Before you know it, my kids will be done with high school and college and I’ll be retired, sitting alongside my husband on a beach somewhere sipping something with an umbrella in it and attempting to play golf.
Well, that’s the dream, at least.
Yesterday marked six (6) years of blogging. Six years. It kind of blew me away this morning, but it reminds us what a love for something and a little discipline can do for us. At the minimum, I blog one day a week; most weeks, I blog twice. It’s not always easy coming up with things to write about, but the bottom line is, we do. As bloggers, we always have something in mind that makes us think or that we want to share with others.
As such, to commemorate these past six years, I decided to pull together the posts that get the most hits as sort of a “Best Of” celebration.
Thank you for following, commenting, and sharing Steph’s Scribe with others. I can’t wait to see what the next six years have in store.
On April 6, the notice above popped up in my notifications on my blogging platform, WordPress. I was thankful for the reminder because I wouldn’t have remembered the anniversary of the first day I began the blogging journey. I am too busy tackling the challenge of deciding on what I will write about next. What will the next post reveal? Will I write about writing, fashion, teaching, decorating, films, or books? Or, will I choose to tell a story?
In some ways, I’m amazed that five years have passed since I first began this endeavor. I’ve logged 707 posts to date on Steph’s Scribe. During some months, I turn out a lot of pieces, while there are other months when work and/or family life interfere and I only get to publish so many. It’s always less than I would like, because the truth is, I love writing. Blogging allows writers to write–to constantly communicate through the written word, which in turn, helps us hone and practice our craft. And, it’s executed in a much different way than fictional writing (and you know how much I love that, as well).
Coming up with post ideas can be the most challenging, I won’t lie about that. Years ago my husband told me that my blog was too general, that it needed to be more specific to gain readership. Why not just write about books and blogging, he suggested? It may help you gain followers, he said, pointing in particular to sports bloggers he enjoys. While this is a good idea and has worked for many successful bloggers, I couldn’t imagine myself saddled with just one or two topics. My interests are too varied, as I enjoy talking about so many different subjects. I need the space to be creative. In the end, I just decided to keep it general. And it works for me.
That said, I would probably say that the most noteworthy ingredient to being a successful blogger is commitment. Of course, bloggers need to have solid writing skills, but even more so, it takes commitment to doing it in order for it to succeed. Today, I have over 8,100 followers, Steph’s Scribe has consistently been in the Top 25 on Paperblog in Entertainment since September (thank you, PAPERBLOG and PAPERBLOG READERS), and I receive feedback both here on the blog and through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from followers when I post something. I was also nominated for a couple of blog awards. But the best part about blogging is receiving comments and feedback. I love that part of it, too.
The ability to reach people and the ability to write and share information and stories is what keeps me connected to this blogging world. I’ve enjoyed every minute of the past several years, and I look forward to the topic of the next blog post…whatever that may be.
You want to write. Writing is in your blood. You bloggers know this is true. You novelists know this is true. Magazine writers, newspaper writers, nonfiction writers, script writers—it’s part of who you are; it makes up your very existence. You can’t imagine life without it.
And yet, some days it’s difficult to find inspiration.
Some weeks, it’s difficult to find inspiration.
Some years, well, you get the point.
The problem is, if it’s part of who you are, you can’t let inspiration fall by the wayside. You need constant inspiration. These little pieces of inspiration are vital to your success; they help you nurture your creative side, but that creative side yearns to be inspired.
So how do we find inspiration? When does the epiphany hit us and tell us what to do?
I wish I had a stock answer for you that would help make your life easier. I wish I could tell you that at exactly 9 p.m. your creative genius is going to wake up and tell you it has a brilliant idea for you and you will smile and shake its hand and be ready for a new adventure with your writing. But it doesn’t work that way. In fact, that’s exactly the word we are searching for: work. Inspiration takes work.
You become a seeker…someone who needs to seek out ideas and foster them and help them grow. You have a responsibility to nurture them and use your intelligence to make sense of it all.
And, fellow writers, while I may not have the answers—no one does—all I can do is share what’s been working for me lately. These few ideas have helped me get out of the weeds and blow up a project I was working on and start all over again with it.
Don’t do negative talk. The intrapersonal communication we have going on inside our head should be positive. We do not need to bash ourselves, speak negatively internally, or question our creativity. We are supposed to be our own biggest supporters, and in doing so, tell yourself you can do it. You can write something meaningful. You will come up with something good to write about…it will come soon. I recently showed my sports communication students a Ted Talk by Brett Ledbetter called Finding Your Inner Coach. While it is geared a bit toward athletics, there are good ideas from which we can all learn. One of his ideas involves your innermost thoughts. He asks the audience to consider this: what if you’re an athlete playing in a game and your innermost thoughts scrolled across a scoreboard for everyone to see? Would they be positive thoughts or negative thoughts? Consider this notion with your writing. If your innermost thoughts were to scroll across the top of your blog or the Paperblog site, would they be positive ones or negative ones?
