Thursday, March 6, 2014

Are You Upside Down in Your Writing?


A recent phone call and an email reminded me of a problem most writers encounter at some time. It puzzles me, but I have a couple of theories. (Of course I have theories. I am nothing if not full of opinions.)

Here is the problem: The writer begins writing her life story for her family and friends. The writer has in mind a few stories she wants to write.  She produces those stories; all is going well. The writing is fun and easy. Then something changes. She quits writing about her life or quits writing altogether.

My theory -- the writer encounters lone tree experience. Writing is mainly a solitary process. Every day the writer must decide to sit down, alone, and write the next story. As the writer examines her life, she encounters the next experience -- my second theory.

Parts of this process are going to be a rocky and uphill path. Even writing light stories for family produces self-examination and reflection. Sometimes that results in mental or emotional discomfort. The writer doesn't know what to do with these thoughts and emotions so -- she quits writing. Upside down in her writing.

How to get yourself right-side up in your writing?

Respect your creativity. Every day that you sit down to write, you are creating something brand new that only you can create.

Respect your life experience. If the memories feel uncomfortable, push yourself up that rocky trail a few steps a day. It is okay to write only one sentence. That counts. Write one more sentence the next day. And the next until you feel strong enough to write entire pages.

Respect your own sensibilities. You don't have to allow everything you write to be read. Simply writing the experience may be enough to get you back to writing. I have written  two stories from my life that I know I will never show anyone (not even Gentleman Friend). However, after writing them, I felt stronger and more able to move on with more writing.

Respect the writing process.Writing takes time and energy. You notice the photo above is not a picture of a "walk in the park".

Respect the result. If you stick with it, I promise you will feel your life affirmed.And, as you look back at the significance of what you have completed, you will feel you had fun. (If you don't feel good at the end, call me.)


If you are stalled in your writing, look back at the last thing you wrote or at any of your stories. Re-type, or re-write in your handwriting, the last page of that piece. I mean simply copy it. (Don't worry about editing. You are in creative mode here.) And then go on and write a new sentence. And another new sentence. A new paragraph. That paragraph could continue the story or it could jump ten years ahead or back in the story. Doesn't matter, just get back on the path and get your writing right-side up.


Crispy Peanut Butter Balls

These yummy, easy-to-make treats (and the photo) are from Mom on Timeout. They have a special ingredient that makes them extra appealing to me -- Rice Krispies. I like peanut butter okay -- not absolutely crazy about it -- but I think the crunch in these will be just right.
Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Crunch Balls
  • 2 cups crunch peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 - 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 16 oz chocolate candy coating (CandiQuik)
  • 1 tsp shortening
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped salted peanuts (optional)

  1. Combine peanut butter and butter together in a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined.
  2. Stir in vanilla extract.
  3. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, half a cup at a time until mixture is nice and smooth and you can easily form balls.
  4. Stir in crispy rice cereal.
  5. Shape into 1 inch balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes on a waxed paper lined baking sheet.
  6. Melt candy coating and and 1 teaspoon of shortening together in a microwave safe bowl following melting directions on package.
  7. Dip the peanut butter balls into the chocolate using a toothpick.
  8. Transfer to wax paper and sprinkle chopped peanuts on top immediately.
  9. Let candy stand until the chocolate is firm.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

If you feel your writing energy flagging, visit to find more tips and resources. 

And if you need more of a buddy to hold your hand, get the Write Your Life Story Workbook.

All photos except the recipe photo are by Carol Newman.

All rights reserved 2014 There's An Angel In Your Inkwell®

Monday, March 3, 2014

What Will Tomorrow Bring?


Here it is almost St. Patrick's Day and my ancient Christmas cactus is still blooming. Is it behind the season? Ahead of the season?

Photo by Carol Newman

I like to think it is ahead of the season. Just like a writer needs to be.

If I want to write an article about  this plant for next Christmas publication, I need to photograph the flowers now.

Then I need to get the piece written. Begin looking for markets. And submit the writing maybe as early as July. This applies to novels as well as magazine and newspaper stories, print or digital. Markets vary so check your market listings.

Right now (well not right now, right now I am writing to you) I am reading the novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
Photo Courtesy of

This 784 page coming of age novel is set against a backdrop of an explosion in a public place, post traumatic stress in two of the survivors, art theft and the black market in art. I would not presume to know what was in the author's mind, but as writers we can look to this for an example. Suppose I want to write a coming of age story but make it timely. I can look at what is happening around me every day: bombings, wars, natural disasters, recovery of art stolen during WWII as dramatized in the book and movie The Monuments Men.

We must do the same. Snap out of that fog of someday. What will tomorrow bring? Whatever you create today. Think about topics that are in the news and in conversation. But also, think about topics that are timeless, like Christmas puppies. Then start a list of topics and start writing.


Make a list of three timely things you could write an essay, article, short story, novel or memoir about. Make a list of three timeless things you could write about. Do some thinking, researching, and then some writing.

When I was a writer as green as a seasick goldfish, I made every mistake in the book. The first human interest story I wrote and sold was to the Hamilton, Ohio weekly newspaper on the subject of how to care for a Christmas gift  puppy. Fortunately for me, the Lou Grant-type editor didn't kick me out when I walked in a couple of days after Christmas with my bright idea. No, I should not have just shown up at his office. No, I should not have waited until a week after Christmas to have my bright idea. But it was both a timely topic and a timeless one. Must have been a slow week because he growled, "Bring me what'cha got."


Five cups of chocolate chips? Yes, that is what this recipe calls for. Hey, we love chocolate so it is okay with us, isn't it? And, we love Almond Joy candy bars. Looks to me like we are all set. This recipe and photo are from  Just a Pinch.

Almond Joy Cookies

Photo Courtesy of

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups chocolate chips
2 cups sweetened coconut
2 cups chopped almonds

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
Combine dry ingredients, set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, stir in the vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients until well mixed then stir in the chocolate chips, coconut and almonds. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Are you writing memoir, life story, fiction, nonfiction, poetry?Are you writing for personal growth, posterity or publication? Find more Writing Tips, Launching Pads, Resources, and a handy-dandy workbook to help you along the way -- at There's An Angel In Your Inkwell. See you there. 

All rights reserved 2014 There's An Angel In Your Inkwell®