Showing posts with label writer angst. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writer angst. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

7 Steps to Writing with Vulnerability - Guest Post

Note from Michelle: I've been looking forward to this post for a while now. Donna Lee Irwin is such a treat in person and on the page. She is navigating the complicated world of young widowhood and shares about it with such authenticity and grace that I know what she shares will speak to your heart and inform your pen. So without further ado.... (and go visit her blog and add it to your favorites list -- you won't regret it)

Writing with vulnerability is no easy task. How do you do it without appearing out of: your mind, control, this world? Well, the first thing would be to consider your audience. Is what your sharing relevant? Does it make sense to write a vulnerable piece on this platform? Or are you divulging the emotional details of your recent divorce on your fashion blog? Make sure that what and where you are publishing makes sense.
Once you have settled on a topic suitable for your targeted audience consider these 7 guidelines. They are ‘rules’ I try to write by which have, so far, served me well.

1.  Get honest with yourself. 

Why are you writing this? Is it because you are passively aggressively using your writing platform to blow off some steam? Are you making a bid for approval or reassurance? Decide what your end goal is and ask yourself what your expectations are as a result of sharing this information. For me, it is to let others know they are not alone. Too many of us keep our stories hidden while we try to impress our peers, contributing to the vicious cycle of trying to keep up appearances with one another. It is my goal to penetrate this mirage with my small contribution of vulnerability and authenticity.

2. Decide how much you want to share. 

And remember, you’re here to tell your story and no one else’s. Sometimes this means getting creative with how we explore our story, sometimes it means leaving some things out. It’s worth it to respect and protect the privacy of others-even if you feel they don’t deserve it.

3.  Be Relevant and Relatable. 

Again, make sure the topic makes sense for your writing platform and, when choosing to write with vulnerability, be relatable! Share you experience but don’t share only the before and after “ta-da! I figured it all out!” moments. Before-and-afters can be helpful in a story but usually people just want to rest assured that they are not the only imperfect/struggling/quirky/etc. humans on the planet. This is not a time to practice or showcase perfection. Your readers will see right through the fa├žade and write you off as inauthentic and suspicious. Share your honest experience, even especially if you’re still in it.

4. Be Clear and Concise. 

Express your feelings on the subject through your experience without drifting. This is usually taken care of in the editing process for me. I like to write freely, pouring all my emotions out into as many words as I feel are needed knowing that when it’s time for editing I can carve my point out of the puzzle of words I’ve laid out to get my message across in a meaningful way. Sometimes it’s useful to share all the gory details and other times it’s TMI. A practice that works great for me is pouring my heart out onto the page and walking away from it for a few days. Sometimes when I do that I end omitting almost everything I wrote, others I’m like, “ya, that’s good. They’ll feel it.” Only you can be the judge.

5.  Be prepared for Criticism and Judgement.  

Expressing or sharing vulnerability is often seen as a weakness when in reality it is actually an incredibly brave and courageous act. Recognize that being vulnerable can trigger uncomfortableness and shame in others. Also, be prepared for people to share their stories or opinions that may be very different from what you have just written. Be respectful and kind if you choose to respond. Otherwise don’t respond at all. On the other hand, for those who are kindly sharing their own vulnerabilities with you, be sure to give them a nod of thanks for opening their hearts.

6. A Word of Caution.

 Make sure if you include names or photos of anyone that isn’t you in your writing to GET PERMISSION first! Preferably in writing. Remember, you’re telling your story, not theirs.  If you’re talking about your kids, again, get their permission, show/read them what you have written/picture you are using and make doubly sure that they are comfortable with it. Don’t assume you know and don’t bully them into compliance. Especially don’t share anything that may prevent you from getting a job, get you sued or cause conflict in a relationship. Again, it can be helpful to step away for a few days and come back with fresh eyes.

7. Lastly, Let Your Art Go. 

Once you hit that publish button…it is finished. And that’s great! Be proud! You took something raw and honest of yourself and shared it with the world. That is a beautiful thing. Whenever we give any gift to someone we accept that it is no longer ours to decide what to do with. Look at it as a gift and feel good about your giving. As Glennon Doyle Melton says in one of her blog posts, “Create! Call it good! Rest!”

Well, there you go! 7 steps to writing with vulnerability in a nutshell. I applaud all you writers out there who are willing to step into the arena of writing with vulnerability and look forward to reading some of your work. Even when we share different views the courage it takes to ‘write naked’ is immense and nothing short of humble bravery! Wishing you luck on you ‘naked writing’ ventures!

