Showing posts with label distractions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label distractions. Show all posts

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Keeping Your New Ideas from Sabatoging Your Current Project

Once you start to work and make progress on your project, it may look like all sunny blue skies ahead. But it is important to make plans for not only in case of writer's block, but also for what to do when that flowing creativity results in too many ideas. The newest idea threatens the one you are slogging through and looks like more fun/easier to execute/more interesting/what have you... If you have been at this for a while, you know following this path means you can land up with a bunch of good ideas and no completed projects.

The siren song of a new idea can spell death for the current project if it is abandoned before it comes to full bloom. That doesn't mean you have to hold off until this project is wrapped and launched before getting into the new idea. You just have to be smart about it. Here is the strategy to both stay the project's course and not lose the new ideas:

1. write it down

Taking the time to sketch it out means you won't lose the inspiration. You can add more ideas as they come up. Just keep the notebook or digital file nearby as more details are sure to come to you as you continue to work on the current project. If you don't get rattled by it, you can just enjoy it as a side benefit of creative juices flowing. And celebrate! You are generating twice the ideas you anticipated.

2. see if you can tie it into a series

Sometimes new ideas arise because you have hit upon a theme that especially resonates with you or the market is timely and references to it keep arising in daily life. Don't worry that you will lose out this opportunity. If it doesn't tie into your current work as a supporting book or series addition, just keep working on your notes. It might be a stand alone series by itself. And given the success model that sees authors of multiple books hit the best seller lists, this is a direction you'll want to develop in.

3. use it as a reward

Working on a new idea when it's hot has the side benefit of feeling like a reward. Working on your current project for a timed set (even 10 minutes) and then switching to develop your new idea for another five or ten is a model that when repeated can have you producing what you need to on your current project while not losing the momentum of the newly hatched ideas.

4. test it out

As you develop it, give your new idea some test runs by writing a short scene, posting an article or blog post on the topic, or discussing it with your fellow writers and beta readers. Taking it for a trial run lets you see if it is an idea worth pursuing and how much interest there is for it.

5. prioritize it

Not every new idea will make the cut and go long term project. That's ok. Keeping a running list with time frames and markets for them (agent submissions, short story contests, guest blog posts, linked in articles... etc) means you will spend the appropriate amount of time on each project according to its purpose. If you use vision boards, mapping out each project on one bulletin board (virtual or not) is a good way to keep an eye on each of them.

Let me know if this touches on your experience with new ideas. Do they help you or harm you when it comes to your production?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

10 Ways Personal Reflection can Break Through Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block can strike at any time, but it does not have to be the duration you may have experienced in the past. When something isn’t working in your writing session, you may not know immediately why that is, but you can take it as a sign to take a moment and reflect. 

That reflection can break you through in these 10 ways:

1.       It can reveal favorable and unfavorable situations.

In times of busy-ness and stress, it becomes harder to write on demand. This is because exhaustion is crowding in and when you sit down to think, everything on your plate rises at once and becomes overwhelming. No wonder it’s easier to do a mindless chore or a writing assignment you have less stock in. In contrast, you can think of times when writing has been a delight and thoughts arrived so fast you barely had time to write them down. What was that setting and those circumstances? Introducing those elements to the schedule you’ve taken the time to strip down to the essentials will reconnect you with your muse.

2.       It can identify sources of inspiration for you.

Reflection makes connections between what serves as inspirational process for you  -- things like taking in arts and culture, reading, being in nature, and spending time in great discussions & points out what takes it away – stress, tiredness, and spending time without inspirational input. You can adjust your intake accordingly.

3.       It can break down self defeating thoughts you are giving room to.

When you speak out loud the things you are thinking you will quickly see which are unkind. The unkind thoughts to others we are more quickly repentant of, but the ones to ourselves we can be guilty of letting slide for far too long. Unless you are channeling that angst into a character study in which you are okay with your readers privy to all that, it will serve you much better to identify and shut down the negative self talk, and come up with a fictional account of why your character is feeling the way he or she is. It will be a much faster process without the inner naysayer around.

4.       It can make room for creative thought.

Creative thought comes through play, and spending time spinning “what if” into a proper yarn. It takes time and it is worth it. Through creative thought your story line will take a new direction and excite you. That will buy you more writing time. It’s not hard to make yourself write when inspired.

