Archive | Motivation

From The Archives: Love Yourself, Love Your Writing

Here's one from the archives for you:

We're awfully hard on ourselves, our own worst enemies.   At least I am!  And I suspect I'm not  Heart_light_blackground_518497_hso different from other creatives: I'm judgmental of myself –hyper critical at the best of times.  My thoughts run all over:

  • That thing I just said?  How idiotic!
  • What a lump for not speaking up.
  • Oh god, I look bad today!

And when it comes to my writing, it's even worse, because the voices are so insidious and ingrained.  It is such a familiar thought pattern that sometimes I don't even notice it.  When I do, it runs something like this:

  • This work isn't good enough.
  • Is that the right word? You idiot, that's not the right word.
  • They're not going to like it.
  • It's not good enough to sell.

And so on and so forth.  I'm sure you can add some of your own to the list!  (And let me be perfectly clear here–there is a difference between unloving critical thoughts and loving critical thoughts–the latter help us hone our skills, rewrite until the work shines, and strive for excellence.)

Do you know anybody who is as openly judgmental and critical as the voice in your head?  I don't.  If I spent all day every day with someone as condemning  as the voice in my head, I'd be physically withered at the end of the day.  And yet, that's exactly what's happening in our brains.

The solution?  Try turning love on it.  Warning: this is not easy.  And if you're successful at it, the practice will change your life.  Also, it's a process–you have to keep going back at it over and over again.  You have to consistently apply it to your life and your writing.

So herewith is a process to apply to self-judgment:

1.  Become aware.  Pay attention to those nasty little comments flinging about your brain.

2.  Fight back.  Sometimes called denials, this is when instead of cowering under the onslaught of all those vicious words, you make a stand and refuse to accept them.  Mentally uttering "That thought I do not want" (a Course in Miracles saying) is one way to do this.

3.  Form a new thought.  And then love bomb your brain with it, constantly, all day, and especially every time the old thought comes up.  Maybe something like:

  • I am powerful.  (My writing is powerful.)
  • I am enough.  (My writing is enough.)
  • I am a creator.
  • Whatever thought works for your individual circumstance.

The idea being to let thoughts like these become the constant soundtrack running in the background.  I know it's woo-woo, and it's ever so much more pleasant to think this way than the other.

4. It might get worse before it gets better.  Because old negative thoughts don't go without a fight.  And one way they fight is to get stronger when they fear being eradicated. But don't fall for their devious plan.

5.  Stick with it.  As I said, this process takes time.  Those fearful thoughts didn't get there overnight.  They lodged in your brain over a lifetime. 

 What do you think?  Willing to give it a try?  Or do you have another technique for quieting that voice?  Please comment.

 Photo by Victory to the People.

6

7 Practices to Create Your Best Writing Year Yet

Fotolia_74702492_XS (2)I write a lot about motivation here.  Yeah, ostensibly I write about writing, and I do, but when I look back over all the articles I've posted, many of them are about techniques for getting words on the page.

That's because I have a cement-firm belief, based on my own habits and years of teaching and coaching writers, that the hardest part of writing is getting your butt in the chair and keeping it there long enough to rack up a word count.  You can be the best, most elegant and clever stylist in the world, and if you can't get yourself into a regular writing practice, nobody is going to read those elegant words.

Last year I wrote a lot.  I finished a 90,000 word novel, wrote 25,000 words on another fiction project, and completed lord knows how many words total in blog and newsletter articles.  At the same time, I worked with writers one-on-one through coaching and teaching and in workshops.  So along the way I've figured out a few things about how to write regularly.  (Though these are subject to change–after all writing is a process, a vital, fluid process.)  So here are my recommendations for best practices to make 2015 your best writing year yet:

1.  Plan.  I mean this in two ways.  There's overall planning for you career.  What kinds of books do you want to write–memoir, romance, mystery, fantasy, YA?  What book will you commit to write this year?  And second, there's planning for individual scenes.  I've found that I get way more writing done when I know where I'm going.  You may be a pantser, and god bless you if you are, and swear to me that you can just write and see what happens, but I am more productive when I know what's up.

2.  Pre-write.  Often it is as important to write around your project as it is to write on it.   Write in your journal or do Morning Pages.  You may resist this, thinking why should you take your precious writing time to work on something other than your WIP?  Because you need to get all the distracting crap out of your brain, for one thing.  Jettison the carping voice of the inner critic in your journal and you'll be in a much better frame of mind for writing the real stuff.  And because you also will be amazed at the ideas and information that will flow through your fingertips, including tons of good stuff for your WIP.