Find inspiration in the little things.Sometimes it’s just a phrase or sentence someone says to me; other times it’s a quote I see or the way a child holds her mother’s hand. Sometimes innocent things make me stop and wonder and yearn for simpler things. If someone tells you a story, you may be inclined to talk about it or research it for your blog or book. When I mentioned that the character I am writing in my new novel suffers from depression brought on by a traumatic event in her life, a friend of mine said she was glad I was tackling depression. We can’t deny there are stories all around us if we just open our eyes.
Let a photograph take you away. Sometimes when I see exotic photos, pictures of beautiful scenery or cities, or homes and home improvements that people post on Instagram or Pinterest, I am immediately drawn to a particular subject. Let that photograph take you places, expand your imagination, and give you wings to fly.
Don’t allow yourself to feel stifled.One of the criticisms I have received regarding my blog is that it “is not focused enough”—that I don’t just write about one subject area such as writing or decorating or relationships. I have intended my blog to be more of a lifestyle blog, despite the fact that I write books. I am a teacher who teaches writing; I also have a lot of interests. If I had to teach writing during the day and then only write about writing at night, I could possibly go insane. I want to write about things I am interested in—books, movies, writing, fashion, television shows, relationships, children, etc. By expanding your creativity and subject matter base, you may feel more liberated.
Find inspiration in other writer’s work. I just finished The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag. It was fun, creative, and a little magical. Presently, I am reading The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. Both of these books are well written and both authors have vivid imaginations. Reading books helps you consider your own storytelling and makes you want to write better. I am always energized after reading a book, dissecting the techniques used, and paying attention to style, diction, description and dialogue. As Jack Nicholson said in As Good As It Gets, “You make me want to be a better man.” As for me, other writers make me want to be a better writer.
Put yourself in the shoes of your readers. What would entertain them? Would a short blog post do for the day, or should it be longer? What type of novel are you ready to attack next, and what type of novel do you think your best friend would want to read? Asking yourself direct questions about your reader and their demographics may help pull you toward a subject matter.
Find the prettiest or most attractive journal you can and carry it with you always. There is nothing worse than finding inspiration and not knowing what to do with it. At the very least, you should write it down. Immediately. Before you forget—before that brilliant idea your creative genius helped you think up drifts back up into the sky looking for another creative genius to pass it off to. Cultivate your ideas. Foster them. They are yours, and you owe it to yourself to act upon them.
Keep up with current events, entertainment news, social media, and bestseller lists. Do your homework. What are the hottest topics? What’s trending? What seems to be most interesting to folks? Can you find an interesting story and then put your own spin on it? Can you make something that seems like old news become new again?
I hope I’ve helped a little bit. Maybe the biggest help of all is knowing we all go through it. We all have those moments where nothing is coming. And then—BOOM—the best idea comes to you and you’re off and running.
As I’ve BEEN thinking about how to make the world around me prettier and lovelier, I BEGAN thinking about how when we make changes in our lives, everything can become more positive. As I pondered this, I was getting dressed this morning. I had to run errands, and I wanted to wear something pretty and feel good about myself. Positive affirmations are real, and we need to accept our lives for what they are and be happy and contented with ourselves. I truly BELIEVE this.
I searched for “positive ‘B’ words,” and from the site Positive Words Research, the list BELOW popped up indicating positive words that start with that letter.
BEATIFY, BEATITUDE, BENEFICIAL, BENEFIT, BENEVOLENT, BELOVED, BEST, BETTER, BLESS – BLESSING – BLESSED, BLISS – BLISSFULNESS – BLISSFUL, BLOOM, BLOSSOM, BALANCE – BALANCED, BEAUTY – BEAUTIFUL – BEAUTIFULLY, BELONG – BELONGING, BOLDNESS, BRAVERY, BRILLIANCE – BRILLIANT, BLISS ON TAP, BEYOND FABULOUS, BIOPHILIA, BRIGHT, BRIGHTNESS, BALISTIC, BLASTING, BLAZING, BLINDING, BREATHTAKING, BUBBLING, BUSTING, BLISSCIPLINE, BUYANCY, BULLISHNESS, BRISKNESS, BUOYANCY, BREEZINESS, BRIO, BE EXTRAORDINARY, BE HAPPY, BEAUTIFY, BEING AT REST, BENEFACTOR, BENEFITS, BENEVOLENCE, BENEVOLENTLY, BENEVOLENTLY CHEERFUL STATE OF MIND, BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS, BEYOND, BEAUTY IN ALL THINGS, BEINGNESS, BELIEVABLE, BLOOD-BROTHERS, BOHEMIAN SOUL, BOHO-SOUL.
