Friday, February 24, 2012

The Trick to Quitting Soda

I've gone two months now without drinking soda. I've lost about 16 pounds and I feel great, but the journey has not been without difficulty. I love Dr. Pepper, LOVE it! I also like the occasional Coke or ginger ale. Before I quit, I was drinking at least a gallon of soda a day. I drink mainly water now, with some milk and a glass of healthy green juice now and again. I used to think water tasted disgusting. I'm learning to enjoy it.

I still crave soda though, especially when I go out to eat, drive up to a gas station, see someone else drink one, or walk the aisles of a grocery most of the time.

The trick to resist these cravings is to focus on the times soda has let you down. Here are my soda let-downs:

Withdrawals. I don't get headaches when I quit. I feel like tiny metallic insects are eating every bit of calcium in my body.

Heart Palpitations. For a while, every time I tried to lie down to sleep, my heart would go crazy.

I didn't like it. I'm glad this occurrence is super rare lately.

Fattness. About a year ago, I gained enough weight and could no longer put on my wedding ring.

Nastiness. This is the best way to alleviate my cravings. All I have to do is think back to this incident and my desire to drink one goes away.

A couple years ago I used to stop by a fast food place nearly every morning to buy a sandwich and a soda. I know, horrible for me. No wonder I had heart palpitations and high cholesterol.

One day I sipped my soda and thought it tasted a tab bit funny. I just thought their syrup mixture must have been off. I sipped it again and noticed that the ice against the lid looked weird too. I pulled off the top and the ice did look funny, all clumped together in one big ball.

I reached in to grab a piece, but the whole thing came out, dripping soda and chunks of ice. I stared at the mess in my hands as realization dawned on me and I fought an urge to puke.

I had a large crumpled plastic bag in my hand. Who knows how it got in there or what it had in it before it made its way into the ice. Needless to say, I dumped the whole thing. Now, all I have to do is think about that bag and imagine the places it might have been or contents it might have had to make saying no to soda easier.

Find your ways to resist and quit today.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Free Books are the Best

My novel, The Crystal Bridge, is free today and tomorrow on kindle. That's February 15th and 16th.

Go get it and tell your friends. Short and sweet. That is all today.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Avoid Writer's Block

What is writer's block? Traditionally it's seen as when a writer is unable to produce new work. They stare at a blank screen and nothing happens. It's like a brick wall in the way of one's ability to write.

I don't get writer's block, not in this sense. I'm not bragging. I have plenty of other imperfections in my writing, but I understand what writer's block really is and I avoid it. If only I could do the same with typos, awkward similes, and using the word "little" ironically way too much. I'll learn to avoid those someday.

Here are the reasons I see writers get themselves blocked up and unable to write.

Lack of Passion. Sometimes a writer will start a project that just doesn't appeal to them. This makes it easy to lose focus and your desire to continue with it.

Something is Wrong. If your subconscious knows that something you wrote or are about to write doesn't work, it will shut you down. This can be any number of things. You wrote about a character doing something outside his or her abilities or personality. You may have decided to change a plot line and it destroyed previous lines altogether. You may have written a scene that has no place in the finished book. You are planning to write a scene that doesn't play well with the ones around it. There are so many things to get wrong.

No Idea What Comes Next. Yeah, we've all started something that seemed wondrous and exciting and then our imagination runs out and we feel stuck, unsure what to do next.

Distractions. Facebook, internet, google+, twitter, and all those other things can be great tools. They also can get in the way. Then there's friends, family, jobs, screaming children, dogs, cats, that dripping noise that is driving you crazy, dishes, laundry, food, and so much more to distract you from writing.

Now, here's how I deal with them.

Write What You Love! If something isn't really clicking with you deep down, if you don't care about it, what do you think your readers will do? That's right, they'll feel the lack of passion and lack of soul and set it down unhappy and unsatisfied. Make sure you love your project and you won't find yourself losing a desire to finish it.

Listen to Your Subconscious! If something isn't working, figure out what it is and fix it. I have also found a way to cheat around this type of block. If I come to a scene that just doesn't work and I feel stuck, I skip it. I jump to a scene that is working and write that one. You can always come back to the older scene and mess with it later after inspiration has struck.

Do Your Prewriting! Before I started my first book, I rolled it around in my head for months. I ran conversations and scenes through until I knew what needed to be done. Most of my prewriting is done in bed. I stare at the ceiling, waiting to fall asleep at night, and I think through upcoming scenes. Sometimes something will happen in my brain, puzzle pieces snapping together perfectly, and I have to jump out of bed and write for a couple hours before I lose whatever magic just happened.

Sometimes nothing happens and I fall asleep, but I often wake up hours later with a similar snapping together of ideas and can jump out of bed and go write. I do prewriting in the morning too. I stay in bed for half an hour after I wake up, running my mind through writing drills, preparing for my next scene, or just getting myself psyched to write a conversation that needs to happen.

Prewriting and skipping scenes will also help when you don't know what to write and inspiration fails you. Staring up at the ceiling while imagining your world and characters on that blank canvas will open portals in your mind to cool new places and experiences you thought you could never dream up. Don't let anyone get after you for being lazy, looking dazed, or doing nothing. It is a vital part of writing and loosens up your subconscious. You need your subconscious to fill in those blank pages and missing plot points. You need it active and healthy.

Limit Your Distractions! Lock yourself in a closet with your laptop if you have to. Shut off the router so you can't access the internet. Those social networks can wait a couple hours for you, I promise you won't miss as much as you think. Find the type of music that helps you write. Find the time that you write best. I write best late at night of early in the morning, when my subconscious is most active and wants to be dreaming. Tell your friends and family when your writing time is and that they cannot disturb you for anything short of an apocalyptic emergency. Zombies better be massing in the streets!

Sit Your Butt Down, Put Your Hands on the Keyboard, and Write! I have these moments where the words flow from me like warm honey and crystallize on the screen in perfect patterns that need no revision. I'll reread them months later and tears will form in my eyes as that amazing I'm-a-freaking-writer-feeling fills me once more.

THESE MOMENTS ARE RARE AND FLEETING!! Most of the time, I sit down and write half decent garbage that will need months of revisions, therapy, exercise, cuts, and voice lessons before it will be even half of what I want it to be. That is normal. Don't get in your own way. Don't trash your work or lose hope. Don't go back and try to fix everything. Don't get discouraged and sad. Allow yourself to suck and your writing will prosper and grow. Those golden moments when the writing flows wondrously from your fingertips will come more often, though not as often as you would like.
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