3.  Schedule writing time.  As I've written a gazillion times, I love to get up and write first thing in the morning.  I write Morning Pages and then go right to my WIP. (Lately I've also been scheduling at least one two-hour block of time on an afternoon as well.)  My buddy J.D. is a night-time writer.  If he tried to rise at 5 as I do and write he'd be miserable.  And if I tried to write at night like he does, I'd be asleep at my desk.  So figure out what works for you and do it.

4.  Separate the writing process from the rewriting/editing/revising process.  They are two different stages of writing.  Period.  You'll make yourself crazy if you try to perfect every word as you go, and you'll lose sight of the bigger picture, too.  Later, after you've gotten all your words down into one gloriously messy first draft you can have fun honing and perfecting your scenes and words.  But only later.

5.  Write fast.  This is my single best tip for success, guys.  Once you know where you are going and are working in rough draft mode, let it rip.  Don't read over what you've written, don't stop, write as fast as you can.  I believe that we all know way more about our stories than our conscious minds let on–and if you write fast you're going to get all that good stuff from your unconscious out onto the page.  Writing fast is also how you will discover your voice.

6.  Find the joy.  It's supposed to be fun.  Lord knows, most writers don't make enough on their books to quit their day jobs, so enjoy it for goodness sakes.  It is easy to get into the grind of a writing practice and see only the daily word count.  But pause for a minute in the midst of writing and remember how cool it is that you are a writer.  Because it's the coolest thing in the world to be, bar none!

7.  Rewrite.  I know, duh.  But you'd be surprised how many rough drafts I've seen through the years–words on the page obviously written fast (a good thing–see #5) with no attempt to go back and straighten things out.  I do see writers getting stuck in the Rewriting Forever Syndrome, loathe to let their babies go out in the world, and that's not good either. But it is the rare piece of work that does not need at least one rewrite.

That's all I've got for you.  It really is about sitting down and putting words on the page–that simple and that difficult.

What are your best recommendations for a regular writing practice?  Please share!

Image from fotalia.

12

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss, and Neither Will Your Writing

 

Rainforest-green-moss-2067300-h

This stone clearly has no momentum.

 I’m in LA, visiting a friend.  I’m distracted by good food to eat, events to attend (yesterday a book signing for a fabulous cookbook and a Native American Thanksgiving ritual).  And yet I’m writing every morning.  I’m a rolling stone, merrily cavorting down the long hill of novel writing.  I’ve achieved the vaunted state of momentum, where even if I wanted to quit writing, I probably couldn’t, because I’m caught up in something bigger than myself.  

 

For the record, this is my favorite state to find myself in.  When I’m in it, I feel most like myself. When I’m not in it, I want to be, desperately.  When I’ve achieved momentum in my latest project, I’m in love with my writing and my world.  It’s an amazing state, one marked by energy (getting up at 5 to write every morning is not difficult in the least), focus and joy.

And it’s not always the easiest state to arrive at.

I’ve written before about the tasks that will help you achieve this vaulted state of momentum, such as: 

Taking good notes to prime the pump, moving your body, reading (I highly recommend Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel), and writing every day (which is why Nanowrimo is so popular, because it gives people a structure to help them do that).

These activities are all well and good–and important, but they are often more easily done once you’ve established momentum.   So what underlying mindsets will help get you there in the first place?

Discipline.  Which is not a dirty word.  We writers like to think it’s antithetical to creativity, but truth is, its not because creativity doesn’t exist without it.  If you can’t muster the discipline to get your butt in the chair regularly, no book will flow out of you.

Gratitude. Yes, gratitude.  The concept is much written about this time of year, with Thanksgiving soon to be upon us.  People on social media are busy making lists about how they are grateful for family and friends and pets and their glorious lives. But it’s a practice that is well applied to writing also.  Be grateful for the words you’ve written.  Be grateful you’ve got a good brain to think with and two strong hands to write with.  Be grateful that you’re a writer in the first place.  It will make you feel all warm and fuzzy–and warm and fuzzy is much more conducive to momentum than anxiety and angst.