Donna’Lee Irwin
Founder & Writer of


*Sidenote: If you really feel passionate or curious about writing a vulnerable piece of work but don’t have the right platform to feature it, follow these guidelines and consider submitting to another platform where it will be more relevant. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

10 Ways Personal Reflection can Break Through Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block can strike at any time, but it does not have to be the duration you may have experienced in the past. When something isn’t working in your writing session, you may not know immediately why that is, but you can take it as a sign to take a moment and reflect. 

That reflection can break you through in these 10 ways:

1.       It can reveal favorable and unfavorable situations.

In times of busy-ness and stress, it becomes harder to write on demand. This is because exhaustion is crowding in and when you sit down to think, everything on your plate rises at once and becomes overwhelming. No wonder it’s easier to do a mindless chore or a writing assignment you have less stock in. In contrast, you can think of times when writing has been a delight and thoughts arrived so fast you barely had time to write them down. What was that setting and those circumstances? Introducing those elements to the schedule you’ve taken the time to strip down to the essentials will reconnect you with your muse.

2.       It can identify sources of inspiration for you.

Reflection makes connections between what serves as inspirational process for you  -- things like taking in arts and culture, reading, being in nature, and spending time in great discussions & points out what takes it away – stress, tiredness, and spending time without inspirational input. You can adjust your intake accordingly.

3.       It can break down self defeating thoughts you are giving room to.

When you speak out loud the things you are thinking you will quickly see which are unkind. The unkind thoughts to others we are more quickly repentant of, but the ones to ourselves we can be guilty of letting slide for far too long. Unless you are channeling that angst into a character study in which you are okay with your readers privy to all that, it will serve you much better to identify and shut down the negative self talk, and come up with a fictional account of why your character is feeling the way he or she is. It will be a much faster process without the inner naysayer around.

4.       It can make room for creative thought.

Creative thought comes through play, and spending time spinning “what if” into a proper yarn. It takes time and it is worth it. Through creative thought your story line will take a new direction and excite you. That will buy you more writing time. It’s not hard to make yourself write when inspired.

5.       It can rejuvenate you and connect you with your why.

Reflection is a deep breath of intellectual fresh air. The things you know to be true bump up against that which you’ve been taking in from the world and reflection brings them out in new ways like discussions, allegories, and artwork. If artists didn’t take time to reflect, they couldn’t give to the world like they do. Write and share what you have to share.

It can give voice to what you want to say.

Reflection brings to the surface things that you have been dwelling on. One of the best pieces of interviewing advice an editor ever gave me was to ask the questions I myself wanted to know. Usually everyone else is wondering too. Research the things you have been spending time on. The same approach can be taken with fiction themes to explore, settings and cultures you enjoy, etc.

7.       It can counteract your excuses.

When you are reflecting on the falsehoods you are telling yourself, also be on the lookout for excuses. Excuses fight against your underlying intent. Finding out what your excuses are means instead of being confused as to why you are out of time, tired, at day’s end, and still don’t have any writing done; you will have an action plan to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen tomorrow.

8.       It can remind you of past successes.

You know you can make your writing happen because you’ve done it before. When a story poured out of you, a reader connected with you, an audience member laughed, or someone left a comment on your blog – that experience can be repeated again, and again, and again. It is a possibility every time you introduce your writing to the world.

9.       It can birth your vision.

Writing brings your observations, dreams, insights, and stories to the world. It also can serve to impact your day to day living as you build a readership and develop your platform. Earning from your interest in writing buys you more time to explore it. It can go as far as you care to take it.

10.   It can clear away the distractions.

Distractions are part of our everyday experience, but reflection removes them consciously from thought process and makes room for focus. Focus can be used for story developing, scheduling, planning, and content producing.

The next time you are experiencing writer’s block, think of reflection as the tool that can beat it. You already know what you know. Take the time to remind yourself of it and your writing time will benefit from the investment.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

3 Ways your Writing can Benefit from a Bad Day

Of course we'd all like perfect days in which to do life and in which to fit writing. Because shouldn't one make sure everything is going smoothly before trying to fit in something else? I don't believe so.

We can't control whether all of the conditions are ideal, but we can control how we respond to any conditions we find ourselves in. Responding with creativity is the best way to turn things around. And a bad day often makes the best creative fodder.
Here are the 3 ways your writing can benefit from a bad day:

1. It gives you believable characters.

A bad day makes you able to empathize with your characters. No one's life is perfect and writing about perfect lives is boring. We know what we know, but we also write about people different from ourselves. We need a broad range of experiences to give to these characters to bring them to life in order to resonate with readers. If one of your developing characters now gets put into your bad day situation, you can think through their response to it and work it into the storyline. A believable character is one who faces situations we can see ourselves facing and has human responses to them.

