The Writer’s Myth I Love to Ignore

Killing the Myth.png

Every writer has there own methods and ways of doing things. They have their rituals and their habits (sometimes bad ones) and strategies that work for them. Typically writers go by very broad rules of the trade that are spread across the masses and for the most part I will say there is truth to those habits and rituals and ways of doing things. However, there is this one myth, this very big no-no that writers, or any creative type really, aren’t supposed to be doing a lot of if they actually want to get any substantial and quality work done. Watch lots of TV.

For years I have been trying to find some justification and arguably some back up to my inherent belief that watching a lot of television as a creative (in particular a writer) does more good than harm and I think I have finally found it. I stumbled upon a blog post the other day (okay it wasn’t a stumble, I regularly follow her blog) in which the blogger acknowledged that while her love of binge watching Netflix has quite possibly halted work on several writing projects, it also added value and perhaps even a bit more passion into the projects that she was able to complete.

Now I do not have Netflix (Yes I know, I’m about the only person left in the world who has no desire to have a Netflix account), however, I do have an extreme love of watching television. I have my regular nightly shows, mostly police procedurals or any drama with a bit of mystery to it (like Law & Order SVU, Chicago PD, or Criminal Minds to name a few), and I also have my hospital dramas (Grey’s Anatomy and Chicago Med, and I’ll throw Chicago Fire in here too because I don’t know where else it would fit). I even like my political dramas (Scandal, Madam Secretary), and of course the all important Soap Operas (Young & the Restless and Bold & the Beautiful). Also I like my comedies (Big Bang Theory, etc) my history channel shows, and my cooking shows… Okay you get the picture, I have an interest in pretty much every aspect of television and that’s not including my love of movies. It goes without saying that I watch a large amount of TV and I have to have the TV on to go to sleep at night too (I need the noise).

To my point, I have been told countless times that people in writing, or any creative avenue really, are more productive when they watch less television. I have balked at this theory ever since I’ve heard it because it just doesn’t make sense to me, or rather for me. I mean I know that there are quite a few largely successful people who write for television and own television companies and don’t watch TV so I know that it clearly works for some people but it baffles me how you don’t watch the very medium you create for. Just as baffling to me is a writer who doesn’t read books (and believe it or not there are some) because how can you create for an audience when you don’t partake in what you are in fact producing.

Needless to say, I am the opposite and perhaps the exception because I don’t focus very well when I don’t have something on my television, and it can’t just be anything, it has to be something that inspires me when I’m writing (and yes I actually write while I watch TV—so see I’m still being productive during my TV time) or even just something that inspires a new character, or a new subject I want to write about. Television doesn’t just inspire me, it also calms me, and it is my relaxing place for when I’m stressed and worried and need to just calm down or if I’m just feeling really anxious or depressed and I need to laugh. In all actuality, sitting in silence, without the TV will probably lead to a less productive day for me because silence drives me a little crazy and I don’t concentrate very well in it, thus leading to lack of productivity.

So if you have a method that’s not supposed to work for you as a writer but somehow it works, just go with it. I know it may seem to not make sense to anyone else doing what you do, and it may just go against all of the rules of the trade but aren’t rules sometimes meant to be bent a little. At least bent to work just the right way, and in your favor. The wonderful thing about being a writer or any creative is that your out of the box thinking can lead you down a path you never saw coming, and in the best most possible ways! So go forth and buck the trends and laugh in the face of the myths!

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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Shutting Out the Noise

Shutting Out the Noise

Let’s talk about distractions! The noise of our distractions can be so loud sometimes that it drowns out what really matters to us. There are so many things that keep people from succeeding and being productive in their endeavors. From friends and even family, to television and other things that aren’t of high priority, the environment we surround ourselves with can sometimes do more harm to us than good.

What can also be a distraction to our ultimate goals are the no’s that we hear and the failures that we endure. The obstacles that are thrown at us to derail our journey can allow us to get distracted. We tend to get caught up in the failed attempts at whatever it is we were trying to get accomplished that we overlook the fact that a failed attempt means that there was an attempt to begin with.

A failed attempt is a lesson for what not to do in the next attempt. People who like to constantly remind you of what you’ve failed at and who try to discourage you from making any further attempts at greatness are just distractions in disguise. I used to get distracted by the no’s and I’ll admit that sadly I was a person who had allowed defeat to make me feel defeated. I’ve been working really hard to make sure I change that. I have been working to not allow myself to fall into those particular distractions because they are not good for my productivity.

