Monday, February 6, 2017

February 2017 Letter from the Editor

Did you read Writing from the Peak’s quote of the week on Sunday the 29th? I absolutely loved it. Award-winning Brazilian author Paulo Coelho penned the quote, “Impossible is just an opinion.” How many times a day do we hear the word, “can’t,” or “impossible.” I think there should be a test. How many times do we think, writing is hard, this book sucks, or I “can’t” do it?

I admit I’ve been stuck in this mire. I froze terribly over the last year and let life intervene. Not all bad, I promise you. I became a first-time grandmother to the adorable Ms. Norah Jane Bell. But we also listed our house, my husband retired, and my mom needed/needs additional help. The word “can’t” flooded my gray matter.

Like most people, I read craft books, read fellow authors' books (with pleasure), network and occasionally market my wares. However, none of it was bringing me joy. Writing Coach Deb McLeod has been the queen of inspiration. Her blogs, especially the last one on The Novel Writing Process on February 1, is solid gold. Read it.

But “can’t” still made me feel as though I was walking around in a cement overcoat. I honestly thought about quitting until a friend shared a book suggestion. It's called Deep Work, Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.

Really? Another self-help book? But as I read, Deep Work wasn’t so much self-help as it was common sense.To do anything well, to grow, and to be successful, an individual must make intense concentration a priority. Imagine if social media had been around in Michelangelo's day. We might not ever have viewed the Sistine Chapel.

For the last few weeks, I’ve tested Newport’s theory. I’ve limited Facebook, and have only used Twitter sparingly to promote this blog. I have turned down social events and I have buried myself in my office. I've put my family on notice: I am finishing this book! The story I told you sucks? It’s good, and I’m excited again. 

Newport says distraction, while easy, can also be draining and lead to depression. He cites the same of social media. For me, social media is fun, which, in turn, makes it addictive. Further, giving in to distraction is the ultimate time-sink and surrounds us with a term he calls "residual thinking." Meaning when it's time to concentrate on that all-important project, we're still thinking about something we read on-line. 

OK, I miss all the time I spent on Facebook, but I've learned a lesson. Until I'm finished with my WIP, if I need an outlet, I’ll use this blog. After all, Writing from the Peak is all about writing, and are we ever ready for February! Guest blogger Michael Alvear joins us to discuss The Bulletproof Writer; Patrick Hester shares website advice for new writers; Jason Evans continues his series, Writing the Historical Novel; Kathie Scrimgeour presents another Meet the Member; J.T. Evans talks about successful query letters; Darby Karchut kicks off the first article for Conference; Stacy S. Jensen addresses the stalling topic of fear; Linda Rohrbough presents another Business of Writing post, this one dealing with character; and long-distance PPW member Jennifer Lovett returns to share marketing information as well as travels from South Korea! (How's that for jam-packed?) 

My critique partners decided we need a word for the year, and I chose the word focus. Not can’t, not impossible, but focus. By going deep, I’m loving writing again. And guess what I've discovered? Impossible is just an opinion.

Have a sensational February.

Donnell Ann Bell is the managing editor for Writing from the Peak, the coordinator for the monthly Open Critique held on the first Wednesday of every month, and one of Pikes Peak Writer's board members at largeShe is a best selling romantic suspense and mystery author. To learn more about her books, find her at