Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 56)

Color Names: a helpful resource for writers

In doing the descriptive exercises on color from the wonderful Writer’s Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long. The word azure lapped around my head. Crimson is a favorite.

As I started to  reach for more, I realized it’d be useful to have a list of even more descriptive names. I started looking online for more suggestions.

Color Thesaurus

That’s when found this amazing web page from Ingrid Sundberg, The Color Thesaurus! She groups a diverse collection of related names together in tiles, with the example of the color as well as its name.

Here’s an example:

 

 

Revised Pink_Color Thesaurus

the “Pinks” tile from The Color Thesaurus by Ingrid Sundberg

Wow! That’s so many different words.

I am showing the pink one here because these are my favorite tones, and even within this I thought I had a solid variety of vocabulary to choose from. 

Nope! This resource has led me to discover more words – and hues – than I ever thought possible. “Ballet slipper” is one example of a name I never would’ve thought of on my own.

The neutral tiles such as white, black, gray and brown I find to be especially practical for expanding my writing practice. It turns out that there is a lot of variety beyond simply “ivory,” “black,” and “white.” The blues took me way beyond “navy.” 

Now I have a kaleidoscope of various tones I can pepper throughout my writing. 

These tiles offer up myriad uses: I also can use these as thought starters, a way to flesh out different objects in the scene, make my writing overall more precise and descriptive, or set the tone of my scene.

This is the whole point of the exercises as suggested by Long. Voila! I love when my understanding clicks into place and then expands all at once like this.

And I am definitely grateful when I stumble across resources like Long and Sundberg’s.

Other Resources?

What are other inspiring writing resources you use? Leave me a comment and let me know – any little bit helps!

The Crocuses are out!

Spring has sprung! The crocuses (croci?) are out in a big way. It was sunny all day here, which made me very happy. Enjoy the purple, yellow, and white beauties!

Writing 10,000 words per day: is it possible?!

As we came to the end of National Novel Writing Month, one of the writers in my region posted this article by Rachel Aaron about how to go from writing 2,000 words a day to 10,000.

At that rate, you could write a novel (50,000 words) in five freaking days!

Is it possible?!

After toiling away on my novel for three years, the idea of upping my game appeals to me. I want to finish!!!

I completed NaNoWriMo for the first time this year (YAHOO!) but that was hard! And that was just 1,667 words per day. How the heck can I keep this up, so I get this stinkin’ book done, finally? (And in your lovely hands?!)

I see this article as the way, as my “challenge accepted.” What’s involved?

 

My office in the Tetons.

My office in the Tetons.

The Game Plan

First of all: I love the name of her blog.

Secondly, Rachel Aaron/Bach has three main suggestions. These are also in a helpful graphic in her post. Go check it out!

1. Know what you’re writing before you sit down to write.

She suggests writing it out on a pad of paper before you write.

2. Keep track of your writing time in a spreadsheet.

Statistics help! We’ve seen this with FitBit and Nano, so it makes sense. She recommends two months of tracking.

3. Get excited about what you’re writing today.

She realized that the most word count came when she wrote the scenes she’d been thinking of since conception of the novel. That makes sense, and I like how she put it!

Writing Results So Far

Lo! I’ve done pretty well. So far in December, I’ve written 15,042 words – just on my novel, not on all the blogs/texts/emails/books about Kanye I also write each day. I’ve averaged 3,000 words a day this month. I’ve also averaged 1832 words per hour, in the seven writing sessions I’ve had so far.  Rachel said her wph was 500-1500, which I just reread, so wow, I guess that’s pretty amazing!

LP Tracker

All of that comes from my handy dandy tracker. I’ve been using it for about a week now, and I really like opening it at the beginning of each session as a bit of a ritual, without going right into the novel.

My columns are: Date | Time | Location | Words Written | Hourly Rate | Pages | Music | Food | Kind of Sit/Distractions | Notes.

When I log in for the day, no matter how I’m feeling, and I see the previous day’s word count, I’m like, “oh yeah …” And get a little bit more energizy. After I insert my stats for the day, I see my progress. I also parse out the statistics (most productive time of day, best playlist, etc.) If I really want to nerd out, there’s the potential for GRAPHS and such in the future! Woot woot! (Nerd Alert!)

Hand Writing Ideas Helps

Part of the insane word count I get is that I type crazy fast. Like, fast enough that people comment on it when they see me typing on my phone. Still, I very much like her suggestion to start the beginning of each session with a quick, handwritten list of what that day’s scene(s) will be about. There’s something about the magic of handwriting, especially for writers, that is undeniable. This has really helped me focus and then dive in for the day. Thumbs up to this suggestion, too!

Get Pumped!

So, not going to lie … this one has been the hardest of the three. I think that comes from these ideas fermenting, and me writing or thinking some version of them, for like, 3 years. Overdone, much?

That’s not entirely true. I like that I’ve been able to get to about 3,000 words and stop, no matter where I am in the scene. I can see what’s coming next, which makes writing about it first in a notepad at the top of tomorrow’s writing sesh super easy. So it becomes this sweet self-perpetuating cycle!

