Tag Archives | Africa

Its Pretty Amazing: This Vision Board Stuff Works

So, you might be a bit like me (or a lot like me, since you are reading this blog). GotoImage

You might be like me in thinking that this vision board stuff is all well and good when it comes to applying it to a book that you're writing.  Because, book writing is a very visual thing, right?  And so finding pictures of your characters and settings is a great idea because it will help to visualize things for the writing.  And yeah, maybe you can see how having a visual reference could help you to not get stalled or, God forbid, blocked on your project.

But, vision boards for your life?

Um, maybe.  Except they take a lot of time.  I mean, you've got to leaf through magazines or do searches on Google and find just the right image.  And, honestly, who knows exactly what they want in life anyway?  So why bother?

I'll tell you why bother: because this shit works.  Excuse me for being profane.  But this shit works.  Let me tell you my little story.

This spring I took a class at church called the 4Ts Prosperity Program.  The 4 Ts class, created by the late Stretton Smith, is a spiritual approach to prosperity based on the 12-Step program.  Stretton encourages class members to set intentions for what they want in life and also make a vision board.  And so, I began the process.

And it took flippin' forever.  First I took an hour or so one Saturday afternoon to find images for what I wanted.  And then the pile of images sat on my desk for a few weeks, until I felt guilty enough had time to work on the vision board again.  And then when I started sorting through the images I realized I had way too many for one board.  So I ended up with three, count 'em, three vision boards: one for my spiritual goals, one for my temporal goals (if that's the correct usage of the word) and one for my travel goals.

Because, I love to travel.  And there are places I really, really want to go.  Like Hawaii, which takes up one-quarter of my travel vision board, and Africa, which takes up three-quarters of it.  I have wanted to go for Africa for years.  If you gave me one place I could choose to go above all else, it would be Africa.  And Hawaii would be second.

This travel vision board sits above my desk, with the board with the other worldly goals to its right side.  And when I'm gazing off into space (an important component of writing) my gaze often lands on the images of Africa and Hawaii.  And besides that, every morning I'd read my list of intentions, all 90 of them, with trips to Africa and Hawaii duly noted.

So, guess what happened?

First of all, the women at my church designed them a retreat next April on Maui, for an unbelievably cheap price which can be paid in payments.  So I signed up.  Kind of a miracle, no?  And then the real miracle happened.

A trip to Africa to write a book materialized.  For this November.  It is not final yet, we are working on the details, but it is looking pretty certain that it will happen.  I've been in a daze for days.  And when it does happen, I'll be blogging every night in this very space.  I'm so excited I could just pop.

So think good thoughts about the trip for me, would you?  And check out the website of the wonderful folks who are organizing the tour here.  You might even want to donate money to their cause, because they are building wells to provide fresh water in Ghana, some of which we'll be visiting and I'll be writing about.

Like I said, its still not all final yet.  But I've got great hope that it will happen.  So please hope and pray with me. 

* Photo by Wikimedia Commons, in the public domain

***Because this shit works, imagine what it can do for your book!  If you haven't yet, sign up for my list and download my free Ebook on  Jump Starting Your Book With A Vision Board.  The form is to the right of this very post.


Techniques for Writing Flow

The Big, Scary Beast and the Ancient, Frail Feline are both asleep (in separate rooms, I might add) and so I have a moment to ponder techniques to keep access to the muse alive and well.  This is on my mind because at the recent Loft orientation, my fellow mentor and old friend Betsy Woods gave me the details on a new-to-me technique.

It is called a Weather Journal, and its a bit like writing morning pages, only more so.  With Morning Pages, you write down a stream of consciousness account of anything and everything, just to get it out on the page.  A Weather Journal is more crafted, more reactive, more of the moment.  With the Weather Journal, you start from where you are at the moment you sit down, and you write about that place, every blessed bit of it, starting with the things you are experiencing through your senses.

This invariably leads to more writing, perhaps an account of something that happened to you the day before, or an inquiry into an emotional upset.  The Weather Journal is very Zen in that it starts in the present moment and assumes that the entire universe exists in that moment.  And, well, every writer knows that its all in the details.   Keeping a Weather Journal is an excellent way to begin noting the details.  I've noticed this magical effect of the Weather Journal, which is that when you start by noting the details of the present moment, it is much easier to put on the page details of the scene that happened to you the day before when you were at the coffee shop and the barista with the red hair gave you a Frappucino with whipped cream on it instead of your usual grande latte.

While I'm at it, I'm going to run down a list of my Top Techniques for Writing Flow.  So here goes:

1.  Weather Journal–see above.  And let me know if you come up with a better name for it, would you please?

2.  Morning Pages–I did these faithfully for years.  They are the brainchild of Julia Cameron, who advocates their use in her book, The Artist's Way.  To do Morning Pages, often called MPs by devotees, you get up, grab your coffee or tea, and sit down with paper and pen in hand.  And then you write three pages, no more, no less, and get your ya-yas out so you can get on with the real business of life.  MPs are also a great way to track the desires of your true self.  So, if over the course of a month you realize you've written, I want to move to Africa and be a missionary, 5 times, it might be time to start checking airfare to Rwanda.  My problem with MPs is that they tend to devolve into a laundry list of things to do, and thus they end up feeding an obsessive thinking trait I'm trying to end.

3.  Free Writing--Sit down with your journal, set a timer for 20 minutes, choose a prompt and write until the timer goes off.  No lifting the pen from the page, no stopping, even if you are writing I hate free writing over and over again.  There is no shortage of books chock-full of prompts for free writing.  Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones,is probably the most famous advocate of this type of journaling.  The problem with free writing is that it is easy to get lost in it and end up with a bunch of useless writing that goes nowhere.  One way to get around this is to take prompts from your own current writing project.  This can be a great technique for solving thorny plot or character issues.

4. Lists--The lazy writer's way to keep a journal.  Not surprisingly, I love this one.  Say you find yourself on vacation in the Yucatan in Mexico and everything is exotic and different.  But you're on vacation and you end up spending most of it on the beach, drinking Pina Coladas from the beach-side bar.  Who has time to write in their journal in such a situation?  Especially when there are silly floor shows to attend every night?  And more Pina Coladas? Should you find yourself in such a jam, remember the benefits of writing a list.  It can be words or phrases, or whatever you want it to be, related or unrelated.  The key is to just get down descriptive words that you can later go back to and write from.  (And can I just say that I'm glad I visited Chichen Itza, back in the day, not so long ago, when you could still climb to the top of the ruins, even if I did only get halfway up before my fear or heights kicked in.)

That's it.  That's all I got on techniques for writing flow, and I think you'll find all of them useful in different situations.  If anybody has any other good ones, leave a comment so we can all steal it and use it!