Helpful Distractions

Snowy Night

We finished up work early this afternoon, so after visiting with my mom and Gianna for a while, I went over to Hastings (a bookstore/coffee shop in case you don’t have them where you live), and worked on my current novel. I figured it would be good to get out of the house and away from the tv and secure internet (I don’t like to use unsecured WiFi if there are a lot of people hanging around since they might be trying to snatch my info) and get some writing done.

Usually, when I write in a coffee shop, I put on my headphones, crank up the music, and only rarely check Facebook. I put myself in a solitary spot within a group of people I’m not interacting with, and somehow, it stimulates me to get things going.

Well, today I forgot my headphones.

At first I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal–I would just tune out the music, the conversations, and the coffee machine then get to work. But the place was packed, and it took a while for me to tune out everybody and get into the flow of the story. This was especially due to a pair of older ladies sitting behind me who kept talking (really loudly) about things: hot flashes, irascible husbands, bible study groups, their kids, crocheting, among other things. One lady kept going on and on about her daughter (Jessica), and it became pretty quickly apparent to me that this woman felt a huge desire to show off to her friend.

Still, I persevered and managed to get into my character’s angry discussion with his current nemesis (an ancient lady who has screwed with his life since he was a kid and now wants him to do some things for her, even though she helped ruin his life). I kept hearing about Jessica’s amazing-ness, and the hot flashes, but I just kept going.

In the end, this conversation between 2 older ladies became part of the background of my story, part of the creative soup that I drew from in putting together this scene. In a weird way, I think the old lady nemesis will have had some hot flash issues in her past that she wouldn’t have had before, and her husband will probably have been a numbskull who always thought he was right and was obsessed with reading Val-U-Pak coupon books instead of exercising. I don’t think the amazing Jessica will make an appearance any time soon, but you never know.

So get out there and get to work. Turn off Facebook, tune out your neighbors, and make something. Write. Draw. Cook an excellent dinner. Pick up your pencil, and do it. Don’t tell yourself that you need the stars to align, that you need absolute silence, or your special writing music. Don’t make any more excuses. Just get out there and do it!

Do or do not. There is no try.

Be Defined By What You Do

Well-Worn Tile Floor

You are what you do.

I’m not talking about your job, but how you spend ALL your time.

I divide this into 2 categories:

1. “Take In” activities: This is stuff we absorb, think about, passively bring inside ourselves. It’s reading a book, watching tv, cruising Facebook, reading Wikipedia, studying, etc. These things are generally passive and don’t require us to interact with the rest of the world.

2. “Give Out” activities: These are things we create, make, and do–things we give to the world. It’s going for a run, making a cake, posting on Facebook, taking your kid to the park, playing a game, making spaghetti. These are activities that require you to interact with outside forces and somehow change the world. It could be as simple as smiling at someone or a big as writing a novel.

Of course, what we give the world is a combination of both types of activities. You can’t make a cake if you don’t read a recipe book at some point. You can’t write if you can’t read. I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch tv or do passive things. You absolutely should! But I AM saying that too many people spend most of their time taking in and not enough time giving out.

It’s easy to think about writing a novel, but it takes a lot more effort to actually write one.

So what should you do? Evaluate yourself from time to time–what have you been doing? What are you creating these days? How are your actions influencing the world? Do you create things? Do you actively spend time doing stuff? Do you waste time thinking about your story ideas but not actually writing? Do you plunk your kid down in front of the tv instead of playing a game with him/her? Do you affect the world in a positive way? What is your contribution?

We all fall prey to laziness or loss of focus at some point. I know I do! But I am usually able to get myself back on track and start giving back to the world again.

Do or do not. There is no try.

Motivating the Spammers

Since starting up Hey! There Is No Try, I have gotten some pretty damn funny spam comments. I generally just delete most of them out of hand, but the following just struck me as too funny to get rid of:

“I would like to consider the chance of thanking you for your professional instruction I have often enjoyed viewing your site. I am looking forward to the commencement of my university research and the whole preparation would never have been complete without consulting your site. If I could be of any assistance to others, I might be glad to help through what I have discovered from here.”

I’m glad to know that my “professional instruction” in the area of Missoula, Montana’s Greenough Park could help him so much. That or the update on my then benchpress weights (the post is one I imported from my livejournal and was written about a year-and-a-half ago when I was much better at improving my body than I have been for a while lately).

Wouldn’t it be funny, though, if he actually spent a second or two on the site? If he did, I hope he at least took away that no matter what life dishes out, you need to keep on trucking.

Onward my young Padawan. May your “university research” be complete!

Now I’m going to get back to my novel.