THE DARK

I’M NOT A LOSER, BUT I DO KNOW THE DARK

You know, it’s funny. I never actually feel like a “loser.” I have absolute confidence in my own capabilities and talents. No worries for me there. Never have been. I don’t face personal doubts about myself. I have limits, I know them well. I have many extraordinary abilities. I know that too and precisely what they are. I also understand that usually my extraordinary abilities far outweigh my limitations.

On the other hand I do often feel like the Batman sitting atop a gargoyle 60 stories up in the pouring rain on a cold, moonless, pitch black night completely unnoticed and scanning the city for some sign of life. Which is exactly the way it is supposed to work when you’re the Batman.

When you’re a writer though… well, the dark is not your friend.

It’s Normal to Feel Like a Loser

by Michelle Griep

So you’re writing a novel, la-de-dah. Typing away like a rock star. Day after day after day.

After day.

And then, out of nowhere, whap! A horrific thought slaps you upside the head, yanking you out of the story and paralyzing you so that your daily word count takes a serious nosedive. Suddenly you wonder if you’re an author, that maybe all the things you write are just slobbery bits of drivel bubbling out of you. Panic sets in. Perhaps you’re not a for-real writer. Maybe you’re an impostor. A poser. An orangutan mimicking kissy noises in front of a mirror. Or worse — maybe the zombie apocalypse really did happen and you’re nothing but a body operating on rote memory because shoot, if you read what you’ve written, those words certainly look like a person with no brain wrote them.

Or maybe you’re just a loser.

Never fear, little writer. I’m here to tell you that you’re not a loser. You’re normal. Every writer hits this point at some time in every single manuscript they write — and sometimes more than once. Hating your writing and feeling like pond scum is par for the course. Why?

Because creation is the process of making something out of nothing, and that something takes blood, sweat, and tears to mold into a beautiful masterpiece.

Think about this . . . Babies don’t pop out of their mothers all smiley faced and swaddled in fluffy rubber ducky blankies. They come out screaming and howling, all mucked up with oobie-goobies and require a good cleaning and lots of love. You don’t think that mom had second doubts during the heat of labor? She’d have packed up and gone home at that point if she could.

That’s how it works for your story, too. Don’t pack it up. Press on through the birth pains. Push out that ugly story so that it can be cleaned off and wrapped up into a beautiful book cover.

The only way out is through, folks, no matter how you feel. Take your hand off your forehead (yes, I see that big “L” you’re making with your forefinger and thumb) and get those fingers on your keyboard instead.

I HAVE NOTED

I HAVE NOTED

That, generally speaking, when I am happy and full (of life, love, the future) that I use very simple and physical words. Sun, soil, blood, bone, terms like that. Vague and fuzzy words, but words well known to all and understood by all.

When I am curious, or fascinated, and stimulated in mind or soul then I use very complicated and extremely precise words.

But when I am melancholy and pensive, or brooding, or sick of something I use very antique and ancient words. And/or words with multiple meanings or encoded words. Words, and terms, and phrases I know that others are not usually aware of or will have to wrestle with or discover for themselves. Or such things (terms, phrases) as I devise myself. As if I am engaged in a sort of literary and psychological or spiritual cryptological enterprise.

This is mainly sub-conscious, and by long habit. I am rarely intentionally attempting it in the act but always am vaguely aware of it as it unfolds and can easily see it afterwards.

But I often wonder…

Does this happen to you as well? Or something like it?

Do you have a different vocabulary for different states or moods, as well as for different genres or subject matters?

It would be interesting for me to know if this happens to or with others as well…

 

NOT MUCH A’NOTHING FOR NOBODY

Yeah, indeed, I agree with much of this.

My overall advice though is this. (And it has always been this.)

Live an extremely active life which includes plenty of getting out in the real world, socializing with real people, and physical exertion. Get out in the sunshine – hike, chop down trees, box, lift weights, haul stuff, work the land, observe, discover, record, take note. I always do my best work, both physical and creative (writing stories, poems, songs, inventing, making scientific discoveries, etc.) while busy at other things or engaged in physical activity.

