Monday, August 30, 2010

Edit Your Novel; Edit Your Life

Sometimes, a change in one aspect of your life instigates changes in others.

This past weekend, I knew I was going to be doing major book revisions, so I thought, "Why not do all types of revisions?" Diet revisions, schedule revisions, relationship revisions...
All of these changes have made my Monday much more pleasant, so I thought I would share:

For some quick, diet revisions, I:

1.) Sprinkled strawberries and blueberries on top of my cereal
2.) Made mini pizzas on whole wheat pita bread
3.) Kept a bottle of water handy at my desk

Despite my 100ish pages of reading on breast cancer (and 30 pages of clinical skills), I knew that I had to spend some weekend time catching up with friends. When I am extremely busy, I tend to revert into an odd type of isolation (maybe it's a tortured artist complex)? But at the end of the day, week, and year, nothing is more important than my personal relationships.
So, I:

1.) Found some old craft paper and hand wrote "thanks for being in my life" notes to some close friends.
2.) Used my car rides to catch up with two other friends
3.) Organized a dinner with my medical school class and deemed it a "quick, study break"

Throughout my book revisions, I asked myself these questions (which I got after extensive research):

1.) How is this chapter moving my plot forward?
2.) Is there something valuable on every page? Could a reader skip this page and still be okay?
3.) Does this scene establish multiple purposes (depict internal and external conflict, push the plot, define character, etc.)?

What do you do to change your routine? Have you made any changes lately?

*Pictures from

Also, on a completely unrelated note, how great does Heidi look?!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just Say No!

People pleasing should be an official syndrome.


Today, I realized that there is so much out there telling us to give as much of ourselves as we can. While I appreciate and understand that thought, I think there might also be something to learning how and when to say no.

Why is it so difficult for some people? Is it fear of hurting? Being hurt? Both? This is one of my main character's flaws and as usual, the more I try to learn about her, the more I learn about the world around me.

"If you don't learn how to say no, you will realize that sooner or later, you won't have anything left to say no to. The ones who don't respect your right to say no are too small for you. "

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, at a signing.

Do you ever have trouble saying no?

Kim G, from the Real Housewives of New Jersey, is often accused of being a people pleaser.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Okay To....

Eat one too many pieces of chocolate...if there is such a thing

Love what you write today and abhor it tomorrow

Skip the gym and opt for some reality television instead

Reward yourself for every little accomplishment

Consistently refresh your e-mail just in case you hear back about that query letter

Pick up a tabloid at the check out counter...then covertly shove it into your shopping cart

Feel disappointment for things that did not go the way you planned

Fall just a little short of your word count goal

Become giddy (and inquisitive) when a past crush adds you on Facebook

Read so many author blogs that you forget to write

*Pictures from

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

5 Things That Jump Start the Morning!

As a steadfast night owl, I have always had trouble waking up in the mornings. The alarm gets snoozed, the people who try to wake me up are snapped at (I love you!), and, on the most melodramatic ones, I lament life, squeeze my palms together, and pray for extra hours.

In honor of my new schedule (wake up at 6:45 a.m., go to bed at 1 a.m.), I thought of things that make that first segment of the morning bearable:

1. A fresh cup of coffee or tea (These are also essential before I start to write)

2. Fun music (Yes, maybe I do listen to Ke$ha, Lady Gaga and---feel free to judge---Britney Spears)

3. Good food (There's nothing like toasted sourdough bread or a cup of vanilla yogurt with blueberries or cereal with fruit)

4. Stretching (Get those muscles moving and that blood flowing!)

5. A smile (refer to previous, cheesy post)

How do you get out of bed? Are you a night or morning person?

*pictures from

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lessons from a Homeless Man

I was zipping down 27th street with defined purpose; a cup of Starbucks in one hand, my iPod in another. About a block away from my apartment, a homeless man, strolling in the opposite direction, stopped, faced me, and---with a knowing stare---asked,

"Why aren't you smiling? There's so much to be happy about!"

He stood there, clad in a fraying t-shirt and forest green pants, waiting for an answer.

Normally, I would have continued on my path, dismissing the interaction as a part of the city's daily wear and tear. But I paused and peered at my reflection in the window of an adjacent store.

I looked dismayed. Pissed. Rushed. Frantic.

But why? Why was the pace, the going, the let's-just-get-there-attitude permeating every part of me?

I curled up my headphones and shrugged my shoulders. With a swift shake of his bald head, he was gone, on to more trying pursuits in Murray Hill.

After that, I continued to see him, basking in shaded corners and accepting the occasional bundle of change. We usually exchanged quick glances of acknowledgement and moved on.

But ever since we spoke, I've made sure to smile because there is so much to be happy about.

And sometimes, a stranger can hold a mirror up to us, forcing us to notice things we may not even realize.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Sigh of Relief

During my last yoga class, the instructer asked everyone to do a loud exhale.
"Exaggerate it if you need to," he said as he fiddled with the iPod dock. "But make sure it's loud."

As over twenty pairs of lungs filled up with air and released, the entire room vibrated, as though it was taking one big sigh of relief.

I realized then, in the sea of mats and twisted bodies, that this entire year has been a sigh of relief. I have been able to pursue what I love, day in and day out, and allowed it to change me. Instead of constantly looking forward, worrying about time and goals and accomplishments, I basked in each moment.

In fact, I can confidently say that I never went to bed dissatisfied. I sang, danced, wrote, learned for the sake of learning (instead of for grades or a job), and felt forgotten parts of myself springing back to life. Last year, I was disillusioned about my career and direction in life.

So many times, we hate not knowing where we are heading. But as it turned out, that gray area of uncertainty was the best thing that could have happened to me.

Because sometimes we just need to recharge, rediscover, and relive.

Have you ever had a figurative sigh of relief? When did something come as a disguised blessing?

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Mark Twain

*pictures from

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Writing, Writing, Everywhere and So Many Drops to Drink

I love how writing is relevant to so many things.

Take, for example, a Sex and the City episode. (I've been reading television writers' blogs to gain some insight on their process and as it turns out, there are a lot of similarities.)

I noticed that all of the characters remain consistent, whether it's through their dialogue or their actions. Charlotte is the romantic, Miranda is practical and cynical, Samantha provides comic relief and a direct foil to Charlotte, while Carrie is a balancing force among all of them.

(P.S. While I'm rambling, I thought I'd share an interesting difference I read about in show writing vs. novel writing. In television, it is more acceptable to throw in a random event or character for the sake of moving an episode forward or even making a finale more dramatic. Novels usually adhere to the same people and places.)

Same goes for the best movies. Even one like the Lion King provides Simba, the main character, with external conflict (his father passing away, his uncle trying to gain control of the kingdom) along with internal conflict (his own fear of inadequacy, guilt for thinking he killed his father). Most of all, there is a goal, which compels a viewer to keep watching.

How was writing changed your perspectives? Do you view other forms of entertainment differently?