Writer’s Block: Is it Real?

Over the years, while I was constantly convincing myself that a career in writing was unfeasible, I would hear of successful writers complain of writer’s block. It has been hinted at, expounded upon, and driven plots throughout short stories, novels, TV shows, and movies. But, is it real? Do writers actually hit a wall, are they lazy, or is it just a crap day with no inspiration?

In my short time as a writer, I have certainly experienced days where I just couldn’t come up with something that advanced the story I was working on. However, I have noticed that those are good days to begin or continue another project, unless I am trying to meet a deadline.

If meeting a deadline is the issue and I must get it done in a timely fashion, I’ll take my dog for a walk, call someone and have a conversation, or better yet, I’ll ask someone that I trust to read it and give me an honest opinion. Sometimes, the opinion given sparks an idea or new path to take within the story. Other times, I try to put myself in the shoes of the reader so that I am able to experience it from their point of view. While the latter usually helps with copy editing and finding plot holes, everything that can be done to break up the monotony of staring at a computer screen, eventually leads to getting back on track with my work.

So, back to the original question. Is writer’s block real? For myself, it doesn’t really exist. For other writers, it may in some form or another. Either way, it’s not forever, and keeping your eyes open for the next hint of inspiration should be your main priority.

writers block 2

 

Advertisements

420

Legend has it that the origin of the term 420 comes from some high school students from California in the 70’s. After school they would meet up at 4:20pm to hang out and smoke some of that sweet sweet cheeba. It eventually spread across the US, into Canada, and then across the entire world.

This explanation is far more plausible than the rumours of there being 420 active chemicals in cannabis, or the police code for possession being 420, which it is not.

Today we honour this event on the 20th of April, by getting together with friends and continuing the tradition of indulging in some of the finest herb available. It is a time for peace, love, and positivity. And definitely a few laughs.

So find a friend, light up, and enjoy. And for those who are dead set against it, lighten up, it’s a plant!

Daily Prompt: Explore

via Daily Prompt: Explore

Exploration is one of the keys to self awareness and personal growth. Many different aspects of life can be explored, all leading to the same discovery: happiness.

Work

Regardless of age, you should be exploring every avenue available. Take different jobs, work for different companies, move laterally or up, and volunteer some time. Find out what you enjoy doing, then kick ass at it. For some, they figure it out early, and for others it takes years. Either way, don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things.

Social Life

Meet new people everyday. Engage in a friendly conversation with a stranger. It could be in line at the grocery store, or while standing on a street corner waiting for your turn to cross the street.  You don’t have to make a new best friend, but a simple conversation can teach you a lot about yourself. You never know who you might meet, and it’s great practice for networking.

Travel

Even though the entire planet has been mapped out, it doesn’t mean that you can’t explore your city, country, or any other place. New destinations come with new experiences, new people, new architecture, and new food, which are some of the building blocks of personal growth.

Ultimately exploration is about finding yourself. You’ll never know what you might like, if you don’t try it.

Daily Prompt: Toxic

via Daily Prompt: Toxic

7 Signs That You Work In A Toxic Environment

A job I once had provided an unwanted look into what a toxic work environment can be. It frustrated me everyday, and quickly turned into something I loathed thinking about, even during my off time. The signs of a toxic environment are not always easily identifiable, but once you are made aware of what they look like, recognizing them is simple. What you do after that is up to you.

  1. You have a boss, not a leader.

A real leader is willing to put in work alongside their employees, not crack a whip from the safety of an office. They don’t point fingers and search for someone to blame if something goes wrong either. Instead, an effective leader will work with the team or individual to improve their understanding and hopefully their results.

2. Management is feared, not respected.

Ruling through fear only works for someone who doesn’t understand what respect is or how it works. However, most adults in the workforce fully understand that by showing respect, they get it in return. This creates a positive cycle of respect being shown to everyone else that they may encounter throughout the day. As a result of a positive and respectful work environment, there will inevitably be an increase in productivity and morale.

3. Only failures are recognized, not successes.

Every manager is different. The good ones will point out successes, either through email, a private conversation, or in front of colleagues and co-workers. They will also point out failures, but usually behind closed doors, and will be willing to spend time to help you correct the issue. A bad manager tends to only dwell on failures, call you out like a child in front of everyone, and can even stoop so low as to continually bring up old failures, even in unrelated situations. These bad managers will almost never give you recognition or praise for your success.

4. Absentee ownership.

This is more important to the health of the company than the individual employee. Absentee ownership is probably the worst offence an entrepreneur can can commit. If you’re 65 years old and have a well established team, perhaps you can take more time off, but if your company is struggling, it, as well as the employees, can benefit by having you spend more time there, not less.

5. Unhealthy competition.

Sales competitions can be a great motivator, helping to drive in some extra revenue, especially in the slow times when employees can tend to get complacent. But overlapping of territories or customers can result in animosity between employees, and a disdain for the manager who implemented the contest. Hopefully, any form of competition is well thought out ahead of time, and outlined in full detail with the employees before it begins.

