Archives for posts with tag: writing

Ever heard of “coffee snobs”?
(If you are one, you’re grinning. Uh-huh. Yup.)

Definition, please…
A coffee snob is someone who doesn’t just know and love good coffee; the snob knows and loves the best coffee — and doesn’t accept anything less.

We’ve studied coffee, tasted all kinds of coffees, and become spoiled on quality coffee.

By definition, a snob believes that his or her tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people. And for coffee lovers, it’s not belief; it’s truth. (*Caution: Coffee Snob Crossing. ha.)

So for those of us who adore coffee, “just any old coffee” will NOT do.


Coffee snobs are the ones who drive across town
to get a cup of coffee at the “good” coffee place —
because no other coffee will do.

Coffee snobs not only know the difference between Sumatra, Guatemalan, and French Roast
(can there be anything more different?) —
we talk Indonesian, Yemen, and South American, too.

We use words like “espresso shots pulled,”
“berry, wine, and chocolate notes,” and
“intense, lime-like acidity.”
(And we get really excited about “single origin expresso.”)

And if someone offers us offee from McDonalds — oy!
Off with their heads!
(That’s not coffee. Get real.
It’s water with coffee-ish flavoring splashed in. duh.)


Who, me? (Yes, you.)
Snobs exist everywhere. It’s too bad the word has a horrid connotation, because we’re really nice people (most of the time).

Now hang with me here, because there’s a point to this.
(You know me. There’s always a point.)

Snobs exist in all activities. Within all phases of activities.

For instance, 
there are pen snobs, too.
I know. I am one.
(Oh, yes. We can be many snobs all rolled into one.
Wow. That conjures up weirdness.)

Yesterday, when working together with a fabulous young author and her work, I couldn’t find the right pen. All had to stop, until I found it. All was not right with the world — until the correct pen rested between my fingers.

You see, particularly for those of us who adore writing, “just any old pen” will NOT do.

We have to have the pen that feels good in the hand.
With the perfect weight.
And the perfect tip.
And the most perfect movement across the paper.
(I know…there’s no such thing as most perfect. The words simply felt right. See. There I go. I’m being a snob about word choice and rhythm, too.)

A good pen allows you to engage when you write. Really write.

Hear me again: Snobs are everywhere.


For those of us who adore painting,
“just any old brush” will NOT do.

And for those of us who create photographs as an art form,
“just any old camera” will NOT do.

And for those of us who play an instrument,
“just any old instrument” will NOT do.
(Don’t get me started on this one.)

There’s a message here.
When it comes to creativity and artistry,  each of us has preferences. But they’re not just preferences. They’re personal, comfortable habits of creativity that allow us to do our best.

We learn what works for us, and we refine the process over time. By using the best equipment, the best processes, and even the best coffee and pens, we slide into our creative sweet spot — getting to the artistry faster and with more excellence because we turned a creative preference into a habit that increased our artistry and productivity.

(That’s a mouthful. But a true mouthful, at that.)

What’s your sweet spot?
What tools, tricks, and processes help you to create at your highest levels of performance?
(Have you been attentive enough to know what helps you to create at a faster rate, in the zone with the brain, body, and soul working together at optimum speed and skill?)

Snobbery, if you will, in the form of your own special process —
where you tap into the creative —
where creativity takes hold of you and thrusts you into the ring —
where you flash the fists and fight and win —
emerging victorious, arm held high — and the winner is! —
held high by the audience, collective individuals experiencing your work, as the crowd roars —
Yes, this kind of snobbery benefits everyone involved.

(Application Button, please…)
Okay. Bottom Line.
Find the physical and mental tools that take you to creativity’s center.

Don’t let the tool become the focus, though. Fuse with the tools, to become the opponent who’s fully in the mental and physical game, to create at the highest pace and performance.

We’re all entering the ring to win,

Find what pulls you to excellence, even in the small things.
Like the right pen. And a good cup of coffee.

* Thup
* This post is dedicated to my husband, who kindly offered me a coffee from McDonalds and got more of an answer to the why not? than he anticipated. No matter how nicely it’s explained, it just sounds…snobbish. *sigh

There are three kinds of out that shake up our lives.

Out of commission.
At some point in time, all of us are thrown out of commission. We’re absent: either slipped out or torn out of what used to be.

We face challenges, trials, and off-the-grid events that pluck us from “normal life” (whatever that was). And the new day-to-day that results, in this intermediary land of out of commission, is downright weird. Bizarre. Unsettling.

Some pull back. Some lash out. But no one stays the same.
(All have some kind of response.)

Outside the norm.
At some point in our lives, we get a jolt: Something that we thought was okay is not.

We face new challenges, new ideas, and in-the-face reactions that spin us into “fresh perspective” (whatever that is). And the new day-to-day glimpse at the nuances of this revealed life, in the land of outside the norm, is downright disassociating.

Some pull back. Some lash out. And some reject the jolt — and stay the same. They avoid change, purposefully or by default (ignoring).
(And, someday, the jolt will rise up again…most likely, worse.)

