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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Off the Page...

Dealing With Reality
by Tama Westman

As writers we love everything related to writing. The smell of just-sharpened pencils, the scratch and push of the pen on the page, and the tacit allure of fine linen paper. We could literally spend hours at our favorite bookstore, pouring over volumes, blank journals and writing accessories.

Our dream as writers is two-fold, to create writing that makes others take notice and to enjoy all the time necessary to accomplish that goal. Reality, however, says that few of us can afford to sit with a cuppa coffee or tea each morning, feet up, with soft music playing in the background, to ponder what we might write that day.

Though I try to start every day this way, more often than not, the piling dishes, barking dog and never-ending list of errands beckon with brain-shattering, creativity-crushing volume. It is as if these real everyday tasks send arrows through my mind, not allowing me to devote myself to writing until the laundry is folded, floors swept, and so on.

I know I am not alone in this, so how do we focus the time we do have for our writing into productive, profitable energy? Let's indulge in a brief timeout to learn how to align our favorite activity to what we must do—eat, pay bills and raise our families.

Driving with directions
is always easier to reach a new destination when we rely on detailed directions. When I tell friends my new home is just south of St. Paul, they have a hard time finding me by simply hanging a right at the river. However, if I provide more specifics, they arrive at my door with ease.

The same holds true with our writing. We could write forever and never accomplish anything more than words on paper, catching dust in a file. However, if we first take time to consider what we are going to write, and what we could do with it, where we might submit it, and what the specific guidelines are, then what we write will work toward the end goal, rather than wander down a meandering lane to nowhere.

Dreaming with deadlines
Having decided on a direction, a place where we will submit our work once finished, we can put fuel to our fire and find time to complete the work. I will often draft my query letter before writing. This helps me to clarify my thoughts for the work and fine tune my mental outline. Working with a deadline and a potential paycheck upon completion, we are motivated to move forward and accomplish our mission.

It can be difficult to reach for the stars when your feet are firmly planted on the ground. Hard to be a dreamer when reality glares. However, an executed plan put forth with a vigorous sense of purpose pays off in personal satisfaction, and a paycheck to boot. Let's do it together—one, two, three, write!

Tama Westman writes the Off the Page column for Write From Home. As a correspondent and columnist, she publishes news articles, feature stories and her column, Cuppa Thoughts, regularly with her local paper, the Chaska Herald. She has served as the editor of the award-winning literary magazine, Haute Dish. Her articles appear in several local newspapers and, nationally in The Gathering and Light & Life Magazine.

She teaches creative writing and poetry classes with the AHEAD program (Achieving Higher Education and Dreams) at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, mentors high school journalism students, and teaches beginning and intermediate writers at conferences throughout the country. Married with two grown children, she keeps her balance with a cup of tea taken in the afternoon in her English garden. Further samples of her writing can be viewed on her Web site, http://www.tamawestman.com feel free to e-mail comments to tama@tamawestman.com









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