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February 1, 2013
Rx for Writers: Managing Your Writing Space and Your Writing Time is short, but it contains solid advice for three of a writer’s biggest problems:
1. following through on our goals
2. organization of our writing space
3. lack of good writing habits
While the e-book is only thirteen pages long, I can guarantee you more success in your writing life if you follow the advice.
Why give away a free e-book now? Because I want to ask you a favor!
The Writer’s First Aid blog has a new home. When you come to visit, you’ll see a familiar face (mine). You’ll find some new pages, plus blog posts from the last two years. [I'm still in the process of moving posts.]
I’ll now be hosting the blog on my own website, so the URL will change. I don’t want to lose any of you in the transition!
After You Download the E-Book…
Here’s the favor. After you download your free e-book, please update the URL (address http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/) in any location you have the current blog address.
- your RSS feed (wherever you read blogs…I read mine through my Gmail Reader)
- your Favorites folder
- your blog (if you have Writer’s First Aid listed in your links)
- any other places you may have linked to my blog
I still plan to post on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Jan Fields will still give you the “What’s New at Kristi’s” in the Institute newsletter.
Getting Your E-Book
When you go to the new blog site, you’ll find the form to get your e-book on the right-hand side. After you sign up, it will send a confirmation email to your Inbox.
After you confirm, you’ll be taken to where you’ll get Rx for Writers: Managing Your Writing Space and Your Writing Time.
NOTE: I’m not starting a newsletter at this time, nor do I send out sales letters. I won’t abuse your email addresses. Very occasionally, when I post a new report in my Resource area, I will let you know that. And, of course, you’ll be free to unsubscribe at any time.
January 29, 2013
What’s wrong with me? you wonder. Why doesn’t this writing advice work?
A third worrisome thought nibbles at the back of your brain: Maybe I’m not a writer after all.
Not to worry.
I’ve identified three of the most common reasons why writers don’t get their writing done. And I’ve put together an overall solution for you.
Reason #1: No Overall Strategy
You dream of being a novelist. You’ve taken a writing course. You read writing blogs.
And you write. Daily!
But you’re no closer to writing that novel than you were a year ago. Why?
It’s true that you write every day, using exercises and prompts. And you faithfully journal.
But there’s no overall plan or strategy for writing the novel, no measurable goals and sub-goals.
Reason #2: Forcing Square Pegs into Round Holes
Maybe you diligently follow writing advice found in magazines or tips you hear from published writers.
You set your alarm to write at 5 a.m. but fall asleep on your keyboard because you’re a night owl.
You join a weekly critique group, but their need to socialize irritates you because you came there to work.
You set up your laptop to work in a coffee shop with a writing friend. She gets to work and churns out ten pages! You can’t focus, even with ear plugs in.
The problem? You don’t match writing advice to your personality.
Reason #3: Writing Habits That Don’t Help
You have less than two hours of time alone while your child is in preschool. You use that time to do a low-energy job instead of writing on your novel (a high energy job).
You’re on a roll, half way to making your writing quota for the day. Your sister calls. You could let the answering machine or voice mail get it…but you answer instead. When she asks, “Are you busy?” you say, “Not really.”
You have alerts turned on so when you’re on the computer or near your phone, you hear beeps and buzzes every five minutes. New email! A new text! A new “have to see this” YouTube video!
The problem? Sometimes we develop writing habits that are detrimental to our ability to concentrate and thus to our productivity.
Help is Here for Your Writing Life: Free E-Book
As I said above, I’ve put together an e-book dealing with these very issues.
It’s called “Rx for Writers: Managing Your Writing Space and Writing Time.”
I’ll be giving it away this Friday as a kick-off to some changes that are coming.
See you back here on Friday. And if you know any writers with these issues, please pass the word. I’d love to have them check in here on Friday for their free e-book.
January 22, 2013
Leave the dishes and your exercise routine and everything else–and just write. Haven’t we all heard that advice a hundred times?
I have–but it’s something I still struggle with after thirty years of writing.
Don’t feel like less of a writer if this describes you too. Just admit it–and find a way to deal with it.
Here’s my own plan…
The First 2013 Challenge
Along with a good number of you, I joined the “31 Minutes for 31 Days: the Challenge” at the beginning of January. So far, I’ve written 19 out of the 21 days. While not a perfect score, it’s much better than I’ve done for months!
Accountability, thy name is Sherryl!
What happens when the 31-Day Challenge is over? I’ll be ready!