Out from under.
At some point in our lives, if we’re lucky or blessed or smart enough, we realize we’re free to choose how to respond. No one can make us (on the inside) think or believe anything. And no one can make us (on the outside) react in any way. No matter how an event presents itself in our lives, we alone create the meaning of the event. We frame an idea, and our perspective comes on the heels of our beliefs. Our actions, then, follow.

No doubt: We’ll face people, places, and events that challenge.  But (again, if we’re grown-up enough), try-as-they-might, those events (or people) won’t be able to push us down, hold us back, or mold us into something we’re not. And the new freedom, in this fresh understanding of how we are free to choose our response — no matter what happens — is downright grace-filled.

Knowing when to change and when to stand in your boots is the definition of wisdom.

Authors. Screenwriters. Storytellers of any kind.
These are the realizations that your Hero goes through, in story.

Your Hero will be thrust out of commission. He will be pushed outside the norm. He will be faced with ideas and actions and decisions that make him question his core. I hope. And, at some point he will emerge, out from under someone else’s indictments. I hope. Because “out” is part of the character’s arc.

(It’s in our arc that we grow.)

* Thup

Sometimes, when it comes to getting things done,
Time of day doesn’t matter.
It’s simply where you can fit the hours in.

10 PM. 4 AM. Noon.
(Yes, these are the hours I’ve written in the past 24 hours.)

Some people think that creating in craft is play. Relaxing la-la artistry to be had at any time. Because it’s not an 8-4 or 9-5, you’re considered as not really working.

Well. Let me tell you.
Honestly, most artists and creators I know work more hours than any 9-5er. (humph)

Now, I’m not complaining. I didn’t mind getting up at 4 and writing for three hours. It was quiet and productive. I actually love working like that. And coffee can go anywhere, at any time, in to-go mugs, paper, or ceramic. It all works.

But don’t ever think that I, or any other artist, is a slouch. Oh no.
(Please restrain me from a tirade.)

I’ll respect the 9-5ers, you respect the 10, 4, and nooners.
We get it done how we get it done.
(It’s all work.)

* Thup


If you can,
whatever you have to do today, I’m encouraging you:
Get straight to it.

I’m not talking about answering email, checking Facebook, or diddling around in the house.

Get to the creative in you first.
Let it flow in its highest energy.
(Use the energy. now.)

(Yes, I’m talkin’ to myself here. Feel free to join me.)
* Thup


This is the year of imagination and magic.

You see, I believe in New Year’s Resolutions. But more than that, I believe more in New Year’s Actions. I know, I know — semantics, semantics. Resolutions are intended actions — intentions so strong that, by definition, they root deep into our heart and soul places, never to be pulled or ripped by anything or anyone contrary. Roots so entwined, so thick, that the only possibility that grows from those roots is conquering the impossible. Resolutions. Good word.

But I like the word action better. There’s something about the word action that’s magical.

And I intend to have a magical year.

Imagine with me: The most fabulous outcome. The best of the best imaginable. Reaching with fingertips outstretched, taught, to touch and fully grasp and hold.

What is it? What do you believe can — and will — happen?

“We are consistent with who we believe we are.”
(Tony Robbins)

“As a man thinks, so he is.”
(The Bible, Proverbs 23:7…also
James Allen’s inspiration for his 1902 book…
but I digress…)

Intentions Minus Actions = Squat
(from the book, The Servant, by James Hunter)

Intentions + Actions = Magic

Little actions. Each moment. Each hour. Each day. (“every moment of every day is a new now”) We decide. It starts inside of us. We have complete control over our decisions, our mind, our attitude (no matter the outer circumstances). And all three lead to the magic.

Imagine with me: Your biggest and bravest moves. The highest heights. Then make your New Year’s Actions. Don’t just dream. Make magic by choosing right now to live  in the dream.

Then. Oh, then. Action. Break your imagined reality into little bitty steps. Figure it out (you’re smart). Walk the steps. One at a time. Work it. Make the private moments count. “People are rewarded in public by what they practice in private.” (Tony Robbins)

What do you imagine?
Come on. You have just as much a chance as the next guy, to make it happen.
Make the magic.

* Thup
(it’s a new morning)

“How do you do that?” he asked.

“Do what?” she said.

He tipped his head and blinked. It reminded her of her of that scene in Return of the Jedi, when Leia met Wicket. She liked Ewoks. But she really needed to study, not talk to a guy from fiction writing class that just happened to be in the library at the same time.

“That.” He pointed to her laptop’s screen. “How do you punctuate a conversation? In dialogue. I always get confused.”

She sighed. By the second semester of college, one should know how to punctuate dialogue, should they not? “Well,” she said, shifting in her seat. “First rule. Punctuation goes inside.”


“Yup. At the end of whatever you write, punctuation goes inside the quotes.”

He nodded. “Okay.” He scribbled in his notebook. “Got it. Is that just for commas? How about the periods…or question marks…or exclamation points? Our assignment says to use lots of emotion, so, hey, I plan on using everything in the arsenal, you know?” She grinned. She never thought of punctuation as a weapon. But on a lot of levels, he was right.

