This Thanksgiving, Put Your Novel on a Diet

As you prepare for the biggest meal of the year, don’t think about all the extra food you’re going to eat.  Give thanks and enjoy that!  Instead, consider cutting something else precious from your life–your words–especially if you’re a novelist participating  in NaNoWriMo.

BUT…you say.  How can I sacrifice my darlings?  Easy!  If you follow some simple rules, as outlined in an article about filter words and how they weaken your writing.  When filter words are used, you–the reader–sense the presence of the narrator rather than experiencing the story firsthand as if you are the main character.

Examples of filter words include:

  • to see
  • to hear
  • to think
  • to touch
  • to wonder
  • to realize
  • to watch
  • to look
  • to seem
  • to feel (or feel like)
  • can
  • to decide
  • to sound (or sound like)
  • to know

Want an example of how they are used and how to fix?  Sure!

You wrote: Mary felt nervous.

Instead: Mary’s hands shook.

By the way, this is also an example of showing vs. telling 😉  Find more examples in the article.

For more ways of simply cutting down on unnecessary words, check out my post here, especially the part about reducing clutter.  And, no, I don’t mean closet clutter 😉  We’ll save that for another upcoming blog post.  Seriously!

Want one more polishing tip?  Of course you do!  Reconsider your use of ‘ing’ and ‘as’ phrases, according to this blog post by The Bent Agency.

Don’t say: “Running for the refrigerator, she pulled out the last slice of turkey before anyone else could get to it.”

Instead: “She ran to the refrigerator and pulled out the last slice of turkey before anyone else could get to it.”

*If you’re trying to vary sentence structure, find other ways to do it.  Check out Resources for Writers for some examples.

But again, the key word here as with all overuse is moderation.  You can have an exclamation point or two (despite what Elmore Leonard says) but not 10 on one page!!!!! Or so many consecutively 😉  Otherwise it’s like making a pie with too many spices, when a dash of this and that would actually suffice.  Just like in life, you must choose your words carefully.

So this year, put your novel on a diet and enjoy as much turkey and pumpkin pie as you want 🙂

Dynamic Meditation

Those of you who know me know that I practice yoga, if not consistently. I also try to meditate.  Key word sometimes being “try.”  For a person who prides herself on her deep thoughts, this can be especially difficult! 😉  But for those of you in the same boat, fear not.  Let me introduce you to something different.  Something with a little more action in it.

Dynamic meditation isn’t a new concept, but it is new to me.  I recently read an article about it.  An Indian spiritual leader, Osho, taught this practice, which involves reaching a meditative state through dance.  But keep in mind that you can’t simply dance and consider it meditation.  When you are aware of yourself, it is exercise.  Still good, but not spiritual.

“Forget the dancer, the center of the ego; become the dance. That is the meditation. Dance so deeply that you forget completely that ‘you’ are dancing and begin to feel that you are the dance. The division must disappear; then it becomes a meditation.” —Osho

I decided to give it a try, following the guided meditation offered in the article.  The instructions suggest that you can listen to music while doing this exercise.  As a beginner, I was grateful for that!  The music that I chose was quite uplifting, so it was relatively easy to develop my own body rhythms in response to what I was hearing.  Even so, I still felt an awareness of self.  But after a while, I noticed my movements getting bigger, becoming more fluid and a bit more daring.  Afterwards, I felt both energized and calm.

“With a mad dance, you begin to be aware of a silent point within you…”

I’m not sure that I reached a constant state of silence, but I know I glimpsed moments of it.

According to Osho, meditation doesn’t necessarily need to be a spiritual practice, either.  He believed that it could be used for self-realization or as a way of healing the mind and body.

Maybe it was the music I chose, but I certainly felt more empowered after my meditative dance.  So, in a way, I healed myself.

But what about healing others through the dance?  Is it possible to send good vibrations out into the world simply through moving our bodies dynamically?  I don’t have the answer to that.  But given the recent events in Paris and other parts of the world, I think it is worth a try.  Rather than feeling sad, scared, or powerless about a situation you can’t control, why not get up and move.  Offer your healing energy to the world and see what happens.  Let’s dance, dance, dance our way to personal empowerment, freedom and world peace!

“Remember: life is a rhythm between day and night, summer and winter. It is a continuous rhythm. Never stop anywhere! Be moving! And the bigger the swing, the deeper your experience will be.”  —Osho



Interactive Art

I just returned from a trip to Columbus, OH.  One of my favorite towns!  Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a contemporary art exhibit at Hopkins Hall Gallery of Urban Arts Space called Open This End featuring artwork by Andy Warhol among others.  I found it serendipitously and went on a whim.  I’m so glad I did!

The art itself was interactive, often in 3-D or containing some audiovisual component.  But this exhibit went a step further and constructed a framed background where viewers can create their own selfie and thus become a piece of art, even if for only one moment in time.  Making a personal statement is encouraged.  As an artist, I love this concept!  And I just had to participate in the fun.  The results are posted here.  Enjoy the mini art show by yours truly 🙂

If you have a chance, I highly recommend stopping by the exhibit.  But hurry!  It’s only on display until tomorrow.  Check here for details.

Portrait of an Artist

Artist discovers she’s in a painting but is unsure how she feels about it…

Artist rejects the notion of being viewed as artwork.