Tag Archives: finding bliss

Wasting Time to Make Time

Moonday Madness

A blog about the craft of writing

This is the third in a series of blogs about organization and what keeps me on track. The first post, Goal Setting Survival is HERE and you can learn about Flying Past the Lure of the Toilet HERE.

It’s crazy.

Insane.

But one of the things that keeps me writing, and keeps me organized is not writing.I know, I know, you are wondering how I could possibly get more writing done by not writing?

This is going to be a tough one for most readers and authors to swallow, because ulike goal setting or organizing a clean house, this one seems to be a time sucker. Not a time free-er. But I have found that the more I take care of myself, the better I feel, and the better I feel, the more I can get done and that frees up my time. Doing something that feels like wasting time actually is benenficial.

Here is a list of time wasters that I need to do when writing that, instead of cutting my writing down, infuse it with energy.

1. Take breaks

Taking a break every forty-five minutes to an hour refreshes my muse. I run up and down the stairs doing laundry. I set the time for fifteen minutes and get a snack, a cup of coffee, sneak a bite of chocolate. I dance, do yoga or pull weeds. Anything that is different from the act of looking at the computer and gets me out of the chair. The most important piece of this is to not check emails or tweet or look at the next fascinating blog. The idea is to get away from the computer and refresh.

2. Take time for a nutritious lunch

I cook my lunch. Yes, I do. On those days when I’m lucky enough to be home, writing full time, I have a real honest-to-goodness meal. My favorite meal is whole grain (real whole grain, not that fake stuff the bread companies tell you has whole grain) bread, topped with humus and sauteed onions, garlic and spinach. Brain food.

Yes, it takes time to make it. I do have some time saving secrets: I saute my onions and garlic ahead of time and just add those to the pan with the spinach. That cuts the cooking time down to about five minutes. And I actually take the time to sit down with a cloth napkin and eat it. Okay, it’s frequently in front of the TV or with a book, but it’s away from the computer. And, despite the TV or book I find it something relaxing and rejuvenating.

3. Exercise

This is the one that I think most people think will drain them. Make them tired and hence unable to work efficiently. But I have found that waking up and getting out of the house, taking a bracing walk (not so bracing with summer here) with the dog, has me coming back to the computer rarin’ to go!

I walk every morning, unless the world conspires against me. And I go to the gym twice a week to do the elliptical and lift weights. You’d think I’d be in fantastic shape! I’m sure my heart thanks me and maybe, in a few years, my body will too. Meanwhile the walking is great for my working. The weightlifting and elliptical, well, I do those at night. I come back ravenous and exhausted, so I sleep well and wake up ready for the next day.

This may sound like  preachy post. A list of all the things  you “should” be doing. I want you to know I didn’t just jump up one day and start acting like a fitness guru, eating right and doing yoga in between my writing stints. This has been a hard-won battle forced upon me by exhaustion and my body saying “I give up!”.

You need to find what works for you. But for me, these are the things that I have to make time for to make my writing really work for me. When I slack off, don’t exercise, don’t eat right and try to push things through…those are the times I have writing frustration. I sit in front of the keyboard zoning out, distracted and un focused.

What works for you? Do you take breaks? Schedule time off with your friends? What things do you do that take time away from writing, but send you back to the computer refreshed and rarin’ to go?

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Filed under Moonday mania, writing organization

Goal Setting Survival

Moonday Mania

A writer oriented blog

Today’s blog is the first in a series of four about how organization has saved me. The other three parts will run in August, after Sherrry Isaac’s guest blogging.

The blogging Karma has spoken. The other day found me talking with a friend of mine about stress and how it makes her sick and how she needs to cut it out of her life. We both agreed, modern people (especially women) think we need to do everything, do it well and get it done yesterday. And it’s killing us. Some of us end up obese and some with auto-immune disorders and some with shoe shopping fetishes.

Lo and behold the very next morning my friend Sherry Isaac sends me a link to More Cowbell and Jenny Hansen’s outlook on setting a goal to add “worry free writing time” to her list of to-do’s.

What’s this? A to-do on my writing list of killer goals that makes time for me as a person? Crazy. But obviously the universe is telling me something. All my over-stretched goals don’t help me become more productive, they just make me over-worked. Can goal setting actually help us become healthier? And I’m not talking setting weight-loss goals. I mean actual professional goals. Does your mental health require you to set professional goals that encourage you to nurture yourself?

Setting goals is part of my life. I set yearly goals, monthly goals, weekly goals and daily goals. All in hopes of achieving my dream, publishing my writing. (Okay, earning some cash with said writing.) I love the process of goal setting. Purchasing new notebooks and writing things down thrills my inner organizer. But then the inner organizer runs up against the real me, the Procrastinator. And I get stressed.

There is no way I can do all of this. No way I can keep up with the day to day over-the-top goals I want to achieve. So how do I do it all? How do I become a paranormal writer extraordinaire, an amazing self-promoter and still survive?

Am I trying to become superwoman writer and achieve so much that I actually end up sabotaging myself in the process?

Jenny Hansen”s idea of adding “worry free writing time” to her to-do’s is amazing. It’s still a professional goal but it has the added benefit of not being something you can fail at. There are no word counts in worry free writing. No required three-character-sheets-by- the-end of-the-hour deadlines. No plot constrictions. It’s free. And freeing.