5.       It can rejuvenate you and connect you with your why.

Reflection is a deep breath of intellectual fresh air. The things you know to be true bump up against that which you’ve been taking in from the world and reflection brings them out in new ways like discussions, allegories, and artwork. If artists didn’t take time to reflect, they couldn’t give to the world like they do. Write and share what you have to share.

It can give voice to what you want to say.

Reflection brings to the surface things that you have been dwelling on. One of the best pieces of interviewing advice an editor ever gave me was to ask the questions I myself wanted to know. Usually everyone else is wondering too. Research the things you have been spending time on. The same approach can be taken with fiction themes to explore, settings and cultures you enjoy, etc.

7.       It can counteract your excuses.

When you are reflecting on the falsehoods you are telling yourself, also be on the lookout for excuses. Excuses fight against your underlying intent. Finding out what your excuses are means instead of being confused as to why you are out of time, tired, at day’s end, and still don’t have any writing done; you will have an action plan to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen tomorrow.

8.       It can remind you of past successes.

You know you can make your writing happen because you’ve done it before. When a story poured out of you, a reader connected with you, an audience member laughed, or someone left a comment on your blog – that experience can be repeated again, and again, and again. It is a possibility every time you introduce your writing to the world.

9.       It can birth your vision.

Writing brings your observations, dreams, insights, and stories to the world. It also can serve to impact your day to day living as you build a readership and develop your platform. Earning from your interest in writing buys you more time to explore it. It can go as far as you care to take it.

10.   It can clear away the distractions.

Distractions are part of our everyday experience, but reflection removes them consciously from thought process and makes room for focus. Focus can be used for story developing, scheduling, planning, and content producing.

The next time you are experiencing writer’s block, think of reflection as the tool that can beat it. You already know what you know. Take the time to remind yourself of it and your writing time will benefit from the investment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

5 ways to fit novel writing into your busy life

The most often asked question about writing a novel is how to fit it in around obligations and the busyness of life, not to mention the exhaustion that can strike at day's end. Doesn't it take a big act of discipline to sit down to work on your novel when you'd rather be vegging out in front of the TV? Yes and no.
The thing is, creativity is the fuel for the rest of life. 
Making time for it is a matter of self preservation, not self denial. 
That said, there are a few tricks for getting life in order enough to do that work you'd like to do. 
Here are my top 5:

1. Obligate yourself to your art 

When you have advertised a deadline, promised someone a completion date for a commissioned piece, or set a progress chart and a friend willing to be an accountability partner; you suddenly take your creative work a lot more seriously. This is a positive cycle that once you set up and execute according to plan, is a momentum machine. You, by virtue of practicing your craft with regularity, now feel more like a working artist. Holding your identity more securely, you are less likely to fall victim to writer's block or any other creative paralysis. You know, because you've done it repeatedly, you can show up and create and will be happier for it.

2. Make the rest of your life easier

Likely you do not have large blocks of time just sitting around waiting to be filled. You will have to carve out the time. Be on the lookout for time you can capture. For example, when one season ends and another is to start, examine what activities are still in line with your goals or which could move over to make room for your writing. Grouping things like completing your errands all on one afternoon a week, socializing in groups, and speeding through chores on a set day, all work to reduce the time your writing is interrupted. By making a few changes in schedule, you should be able to capture a few sessions in which to do your creative work. (if you have a particularly challenging schedule, you can submit your question on how to make this happen for you to the everyday writing coach at

3. Structure your creativity to increase your freedom

Before you begin work, decide on a timer, a word count, or a template to fill. Having the structure in place means you can focus on the project's content. If you are in the planning process and don't have a clearly mapped out idea about where your story is going to go, channel the doodler in you and give mind mapping a try. It may seem like a contradiction, but the more outlines and supporting documents you have in place, the more you are free to explore your story without wondering how much farther you need to take it before it arrives.

