Plan Big!: A Word of Creative Encouragement #MotivationMonday

When God is your partner, make your plans big!” ~ D.L Moody

Plan BIG!

You’d think that that exhortation would make every person who heard it celebrate with a motivated fire for action when in reality it makes a lot of people shrink back in fear and hide under the heavy blankets of safety and mediocrity.

Dreaming is not so much of an issue for most of us. But dreaming big . . . well, that has the power to not only knock the wind out of many of our sails but sink our boats completely.

Like me, I suppose you are wondering why that is. If we are honest with ourselves we would have to admit that insecurity and the scrutiny of others is what holds us back. The old ‘what will people think?’ phrase acts as the perfect glitch in our plans of action.

The very thought of failing in front of others, especially those who’ve minimalized our former dreams with the constant song of ‘you can’t,’ strikes us immobile. Them witnessing our former failed attempts doesn’t help either.

But is any of that really a reason to shrink our globally-sized visions down to something that only fills a shoebox? Are our past ‘failures’ really messages that we are not able to achieve the impossible?

I dare say NO!

If nothing else our past ‘failures’ are signs that we are indeed able to succeed? Why? Because even when we aimed for the moon and didn’t even leave the atmosphere, we still have the gumption to load up for another shot.

We are indeed meant to plan big, and along with that, we must rest in faith that every seeming malfunction has a glorious function for our good. We learn from every step we take. We are strengthened by every closed door. We can actually become better with ever affront against our determination.

Isaiah 54:2-4 says, “Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited. “Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.”

Dreaming BIG is a gift, a costly gift. It means we will have seasons and moments when we look foolish. It will require us to cast out our nets just one more time in faith even though we’ve been fishing all night and caught nothing. (Luke 5:3-7) But when Yeshua Jesus is directing our casting even when the progress looks minimal the process is optimal and so is the final outcome if we stick with it.

What we must realize is that the God of all Creation has big dreams and plans for each of us. When we trust Him as our Father we are then positioned by faith to prosper. (Jeremiah 29:11)  His thoughts for us are all GOOD and PRECIOUS  and they outnumber the stars and the sand (Psalm 139:17-18).

But part of seeing these dreams come to pass rest in our willingness to dream big, plan even bigger and allow the Giver of Dreams Himself to guide us on the journey. (John 15:5) “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

There is nothing that is too big for Yeshua Jesus to do and when He is our partner there is NOTHING we cannot do! (Philippians 4:13)  But it requires us to believe in and on Him, and take great leaps of faith.

But then, that’s all it takes.

So dream, plan and do it BIG! He’s got your back.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*Revised from June 2016

Empty Cups: MicroFiction #AmWriting #Words #Romance

I wouldn’t say she was beautiful, more unique than anything, but she definitely had the kind of face that was unforgettable. It wasn’t in a bad way either.

The way the planes and curves of her cheeks, lips, and bones played with shadow and light did something to a man’s mind. It did something to mine.

Even now I see her image. I can even hear her laughter. The tone of it has left a scar as deep as my marrow and just as familiar as the freckles on my calloused hands.

I wish I could say things ended well. More than anything they simply ended. My call, my shot, my rules and my way . . . I was doing her the favor by being by her side, wasn’t I? I was the pretty one they said. I was the one that was so full of life.

I was full of something and that goes without saying.

I was full of her. The truth is I am nothing more than an empty cup, sat on a ledge waiting for someone else to fill me.

Sad truth is I only want her.

THE END

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

5 Crucial Things to Remember While Writing Your First Draft: #AmWriting #WritingWisdom #writingtips

 

First Draft.

Those two words wield a whole lot of power, evoking emotions from giddy excitement to brain numbing dread.

Some writers stand strong on the side of excitement, ready to throw down words and metaphors like hot fire, while others battle cold sweats and nausea at the single thought of how many words it’s going to take to bring their creative vision to life.

365-day-writing-challengeI digress for just a moment. If you are one of those who struggles with where to begin with your novel-writing-journey, give this writing prompt I created a try. It’s called Write Your Novel in 365 Days. 