Then I memorize those things in my head (excellent and stimulating mnemonic practice) to write down or record later. I prefer to write absolutely alone and undisturbed, sure, but I best initially compose, create, and work out of doors, among nature, animals, and God’s great creation (the very best source and inspiration for sub-creation), while at physical labor, or among other people at fascinating and fun enterprises.

That entirely alleviates “loneliness” and “isolation,” keeps you physically, mentally, psychologically, and spiritually fit and happy (and I am immensely happy), and makes your work far more fun and meaningful. It will also likely keep your socially fit.

I for one cannot imagine any attempt at “isolated or inactive (passive, static, sedentary) creativity.”

That, to me, would be entirely self-defeating and the thought of that kind of “creative practice” both revolts and repulses me. (It’s not so great for your Word Hoard or your knowledge base or business reputation either.)

Also, get out into the Real World and do something worthwhile and really important. And keep doing those things for your whole life. Then you’ll have something decent and interesting to actually write about.

Writing, you see, ain’t really a singular profession about a set of mental obsessions. It is a peculiar expression of why life should be approached obsessively, and professionally.

Live only in your own head and that’s not only the only thing you’ll have for yourself, it’s the only thing you can give to others. And that ain’t much of nothing for nobody…

 

The Isolated Writer

In general, writers do not do their best work in a group. The very nature of creative writing is a solitary pursuit, but without taking great care, can morph into a feeling of isolation. And this can occur whether an author lives in a quiet rural town or in midtown Manhattan. (The one in New York, not Kansas)So, how does an author, feeling isolated and alone stay motivated? How do they develop and maintain a marketing platform on their own? How do they maintain their creative edge when most of their time is spent in relative solitary confinement?First and foremost, they need to continually hone their skills. This agency has many resources available on our website and Steve Laube heads the Christian Writers Institute, providing anyone with mentoring through classes offered and great information.  www.ChristianWritersInstitute.com

But how do you overcome the feelings of isolation and loneliness which afflict so many authors? When you need someone to hold up your arms, what do you do?

Left unaddressed, isolation can lead to discouragement, creative-paralysis, and a myriad of other bad things threatening to stop writers of all experience levels in their tracks.

I am going to suggest a course of action counter to what you might think.  To “zig” when you expected to “zag.”

Please bear with me as I tell a short story.

Over thirty years ago I attended a people management seminar. It was a broad ranging presentation over several days with some excellent teachers. About a hundred people were in this particular group.

Breakout groups were for new managers, refresher skills for experienced managers, those at government offices, non-profits, public corporations, etc.  I still recall some of the presentation material today as very helpful.

I clearly remember one session on developing employee worth and self-esteem. The presenter’s approach emphasized the need for a manager to first have a high level of self-worth and personal confidence and once they had a “full reservoir” of each, distribute them to their staff.

It made sense.

But as we learned how to develop a high level of self-worth, I recall thinking their approach was different than my Christian faith would have directed. It pointed to somewhat “artificial” means to puff up one’s self rather than anything of depth.

After all, repeating “I am good, I am great, I am wonderful” only goes so far.

In a breakout session, we went around the table giving our impressions of the material and I mentioned the concept of giving and receiving (never mentioning the Bible or Jesus).

You want to feel appreciated? Show appreciation. You want to feel loved? Love someone.

I suggested if a manager wanted to increase their own sense of worth, they should focus first on improving the worth of others.

The stunned silence around the table combined with the apparent appearance of antlers growing from my head (based on the looks I received) proved I was suggesting a foreign concept.

Of course, as believers we do give from our abundance as God has lavished his grace on us, allowing us all to give others grace from his overflowing supply. But I felt this level of theological discussion was too much for this particular business seminar!

So I just kept it simple at the “Give much, receive much” level, which was confusing to anyone committed to a “Get first, give a little” strategy.