My writer friend, Sherryl Clark, will be my accountability person as we encourage each other to pursue our goals. On January 28, we are beginning a 28-day challenge that includes (1) writing first and (2) staying off-line until the day’s writing is done. And we’re supposed to confront (nicely) when our partner isn’t keeping her commitment.
Why the need for such accountability?
At first glance, it wouldn’t seem necessary. We both have detailed written goals, put in lots of work hours, and truly LOVE to write. Even so, we weren’t getting enough writing done on our own projects. (We wrote for others, critiqued, reviewed, taught, and blogged–but by the time we got around to our own books, we were too tired.)
So, we made a deal, Sherryl and I. We have committed to writing first thing each morning on our own projects. [Note later: I just found that Sherryl blogged about it today too! Read her "Goal setting for writers who don’t set goals."]
I’m aiming for a minimum of an hour daily. If I can do more, great, but however much I get written, I’ve promised to spend time on my book writing first.
When we’re done, we’ll email each other to say how long we wrote. It won’t take us long to send that email, but since I’ll know Sherryl is waiting for my report, I bet I get the writing done.
It’s on my schedule first now. And I’m planning ahead for success.
I take time before I quit each day to set up my desk with all the materials I’ll need to get started right away in the morning.
One iron-clad rule I plan to stick to: absolutely NO Internet until the writing is done.
Do YOU write first thing each morning, before you get caught up in the day’s demands? If so, what are the tricks YOU use to make it work?
January 1, 2013
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Remember that our “31 Minutes for 31 Days” challenge starts today! Get the new year off to a great start.
You’re well on your way to achieving your major 2013 goals at this point, and you’ve probably begun several new good writing habits to support your future writing career. This is great!
You don’t want to be a quick flash that’s here today and gone tomorrow though. You want the changes to last. You want to continue to grow as a writer and build your career. But…you know yourself. The good writing habits never seem to last.
Change and Maintain
In order to keep going and growing as a writer, you need to do two things:
- Learn to recover from setbacks
- Get mentally tough for the long haul
First let’s talk about setbacks. They come in all shapes and sizes for writers. They can be mechanical (computer gets fried), emotional (a scathing review of your new book), or mental (burn-out from an accident, divorce, or unexpected big expense). Setbacks do just what they sound like: set you back.
However, too often (without a plan), we allow a simple setback to become a permanent writer’s block or stall. Setbacks are simply lapses in our upward spiral, or small break in our new successful routine, a momentary interruption on the way to our writing goal.
Warning: without tools in place to move beyond the setbacks, they can settle in permanently instead. Use setbacks as a signal that you need to get back to basics. Setbacks–or lapses–sometimes occur for no other reason than we’ve dropped our new routines. (We stopped writing before getting online, we stopped taking reward breaks and pushed on to exhaustion, we stopped sending new queries each week…)
Count each day of progress, and don’t be so hard on yourself. I used to make myself “start over” when trying to form a new habit, and it was more discouraging than helpful. For example, if my goal was to journal every morning, I’d count the days. Maybe I managed it five days in a row. Five! I felt successful! But if I missed Day 6 for any reason, I had to start over the next day at Day #1.
Maintaining: A Better Way
I don’t do that anymore. It doesn’t help. Now, if my goal is to develop a new habit, I still keep track, but I keep going after a lapse or setback instead of starting over. So if I were trying to develop a journaling habit, and journaled five days and then missed a day, I would begin again on Day #6.
I would count all successful days in a month, which motivates me to try to reach an even higher total number the next month. This works with words and pages written and other new writing habits you want to start.
In order to recover from setbacks, think ahead. Ask yourself what types of things might cause you to go off course or lapse in your goal efforts. Prepare ways to cope ahead of time and have your plans in place. (Sometimes that’s as simple as always traveling with a “writing bag” of paper, pens, a chapter to work on, a craft book to read, etc. so that you can always work, no matter what the delays.)
Coping plans have this basic structure (according to Neil Fiore’s Awaken Your Strongest Self):
“When __________ [potential distraction] occurs, I will say ______________ [inner dialogue] and I will do _______________ [corrective action].”
When my best friend calls to talk during my writing time, I will say to myself, I’m working and need to call her back at lunch time and I will let the answering machine pick up.
When company comes for a week, I will say to myself, It’s fine for me to take one hour each day to write, and I will close the door to my office (or bedroom) and write before breakfast for one hour.
Retrain Your Brain
Mental toughness–grit to persevere–is the other ingredient you’ll need if you want to maintain the changes you’ve made in your writing habits. Scientific studies have clearly shown that repeated affirmations and mental rehearsals create new neural pathways in the brain making success easier and eventually permanent.