4. Build in stepping stones

Each project is built from individual parts. They may not be as clearly laid out as the table of contents format, but you'll have an idea of where you need to go in terms of plotline, character development, or word count. The components of your structure give you the stepping stones for your project. It works well to tackle a small piece and complete it rather than go back and forth setting up for the writing event only to stop a while later because you've run out of time. Working in small blocks on the larger work means you will be thinking about the project in between your sessions and essentially writing in your head. It will also increase your overall excitement about your project.

5. Determine to be flexible

You might find as the summer days get longer, you have more time in which to write. You could do it then. Unless you are hosting out of town guests. Then, you could decide to work on your project before they get up. Perhaps you work on your novel on your lunch break, but you have a lunch meeting coming up. That day you could record ideas on your coffee break or while prepping dinner. You may have one desired outcome in terms of finished product, but you can get there a number of ways. Don't sabatoge yourself by being married to your first plan. Megan Hyatt tells us wisely in her great article on achievement and goal setting , "The way to achieve our goals is to hold them tightly and our strategies loosely."

Having a plan and building in creative community will make your writing happen. Enjoy it and come back and share your strategies with the rest of us.

Monday, March 03, 2014

stitching and other crafting

 Because we have two many pillowcases and not enough magic bags, and because the snow has cabined us in, little c has turned to whipping up practical gifts and I have been reading and writing.
  enjoyed girlchild by tupelo hassman. (and remembered to document it on good reads ) thought I would ever since I saw it reviewed in people magazine (surprising source for consistently good book recommendations)
off to polish up the stories that have tumbled out over the weekend.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

what a lack of sleep inspires

ahhh. the long weekend.
extra sleep and time with the family
except I drank an energy drink too close to bed and whacked my sleep all up.
so I'm doing another coat of paint in the laundry room (a room that has long plagued me with its super functional dingy-ness doubling with it being our main entrance) so now it's the kind of dark grey that looks great with gilded frames and looks amazing. pics to come when everything is back in its place.
my mom did the same haircut she's done on me since childhood yesterday. the best thing about your mom doing your hair is she will cut it when no one else is up on the weekend (7:45 am on a Saturday morning) a little bit of an impromptu decision that was niggling at the back of my brain and pushed over the edge by an upcoming great Gatsby themed party invite.
current writing: pieces of my stories are coming together well. looks like the short story collection might make its way to ebook a bit before the novel (for which new scenes are generating too quickly for prompt execution.)
current read: this one about a secondhand shop owner in NYC. thought it was appropriate as this month marks about a year of not doing a little second hand store. I missed 2 thrifty chicks when I ran across things I knew my shoppers would love while thrifting. (but did not miss the stacks and stacks of clothes to store) my new venture is pish posh: home décor for everyone. already dreaming up fun shopping events.
still not sleepy. will probably get that way when everyone else wakes up. wish me luck.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

from do's to to do's

 little c and his cousins set up an adorable and short-lived lemonade stand.
 the littlest picked out the smallest giraffe family member on our recent trip to the best care-takers of children. we are on our way with treatment and things are going well.
 the sort of home office (and heavy planning ;) I do in the summer. for current version -- picture stacks of homestay recruitment papers everywhere and every social media window open on the laptop
 as far as my gardening aspirations have gotten -- seedling potatoes on top of the fridge. what can I say -- the great weather has provided a plethora of fun alternatives to gardening ;)
 hair the way I know how to do it (for polished version not done by me scroll down)
 privileged to be the first sitter for this adorable baby -- she loved reading magazines with me ;)
 my high schooler warming my heart by pre-planning his psychology degree
hair the way the best hairdresser in town does it :) loved this execution of all the pinterest pics I pinned
have some upcoming quiet writing time booked. which is good because I've been doing everything but