Let’s consider author isolation in a similar counter-intuitive manner:

  • If you need encouragement, encourage another writer. Read the books of people you have met at conferences and correspond with them.
  • If you need mentoring, start by mentoring young writers (middle school students are a good start). You don’t need an MFA to mentor a twelve year old in creativity. Teaching is the best form of learning.
  • Register and attend a writer’s conference with the specific purpose of seeking out an isolated, discouraged writer (even if you are one) and offer to be their accountability/encouragement partner. (As opposed to going to a conference looking for someone to do this for you.)
  • Help another writer establish their author-marketing platform.
  • Help shape someone else’s work.
  • Start a writer’s group and devote yourself to others’ growth.
  • Start a creative writing group at your public library.
  • Start a writing group in your church.
  • Connect with homeschooler groups to discuss creative writing.
  • Recommend other authors’ books to your friends.

When you spend time helping someone else, your own writing,
creativity, sense of purpose and value improve exponentially.

The more you focus solely on yourself, the less you will grow.

So how do you overcome the dreaded Isolated Author Syndrome?

Help someone else defeat it.

 

HELL WEEK PROGRAM

HELL WEEK PROGRAM

here is my actual Hell Week Program after all necessary improvements and revisions.

No, I’m not afraid I’ll wash out or be unable to complete it but it will be difficult. Especially Tuesday and Friday. I’m not kidding myself that it won’t be hard.

But it’s a good start to incorporating all of my old training and educational and survival and CAP and others forms of training into a single program or set of programs geared to improve me at this stage and era of my life. And I’m already working on integrating all of these things into a single, unified Field System of Training. I’ll talk about that later, after Hell Week.

For now it is sufficient to say that I begin my new Hell Week tomorrow.

I’ll probably be incommunicado for a week therefore. I might make a quick post on progress, but I doubt it.

Here is the background on my Hell Week. Or just see previous post.

Below is the program itself.

Have a good week folks and I’ll see you when I can. For now I’m gonna go drink some water, listen to a quick radio play, and then go to bed early. Tomorrow I begin.

Night all.

General Program Principles

Follow Diet
Train Daily
Stand at Ease, legs far apart when in public
Employ your charisma at all times in public
Be Friendly and helpful to all
Assist anyone you can
Breathe deeply and calmly even when training
Hydrate often
Sleep 6 to 8 hours at night if Program allows
Sleep in tent or on floor
Cook own food or eat food raw
Exercise or Work to failure or to task completion
Drink only water and coffee – hydrate often
Take all Metaergogenics
Whenever you go out into the public dress superbly and be generous
Network and interact freely and with all
Complete all 7 days without excuse
Progressive resistance in all tasks and categories as you proceed
Serious injury or unforeseen outside circumstances are the only acceptable reasons for non-completion, then must start all over

No entertainment or rest between functions unless Program allows
No TV, radio, film, internet, or email unless specified
No sex with wife during Program

Test every Saturday after completing Program for next 7 weeks (one function per week)

 

WEEKLY TASKS

MONDAY – CREATION AND DESIGN

Wake – 0500
Aesic Practice – ½ hour
Breakfast, Water, Metas – ½ hour
Music ½ hour
Exercise Animals – ½ hour
Hike 1 ½ mile – ½ hour
Research – 1 hour
Snack, water, coffee, rest, stretch – ½ hour
Game Design and General Design – ½ hour
Lunch, Water, Metas – ½ hour
Lecture – 1 hour
Write short story – 1 hour
Snack, water, rest, coffee, stretch – ½ hour
Write song – ½ hour
Write poem – ½ hour
Artwork/sketch – 1 hour
Dinner, water, metas – ½ hour
Write novel – 2 ½ hours
Warmann – 1 hour
Submissions and Marketing – 1 hour
Work in Notebooks – 1 hour
Stargaze – 1 hour
Read – 1 hour
Bed