“It’s all the same,” she said, pointing to different places on her screen. “See?”

He scooched his chair forward and leaned in, nodding. “All punctuation goes inside the quotation marks. Got it.” He wrote in his book again, then leaned over. He felt awfully close.

“So,” he said, “I’m noticing something. You only use said and asked. Isn’t there stuff like yelled and replied …or squealed?”

She tried not to laugh. “Stick with said. Said is invisible. Our brain is used to said, so the word does the job in a way that’s…incognito.” She might as well talk his language. “And if you write squealed, I can guarantee your professor will squeal — at you — and it won’t be pretty!”

They both laughed. It felt good to laugh again.

“One more thing,” he said. As he studied her screen, she noticed how his collar stuck out from under his sweatshirt. Who wore collared shirts under sweatshirts? And was that a Michael Kors watch?

“You’re missing dialogue tags.”

“MIssing tags?”


“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

She shook her head. “If you know who’s talking, you don’t need them.”

Okay, that was a Michael Kors watch. Daddy said to avoid anyone wearing anything but a Timex. Momma said Michael Kors was the sign of a good family. And her brother said that anyone who wore a watch in this day and age, when they can look at their phone for the time, isn’t very smart. But her brother also knew — and spewed — every line of every Star Wars movie and wanted to be Han Solo. Hence the bazillion references to Star Wars that infiltrated her mind on a daily basis.

“Look,” she said, “There’s really much more to it, with commas and capitalization and all. But I have to study for a midterm….” She hated to offend him, but it was the truth. Well, mostly. She could take the time. But after overdoing last semester’s social calendar, she needed to stay with her vow to focus on grades. He was really interesting. Obviously new to fiction writing. But nice. The kind of guy you’d go to coffee with.

“Right. I’m sorry. I’m taking your time.” He closed the notebook and moved his chair back. He paused. “But since you took the time to answer my questions, if you’re free tomorrow, can I buy you a cup of coffee?”

She smiled. Who could say no to coffee?

* Thup
(time for a second cup)

I have a question for you.
(it’s important)
Here it is:

What makes your work memorable?
(What about it
sticks in people’s minds?)

In other words,
how is your work
different from anyone else’s?

(because you have to be different
to be remembered)

Writing Rule >>
Be Different.
(Be Uniquely Familiar.)

It doesn’t take much to be “uniquely familiar.”

You. Must. Have.
Something strong.
Something different.
Something emotional.

Create memorable scenes.
It’s not just a field. It’s a field with a huge oak in the center, with a twisted limb sticking out sideways and a black squirrel who thinks that it’s 100% his tree, and no one else’s…so stay away, dude, or you’ll get a chittering earful.

It’s not just a pillar. It’s a pillar made of shards of broken colored glass, rippling with thousands of bits of reflected light.

It’s not just a table. It’s a table that rises up in the center with a live tree, bringing shade to the young couple giggling together and touching the tips of their shoes underneath.

Create memorable characters.
It’s not just an old man. It’s an old man with braided hair to the side, wearing a single orange-colored glove, who speaks in broken sentences.

It’s not just a young girl. It’s a precocious know-it-all with a teeny little voice that never stops gabbing about her gum wrapper collection.

It’s not just a woman. It’s a tall, thin woman wearing a leopard-design bowler hat, with straw-like brown hair sticking straight out from underneath, stiff with thin-lipped concentration while poking her iPhone as if testing the chicken to see if it’s cooked.
(Okay, I didn’t make that one up. She’s sitting right there, across from me at this Starbucks. Really.)

(of any kind)
Create memorable illustrations
with difference.
Create memorable photographs
with difference.
Create memorable musical notes
with difference.
Create memorable sculptures
with difference.
Create memorable characters & plot
with difference.

Difference doesn’t have to be big
(although the grandeur of BIG can be grand, indeed).
Just different.

(memorable = odd enough
to make your target audience
blink and think)

(and remember you)

Difference leaves a permanent cup ring
where your cup sat.

Be remembered.

many are alone
in the holidays.

a death.
a divorce.
a move.


many are alone
in the holidays.

torn relationships.

Pain comes in vanilla and chocolate.
external. internal.
both hard to taste,
even harder
when that’s all that’s on the table
to eat.

remember this,
in writing your story.
(It will change the way you write.)

remember this,
in living life.
(It will change the way you live.)

* Thup

(can’t talk)
(it’s been one of those days, running morning to night,
thick with the schedule of life)
(had to work the job, to get the money to live)
(if you know what I mean)
(so…here I am, writing at midnight)
(been there?)
(can you say COFFEE? 0-0)

Writers write.

* thup-pp-per-oo
(yup. getting punchy)

Oh, when to write today?

We MFAers (and writers with kids)
often talk about finding when.
Little life pieces fragment the days.
Shards of time.
(“How to fit it in?”)

Unless you’re financially golden,
we all have to work
and live the everyday-life-responsibility parts
(in addition to writing).

Unless you’ve a steady gig,
we all have to squeeze writing drips
out of the day.

Finding when.
(That’s the writer’s life, eh?)

* Thup

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