Tag Archives: inspiration

A Million Miles of Fun

1999. The year the artist formerly known as Prince asked that we party like.

That summer, chauffeur to soccer games, school dances and babysitting jobs, a familiar beat reverberated in this mother’s minivan. ‘Steal My Sunshine’, a one-hit wonder released by Toronto-based band, Len.

‘Steal My Sunshine’ is one of those songs that, should it strike a chord with you, you may never grow tired of. One of those songs that will transport you back in time. ‘Steal My Sunshine’ brings me back to summer.

A Million Miles of Fun!

In 1999, I still toyed with the idea of being a writer. I mean, only a select few special, talented, rare individuals could actually be writers. Ordinary people, like me, were moms, in minivans, driving kids to karate lessons.

In 1999, I was mother to a 16-year-old male. You know the type, uttering neanderthal grunts we struggle to distinguish as either Yes, No, or I dunno. My little neanderthal wanted his own money, truly wanted a summer job with which to make said money, but wasn’t keen on the actual seeking of job. Had we lived in the Stone Age, my little neanderthal’s reluctance to leave the cave would have meant no hunting, and no hunting would have meant my little neanderthal would have gone hungry.

We did not live in the Stone Age, but the Technological Age, and so my neanderthal was jobless yet well-fed.

I shared with him advice I’d heard somewhere, sometime, said by someone I can not credit here because the memory fails, just know this wisdom did not originate with me:

‘You can’t build a reputation on what you say you’re going to do.’

Silly minivan mother. I thought this wisdom would light a fire under my neanderthal’s couch-potato bum. Apparently, fire had not yet been discovered in his world.

Enter Len. Enter the lyrics to ‘Steal My Sunshine’:

And of course you can’t become if you only say what you would have done.

And then, the consequence:

So I missed a million miles of fun.

Fast forward 2012.

Trying the Cooper on for size. Toronto Auto Show, 2011

Minivan is now a Mini Cooper, and all of my neanderthals have learned to enunciate, found gainful employment and left the nest. Summer is on the rise, I exercise my 2-60 air-conditioning (2 windows down, 60 miles an hour) and crank the radio.

‘Steal My Sunshine’ blasts from Cooper’s speakers.

The last six months have been met with challenges. Nothing catastrophic, just life–with  a few extra ounces of complication. I have embraced the writer title, but the writerly tasks have floundered this year.

In my ongoing effort to be thankful in all things, I am thankful I am not yet under contract, for this year, I’d have failed. Deadlines would have come and gone.

And still, I am bothered that I have accomplished so little on the writing front.

Yes, allowances had to be made, time had to be taken for family and home and life. Yet I wonder, could I have been more disciplined in my professional life?

Good angel says, Yes.

Bad angel says, Hell, yes.

Of course I can’t become if I only say what I would have done.

In April, I joined the Life List Club. I have said what I will do, but all the life list clubs and lists of goals in the world mean little if I only say, or write down, or blog about what I would have done.

A million miles of fun is a lot of fun to miss. I am a thief. I did this to myself.

I stole my sunshine.

But now, I’m taking it back.

I know its up for me, making sure I’m not in too deep, keeping versed and on my feet.

Thanks, Len, and thanks 104.5, for the inspiration!

How about y’all? What song lyrics, movie lines, or verses of poetry light the fire under your keister?

Join us Friday, when Marcia Richards takes the reins! Or visit Marcia today and share in some Dr. Suess wisdom.

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Oh Muse, Where Art Thou?

Photo courtesy Nicole N

Inspiration.

Imagination.

Creativity.

All three are words attributed to the occasionally elusive creature called the Muse.

While us artist-types rely on the Muse to inspire our current artistic endeavors, we aren’t the only people with muses.  Everyone has creativity, and needs creativity to solve problems.

Through the creative process, we move through the mundane to come up with unique and original ideas.  We use this process every day, from when we determine an alternate route when our traditional route to work is blocked, to deciding what to have for dinner.

How creative we are is influenced by our intelligence, memory, personality, attitude, mental health, and physical health, among others.  While some of these factors are beyond our control, many of them aren’t.  By altering those over which we have control, we can sharpen and develop our creativity.  We can grow our muses.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the fastest ways to influence creativity, for several reasons.  First, exercise decreases the effects of stress by releasing endorphins which positively affect our mental health.  Positive mental health leads to a positive attitude.  A positive attitude leads to increased mental flexibility, which makes it easier to be creative.

