Quarantine Fever: 50 Things I've Never Been Asked #30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 13

March 20th, 2020 8:30pm – oh, some fun questions

1. What is the color of your hairbrush? – I don’t use a hairbrush. Fingers only.

2. Name a food you’d never ever eat. – Shellfish

3. Are you typically too warm or too cold? – Too cold

4. What were you doing 45 minutes ago? – Checking out TikTok Dancing

5. What is your favorite candy bar? – Not a bar. Justin’s Peanut Butter cups DARK Chocolate only. Yes, I’m bougie like that nowadays.

6. Have you ever been to a professional sports event? – I’m originally from Boston. It’s mandated for every child born in the state.

7. What is the last thing you said out loud? – “Oh my God! You’re a f*cking Moron!” Screaming at TV watching “someone” doing a press conference.

8. What is your favorite ice cream? – I don’t eat dairy anymore. But it used to be chocolate chip!

9. What was the last thing you had to drink? – Water

10. Do you like your wallet? – I get compliments ALL THE TIME. It’s very unique.

11. What was the last thing you ate? – Spinach Salad w/Chicken

12. Did you buy any new clothes last weekend? – No.

13. The last sporting event you watched? – NBA Championship 2019 😦

14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn? -Popcorn is not my jam, so just regular, I guess. At the movies, sharing it with someone.

15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to? – My friend Mia

16. Ever go camping? – Yes!

17. Do you take vitamins? – No.

18. Do you go to church every Sunday? – If you mean the beach, then yes. I go three times a week at least.

19. Do you have a tan? – Born this way. Don’t be hatin’.

20. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza? – I prefer Chocolate Cake above all else. But sure, Chinese food, if you mean American Chinese food over pizza wins every time.

21. Do you drink your soda with a straw? – No.

22. What color socks do you usually wear? – depends on the outfit. Prefer NO socks.

23. Do you ever drive above the speed limit? – Not on purpose.

24. What terrifies me? – The pain I see in others that I cannot fix or help them with.

25. Look to your left, what do you see?American Collector Magazine with Barack & Michelle Obama on the cover.

26. What chore do you hate? – Doing my own bookkeeping.

27. What do you think of when you hear an Australian accent? – Hot men?  My friend Andrea and I were just talking about how men with accents trump all other “must have’s” in men. Hahahaha! 

28. What’s your favorite soda? – Root beer

29. Do you go in a fast food place or just hit the drive thru? – Drive thru.

30. What is your favorite number? – 12

31. Who’s the last person you talked to? – Beata

32. Favorite cut of beef? – New York steak, short loin

33. Last song you listened to? – “River” Bishop Briggs

34. Last book you read? – “The Alchemist” again.

35. Favorite day of the week? – Saturday morning

36. Can you say the alphabet backwards? – Yes. (the trick: write it down first.)

37. How do you like your coffee? – with Almond creamer

38. Favorite pair of shoes? – My old school Jimmy Choo Classic Boots, Tamara Mellon MJ Patent, Office of Angela Scott  Mr. Colin Monkstrap  ßit depends on what I’m wearing that day.  Favorite pair for shoes is too big!

39. Time you normally go to bed? – 10pm-ish.

40. Time you normally get up? – between 4:30am-5:30am

41. What do you prefer, sunrise or sunsets? – Sunrise. My favorite time of day. 

42. How many blankets on your bed? – That’s too personal.

43. Describe your kitchen plates? – Blue-ish grey.

44. Do you have a favorite alcoholic beverage? – Red, with chocolate notes.

45. Do you play cards? – War? That’s all I know.

46. What color is your car? – “Champagne” – that’s what it says.

47. Can you change a tire? – Yes, but never have.  Nails.

48. Your favorite state? – To be in a state of joy. Laughter. 

49. Favorite job you ever had? – Speaking on stage.

50. How did you get your biggest scar? – I jumped out of a window and my knee caught the fencing and sliced open. I was a teenager.

That was fun — just for a little change of pace!

Hugs.

Carmen

Create Your Own Challenge #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop #Writing

As I’m writing this piece, I’m in the middle of a 30 day challenge I created for myself.

The idea was rather simple: could I find a way to write — actually physically type — on my laptop some of my thoughts from my morning journal? See, I write — hand write — every day in a journal. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. And I keep those journals, which are black hardcover bound sketchbooks, and that’s how I came to write my first book. It wasn’t my intention but it was time to shred all of those sketchbooks I had in storage. So many boxes and taking up too much space so one day, I started randomly going through them. Some, if not most it, felt like junky writing — because, let’s face it — that’s what journaling is all about, writing anything and everything. But then I found these pieces. These moments in time. Scenes that made sense. They were heart-warming and poignant. The book Canela formed almost instantaneously.

I shredded about 25 boxes of journals.

