Recently, someone asked me if I ever have a day when I don’t feel like writing. The answer is absolutely yes.
Even though writing is my reason for jumping out of bed in the morning, it is possible to have an off-day.
To put things in context, I’ve known for at least fifteen years that writing was my calling. Writing is one of the activities that I can count on that gives me energy rather than depletes it. Writing relaxes me. Writing makes me feel whole. Writing makes me feel like I am connected (and connecting) to something greater.
When I create something that has never been written before, I get a sensation that feels like a runner’s high. Writing gives me a sense of euphoria. This is what keeps me going.
Also, I am very fortunate that in the back of my mind, ideas are constantly churning, blog themes are constantly being pitched and my fictional works are evolving and maturing.
For these reasons, I never lose interest.
But do I ever wake up some mornings and not want to write? Sure, but I don’t question it. Even the most passionate of writers can have an off day. Continue reading
Filed under Lists, Writing
In my insatiable thirst for knowledge about the world of screenwriting, I recently (and accidentally, I might add) stumbled upon a learning tool that was right under my nose that had completely slipped my mind.
One day, in a moment of nostalgia, I decided to pull out the movie “Grease” and pop it into the Blu-Ray player. When the movie was over, I wandered over to the disc’s “Special Features” menu. The interview with the movie’s choreographer, Patricia (Pat) Birch, sounded like a lot of fun.
During the segment, Ms. Birch explains the complex logistics involved in choreographing the dance scenes for the 200 dancers. I found her explanations fascinating!
Once the veil of the behind-the-scenes magic had been lifted, I wanted to go back and re-watch three of my favourite numbers to see the end result.
I’m not sure how I did it, but I ended up watching those scenes with the “Director’s Commentary” track activated. In the special feature, director Randal Kleiser and Pat Birch discuss several of the technical aspects of the movie shoot, the logistics, the vision, and the collaborative and collective effort that went into the project. At the same time, they share their memories of the filming as well as fun facts and trivia. Continue reading
You would think that given the almost perfect conditions I have set for myself for the purpose of writing, my writing sessions must be fruitful and uninterrupted.
First, I retired from a very busy career of 33 years, which has freed up several hours per day.
… I have time!
Also, following my retirement, I have had several months to relax, catch my breath and to recharge my batteries.
… I have energy!
Given our relocation to a rural property, I can feel my mind, body and soul slowing down with every breath. The profound calm and serenity of this great location allow my spirit to disconnect from the distractions that were always present when living and working in the city.
… I have peace and stillness!
The icing on the cake is that I have a comfortable studio in our home where I have the right ambiance and all of the tools I need to make my writing dreams come true.
… I have so much for which to be grateful!
But despite the best possible working conditions to keep me focused and on track, I admit that one of the challenges that still lurks in the background is my personal fight with energy vampires. Continue reading
On the approach to retirement, when I was asked what my future plans were, without really thinking about it, I always answered “writing”.
For as long as I can remember, with every passing year, I became increasingly aware that writing was my life’s purpose.
I was the kid whose bedroom was referred to as a “firetrap” due to the abundance of paper “masterpieces” scattered everywhere. I was the budding (but bad) poet in university. I was also the employee who raised his hand when management was looking for volunteers for challenging writing assignments.
Over the course of producing and editing thousands of pages of material for different executives and for different target audiences, I always felt more energized when completing writing assignments than with any other tasks. To me, that was a clear sign.
But it was only recently, during a drive to the city, that I realized that I might not have accurately articulated my retirement plans. Someone on the radio mentioned the word “storyteller”. This was a mind blowing moment for me, as it offered an important distinction I was missing.
In retirement, the suggestion comes up from time to time that if I love writing so much, why don’t I offer my services as a writer, either as a consultant or for community work. When that happens, in my head, I hear tires screeching to a sudden stop. Why is that? Continue reading
When I attended retirement planning seminars over the course of my career, the psychologists who provided guidance on how to mentally prepare for the transition always seemed to ask the same question: What do you want to do in retirement?
To me, the answer has always been a no-brainer: writing.
My first glimmers of self-awareness about writing came in high school and university. Of all of the assignments in a students’ life, I enjoyed writing essays and compositions the most – and the longer the better – despite the groans from my fellow classmates.
When I stepped into the career world, by some strange stroke of luck, I often ended up in work teams where my colleagues were more than happy to let me raise my hand and volunteer to write lengthy reports, business cases, user manuals and web content while others would probably rather raise their hand and volunteer for root canals.
Writing tasks made me so happy because they presented learning opportunities in an area for which I held a keen interest in becoming better and better.
I enjoyed writing for my managers and executives, as it presented a unique learning opportunity to learn and adapt to their respective writing styles. With the knowledge that I wasn’t writing for me, I was writing for them, I never took personally any comments about what I produced. In fact, after working on a few memos, I truly relished getting to a point where I could receive a request, get a few key points about what is intended in the message, and go back to my desk to draft, edit and return a product that was exactly what they wanted and in their own voice. There was no greater compliment to me than when they said “André, this is like I wrote it myself!” Continue reading
When I first started blogging almost seven years ago, the process was pretty straightforward: get an idea for a post; scribble it down; scribble more ideas; write the post; edit to make it sparkle; review again; if happy with the end result, post to the blog.
There is also a whole decision-making process surrounding the possibility of “if NOT happy with the end result”, but in the interest of not boring you with the 53 loops of reviewing, editing, overthinking and playing with Ivy the Wonder Cat, I’ll skip that part altogether.
I have been very proud of the content in my blog and in how it has connected with readers around the globe. The response has been heartwarming, deeply gratifying and a definite incentive to keep going.
Regular readers know that this blog has been a way for me to spread my creative wings and to keep practicing a form of creative writing until such time as I retire from my career of over 30 years, when I will switch to full-time writer.
With that finish line in sight scheduled for 2021, which isn’t too far off, I often find myself debating whether an idea should be articulated in a blog post now, or whether I should save it for one of the stories I will write later. That is a whole agonizing decision-making process on its own.
Again, in the interest of not boring you with that roller-coaster trajectory, a diagram that is sure to have you running away screaming, I’ll skip the specifics. Continue reading
In recent weeks, not only have we been bombarded with retrospectives from the last year, but as with any year ending with a “9”, we’ve seen our lives flashing before our eyes with scenes from the last decade as well.
One evening, as I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic (again!), just for fun, I asked myself what were my own favourite moments of the last decade.
It was a fun activity that completely took me out of the drudgery of traffic. My spirits were lifted as I rattled off a list of great memories. When I got home, I took out the iPad and started noting them, one-by-one. In the days that followed, more ideas kept coming to mind and the list continued to grow.
Just like everybody else, I experienced personal and professional highs and lows. But it was because these experiences that I will remember this decade fondly as the one where I experienced the greatest and most significant personal growth.
Despite what I thought was a pretty good tool kit for handling stress, this past decade offered a pressure cooker of situations that tested my tool kit to its limits when anxiety took over. With the help of a psychotherapist, I was able to establish better boundaries which not only contributed to enhancing that tool kit, but also helped to prevent some situations from festering into anxiety in the first place. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, books, Cats, food, Health and Wellness, Inspiring, Lists, mental health, Running, Theatre, Travel
In the fourth season of Bewitched, in an episode called “No Zip in My Zap”, Samantha is in a bit of a conundrum as her magical powers are clogged given Darren’s insistence that she live a mortal life.
In that episode, when “the dam breaks”, the accumulation of spells that didn’t conjure up anything all bear fruit at the same time, creating chaos in the Stephens’ household. “Doctor Bombay, Calling Doctor Bombay…”
As a writer, has that ever happened to you?
I am delighted that at this time in my life I am able to keep sharpening my writing skills in the corporate environment, while in my free time, producing a steady stream of blog posts, while working (slowly) on a few creative writing projects.
I am very happy with that combination and am not pressuring myself to do more. This works for me, right now.
By regularly tapping into my creative spirit in different ways, I feel that I am answering my calling and preparing for the next chapter in my writing life. But that has not always been possible.
Have you ever had those times when the ideas are flowing and you are yearning to write, but life just keeps throwing you curve balls preventing you from doing what you love most? Continue reading