I’ll Never Quit Writing

I love The Write Practice. For those who don’t know, it’s a website that offers writers writing prompts to practice their craft and develop their skills for fifteen minutes. I’ve subscribed to The Write Practice after discovering this awesome resource about two years ago. Initially, I actively engaged in these daily exercises, but my participation waned when I became more focused upon working on other literary endeavors and/or journaling. Every now and then, I’ll keep my eyes and open for exercises that pique my curiosity like the one I saw last week called “Why You Should Keep Writing When You Want to Quit.”

The article written by Ruthanne Reid discusses the need for writers to be stubborn and ornery when it comes to their writing, especially when we don’t feel like it. I’ve had that feeling more times than I can remember, and there were some days when I wasn’t in the mood to write and chose not to do so. Fortunately, I’ve had more days when I was in a funk but I wrote anyway, transforming my depressed mindset into an optimistic one. Reid’s article engages the writer to participate in a fifteen minute prompt to “claim your orneriness – vow it, promise to be stubborn no matter what.” The following is an excerpt from my personal journal to address the prompt from The Write Practice:

“I don’t have the answers, not yet, but I do know this is certain; loving, running, and writing have one thing in common. The one who wins at any one of those is the one who does it on the days he doesn’t feel like doing it. The one who does it when it’s hard. The one who sweats through the difficult times and endures the pain: Those are the people who succeed.”

If I plan to become ornery with my writing, then I need to adopt the above EJD quote as my mantra. That’s the same quote I told my former creative writing students who attended my Write Here! Write Now! class and/or workshops. I don’t want to waste another moment procrastinating when I should be writing. I don’t want to waste my creativity and time making up excuses as to why I can’t write when I can apply myself to breathe life into something new from a haiku to a journal entry to a blog post idea. I don’t think I can live with myself if I quit writing. Every time I thought doing so in the past, something occurred that brought me back to writing again. Besides, there’s no way someone as talented as I am should even entertain that thought. If I did, I’d be another person who had the potential to be an outstanding writer. I hate that word potential. Just thinking about that adjective/noun makes me feel nauseous. That’s not how I want to be remembered. I AM A WRITER! I AM A WRITER! I AM A WRITER! I’m saying it loud and proud, channeling the late James Brown (and if I could sing it, I’d do that, too!). I may struggle to come up with new ideas, but the ideas will come and I’LL NEVER QUIT WRITING! I may not be in the mood to be creative after a long day at work, but it’s okay to take a break to clear my thoughts and I’LL NEVER QUIT WRITING! I may not be progressing in my literary endeavors like I desired, but I’m making progress and I’LL NEVER QUIT WRITING!

Bill

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Open Letter to Faith about My Writing

Dear Faith:

How are you doing, my friend? It feels like it’s been forever since we’ve last communicated with each other. I’m happy to be able to do so, and that the love is still there. I should’ve been in touch sooner, but better late than never. I want to take this moment to say thank you for always being that optimistic presence inside my soul when I have doubts about my talents as a writer. If it wasn’t for you, my friend, I would’ve quit writing many years ago. Hell, I don’t think I would’ve ever picked up a pencil to jot down my thoughts. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. You were that motivating voice that whispered “Let’s write, Bill” in the evenings when I lacked the energy and focus after a productive work day. You were that gentle pat on my shoulder I needed for encouragement when I thought I was wasting time journaling instead of working on a new literary project. You were the inspirational cheerleader who told me to transform every self-imposed, destructive thought that crossed my mind to harsh criticism from others envious of my creativity into something positive that brought me joy with every word I wrote.

New York Times bestselling author and motivational speaker John C. Maxwell once said “People say there are two great days in a person’s life: the day you are born and the day you discover why.” I know I was born to be a writer. That confirmation occurred for me back in 1999 when I questioned and received a spiritual response about my creativity after a phone conversation with one of my best friends who informed me that two of my poems would be published in a national magazine. I should’ve known better to have confidence in myself and also in you, Faith. Over the years, your negative relative fear has appeared inside my thoughts and emotions, causing me to doubt and reject you. Almost 15 months ago, I composed a letter to that destructive bastard, calling him out on his shit. It’s impossible for you both to coexist, but fear is so damn resilient at times. There’s no need for me to dwell upon the negative or to give him more power and recognition than he deserves. I’m moving forward to accentuate the positive regarding my writing and all my literary endeavors.

Well, Faith, I’m feeling rejuvenated and ready to start tapping away on my laptop’s keyboard. Once again, your optimistic presence is flowing within my soul. I can hear your whispers telling me it’s time for us to meditate and get busy translating these ideas into words to be read and shared. We got this, my friend! Yes indeed!