For whatever reason, habit really, when I wake in the morning, I have to write. And sometimes that stuff is so good! And I keep thinking, “If I could just write like THIS on my blog, maybe other people would enjoy this or have feedback or help me with ideas…” or whatever. The point is, I always want to share parts of my journaling but I can’t. I just can’t.

And I had to ask myself why?

The biggest reason is because once I know I’m writing for someone else to read, OTHER than myself, my hand-writing changes. The other problem is that something’s lost in the translation. I write in English, so it’s not a language thing. But if I start typing out what I wrote by hand to put it up on my blog, I start editing, I start “fixing” sentences and hell, it just becomes such chore.

So, I wanted to see if I could change my habit and/or just challenge myself. I decided to try and share my thoughts with my blogging friends but instead of sharing my morning journal-therapy session with everyone, why not instead try to share something else? Why not type directly in WordPress at the END OF DAY and see if that churns up any decent thoughts.

I didn’t want to put too many guard rails on it. I wanted to feel like I could write about absolutely anything at all. One thing I do before I go to bed anyways is a recap of my day. It’s not a writing thing, just a thinking thing. I never to go to bed angry, so I always try and find something joyful to pull from my day to remind myself that no matter what’s happened, that the day had a piece of joy in it, worth remembering (actually this works, everyone should try it!).

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I think I’ve grown as a writer these past 15 days. I’m half way through my personal writing challenge as I’m writing for this #AuthorToolboxBlogHop and I’ve changed. How? Well, in the simplest way, I’ve been able to write more easily using the keyboard verses a pen. Clearly that’s a ME “growth” thing and most people probably don’t have this issue. But my morning journal is still my therapy, my private ramblings, but my evening writing has been this newfound voice and joy… That’s the second way I’ve grown as a writer! There’s a freedom in my writing that I hadn’t felt before this challenge. I’m excited, in a different way, to share. I still have the second half of the month to go — so who knows what else I’ll learn, but I do know this: it was a great idea to just challenge MYSELF instead of jumping on some other formal “competition” or “writing program” or another blog hop (I love this blog hop, I’m just saying).

Challenging yourself to something different in how you write just changes things up a bit. It’s like a refresh button. Or maybe a reSET button? I once challenged myself to only write a paragraph every day for a week after blindly picking a random word from a dictionary I had on my bookshelf. That was so hard! I remember being baffled by it. Most of the time I didn’t really understand the word’s meaning I picked. Ha! But it was a good challenge to change things up a bit. I’ve also done the normal kind of challenges where you try to write from a different perspective or tried different types of writing… I attempted to write poetry once. Uhem, so not my thing!

My point is simply this: Do something to challenge yourself. Stretch those writing muscles! Do it for a couple of days, a week or a month. But if you’re needing a little “pick-me-up” and/or you’re feeling like you could use a little change of pace to brighten up that old trusty writer’s brain or you suffer from that age old term, “writer’s block”, then give it a try. Try a little challenge of your own. Oh, and if you do, please share!

Just Write #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

You’re the genius we’ve been waiting for…

I don’t care what anyone else tells you, there are no rules to writing, except to just write.   

There’s no set time you’re supposed to write. It doesn’t matter if you write all day, or just for a few minutes… You can write at 3 in the morning, or 9 O’clock at night.  The TV can be on in the background or the music playing, or it could be quiet with only the ocean waves hitting against the sandy shore…

It doesn’t matter how or where you do it, at a library, at your desk, sitting in your car – truly,  there are no rules to writing my friend, just one – to write. 

There’s no style that’s better either – using a pen, paper, typewriter or keyboard. Maybe you’re a storyteller who needs the beginning, middle and end of every great moment.  Or maybe you’re a journalist who just reports on what’s happening here?  Again, it doesn’t matter. Do both or do none. Or do something in between. Seriously, I swear, write however it suits you. But write, nonetheless.

Maybe you write scripts easily or a novel just jumps out of your head.  It’s true, you could also provide content on a blog or scribble profound thoughts on a napkin instead. All of it, yes all of it – makes you a writer, I swear it, my friend.

Did I just sound like Dr. Seuss? Of course, I did!  But what better example of a great writer to stick in your head?    

Look, there are no brownie points for how long your piece is. You can write gibberish or poetry. There really are no rules — and don’t worry, you’re not a better writer if only you’d read a bunch of books.  People keep peddling that one over and over again and I know it makes you feel bad – but don’t let it! It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t read books. But does it help?  Of course, it can!  But there’s no correlation between how many books you read verses how great of a writer you’ll be. Trust me, there’s no rule that says you’re better at anything because you’ve read 400 books, instead.  And while I’m here, blogging is surely writing.  Writing articles for a paper or magazine doesn’t make you more of a writer. Content writing means you can write and seduce people to buy things or to look over here. Cool, if that’s your thing.  You write scripts? Great. Good for you.  Writing is what makes you a writer. Period. End stop. Don’t compare yourself to others or make excuses for what you write.  You be YOU. Unapologetic-ally. And if you aspire to be better, to do better, then bravo take those steps when necessary, but stop putting yourself down and comparing yourself to others – if all it does is stop you from writing, then you’re doing it all wrong my friend. Pick up that pen and piece of paper and write, write, write!      