Speaking daily affirmations aloud has been proven to help you “retrain your brain” into healthier lines of thinking. Make the affirmations to deal specifically with your own writing issues. For example:
- I am equal to any writing challenge.
- I love to write, and I never miss a day of writing!
- I get started with ease and keep going smoothly and fluidly.
- I take breaks every 90 minutes or so, using the break to refresh.
- I use visualizations of successful writing times to help build new habits and patterns.
- I love to study and then apply what I learn to developing my writing gift.
- My writing gift is unique and the expression of that gift is unique.
- I don’t need to be like any other writer.
- I never give up on my dreams.
I encourage you to make your own list of positive affirmations pertaining to any area of your life where you’d like to see change. (And yes, I use them myself, broken down into several categories: spiritual life, health, writing, children/grandchildren, and my marriage.) I guess I have a lot of areas where I want to rewire brain patterns!
Use the affirmations to help you make changes–and then cement those changes in place. It’s time we stopped yo-yoing up and down and created stable, permanent writing habits.
December 25, 2012
First of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!
If you’ve done your homework in Stages 1 and 2, you’re probably more excited about this action phase than you would normally be.
Why? You’re prepared. You’re motivated. You’ve taken obstacles into account already.
You’re primed for success.
As mentioned before, this stage includes several big steps:
- You must decide when, where and how to start.
- You must show up to start despite fears and self-doubts.
- You must focus on each (present) step, rather than focusing on the end (future) goal.
This is the exciting stage because you’re past making excuses and procrastinating and giving in to the fear of change. You’re done rehearsing and experimenting. It’s now time to take action. You take steps on the path that leads to your goal. Note that shift in focus. The daily path is now more important than the end goal. So find ways to make each successful step enjoyable.
Create Action Plans
An action plan is exactly what it sounds like–a written plan to take concrete action steps to perform a behavior that leads to accomplishing your end goal. An action plan involves when you will do something, where you will do it, and how you will do it.
Run this when-where-how scenario through your mind for each step of your action plan. Be detailed. It doesn’t have to take a long time, but this mental rehearsal is immensely helpful. The more detailed the mental rehearsal, the higher the probability that you will actually initiate the behavior.
To help you create action plans, ask yourself these questions:
- When do you want to start working on your goal? (day and time)
- Where will you start? (time and place)
- What specific action step will you take at this time?
- How will you keep this commitment?
Time to Show Up
Fear and self-doubt can raise their ugly heads when you least expect it. Even when you’re primed and eager to start, fear and anxiety can give you pause.
There are many ways to deal with fears and self-doubts. How you choose to deal with them is probably an individual thing. Here are some of the ways we’ve discussed dealing with fears.
I also keep several books on my shelf such Ralph Keyes’ two books on fear (The Courage to Write and The Writer’s Book of Hope) and The Now Habit by Neil Fiore on conquering procrastination.
Focus on the Present Step
Focusing on your end goal as motivation to get started causes two problems. First, the end goal (e.g. finish a novel) can just look overwhelming. You want to quit before you start!
The solution? “Focus on what you can do rather than what is out of your control,” says Neil Fiore of Awaken Your Strongest Self. “Switch from thoughts about the goal, which is in the future and is usually overwhelming, to thoughts about what you can do in the present.”
Second, the reward is so far in the future that we feel tired just thinking about waiting that long. A reward many months in the future isn’t much motivation to stick with the writing today.
One solution is making sure you have rewards lined up for every 15- or 30-minute block of time you work on your goal. Publishing a book a year from now won’t get me writing today, but a reward of watching a favorite movie today if I write ten new pages is much more likely to get my fingers to the keyboard.
Take small steps. Reward yourself (with something healthy) for every step you take in direction of your goal. Be your own cheerleader. Each small step will get you warmed up and moving, then help you build momentum.
NOTE: Don’t stop here. On New Year’s Day we’ll discuss the final stage–learning to recover from setbacks and maintain momentum.
December 18, 2012
Okay, we’re ready for Stage 2: Committing to Change. This is not taking action yet. Instead, this stage involves:
1) Planning the necessary steps
2) Building up your motivation
3) Considering possible distractions and/or discouraging things that might cause a setback
The change you make at this point is to shift from “passively wishing to achieve your goal to actively committing to make it happen.” (Neil Fiore in Awaken Your Strongest Self.) If you did the work in Stage 1 (thinking through the risks and benefits, plus evaluating your personal abilities), you should have fairly realistic expectations of what does–and doesn’t–work for you at your particular stage of life.