 Love,

 Bill Holmes

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

235 Days of Gratitude

IMG_0605

 

Can you name three things that you’re grateful for today? There are some people who are challenged to identify at least one thing they’re grateful about. Unfortunately, life can be unpredictable and sometimes stressful that they lack gratitude. During the last few weeks of 2015, I felt this way due to some negative circumstances in my life like job dissatisfaction and financial problems that took their toll on my well-being, resulting in increased weight gain, stress, insomnia, and depression. A dear friend of mine engaged in a social experiment with her husband in 2015 where they created a gratitude jar. The couple wrote down one thing they were grateful for about their relationship, placed the item in the jar, and shared the results with each other on 31 December 2015. Inspired by their idea, I decided to conduct a similar exercise by creating a gratitude jar of daily items to be thankful for in my life for 2016.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines gratitude as “the state of being grateful; thankfulness.” It’s derived from the Latin root gratia, which means grace. Gratitude is often used to communicate one’s feelings to another person during social interactions when one party completes a favor for the other. It’s also been used as a cognitive-behavioral therapy exercise by some therapists to get their clients to manage their mental health issues like creating a gratitude list or writing a thank-you letter to self. Can cultivating gratitude by writing daily gratitude lists improve a person’s well-being? Emmons and McCullough (2003) tested this theory in a study with 192 undergraduate students participating in a 10-week study where the students recorded the following three items: 1) five things they were grateful for; 2) five hassles that occurred in their lives; and 3) five events that impacted their lives. The study’s findings showed the students developing an increase in their optimism and self-care practices. Other researchers have conducted various experiments over the year to measure the physiological and psychological benefits of gratitude upon the human body. Physiological benefits of cultivating gratitude have included, but are not limited to, the following results:

  • Decrease in stress hormones like cortisol
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Increase in white blood cells to improve the body’s immune system

Psychological benefits of cultivating gratitude have included, but are not limited to the following results:

  • Decrease in risk of major depression
  • Increase in self-esteem
  • Increase in mental resilience to aid in overcoming trauma

As mentioned above, I created a personal gratitude jar on 1 January 2016 to develop this positive feeling to address some negative circumstances affecting my health and well-being. Writing my daily gratitude lists was a struggle in the beginning trying to think about things I’m grateful for and also remembering to complete the task while dealing with depression and managing stress. The more I engaged in this activity, I started experiencing some of the psychological benefits previously mentioned like increased optimism and mental resilience. I also became more aware for the need to incorporate more self-care routine in my life so I could experience the physiological benefits. The one thing I’ve gained this year from this therapeutic exercise is a better understanding of appreciation. Some people associate gratitude with achieving major accomplishments in their lives and I’ve also been guilty of this oversight. I’m grateful and appreciative for recognizing simple things that bring me joy like waking up before sunrise and having a moment to meditate instead of complaining about not being able to fall back asleep; having a positive support system consisting of family and friends that I can lean on for encouragement; and learning to love a job that made me miserable until I was able to find a better one with a salary increase and career advancement.

Practicing gratitude can improve one’s well-being and attitude to manage life’s stressful moments. As of Monday, 22 August 2016, this is my 235th day of gratitude for this year. I haven’t looked back at my prior lists and don’t intend to do so until 31 December. Since 1 September 2016 will be here in ten days, I challenge you to start a gratitude jar for the remaining four months of the year. Try it, you’ll have nothing to lose but an attitude of gratitude to gain.

References

Emmons, R.A. & McCullough, M.E. (2003). “Counting Blessings versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 377-89.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I WILL NOT BE DENIED!

An excerpt from Octavia Butler’s personal journal written back in 1988 was published online last week describing her aspirations to become a bestselling author (see Kiara Collins’s “Octavia Butler’s Personal Journal Shows The Author Literally Wrote Her Life Into Existence”). This picture created an inspirational buzz among myself and some of my friends as some of us shared a photo of a page from Butler’s handwritten journal affirming her desires. My dear friend B. Sharise Moore challenged her writer friends on a Facebook post to take a moment during the weekend of January 29 – 31 and to follow suit and write down our goals. I responded to her, jotting down the words “Challenge accepted!”

I’ve always been a firm believer in the power of positive thinking. In the past, I’ve written journal entries, affirmations, and personal letters to myself in a similar vein to inspire me to pursue my creative endeavors. Some I’ve published online in the past including “The 90 Day Letter” and “An Open Letter to Fear about My Writing.” I spent some time yesterday and early this morning journaling to accomplish my friend’s challenge, feeling uncertain if I would actually publicly share it. My journal entries are personal, representing my thoughts, feelings, ideas, and/or experiences. However, I need to be more accountable for making progress with my literary endeavors. Thank you to both Octavia and Sharise for inspiring me to do what’s necessary to get back into the literary game as a future bestselling author.

