A Writer’s Out of Body Experience

Sometimes, It Hits You…

The other day, I was sitting in a bustling coffee shop while the snow fell haphazardly outside and the wind blew furiously. Folks on either side of me were engrossed in their work, leaned forward toward their computer screens or immersed in vibrant conversation. My computer was open in front of me, the Economist in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. I was engrossed in the words in front of me, trying to decipher the language in the article I was using to research an assignment due the next week and bopping my foot to the Indie Rock dancing out of my headphones when it hit me.

I caught the scene as though I were outside of my body looking in and saw myself sitting there, reading and researching for an article that I would write that would then be published and I would get paid for, and I realized- Yup. I am a writer.


As kids, we all have those milestones that, when we reach them, will signify that we have in fact grown up and reached a new level of maturity. Like, when I can drive I will feel like a grown up. Nope, that didn’t do it…maybe when I can vote…or when I move out…when I get married? We are constantly waiting for that next moment that will tell us we have arrived in a new phase of life.

I think writers experience something similar. Especially if they are slowly transitioning into the world of writing to make money. We rely on these invisible milestones to tell us that we have finally become professional writers. Like setting up a home office, or establishing an LLC or waiting for that first day you don’t have to go into an office. We are constantly waiting.

We rely on invisible milestones to tell us we have finally becomes #writers, and we shouldn't. Click To Tweet

And then, we realize, we are just spending our whole lives waiting for the next level.


Stop Waiting…

So, when I caught this out of body image of myself toiling away in a coffee shop while I was once suffering through 8 hours of answering phones or scheduling appointments, I savored it. I may wonder from day to day where my next paycheck will be coming from. I may wish I had the traditional benefits and insurance of a 40 hr, 9-5 job and I definitely face challenges every single day. But, I would rather be facing these challenges knowing that I am doing something I love, rather than stressing over a job I hate.

So, whatever your situation, whether writing is your job or your passion (or both!), stop waiting for the next level or next step to tell you that you have reached some invisible goal. The next time you are sitting down to write, take a moment and take it in. You are doing what you love. You are choosing to pursue your dream and no matter where you are in that pursuit, that’s a big deal. Take a look around, smile and say, “Yup. I’m a writer.”

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Have you ever had an Ah-ha moment where you looked up and realized you were doing exactly what you’ve always wanted to do? I’d love to hear about it!


Don’t Snooze Your Life Away

Ugh, Mondays. Amiright?

Your weekend was probably great. You probably did all the things. Or, even better, did none of the things. Maybe you lounged. Maybe you focused on your writing or curled up in your favorite spot with a good book. Or, maybe you spent your days running kids from activity to activity. Whatever you did, my guess is that when that alarm went off this morning, you wanted your weekend back. Continue reading “Don’t Snooze Your Life Away”

When Thinking Hurts My Writing, I Don’t Think

Writing Is Like Breathing (But not in the way you would expect)

Have you ever tried to concentrate on your breathing?

Like, during a meditation or when the doctor tells you to take a deep breath while he’s listening to your heart? Ever notice what happens? Suddenly, the simple act of breathing in becomes incredibly difficult. You’re in the middle of breathing in when he quickly tells you to breath out, but you’re not done breathing in and you don’t have enough air sucked to complete a full breath out and what does oxygen taste like again and why is your heart beating so hard and it’s a wonder you’re not passed out in a gutter somewhere if breathing is this damn difficult… Continue reading “When Thinking Hurts My Writing, I Don’t Think”

Fiction 440: Graduation

She’d always wanted a baby. It was a need so ingrained in her psyche that she would have what she called “arm urges,” moments where she literally ached to hold that warm, wiggling, cooing being in her arms. She’d known she was meant to be a mother the very first time she held her first baby doll and the need only grew as she got older. Even the stories her friends told her of long labor and excruciating pain didn’t deter her. Even when it wasn’t happening, she prayed…someday it would. Continue reading “Fiction 440: Graduation”

Fiction 440: Cons

His head rested in her lap, his breath coming in short, sharp gasps.