If you wake up every morning and you believe you’re a writer – then my goodness, lucky you, guess what?  You’re a writer! No one said this better than Rainer Maria Rilke, “Letters to A Young Poet”. Think about it, someone was saying this way back then, and I’m sure someone else shared it way before that too – I’m sharing the same thought by the way, right now – NO ONE can tell you, NO ONE but you!

There are so many great writers who share some real truths.  And here’s my favorite one of them all – most great writers don’t spend most of their time writing!  Oh my God, what?   Writers think, and spend time mulling, dreaming, taking it all in!  …all of these are part of the process of being an artist, of being a writer. If no one ever told you, let me say it to you now:  It’s okay to do it your way!  If you write every day or weekly or monthly. Be proud! If you write notes, in a journal, on a blog or for a company. If you write in English or Spanish or Korean or French. All of it is welcome. Yes, you are a writer my friend. I promise you – I promise you,  you are! 

We stifle so many people by telling them “rules”. And then we stifle ourselves by believing it all too.  The best writers, the best artists I admire always break all the rules – ever notice that?   

I’m giving you permission damn-it, the world needs MORE writers, more artists, more genius and I think we’ve done a disservice by not telling the truth – there are no rules, no secrets to writing. Just write my friend, start writing, right now if it’s true!   

And once you’ve put down your words, once you’ve started down that process – everything else will start to unfold.  All will reveal itself, in time…. I promise you, it’s true. 

——————————

The great thing about being a writer is a writer can be so many things – A poet can write songs – tell me Freddie Mercury wasn’t just a poet with an amazing genius band? Have you heard Bohemian Rhapsody?   Writers can teach and move you to believe in a better world – A writer named Aaron Sorkin comes to mind. He wrote the TV show The West Wing among others – I learned all about politics because of that show!   I bet you could name great pieces of work that all started with a stroke of a pen or keys.  When I think on it a bit,  I think everything starts with a piece of writing…Hmmmm…There are so many uses in our world for writing… writing is not just one thing.  So, I don’t know who needs to hear this again – but DO YOU.  Write your booty off and don’t question it so much! 

Writing is a communication.  The ability to share with others. A therapy to help oneself.  It comes in all forms. Once you let go and just write and you start to feel comfortable with your own process, then and only then, will it matter what comes next.  Yes, you start deciding what kind of writer you’d like to be.  Sometimes the kind of writer you are, just presents itself. And it’s not that rare to realize you are more than just one thing.  A poet, a lyricist, a musician, for example.  Maybe there’s a story you’d like to tell?  A book you’d like to write, a speech you’d like to share – or a stream of consciousness, uhem, you’d like to scream… Well, surely, there are rules on how to do all of that – you’ll figure it all out when it’s time.  I promise it will happen, but just start writing, start right now.      

The next great something is right there within you!  You are the genius we’ve been waiting for….  

No rules, my friend, just write. And the rest will unfold as it should, I promise.   

With fierce love,

Carmen

Exercising the Writer in You #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop

My head gets overwhelmed at times with too much noise when I’m writing – when that happens, I know it’s time to put down my pen – or close my laptop – and go for a walk.  

About a mile in, I’ll start to exercise my writer brain by playing my “Describe the Character” game. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. What it does, is give you something else to focus on, while being a bit fun, easy – and if you’re lucky, you can actually develop the great beginnings of a character or scene out of the exercise.  In my first book CANELA, this was how I figured out how to combine characters.

Here’s how to play: simply pick a random item in the area and then, without justifying or qualifying, describe it as thoroughly as possible. In this case, about a mile into my walk, I saw a shadowy figure approaching me…without staring too directly, I took in all that I could.  Once I passed the person, I jotted down my thoughts in OneNote:

  • Tall, black running tights, white stripes, three.
  • Baseball cap, tight black shirt, pecs. Muscular.
  • Runner. Walking. Hurt. Long legs. Strong arms.
  • Smile, lots of teeth, white, capped. Bright blue eyes. Long lashes.
  • Brown hair, white, corporate, executive, Tesla.
  • Handsome, scruff, married, kids, forty-two.
  • Friendly, smirk. Head nod. Kind. Neighborly.
  • Deep. Fall. Cold. Confidence. Unafraid. Worthy.
  • Swimmer. Parent. Having a good day anyway. Nice.

