Showing posts with label Marietta Taylor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marietta Taylor. Show all posts

Writers On The Move...Literally!


According to an article in Yahoo Finance, “ Just two hours of sitting reduces good cholesterol by 20 percent, reduces blood flow and raises blood sugar, all of which contribute to obesity and the related chronic, life-shortening diseases.” Well that's not good news for writers, who frequently spend well over two hours sitting while they write. While our words take on a life of their own, we're cutting ours short. What's a scribe to do? Exercise, that's what!

I hear everyone groaning about how there's no time or you hate exercise. I hear you. I agree with you. But I don't want to get sick and die early because I refused to move my butt out of the chair. So I'm giving you a few exercises you can do from the very place you create your prose and poetry. You can thank me later.

From livestrong.com:

In a seated position with both feet flat on the floor, raise both hands high over your head. Grab your left wrist with your right hand and then gently pull the left wrist toward the right side of your body for as far as you are able. Hold the position for a count of at least three, and then return to the starting point. Switch hands and repeat for the other side of the body.  Read more

Sit up tall in your chair, with arms by your side, your back and shoulders straight, and your abdominal muscles engaged. Extend your legs straight in front of you so that they are parallel to the floor. Lower your legs until they are about a foot from the floor and then raise them toward the ceiling, stopping at the height of your chair arm rests. Lower again and repeat for a total of 10 repetitions. Read more

Sit up tall with your feet flat on the floor, and cross your arms in front of your chest. Engage your abdominal muscles and lower your head toward your knees, crunching your abs on the downward movement. Sit back up to starting position and repeat for a total of 10 to 15 repetitions. Read more 



Do a football-like drill of running in place for 60 seconds. Get those knees up! (Beginners, march in place.)

Simulate jumping rope for a minute: Hop on alternate feet, or on both feet at once. An easier version is to simulate the arm motion of turning a rope, while alternately tapping the toes of each leg in front.

Do one-legged squats (hold onto a wall or table for support) while waiting for a web page to load

To stretch your back and strengthen your biceps, place your hands on the desk and hang on. Slowly 
push your chair back until your head is between your arms and you're looking at the floor. Then 
slowly pull yourself back in. Do 15 times.



Stretch your arms back as if you were trying to grab a pencil between your shoulder blades

Touch your ear to your shoulder and hold it there

Stand at your desk, and, arms straight, place your palms on the desk with your fingers pointed toward you. Lower your body slowly until you feel the stretch (you won’t have to go far). Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat as needed through the day.



These are just few ways to “get moving” without really leaving your desk. You are still close to your work. You haven't spent a lot of time, but you got moving. That's the important part. Let's do what we can to combat the sedentary lifestyle of a writer and help keep ourselves healthy.

How about you? Do you have any exercises you do at your desk?

About the Author:

Marietta "Mari" Taylor is the the author of Surviving Unemployment Devotions To Go. She's also a monthly contributor to the Pearl Girls Blog. Find out more about Mari at her blog or her website, www.mariettataylor.net.







The Power of Less

I love words.  Because I was so enamored with words, before I could read, I would memorize each page in a book. Then if my parents weren't available, I could "read" to myself. Words were my friends. The more, the merrier. When I became a writer I learned that less is more. 

I don't naturally do well with the writer's scissors. I'm wordy. Most of my edits involve simplifying phrases and cutting unnecessary words . For instance, my opening sentence initially was "I love words, be they written or spoken." Although I liked that last half, the sentence only required the first three words. I have four tools tips that help me make perform surgery on my words.

Create your own cut list. Make a list of common words you can cut. Some examples are:  that, who, there (there is, there are), and, very, really, just, quite, perhaps, but, however, well, also. Using a word search I find each instance of a word. If I can rewrite the sentence or it holds it's essence without that word, it hits the cutting floor. 

Replace or cut repetitive words and phrases. In each piece, we all have words or phrases we overuse. Highlight those words or phrases, then either replace or cut it. In one short story I was able to reduce my word count by fifteen by removing the word apparently. 

