Tag Archive for: daily writing

Follow Your Bliss

By Cathy Perkins 
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you
where there were only walls.” Joseph Campbell
been trying to finish an amateur sleuth mystery (the next Holly Price story) but another story keeps nagging at me. It’s one I’ve picked up and put
down about a dozen times; changed the focus; the motivation; everything except
the central characters and the theme.
not sure why that book keeps pulling me back. Maybe it comes from the idea that
each one of us has something special to contribute—maybe work we feel compelled
to do. By doing it, we feel fulfilled and enrich the world. Joseph Campbell
talks about finding your own path (“If you can see your path laid out in front
of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with
every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”). 

How do you find that path?
Some refer to it as following your bliss. Others say, find your heart’s

is that passion the broader goal or a kernel that embodies it?

many of us on this blog, our passion is writing. Taking intuitions, snippets,
dreams and moments of pure fantasy imagination. Adding overheard conversations,
glimpses of a vignette as we pass by. Grabbing that nebulous possibility, and
shaping and turning into a polished story. Is writing the passion we want to
share with the world? Or is it a particular theme or story that we feel we have
to tell to reach that bliss?

really have no idea, so I keep putting one foot in front of the other and
step-by-step find my path.
Right now, that path is
strolling along with a forensic accountant who’s trying to find her own path through life…
You might hear a bit more about her later. 
But as much fun as
the amateur sleuth story is to write, that other story is still there, a siren song.
Even if we take the steps
to become an author, maybe we chose a certain path because we fear the stories
we want to write won’t sell. We love chic lit or romantic mysteries or literary
stories where the characters rule and the words flow to a different rhythm, but
we read online, hear from editors, agents, creative writing texts that D, all
the above are passé. We’re tempted to follow trends rather than listen to the
story inside us. I think most of us have cleared that hurdle, but the doubt is
always there–should I have chosen a different path? 
Overall, I’m happy with my
path to “here.” Sure, there have been highs and lows, joys and
regrets. I’m happy our paths crossed, here on the blog, at various publishers, conferences, or any of the other places we’ve connected. I hope my passion for writing lives
on and that I can share my joy and make a small corner of the worlds a better

And in the meanwhile, I
think my other story is still growing—or growing up—quietly evolving in my
subconscious. I have many books still to write.
But I suspect “that story”
will one day be the one I have to tell.
What about you?
 “As you go the way of life,
You will see a great chasm.
It is not as wide as you
― Joseph

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.  Visit her at http://cperkinswrites.com or on Facebook 

Sign up for her new release announcement newsletter in either place.

She’s hard at work on sequel to The Body in the Beaver Pond, which was recently presented with the Claymore Award. 

Top Ten Writing Tips

Top Ten Writing Tips

By Cathy Perkins
I can’t believe it’s already the middle of
January! How are you coming with your New Year’s Resolutions?
One of my resolutions was to transfer the
organization I always implemented in my day job to my writing life. Since my
writing space and habits were a bit (cough, a lot) disorganized, I got together
with some author friends. What quickly evolved was a set of writing tips. Many
of these I’ve done without conscious thought. I’m attempting to be more mindful,
however, and plan to use this structure as additional motivation to, as one
friend puts it, finish the damn book.

So, without further fanfare – the writing

Ten – Make lists. Every day I make a list of the things I
want to accomplish that day. (I’m not sure what it says about me that I love
drawing a line through an item when it’s done.)
The first line (every day but Sunday) is always, Write. Long-term-goals are listed
on my white board: things I want to be sure I don’t forget, but I don’t have to
do today.

Nine – Sprint.  A group of us grabs our first, or next,
cup of coffee and checks in, then we all ignore each other, turn off the
internet and the phone, and work steadily for an hour. It’s a writing club, a
mutual support group, and a fabulous technique for working without
interruption. I write until I meet my word count goal for the day. (Thank
Steven King for this one.)

Eight – Work on one series at a
I try my best to immerse myself
in one setting, one set of characters, one story, whether I’m working on a
first draft or revising a draft. Avoiding the “new shiny” keeps me

Seven – Finish what’s due
Except #8 blows up sometimes.
I’ll be in first draft mode on Pony Ring and edits will come in from Beaver
Pond. I operate on the First Due principle. I knock out the edits, because they’re
due in a week or two, then get back to the longer work. The problem with doing
that, of course, is getting back up to speed with the work-in-process, so I can
re-immerse myself in that world.

Six – Take time away from the
By the end of a writing session,
my creative brain is mush. I usually go for what I call my plotting walk,
especially if I’m writing a first draft. There’s something about the rhythm of
walking that brings the next scene or a plot problem into focus. It makes the dogs
happy to get out of the house, too.

Five – Separate creative time
from admin time.
most creative in the early morning, so I do my writing then. A corollary is,
Keep creative time sacred. I don’t schedule anything else for mornings. I try
to keep writing blog posts, scheduling author events, record-keeping, and all
the other business stuff for the evenings.

Four – Work ahead. Know what you want to accomplish – I’ve written
my goals for the year and set up a time table to implement them. That means I
work now on upcoming items instead of
waiting and scrambling at the last minute.

Three – Outsource what I can’t
While I tinker with art and
photo-editing, I know my limits with graphic design. I hire a wonderful cover
artist. I like formatting my books, but it’s something I can do in the evening
while my husband watches TV. The key point is identifying what I’m good at and
enjoy, versus what I can outsource. Why waste time on things it would take me
forever to do and rob me of the hours I need to do what I’m good at – writing

Two – Stay healthy. I always have a full flask of water on my desk.
Fluids in, fluids out. It makes me get up and move around every hour or so. And
if I forget, my Fitbit buzzes at me with a reminder. I try to eat lean fresh
foods, and I get regular exercise even if it isn’t always a sweaty gym workout.
And the exercise doubles as creative time – see #6!

One – Butt in the chair, fingers
on the keyboard. 
This is
really the most important one. If I get distracted, schedule other things, or
simply don’t do the writing, then…I’m not doing the writing. And that’s my
job. Of all the varied jobs I’ve held, I’m lucky and blessed to have this one I

What tips
can you add?

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.  Visit her at http://cperkinswrites.com or on Facebook 

Sign up for her new release announcement newsletter in either place.

She’s hard at work on sequel to The Body in the Beaver Pond, which was recently presented with the Claymore Award. 

Writing Rehearsal

by Paula Gail Benson

do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!

do you get happily published? Submit carefully crafted writing.
how do you ensure that your submissions are carefully crafted? Write
you have to write every day? Some authors manage without, but I remember what
happened when I tried to improve my piano playing and left off practicing until
the day before the lesson. The result was passable, but not as polished as it
could have been if I had built on a daily habit.
music and writing may be inspiring to their listeners, they don’t emerge from
the muse by someone simply placing their fingers on a keyboard. Music and
writing have to be worked out in advance before you can sell tickets to the
is another creative activity that requires prep time. The first reading of a
line may “feel” perfect, but once you’ve rehearsed it, you realize more subtle
nuances, ways to play off fellow actors, or timed reactions that are funnier or
more poignant than the original interpretation.
and writers are solo performers. Only by repeated practice do they learn the
methods that will best charm and involve an audience. One of the greatest joys
of a performer can be the private discovery of how a musical or written piece
should be presented.
joy is compounded when they hear the audience’s reaction. The true moment when
the muse touches you is when you realize the perfect order and symmetry for
your work. An actor or pianist may receive a more instant gratification in
hearing applause, but what writer doesn’t relish listening to a reader tell him how his words and
stories have changed a life?
is necessary for performances because to act or play piano is an extension of
self. The way we turn writing into that extension is to: (1) sit down to write
with purpose, and (2) embrace the discoveries made.
developing a writing habit, you can let the daily discoveries soak in until
they become a part of your writer self. You learn to recognize those “tricks”
that attract your audience’s attention. Then, you refine them in order to make
them appear natural, so they become craft and your audience doesn’t perceive them
at all, but is completely involved in the story and hates to see it end. This is
the objective of every artist: to tell the story well and leave the listeners

Moseley said that when writing becomes a daily practice, the writer completes
projects and his subconscious begins to assist him even when he’s not writing
because the constancy of the task has become so strong. (Why does his concept
make me think I hear, “May the force be with you,” echoing in my head?)

Rodriguez has written some inspiring recent messages about becoming motivated to write
and making the decision to be a writer. Both feature excerpts from her recent
book, Plotting the Character Driven Novel,
which is terrific.

If youre still contemplating New Years resolutions, here are a few books
that have recommendations to help you develop a daily writing schedule:

Divine Guide to Creating a Daily Writing Practice
by Pernille
Norregaard. This inspirational text includes many quotations from established
authors (like Walter Moseley
s theory above) and emphasizes how to effectively build a habit.

Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to
Writing Every Day

by Chris Fox. By illustrating how he changed his entire life through developing
consistent practices, Fox shows the path to more effective writing and offers
exercises to achieve that goal.

The Eight-Minute Writing Habit: Create a
Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle
by Monica Leonelle.
This guide offers a modified Pomodoro Method of timed writing. By limiting the
writing period to eight minutes, Leonelle contends it creates a habit that is
easy to incorporate into any lifestyle and capable of ensuring at least 250 per
day, which could lead to 90,000 words in a year.