TUESDAY – PHYSICAL – WARMANN

Wake – 0500
Aesic Practice – ½ hour
Breakfast, Water, Metas – ½ hour
Music ½ hour
Exercise Animals – ½ hour
Hike in pack 2 miles – ½ hour
Research – 1 hour
Snack, water, coffee, rest, stretch – ½ hour
Football – ½ hour
Lunch/water, metas – ½ hour
Soccer – ½ hour
Run 1 ½ mile – ½ hour
Snack, water, coffee, rest, stretch – ½ hour
Shooting – ½ hour
Snack, water, rest, coffee, stretch – ½ hour 1
Baseball – ½ hour
Warmann – 1 hour
Weight Lifting – 1 hour
Dinner, water, metas – 1 hour
Boxing – ½ hour
Sword/knife fighting – ½ hour
Stealth and climbing – 1 hour
Warmann – 1 hour
Work in Notebooks – 1 ½ hours
Read – 1 hour
Bed

WEDNESDAY – INVENTION/INNOVATION

Wake – 0500
Aesic Practice – ½ hour
Breakfast, Water, Metas – ½ hour
Music ½ hour
Exercise Animals – ½ hour
Hike 1 ½ mile – ½ hour
Research – 1 hour
Snack, water, coffee, rest, stretch – ½ hour
Warmann – ½ hour
Lunch, water, metas – ½ hour
Lecture – 1 hour
Observe Nature – 1 hour
Snack, water, coffee, rest, stretch – ½ hour
Invent – 1 hour
Design – 1 hour
Innovate – 1 hour
Dinner, water, metas – 1 hour
Submissions and Marketing – 1 hour
Study – 1 hour
Warmann – ½ hour
Work in Notebooks – 1 hour
Write – 1 hour
Read – 1 hour
Bed

THURSDAY – MENTAL (PROBLEM SOLVING, RESEARCH,
PLANNING)

Wake – 0500
Aesic Practice – ½ hour
Breakfast, Water, Metas – ½ hour
Music ½ hour
Exercise Animals – ½ hour
Hike in Pack 1 ½ mile – ½ hour
Research – 1 hour
Snack, Water, Rest, Stretch – ½ hour
Warmann – ½ hour
Problem Solving – 1 hour
Lunch water, metas – ½ hour
Lecture – 1 hour
Observe Nature – 1 hour
Snack, water, coffee, rest, stretch – ½ hour
Planning – 1 hour
Operation Chay – 1 hour
Weight Lifting – 1 hour
Dinner, water, metas – 1 hour
Submissions and Marketing – 1 hour
Work in Notebooks – 1 hour
Write – 1 hour
Read – 1 hour
Bed

FRIDAY – FINANCIAL (INVESTMENTS, BUSINESS, START-
UP, FUNDING, NETWORKING) – WELTMANN

Wake – 0500
Aesic Practice – ½ hour
Breakfast, Water, Metas – ½ hour
Music ½ hour
Exercise Animals – ½ hour
Hike 3 miles – 1 hour
Research – 1 hour
Snack, water, coffee, rest, stretch – ½ hour
General Business Review ½ hour
Lunch, water, metas – ½ hour
Lecture – 1 hour
Investments – 1 hour
Banking – ½ hour
Snack, water, coffee, rest, stretch – ½ hour
Start Ups and Business Plans – 1 hour
Funding – 1 hour
Networking – 1 hour
Dinner, water, metas – 1 hour
Submissions and Marketing – 1 hour
Warmann – 1 hour
Operation Weltmann – 1 hour
Write – 1 hour
Read – 1 hour
Bed