Sometimes, as hard as it may be to do, you have to block out the moments of defeat. You have to let go of the feelings of self-doubt that hearing no can bring about. You have to treat those moments in which you feel like you’ve failed as teaching tools for your path moving forward. Don’t be so distracted by the obstacle that you completely miss the lesson that it’s meant to teach you.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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Can’t Watch the Scoreboard and Play the Game

watching the scoreboard 3

I was watching a motivational video a few months ago, still in the fog of my depression and very much still creatively blocked, and they were talking about getting to that place of success that you want to get to in life. He had a lot to say about his journey to success and about the sheer work ethic that it takes to accomplish the goals that you set for yourself but I think the most profound statement he made was that you can’t play the game that you are in (because succeeding in life is very much like playing a game) and watch the scoreboard at the same time.

It’s something that sounds really obvious if we are actually talking about playing some type of sport but in the game that is life and success overall we don’t think about that. We’re always so busy checking to see what progress we’ve made, watching the scoreboard so to speak, that we don’t realize that all the time that we waste checking to see where we’re at in life is time that could be spent making more progress.

I do that a lot. I watch the scoreboard, waiting for my side to be in the lead, showing me that I am making progress and that I’m doing something. When I’m not in the lead, when my score is not reflecting my effort, I get defeated and then my effort starts to change. I think that if I weren’t so busy keeping score of my hits and my misses then I wouldn’t have time to get defeated or to feel the sting of the setback.

If I just kept my focus on what I want and know that that is what I am aiming for without continuously watching to see how far I’ve come in my journey, or sometimes how far I still have to go in my journey, I think I could actually get to where it is that I’m going. It’s like that watched pot that takes so long to boil when you are watching it. If you just walk away and let it be, stop hovering over it and trying to watch the water come to a rolling boil, it would happen a lot sooner than you might expect. So I’m going to work on not looking at the scoreboard as I travel on this journey and just trust that as long as I’m moving forward, and never backward, that I am winning!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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What Happened to That Girl?

What happened to that girl

I do not recognize the writer that I have become. I think back to my productivity and the ability to just sit down and write endlessly when I was in my teens and early twenties and I wonder what the hell happened. I used to write practically every moment of the day. If it was just moments in between moments that I could somehow grab or steal, I would write. You hardly ever saw me without a pen or pencil in my hand and as soon as I could get to a computer I would type until it was all transferred to the computer and my fingers were partially crippled from typing so much.

I know that things change when you get older have children, get a little more settled in life, but I never envisioned that the way I work, the way I write, would change. I suppose that I somehow thought that I would always be able to pull all-nighters or that my energy levels wouldn’t change (particularly when I developed anemia during pregnancy that never seemed to go away). I equate all night working with writing and getting work done but now I struggle just to keep my eyes open, let alone staying up all night long.

I feel like I’ve lost that girl somehow. That girl who was just so driven to get the words out that I sacrificed my sleep. I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself because I feel like I can’t seem to get it together and I know that I should be doing better than what I am doing, I know that I should be getting ready to publish my 10th book (at least) not still working on getting my 2nd out there. I dwell in things for far too long and I don’t really know how to pull myself out of the funk that I sometimes fall into. I don’t do well with change and when things change I don’t know how to cope.

Perhaps that is where I start to get a little piece of that girl back again. Maybe realizing that not only is change inevitable but rather necessary. I have to figure out how to make the changes that come along work for me instead of letting them go against me. I have to figure out a time that works for my productivity because clearly me trying to force writing to happen at night is not working and I am resisting the change in routine and that amounts to zero productivity. I want to find that girl again but perhaps introduce her to a new way of coping and doing things. But I’d like to keep her fire and her drive. That is one thing I don’t want to change.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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Are There Really No Days Off?

Days off 2

So I’ve been wondering lately if I have been putting in enough work on this dream of mine. I mean I have things planned and enough ideas to fill up several notebooks but is planning enough if you don’t throw every single second you have into it. I was under the impression that there are moments where I should be allowed for little breaks, moments of free time, moments of me time, in which I focus on taking care of me. After all I have realized that in taking care of myself a lot better I am able to open myself up more creatively.

I was listening to The Steve Harvey Morning Show today and he was speaking about how those who want to truly be successful can make sure that they get to where they want to be and one of the main points that he stressed was that there are no days off when you are striving to be successful. There is, or shouldn’t be, any time for anything that doesn’t have to do with furthering your goal and your purpose. Now I normally can agree with most of what Steve Harvey says, after all, look where he is and how much he has accomplished, he would know right. But I suppose every situation is different for everyone.

I don’t know that I agree with not having moments to step back and get some clarity, or to step away and take a slight break, have some time that is not all about the dream, because I would imagine it would be good for your mind if that wasn’t all that consumed it. Then again, I could be wrong because I have not yet reached my goals and I don’t believe that I am even close and maybe that is because of my “days off”. Maybe my “days off” somehow suggest I don’t want it bad enough.

