Congratulations to Christy E of Ohio who won the newsletter subscriber’s September drawing for a signed copy of Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity (Headline Books, Inc., 2020.) Watch for an announcement about the October contest in a couple of weeks.
If you’d like a chance to win the next drawing, please sign up for my newsletter here:
You may already know that am a fan of the blood type diet as explained by homeopathic physician Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo in his book Eat Right 4 Your Type. My blood type is O negative, and wheat products are hard for me to digest. D’Adamo suggests trying the ancient grain granddaddy of wheat called spelt. Less processing and high in B vitamins.
It was tough to find spelt bread and pasta when I first looked for it. It’s more available today thanks to my absolute favorite bakery located in Amish country in Berlin, Ohio. Give them a try. They are a small, family owned, multi-generational company that makes great products, and the customer service is awesome. Tell Nicole that Joy sent you!
All good things,
Women with clean houses do not have finished books.
This is our moment. Yours and mine. And as my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Mary Young, was very fond of repeating, “You can’t get this moment back, so don’t waste it.”
Many years later, I think about Mrs. Young using this call-to-action to teach eleven-year-olds the value of time. I believed and followed everything Mrs. Young said. She was the first teacher to encourage my writing and tell me that I could and should follow the path of a writer. Even though she knew that I was the heir apparent to my mother’s thriving ballet school, (Mrs. Young’s granddaughter took ballet from my mother,) Mrs. Young let me know that I was a writer. She was also the first person to impress the importance and meaning of a deadline. She is why I became a writer, got a journalism degree, and have pursued the craft and publishing for fifty (yep) years.
The point of this vignette is that everyone must have a champion, someone who sees their potential and supports them in every way, even when the going is tough, and the champion falls off the horse. Who is that person for you? Who first voiced, “You can do this” convincingly enough to motivate you to pursue it? This person is due your thanks.
I often thank Mrs. Young in my journal and sometimes I complain to her that being an author isn’t a piece of cake. Those are the moments when I’ve fallen off the horse and am looking up from the dirt searching for someone to blame. That’s when the query letter doesn’t hit the mark. When a reviewer says something less than adoring (they’re allowed, but it still stings.) Simply dumping my frustrations into the journal helps clear away the doubt, and I’m able to remind myself that writing and teaching it is what I do. I get up, dust off my cheeks, get back into the office chair, and start typing or researching or whatever again. It’s what I do.
I write, publish, and teach to reach out, to connect with other people. Thanks to Mrs. Young, I have the belief (not always the confidence because I’m just human) that my words and ideas may help someone else.
This support notion applies to everything, every field, and every person. Who first pointed out that you make a fabulous fill-in-the-blank and drove you to be better at it? Send this wonderful soul an unsent letter of thanks by writing to them in your journal. Unsend the letter. Keep it in your journal, unless you want to send it in some way-message in a bottle, email, snail mail. It’s all good.
All good things,
Women with clean houses do not have finished books.
If you’d like to receive a free download YOGA FOR WRITERS exercise routine click the link below to sign-up for my newsletter.
DETAILS: Lessons, activities, and discussion covering the five key WW concepts
Taught in private Groups.io forum
REGISTER: Email writerwellness at gmail dot com
WRITER WELLNESS & FIVE THINGS FOR YOUR WRITING
By Joy E. Held
The idea for my book and workshop Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity (Headline Books, Inc., 2020) came to me when some of my critique partners asked how they could be my clones. They wanted to shadow me for a week to see what I did every day that led to my prolific publishing (over 500 articles and counting,) life as a homeschooling mom, and part-time hatha yoga teacher. Up to that point, I hadn’t done any self-examination of my processes, but when they asked, I stepped back and watched myself for a month while documenting my doings and beings in a journal. This article is a peek into what I learned.
Please take out a pen and paper (or your phone or computer) and list five things you’ve done in the last thirty days to promote/support your writing.
Now list five challenges or obstacles that you believe are standing in the way of accomplishing your writing goals.
Next, list five writing wishes or desires you want to come true.
Following the Writer Wellness plan will help you to always have five things on those lists. It will also allow you to maintain a level of health and creativity that some writers are missing.
Are you happy with your writing in general?
Are you happy with your health?
Do you ever notice a direct relationship to the productivity and quality of your writing and quality of your life?
A physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy individual is by far a more productive, creative, and pleasant person. This is evidenced by the fact that many corporations have implemented programs to keep employees happy and healthy. Programs range from day care centers in the workplace to personal trainers for every ten employees. A healthy, happy employee is more productive, misses less work, and is a more cost-effective employee.