Exercise improves every aspect of cognition, including creativity.  There is something about activating the right side of the brain that enhances creativity, and instead of trying to explain it, I’m giving you the link to a fascinating article about it here.

Work on Your Working Memory

Working memory is also called short-term memory.  It is the part of our brain that stores information for short periods of time so that we can manipulate the information to understand and reason what we saw, learned, etc…  Exercising your brain, whether through brain games, chess, word puzzles, etc… you can increase your working memory.

Become a Brainstorming Genius

In the article “How to Get Mindpopping Ideas,”  Michael Michalko likens creativity to the universe, and creative ideas to the subatomic particles found throughout.   He gives three ways to harvest all those millions of ideas and thoughts while brainstorming.

Photo by Free Digital Photos

Observe and record each thought as a possibility.  The key word here is observe.  Don’t place judgment or value to anything your subconscious brain puts forth.  When we judge the value of our thoughts, we snuff out creativity.

Become inclusive.  When brainstorming, accept every thought as important and potentially valuable, no matter how crazy or random it seems. Creativity is the combining of elements in new and unusual ways.

Keep a written record.  Writing down our thoughts and ideas moves them into long-term memory.  Even if we aren’t consciously thinking of the idea, our subconscious is, and will create more and more ideas.

What are some ways you increase communication with your muse?

Your Natural Voice as a Writer


Clues From How the Caged Bird Sings

A long time ago, I met a young woman and in our first conversation, it came out that she sang with a choir. I told her I couldn’t sing, and I confided that I would love to be able to do it. I never forgot her reply.

—Chances are you can sing, first you have to find your range.

John James Audubon

Every Writer Has a Voice. Your voice, as a writer, is the style that makes your writing unique. It is the language you use and how you make your point. It’s what your readers hear and how it makes them feel.

Discover Your Voice. Just as you have a natural speaking voice, you have a writing voice that belongs only to you. It is shaped by your personality, beliefs and interests.

What you read has a great influence on your writing voice. The genres and authors you enjoy the most are a good indication of the direction where your voice lies. Use your reading to discover, explore and develop your voice.

Become familiar with your voice to put yourself in the best position for training.

Train Your Voice. Writers train by writing. Consider each piece of writing you create as a training exercise. The more you write, the more adept you will become at controlling your voice and the more comfortable you will become using it.

Aim to master your writing voice like a musician masters an instrument.

Your Voice Has a Range. At times, you will have to modify your writing style to suit a particular task. A romance novel, an article for Seventeen Magazine and a query letter each requires a different tone of voice.

Certain types of writing will be outside your range. Your comfort zone and your range are closely aligned. You can expand your range with training and passion.

Outside Influences Can Play a Role. A writer’s voice can also be shaped by his social environment and life experiences. Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy both wrote in Victorian-era England and their writings show it.

Mark Twain wrote about life in the United States and it’s no wonder that his voice is very different from that of Charles Dickens even though both use humor and satire in their writings.

Embrace Your Voice. Your voice is an asset. Once you have an idea of where your voice lies, embrace it. Celebrate it. Run with it. Write with style. Your voice is your style.

We are all blessed with a distinctive voice. Even if you model your writing after another’s, it will come out in your own voice.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Audience.

Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

John Steinbeck

Be Yourself. It’s a lot easier to be who you are if you’re comfortable in your own skin. Allow your writing to give voice to your inspirations. Be authentic.

Put Your Heart Into It. Give every piece you create your best effort. You’d notice if your favorite author, or favorite poet, made a halfhearted effort. The wellspring of great writing is an authentic voice that speaks with passion.

See also: Frea Shipley,  Finding Your Writing Voice: The Secret to Success.

Have you found your voice? Who influenced you?

Gary GauthierGary Gauthier is working on his first novel, a crime thriller set in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. In real life, he works for a small publishing company no one’s ever heard of and that publishes books no one reads.

His blog, Literary Snippets, gives him an opportunity to express and share his appreciation for art and literature. He occasionally posts articles as well. Some of his favorite writers are Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. But this changes from time to time. Stay tuned! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.