Tag Archives: Help for hump day

Help for Hump Day

I  had mini meltdown. You know, puffy- eyed crying, hiccupping sobs, woe is me mental state, everything- is- out- of- control, insurmountable, unavoidable, bad-sad-boohoo, BLECH!

I don’t know what brought it on, I haven’t been that blue for a while. Well, no, I do know what brought it on. My novel. My beast of a rough draft that I’ve been diligently revising for at least 2 months now. The whole first scene is a forced dialogue set up as a dream, which BTW editors HATE!, and the protag is just not appealing. So, I rewrote it. I rewrote it again. I changed the occupation of a minor character to beef up the tension of my M.C.’s main goal. This was good, moved me along nicely. But,  because my mind works in a linear fashion, I feel the need to write this way. However, the first scene still sucks. It just does. I need to start that part over. Sometimes, most of the time, a blank screen is easier to conquer than a page of sucky writing.

Well, maybe I was overtired, but putting that first scene/chapter to rest while I moved along with the rest of the revision put me over the edge. Suddenly, I was “not a writer; I was a fake, a phony, a poser.” Who am I kidding? And I TEACH?! Seriously? What do I have to offer? I’ll never be able to focus enough to get past this hurdle. I’ll never finish this book. Again with the boo-hoo-hoo’ing. My husband was getting concerned.

My lack of writing talent and confidence quickly streamed into the other hurdles in my life. My son’s emotional struggle with his newly diagnosed diabetes. My day job rotting away hours in a cubicle, my younger son growing up and not needing me as much anymore. Boo-freaking-hoo. It was bad.

OK, this is supposed to be help for hump day? No, just a sample of how we can get as writers, artists, moms. What do we do when that dark cloud settles on our shoulders and the lightening severs our rational thinking? We let it run its course. Sometimes, we need a good cry.

And the next day, we wake up, puffy eyes and all, to see the sun is shining and the fall weather is crisp and refreshing and we ARE writers, no matter what. And we will push through.

I keep an ongoing collection of motivating quotes. They help me. They might help you too. Leave a comment and/or tweet this post and let me know. I’ll email my collection of quotes to you for a blue day.


Filed under Advice, emotion, Perseverance, Rest

Help for Hump Day: Picture your success

“When you paint success pictures in your mind, you initiate an inner process whereby your attitudes, hopes, aspirations, and enthusiasm are elevated in response to an image of a more promising future. Every person who aspires must first sell themselves hope, the promise of a better life.” 

U.S. Andersen ~ 1917-1986, Author of The Magic In Your Mind  

If you’re familiar with The Secret or Law of Attraction, you may already have a Vision Board. A Vision Board is a snapshot of your life the way you visualize it being in the near future, in the form of a collage. 

Though I haven’t actually pasted my success picture into one place, I do have a collection of images, quotes, personal notes and momentos that give me ammunition to keep going. 

Keep going despite a rejection letter. Keep going despite family and work schedules crowding out my designated writing time. Keep going despite my unsatisfying query letter, written and rewritten 18,000 times. 

Here are some images (material things I’d love to acquire) and supporting words that keep me going: 

{from the movie EVENING}


{Mercury Milan}


(email from Amy 11/27/06) 

 Good morning. I have to say MJ, you are one talented writer! I didn’t get to read your story until this morning, but I couldn’t stop once I started! What awesome characters, and your descriptions of things made me feel I was right there seeing it. You need to work towards making this something you can do every chance you get! Wow, I am truly blown away. I don’t know what I expected, but it was great! Lets work hard on making our passions our daily work! 

email from another friend: 

Your writing is incredible. I seriously could see myself sitting for hours reading more, because just after the 15 pages or so, I want to know more about these characters! 

email from a teacher who attended my teacher workshop: 

Author : Debbie K. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 12:03:33 PM 

 Hi Mary Jo,


Just wanted to let you know I started my fiction writing unit this week. So, Monday I used the sixth sense cards from the writer’s toolbox. The kids in my class loved it…oh my gosh, I don’t think they realized they were writing for over an hour. They wanted to keep going and going and going with the pass along stories. It was great. 

 comments from writer friends on my novels-in-progress summaries: 

motherlogue  3 April 27, 2010 7:36 AM    

Thanks for a great interview. I loved reading more about your two novels in progress, Mary Jo. I can’t wait to buy my copies. Here’s to the Year of Clarity! 

Kristine  4 April 27, 2010 8:25 AM    

Mary Jo, your novel in progress looks great! Finish writing it NOW!! I will buy it:) You know I’m a fan! 

email reply on a flash fiction piece I submitted for a contest: 

Terrific again! 

You did not pay for a checkmark evaluation, but one evaluator did the work and gave you a Perfect 70! 