Time to Experiment
Before you plan the necessary steps to succeed in making permanent changes as a writer, you’ll want to take time to experiment in small ways. See what you like and don’t like. See what works for you–and what doesn’t.
- Try writing for 15 minutes upon awakening or right after your morning coffee.
- Stay offline until 10:00 a.m. for three days.
- Try writing at the library during two lunch hours this week.
- Read a writing blog before you get on Facebook or Twitter.
Record your thoughts and feelings when you introduce these writing changes. How do you feel? What works and what doesn’t? You can’t fail at this stage. You are only gathering information.
Some of these changes you’ll love and find so easy! Others you won’t find helpful at all. But as you succeed with certain writing changes (writing 15 minutes each evening while supper cooks, reading 5 pages per day of a writing book), your motivation will rise. You’ll feel more like a writer automatically.
During this stage you also need to think through strategies for dealing with obstacles, distractions and setbacks. One of the most effective (and fun!) ways to do this is using what athletes call “mental rehearsals.” They imagine how they’ll handle challenges at each step along the way. [NOTE: This is not just wishful thinking. Current books on brain chemistry show incredible studies and brain x-rays, revealing changes made in the brain after "mental rehearsals."]
Envisioning how you will handle writing distractions (toddlers wanting to be entertained, friends calling to chat, school vacations) and setbacks (an editor rejects your novel after two revisions, computer crashes) helps you build stamina or mental toughness.
Use mental movies to confront each setback or distraction. Instead of your usual reaction (chocolate, TV, surfing the ‘Net), clearly envision yourself sitting tight, working methodically through your writing problem, piling up a stack of new pages, and keeping to your deadline with ease.
Not all interruptions and distractions happen to us. Be aware that you often seek out distractions as well. In order to escape writing blocks or manuscripts that just aren’t working well, we often attempt to escape the anxiety or boredom or agitation by looking for distractions.
Are You Ready?
The final part of Stage 2 is actually committing to the change. Take time to think and journal about the strength of your commitment. If you want to succeed–and make the success permanent–it needs to be more than a wish. It needs to be a strong intention.
So, what do you intend to do? What change(s) in your writing life do you intend to make? Now is the time to commit.
December 11, 2012
(If you haven’t already, read the overview, The Dynamics of Change.)
You want to make changes in your writing life that will last?
Let’s start at the beginning, with Stage 1: Making Up Your Mind. As I said last time, this stage involves several things, including the following:
- feeling the pain that prompts you to change
- evaluating the risks and benefits of the goals you have in mind
- evaluating your current ability
In this stage, you do not make any changes. Not yet. As tempting as it is, do not jump in and “just do it!” Remember how far your willpower has taken you in the past–and wait.
Resist the temptation to cycle through another try–>fail–>try harder–>fail–>discouragement episode. Instead, lay the necessary groundwork to make permanent changes.
The Pain of Not Changing
Wanting to make a change–but never making it–is exhausting. It hangs over our heads, constantly reminding us of some incompleted task. When you really feel the pain of not changing, you’re on your way to making up your mind. (And if you’re willing to live with the pain of not realizing your writing dreams, that’s your choice as well.)
Actively and colorfully imagine staying the same the next five years. Imagine that it’s 2018. You’re still trying to implement the “write daily” habit, you’re still trying to finish that novel, you’re still too afraid to talk to agents or editors at writer’s conferences, and you’re still unpublished. When writers’ block hits–or simply a normal writer’s frustration–you still reach for doughnuts or a cigarette or settle in for an hour of mindless TV.
It’s 2018, and nothing has changed–except you have gained fifteen pounds, you’re still stuck in a day job you hate, your baby is in kindergarten, (and you never did get to work from home), or your military spouse has moved the family again (and you still don’t have a career that can move with you.)
Write out the “future” scenario in vivid color based on nothing changing. A clear image of future pain strengthens our determination to face our current fears about changing.
Risks and Benefits of the Change
Explore (either on your own or with a friend/counselor) the benefits of making the short- and long-term writing changes you are considering. Follow the changes five years into your future and see the benefits of having written steadily for five years, submitting steadily for five years, getting five years’ worth of critiques, etc.
The risks? Most of them have to do with facing your writing fears. For a week (two is better) observe yourself and your thoughts when you sit down to write (or when you avoid it.) You’re not trying to change here–just observe your reactions when trying to write.