Those words are all poetic in their own right, for sure. They are indeed, positive words we can incorporate into our own lives. Then, there are everyday things that can make us feel good, too. So I decided to make my own list of “B” words that make me feel BETTER about myself. Below is what can put me in a positive mood.
There you have it. My positive “B” words. I’m curious to know what you would choose.
I spend a lot of time writing. I spend a lot of time reading.
Does this sound like you?
It sure as hell sounds like me. Maybe it sounds like you and me and a lot of other people.
So, because we, collectively, spend a lot of time reading and a lot of time writing (me, for my profession, as well as scribing a book or two or three–what’s your excuse?), coming up with an enticing blog post can get a bit, shall we say, tricky.
Fried brain on toast, if you know what I mean.
Sometimes I just sit here, looking at the screen and saying to myself, “What the heck am I going to write about today?” I used to blog three days a week, now I’m down to one day a week. I’ve hit a rough patch. I’m honestly just so darn busy that this poor little blog of mine has had to take a back seat to my career…my kids…my hubby…and readying the porch for winter.
Seriously. I just finished “closing up the porch” for the season. I wasn’t ready to shut it down, but I didn’t want our brand new cushions on our brand new furniture to become moldy, so I vacuumed them, cleaned them, stored them in bags, and brought them inside. I vacuumed the porch floors and dusted all the furniture before I wrapped it all up and covered it for the season. I suppose I could write about that.
Or perhaps I can liken closing up the porch for winter to my own mind closing up a little with regard to this blog. There are things I know I could write about, but I always wonder whether someone would be interested in what I have to say. It’s a coin toss, and I’m not willing to call it in the air.
My husband loves to tell me that my blog is not “streamlined enough.” He says I write about too many subjects, and that if I focused on just one topic, I might find a niche for my blog.
I’ve never much liked niches. It’s like being pigeonholed, and I don’t much care for that idea either.
I tell him I would be bored.
I can’t imagine only writing about one subject (such as writing). I write all day long and I read all day long and I teach writing. Why would I want to write about writing when I already do that?
Nah, I say. I just want to write about subjects I want to write about, and I want to vary my topics. That could involve writing about books, television, movies, fashion, life lessons, childhood stories…who knows? You never know what I’ll pull out of my twisted little hat on any given day.
No one says a blog has to be one set way.
The power of the imagination is incredibly intoxicating. All you have to do is let your imagination go to places you never thought were possible…be daring…write in a way that is a little scary, dearie…write stories you haven’t told…tell stories you’ve always wanted to tell…
Can’t you feel the creative juices flowing? Can’t you envision the spark that just caught me and lit my fire?
I just popped on to check my stats for the day, something we bloggers who take this seriously often do. (I’m nearing the 100,000 mark—a significant milestone to only one person—me). Anyway, when I logged on I had a little message from WordPress, my content management site, and it said, “Happy three-year anniversary!”
I’ve been doing this for three years. I can’t believe it.
I must have a big mouth, because I always have something to say. I may get writer’s block here and there, but then it always comes back to me. I enjoy “talking” about things on the blog, and even if people don’t actually comment here, they chat with me about it when I see them or on Facebook or Twitter. It’s been fun connecting with other writers and bloggers and readers.
I’ve enjoyed my three years of blogging, and I intend to keep it up.
That is, until I run out of things to say.
Thanks for supporting this blog for three years, readers!
My first recollection of reading and enjoying reading came in the form of Dr. Seuss and the book entitled “Go, Dog. Go!” I loved all the colorful dogs, the male and female dogs who were interspersed talking about hats, and the idea of a big party in a tree. I’m a big fan of parties and socializing, and I think the idea of being a party planner was instilled in me from reading the pages of that book. (Therefore it is no surprise that this year, my friends Jen, Kelly, and I are the social directors for our neighborhood pool and all its events.)
During my early years growing up, I was a busy kid and didn’t have a lot of time to sit and absorb a book. In my tween years, I read the “Little House on the Prairie” series and dabbled in the Nancy Drew mysteries. I also sunk my teeth into “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” and “Deenie” by Judy Blume. However, my true love of reading came in my late teens when I got sucked into books like Jackie Collins’s tales of “Chances” and “Lovers and Gamblers.” From there I moved into novels with more guts like Rosamunde Pilcher’s “The Shell Seekers” and “Coming Home.”
I can recall sunbathing at my family’s beach condo in Ocean City by the pool and not wanting to go in for dinner because I was making my way through the last pages of a novel. I hated letting go of the characters, especially the ones I met in college in a book by Susan Richards Shreve called “Daughters of the New World.” I didn’t want to put that away, and when it was over, I mourned the end of those characters and their stories.