1 February 2016

I shall and will be a bestselling author again! I became a bestselling author back in 2007 when my first novel One Love made the ESSENCE Bestsellers List. That has been my greatest literary achievement to date. Fast forward, nine years later, I haven’t done much with my literary endeavors due to life changing circumstances and experiences (i.e., depression, bad career decisions, graduate school) with the exception of designing and facilitating my creative writing workshop Write Here! Write Now! I have assisted and guided others in pursuing their artistic passion but now it’s my time to help myself.

Last year, Terry McMillan challenged me to re-embrace my creativity when I met her in March at Bernice L. McFadden’s book signing for the re-release of Bernice’s novel Loving Donovan. Terry autographed copies of her novels Waiting to Exhale and Who Asked You?, writing the following messages: “Bill, write harder!” and “Why not go further?” DAMN RIGHT!

In eight days, One Love is scheduled to be re-released. This will be the resurgence of my literary career as an author. No more placing my aspirations on hold anymore! My name is Bill Holmes. I’m a writer, a poet, and an author. I’m an ESSENCE Bestselling Author. I’m proud of my literary achievements to date but the world has yet to read and to experience my best work. I KNOW THAT’S RIGHT! My future literary works will achieve bestsellers statuses. I’ve declared myself to be a future New York Times Bestselling Author and I WILL BE! No more excuses nor living on past accomplishments! I will not rest until this goal is accomplished. To quote Octavia Butler, “I will find the way to do this. So be it! See to it! Well, to quote myself, “I WILL NOT BE DENIED!!!!”

 Bill Holmes

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One Word, One Sentence, One Paragraph at a Time

I saw the movie Creed several weeks ago for the third time since being first released during the Thanksgiving 2015 holiday weekend. I wound up treating myself to an Artist Date a la Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way one Saturday afternoon. Ironically, it happened the day before Sylvester Stallone won a Golden Globe for portraying his beloved and iconic character Rocky Balboa who appears in the film. Creed has almost doubled its initial $35 million budget, earning approximately $108 million as of the January 22 – 24 weekend. That’s an awesome feat for a movie released and sandwiched between two mega-budget blockbuster films at the time: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I wasn’t surprised that Creed was ignored by Hollywood for nominations in the Best Picture category for their Academy Awards. In my opinion, both Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler are deserving of recognition for Best Actor and Best Director nominations respectively. Congratulations goes out to Sylvester Stallone who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. If you’re looking for an excellent article to read about this cinematic injustice, please check out Aisha Harris’s “Why Creed’s Best Picture Snub Matters.”

Creed was the best movie I saw in 2015. Ryan Coogler put his foot into the filmmaking process when he created an entertaining and dramatic film that made me say, “Damn, I wish I wrote and directed that one!” I felt inspired as a writer every time I saw Creed, watching the characters experience personal development despite the struggles they encountered in their lives. Struggle is an important theme throughout the movie, something that every living human being has gone through at some point in his or her life. I could relate to the main protagonist Adonis “Hollywood” Johnson’s attempt to pursue his passion to become a professional boxer and forge his own identity from the shadow of his deceased father Apollo Creed’s legacy.

Any goal that a person wants to accomplish will encounter struggle to complete that feat. It may not be easy to transform yourself into the person you desire to be but it’s not impossible. This point was very evident during the scene where Rocky was training Adonis, giving him the advice of taking things one step, one punch, one round at a time. This simple and effective statement is poignant and can be applied to any occupation, especially for writers.

Do I have moments when I struggle with my creativity? Yes. Will everything I write flow and be well-written? No. Have I ever been in an excited mood to write and when I actually do, I stare at a blank Microsoft Word page feeling intimidated by the task at hand? Absolutely. Despite the struggles, the fears, the self-doubts, and the challenges, I press forward and continue to write anyway. Every time I sit down to type away on my laptop’s keyboard, I attempt to better myself than I was the last time I spent honing my skills.

I’m a writer, not a boxer. Modifying and applying Rocky Balboa’s suggestion for my creative journey, I can only take things one word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time. That’s the best advice I can give myself and anyone else who wants to become the best writer that he or she desires. It’s a simple creative exercise that anyone can do, including me.

Describe the way you feel about being a writer using one word. Using that same word, write one sentence describing how you feel about being a writer. Using that same sentence, write one paragraph describing how you feel about being a writer.

One word: Optimistic

One sentence: I’m optimistic about everything I will accomplish as a writer in 2016.