Do you feel anxiety? What do you think? (“Who am I kidding? I can’t do this!”) What do you do? (Write half a paragraph, then reach for chocolate?) The risk is being honest with yourself, which is necessary if you’re going to honestly evaluate your current ability…
Current State of Affairs
After spending a couple of weeks observing your writing habits, you may have uncovered a few issues to address (procrastination, feeling isolated, self-doubt, self-sabotage, fears of failure or success, etc.) Maybe you just lack motivation; whatever the issue(s), this is the time to work on them.
How you deal with them (and a combination of solutions usually works best) will vary from writer to writer. Some ways to motivate yourself and work on various writing fears include:
- counseling or career coaching
- reading self-help books for writers like Ralph Keyes’ The Courage to Write
- reading inspiring books for writers like Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul
Remember, all this thinking and journaling and dreaming is still Stage One. You haven’t committed to making any changes yet. You’re still making up your mind. You’re thinking things through thoroughly.
And you’re giving yourself the best possible chance to succeed–permanently.
I’m curious. Do you find this thinking stage comforting? Threatening? Discouraging? Encouraging? Share your thoughts!
December 4, 2012
Are you thinking about your 2013 writing goals yet?
Did you know that 75% of New Year’s Resolutions (or goals) are abandoned by the end of the first week? There’s a reason for that.
I spend much time on the blog encouraging you to make changes and deal with feelings that are holding you back. So I thought it might help as we head into a new year to do a short series on the dynamics of change–or how to make permanent changes.
How do we make changes that stick? How can you be one of those 25% who keeps on keepin’ on and accomplishes his or her writing goals?
Change in Stages
One mistake we make is thinking that change happens as an act of will only. (e.g. “Starting today, I will write from 9 to 10 a.m.”) If our willpower and determination are strong, we’ll write at 9 a.m. today. If it’s very strong, we’ll make it a week. If you are extraordinarily iron-willed, you might make it the necessary 21-30 days proven to make it a habit.
Most writers won’t be able to do it.
Why? Because accomplishing permanent change–the critical step to meeting any of your writing goals–is more than choosing and acting on willpower. If you want to achieve your goals, you need to understand the dynamics of change. You must understand what changes habits–the rules of the game, so to speak.
Making Change Doable
All of the habits we’ve talked about in the past–dividing goals into very small do-able slices, rewarding yourself frequently, etc.–are important. They are tools in the process of change.
However, we need to understand the process of change, the steps every successful person goes through who makes desired changes. (It applies to relationship changes and health changes as well, but we’ll be concentrating on career/writing changes.) Understanding the stages doesn’t make change easy, but “it makes it predictable, understandable, and doable,” says Neil Fiore, Ph.D., author of the The NOW Habit.
Change takes place in four main stages, according to numerous government and university studies. Skipping any of the four stages lowers your odds drastically of making permanent changes that lead to sucessful meeting of goals.
Here are the four stages of change that I will talk about in the following four blog posts. Understanding–and implementing–these consecutive steps is critical for most people’s success in achieving goals and permanent change.
Stages of Change
- Stage 1: Making Up Your Mind (the precommitment stage). This stage will involve feeling the pain that prompts you to want to change, evaluating risks and benefits of the goal you have in mind, and evaluating your current ability.
- Stage 2: Committing to Change. This stage involves planning the necessary steps, building up your motivation, and considering possible distractions and things that might happen to discourage you or cause a setback.
- Stage 3: Taking Action. This stage includes several big steps. You must decide when, where and how to start; you must show up to start despite fears and self-doubts; then you must focus on each step.
- Stage 4: Maintaining Long-Term Success. This is your ultimate aim if you want writing to be a career. It will involve learning to recover from setbacks and getting mentally tough for the long haul.
(For a thorough discussion beyond the blog posts, see Chapters 11-14 of Neil Fiore’s Awaken Your Strongest Self.)
So…that’s the plan for the next few Tuesday blog posts. Do not despair if you’ve struggled with meeting your writing goals in the past. Help–and hope for permanent change–is on the way.
The “Stage 4″ article will be posted on New Year’s Day–just in time for those New Year’s Resolutions!
November 27, 2012
With only a month before the new year, writing goals are on my mind. Yesterday I reviewed my 2012 list of goals to see if I’d accomplished what I set out to do last year.
I’d finished a few projects on my list–like revisions of books sold the year before and some marketing things.
Still…my “first loves”–the three unfinished novels–hadn’t progressed much at all.