With as few as 200 words a day, guided by a single word of the day to inspire you, you can have a complete novel written from start to finish in 365 days!

And just remember, your 365 day writing year starts on the day you begin. It could even be today!

Back to the original point.

No matter where you stand on the first-draft-spectrum, you will more often than not, run into those familiar feelings that try to convince you that what you are doing, or what you’ve done thus far just isn’t good enough in comparison to your original vision! (For some specific encouragement about that issue, read, 3 Reasons to Keep Creating.)

Your first draft is similar to a preliminary sketch in an artist’s sketchbook.

The point is, those thoughts you are having aren’t necessarily as untrue as they are irrelevant at the moment.

Now, let me explain my meaning before you leave this posting.

You are writing a first draft. Your first draft is similar to a preliminary sketch in an artist’s sketchbook. Sketches are lovely in their own right, but they are nothing compared to the polished finished piece.

The finished piece will have more color, more contrast, more depth. More care and focus is given to the finished piece.

This is the truth of your first written draft. It is a sketch. It’s good enough now as a ‘sketch’, but prepare yourself to make it even better as a final draft. . . and you will!

With that being said, here are 5 Crucial Things to Remember about your first draft to encourage you as you continue on this writing journey:

  1. Just keep writing: First drafts don’t have to be perfect, they just have to BE in order to be worked into something incredible. Keep building your story’s foundation with this first round of word-slinging.
  2. Don’t make the story into something that it is not: There is a saying in the visual art world that is, “Create what you see, not what you think you see.” In the case of writing, “Write what you see, not what you wish to see for convenience.” If you want to derail your stories authenticity and originality, try to fit it into a mold that makes you “comfortable,” but totally contradicts what the characters in your piece are laying out for you.
  3. TRUST THE PLOT TO WORK ITSELF OUT!: If your story seems to have a conflict that has you uncertain about how it is going to resolve itself, don’t worry. If you follow your muse and honor point #2 the resolution will reveal itself at the appropriate time. For more on this read my post called, “The Hydra Effect: 3 Ways to Manage Multiple Plot Conflicts”.
  4. Don’t mind the word count…too much: (Obviously, 200k is a lot to manage for a reader and even a writer at times.) Just write what the story is telling you in ALL the words that it tells you the first time around. You can trim and polish later.
  5. Just have fun: What other reason is there for writing fiction besides to have fun?

So keep writing, my friends. Make those ugly word messes in your first draft. Create those run-ons and those dead end plot twists. All of this is part of the glory of writing a story!

*These 5 points were taken from my post called, Never Judge a First Draft By It’s Word Count: The Fun of Novel Writing,” published on May 21, 2015.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

3 Reasons to Keep Creating: It’s Worth the Mess. Keep At it! #MotivationMonday #Creating #Encouragement

 

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly . . . until you can learn to do it well.” ~Zig Ziglar

I have always been a believer that anything worth having is definitely worth fighting for. Having healthy relationships? Worth fighting for. Having security? Worth fighting for? Having victory in maintaining faith? Worth fighting for.

I could go on and I am sure that you could add several things to the ‘worth fighting for’ list. But one thing I have often lost the fight in (because I didn’t show up) was in learning new avenues of creating.

Why? Because more times than not I was afraid of failure. I wonder if you can relate.

The thing about being a creative person–the thing about being human–is that the beginnings of all of our successes begin in a mess. We don’t begin walking with elegant or confident gaits. We fall and we scuff our hands and knees.

The same is true for each and ever creative venture that we embark on.

Our first drafts will likely be, well, garbage in comparison to the final drafts. Our first paintings, even done as adults will show the skills of an enthusiastic three-year-old.

All of this is okay. All of this is part of the process.

We have to learn in all things that before we are able to play “Moonlight Sonata” with our eyes closed that we must first begin playing “Chopsticks” with sharp concentration.

We have to keep giving and keep practicing until our muscles are trained and our creativity flows with the same ease as breathing.