SATURDAY – PSYCHOLOGICAL – GNOSSIS AND CHAY

Wake – 0500
Aesic Practice – ½ hour
Breakfast, Water, Metas – ½ hour
Music ½ hour
Exercise Animals – ½ hour
Hike 1 ½ mile – ½ hour
Research – 1 hour
Snack, water, rest, stretch – ½ hour
Warmann – 1 hour
Lunch, waters, metas – ½ hour
Vices and Virtues – 1 hour
Christian Wizardry – 1 hour
Operation Gnossis – 2 hours
Goals and Objectives – 1 hour
Warmann – ½ hour
Weight Lifting – ½ hour
Dinner, water, metas – 1 hour
Submissions and Marketing – 1 hour
Operation Chay – 1 hour
Work in Notebooks – 1 hour
Mode and Mood – 1 hour
Write – 1 hour
Read – 1 hour
Bed

SUNDAY – SPIRITUAL – CHAY

Wake – 0600
Aesic Practice – 1 hour
Breakfast, Water, Metas – 1 hour
Exercise Animals – ½ hour
Snack, water, coffee, rest, stretch – ½ hour
Church – 3 hours
Lunch, Water, Metas – ½ hour
Hike 2 miles – 1 hour
Snack, water, coffee, rest, stretch – ½ hour
Music – 1 hour
Meditation – 1 hour
Prayer – ½ hour
Nap – 1 hour
Dinner, water, metas – 1 hour
Operation Chay – 1 hour
Habit Review – ½ hour
Behavior, Philosophy, and Values Review – 1 hour
Night hike in woods – 1 hour
Read – 1 hour
Bed

HELL WEEK

HELL WEEK

About once a month I regularly test myself on some matter: physical, mental, psychological, spiritual, intellectual, creative, etc.

I do this to see how my daily and weekly training routines have improved me, or not.

Recently however I have been reading a book called, Hell Week by a Norwegian guy name Erik Larssen, former paratrooper and now an entrepreneur and performance coach. He suggests putting yourself through a Hell Week whenever needed.

I think his idea makes a great deal of sense and so I have designated the first week of September my upcoming Hell Week. He has a sample program but I will be modifying it for myself and my own objectives. Anyway I figure I can put myself through my own Hell Week maybe twice a year or so and see how that benefits me.

The types of training my Hell Week will include will be:

Creative – Monday
Physical – Tuesday
Inventive/Innovative – Wednesday
Mental/Intellectual – Thursday
Business, Entrepreneurial, Financial – Friday
Psychological – Saturday
Spiritual – Sunday

Testing will follow Hell Week for the next seven weeks, one Test per week

That way my Hell Week program will mirror the kinds of things I’ve done and trained in for decades now.

I’m thinking I might follow up Hell Week with a modified one week Survival Challenge in the woods in autumn. Pack enough food to have one meal per day, no fire, find my own water, explore a lot. Then if I need more food I can trap it or fish it. But part of it will be to see how little food I really require. And to sharpen thing like my senses, my nightvision (which I really only practice much with my telescope watching the moon and stars), to go back to sneaking a lot, to toughen my body back to natural environmental conditions, and to see what my dreams are like in those conditions.

Also my wife liked the idea of Hell Week so I’m making a very simplified form of Hell Week for her and the girls which I’ll call Hell Day that they can do once a month.

After Hell Week I’ll also choose one day a month (I’m thinking the first day of the month) to do a Hell Day just to keep me sharp and to improve my self-testing.

Then do a basic Survival Challenge once a year.

THE MYSTEREUM

Tome and Tomb

This article (the one below) gave me an idea (although I also partially patterned it after the Library and Museus of ancient Alexandria) for a new adventure/dungeon site or complex. It sits right outside of a major city and appears as an ancient museum to the civilian population and for all public intents and purposes this is all that is known of the complex. It contains numerous replicas (and, it is claimed, some very real examples) of ancient and powerful devices, items, inventions, artifacts, and even some holy relics.

Visitors may enter the Mystereum by day, and during special occasions (or public festivals) at night, to see these things on display, to read descriptions of what they were or of their supposed history and ownership, the known chains of evidence regarding their authenticity, and to be given guided tours and to hear lectures given by the archivists, historians…

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See ya.

Jack.