6. Drugs and alcohol at work.

This is pretty straightforward. Drugs and alcohol consumed at work is dangerous to everyone, and a sign of a serious addiction. If anyone is at the point that they require drugs and/or alcohol to get through the day, serious psychological help should be acquired.

 

7. Nepotism.

In my experience, when I worked for family members, I was always expected to output more effort and productivity than other employees. It taught me that regardless of how I got my job, I had to work to keep it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Too often, family members are hired, put in a few years of actual work, then coast for the rest of their career. Ultimately, they manufacture a sense of entitlement, which leads to an abuse of power, unprofessional actions, and a distrust between the employees and employer.

Daily Prompt: Warning

via Daily Prompt: Warning

 

Warnings used to be reserved for dangers that weren’t inherently obvious to the average person. They kept us from doing things that we may or may not have been aware of otherwise.

Today, warnings seem to be on everything. Caution: Hot Coffee, or Warning: Slippery When Wet, are two things that anyone with even a shred of common sense would not have to be told. However, as the old adage goes, common sense isn’t that common.

Sometimes I wonder who these warnings are for. Then I have a look around, and there’s usually someone that reminds me of one reason or another. You’d think that over time, we would learn from certain situations or accidents, and not repeat the same mistakes. But some people just never learn, leading to lawmakers to have to protect us from ourselves. Unfortunately, the more that lawmakers try to protect us, the more dangerous to our own well-being we become.

As any parent would know, if you coddle your child for too long, that child will remain helpless and susceptible to the dangers of the world, without knowing how to navigate the landscape of life.

Parents and mentors need to point those who look to them for guidance in the right direction, and the best way to do it, is by showing them how to learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others.

Daily Prompt: Betrayed

via Daily Prompt: Betrayed

In the past, I have felt betrayed by outside sources, be it an individual, or a business. I would feel that they owed me something and when I didn’t receive anything in return for my efforts, I just wanted to turn my back on them. This fed into a certain level of depression and loss of self-worth, which I, in turn, used as fuel to accelerate my anger and frustration.

Over the last year, I have been working toward the betterment of myself, by taking the advice of Gary Vaynerchuk, whom I look to as sort of a spiritual guide, so to speak. He is as forward with his message as I tend to be with mine, which can be overwhelming for some, but necessary for all.

As a result of this new self awareness and motivation, I now understand that the only one who has ever betrayed me, is myself.

Daily Prompt: Micro

via Daily Prompt: Micro

Do not micromanage me!

I have worked for an eclectic mix of employers, in a variety of different industries. They all have their upsides and downsides, but my biggest frustration with any manager/boss/owner is micromanagement.

Once I have been trained, if you’ve done your job as a trainer correctly, I do not need someone standing over my shoulder every minute of the day. In fact, I will begin to freeze up, and second-guess myself if they’re watching my every movement. This includes role-playing scenarios, “pop quizzes”, and shadowing. Even if I have done the job for years, and am perfectly capable of performing all tasks entailed in the position, when management is watching I get nervous and can’t do my job to my fullest potential.

If I am underperforming, a clear and concise conversation between manager and employee can get the information across in a fraction of the time, without feeling like I need a babysitter.

If you are happy with my work, good. Leave me alone, and if I need your help, I’ll ask.

The Benefits of CBD

Many of us who are generally healthy tend to take the ease of daily activity for granted. We go about our lives, only experiencing ailments sporadically. Unfortunately for those living with a physical or mental disease, daily activity is not always a reality.

When the average person thinks of a horrific disease, they think mostly of cancer, AIDS, schizophrenia, or Alzheimer’s. They forget about the thousands of other debilitating diseases that plague Canadians everyday.

For one in every 1000 Canadian citizens life includes an ongoing battle with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, more commonly known as Lupus. This debilitating autoimmune disease, nicknamed the Great Imitator, is very difficult to diagnose. It can affect any and all parts of the body including major organs. Some of the symptoms include fatigue, chronic pain, rashes, arthritis, and osteoporosis, which explain the difficulty and long timeline for doctors to diagnose the disease correctly.

For Anna, a 56-year-old Ontario woman, living with the chronic pain, arthritis and fatigue caused by Lupus has become the only life she knows. Diagnosed at the age of 28, Anna has gone through a laundry list of prescriptions. Currently she is taking Prograph, Ramapril, Plaquilnil, Hydromorphone, Pregabalin, Risedronat and Amlodipine. These different medications allow her to have a slightly better quality of life but not without their side effects. Having lost track of all of the side effects after taking a number of different pills over the past 28 years, Anna chooses to focus her attention mainly on what helps her the most. If she is prescribed something that has adverse effects she immediately consults her doctor and her medication is adjusted accordingly. Thus far nothing has been perfect, however a new and somewhat controversial medication has recently been introduced into Anna’s daily routine, resulting in some positive changes.

Cannabidiol or CBD as it is known in the medical cannabis industry, is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Patients both young and old have used CBD in various forms such as; smoking CBD-dominant strains of cannabis flower, applying topical creams, adding CBD-rich salts to a bath and most effectively micro-dosing CBD tinctures and pure extracts. These different methods are used to combat ailments from a wide array of physical and mental illnesses.