2. It can serve as a good read for someone else.

For your own benefit, writing your bad day onto paper serves to give you some distance. For others, it can be entertainment. Whether you write it humorously or poignantly, it can serve as a good read for someone else (who may well be escaping his or her own bad day) Good for you -- helping your readers out! A great story is one you can sink into. Readers who have this experience will be back for more.

3. Your writing will benefit from a production boost if you use it as a distraction technique.

Sometimes you'll need a break from whatever was going on that made it a bad day. Writing is the perfect fix. Getting into someone else's story is the exact opposite of minding your own business and it's a great break from reality. Your word count will thank you.

Sometimes a little rain is good for your art in a way that nothing else is. Benefit from it and then move on and have a great day tomorrow.

Friday, November 29, 2013

baking that hobbits prefer

this past week I watched this (with d, feeling ever so blessed to be surrounded by my family), read this (at every chance), listened to this (sung by my 16 year old and his buddy in their school talent show -- very entertaining) 5 stars all around
house that survived the building partnership (not pictured is the older brother who is too cool for blogs but not too cool for gingerbread)
note to self: do not buy prepackaged quilting fabric for kids' assignments. while I am proud of my middlest's quilting abilities -- this little dandy cost like it was from some where hipper than fabricland
70s unfolding tree I love holding court in the kitchen

given that it's Friday (day 1 of my three day weekend) it's one of those days I can do whatever I want, which turned out to be this : attended a work event this morning, delivered treats to d and his co-workers, stopped by my favorite thrift store, took little c to meet up with my mom and sister and little baby niece for a tall chai tea latte, bought 2 towels, made faux takeout, supervised annual gingerbread building (ok, I watched celeste and jesse forever (another 5 stars) in the living room while listening to them squabble about who was making the walls fall down ;) , planned holiday outfits to avoid shopping for anything new (have you seen those crowds?) and plan to write until late.

in the middle of more plot rearranging (will it ever end? ok I don't want it to...)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

from PB & J to vintage lace

little c takes a page from my "presentation is everything" notes

 post adventurous tea with my editor 2 editors ago (with her adorable baby and toddler in tow hence the adventure) who I copy-edited for on this book. So exciting to see the finished product. which is inspiring, beautiful, and makes one more than a little travel hungry (it covers her and her husband's travels as journalist and photographer respectively pre those beautiful babies as they documented humanitarian efforts around the world)
 working from home as I do in the summer means I can actually sit down with something freshly made at lunchtime and watch real crime video
more babies have been born. among the moms, my editor three editors ago just had a beautiful little boy. a perfect excuse to use up my vintage ribbon stock.

current projects on the go: ebook content wrangling, freelance work paperwork, and a 30 day project. I love those days of focus. Will let you in on details in 29.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

half a week

stumbled upon this cute little blog post format at "pancakes and fries" and thought i'd have a go at it.


met up with my rosedale splurge girls (not to be confused with Splurge: the Originals with whom I have spent 8 years meeting monthly) The rosedale girls are on the tail end of their first year together and we met over lattes at a local coffee house. We moved huge armchairs into an obnoxiously large circle in the centre of the upstairs and visited away. I always laugh to myself when we throw a big pile of cash on the table and give it to someone -- it must look weird to onlookers (splurge definition: 10-12 women who meet monthly and throw in a predetermined amount -- we do $10 and take turns winning it and spending it on something frivolous)


confession: i have been sitting on an amazing GC I won through the fitness challenge at work (not for stellar achievements, but for participation) it was for a jewelry store and i wasn't sure what to do with it. but after discussion with wednesday's girls (and one of those days where few things go right) i stopped and checked out if there was anything my type. and i found that anything. and love it.


one of my favorite things about finally getting a cell phone (yes, i was that person out-teched by your 4 year old until last year) and i have a dinosaur phone (so i'm still not sure if it counts) but it texts just fine and so is likely to start up a day-long back and forth between d and i (usually planning dinner and its sides) yes, i have simple pleasures. friday night was teriyaki pork chops and veggie wraps (check out chilliwack fresh if you still have not)


started with  having tea on my mother's front step while she levelled her front lawn by hand (that's her version of relaxing -- we are not alike in that way) moved on to taking kid 3 to a birthday party (kid 1 was already at camp) and having tea with one of my sweet cousins (the sister/BF kind) and then taking picking that kid up and taking kids 2 and 3 swimming (another bday party) where you guessed it -- I tea-ed again. tough life i tell you. (the tea-ing means i shove the to-do's into early morning hours when no one else has to be around to witness them -- especially little c who is the antithesis to getting anything work related accomplished (which i suppose is his job ;)


redid an old canvas I had laying around (little c helped) -- I tried to execute a funky version of this pin. I am more talented in my imagination, but I am a big believer in good enough so I hung it in the laundry room and am enjoying it's whimsy and wisdom there.