I have to ponder this one for a while because while I am certainly willing to dedicate 90%, maybe 95% of my focus to this dream of mine because I definitely want it. It’s all I think about sometimes, being successful that is. However I don’t know if I’m prepared to say that I want to give up this newfound me time that I am just now learning how to take. I can’t say that I regret the time that I carve out to spend time with my daughter. I can’t even say that the very minimal time that I make for a few close friends is a mistake either.

I think that you need to step away sometimes and enjoy the life you are trying to provide for because that allows you to see what it’s all for. I think days off are necessary. After all, the dream isn’t going anywhere while you are taking some time for yourself or loved ones. It will be right where it always was when you get back to it. Just because I believe in a day off, or two, doesn’t make my dream any less important. Sometime I like to step away from it so I can get an even clearer view of what I want.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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This Dream Is Everything To Me and I Cannot Fail

Chasing my dream 2

I realized when I woke up this morning that I am still not having the rate of production that I want so far this year. There’s something else I realized too. I cannot handle the thought of failing at this. Not failing in general with various tasks that may fall through or fall short of what I expected. Not failing simply in terms of getting thrown off course and sent in a different and unexpected direction. Not failing as in not completely fulfilling all of the larger than life goals that I have for myself.

I can handle all of that because I have learned (and read from many successful people) that failure is a part of succeeding, quite possibly a more vital part than people realize. What I absolutely cannot handle failing at is the overall goal of fulfilling the dream I have had since I was six years old of being a writer, and not that person who has a full time job and writes as my side gig (not that there is ANYTHING wrong with that AT ALL). I don’t want to have to go back to having to balance both the fulltime job and my writing dream because when I had to do it before it didn’t work for me at all, on any level.

My dream was to make a living as a writer and that I was going to influence this world, even if it’s only to a small sum of people, in a major way. I have too many people who doubt me, including my own mother, and most of my entire family, and I refuse to prove them right in any way. Now me succeeding and making my dreams come to fruition is definitely not about proving anyone else wrong (not solely) but we all know it’s a bonus when you can do something everyone said that you couldn’t.

I have my plans set and my projects that I am supposed to be completing for the year set and they seemed so achievable when I wrote them down. However, January is almost over and I don’t see where any breakthrough has happened yet. I know I have to be patient but did I ever mention that patience is not really my strong suit. I have been at this so long and the journey has been quite daunting and tiresome and when you have people in your ear questioning you on whether you should just go ahead and give up or admit that it’s just not going to happen quite the way I want it to, it can be really frustrating.

I won’t give up on this vision of mine, largely in part due to this nagging feeling in my gut that keeps telling me that I’m on the right path, even if it doesn’t always feel like it, and to not give in to what other people think is best for me. The other reason I won’t give up is because this is the purpose that God has given me in life and I won’t turn my back on that purpose. I’m strong enough to persevere and as for the patience, well I’m working on that part (lol) but I won’t back down from this dream.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

My Write 2 Be is…

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It’s Not How You Start, Or Is It?

It's Not How You Start Or Is It

I can’t believe that January is almost over already. I’m reflecting today on whether or not this has been a productive month so far and I can’t get past how fast the time is already going by. I need the year to slow down just a little bit because while I haven’t been completely lagging in getting things going, I haven’t had the great start that I had hoped with all of the unexpected twists and turns in my schedule.

We all know that saying that it’s not how you start but rather how you finish that counts. I have always thought that to be true but in retrospect, in thinking on the year of 2014, while I started the year with high hopes, I was in a state of deep depression in the beginning of 2014 and did not start that year very well and sadly I finished with virtually nothing to really show for it.

I’m not saying that I did nothing last year because I started to come out of the funk of depression somewhere towards the middle of the year and even before then I managed to do enough to convince people that things weren’t as bad as they truly were so I did something but nowhere near what I know I am capable of doing. The end of the year, while I spent it making plans for this one, I didn’t have the accomplishment that I feel and know I should have had.

Of course that could be me just beating myself up for not being able to complete my always outrageous “to be done” list but I know me and I know when I’m wasted a huge chunk of time and depressed or not, it was still time wasted that I can never get back. I was just listening to a writing video in which the moderator revised that famous quote a little. She said how you start the year is an indication of how you are going to finish and it made me think.

I have (in my own opinion of course) started this year off a hell of a lot better than I started last year off but I know that I could still be doing better. However I acknowledge that this has been a much better start to this year and if this is a slight indication of how I am going to finish the year then I think maybe there is hope for this year to go as well as I want it to go. Hope your first month of this year is going productively!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

My Write 2 Be is…

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