At first, Anna was nervous and skeptical due to having tried so many different cocktails of medications over the years. Had it not been for a close family member who first introduced Anna to CBD in early June of 2017, she likely would never have tried it. Anna, like many others had not been properly educated, associating cannabis only with Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the main psychoactive chemical that gets users “high”. However, Anna quickly warmed up to the idea once she was assured that CBD, as a chemical compound is free of psychoactive properties.

Anna is now more than seven weeks into her daily use of her new CBD tincture. It has allowed her to cut in half the daily use of Hydromorphone, her current pain medication, at the same time providing better rest while asleep or awake.

Anna hopes that CBD will replace more of her current medications in the future and says that she will continue to use it in her daily routine. She also highly recommends it to anyone suffering from chronic pain as a result of just about any disease, especially Lupus.

The Big J is for Jerome

The caravan of tourist driven rental vehicles snaked slowly up the mountainside toward what was once known as the “Wickedest town in the west”. In the distance, rocks formed a large snow-white letter J which contrasted with the foliage and red rock of the Cleopatra hillside as it overlooked the tiny ghost town. I ran my sandpaper tongue over my dry, cracked lips as we passed an old sign that read, “Welcome to Jerome, Arizona”. The anticipation of fulfilling another bucket list item grew stronger with every passing mile. The intense heat of the Arizona desert only served to increase my anxiety. Our twelve-passenger van proved almost too large for the narrow, winding streets of this abandoned copper mining town. As I laid my eyes on my true destination, a pinch on my arm was necessary to confirm my being conscious.

I hopped down from the oversized vehicle, like a child on his first field trip, full of excitement and anticipation. Four of my five senses were abandoned leaving me to survive solely on tunnel vision. I crossed the single lane meant for two-way traffic in a zombie like state. The cavalcade of tourists and local hippies roaming aimlessly throughout the art shops and the spillover of bikers from the neighbouring town of Cottonwood were merely a blur. Being drawn in closer as if caught in a tractor beam, an invisible wall slammed me to a stop but a few feet from the door.

Breathing deeply, I inched forward, for there was no turning back. I had finally arrived at Caduceus Cellars, an intimate wine tasting room owned and operated by a lifelong idol, Maynard James Keenan. Having been a fan of his bands, art, and philosophies on life, I felt a tangible connection to him and his work.

Floating through the winery, my senses were restored allowing the scent of wine and weathered oak barrels, along with the familiar sound of Maynard’s music to comfort me in this surreal experience. Awaiting the arrival of my group, I squeezed past the other patrons, scanning the inventory of wine, clothing and other memorabilia, which lined walls and covered tabletops.

Trickling through the door one by one, our group was boisterously greeted by an unrefined yet welcoming tattooed woman. She stood no higher than five feet with a larger-than-life personality. She promptly took our order returning only moments later with glasses and our first tastings.

I closed my eyes as I sipped away, allowing the fruit and tannins to fill my mouth and nostrils. For the first time I understood the effort involved in the arduous process of working the land, as well as the years of back breaking labour and mental exhaustion before a single harvest was made possible. Most overwhelmingly I heard the Arizona desert call out in approval of my presence.

Jerome, Arizona holds a permanent reservation in my heart and mind, however any visitor will feel an undeniable spiritual connection to this hidden gem.

Advice: Take or Leave it!

For years my father has told me that “Advice is free, just listen. After that you can choose to use, or completely ignore it.” For years I told him, “Whatever dad, you don’t know about this”. This statement may have been true, but without giving him a chance to give me the advice I would never have found out.

So, what drove me to not even want to listen to him? Some may say I was stubborn or disobedient, but I feel that this rejection of his words and experience was derived from something far more dangerous. Pride. Not the kind of pride that I felt when I’d win a race or game, or the pride my parents felt when I would achieve something. This is the kind of foolish pride that keeps normal, free thinking individuals from accepting help and ultimately achieving more in life. I would shut myself off from outside opinions because I thought that I knew best and there was nothing that anyone could tell me that would make me see differently.

My foolish pride lasted until the very last day that I spoke to my ex-girlfriend back in early 2005. We were hanging out in my parents’ basement and we were both really into playing the guitar. I was never very good and her skills were a little less than mine but we had some written music that I was able to decipher. There were two parts to the song, rhythm and lead, and I had already figured out the rhythm section and was about to move on when I decided that maybe this would be a good time to teach her the rhythm, then I could learn the lead over top of what she was playing. She wasn’t having any of it. She demanded that she figure out the rhythm section on her own. So I left it alone.

After a half hour of listening to her unsuccessful attempts I decided that I would insist on helping her as this was making for a boring night. I offered to help her once again, and this time she exploded on me, calling me every name in the book, (this was a volatile relationship and the end was nearing, regardless of this fight) she picked up her guitar and stormed out of the house.

Our relationship ended that night and we haven’t spoken since.

What I learned from that night was that if you are too proud to accept advice, you can waste a lot of time running around in circles. If you are open to someone’s words and experiences, it may set you on a straight path to your goal.

Since then, I have always made sure to listen to people’s advice. Once they are finished I can choose whether to Take it or Leave it.