a couple weeks to go until the day job breaks for summer = long days of writing possibility

Sunday, February 03, 2013

belated january

this has been waiting in queue -- for some reason the upload pics feature wasn't working for me last time i tried and we all know there's no point to blogging about crafts if there isn't actual documentation of said crafts (love my new pillows -- front pillow is made possible by my ripped party dress, the back two's material is more traditionally sourced ;)

My sister is back from her honeymoon and all domestic and it's reviving my inner Suzy Q Homemaker. I realized this as I checked out my recent pics -- weekend pillow making and kiddie snack documenting. You know I'm enjoying every second of it. Tis the second season of international homestay arranging so writing time is down to 15 minutes a day which I am thinking 2013 might be made of -- I have heard great things about a set short, often doable daily writing stint. Will let you know.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

summer merges into fall disguised as more summer

kids are back to school and i'm back at work. everyone survived the flu hitting the first week. thank goodness d took a parenting day to take care of little c who had to sit out the first one back. the middlest is now officially a middle schooler. their school's tradition is to take the gr 7s and 8s to camp the first week to bond. very cool. i snuck in a final day of beach on the labour day monday with my running partner, gwen. my first time at kilby and i loved it (and the cute store nearby where one could get sucked into an impromptu spending spree -- phone cases, robot mood rings... i may have to go back before Christmas -- this day i settled for pie to eat at the beach. delish. even if i didn't have bacon handy to pair with it, as gwen pointed out ;)
the middlest on paper route duty.
if i was at that stage, my friend's new baby would definitely give me a bad case of baby envy -- so sweet!
mid day sushi date with mom
where my fab girlfriends whisked me away to for my 35th
the amazing beach i definitely should have discovered earlier in the summer
currently reading left neglected (like an amazing combo of still alice and i don't know how she does it -- both reads i loved) i'm plotting to get writing in. it might have to be at lunchtime. before work is taken up by pavement pounding.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

mmm. summer. and sometimes. mmm? summer!

prettiest cariboo sunset ever

 little c & co. lemonade enterprise
 family bonding
 fabulous and ultra yum date
 scrapbooking taking over the house
 view from the canoe
the whole family off work -- love it when that coincides. the results: d and m lunch date followed by a week at our favorite cabin with the family. writing is taking a backseat to summer heat meltdowns (the literal and figurative kinds -- it's affecting little c on a whole 'nother level -- the kind where you rush out and buy more parenting books. likely i should be buying more fans instead ;) thinking of sneaking in writing like i do my homework -- all nighter to the real life rescue.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

to do, schmo-do

did i mention how much i love easy summer eats? (this is little c's plate -- he likes to make veggie to dressing ratio completely even)

 my beautiful friend cindy and half the crowd of kids we dragged to the local spray park
the good thing about summer is also the bad thing about summer. a thousand projects are underway -- each of them partially complete, but few checked off. posting reminders to myself everywhere to enjoy the journey and go with the flow and delight in what the day brings. and i've also learned -- if all else fails, take the littlest to starbucks and get him to read the continuing sunny weather forecast to you. ps. have now given in to mild beginner pinterest addiction. yes, on top of houzz. i know -- looking like more hours equivalent to turning pages of magazines... ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

shouldn't moving to summer mode come with a manual?

the last month in 6 word sentences. (an exercise in this weekend's class -- you know i loved it)