Consider your craft to be like rerouting natural water into a beautiful city situated in a dry place. The water is there. The city is there. You just have to be willing to do what it takes to bring them together.

HERE ARE 3 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:

  1. Being a ‘beginner’ is a necessary step in becoming a master or even mediocre. Both however take time.
  2. What you give you will get. If you keep at your practice you will either learn how to do it well or learn that there is no shame in learning that you aren’t meant to do everything, but that there are never any regrets in giving some things a try.
  3. Every beautiful home begins as a messy, muddy, hole in the ground. Foundations are often the least favorite part of the process but the most important. The mansion is definitely worth the mud!

So keep working on your novels. Keep slinging that paint, and scratching those ivories until they bleed into submission and your touch turns into a tickle.

What you are doing is worth it. It is worth the moments of frustration. It is worth relentlessly pounding the ‘delete’ button until the letters on the key are all but worn away.

It is all worth it because the day will come when you finally learn how to do what you are doing well. And it will be beautiful!

~Dream. Imagine. Beleive. Do. CONQUER! 

5 Ways to Maintain Creative Joy: Wisdom for Creatives #Creative #Writing #Art

 

Being a creative person is a gift, one that is inherent to us all. Whether you are a writer or an artist, an educator or a parent imagining a new way to get your kids to eat their broccoli, you are operating in your creative nature.

For those us who want to take our creative passion to the next level and turn our hobbies into lucrative business ventures, we run the risk of facing burn out.

This burnout isn’t just from creating nonstop on something awesome. This burnout comes from being unprepared for the reality in the shift that we are making.

When our passion becomes a businesses there is another level of accountability that we have to step into, a level that is not as ‘fun’ as creating itself but just as necessary if we are to be successful.

With that in mind, I want to encourage you on ways to keep the glow of joy in your creating even as you stretch beyond your comfort zone and begin to make your passion available to your audience.

5 Ways to Enjoy Creating

  1. Make a plan: Realize that having an idea is just the beginning. You have to take the necessary steps that will take your plan and make it a reality and this requires time, dedication, and hard work. As Thomas Edison put it, “There is no substitute for hard work.” But the fruits are certainly worth the labor.
  2. Take your plan and break it up into daily, weekly, or monthly achievable goals: How do you eat an elephant? Whether with a knife and fork or simply your bare hands, it’s going to take one bite at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, folks, and neither will your next novel or great sculpture reach completion the very day you begin. Take things a step at a time. The Book of Genesis outlines how the world was created, one day at a time, one plan at a time, and with the completion of each day, God said IT IS GOOD!
  3. Don’t overdo it: Aim for a number of tasks you can do daily and have maybe one or two smaller tasks you can do in addition should you accomplish your big three in a shorter time, but no more. Time with family and friends is just as important and actually more so than work.
  4. Set work boundaries: Give yourself a dedicated time limit to work and then honor those boundaries. Boundaries create discipline. When discipline is developed our productivity is more effective. We can focus more on quality than quantity which saves us time in the end. Boundaries also create balance and enable us to enjoy our work and appreciate the freedom in our lives. I heard Pastor Ron Carpenter say, “The difference between a swamp and a river is boundaries. “ Because a river has boundaries it has a greater sense of order and bears fruit, whereas a swamp…well it’s a swamp. Both have water and trees but which do you most prefer to visit?
  5. Celebrate each victory: Even if you don’t reach your daily or weekly goal in totality, give thanks for what you were able to accomplish and give yourself a reward for a job well done. Whether it is in a specialty cup of tea or coffee, or just fifteen extra minutes of leisure time, be sure to celebrate. Celebration makes the worth just as worthwhile as the goal itself. Life is not just about the destination but each mile that makes up the journey. Again, if the God of Creation can see His daily tasks as good on the way to the greater destination, so can and so should we!
  6. BONUS: Remember that your value is not rooted in the work you do, that you are not measured by your victories and failures. Rather remember that because you have value you are able to do the work you do and do it well even through the ebbs and flows of victories and the unavoidable fails.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Turn around the Ballroom: #Shortstory #Amwriting #Writing

Turn around the ballroom“Let this be the last time we have this conversation,” Malcolm spoke through clenched teeth. His mother sat gracefully in her wing-back chair, her hair in a perfectly tight coiffure, her mouth and the lines surrounding it even tighter.

