Summer, Rewriting, and Life

Between rewriting one novel, plotting out another, discussing a potential memoir project, and enjoying a bit of summertime freedom with family, I’ve been making lots of notes for blogs that then haven’t made it to an actual post. So: although I’m tackling the topic a bit late, I want to talk about summer, balance, writing, and life.

I’m not the only one with these things on my mind. Over the past few weeks, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed other bloggers’ thoughts—so I thought I’d round up some of my favorites for you.


  • Also hosting the Summer Revision Smackdown: the Cuppa Jolie blog, with Jolie Stekly.
  • Yat Yee Chong chronicles her writing goals and struggles as she tries to accommodate both her muse and her family during the unstructured days of summer vacation.

For me, the challenge of summer is that it requires me to shift gears from writing-mode to Mom-mode on a frequent basis. I don’t do it well. When I’m deep in writing—or rewriting—sometimes it takes me an hour to drag my head out of the foggy otherworld I inhabit when creating. Maybe I just have to recognize this about myself—and actually accommodate it—instead of trying to keep up my full writing schedule plus a full family schedule.

I love reading and re-reading the thoughts of other writers on summertime priorities, because it helps me figure out my own. It’s important for me to write this summer. I’m in such an exciting place, with requested manuscripts and a brand new agent, I don’t want to lose that momentum!

The trick is that I need to find those moments to put down my pen for an hour, a day, maybe even a week, so that I can go experience life, enjoy my kids, dig in the garden, hike, play with the dogs…all the important things that keep me anchored in this world.

After all, that’s what being a rich writer is all about!

:) Cheryl

Another iPhone App for Writers

I have to tag one more favorite application before moving on to other topics: BrainBaths.brainbaths
BrainBaths uses something called “binaural beats” which, if I’m getting the concept, mimic specific types of brain waves in their rhythms. When you listen to binaural beats, they  somehow trigger those brain waves—for ex., for creativity, sleep, meditation, or focus.

From my in-depth research (involving at least five minutes), it sounds like this brain wave/binaural beat phenomenon is real.

I don’t know how much of the sounds’ effects have to do with the way they influence my brain waves and how much is just the power of suggestion, but when I’m stuck in a story, I turn to the “creativity” or “clear insights” channel—coupled with sounds of a nice mountain stream, meadow, or ocean waves—and usually have a creative breakthrough in fairly short order.

I also swear by its ability to put me to sleep in circumstances that aren’t sleep-conducive. :) The thing’s only $.99, so what the heck? If you have an iPhone, I’d give it a try!

:) Cheryl

Happiness is…(or, why the writer’s life is rich)

Happiness is:

  • Having a critique group whose every member celebrates when you share good news, without reservation;
  • Writer friends who show up to be with you, even when life events conspire to keep them away;
  • Writer friends who commiserate when you get one too many rejection letters;
  • Friends who encourage you to keep writing, that you have talent, that you have spunk and spark and yes, you should keep at it;
  • Writer friends who are ready to laud those who recognize your talents and boo those who don’t;
  • Writer friends who generously share their own victories along the way, so that every award, every publication, every interview and starred review and beautiful cover feels a little like your own;
  • Writer friends who catch your vision for a story and care enough to tell you where it’s not working, where it is working, and how to make it better;
  • Writer friends online and off, who keep you accountable, keep you inspired, keep you fired up, and keep you focused on the joy that writing can bring.

:) Cheryl

PS—The photo’s significance: the on-fire turtle!!

Favorite iPhone Apps for Writers: the Creative Whack Pack

whackOver the years, I’ve used lots of creativity sparkers, writing prompts, idea generators, and so on—and this is different. Roger von Oech‘s Creative Whack Pack addresses core creativity issues and helps you come up with new ways to think about problems. Although I use the Whack Pack as an iPhone app, it was (and still is) originally available as an actual, hold-it-in-your hands deck of cards. 

ideasThe Creative Whack Pack consists of 64 cards, each describing a different creative thinking strategy. For instance, one strategy is “Look Somewhere Else.” The card highlights the concept that when you’re looking for new ideas, you won’t find them in the same old places.

Each card also includes questions to help you apply the concepts to your particular problem.

I bought the Creative Whack Pack as a writing tool, but I find I use it whenever I have a tricky problem to consider. By going through a “creative workshop”, I’m forced to look at problems from new angles, consider new solutions. Afterward, I always have new ideas to try.

Whether or not you have an iPhone, I’d consider getting a copy of these cards. They’re a great way to keep your mind sharp and stimulate creative thinking!

:) Cheryl