As a writer, you are the employer and the employed. Happiness, productivity, and health are definite factors in the quality of work you produce. It is therefore in your best interest as a writer to do everything you can to stay healthy and be the best writer you can be.
But where are you supposed to get the time? Let’s not jump ahead of ourselves to the time factor. Hopefully, you will instinctively see that working these ideas into your life will make positive use of your time while adding to the quality of your life and the productivity of your work.
The whole premise of Writer Wellness is that creativity and productivity are crucially dependent upon an overall quality of life. This includes the physical, mental, emotional, communal, and spiritual aspects of life.
To serve the purposes of Writer Wellness, I’ve broken down a writer’s quality of life into five interdependent components necessary to sustain a healthful, creative life.
The five key concepts of Writer Wellness are JOURNALING, EXERCISE, RELAXATION, PROPER NUTRITION, AND CREATIVE PLAY. These areas contribute to an overall wellness way of living and working.
I was raised in my mother’s dancing school. Before she retired after 52 years, she kept the books, wrote the grants and publicity announcements, directed weekly rehearsals, and taught five ballet classes a week. Thanks to her excellent example, the principles of physical fitness and eating right were pounded into me from an early age. At age fourteen, I began the Writer Wellness life (even though I hadn’t labeled it yet,) when a local newspaper carried a weekly column I wrote about my junior high school. I saw my name in print. I was hooked. From then on, I was a dancer and a writer.
I discovered yoga, meditation, and modern dance in college, and everything fell into place for me. Thirty plus years later, I still journal almost daily unless I’m working intensely on a writing project, exercise five to six times a week, follow a strict eating plan with supplements, practice daily meditation, and engage in creative play through art journaling, crafting, and scrapbooking.
When other writers in my critique group asked me how I published so much, I reviewed my life and named the process “Writer Wellness.” Now I teach other writers the basic principles and encourage them to find their own versions of the five concepts.
Today I maintain myself as a writer by incorporating each of the five key concepts of Writer Wellness into my day. Depending on obligations and scheduling, I’m able to journal, exercise, follow a prescribed food program, and meditate seven days a week. The creative play happens more on the weekends when I’m not writing, editing, promoting, or teaching online. I have two new book releases in 2020, a two-book contract with an independent publisher, teach college English composition online, teach hatha yoga three times a week, and run online workshops for various writing associations. I’m also on the board of directors for my RWA chapters.
You can do this as well.
Looking back to the lists of five things you made at the beginning of this article, make a pact with yourself to create a new way of life that will support your goals as a writer and a healthy, productive person. My book and workshop will show you the way so that you’ll always have five things done every month to help you live the writing dream.
The workshop I’m leading October 4-29, 2021 is a detailed look at the five key concepts of Writer Wellness and an exploration of how you can incorporate the practice into your life. With Writer Wellness as the foundation, you can achieve the writing dreams and personal goals you desire.
Be well, write well. See you in workshop!
All good things,
WRITER WELLNESS ONLINE WORKSHOP
STARTS: Monday, October 4
ENDS: Friday, October 29
DETAILS: Lessons, activities, and discussion covering the five key WW concepts
REFLECTIVE WRITING: A JOURNAL WORKSHOP FOR WRITERS
Looking forward to leading this month-long, self-paced online workshop for Hearts Through History Romance Writers. We’ll discover different styles of journaling and how published authors have relied on reflective writing to support their careers and so can you! Starts Sept. 6. Join us!
I grew up in my mother’s ballet school, so, of course, I’m familiar with the image of the flowy, beautiful Terpsichore, the Greek muse of dance. I believe in the mythology of the muses, and I can easily play along with the notion when it comes to creativity, but if I sat around and waited on ideas to be gifted to me by some ethereal being, I wouldn’t have published as much or as long as I have.
From my love for studying history and literature, I have learned that the Greeks sought ways to explain their world and themselves. True, this ancient culture contributed a great deal to philosophy, government, education, and so on, but anything they couldn’t exactly touch, eat, or screw didn’t qualify to their norms of rationality and were obviously gifts from the gods who ruled their lives.
We’ve progressed a little farther from that perspective, but the image of the muse bestowing genius and inspiration upon a poet, writer, and others is still with us. For example, in between his writing advice to “work your ass off” and read, author Steven King claims that, “There is a muse*, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station. He lives in the ground.” (144-145)
As I see it, the problem with depending on a mythical character to do the grunt work is irrational and risky. And since my Scorpio roots ground me to at least listening to my intuition, I’m in between a rock and a hard place that are both falling in on me unless I take a pragmatic approach to things so I can get $h!t done. Because if I don’t, I don’t get paid, and I doubt if I need to explain the avalanche of problems that results from that precarious place. I actually have worked for food writing and posting social media for a local restaurant, so I know what it feels like to sell my ideas in exchange for a sandwich because that’s how they paid me—in calories.