By adding one goal to your to do list that feeds your soul its like adding in time for meditation, exercise, or ice cream. Its something that you can relax and enjoy and get those endorphins flowing. And it is still a professional goal. Still one that you can use to drive your creativity. And one that might even improve your creativity while it lowers your heart rate. Amazing!

I’d love to hear how you free yourself within your goal setting. What kinds of goals can you think of that are within your profession, but not constrictive?

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Filed under channeling success, Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Optimisim, writing organization

Why Write?

On Saturday I did something I love to do. I spent the day socializing with my peeps at the Colorado Romance Writers mini-con.There was something for everyone. An editor, Kristen Sevick of Tor/Forge, for pitches. A silent auction, which I am happy to report was full of wonderful critiques and gift baskets. And of course a whole day spent sucking up the wisdom of our guest, Kara Lennox.

Kara has published sixty-eight books. Sixty-eight! In an amazing feat Kara provided a one-woman conference, doing workshop after workshop for the whole day. We started with queries, moved through three act structure and right on into movie tricks for romance writers. Her plot-fixers and agent advice finished out a marvelous day of information overload.

Even when its a topic I think I know something about, I still learn something. I took pages and pages of notes and intend on reviewing them to see what I’ve already forgotten. For example, the three act structure. I use a plot structure when I write that is based on something like three act structure. I am going to do exactly what she suggested and peek into my mid-point and see if its where it should be. Did it move during those many revisions?Kara used movies as her examples. She explained that movies are exactly three acts and when you write screenplays, there had better be three acts. Its something I do and something I’ve learned, but the way she explained it has me wanting to pull out my stopwatch and check my Disney movies for their exact mid-points and black moments.

Many authors want to ignore structure and fly by the seat of their pants, but even fly-by-fabric writers should have some sort of map. Kara said many people think the three act structure is hardwired into our brains. That we look for it, and if an author doesn’t stay close to it, the reader feels cheated.

The most exciting thing for me was seeing that even after so many books, and the ups and downs of a long career, Kara is still excited about writing. She loves her plots and characters. She’s written category romance and screenplays and hopes to publish in single title, but the common theme for the long, long, long day was her enthusiasm.

She kept us interested right to the end. I always wondered how anyone could be as prolific as a Harlequin author. How do they keep coming up with new plots that are fresh and interesting book after book. After listening to Kara, I think I know the secret.

She loves it. You can see as she talks that she feels lucky to have made a career out of romance. And who wouldn’t? A lifetime of creating new stories, new characters and new happy ever afters? Why wouldn’t everyone be struggling to do this for a living? Well, maybe because it isn’t the easiest thing to do. You have to be prolific to pay the bills and there are the rejections and revisions.

But seeing someone who has been successful and prolific and still loves writing? That’s a calling. That’s inspirational. That’s who I want to be.

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Filed under channeling success, Optimisim, writing craft

Looking for Open Doors

I’m doing what I almost never do: bouncing off of someone else’s blog. But Elaine Cougler’s blog really got me thinking. Elaine attended the eWomen Network conference and blogged about a session by Olga Sheean. You should check out Elaine’s blog, but what I got out of it, and what I’m going to talk about here, is the idea that we need to stop the negative self-talk about publisher availability. Now its no secret that I don’t actually believe in the Secret. The idea that if you just open your heart to success, it will be there like a stray dog, anxious to get into your life. But I do believe in the underpinnings of it, that if you  open your heart to success it will be there. But only if you go to the shelter and look for it.

I love this idea, that Elaine brought back from Olga’s session, that all our talk about the gloom and doom of publishing is closing doors for us. One of the traps for writers is this kind of negative self-talk, and you hear it everywhere. At conferences. At meetings. At workshops. Online all the buzz is about the dying publishing industry and how hard it is for newbies to get published. Okay, its not the easiest thing in the world. Did you think it would be?

Okay, I actually did. I had this idea that since I had read some really bad published books, and my writing was better than that, that I could get published. No problem. But it hasn’t worked out that way, and I’m glad. Now I’ve been forced to work on my writing, to make it better. I’m glad that the opportunity didn’t come up when my work was not very good. Now its better and I’m ready for it to get out there. So what are the steps to take? We’ve been over most of them. Keep trying, keep submitting, keep putting yourself out there. But this idea that you need to open your mind to there being, not just a publisher, but the right publisher for you. This is an amazing idea.

I’ve been thinking about this with agents. That we don’t just want any agent. We want one that fits our personality. Yes, I want honesty, but I don’t want someone who is cruel. Yes, I want expectations, but I don’t want someone who is unrealistic. Yes, I want success, but I don’t want someone so busy I can’t ever get a hold of them. So that’s my agent short-list, what about a publisher?

Today I am opening my mind to not only there being a publisher out there for me, but the right publisher. I want a publisher who will market my books and promote my career. I want a publisher who will be excited about my work. And I want a publisher who will pay me well. Why not? It’s not that we open these doors with out thoughts, its that we see the open doors. There are lots of lost pets out there, you not looking for them doesn’t change that. What changes is when you think to look for one. Think there is a place in your house and your heart. There are publishers out there and they are looking for writers. Are you looking for them?

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Filed under channeling success, Optimisim