Cut by 25%. I write devotions so this is a bit easier for me. If my devotion is 400 words, I cut it down to 300 words. I repeat the process until it is tight but with soul. For novels, you can do this by chapter.

Read it aloud. You can find word flow issues when you read aloud. I've cut words by rearranging and removing sentences that broke up the flow of the piece. This is not always a quick process. But it's worth the effort. 

After applying these tips, you'll find that you didn't need the words that met the scissors. Writing for clarity means determining what's dead wood and removing it. It's not always easy, but definitely necessary. 


About the Author:

Marietta "Mari" Taylor is the the author of Surviving Unemployment Devotions To Go. Find out more about Mari at her blog or her website, www.mariettataylor.net.

What's Your Best Advice?

I am at heart a devotional writer. It's been my "calling" for quite a while. But when I'm not writing you will most likely find me with my nose in a piece of fiction. I love to read. My husband has been telling me for years I should write fiction since I read so much of it. I just never felt the nudge toward doing that. Well, that is until three weeks ago.

This one character from the Bible kept cropping up all over the place. I started to think about her story. What were the parts and pieces of it? What if it was a modern day story? How would it play out? Who would be involved in the story? The questions kept coming. I couldn't get away from them, so I started jotting them down and eventually started answering some of them. For a brief moment, I thought about trying my hand at actually writing the story. But I squashed that idea because "I don't write fiction". That worked until the character woke me up from a dream, giving me the same phrase over and over. I realized it was the answer to one of my questions and possibly the opening line of the book. I used to think authors who said their characters talked to them were crazy or kidding. Not anymore!

So, I've decided to take the plunge and write the book. I'm not new to writing, but I am new to fiction. And even though I've been reading it for years, I still feel ill-equipped to write it well. What is one piece of advice you would give to me or any writer venturing into this arena for the first time. I've got my pen ready to take notes. 



About the Author:

Marietta "Mari" Taylor is the the author of Surviving Unemployment Devotions To Go. Find out more about Mari at her blog or her website, www.mariettataylor.net.



Writing Using Word Association Lists

Have you ever had a great idea you wanted to put on paper but just couldn't get started? I'm raising both my hands. As a writer you want the best lead-in you can get. Unfortunately coming up with it isn't always easy. One of the tools I've found that helps me is a word association list.


I'm currently working with just one list. I sat down one night and created a list of words that could be associated with each season. So for spring I have words like warmth, breeze, renewal, rain and training. A few weeks ago when I was trying to write a devotion based on a verse about training your children, the spring portion of the list came in handy. As I scanned the list, I saw the entry "training (spring)". I immediately thought about baseball. That launched me on a parallel of how spring training relates to parenting. The devotion basically formed itself from that one word association.


Another devotion about transformation was written from the fall list. The word of choice was pumpkins. I'll share the beginning here so that you can see how thinking about pumpkins gave me the beginning I needed.

                     " Pumpkins know the power of transformation. They can remain a simple pumpkin or become part of a table centerpiece. Some become pie, soup or seeds. Many become jack-o'-lanterns. Whatever their final destination, they all go through a transformation that's not of their choosing. I guess we can say that we are like pumpkins. Just as pumpkins can be transformed, we too have a similar opportunity. The big difference is we get to choose!"

Before looking at my word association list, I struggled for an hour trying to come up with a good first paragraph. Nothing seemed to work. But pumpkins, yes that was just the right hook for this piece. 


I'm currently putting together a new word association list based on geographic locations like the mountains or the beach. It's a good idea to keep things fresh and a new list will help me do just that. What about you? What word association lists could you come up with? What other techniques do you use to help jump-start your beginnings?


Marietta Taylor is an author and speaker. She is the author ofSurviving Unemployment:Devotions to Go. Marietta is a monthly blogger at the Go ask Mom Blog at www.wral.com. Her tagline is Mom of Teens. She was also a contributing author to Penned From The Heart Vol XV. Marietta has a bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Visit Marietta at www.mariettataylor.net or www.marismorningroom.blogspot.com or email her at maritaylor@mariettataylor.net.