I can get pumped about finishing this freaking book. And upping my word count as freaking awesomely as I have – and committing to a daily practice – is giving me the energy I need to get ‘er done.

Final Thoughts

One of the hardest things about writing a novel is that it seems Sisyphean. There’s so MUCH to write, and even 3,000 words is just 3% of a novel. Just sitting down that day will not mean I’ve “finished my novel” by the end of the work session. In journalism and PR, we have short, tight projects with measurable and attainable goals.  It can be overwhelming and hard to start. It’s probably why most people don’t write that book they’ve “been meaning to” or “always wanted to.”

Then, many of the things I have read about professional authors, and even Rachel in her blog, say that they sit down “at least four hours a day and write.” My eyes bug out at that. For multiple reasons.

One: I’m traveling around the country, so that’s a huge chunk of daylight that I could devote to sightseeing.

Two: that’s a huge chunk of time to get over my overwhelm, and be poring out my heart and soul.

It seems silly, having come from 8+ hours professionally at a computer, not to mention glued to my cell phone.

But fiction writing is different. It’s a totally different habit and set of issues to face. Frankly, I’m proud of building up to about an hour and a half solid writing (which, to hit 3,000 words can sometimes end up being 2 or 2.5 if I’m particularly ungrounded.) And I know the trials of trying to write on top of a full-time job, or trying to wake up early to write before that full-time job, etc.

So I’ll take this success and keep it up. Who knows? Maybe one day I can build up to four hours. Ole!

Tim Ferriss’s 11 Questions

Tim Ferriss asks the same 11 questions of 135 “famous/successful/household name” people in his new book, Tribe of Mentors. What a great freaking idea!

These questions are below. How would you answer them? I’ll post my answers in a few days, so look out for those!

The Questions:
  1.       What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or:what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
  2.       What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? My readers love specifics like brand and model, where you found it, etc.
  3.      How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
  4.      If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)
  5.      What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)
  6.       What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
  7.       In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
  8.      What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
  9.      What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
  10.      In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?
  11.     When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)
Your Answers

Submit your answers in the comments below, or email them to me! I look forward to reading what my own “Tribe of Mentors” says.

Saguaro National Park

I am in cactus land.

Did you know that the version of a “cactus” we know from cartoons is actually called a saguaro? I did not! Also, for those not from Tucson, it’s pronounced “suh-wah-roh,” not “suh-gar-oh.”

Here’s how I can best describe it.

Imagine driving up a hill, knowing you are entering into a forest.

Except the view is not trees like you’d expect. In this forest, all the trees – instead of having leaves and brown trunks and limbs – look like they were designed by Dr Seuss.

They are brilliant green, an odd shade even for nature.

They go as far as you can see, including up the side of big,
rocky hills.

They look like a tree was taken, umbrella style, and collapsed.

But instead of sticks, they look like they were inflated with air.

Then they have these arms that look like tree limbs done in comic sans. Kind of rounded, no pattern or rhyme or reason. Some limbs are tall, some squat sometimes there’s one, sometimes there’s like families coming off of multiple limbs.

They look downright *silly.*

Also, it’s like …Disneyland. Seeing something in person I’ve only seen on cartoons.

And there’s just these silly green sticks with their various limbs akimbo, all over the land.

It’s surreal, for sure.

“On Festivals and Fasting”: Living Stoically

Tim Ferriss is a big fan of the philosopher Seneca, who promotes ways to live stoically.

Seneca wrote an essay, “On Festivals and Fasting.” It talks about how to live meagerly, so that you are never afraid of what would happen if the worst case happened.

Basic Needs

This trip has really brought into focus how amazingly little we need to survive.

I live off what’s in my 100 cubic feet car, and even then, I barely use half of that.

When I’m sleeping outside, all the gear I need is my tent, a camp stove, food, sleeping bag, air mattress, pillow, headlamp, water bottle.

I wear the same duffel bag of clothes. For seven months. (I have a duffle bag of reserve clothes for different climates, but even then – I have way too many clothes.)

Minimal Shopping

The only “new” things I’ve bought are souvenirs and postcards and food. Camp gas sometimes. Gas for my car. I haven’t even gone through two bottles of sunscreen, or bug spray (and I hate bugs.)

Don’t Forget the Phone

Most of my stuff is done on my phone, though I have an atlas and a National Park guidebook and a journal and a nice DSLR camera.

I’ve barely touched any of the 50+ physical books I brought with me (and the however man that I bought on this trip … used book stores are my kryptonite.) Why? Because of audiobooks, podcasts, Spotify, and Taylor Swift’s new album, and too much time in the car.

So I know what it’s like to live in my own version of “On Festivals and Fasting,” and I’m grateful for that.

 

Mountains are not Stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.

-Anatoli Boukreev

A Bold Choice: Coconut LaCroix

Jonny and I drink LaCroix the way college students drink beer. We were leaving the grocery store. I carried the customary box of Coconut-flavored sparkling water. A man walking in pointed at the box and yelled: 

“Bold choice!”

Jonny and I looked at each other and busted out laughing.