“That was so stupid,” she whispered, fighting to speak around the fist sized lump in her throat. They had promised they would take care of each other during their mission, that’s what partners were for after all. He had held up his end of the deal, she hadn’t. Continue reading “Fiction 440: Cons”

Fiction 440: Roses

The bright smell of the roses invaded her senses, colliding with the dark cloud that was now her life. She slid her hand across the smooth mahogany box and shook her head, trying to block the memory that was now threatening. But, before she could stop it, she was back there. On that long stretch of highway, her heart light for what would be the last time… Continue reading “Fiction 440: Roses”

Shivs and Kindergartners- Why I love Fiction 440

Yesterday was one of my favorite events, Fiction 440. I’ve mentioned it before on my old blog, but, let me refresh your memory.

Fiction 440 is a local event that takes place every few months. Participants are given 3 words and they have until the next event to write a 440-word piece of fiction that includes those words. Those that wish to then read their story at the event. There are no excerpts, no poetry and no judging. It’s always a great experience and it’s inspired works and stories that I never would have written otherwise. It’s so amazing to see the wide variety of stories that people come up with using the same words.

In true panster fashion, I typically wait until the last minute to write my story, letting the words marinate between events and cranking out 440 words (or more, usually) the day before the story is due. It’s great fun. I’ve even used the event to streamline one of the scenes from my WIP and loved the way it turned out (I did break the no excerpts rule that day).I mean, when else would I have had the opportunity to write about

Trout, Shiv, Ankle-Bracelet

But, if you can, I highly recommend using this event, or one like it, to spark your creative fire. I mean, when else would I have had the opportunity to write about shivs and kindergartners. Yup, you heard me. The words for this event were Trout, Shiv and Ankle-Bracelet (I added the kindergartner). Good stuff, right?

So, behold. My latest Fiction 440 creation,  (Also, check the Fiction 440 category for my past stories).

“When Kindergartners Go Bad.”


“She what?” Lou practically shouted at the receptionist who called to tell him he had a student waiting to be seen.

“She was talking about shivs on the playground. Her teacher panicked and marched her down claiming that she was violent and we should consider expulsion.”

“She’s how old?”


Lord. He’d put off retirement to deal with five-year-olds talking about shivs? “Ok, send her in.”

The little girl pushed open the door. The blonde pigtails perched on top of her head bounced as she jumped into the seat.

“Maggie? Do you know why you’re here?”

She shook her head, her ponytails dancing. ‘Oh yea,’ he thought, ‘This is a hardened criminal.’

“Were you on the playground talking about a shiv?”

Her eyes lit up and she nodded, “Yes, Mr. Tompkins!”

“You were?”


He glanced at the notes he’d taken, “You were going to…help your uncle with his shiv?”

“Uh huh! He needs help real bad and I want to help him.”

“And your uncle…he’s…”

“In prison,” she stated.

He slouched back into his chair. He gave up trout fishing on Lake Michigan for this? “He’s in prison and you want to help him with his shiv? How do you know he needs help?””He said so when he was talking to my mom on the speakerphone. I’m not allowed to talk to him because he’s no good but he calls sometimes and she says we don’t turn our back on family. And that means I should help him if he needs help.”

“He said so when he was talking to my mom on the speakerphone. I’m not allowed to talk to him because he’s no good but he calls sometimes and she says we don’t turn our back on family. And that means I should help him if he needs help.”

“This is how kids end up with ankle-bracelets..” he muttered and too late realized it was out loud.

“I have one of those!” she exclaimed.

“You do?”

“Yup!” She lifted a leg up onto the desk. “See!” She pointed to a silver chain encircling her ankle.

He sighed.

“So, how were you going to help your uncle?”

“I was going to check the lost and found!”

“The lost and found?”

“Yup, if kids leave them they must not need them but my uncle does so I figure I can take one and give it my mom and she can send it to him.”

“But, what were you looking for?”

“A coat!”

“A coat!? Why on Earth were you looking for a coat!”

“Well, if he’s got a shiv, he must be cold. That’s like a shiver, right?”

He gaped at her for a moment while she blinked at him. Then he nodded.

“Yes, Maggie. You’re absolutely right. That’s exactly what that is.”When she was gone, he picked up the phone and rang the receptionist. “Linda, find a sub for me for tomorrow. I’m going fishing.”

When she was gone, he picked up the phone and rang the receptionist. “Linda, find a sub for me for tomorrow. I’m going fishing.”


Do you have any Flash Fiction stories you’ve written for a challenge or event? Care to share? No judging here either, I promise.

Learn More About Fiction 440