When I’m having a tough time writing I see it as an opportunity to change things up a bit. As I mentioned in a past post about writer’s block, I like to think of these moments as opportunities.  It’s as if the universe is conspiring to have me try something else to get a different creative result.  And I have to say, after doing this, I’m hardly ever disappointed.  At the very least, it always gets rid of the noise.

I sometimes practice this at my desk as well. I can’t always just go for a walk, especially if it’s the dead of night, so in this case, there are other ways to exercise the writing jewels (my brain).  I’ll close my eyes, take a breath and let it out and whatever lands in my eye-line when I open them, that’s what gets described. Here’s what I wrote in OneNote about an ink cartridge:

  • Dirty. Complicated and expensive. Hate.
  • White, black, a mess of sorts.
  • Necessary. Important. Unavoidable, but useful.
  • Clear. Colorful. Toxic. Technology – Techy. Easy, home use.

Another way to do this is to put on any random song and describe how you feel immediately after listening… In this case, I listened to Lizzo’s Good As Hell

  • Positive. Joyful with an attitude. Walking like a model. Freedom.
  • Bopping. Swaying. Giggling. Laughing. Confident. Superior.
  • Happy. Smiling. Advising. Powerful. Elegant. Class. Proper with a touch of street smarts.
  • Beautiful. Fabulous. Building someone up. Feeling like you got more to do.

The point is, when you can, use tools available to exercise the creative juices.  I know writers who use flash cards or just do free writing exercises. The more ways you can self-motivate your creativity and learn to “unstuck” yourself, the better! Now, with these three descriptive pieces of information, I can start writing a new scene or develop a character.  At the very worst, I’ve had a little break and stopped the initial noise I had in my head. I can now get back to what I was working on. Win-win!

What tricks or tools do you use to keep yourself in that creative space? 

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Carmen

A Monthly Blog Hop for Authors Who Want to Learn More about Being Authors 
  

Take Care of YOU Simple Habits for the Writer, Creative, Everyone! #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

*Below is not a transcript of video.

A few years ago, I had to go to the doctor’s office because I was experiencing so much wrist pain I had to get it checked out.  At that time, I learned everything I needed to know about carpal tunnel syndrome and because it sidelined me for quite a while, I decided to start making some changes quickly to avoid ever going down that road again. I developed some really easy habits that I do every day that I wanted to share with everyone who writes, stares at a computer all day or is on the phone regularly.   

A lot of writers, and creative people in general, tend to overwork themselves especially when they’re in that zone or experiencing that ever elusive “light bulb” moment.  We’ll write for hours without stopping — we’re also prone to over-due it when we’re experiencing some sort of block – we’ll keep grinding and pushing, not realizing the possible physical toll we may be putting on ourselves, not to mention the mental one, by hunching over our laptops and staring at the computer screen for hours.  

I believe that keeping ourselves physically healthy is just as important as keeping our mental and emotional state in check.  As artists, sometimes we faulter on all of these in the hopes of creating that next masterpiece.  But I’d like to offer the idea that if you can implement some really simple habits now, it may help prevent you from unnecessary injury and pain later.  If you start now, it will also become a seamless part of your everyday way of working and will not impose on your creativity, but actually may help it! 

So, what am I talking about?  Well, please watch the video for a visual explanation.  But simply, start learning to take 1-minute breaks throughout your day to do some small stretches with your fingers, your wrists, neck and shoulders to give yourself a break from sitting in a static position.  Staying in the same position for long periods of time can lead to cramping, stiffness and in some cases, possible carpal tunnel syndrome.  Give yourself 30 seconds to a  minute break every hour at least, to reassess your body and stretch for just a bit. 

I use the alarm on my phone for just this purpose. I set it up to chime in one hour increments and the “ring” I use is a very subtle soothing chime. The type of “ring” you use IS important – I learned this the hard way – because sometimes you really are in that creative zone and you don’t want something to jar you out completely.  But a soft notification is just a reminder to finish the thought and do your quick stretches to take care of your fingers, shoulders, neck and overall posture. 

Please note: I’m not a doctor – so understand these ideas are what work for me and I’m sharing them with you in hopes that it will help you.  I also think it’s important to state that I don’t think these tiny stretches throughout your day should take the place of what we all should be doing to have good and healthy lives – eat right, work-out/be active, mediate, walk and make sure you hydrate with water regularly.  But adding these small moments throughout your day will definitely help with taking care of the physical part of you, the writer, the artist, the worker, so you can continue creating all those beautiful stories the world needs to hear. 

I hope this has been helpful. I’m curious what other people do to prevent from getting stiff or cramping while writing.  I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

This post is also part of a great group of writers called #AuthorToolboxBlogHop  – please click on this hashtag or the pic to find other great sources of tips and tricks that other great writers use to keep on creating… 

As always, thanks for stopping by!