4 Ways Writers Can Replace Procrastination With Action

I am a procrastinator. That's not a great trait for a writer. So for my fellow procrastinators out there, here are some things you can try to replace procrastination with action.


  1. Stop trying to find time to write and make time I work a full-time job. After that job ends (and sometimes during) I'm responsible for the care, keeping and schedules of two non-licensed teenagers. Oh, did I mention I'm married, so there's also husband's needs in the mix too? Finding a consistent time is difficult. So I decided that when I have 15-20 minutes, I'll write. I can't always wait for an hour, but that's okay. I write when the time presents itself. 
  2. Just write it down Sometimes I avoid writing because I'm just not enjoying the words in my head. Consequently, I avoid writing them down. One day I read somewhere that those words were blocking the good ones. If we write down the words we don't like, it opens up our mind for better words to pour forth. So write them down and get them out of the way.
  3. Give yourself a prize Who doesn't love a treat? Motivate yourself with a small treat for each day you actually put words on paper. It works for me. Try it!
  4. Be accountable I let my accountability partner know when I'm supposed to be writing. She then has the right to quiz me to see if I stuck with my commitment. I don't want to lie to her or disappoint her, so  I make myself write. If you don't have an accountability partner, I urge you to find one.
My last piece of advice is this: Don't fail prey to the procrastination bug and not implement any of these tips. They are easy and worthwhile. You'll be glad you took action.


Marietta Taylor is an author and speaker. She is the author ofSurviving Unemployment:Devotions to Go. Marietta is a monthly blogger at the Go ask Mom Blog at www.wral.com. Her tagline is Mom of Teens. She was also a contributing author to Penned From The Heart Vol XV. Marietta has a bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Visit Marietta at www.mariettataylor.net or www.marismorningroom.blogspot.com or email her at maritaylor@mariettataylor.net.

My Three Favorite Editing Tips

My Three Favorite Editing Tips

I find it hard not to edit while I write. But we all know we're not supposed to do that. The best writers will tell you to write, let it sit for a day or so and then edit. But what's the best way to edit? Well, everyone has their preferences. I have three techniques I like to use. They aren't the only ones, just my favorites. Maybe you'll want to try them too.
  1. First I print the pages I plan to edit, making sure the pages numbers are included. Next I jumble the pages up. Because I wrote the words, I know how they should flow. That makes it easy to miss things like awkward phrasing. By reading the pages out of order, it really allows me to concentrate on just what is on that page. I'm not so much worried about how it fits with the other pages at this point. I'm concentrating more on finding repetitive words or phrases and awkward and run-on sentences.
  2. Read your writing out loud. Sometimes what sounds good in your head, doesn't sound so great when it's actually spoken. You'll be surprised what you can find and tighten up after reading your page aloud. 
  3. For each printed page, look for overused words. I have a pack of highlighters just for this. I'm the queen of the word "that". To make sure I'm not using it too frequently, or at all, I go through the page and highlight each instance. Then I decide if each will be cut, replaced or left as is. I write devotions so I use "God" frequently. I highlight that word in a different color. That shows me where I need to replace it with another name like "Lord" or "Heavenly Father". It's helpful that I have compiled a list of words I tend to abuse. But I'm also on the lookout for new offenders.
These three tips have made editing a more thorough process. What editing techniques do you use? Which are your favorites? 





Marietta Taylor is an author and speaker. She is the author of Surviving Unemployment:Devotions to Go. Marietta is a monthly blogger at the Go ask Mom Blog at www.wral.com. Her tagline is Mom of Teens. She was also a contributing author to Penned From The Heart Vol XV. Marietta has a bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Visit Marietta at www.mariettataylor.net or www.marismorningroom.blogspot.com or email her at maritaylor@mariettataylor.net.

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