A little Irish humor goes a long ways…

MercedesOn a golf tour in Ireland, Tiger Woods drives his Mercedes into a petrol station in a remote part of the Irish countryside. The pump attendant who knows absolutely nothing about golf, greets him in a typical Irish manner completely unaware of who the golfing pro is.

“Top of the mornin’ to yer, sir,” says the attendant.

Tiger nods a quick “hello” and bends forward to pick up the nozzle. As he does so, two tees fall out of his shirt pocket onto the ground.

“What are those?”, asks the attendant.

“They’re called tees,” replies Tiger.

“Well, what on this god’s earth are dey for?” inquires the Irishman.

“They’re for resting my balls on when I’m driving”, says Tiger.

“The Devil you say”, says the Irishman, “Mercedes thinks of everything!”

The Writer’s Greatest Enemy

Laptop computer and coffee in the gardenIt happens to every writer. It’s inevitable. Your prose has turned to mush, you don’t have a creative bone left in your body, and you want to throw in the towel.

Writer’s block. Every writer struggles with it. But what you do with it is what really matters. Before I write about solutions, though, it’s important to understand the problem.

 

Common causes of writer’s block

The reasons for your block may vary, but some common ones include:

  • Timing: It’s simply not the right time to write. Your ideas may need to stew a little longer before writing them down.
  • Fear: Many writers struggle with being afraid, with putting their ideas (and themselves) out there for everyone to see and critique. Fear is a major reason some writers never become writers and never fulfill their dreams.
  • Perfectionism: You want everything to be just right before you ever put pen to paper or touch a keyboard. You try to get it perfect in your head and never do, so you never begin.

So how do I vanquish this enemy?

It’s a tough question to answer, and I’m afraid I don’t have a great solution. I’ve personally wrestled with writer’s block on numerous occasions, and each victory looked different.

That’s the thing about writing: it’s an art, not a science. And you’ll have to approach it as such. There is no formulaic fix, no “7 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer Now.”

Well, except for one. But you already know what it is: Start hacking away. Begin trying stuff. Sometimes, the quirkier, the better. The trick is find something that works for you.

Creative solutions to writer’s block

Here are a few ideas to help you work through your creative constipation:

  • Go for a walk or a short drive. I find nothing works better than a ten minutes trip through the garden or along a peaceful waterway.
  • Eliminate distractions. Turn off the radio, television, even your phone if necessary.
  • Do something to get your blood flowing. Stretch, grab a cup of coffee…whatever it takes.
  • Change your environment. If working behind a desk on a computer becomes intimidating, try putting your feet up on a recliner and typing on your laptop.
  • Read a book. Sometimes words and scenarios from other authors can inspire you.
  • Write nonstop with only the ideas of your story or character conversations in mind.
  • Listen to music. Try classical, easy listening, blues or jazz…and mix it up a bit to spark ideas.
  • Relax your mind with a small glass of wine. This is definitely a tension reliever. But don’t finish off the bottle.
  • Start a routine. Many famous writers have daily writing schedules to summon the Muse.
  • Spend time with someone who makes you feel good. A fellow writer, a grandchild, even a puppy.
  • Call an old friend and catch up on each other’s lives.
  • Brainstorm ideas in bullet points or by creating a board on Pinterest.
  • Read some inspiring quotes in books or online to get you started.

The possibilities are endless, but movement is critical. You need to generate momentum to get out of your funk.

Once you start heading in a direction, it’s easier to pick up speed. And before you know it, your block will be a distant memory and you’ll be doing what you once thought impossible. You’ll be writing!

The fail-proof solution

If you’re still not satisfied, you have one last resort, an ace up your sleeve. The silver bullet solution. The fail-proof way to overcome writer’s block is one you already know. In fact, you’ve been avoiding it this whole time, because it’s precisely what you don’t want to hear.

You overcome writer’s block simply by writing. Start somewhere, anywhere. Write a few lines. Say anything. And see what happens. Don’t think about it too much or make any fancy announcements. Just write. It doesn’t need to be eloquent or presentable; it just needs to be written.

And remember…write for the joy of writing. Because you can’t not do it. Don’t try to say or produce anything; just get some words on paper, now. No more excuses or justifications.

You can write. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Just type a few words. They don’t have to be good (all first drafts suck). It just has to be written. Then at least you have something to work on.

If you do this, you’ll get past the hump. I promise. The difference between professional writers and amateurs is this: Both encounter blocks, but one pushes through while the other gets paralyzed.

So get busy. Write like there’s no tomorrow…and when it comes to creativity, don’t let anything stand in your way.

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Exciting news for wine lovers!

0000060ef-wine_scientist-630x420Chemists from the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Canada have discovered 23 new and potentially health-enhancing molecules in red wine, which they think could lead to medical breakthroughs in the future.

The team of scientists expected to find molecules called stilbenoids – said to provide health benefits – in the red wine, but were surprised to discover no fewer than 41 stilbenoid compounds, 23 of which have never been found in red wine before.

“These new molecules are likely to have very interesting biological properties and may contribute to the benefits from drinking red wine,” said Assoc Prof Cédric Saucier.

Prof Saucier, who runs the enology laboratory at UBC’s Okanagan campus, made the discovery in partnership with researchers from Australia’s University of Adelaide and UBC graduate student Ryan Moss.

‘”Who knows where this could lead? Perhaps new drugs and medicine for the future?” he added.

The discovery was made by concentrating red wine extract and separating the compounds so that the researchers could examine and create a fingerprint of each one individually.

The 23 newly discovered molecules are related to resveratrol, a chemical found naturally in the skin of red grapes and known to have a potential impact on age-related human diseases. However, even though this is exciting news and a potential breakthrough, moderation continues to be the key to good health. So above all, be sure to drink sensibly.

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Twisted Threads Book Trailer

I’m thrilled by the tremendous success I’ve received for my new TWISTED THREADS book trailer, created by Film 14. The views I’ve had on my Facebook page alone have exceeded more than 42,000 since it was posted in late November. If this was any indication on my book sales, I would be a best seller right now. 🙂

Beat the Cold with this Yummy Torilla Soup

With winter upon us, nothing is more heartwarming than a hot bowl of homemade chicken soup, and this one can be prepared well in advance with a slow cooker or crockpot and enjoyed over and over again! So why not give it a try?  (Serves 6)

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 15-oz. can Black Beans, rinsed
  • 1 c. frozen corn
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 15-oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. freshly chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 c. Shredded Monterey Jack
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 small corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • Sliced avocado, for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large slow cooker, combine chicken, black beans, corn, peppers, onion, fire-roasted tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, and chicken broth.
  2. Cover and cook on low until chicken is cooked and falling apart, 5 to 6 hours.
  3. Shred chicken with a fork, then top soup with Monterey Jack and cover to let melt, 5 minutes more.
  4. Meanwhile, make tortilla crisps: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add tortilla strips and cook until crispy and golden, 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt.
  5. Serve soup topped with tortilla crisps, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and lime…and enjoy!!
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