Positivity.  This is easy in theory, harder in practice.  At its simplest, focus on what you’ve done, not what you’ve not done.   I wrote 773 words this morning, so it would be easy to bemoan the fact that I didn’t quite make it to 1,000.  But I’m actually quite happy about the words I did get on the page, because I was in a bit of a difficult spot that I had to write my way out of.

Connection.  Whether through journal writing or prayer, connect with that thing that’s bigger than you.  It might be God, it could be the goddess, or Allah, or Buddha, or even the great nothingness of the universe.  Find it

Courage.   Courage to go to the dark places.  Courage to labor away at something when you’re not sure what the outcome will be. Courage to get up every morning and face the blank page.  Because that’s what creativity demands of us–courage.  (Which is why so many people never, ever do anything creative.)

Those are my ideas on the subject, what are yours?  How do you get to a place of momentum in your writing?  Please leave a comment.

 Photo by frumbert. 

 

8

Love Yourself, Love Your Writing

 We're awfully hard on ourselves, our own worst enemies.   At least I am!  And I suspect I'm not 

Heart_light_blackground_518497_hso different from other creatives: I'm judgmental of myself –hyper critical at the best of times.  My thoughts run all over:

  • That thing I just said?  How idiotic!
  • What a lump for not speaking up.
  • Oh god, I look bad today!

And when it comes to my writing, it's even worse, because the voices are so insidious and ingrained.  It is such a familiar thought pattern that sometimes I don't even notice it.  When I do, it runs something like this:

  • This work isn't good enough.
  • Is that the right word? You idiot, that's not the right word.
  • They're not going to like it.
  • It's not good enough to sell.

And so on and so forth.  I'm sure you can add some of your own to the list!  (And let me be perfectly clear here–there is a difference between unloving critical thoughts and loving critical thoughts–the latter help us hone our skills, rewrite until the work shines, and strive for excellence.)

Do you know anybody who is as openly judgmental and critical as the voice in your head?  I don't.  If I spent all day every day with someone as condemning  as the voice in my head, I'd be physically withered at the end of the day.  And yet, that's exactly what's happening in our brains.

The solution?  Try turning love on it.  Warning: this is not easy.  And if you're successful at it, the practice will change your life.  Also, it's a process–you have to keep going back at it over and over again.  You have to consistently apply it to your life and your writing.

So herewith is a process to apply to self-judgment:

1.  Become aware.  Pay attention to those nasty little comments flinging about your brain.

2.  Fight back.  Sometimes called denials, this is when instead of cowering under the onslaught of all those vicious words, you make a stand and refuse to accept them.  Mentally uttering "That thought I do not want" (a Course in Miracles saying) is one way to do this.

3.  Form a new thought.  And then love bomb your brain with it, constantly, all day, and especially every time the old thought comes up.  Maybe something like:

  • I am powerful.  (My writing is powerful.)
  • I am enough.  (My writing is enough.)
  • I am a creator.
  • Whatever thought works for your individual circumstance.

The idea being to let thoughts like these become the constant soundtrack running in the background.  I know it's woo-woo, and it's ever so much more pleasant to think this way than the other.

4. It might get worse before it gets better.  Because old negative thoughts don't go without a fight.  And one way they fight is to get stronger when they fear being eradicated. But don't fall for their devious plan.

5.  Stick with it.  As I said, this process takes time.  Those fearful thoughts didn't get there overnight.  They lodged in your brain over a lifetime. 

 What do you think?  Willing to give it a try?  Or do you have another technique for quieting that voice?  Please comment.

 

 Photo by Victory to the People.

3

10 Ways to Welcome May and Energize Your Writing

Object_Salad_Crop_221283_l

What the veggies from my raised beds will soon look like

May is one of my favorite months ever, and here in Portland it is starting out as a glorious month! As new life bursts forth all around us, so, too does our
creativity.  It is time to welcome the return of good weather in all its glory. 
Sometimes in order to do this, we need to clear out the dregs of the old
in order to make room for all the new. 

You'll notice that many of my suggestions have very little to do with writing.  That's because sometimes the best thing you can do for your creativity is to engage in an activity that energizes or relaxes you, and then return to the computer.  I know I'm guilty of spending way too much time in my office, convincing myself I don't have time for other things.  But once I allow myself the freedom to enjoy other activities, I return to my writing refreshed and renewed.

Accordingly, here are some ideas for how to clear out the old and welcome
the new:

 1. Organize Your Office—This seems always to be an ongoing project for me.  And, I find that it's worth it to keep up with the constant flow of papers.  I'm happier when my office and desk are clean, period.  And contrary to the popular idea of writers as fueled by angst, a happy Charlotte is a productive Charlotte.

 2. Sort Through Books—Yes, I know, it is hard to let go
of our beloved books.  I used to
never, ever be able to get rid of a book. 
But then I realized that I was simply releasing them into the universe
for others to enjoy.  And then, of
course, I have a great excuse to buy more….

3.  Buy Something New—I recently took an excursion to
Ikea, to look for new office furniture. 
While there, I bought blue velvet drapes, the most gorgeous things
you've ever seen, for my family room. 
And that led to buying a media center to put the TV in, and suddenly I'm
in love with my family room all over again.

 4. Try Something New—Earlier this week, I took the day off and with the help of my daughter, nephew, and 17-month-old grandson, planted raised beds full of vegetables on the driveway.  I used to garden all the time, but I've been a gardening slacker the last few years so it felt like a whole new lease on life, especially because usually I grow flowers, not vegies.

 5. Start a New Project—Never written non-fiction
before?  Why not try a memoir?  Or maybe you've always wanted to write
poetry, or complete a screenplay. 
Go for it!  You can dabble
and have fun in as little as 15 minutes a day.  Or why not try something completely different, like painting, or salsa dancing, or knitting, or hang gliding. No, that last one makes me nervous.  But you'll find something, I'm sure.

 6. Get a Pedicure—They aren't just for women—c'mon guys,
you know you want to try it. 
Taking time for a little self-care can be wonderfully rejuvenating.  And that leg massage feels so good!

 7. Buy a New Journal—And then write in it.  Write down all the dreams and goals
that this season is inspiring, or use it to start that new project in.  I've heard people say that journaling doesn't really count as writing, but it most certainly does.  Writing in a journal regularly will help you establish an ease with putting words on the page, and it can be the breeding ground for many ideas.

 8.  Do Something for Yourself—Last Saturday, I got my hair cut.  Yeah, I know, normal people do this all the time.  Usually, I do, too.  But for the last few months I've been dithering over whether to keep my hair long or cut it short again.  Finally, I made an appointment and put myself in my hairdresser's hands.  (We chose a middle ground.)  I've been amazed at wonderful it feels.

 9. Take a Walk—It is so simple and so energizing on a
fabulous spring day.  The sun on
your face, the flowers in bloom….ahhh.  Here in Portland, it seems nearly everyone has a garden to admire!

 10. Invite People Over—Share your joy in the season with
others.  Entertaining doesn't have
to be fancy.  Ask someone over for
Happy Hour, or dessert, thus saving the stress of cooking dinner.  Or order a pizza!  The point is to enjoy the company of
others.  My nephew was a recent house guest for a few days and it was so much fun having him around–you get the chance to see life through other people's eyes.

 If these ideas don't appeal to you, invent your own!  Just find a way to celebrate this
glorious season.  Because, being
present and celebrating where we find ourselves is the absolute best way to be
grateful for the lives we've been given.  And being grateful for the lives we've been given is absolutely inspiring to the creative process.

 How do you celebrate spring?  How do you energize your creativity?

Photo by levi_sz (my attempts to share a photo of my raised beds failed when my phone refused to send it).

4

How to Make Yourself Feel Better When The Writing (or your Life) is Not Going Well

Hands-pray-prayer-1688128-lWe've all been there.  (Some of us are there much more than others.)  The miserable writing session when the idea won't come, when no words appear on the page, when nothing works, no matter how hard you try.

It sucks.

And just as a gloriously wonderful writing session can make the world glow with a special light, a bad one (or a series of bad ones), can make the world a dark and depressing place.  And that's no way to live.  It really isn't, because it's not going to help your writing.  At all. 

Now, I'm not advocating that we all adopt a Pollyanna attitude, no matter what problems we face.  I get that many of us are enduring difficulties that make it hard to be cheerful.  What I am proposing is that life is better when you look at it with a glass-half-full approach, and your writing will be, too.  Because wallowing in weepiness for an extended period of time ultimately doesn't work.

And so I have gathered some hints to help you drag yourself out of the muck.  Again, these are all based on personal experience.  I've been there.  I still go there.  But I'm much better able to change my mood these days.  It takes work, but it's worth it.  So here you go.

1.  Feel it. So often when we feel something negative, we immediately gloss over it and attempt to cover it up.  But when you do that, the emotion tends to pop up somewhere else, at an even worse time.  Surprisingly, the fastest way out is often through.  Feel the emotion fully.  Magnify it, even.  Immerse yourself in it.  This won't feel good–but that's the point. The more
fully you can feel the pain, the faster you can get through it.

2.  Forgive and release.  I'm fascinated with the process of letting go, surrendering, or releasing, whatever you want to call it.  It sounds so easy–just release it!--but in actual practice it is anything but.  What I've learned lately is that adding forgiveness to the mix hastens the releasing process.  Forgive yourself for your belief that you're a lousy writer.  Forgive yourself for your idea that you'll never finish this damn novel.  Forgive yourself for the belief that you are anything less than an amazing writer.  And don't forget to forgive anyone who might have convinced you of this in the first place while you're at it.

3.  Renew your vision.  You know that dream you have of becoming a best-selling novelist?  Now's the time to envision it again.  You probably lost sight of it while you were busy beating yourself up about what a crappy writer you are.  Connect with it again, in all the 3-D, technicolor glory you can muster.

4.  Send love.  Close your eyes and imagine gold and silver light in your heart center.  Now send it out–to anyone who made you feel bad about your writing, anybody who rejected you, even to the writing itself.  Love is the most powerful force in the universe.  Use it for the good of your creativity.  And use it creatively.

5.  Go write.  Right now, or as soon as you can. Writing will make you feel better than anything.

What's your favorite technique for making yourself feel better?  Leave a comment, so we all can benefit.

Image by Steven Fernadez, under Creative Commons 2.5 license.

4

One Technique for Overcoming Writer’s Block

Gray_brick_block_220245_lAh, our old friend writer's block.  It can take so many shapes and sizes, just like fear, which it is, of course, based on.  And just as writer's block can take a gazillion different forms, so, too, can its cure.  Which is why you should try a variety of strategies if you are hit with writer's block, whether you're procrastinating writing the next scene in your novel or haven't been able to work on your memoir in years.  Here's one possible approach.

A friend told me this tip in regards to getting over procrastination and getting things done (clearing out clutter, anyone?) in non-writing arenas of life.  But it will work just as well for you (yes, you) with your writing block.

Here's the crux of it: micro action.

All you have to do is commit to one small (tiny, even) action each day.  Do that and call it good.  Really.  Consider it done.  You've accomplished your goal.

Here's a non-writing example.  I've got an upstairs that has somehow accumulated quite a bit of clutter that I'd like to clean up.  But I'm busy.  I've got a book launch coming up and I'm doing publicity for that while maintaining this blog and continuing to do client work and teach.  And plus, I hate clearing clutter.  I get confused and overwhelmed really fast.  Like five minutes fast.  So here's my micro action: deal with one piece of paper or item per day.  That's it.  That's all I have to do.  The other day I picked up a piece of paper and put it in the recycling bag.  And I had met my goal.

 I'm not sure what the experts say about why this works, but here's why I think it does: because it gets you used to doing whatever it is you're avoiding.  And then you realize it's not the big scary monster you think it is.  When you don't do something, it tends to loom large and take on proportions way bigger than reality.  The other thing that happens is that you trick yourself into it.  That one piece of paper uncovers another that I deal with in the moment and then another and another and before you know it, the shelf is cleaned off.

So let's apply this to writing.

If you're seriously blocked (and really, any block is a serious block because we writers are born to write and when we're not writing life is not good) set yourself a micro action goal of writing one sentence.  If you're seriously seriously blocked, maybe your goal will be one word.  That's your accomplishment.  Write your word or sentence and you are done for the day.  Or maybe you'll set the goal to write for one minute.  Or five minutes.   I'd be willing to bet serious money that eventually–way sooner than you think at this moment–that one sentence will turn into a paragraph, which will then turn into a scene. And you'll be writing again.  Because here's the deal: you've established yourself a habit.  And once something is habitual, it's not scary anymore.  (Unless you're smoking.  Or drinking too much.  Then it gets frightening.)

Here's a tip–don't become an overachiever, at least when you first start this process.  For instance, I'm using this process to re-commit to a regular walking routine after injuring my knee. If I so much as walk out the door I've accomplished my goal.  But for me, getting outside (step away from the computer…) is the hardest thing to do, so usually, once I'm walking, I'm quite happy.  I noticed last week on a walk that my knee was starting to get a bit tired.  And my reaction was to start coercing myself to do more.  Telling myself I hadn't gone far enough.  Berating myself for being lazy.  But then I remembered–I'd already accomplished my goal.  And I headed for home.   Because of this attitude and my micro goal,  I now look forward to walking.

So if you're struggling to make forward motion on a big project, try this micro action technique.  And then report back after your novel is on the best-seller list.

Have you ever tried something like this to get yourself going again?  What were the results?

 **By the way, speaking of book launches, wouldn't you like to celebrate mine with me?  Click here for the details.

Photo by Rotorhead.

4

Clarity + Focus = Ease + Grace

Magnifying_space_copy_223214_lClarity + Focus = Ease + Grace

I heard this saying last weekend and it immediately spoke to me, as truth does.  I know this equation is true because I've experienced it for myself.

When there's not clarity and focus you get–

–Procrastination

–Worry

–Spinning wheels

–And multiple variations of the above themes

But when you have clarity and focus you get–

–Flowing writing

–Satisfaction

–The feeling of being in love with the world

–The rest of your life magically working, too

–Ease and grace

Okay, I hear you saying, "I want it! I want it! How do I get it?"  Yeah, we all want it, me included.  Because who doesn't want to live their lives with grace and ease?  Isn't that what it's all about?  I can't claim to have all the answers, just some ideas about what works for me, gleaned from observation of how my life seems to run best.  Here goes:

1.  Work for it.   Just because ease is a variant of easy (or vice-versa, whichever which way it goes) doesn't mean it is or should be.  Ease and grace means that things flow because you know what you're doing and where you're going.  And it takes introspection and perhaps some journaling to get clarity about where you want to go.  It takes some commitment and work to get clear. Once you get that clarity, you can start the focus.

2.  Ask for it.  Tell the universe you need help.  Tell God you need clarity.  And then…

3.  Be quiet.  Listen for the answers. 

4. Become an observer.  Or perhaps clarity will come as a visual cue, you never know!  What I do know is that when you ask for help, it comes if you're paying attention.

5.  Man up.  Once you get clarity, you know what you want to do, now you need to grow a pair and use it to focus.  (Sorry for all the macho phrasing today, not quite sure where it's coming from.)  Does your clarity tell you its time to write a novel?  Now, ahem, you gotta figure out how you're going to find time to focus on it.

6.  Get passionate.  I talked to a former client about his novel recently.  "It's all I think about.  It's all I want to do in my spare time,"  he told me. That's passion–and that allows you to find focus.  And then you get the ease and grace.  Just ask someone who's in the middle of a passionate, flowing, writing session.

What about you?  Do you have clarity and focus, ease and grace in your writing life?  How do you attain it?

***By the way, if you need clarity and focus on your novel, join my Get Your Novel Written Now class, starting August 14th.  You can learn more about it here.

Photo by gerbrak.

8

Checking in on the Three Words of the Year

Did you choose three words (or one word) to live by this year?  Have you checked back to see how you're doing with these words?

Last December, in a post titled Three Powerful Words for An Amazing New Year, I announced my words and the thought behind them.  Since we're halfway (gasp) through the year, I thought it would be fun to revisit my words and see how I'm doing.  I'm wondering if you might think it is time to do the same thing with your words.

One reason I'm doing this is because I've written the words on a post-it note that is stuck to a cabinet above my desk, and my gaze falls upon them when I stare off into space.   Most of the time, I barely notice them, but once in awhile the words come into focus and I ponder them.   Yesterday, I pondered them so hard that I finally checked back to the original post to see how I'm doing.

The answer is that I'm doing okay.  Probably not great, but okay.

My three words for the year are creativity, faith, and inquiry. 

I'm going to talk about faith first, because its the word around which I'm doing the best.  In my post I wrote about my faith in God, which is important to me, but also faith in myself, what I'm doing, and that everything was going to be all right.  I wrote about having faith in my ability to go deep within and uncover the riches that are buried there.  And in the six months since I wrote that, I've been learning to do all of this on an ongoing basis–learning being the operative word.  What I'm learning is that faith of this nature responds to effort, maybe even requires effort, and that by making the effort you begin to create the faith.  One of the hallmarks of this year is that I've been consistently making the effort.

I'm doing fairly well with inquiry, too.  In the original post I wrote about not wanting to take things at face value, to dig a bit deeper mentally and form my own opinions.  I still leap to judgment, oh dear lord how I leap to judgment.  I can read a rant on the internet and be totally convinced of its truth, then read oppositional comments and switch to the other point of view immediately.  Such is the curse of the impressionable mind. One way I am using inquiry successfully is to turn off the internal blame machine, and this is a wonderful thing.  If I've eaten a piece of chocolate cake, for instance, or fallen down on my writing goals, I say to myself, "Hmmm, I wonder why that happened."  Or, "Wow, that's interesting.  Wonder what's going on?"  This allows me to observe myself more objectively.  The thought occurs I should turn this style of inquiry to the outside world as well.

And finally we get to creativity.  Falling down a bit here. I'm a lifelong knitter and I love the craft.  It soothes me, satisfies my need for beauty, and allows me to make useful things.    There's nothing I love more than spending an afternoon poking around yarn stores, then coming home with a new project and casting on.  But here's the deal: I don't do it enough.  One of the things I wrote in my year-end post was how I wanted to partake of this kind of creativity more regularly.  I've got opportunity: my pug Buster loves nothing better than for me to sit with him and watch TV in the evenings, and Buster is ancient old and so I figure I better humor him while I can.  This would be a perfect chance to indulge in this creative hobby of mine, but do I?  Sometimes.  And I can't figure out why I don't do it more.  Time to take advantage of that inquiry that is the other hallmark of this year.

Alrighty, then.  That is far more than enough about me.  What about you?  Did you choose three words for the year?  What were they?  How are you keeping up with them?

 

10

What Are Your Writing Non-Negotiables?

I think writing non-negotiables are a great idea. Rose_dark_death_220937_l

What are they?

Writing non-negotiables are the the tasks you don't negotiate with yourself, you just do.  They are the one thing or several things that you must–in agreement with yourself–do every day.  If you don't do them, you'll feel lousy.  If you do them, you'll feel successful. 

Why are they a good idea?

Because writing non-negotiables keep you in balance.  They are a constant reminder of what you want to accomplish.  I have three:

1.  Work on my author platform.  Since I have a novel coming out next year, I want to make sure my social media presence is sharp and wide ranging.  This includes blog posts and Twitter.  It would and should include Facebook, except I'm allergic to it.  This is far and away the easiest non-negotiable and I usually have to force myself to stop doing it.

2.  Make money.  Every day, I must do some writing or coaching that contributes to me making money.  For many of us, a no-brainer.

3.  Make progress on my novel.  I admit, this is the one that most often does not get accomplished.   I have a broad definition of the word "progress," too.  For instance, earlier this week I sent a chapter out to my critique group.  That counted.  Reading over notes counts, too.  You get the idea.

If you're interested in the concept of writing non-negotiables, feel free to steal any of mine that work for you.  You can easily keep track of them in a success journal (just make note of any and all successes at the end of the day. ) And consider some of these non-negotiables as well:

4.  Write a sentence.  I had a friend whose singular goal around writing was to write one sentence a day for a year.  She accomplished it and she was content with what she had done.  Never underestimate the power of one sentence.  It has power on its own, or it can lead to more.

5.  Write a poem.  Some people like to write a poem a day.  I bow down to them.  I'm not that good of a poet, but for many the practice encourages their other writing.

6.  Write a blog post.  I've known bloggers who write a blog post a day.  I did this for awhile a few years back and then it about killed me.  But you might choose to do it for a limited time, say, a month.

7.  Commit to a word count.  10K a day, anyone?  You don't have to be a super-hero at the computer to enjoy producing a consistent number of words every day.  1,000 seems to be a good goal for many people.

8.  Revise a page.  When you're in rewriting mode, it is hard to abide by word count.  But find a way to set a goal for yourself.   A certain number of pages might do it.

9.  Morning pages.  Many writers, myself included, find journaling first thing in the morning to be of enormous help to their creativity.  These cycle on and off of my non-negotiable list.

Those are my suggestions.  What are yours?  Do you have a list of daily non-negotiables?  Please share.

 Photo by Rotorhead.

16