People always ask me if I prefer reading fiction or non-fiction. I actually enjoy both, though my book preference would be fiction. (I teach a magazine writing class where we read lots of longer non-fiction pieces, all of which I enjoy). I believe that in every fiction story there are elements of truth: of someone’s life that has been transformed into fiction, otherwise, how could an author really sink his or her teeth into it? Whether we’ve been to the moon or fought a deadly dragon, at some point in our lives, we’ve faced something that might have been seen as insurmountable, and we draw from that and put it in our work.
I wouldn’t be writing about a girl who worked in baseball if I hadn’t had that type of experience. I worked in baseball for a while, so I can paint the picture of the setting and the people and the game itself, even if the character isn’t me. Who is she, then? She is a conglomeration of many of my friends and colleagues.
Over the last several years, I’ve realized how much writing is a part of me. Whether I write for my blog or write fiction or short stories, there’s an innate desire to do it. If someone told me I wasn’t allowed to do it any longer, I’d probably shrivel up and die.
I certainly don’t do it for the money or the possibility of fame. Those things are low down on my rationale. I actually write for me, because I enjoy it, and because I like to push myself to see what I can create. Much like a painter paints, a writer writes to create as well.
My love of it is so strong, I find myself pushing my students to work harder to write from their own voice, to see where it takes them, and to concentrate on sentence structure and grammar. You can’t move someone if you can’t tell the story properly; you’ve got to have a handle on the mechanics in order to let the creativity fly.
I’m going to finish my novel soon, and I’m going to continue to write pieces for my blog.
I wanted to thank Deborah over at The Container Chronicles for nominating me for Blog of the Year 2013. It’s such an honor when a fellow blogger likes, recognizes, and nominates your work, especially when you have a great deal of appreciation for her work as well.
As a nominee, it is my job to nominate someone in order to spread the love…
I’ve decided to nominate a fellow blogger, writer, and friend, Jack Flacco.
Jack’s blog has become more streamlined and focused, and it’s something I’ve toyed with over the past year. He is a great example of taking a blog and making it reflect who he is as both a writer and a person, and I love it.
Thank you so much to the magazine What’s Up Eastern Shore for the publicity I received for BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE in its November-December issue. I loved that the publication put me next to Tom Clancy and beside other great local writers…what an honor.
There is so much to be thankful for this holiday season.
I am not an actor by trade, however, my friend, colleague, and fellow blogger, Chris Reed, roped me into playing his wife, Lucy, on Stevenson University’s student-created sitcom entitled “The University.” How could I say no? I got to have a television husband named Hank Howard (neurotic and self-indulged as he was), but it was fun nonetheless. Additionally, it was enlightening to give acting a try and work with the students and Chris.
Moreover, the taste I got of acting made me realize this about myself: I should stick to writing and teaching.
Here are Lipton’s questions answered honestly by Yours Truly.
What is your favorite word? Shenanigans
What is your least favorite word? Vomit
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? That moment when creativity attacks you…when you’ve been banging your head against the wall and nothing’s coming, and then all of a sudden it comes to you in a flash. I love that.
What turns you off? People who are supposed to be your friends but don’t have your back.
What is your favorite curse word? This is a G-rated blog, but the word begins with “F.”
What sound or noise do you love? The sound of my kids laughing, especially when they really get going.
What sound or noise do you hate? Dogs that bark incessantly.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? TV chef, like Giada.
What profession would you not like to do? Nursing-I faint at the sight of blood.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Well, you had good intentions…
I would like to thank Deborah at The Container Chronicals (http://myriad234.wordpress.com/) for bestowing this lovely blogger award upon Steph’s Scribe! I am very happy to accept. And now, as these awards go, I must disclose seven things about myself, and then pass along nominations. It’s a “Pay-It-Forward” kind of thing, and it allows us to share with our readers bloggers that we enjoy reading and following. Thanks again, Deborah.
Seven Random Things About Myself
I have a cameo appearance in the film “Major League II.” The movie was filmed at Camden Yards in Baltimore when I worked for the Orioles. My father has a cameo in James Bond’s “Goldfinger” – it was filmed in Fort Knox, Kentucky, when he was in the army.
One of my dreams would be to speak Italian fluently, but they say to speak it fluently, you have to live there. I recently had my palm read and was told I will spend time overseas. Let’s hope it’s in that Villa in Tuscany I’ve been dreaming about for years…
I have a very serious boot addiction that I must get under control.
I’ve been writing poetry since I was about 12 or 13 years old. I still have some copies of those early poems. I want to vomit when I read them.
My children are my loves. I love them more than words can say.
I’m thankful for our immediate families. Though we are small in number, we are mighty. Never underestimate the power of a good hug, from either side of our loving family.
It took me a long time to stand up for myself with regard to supposed friendships. I’m a solid, loving, and inclusive friend, yet if I don’t receive the same treatment in return, the likelihood of us remaining friends is nil. And although it’s given me brilliant material to write about, in real life, I’m just too old for that kind of garbage now.