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

rain sunshine sandwich

it's back to rain again.
but when it was summeresque to celebrate Victoria Day long weekend
i made all sorts of plans for the coming months.
and picked wildflowers in the field
and got my kids together with their friends
and got D & I together with our friends (a wonderful family bbq with d's college buddy and family -- minus our middlest who was camping with his friend but with little c who dazzled the visiting teenage girls with his endless energy and vocal strength and the high schooler who made like youtube was visiting and they were not ;) a ridiculous amount of eating, multiple rounds of my fave new game (D + I won by a slim margin which i was surprised about given his nature as a man of few words), and a few glasses of red.
and again with our dinner party crew (who 2 years in have tackled nearly every theme dinner out there in style) this one was a curry chicken extravaganza with deck lounging cocktail hour to start and a campfire to end. i am one of the most unimpressive participants in terms of foodieness -- my theory is to let the true stars shine and just play a relaxed supporting role -- my low key contributions were a plate of cut up Chilliwack Fresh and a blinged out curry colored shirt.  
about that rain. its fine for the work week where it acts as a charm for soccer and encouragement to write instead of garden.
 wildflowers make me happy
 looking next door. little c's horse friends live there -- we don't know their names he's taken to calling them lucy and stan ;)
 gumboots pour deux
an intentional bid to teach confidence and gratitude. little c loves it as much as the middlest did when I started it with him when he was the same age. how it works: you write something affirming about the child specific to them and their character and abilities and they write something they are specifically grateful for. no repeats. it's addictive and so much easier than telling them to stop whining. (ok, still have to do that ;) but it's a good way to cap the night off. set a number before you start.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

go go go stop

Christmas holidays have arrived and they are everything I needed.
a night in with the family, a date with d, crafting time with my sister, puzzling and hanging out time with the kids, reading reading reading time, time to watch documentaries on netflix, and write, leisurely visits with friends...  and the holidays have just started.
as i have recently explained to my friend jen, i rest on fast forward.
so i'm fitting a lot in, but there will always be time to wander around the house shooting pics of random things that strike my fancy.
 the best shopping deal i've ever scored.
 little c's apartmentesque room. (glad i didn't witness his hanging off the top bunk to hang those speakers. ;)
 this is about when i got tired of hanging these cards. (and i think i did one.) picture the rest sitting on top of a box to the left. tape doesn't stick well to brick
 love the dining room (and my ability to ignore painter's tape and unfinished trim in favor of a good book or two or three)
 our retro unfolding tree that fits perfectly in the kitchen corner.
did i mention i love this place?
looking forward to the flurry of unwrapping and a great cup of tea.

Monday, December 17, 2012

these are a few of my favorite things

wrapping Christmas gifts. good thing i don't start too early or i could see the appeal of growing the stack too high
reading stacks of books and magazines and blogs whenever i have a sec
sneaking in painting into the schedule
setting up to scrapbook a thousand times and always getting distracted by old albums (check out the pic of little c at 35 weeks gestation -- he looks like himself at eight)
and finding lemey all dressed up amid the toy clutter. who knew stella and dot looked so good on distressed plush lemurs? ;) (and no wonder i lose my jewelry sometimes...)

lemey is sitting on the new jump drive my book is ready to be transferred to. if i was truly efficient, i would compose in the lunch hour. not sure i'm there yet.

Monday, November 05, 2012

survival guide (disclaimer -- only possible if you have an eight year old personal assistant)

 we may not have tons of exciting eats but at least you will be stocked up on underwear and masking tape when you put little c in charge -- he is the best personal assistant -- writing down things as i talk out loud to myself ;)
 the realities of moving -- below -- absence of any sort of room to walk.
 the middle schooler's binder is so cartoon cute
you know those months when you are in a bit of a groundhog's day movie sequence? yup, my schedule's been like that for the last couple of months. a few looming deadlines (work, side work project, side volunteer project, moving to a wonderful neighborhood -- no i didn't plan all those things to happen at the same time ;), and the standard life priorities (family, friends, trying not to drop juggling balls) made each day a bit of everything, but not one a bit of nothing. to cope, i listened to inspirational podcasts, read my favorite refocusing book + some fluff reads when my brain was too tired for anything intelligent, and not to be underestimated -- let little c make my to do lists -- because he keeps it simple. and when an eight year old runs your at home portion of your daytimer for you, chances are he's going to be on it ;) I spy a light at the end of the tunnel (hello, December!) where date nights and doing days without power naps may be possible. (tell my friends to hold on for me -- I really will have a life again soon ;)