She kept her hands loosely folded in her lap. Her face displayed her displeasure, but her hands . . . her hands showed she was not at all truly troubled nor threatened by Malcolm.

Her expression slowly melted into a placid picture of motherly grace. The corners of her red lips rising slowly. Her eyes, however, remained sharp. Her gentleness was not to be misread. She would have the last word and Malcolm would honor it.

“Darling, there is no need for you to behave so distastefully, nor to speak with such harsh tones. Please, do sit. You flutter my nerves when you are so anxious.” She patted the side of her head and her fingers trailed down and traced the line of her pearls as she lied.

She somehow took pleasure in the trouble she caused her son. She couldn’t help it. He looked so much like his father, his real father–Abbot Gray, not the man she had married. He had not let her be happy with him. She hated him.

Reticent, but wanting to show some level of respect for his mother, Malcolm acquiesced, taking the farthest seat in the parlor. Tension settled on his shoulders like a sodden wool blanket. He stretched his neck, his blue eyes staring sharply into his mother’s.

In the beginning, he had not understood all the years of hell she had raised around him. As a small child she had adored him, but when he had turned thirteen, as his voice and body began to give way to the changes brought forth by time, his beloved mother’s soft expressions and gentle touches transformed into cutting gazes, stiff hugs that were few and far between, and harsh words that could raise the dead.

He had begun to look too much like a person she hated. Malcolm thought things would settle and ease if he did whatever she asked of him, and he had. But nothing, nothing had ever pleased her. He had long since ceased the attempt.

Now armed with the knowledge of Abbot Gray, knowledge she had no inkling of him having, he would not dare bend to her whims again. He would not pay for another man’s sins nor his mothers. He would have Elizabeth and no one would keep him from that happiness.

Mother gazed out the window for only a few seconds, but long enough for a glint of satisfaction to spark in her eyes. That shine always came when she aimed to wound him.

“I have already sent word to the girl that there will be no wedding. I told her clearly so as to leave no room for misunderstanding that she was nothing more than a fleeting play, a turn around the ballroom of a man’s desires, and that you had not the heart to tell her the truth.” That is how Abbot Gray had made her feel.

Her jaw muscle ticked. “I received her response just this afternoon.” She let her gaze fall upon Malcolm again, hiding her own inner wound.

Malcolm’s face was stone. “Did you now?” Were the only words he could manage. They seemed to satisfy his mother. Pink crept through her pale color and flooded into her wrinkling cheeks. Her cruel heart had aged her greatly.

“I did. You left me no choice in the matter.”

Malcolm stood again and found his place near the fireplace he stared in to the flames. “Did you take the time to read the response. Mother?”

“No, darling. I waited for you to do so.” Her voice was light as if she were sighing. She was satisfied. “Shall I do so now?”

Malcolm glared hard at the back of her head. He skirted around her chair and stood only a few feet away from her. He wanted to see her expression when she read. His heart drummed against his rig cage as each penned word became married with sound.

He bit down hard into his lip stifling his own smile, no, laughter. Watching the color drain as she read the letter, his letter, penned by his own hand, notarized by the Parson, Abbot Gray, who had wed him and his beloved made him want to dance.

Balling the paper with white-knuckled fist, she sneered at her son with blood red eyes, her words somehow choked from her by the string of pearls around her neck.

Malcolm cleared his throat. “It is a pity, Mother that you could not have been there. Elizabeth was a dream in robin’s egg blue. Parson Abbot or should I say, my father, did a wonderful job with the vows. He did ask me to give you his regards.”

THE END

Not too sure where this came from. Vindictive mother’s, absent fathers, lies and revenge…Malcolm and his mother.

*This story was originally writing January 31, 2014, and has been revised.