The point is that inspiration most often comes from motivation. Even King explains that he wanted out of a distasteful, go-nowhere teaching job and that compelled him to write and submit until the strike hit the mark for him. He was motivated by survival despite his tongue-in-cheek nod to his muse which he describes as a “basement guy” who smokes cigars while admiring his bowling trophies but has wings and a bag of magic. The muse may have the magic, but the writer must have the motivation. Besides needing to pay bills, where do motivation and ideas come from?
The idea for my online workshop “50 Ways to Leave Your Muse: Creativity Hacks” was originally motivated by an assignment in graduate school. I was motivated by getting a grade and inspired by the work of college English teacher and author Wendy Bishop. Her book Released Into Language: Options for Teaching Creative Writing has a delicious chapter on how she teaches her students to always be inspired to write and not dependent on the muse. She calls it “getting in motion” to write. I like that imagery, not only because of my dance background but because I really do feel like whizzing, whirring, buzzing, clunking, clanking, cranking writing machine when I’m in the flow.
Bishop has students write to and about their personal muses. Those examples in Bishop’s book inspired me to make a list of all the things that can, do, and have contributed to my life as a writer. A writer who is constantly on the run from writer’s block because it doesn’t have a place at my writing table. There’s a place for my lovely muse who eats daintily and quietly with a constant twinkle in her eyes no matter what I’m serving. She’s polite and inspiring, but like King, I always do the dishes, which is the hard work of procuring, pounding out, and proofreading the sentences. We have a lovely relationship, my muse and I, because I stay open to EVERYTHING. That’s what the workshop “50 Ways to Leave Your Muse: Creativity Hacks” is about: staying open to the world so you never miss the whisper of the muse. And fun.
The next online workshop of “50 Ways to Leave Your Muse: Creativity Hacks for Writers” is a self-paced course hosted by Hearts Through History Romance Writers of America. It runs June 1-25, 2021. You can register here:
They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you liked the cover of my book, Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com!
I’m getting closer to clinch the “Cover of the Month” contest on AllAuthor! I’d need as much support from you guys as possible. Please take a short moment to vote for my book cover here:
I’m really looking forward to leading the online workshop “Mindset, Motivation, and Well-being A to Z for Writers” for ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA SAN DIEGO CHAPTER in September. As an author, educator, speaker, and dedicated journal keeper, the idea for this course came to me after reading Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I was also inspired by The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works. Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal, Ph. D.
These topics readily apply to the writing life, and I’m always on the lookout for ways to keep myself and my clients motivated, healthy, positive, and forward moving. Both books mention the stick-to-ive-tive-ness of several famous authors, and I started to collect a list of all the modes and methods suggested by Duckworth and McGonigal. The list was long. To make it manageable, I alphabetized each idea and POOF! This workshop blossomed from there.
Here’s a look at the workshop schedule:
SCHEDULE: MINDSET, MOTIVATION, AND WELL-BEING A TO Z FOR WRITERS
Welcome, Introductions, and Schedule (F)
Lesson One (M)
Ability, Action, Anxiety
Badass, Boredom, Books
Lesson Two (W)
Change, Community, Character
Lesson Three (F)
Experience Junkies, Exercise
Family, Finances, Fun/Future Me
Lesson Four (M)
Grit for Writers
Lesson Five (W)
Journal, Journal, Journal
Lesson Six (F)
Love, Life, Lips
Lesson Seven (M)
Lesson Eight (W)
Lesson Nine (F)
Risk, Reward, Reading
Lesson Ten (M)
Time Mismanagement, Technology
Lesson Eleven (W)
Values, Vice, Virtue
Lesson Twelve (F)
Yoga for Writers
From action to zero-based thinking, I’m sure you’ll discover something new in this workshop that can be added to your personal tool kit to move you from confused to confident when it comes to your writing career. Writing is not just about arranging the twenty-six letters of the alphabet over and over. Writing success depends on the writer/operator maintaining a good attitude and making the best choices. Please join me in the workshop to learn how the right mindset, motivation, and well-being attitudes can support your health and career.
The idea for my book and workshop Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity(Headline Books, Inc., 2020) came to me when some of my critique partners asked how they could be my clones. They wanted to shadow me for a week to see what I did every day that led to my prolific publishing (over 500 articles and counting,) life as a homeschooling mom, and part-time hatha yoga teacher. Up to that point, I hadn’t done any self-examination of my processes, but when they asked, I stepped back and watched myself for a month while documenting my doings and beings in a journal.