Saturday, September 08, 2012

summer merges into fall disguised as more summer

kids are back to school and i'm back at work. everyone survived the flu hitting the first week. thank goodness d took a parenting day to take care of little c who had to sit out the first one back. the middlest is now officially a middle schooler. their school's tradition is to take the gr 7s and 8s to camp the first week to bond. very cool. i snuck in a final day of beach on the labour day monday with my running partner, gwen. my first time at kilby and i loved it (and the cute store nearby where one could get sucked into an impromptu spending spree -- phone cases, robot mood rings... i may have to go back before Christmas -- this day i settled for pie to eat at the beach. delish. even if i didn't have bacon handy to pair with it, as gwen pointed out ;)
the middlest on paper route duty.
if i was at that stage, my friend's new baby would definitely give me a bad case of baby envy -- so sweet!
mid day sushi date with mom
where my fab girlfriends whisked me away to for my 35th
the amazing beach i definitely should have discovered earlier in the summer
currently reading left neglected (like an amazing combo of still alice and i don't know how she does it -- both reads i loved) i'm plotting to get writing in. it might have to be at lunchtime. before work is taken up by pavement pounding.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

snapshots of august

 my new stumbled upon pairing: maple brown sugar bacon with crumble apple pie -- as amazing as you suspect it might be -- combining it with this book about manhattan social climbing in the 30s was a delish summer combo.
 the great outdoor pool walking distance from our house -- i used to ride my bike here for swimming lessons as a kid. they have toonie swims in afternoon. my neighbor running partner and i dragged kids and picnic lunches along.
i finally realized why the kids are willing to part with hard earned paper route money for headphones like this -- you can't hear a thing outside of your podcast world once they're on -- a frazzled mommy delight. (and why i look like i am in my happy place ;)

 about the extent of the organizing that was accomplished on the art cupboard -- about 1/9 of what should have occured had i not been reading and eating treats and sitting by a pool half the summer
 the oldest realized his second story room fell in ripe cherry picking territory. i couldn't resist a photo and a bit of the spoils.
 little c thinks his new loft bed makes his room even more apartment like. kudos to grandpa for the hours of IKEA instruction riddled assembly
more reading. and no, the wild blackberries picked never made it into jam. fresh eats and muffins were all we could wait for.

i'm settling for reading above writing this summer. every summer i think it's going to be different. this one i'm being a little more realistic about not even attempting to get it in.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

bribing oneself in the midst of a flying summer

who knew my new pinterest addiction would come in handy?  i was bribing myself when doing grunt work writing with 10 pinterest items for every 100+ words. it worked so i tried it for household chores, and then even stumbled on the pinterest idea of putting folded sheets into pillowcases for storage. (quite possibly the only pinterest idea i have actually executed ;) when i wasn't pretending to be organized, i was feeling summer fly right by. how are we this close to the end of july already?!
in july's dust lies little c's birthday, the oldest's "build a house in mexico" trip (pics at instagram links below)
and some summering in swimming pools and back yard forts.

the other day i was driving behind a dad and his little girl on his motorcycle and i flashed back to childhood rides on the back of my dad's. it was super cute. i remember wearing jogging pants (the kind that clinched onto the ankle) under my ruffled dress. let's pretend that was trendy ;) (not sure that all the crafts i pull out will be the equivalent of riding on the back of a motorcycle, but  humor me ;)

art cupboard contents rarely in actual cupboard -- should start calling kitchen art floor

 my kind of salad -- with a big hunk of dinner in the middle ;)
 the kids' VBS craft -- adorable
 little c wanted to take his entire class to the pottery store in the mall. i wasn't about to subject the store staff (or my wallet) to that. so we re-created the experience at home. worked out like i had pictured it in my mind -- love it when that happens.
 even the paper route looks beautiful when looked at from the right angle
 painting party in full swing.
 fort building with little c. he took some pictures of me posing in there too, but i will spare you them.
 i could make a coffee table book of d's dinners -- he is much more cheffish than i am about dinner -- this was his own herb crust for the chicken and garden pesto and garlic in olive oil on the pasta
the middlest is all about the winter headwear in the summer. it drives me crazy, but i pretend not to care. apparently he is making a scarf as well.

along with a tons of photos clogging up my phone, i have a file ongoing that contains current blog fodder so it doesn't run off the edge of my brain map into the unknown abyss. incidentally, the same reason i have a heap of lists going at any one time.