmmm... what if I were to write a chapter book about a little boy who 'accidentally' cuts down his mother's favorite apple tree or maybe just mows down her flower garden the first time he mows the lawn?  Ideas can come that way!
  • Find the right time of day, if possible, that you write best.  That doesn't always work for me...with the little guy running around and homeschool needs that pop up and day to day life like cooking( cooking from scratch takes time but I'm working on ways to make that less time consuming). If I'm able to write in the morning, I do know that I tend to do better, especially for creative writing for picture books and such. So I'm working on trying to figure out how to do that.  I'm actually acquiring a babysitter for one time a week so I know I do get to do that morning time at least once in a while.
  • Write about what you are passionate about!  If you think you should write an article about oil drilling because that seems to spark a lot of interest in people but you don't really know much about it, nor do you care, well, for heaven's sake find something else to write about!  It's one thing if it's a required assignment but if you are writing simply because you want to , then write what you want to write about! 

So these are a few tidbits from an amateur writer on how to get the mind ready to flow.  I hope something I've said here will help you.  Ask or read about what other writers do as well.  We all do things differently and what works for some may not work for all ....though I can't imagine chocolate not working 😉

Today is going to be one of those 'random' posts where I write about several things.

Yesterday I looked for videos on how to make kale salad.  I found this one on how to make Massaged Kale Salad.  It was a good recipe.  I adapted it a little.  Here is what I did yesterday, though I'm sure I'll play with the added ingredients a bit here and there.

1 bunch kale

1 tsp salt

2 tblsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

A handful of dried cherries

A handful of pomegranite seeds

1/4 cup candied pecans

 

Adding the fruit and nuts is obviously something I can play with but looking at the reds and greens of the kale yesterday reminded me of Christmas and I thought that would make a lovely salad with our holiday meals!  My son (he's 3 1/2) LOVED this salad!  He asked for more 3 times and went around the table stealing ours from our plates!  How awesome is that!

Speaking of Christmas.... I'm starting to think about presents already.  I hate being rushed at Christmas so I try to plan early and at least start shopping early.  Then December can be more peaceful as it should be.

I always get the kids a Christmas ornament.  I'm trying to figure out what they should be this year.  The older kids usually pick out their own now but what I used to do and still want to do with our youngest is pick something representative of the year... something that made that year memorable.  I am really undecided on what to look for for our little one but I have it narrowed down to three choices (IF I can even find any of them!  If you read this list and know of a source, let me know!):   a cement truck, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Linus with his blankie.

My son LOVES cement trucks!  He gets soooo excited when he sees them!  He watches a video on Netflix called Mighty Machines. He has watched the episode on the cement truck so many times!  He can recite what they are saying right along with the video.  We get books from the library every other week and we must always get one that has a cement truck.  He even knows the names of some of the parts (drum, chute, etc.).  He also loves to read other books and several months ago we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  Ever since, any time he wants a snack he tells me "I'm still hungry like a caterpillar"..... how can I say no to that??  🙂  And of course the blankie.  His godmother got him a sweet fuzzy yellow blanket for his Christmation (babtism).  He has been firmly attatched to this thing ever since.  It goes everywhere.  It doesn't look very yellow anymore.  I tried at one point to get a second one but it just didn't happen.  So I'm afraid every time I put it in the washer that the thing will tear, etc. and I try desperately to get him to leave it at home as I'm terrified of losing it!  But Blankie is his buddy.  Blankie sits and has breakfast with us.  Blankie tells me when my son is hungry like a caterpillar sometimes too.  He's part of the family.  So I'm not sure what ornament to look for... I guess I'll look for them all and see what my options are!

Yesterday I wrote about the writing bug and I really took off with it.  I journaled lots of ideas on what to blog about and even wrote a bit for a picture book idea I had.  It was actually a very productive day... just written in bits and pieces here and there.  I guess that's what I need to do to make this work.  Little bits here and there.  There will be no long hours of writing at all as I have other priorities God has blessed me with in this life.  One being that little man I have mentioned so often... and my other blessings... my two older children and my devoted husband.  🙂  So very blessed.  So very grateful.

So off to another day...  lots of things to do!

As I start this post, I am sitting here enjoying my lunch of salmon salad over a bed of baby romaine alongside my tomato cucumber salad and a few candied pecans from the batch I made up this morning.  Mixed all together it is delicious.  My little man, however, does not seem to appreciate it nor his pear today.  I think rest time may occur without his fill of lunch today.  Oh well... he had some healthy snacks earlier and sometimes he just doesn't eat as much as other days.  Most days he is telling me he is 'hungry like a caterpillar' ever since enjoying that wonderful picture book by Eric Carle.

I am really feeling the writing bug.  I'm really working on figuring out how to make it work.  I've been exploring the SCBWI site... trying to determine if the cost is justifiable, as well as exploring other blogs by writers and considering dusting off my old materials.  I did open that cupboard the other day and dig out an unused journal to begin writing down ideas again.  That's a big start for me.  And trying to keep up on here.  I know I haven't written much that is edifying but it's a start... and my mind is turning with ideas and concepts.

I read yesterday that one published author of picture books has two young children and she literally often only spends 5-15 miutes a day in actual writing.  Well.... if she can do it in that amount of limited time, then maybe I can figure it out too.  We shall see!