Purchasing sparkling water isn’t a very daring act – some would say it’s lame.

But why “bold”? Is it because it’s an exotic flavor? An acquired taste? Or because it tastes like a pina colada? Or suntan lotion?

The world may never know. But I go on, boldly sipping my fizzy water.

Grand Tetons: A wedding in shorts & sunset over Jackson Lake

Grand Tetons: BEARRRRRRR!!! In which I see my first GRIZZLY … and her cubs. DUN DUN DUN.

So, a few short miles from my campsite, there is a big sign like you see at road construction sites. It says, “WILDLIFE WITH BABIES. CROSSING ROAD. NEXT SIX MILES. USE CAUTION.” I’d heard it was a BEAR. Our campground is literally the closest thing to this sign, so I was a bit freaked out by this.

I’d also seen and photographed enough wildlife by now to get annoyed by the occasional “animal jams” caused by tourists whipping off the road to take a photo of a singular bison, or, worse, prairie dog.

So when I saw a traffic jam, I was like, UGH.

Until I caught a glimpse of what it was.

Then I, too, whipped my car off to the side of the road. Where I stood on my driver’s side railing and took these photos with a long, long lens, because ain’t no way I’m creeping close to a grizzly. They can run 40 miles an hour – three times as fast as humans. So she could’ve covered the distance to my car in NO TIME. That didn’t prevent others from wandering into the field (HA. No.) There were at least 60 cars lining both sides of the street by the field where she was. The field was just after that warning sign, so now we know it was indeed a bear & her babies.

The cubs were ADORABLE. They played, wrestled, fell over. Mom was mom: unflappable. At one point she finally turned toward us, with a curious expression: “hey, what’re all these people? Whatcha guys looking at?” Then she went about her business and lumbered back into the woods, out of range of even my long-range lens.

I thought this was pretty rad, and was grateful I just happened to roll up on it! 🙂

Grand Tetons: Sunset at Oxbow Bend

Grand Tetons: Route 191

Grand Tetons: Moulton Barn

Look: I know it’s a barn. But it also represents a pinnacle for me. For so long, this was in my rotating screensaver package of “landscapes.” This is also an iconic image. For me to finally get there, make the pilgrimage, see it in real life — instead of at a desk!  — means a ton 🙂 So: yay, barn!

Also, this region of the park has some cool cultural history: https://www.nps.gov/grte/learn/historyculture/mormon.htm

Grand Tetons: Elk Cows in the South

Grand Tetons: First Glimpses of Jenny Lake (Teewinot behind it)

Grand Tetons: Solo Hike in Bear Country, then Ranger Hike to Swan Lake, Heron Pond and Half Moon Bay

Grand Tetons: Up close and personal with the Cathedral Group, Mount Moran, and The Potholes

Grand Tetons: The View from Signal Mountain

The Mountains Are Calling …

It’s been 100 degrees where I am, for about a week. I intended to stay in the 70-degree zone for the duration of this trip, but I guess you can’t control mid-July heat waves.

So, I’m heading back into the mountains! There are new posts scheduled everyday to catch you up on my travels, so be sure to check back every day! Or sign up for my e-newsletter, and get the latest post delivered to your inbox! They’re of my favorite stop so far on this trip … you’ll see why 🙂

For now, as they say: The mountains are calling, and I must go.

xoxo

LJP

Grand Tetons: Chapel of the Sacred Heart

Grand Tetons: Jackson Lake Lodge

Grand Tetons: Driving In

Grand Tetons: First Glimpses, Day One

Grand Tetons: Made It!

My entire trip is focused around two particular landscape/park areas I’ve been dying to see: the Grand Tetons, and Arches/Bryce/etc in Utah. 

That’s why I just powered on through the blizzard there other day, and that’s why I just spent an overnight and morning in The First National Park.

Oh god, you guys. There’s no way to do the freaking Grand Tetons justice, so I’ll let the galleries speak for themselves over the next few days. I’ve been to some other places by now, but I think the Tetons will always hold a special majesty for me. I could live there (say, next summer? :))

Here was my first glimpse, driving in:

 

 

Squatty Potty: An Interlude

 

So, I could present this sign without comment, but there is SO MUCH TO SAY HERE.

First of all: wtf*.

Then, I don’t even want to know how they got to the point they needed this.

Or the potential disasters … I mean, these are pit toilets. You do NOT want any part of your body slipping and falling into or on ANY of these things.

Then, as Carrie pointed out: OMFG WHO DESIGNED THIS. It has become my mission when I spend my full time in Yellowstone to figure this out.

*OK, so as I also told Carrie: I knew that most other cultures squat, from friends in the Peace Corps and who’ve spent excessive time in other countries, and my own time, uh, adjusting in Italy.

But, she also hadn’t seen the FREAKING SQUATTY POTTY COMMERCIAL. I mean, it’s literally using a Princess Bride –esque Prince and a unicorn shitting rainbow fro yo to explain the benefits of squatting. AYIYIYIY. So here’s that for anyone who hasn’t seen that:

And this has been your Squatty Potty interlude.

-LJP

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