Feedback on another short fiction contest entered: 


The exquisite eye for detail immediately strikes me. (I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if you’re also an artist or sculptor.) The prose, smooth and perceptive, rolls ever so delicately across the page. This establishes a consistent pace and casts an eerie mood upon the carnival setting. And the clever use of the mirrors—nice job! No wonder this entry made it to the Second Finals. 

I’ll put these together on a Vision Board, one day. Though I know where they are for easy reference when I need that ammunition to Keep Going

Who or what is on your painting of success? Share with us! 


Need help for hump day – or any day- to get past the doubt and negativity? How about having these messages of inspiration delivered to your inbox? Click Subscribe at the top of this page. Ask…and you shall receive!

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Filed under Advice, Inspiration, Perseverance

Help for Hump Day: Chill out!

First, an announcement: The Random.org generator selected Dani as the winner of Barbara Barth’s The Unfaithful Widow. Congrats, Dani! Pls send me your snail mail: mjcwriter”at”Comcast”dot”net. Thanks to all who visited and commented and to Barbara for her time 🙂

 And onto Help for Hump Day…

 Chill out!

I need to take this advice today. I needed it yesterday. Maybe because I sit in the watery sign of Scorpio, I FEEL everyone and everything around me with undeniable intensity. This comes in handy when my intuitive outlook can help others over a hump, or serve as a warning against red flags, or even kick motivation into high gear to get things done. I’m good at “reading” people. However, I tend to “read” a bit too much into things. Facial expressions, side remarks, even things unsaid dig deeply into my psyche. I take it all in. And now, I’m full to capacity and busting at the seams. Overfilled. Overwhelmed.


Teaching for the past two years has brought me such joy, motivation and satisfaction knowing that I’m inspiring young writers in their craft. Last night I had a difficult class. Students were getting off topic, talking over one another, yet not offering much feedback for our readers. To change things up, I held a mini contest: each student was to share their best writing tip for finding ideas or getting over the “block.” After voting for our favorite tip, the winner would get a small prize. Note to self: Do. Not. Hold. Contests.  Instead of learning from each other, this turned into a match of cheat the system and vote for self to win the prize. The prize, which some thought would be $50 – No. OK, “$49?” “A new journal off the shelves!” “A free Starbucks drink!” Err. Too much shouting, not enough listening. And little to no gratitude for a “small” prize.  After 20 minutes spent of our 60 minute class, two winners tied and selected their prizes from a bag of new Scholastic chapter books, highlighters, writers’ pins and such. Not sure anyone took these fab. ideas to heart. It’s painful when ideas float up and away from your students. It’s discouraging when an exercise flops. Lesson learned. Chalk one up for the teacher being “taught.” 

Though, I somehow internalized this whole challenging night as a demerit to my teaching skills. What teaching skills? I asked myself as I browsed the bookstore after class. Graduate gift tables filled with positive books for teachers! (Who am I kidding?) Inspirational stories for Teachers! (I’m not a “real” teacher)  Change the world, Teachers! (sigh)  Quotes and encouragement for teachers! (ugh) Down. I. Go. Slippery slope into the feeling-sorry-for-self valley.

Writing is supposed to rejuvenate. Teaching is supposed to be light and fun and “unschoolish.” That was my original intent for my writing workshops, anyway. But, me being passionate and intense was transformed to serious and uptight. I don’t like uptight. Uptight is scowling, close-minded, slapping-ruler-at-the-ready (no, I would never strike anyone with a ruler, it’s old school imagery people, go with me on this.)

Ok. Here I am, resembling an overstuffed plush toy busting at the seams, uptight old biddy, with a feverish head ready to pop off.

How do I R-E-L-A-X? How do I Chill out?


Well, I blew up. Head popped. Tears flowed. Makeup ran. I blubbered and babbled to my husband, who listened patiently. And then he reminded me:

You just had a bad day

It’s been raining and gloomy outside; you had a long commute home from work and then went to teach.

You’re tired.

You love teaching – you’ve been doing it successfully for two years.

Think of all the kids you’ve already inspired!

And, then, “Take a break, Mar. Maybe announce that next month will be your last free workshop so you can work on your novel.”

Huh. Can I do that? Do I want to do that?

I’m not sure yet. I do know the morning after a breakdown feels like I’m nursing a bad hangover. Though writing about it helps. And detaching myself by looking to non-teaching, non-writing tasks to keep my hands and mind busy. And breathing. And smiling. Just “chillin’ out.”

Want to witness more of my insane breakdowns? (Kind of like watching Jerry Springer to make yourself feel better!) Subscribe to this blog and get a jolt in your inbox every time a post pops up. C’mon, you know you want to…


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