Spontaneous program admission -- career trajectory mapped.
Main gig summer wrap-up; moonlighting awaits.
Another parent complaining about June frenzy.
Transition feels mystifying-- naps may help. ;)
 you know i love signs and wonders -- on an especially stressed morning this last month while mixing my usual foundation + lotion, this squirted out on the floor and made me feel kinship to people who see religious iconography in their toast.
do not underestimate the healing powers of carbohydrates and mental holiday (that it is an outdated celebrity tabloid makes it even that much more pointless ;)

 fellow mom blogger/ my twitter hero who made freezing cold elementary school waterslides day fly by. sounds impossible, but lots of laughing and chai tea helped.
 it's not only me who adds to my jewelry collection -- little c made these very wearable earrings in a fit of ♥
when i left to go study all day -- little c wasn't too sad. the bed he usually tries to get in -- finally available for sleep-in.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

planning dates, book formats, and other curiosities

sometimes i am mid day and realize there is quirk in there. like the other day when d and i met up for a romantic mid work day date (ok it was 20 minutes at mickey Ds eating extra value burgers and talking day logistics, but i counted it) when i realized he was wearing his computer techie shirt with his name stitched on it and i was sporting my work name tag. we are nothing if not easily identifiable ;) and today i realized the day's tasks might have chugged right along on the power of my secret curious george toe bandaid. (it's easiest to let little c do the first aid gear choosing as he does still believe in the power of the character bandaid.)

on the holiday front, the easter loot has been labelled and packaged. thrilled with my last minute finds (among them - a bunny car, a very manly viking ship cross-stitch kit, and a few good books) i do the kind of hosting that is easy -- hide a few plastic eggs, dole out the loot, pull the pre-glazed ham out of the oven, and serve peep chicks and bunnies on top of cake mix cake and icing (hey, it's cute and it beats bakery lard slab cake ;)

i am thrilled to be blogging at work as part of my job -- i will have to do some research on workplace blogs over the long weekend because the typing the occurs rapidly at home is more stilted there -- let me know if you blog for work and have pointers to get over the unexpected writer's block.

i am also seriously considering the next book's debut as an e-book given the popularity of all those hand held devices (no, i am not an owner -- still have managed to hold off on being a cell phone operator too -- amazing i know ;)  i like dropping off the map from time to time.  in unrelated news i found a copy of my book at the thrift store today (weirdly thrilling even though it means someone was thinking i'm done with this) so you know i grabbed it having given the last copy away.

i'm off to catch up on blogs before i take the boys on their paper route (the middlest keeps making like a carbon tax payer and off-loading the work on the other two to do in exchange for more $ -- it turns out he's too social to schlep. i'm on to him... ;)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

weekends really do fix things

 my friend wendy injected some flower ♥ into my day the other day. still smiling about it
above: little c loved his super big canvas. for some fool reason i thought it would buy me a long art-ing spell, but sadly he was super efficient about it ;)
below: good thing i am a knock-off buyer. if one of my strands really were trollbeads -- specifically the one i lost this morning -- it might have taken me a bit longer to recover ;)

it feels like i'm fresh off one of those weeks  (when in the reality i've already had a weekend's space from it) where the highlights were a get together with some cousins-who- double-as-girlfriends at one of those girly glam parties (where it never ceases to amuse my friend Heather when the saleswoman starts in about the haggardly aging results of women who don't take their makeup off before bed because she know me and -- apparently i'm going to be fairly hideous when the time comes ;) because i tend to put makeup on for bed -- as if one has time to practice a dramatic smokey eye in the morning ); lunch with d's grandma -- way too much food and a similar overload of magazines for which i am both thrilled; some chill nights at home with d and the kids; early morning runs; and some quality time with my sisters, mom, and grandma on the other side. the unsuccessful medical test was really just a blip in the week, but when one is tired at the end of it, it took some church time, a few novels, dishing with friends, a page or so of active gratitude journalling and some ♥ from D -- the "i'll cook brunch and dinner and blow dry your hair" kind to get over it. (so smart of him to invest in my cheery mood ;) so i'm going into this week with a house that needs picked up and a notebook full of 5, 10, and 20 year plans. (exciting -- the "i know what i want to do when i grow up" kind) i'm back into the season of the novel. one of the main characters is sure to have a husband who leaves roast cooking times for himself on the counter and a cat who walks around with his tie on.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

here a list, there a magazine

it is january end and my life this month has been one big cold call ;) making work experience university student placements by day and homestay family arrangements for international students by night means that there are lists of notes everywhere and a big stack of magazines to reward myself with. the light is visible at the end of the tunnel. which is good because that's where the writing is.

Monday, January 16, 2012

assorted crafting to learn and relax

amid the socializing and resting that was the weekend, i did some more writing planning and a quickie-craft -- shadowbox do-over. the results sit on my family pictures plate rail.
right up there with smiling at sleeping children, is coming across their "teach the adults something" sunday school art. comics and verses scribed, they touch my heart in a new way.
it's another day job, after school sports running, trying not to panic about impending snow day.

see my previous crafty ode to the frugal source of "have a glass with dinner" in the background

it'll make a good story if nothing else ;)