One paragraph: I’m optimistic about everything I will accomplish as a writer in 2016. I’m dedicating myself to become the best writer that Bill Holmes can be. I’m working on my craft every day whether I’m writing in my journal, networking with other writers, reading and studying other authors’ works, or attending literary seminars. Writing is and will always be my passion. I will keep striving and making sacrifices until I accomplish my lifetime goal as a writer: becoming a New York Times Bestselling Author of a book that will have a profound and positive impact upon my readers’ lives.

Not bad for a simple creative exercise to develop self-confidence and identify my long–term goal. Now, it’s your turn for my fellow writers. Complete the following assignment above writing one word, one sentence, and one paragraph to describe how you feel about being a writer. I’m looking forward to reading your responses.

Take care and be blessed.

Bill

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

One Love Re-Release in February 2016

onelove_book

LET THE COUNTDOWN BEGIN!!! SIX WEEKS AND COUNTING!!!! Xpress Yourself Publishing will be re-releasing my ESSENCE Best Selling Novel One Love on Tuesday, 9 February 2016!

What happens when a poet struggling to find inspiration crosses paths with a single woman frustrated with her career and the dating scene who secretly yearns to re-embrace her heart’s desire: singing? Bill Holmes answers that question and more in One Love, the hot, masterful, and intense ESSENCE Best Selling Novel!

* * * * *

Excerpt from One Love:

She always looked sharp going to work, and today was no exception . The one thing about her, which always turned me on, was the confidence in her stride. There was something so commanding about the way she walked, like Maxine Shaw from Living Single. I wasn’t sure if she was an attorney, but she had that elegant, classy beauty like Vanessa L. Williams. The linen khaki business suit she was sportin’ on this humid June morning worked well against her cinnamon complexion. Her auburn shoulder length she usually wore down was pinned up.

Uh oh, she must have realized I’d been checking her out because she made eye contact with me. The quizzical look on her face told me she thought she might know me, too. But she wasn’t certain either. She sat down in the empty seat across the aisle from me, next to the balding white gut sleeping against the window. “Hi,” I said. “Good morning,” she replied.

* * * * *

I’m excited for One Love’s re-release in 2016 as I’m re-launching my literary career. For those who missed out the first time around, here’s your chance to purchase this compelling, hilarious, and well-written novel. More information regarding One Love and my literary endeavors will be coming soon.

Take care and be blessed.

Bill

“Every word I write is an extension of my breath, my heart, and my soul that I want the world to share and to remember long after my life has come to an end.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Would You Have to Say?

If you were struggling to overcome your fears and had to write a letter to yourself, what would you have to say? For some people, this would be a serious challenge. That’s how I felt when I completed this personal assignment two and a half weeks ago after feeling frustrated about some setbacks and unaccomplished goals in 2015 due to my fears. I found this creative exercise to be very empowering not only to write, but to also recite aloud, feeling a positive shift in my mindset and attitude as my self-confidence grew during this time period. I intend to write another letter on 1 January 2016 to begin the New Year with some motivation and optimism. Anywho, here’s my response to the question above.

Take care and be blessed.

Bill

29 November 2015

Dear Bill:

This letter you’re holding in your hands isn’t a future-dated document you wrote to yourself noting and celebrating the things you accomplished in the past. No, it was written earlier today and that you’ll be reading aloud on a daily basis. This document will serve as your personal reminder that now is the time for you to 1) become motivated, 2) get off your procrastinating ass, and 3) take consistent action to create the life you want to live.

This may sound harsh, my friend, but at times you can be your own worst enemy. You’re a talented individual who has achieved some impressive goals in the past, but you’re impeding your own progress to achieve your present and future aspirations. You’re allowing negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions to interfere with your life, denying yourself the happiness, the prosperity, the tranquility, and the love you deserve. It makes you sick inside living in constant fear about what you want to do, but always hesitating to do so. This has been your toughest battle. It’s acceptable to acknowledge your fears but it’s unacceptable for you to live in fear. You cannot continue going on this way; you know that you deserve better, and you can and will do better!

Here’s what will occur, Bill, every day you wake up and witness another sunrise and sunset. It’s necessary that you heed these words. You will be stepping outside of your comfort zone to do the uncomfortable things until they become comfortable. You will not be afraid to ask others for assistance because you cannot accomplish what you want to do alone. You will have to make necessary sacrifices of your time to advance your personal development. You will motivate yourself every day to do something that progresses you towards achieving your goals. You will not allow anyone, including yourself, to deny you the happiness, the prosperity, the tranquility, and the love you deserve. You will create the vision of the person you desire to become, which will serve as your daily guidance until the image comes into fruition. You will employ your current talents and discover new skills and knowledge to make a positive impact in this world, helping others to live their best lives.

I say all this, Bill, because I want the very best for you. Let’s get started, my friend.

Love,

Bill Holmes

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment