Tag Archives | novel

Dog Days of Summer and Rewriting

wasp_macro_wasp_243277_lI’m back. It didn’t seem like much of a hiatus, at least from this end. And I’m still not finished with the rewrite. But I’m making excellent progress and feel very good about it.  (And, so you don’t think I’m all fakey optimistic, let me just remind you that I sat out most of July working on it because I didn’t know how to approach it.)

I have a couple of brilliant thoughts on rewriting to share, but first, let me tell you a few fun things that happened while I was gone:

  • I got a bee sting while valiantly defending my three-year-old granddaughter from said bee. Her mother is allergic, and we’re not yet sure if Liv is. She’s been stung once, but often the allergic reaction doesn’t occur until the second or third sting. I sure didn’t want to be responsible for anything happening, so I was glad the bee stung me. But it turns out I’m having a fairly intense localized reaction, with my arm red and swollen to about the size of an elephant’s leg. And it itches like a mo-fo.
  • I have a dying root in a tooth. If you’ve never experienced this, it is hard to explain the agony.  And I thought being pummeled by my massage therapist was bad. Also, a helpful note: do not get a toothache in August because every dentist in town is on vacation.  I’m in between dentists because I needed to find a holistic one, aka, one who will not fill my mouth full of mercury. I already have plenty, thank  you very much, and I just went on a nasty three-month cleanse to get rid of it.  Anyway, I have an appointment two weeks hence. Meanwhile, I’m swishing with coconut oil and Listerine and salt water, and using clove oil and Orajel. Also taking lots of ibuprofen, which I know is terrible for me but c’mon, this pain is intense.

Aren’t I a fun date?

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that over with, on to the gems of wisdom about rewriting. Here goes:

  • Every book is its own beast.  You have to honor the shape of what you have, you really do, and listen to how the book responds as you work. Some planned changes just may not work when you actually get to it. For instance, I figured out this elaborate backstory for one of the characters that was just perfect. I planned to fit it in in dribs and drabs. But when I actually got to places it might go, it didn’t fit.  So I had to let it go.
  • Rewriting happens in macro swaths, such as rethinking a character, but the meat of it is in the micro. How a character reacts to the character you’ve rethought, for instance, which you show in dialogue or action.  I’m struck this time through what makers of magic we are–erase one observation from a character’s head and you’ve changed the whole scene. Amazing. Which reminds me of something that used to happen all the time when I was in a writer’s group. I’d bring in a rewrite and people would wax poetic about how much better it was–when really all I’d done was change one or two tiny little things. But that’s the power we wield.
  • It really helps to have someone you can hash out ideas with. I was truthfully sort of scared of my agent at first, but this time through we’ve talked a couple times and emailed about what I’m doing. Also, when Debbie and I went on our writing retreat, we discussed our stories on breaks and at night. It really helps.  Find someone with whom you can brainstorm–or just moan and whine to.

Okay, that’s it, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m going to go take some more Ibuprofen and ice my elephant’s leg arm. But, I’ve missed you. So please tell me what you’ve been doing this summer and how the writing is going.

Photo by hberends.

4

Writing Your Way Back to Yourself

Hohos JournalsYears ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Madeleine L’Engle, author of one of the best books ever, A Wrinkle in Time, speak.  I brought my sister, a designer along.  L’Engle was inspiring, gracious, and fascinating and when her talk was over, my sister turned to me and said, “She makes me wish I was a writer.”

Isn’t that wonderful? L’Engle had presented such an incredible picture of what it’s like to lead the writer’s life that even non-writers got swept up in the vision. And to me, it just reinforced what I already knew: that writing is the best passion in the world.  There’s nothing I love more than being totally enraptured by a story I’m writing, or completely wrapped up in putting together an article about writing.

But there’s another reason beyond both of these, that I love writing. And that is because it constantly and consistently brings me back to myself. Through throwing words at the page, I write my way home, over and over again.

It’s easy to get lost these days. There’s a cacophony of noise out there—social media, news headlines, videos, a contentious and distracting presidential election.  It is way to easy to drown in all of the input our poor overloaded brains take in on a daily basis and to feel confused, puzzled or out of sorts—without even knowing why.  When this happens to me, I pull out my journal.

It is all too easy to sneer at journal writing as the purview of the wealthy who have nothing more important to do than write delicate entries about their fragile emotions.  And yet, when one is in the grip of emotion, confounded about how to respond to the anxieties of the world, there is no better antidote than throwing words on the page.  I went through a period, many years ago, when I wrote in my journal every day.  That hasn’t been true of me for a long while, but I do journal in fits and spurts, regularly enough to call myself a journaler.  At the start of this year, for instance, I filled an entire spiral with words. And then one day I was just done and I didn’t journal again for a long time.

Most often these days I don’t journal because I’d rather be writing fiction.  If one has limited time to write, one must choose what one is going to write carefully.  Also, if one wants to write fiction but is blocked, one can easily use journaling as an excuse!  All those caveats aside, I do think every writer should consider keeping a journal at least sporadically, because it is so tremendously helpful in getting the crap out of your head and onto the page.

For the record, I come from a lineage of diarists. My maternal grandmother, who I don’t remember because she died when I was barely three, recorded a diary entry nearly every day of her adult life. (Those are her journals in the photo—they hold pride of place in a shelf in my office.)  To my great disappointment, they tell very little of her inner life, but rather, drily note who visited, what she made for dinner, etc. (And to what will likely be my descendant’s great disappointment, my diaries tell very little of what happened in my world, but rather are dedicated to me figure out emotions and stories on the page.)

There’s all kinds of journaling you can do.  I could write helpful snippets about writing morning pages , or keeping a gratitude journal, or writing unsent letters,, or writing about your day. But I’m not going to, because honestly, the best thing you can do is grab yourself a journal, open it up, and write. Start where you are now, wherever that is, and end when you’re finished. That’s all there is to it.

Do you write in a journal? Come on over to the blog and tell how you use it!

6

Otherwhere: March 7

carrousel_evening_lights_223804_l

The writer’s life is a mad carnival ride

No snappy titles today, but I’ve got lots of great writing links for you. So let’s get right to it.

Are you trying to ride the news cycle with your current novel? Might not be the best idea.

I gotta admit, sometimes I wonder about this: is writing fiction a worthy endeavor?

What is your story about? When an editor asked me this, it clarified everything. (But then, I can be a bit slow on the uptake.)

How to read more!

Ever thought about applying for a grant for your writing?

The writer’s outlook on life.

Sharing is caring.

Marketing, then and now.

Maybe this is what’s wrong with my current WIP.

My son and daughter-in-law saw Hamilton last November and have been obsessed ever since. What you can learn from it.

Larry Brooks on structure and other things.

Do you need a pen name?

And finally, the seven things a writer needs to make a living.

What have you been reading around the web this past week?

 

Photo by manitou.

 

4

Why Every Writer Should Do Nanowrimo

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this Sunday November 1st?   Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiRes

Why yes, yes it is, Charlotte.

Thank you.  So you know what that means:

Drumroll, please….

It's time for Nanowrimo!

What's that you say? You just crawled out from your writing cave and you haven't heard of Nanowrimo?  Well, let me clue you in. Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month, wherein participants write a novel during the month of November.  Yeah, the month with Thanksgiving and Black Friday in it.  Uh-huh.

For the purposes of Nanowrimo, a novel is considered to be 50,000 word,s which usually isn't a full-length novel, but its darn close. And to get 50K words done in a month is incredible.  You can finish the rest of it later.

I know.  Sounds like madness.  But its really pretty fun, in a masochistic kind of way.  And even if you only make it part way through, I believe it will benefit your writing.  Here's why:

1.  It will kick start you into a regular writing habit.  In order to complete Nanowrimo, you've got to write every day.  It's just too easy to get behind otherwise.  Yeah, some people may do it all in a few crazy-ass huge word count sessions, but for most people, the challenge will get accomplished a day at a time.  This is how all writing gets done over the long haul, and so even if you don't get to 50K words, you'll have gone a long way to cement a good habit.

2.  It will get you in the mindset of attaining daily writing goals.  When I've done the challenge (I actually completed it one year, have gone about half way in other years) I set myself a daily page count goal of 2,000 words to allow for days off and emergencies.  At other times of the year, I go for less than that, say in the 1K to 1,500 K range.  If I start to complain that such word counts are just too much, I remind myself of Nanowrimo and the 2,000 words a day.  And I keep writing.   Nanowrimo is the ultimate marathon.  Once you've completed it, you know you can do it again and you can't be a slacker!

3.  You can take advantage of the collection energy.  I'm not sure how many people do Nanowrimo each year, but it's in the millions, world-wide.  (It started out in 2000 with 21 people.)  Just think of the energy of all those people holed up in their writing caves, working away! It is astounding.  Plus, there are local meet-ups all over the world, which you can find out about on the site.

4.  You can get encouragement and advice from other writers.  There's tons of it on their website, and they generally send out helpful and motivating emails throughout the month as well.  But you do have to sign up for all this.

5.  It's the best training to write fast.  More and more in my old age, I'm convinced that just throwing words on the page is the way to go.  We too often let the inner critic or the inner roommate take over and rule us while we are writing, and that just slows us down.  Am I always able to write fast? No.  But its my goal. And writing 2K words a day helps.

6.  It gives you bragging rights.  Let's face it, we writers don't get a lot to crow about.  We pretty much do the same thing day after day, and then when we are finished we send our work out into the world and endure rejections.  So why not take advantage of something that actually let's you win–and give you something to brag about?

7.  It gives you an ironclad excuse to write.  When I was an MFA student, my favorite thing was to say, "Sorry, I can't, I'm a student and I've got an assignment due." For some reason people took this much more seriously than when I said, "Sorry I can't, I need to work on my novel."  Nanowrimo gives you an excuse!  You can now say, with grave authority "Sorry, I can't, I'm on deadline." Booyah!

Bonus reason:  It's fun!!!!!  Yeah, a non-writer hearing about writing 2K words a day and calling it fun would think we're nuts.  But you write because you love it.  You write because its fun.  So let yourself in on the party.

So, do tell: are you up for Nanowrimo? Have you done it before? Do you plan to do it again? 

(For other posts related to Nanowrimo, go here.)

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

8

A Compendium of Writing Tips and Tricks

Note_creative_author_260972_lAs I've announced at least fifty million times in every place I could possibly think of, I'm busy rewriting my novel for my new agent, Erin Niumata, which is why things have been quiet around here.

But as I've been concentrating fiercely on my rewrite the last couple of weeks, I've realized some things that are working well for me–and things that I'm learning.   I'm hopeful these miscellaneous tips will be of value to you, too, so here they are.

1.  Getting up every 30 minutes (or so) makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE.  I've been at my desk a lot lately, for longer stretches than usual, and I've been consciously getting up regularly and walking around and stretching.  One day last week I didn't do this–and I felt completely difference at the end of the day. The romantic image we have of writers requires us to be so wrapped up in our work that we sit for hours.  But actually you will feel better and do better work if you get your butt up off the chair.

2.  Your main character needs an origin story.  Just as superheroes have stories about how they got their superpowers, your protagonist (and probably others in the story, too) needs an origin story.  How did she get her obsession for fashion?  Why did he become a detective?  Did he watch his best friend get killed and vow to avenge him?  Figure this out and you've unlocked your character. This deserves a whole post and will get one when I'm done with my rewrite.

3.  Use more description than you think you need.  I mentioned about how I've been learning this as I rewrite to my agent's notes.  And I am finding that more description makes for a fuller, richer read. (Bear in mind that I'm writing women's fiction, and lush description is a huge part of it.  In another genre, this might not be so.)  Also, as my buddy J.D. Frost brilliantly pointed out to me in an email, you can use description to pace your plot.  A lot of it signals a restful spot.  A lack of it shows action.  

4.  Having long stretches of time to write is a wonderful thing.  I'm the original proponent of using little bits of time here and there to write when you can, but for this rewrite, I've gotten in the habit of clearing away whole days to work.  (See #5.)  Let me tell you, it is fantastic, especially when you are working on a rewrite and need to hold the whole book in your head.  Having more than one or two hours at a time to devote to the book gives me the mental space to dig deep into character arcs and figure out a more cohesive plot.

5.  You have more time to write than you think.  I have a lot of clients at the moment.  They are all wonderful and diligent and doing good work, and I adore every single one.  (I really, truly do–I am constantly amazed and honored to be chosen to shepherd a writer's creation.) And, they all need my care and tending: reading their work and then time on the phone to discuss.  I'm also planning three in-person workshops (France here, Nashville here, Portland is already full).  And I have a clamoring family that I love to let distract me.  Yet I've carved out four full days to devote to my rewrite in the last week.  I never would have thought I could do that I've you'd told me so in January.  But I did it, by working really, really hard on the other days and carefully managing appointments.  It is working so well, I'm going to continue to do this even after I'm done with this rewrite.

6.  Notes are your pals.  I had pretty much totally gone over to Evernote, which I do love, because I tend to accumulate scraps of paper with notes on them all over my desk.  But that's gone out the window with this rewrite and I've got lists and notebooks everywhere.  The thing is, this is working for me (it wasn't before, which is why I sought out a different system). When I'm working on chapter six, and I get an idea for chapter ten, it is easier to grab a piece of paper and scrawl my idea on it, then to open the Evernote app and create a new note.  The thing to remember is to go through your notes regularly!  And the point of it all is to do what works for you to get the writing done.

7.  Reading is your BFF now more than ever.  I'm reading a ton at the moment.  What am I reading? Women's fiction, exactly what I'm writing, with a stray girly mystery thrown in.  As I read, I learn.  In the novel I just finished, I noticed how the author handled description of characters and emulated it.  In another novel I just started, I liked how the author wrote about the setting.  All these ideas go directly into my work.  (And yes, I will write a post like this one about the books I'm reading soon.)

So that's what I've learned while writing lately.  How about you? What are you working on? How is it going?

12

When the Time is Right

I was talking to my friend Janet yesterday, and I told her my story about acquiring my agent. 

"Wow, when the time is right, things happen fast," she said. Antique_zodiac_past_234914_l

Yes, they do.

And, when the time is right, things happen a bit differently.  I do NOT recommend this, but I ignored lots of the advice I routinely dole out about seeking an agent.  I did not send multiple queries, for instance.  I chose the agent I wanted and sent one query to her, because I felt so certain that she would feel the same way.

Lucky thing I was right.

Also, this manuscript had not been seen by a lot of eyes.  A few people had seen the first chapters, but nobody but me had seen the full thing when I sent it out.  I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS.  It is a really good idea to have your manuscript read by a critique group, or beta readers, or an editor or coach.  The only reason I didn't do that is because I had a strong feeling that Erin would connect with my manuscript and I felt a sense of urgency about getting it to her.

And it all worked out even more perfectly and wonderfully than I could have hoped.  

But, here's the deal–and this is a very important deal, I might add.  I've been working at this for years.  My overnight success has been eons in the making.  I've written novels that never saw the light of day, earned my MFA, published a novel (with a small press), blogged here for eight years. I've coached writers and taught them and critiqued manuscripts.  I've joined associations, and read articles and books and blog posts galore on writing. I've tweeted and Pinterested and Instagrammed and Facebooked.  I've immersed myself in the world of writing fully for the last dozen years, and partially before that.

I'm not saying all that to brag, but just to point out that there's been a ton of work behind this.  And while I hope that you don't have to wait quite as long as I did, I do want to emphasize that you will have to do some work to reach your dreams.

Yeah, I know you know that.  And I have people ask me all the time how to get an agent–when they've not yet written one word.  Or tell me that they are going to send their book proposal that consists of one page of ideas to a top publisher.  And then they will wonder why they got rejected. 

I hate being all lecture-y like this but it is one of my pet peeves.  Do the work first and concentrate on that.  Please. The rest will follow when the time is right.

Even if it does take twelve years.

Photo by brokenarts.

10

The Magic Formula For Getting Tons of Writing Done

Okay, guys, Nanowrimo is on the horizon, swiftly approaching…just four more days!  I know many of you like to torture yourself with the task of writing a 50,000-word novel in a month.  And even those of you not participating this year (I'm sitting it out) still would like to know the magic formula for getting tons of writing done.

Amiright? Crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafb

I thought so.

I shall share it with you, and bear in mind there is good news and bad news that comes along with it. The good news being that a magic formula exists.  The bad news being that magic formulas don't work unless you use them.

So, here it is: 

Commitment + Consistency + Courage = Creativity

And guess what? Creativity equals words on the page and words on the page result in a finished book. So let's look at each element in turn.

1. Commitment.  For most people, this is likely the hardest part of the formula.  I know it is for me. You tell yourself you're going to get up at 5:30 and get those words written….and then you see something interesting on Facebook (Or CNN if you're a newshound like me). And instead of writing, you're browsing the internet.  If this happens once or twice, give yourself a break, maybe your brain needs a rest.  But if it is a regular occurrence, take a look at yourself.  Where's your integrity? Ouch.  I hate calling you (and myself) on the carpet.  But, sometimes it is necessary.  So, do yourself a big favor. If you say you're going to write, by God, go write.  Integrity feeds on integrity.  And procrastination feeds on procrastination. (As in, I've blown it now, why bother? This is the same sentiment that derails diets.  Don't ask me how I know this, just trust me, okay?)

2. Consistency.  Another difficult one.  If you're anything like me, you get a good momentum going and then rebel against it.  A little rebellion is okay–it allows your ego to thing its in charge.  But only a little! Because consistently showing up at the page, day after day after day is how you get tons of writing done.  I knew a writer who scheduled writing days once a month.  Didn't work, because in the vast distance between writing dates he lost the threads of his project and it took hours to get caught up again.  Last I heard, he wasn't writing any more.  Don't be him!  Write as often as you can!

3. Courage.  You need it.  Period.  You need it for when you dredge up those old dormant emotions in order to inject realism into your characters.  And you need it for when your kids want your attention and you just need to finish a paragraph.  Or for when your spouse tells you he misses you sitting next to him on the couch at night, watching TV.  Or for when your mother makes a snide remark about how much time you're spending on that dumb-novel-that's-not-going-anywhere.  You need it to persevere, to commit and be consistent.

Put those three elements together and you get:

Creativity.  The mad delight of putting words on the page.  The feeling that all is right with the world.  The joy of being so in the moment that you don't even realize time has passed.  The satisfaction of meeting your word count.  Yeah, some days it is hard to convince yourself to get to the page, but oh my goodness, it is worth it!

So dive in!  The words and sentences don't have to be perfect, they just have to be.  Get them out of you and onto the computer, or typewriter, or spiral or whatever you write in.

(By the way, this magic formula is taken from a little Ebook I wrote called Set the Words Free, which I will be releasing soon.) 

Do you have a magic formula for getting your writing done?  Please share in the comments!

I snitched the image from the Nanowrimo website.  I don't think they'll mind too much.

10

Cover Reveal: Swept Up by Kayla Dawn Thomas

I am so excited to introduce you to debut author Kayla Dawn Thomas and to have the privilege of showing off her new cover!  Kayla Dawn and I met and made friends on Twitter (see?  It is much more than just a waste of time) and I've loved reading her tweets about the progress of her novel.  Scroll down and read my interview with Kayla Dawn after you admire her cover!

So….drum roll please….

Ready?

Here we go….

Swept Up

by Kayla Dawn Thomas

May 13, 2014

Thomas_SWEPT_UP_EbookEdition

SYNOPSIS

A broken heart and a preference for solitude leads Web Baker to driving a street sweeper on the night shift for Basil City. His mother wants grandchildren, and his sister is intent on fixing him up with every dimwitted beauty she can find. Add that to the late night antics Web encounters on his nightly shifts and he has more than enough excitement to keep him on his toes, but nothing could prepare him for the woman who stumbles into his sweeper’s headlights. Kara Deleray has been fighting for her freedom since she fled her overbearing parents’ home at eighteen. Trouble is, she never learns how to be herself, leading to a lifetime of bad decisions. She hits rock bottom and ends up moving in with her best friend and her husband and manages to land a job teaching English at Basil State University. Kara is finally pulling her life together when a whiskey soaked night gets out of hand, sending her straight into the oncoming lights of a street sweeper.

INTERVIEW WITH KAYLA DAWN THOMAS 

–Tell us a little bit about Swept Away. It's a romance, right?

It is a romance! I'm a deep down, true blue romantic, so it's no surprise that's where my writing has gone. Kara is a hot mess. She’s smart, but she doesn't trust herself. She comes from a troubled background that she can never seem to quite overcome. Instead of going through the pain of figuring herself out, she just goes along with whomever she’s with and makes choices to numb her frustration. Web is Kara’s opposite. He knows who he is. He’s a fixer, so he’s drawn to broken people. His struggle is to figure out how to love Kara without becoming just another person telling her what to do.

–What inspired you to write it?

A couple of things. First, I was struggling to find my way as a new stay at home mom. I needed something to challenge my brain. That was the birth of Kara, who is also looking for herself. I was able to work through a lot of things while I was writing Kara. Second, I became fascinated with the street sweeper that rolled by our house on a regular basis. It’s silly but, the idea of driving a vacuum cleaner just seemed cool, and as far as I know nobody has written about someone who makes a living driving a sweeper. Thus, Web was created.

–Why did you decide to go the indie publishing route?

I want to work for myself. I don't want my writing to be on someone else's timeline, or have to wait for permission or approval to publish. The industry has evolved so much over the years, that it's pretty simple to assemble a professional team to help you get your book out. So far, I love the process, and I'm grateful for my degree in Public Relations. I always wondered how I was going to put that to work!

–What's been the best thing about being indie? The worst thing?

The best thing–freedom! I love calling the shots on my work. The worst thing–learning the ropes. Which, means this is just going to get easier! I'm so grateful to all the people I've met over the last year who were kind enough to answer my questions.

–What's a typical day like for you?

I'm a stay at home mom, so every day is a little different. Some days I go to the gym when my daughter goes to school, some days I'm volunteering at the school. I've been trying to devote as much of my day as possible to writing while she's gone. I've learned I have trouble sitting at my desk for more than thirty minutes at a time, so I work in spurts. I'll write for 30-40 minutes, then get up and switch laundry or something like that. I'm more productive in sprints versus marathons.

–Plans for future projects?

I am so excited for my next novel! I grew up on a cattle ranch way out in the boonies. While I didn't appreciate the experience as a kid, I realized now what a gift it was. Tackling Summer takes me back home. The setting is based off the ranch’s summer range in Idaho, and is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s a great place to fall in love.

–Any advice for writers–on writing or publishing?

Don't wait! Just get busy and make it happen. I also encourage those looking at the indie route to seek out professional editors and cover artists. Being an indie writer doesn't mean you do every little thing yourself. It's impossible to catch your own mistakes, and not all of us are great visual artists. You want your work to be it's best, so hire out the things you don't excel at. Not only will your finished product be better, you will free up more time to write!

You can learn more about Kayla Dawn on her website.  

4

Winners of Christmas 2013 Giveaway Announced!

Hi.

Hope you had a great Christmas–I did.  

Okay, so we've got that done with, let's get to it:  announcing the winners of the Christmas 2013 giveaway.  Here we go:

Dani wins the 25 page critique.

Leigh wins the Moleskine journal.

Mary wins a copy of my novel.

Okay, but that's not all.  I've decided to give away 2 bonus presents.  Let's call them New Year's gifts.  Why? Because both of the recipients mentioned that they wanted it in the comments.  And both of them are loyal, long-time readers who I love and adore.  So here goes:

Zan Marie wins a critique of 25 pages.

And so does Don.

I can't wait to read your work and/or send you your gift.

If you are a winner, please contact me with Christmas 2013 Winner in the subject line and I'll make arrangements with you.  If you won either the novel or the journal (Mary and Leigh, here's looking at you), I'll need your physical address.  

(By the way, I used this site to pick the names.)

8

Procrastinating on Your Writing? Try This

Metal_mechanics_type_221267_lI'm all over Steve Chandler these days.  I have no idea where I first heard of him, but I've been reading his book on time management, Time Warrior, and I've learned a lot.  Since I subscribed to his newsletter, I also got a free PDF (which I sent to my Ipad to be read on the Kindle app) of his book Wealth Warrior. Chandler talks a lot about mind set–but I guarantee you his stuff his different from the same-old, same-old you're used to reading.

Usually I dislike male business types making pronouncements about how I should do things, because they are just so, well, male, in their orientation.  (No offense to my beloved male readers, it's just that I prefer a more holistic female approach to self management, which is less rule-oriented and more dispersed.)  But Chandler's approach really resonates with me.

He talks a lot about action (and let me also make clear that he follows his own advice, having written 30 books).   What I really like about his advice is twofold:

1.  He emphasizes the benefit of taking the emotion out of your choices.  How many times have you whined about a task (writing, even), "I just don't feel like doing it."  Chandler says that "warriors" don't wait until they feel like doing something, they just freaking do it.  

2.  He talks a lot about the present moment, and taking the future out of your day.  In other words, we spend half our time thinking about how awful its going to be when we're engaged in whatever chore we don't want to do.  Thus, we're focused on the future, not the present moment.  But if I you just quit projecting yourself into the future and do the chore without emotion, you'll accomplish a lot.

And here's the tip mentioned in the headline:

Whatever it is you gotta do, commit to doing it for three minutes.  Three measly minutes.  This will accomplish one of two things:

–You'll at least have connected with the project for a bit.  Don't downplay the importance of this, because it creates momentum, and momentum is what gets books written.

–You'll most likely get wrapped up in what you're doing and work far longer than three minutes.  But, by telling yourself that you only have to work for three minutes, you've enticed yourself to the page.

I've used a variant of this, telling myself I only have to work 15 minutes, for years.  But I like the three minute idea even better.  Because, really, anyone can commit three minutes to something–even you. Right?

I encouraged a friend who was struggling with a paper for a class to commit to three minutes on it and she texted me an hour later saying the paper was done and sent in.  This little trick of the mind works, people.  I now use it on myself all the time.

Do you procrastinate?  How do you get yourself out of it?

Photo by clix.

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