What were my downfalls? I could identify two big ones that plagued me probably four days out of five: (1) most days I didn’t do my novel writing first, and (2) I spent way too much time on the Internet.
First, what pre-empted my novel writing? A variety of things: email, blogging, paid critiques, dishes, studying, babysitting sweet grandkids, work-for-hire writing, and exercising.
Second, how did I use up my precious writing time on the Internet? In a variety of ways: junk email, reading newsletters and blogs, checking weather, studying vacation sites in England, reading Facebook posts, checking my bank balances, paying bills, reading too many horror stories on CNN, and tweaking my website.
Every one of those things was a not-very-cleverly-disguised way of not working on my novels.
Different Writing Goals in 2013
So…I’m thinking seriously of trying something new for my 2013 goal setting. I will make a short list of fiction book projects I want to finish. And then I will give myself only two “must do” things for each day in 2013: (1) work on my current novel first, and (2) stay off the Internet till noon.
If I can do these two things consistently, I suspect it will make a huge impact on accomplishing next year’s writing goals.
I think I will start NOW and do it for the remainder of 2012 and see how it impacts
- my writing output
- my enjoyment of writing
- and my overall emotional satisfaction with life.
I’m guessing that the impact will be huge.
How about you? What do you see as your biggest stumbling blocks to actually getting the writing done?
July 17, 2012
My best friend (who once lost 100 pounds) leads a successful weekly weight loss group. This week she and I discussed how much time it takes to stay on top of habits you are changing.
Sometimes I am shocked at how much time it takes to maintain your success. (Not move ahead, mind you. Just not go backwards.) I was struck by the similarities of her discovery and my own (pertaining to new writing habits.)
Just as it’s easy to regain weight you’ve lost, it’s also easy to slip back into the old habits that left you with no time or energy to write. It’s oh-so-easy to slowly slide backwards. You’ve made a lot of gains—but you also must maintain. How?
Ultimately, the answer lies in how you think.
“There are approximately 5 percent of people in any country, in any nation, who will always raise the quality of their life above others. They so do because they choose how to think, day in, day out,” says Richard Bisiker, author of Unlock Your Personal Potential.
In other words, where the mind (or thinking) goes, the man follows. Raise the quality of your thinking, and raise the quality of your life.
It’s important to keep your mind focused daily on your new beliefs, your new boundaries, and your new time-saving policies. Why is monitoring your thinking so important? As psychologist William James said, “That which holds our attention determines our action.”
So, at least until all your new behaviors and attitudes are rock solid habits, pay attention daily to your new beliefs and goals. Each morning, plan ahead daily for interruptions and how to divert them. (“No, I can’t discuss that right now. I’ll phone you back at 5:00 p.m. and set up a time to talk.”) Or better yet, use your answering machine to avoid being pressured into snap decisions.
Weekly and monthly, study your schedule of how you actually spent your time and compare it to your goals and policies. Is there slippage? Where did the writing time go?
Did you get guilted into one more volunteer job or another home decorating party? Did you rescue someone again from consequences of their own actions, using your time to fix their self-created problem? Be ruthless as you examine how you actually spent your time.
Learn from both your successes and mistakes. What things worked that you’d like to repeat? What things would you like to change? Calendars and journals remind you of how you spent your time, show you whether your activities match your priorities, and help you see whether you are making progress.
If you’re not sure you’ll do this essential checking up, find an accountability partner (writer or nonwriter) who will ask you the hard questions every week. The accountability check-in for time spent writing will prevent bad habits from sneaking back in unnoticed.
Setbacks Before Success
Sometimes interruptions occur that no one can help or avoid. You need to drop everything and attend to your sick child. Or there’s been a car accident, or in-laws have arrived for the holidays. The key to rebounding from these necessary interruptions is to view them as one-time events—not your new lifestyle. The events have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Then you go back to your previous writing schedule.
You do not stay stuck in the familiar people-pleasing role. See unavoidable interruptions as temporary. [See the previous entry on "Achieving Writing Goals Made Simple" for a great tool to deal with this issue.)
A New Routine
In order to maintain your new writing life—and keep on gaining—certain things need to be done daily. Every day you will need to reflect on your life and chart your course. Every day you will need to renew the promise you made to yourself to make time to create. Every day you will need to seek out solitude where you can create. Every day you will need to take some action—small, medium or large—in the creation of your writing life. Every day you must plan how to spend your time that day—then follow that plan.
Be vigilant. Be diligent to put these habits into practice daily--and watch your creativity flourish. You’ll no longer dream of having a writing life. You’ll be living it.Newer Posts »