What I concluded during my self-analysis was that journaling, exercise, meditation, good nutrition, and creative play supported my career and life. In the workshop, I share my story as well as ways you can customize the idea to reach your goals.
The workshop I’m leading Sept. 14-25 for Romantic Women’s Fiction chapter of RWA in Septemberis a detailed look at the five key concepts of Writer Wellness and an exploration of how you can incorporate the practice into your life. With Writer Wellness as the foundation, you can achieve the writing dreams and personal goals you desire.
The idea for my online workshop “50 Ways to Leave Your Muse: Creativity Hacks” was ignited by an assignment in graduate school. I was motivated by getting a grade for the assignment and inspired by the work of college English teacher and author Wendy Bishop. Her book Released Into Language: Options for Teaching Creative Writing contains a delicious chapter on how she teaches her students to always be inspired to write and not depend on the muse. She calls it “getting in motion” to write. I like that imagery, not only because of my dance background but because I really do feel like a whizzing, whirring, buzzing, clunking, clanking, cranking writing machine when I’m in the flow.
When I sat down and made a list of everything I do to stay healthy and creative, I realized that it was something I could share with others. The online workshop “50 Ways to Leave Your Muse: Creativity Hacks” was born. Here’s a look at the lesson schedule:
SCHEDULE: 50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR MUSE: CREATIVITY HACKS FOR WRITERS
JOY E. HELD, INSTRUCTOR
Welcome, Schedule, and Student Introductions (M)
LESSON 1: THE MUSE RUSE (W)
LESSON 2: CURIOSITY*EXPERIENCE*TRAVEL (F)
LESSON 3: PHYSICAL FITNESS*NUTRITION (M)
LESSON 4: RELAXATION*MINDFULNESS*MEDITATION (W)
LESSON 5: JOURNALING*INCUBATION (F)
LESSON 6: EMBRACE UNCERTAINTY*PLAY GAMES (M)
LESSON 7: ART*SCIENCE*WOOWOO (W)
LESSON 8: GRIT*CONNECTIONS (F)
LESSON 9: READING*THE SENSES (M)
LESSON 10: SLEEP*DREAMS*INTUITION (W)
Wrap-up, Resources, The 50 Ways (F)
I have the awesome opportunity of leading this online workshop in September ’20 hosted by Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance Writers of America chapter. It starts on Sept. 7 and goes until Oct. 4. The price is very reasonable and anybody can sign up. Here’s the registration link:
OCCUPATION THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO JOBS, VOCATIONS, AND CAREERS
BY ANGELA ACKERMAN AND BECCA PUGLISI
If there’s one thing writers learn early, it’s how important details are to the success of the work. Fiction, nonfiction, and everything else resonate better with readers when the content rings true. Getting the specifics correct says that the writer cares about the product and the consumer. It’s also a good idea to get the small things correct because readers know they’re reading good work by an author who went the extra mile to be sure the details are solid. Readers will applaud such effort with positive comments and buying the next book, but they will also let everyone know when something isn’t quite right.
Due diligence by a writer where the nitty-gritty is concerned is how the helpful line of books from authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi come in handy. These two word nerds (term applied lovingly) have done more than enough leg work to help any writer get the facts straight. The latest addition to the Ackerman/Puglisi library is THE OCCUPATION THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO JOBS, VOCATIONS, AND CAREERS. Not only does this work offer a treasure trove of information and the all-important details, the title is a tiny thesaurus in and of itself (occupation, jobs, vocations, careers.) Why would anyone fall prey to the dreaded “word echo” (using the same word too often on a page, in a paragraph, etc.) syndrome when books like the Occupation Thesaurus exist?
In addition to offering concise job descriptions, the Occupation Thesaurus is a handy tool for coming up with ideas. When the brain seems dry but the deadline looms, reference tools such as those crafted by Ackerman and Puglisi go the distance when inspiration is sought.
Before you think that the book is simply a list of careers and what they do, glance back at the full title. It states that this work is a helpful tool for writers, and the content proves this by suggesting a range of writing helpers to further inspire and add depth of understanding. For instance, each vocation provides an overview of the work done followed by juicy details such as training necessary, character traits, reasons why a character might choose the profession, and so much more.
For a quick and different perspective on this book, if you work in any kind of career counseling or services, this book should be sitting on the top shelf in your office. It’s an amazing collection of who, what, why, and what if about the work people do.
Ackerman and Puglisi have previously published other books in their thesaurus line as well. The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is the crown jewel that cracks the code for crafting realistic character occupations that adds detail to the work. This information contributes to what readers want: the real deal. Thanks to Ackerman and Puglisi, writers have a tool to help them create authentic characters that readers will believe.