Showing posts with label everyday writing coach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label everyday writing coach. Show all posts

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A recipe for Writing Confidence: 6 Ways to Get There

You know that the best way to improve as a writer is to keep writing. But you also know that on days that you are discouraged, tired, intimidated, or just second-guessing how long it's taking you to break through; that something is standing in between you and your writing confidence. For those days, here is a recipe for writing confidence with 6 easy ways to get there:

1. Give yourself deadlines.

I didn't have to practice putting words out into the world before I felt like they were ready until I worked for a newspaper ten years ago.Writing articles week in and week out, I realized that no matter how my week was going and how I felt about that week's writing; I was consistently writing articles I enjoyed reading a few days later when I saw them in the paper. You can do the same for your blog readers or your beta readers. Set up a regular deadline, hit it, and read the results several days later. It will take practice to see yourself as the great writer you are.

2. Post a favourable reaction to your work where you can regularly see it.

Whether it's printing off an email from someone who was impacted positively by your work or a review from a reader who loved your book on your fridge or office bulletin board; seeing affirming words regularly helps you dispell the negative voices that can emerge in your head. That red pen wielding inner editor is good for double checking, but not so good for fighting procrastination. Building outside affirmations is a good recipe for inspiring you to take regular action and write, 

3. Connect with others who are writing and publishing.

Find others who are where you are and where you want to be. Read what they share about their journey and apply the tips they post. Much of what looks like their individual success is application of collected input from others. No one learns in a vaccum. As you are taking action and seeing improvements to your writing, marketing, or connections; share what you've learned. Seeing what you have to offer helping others is a great confidence booster.

4. Take criticism with a grain of salt.

Notice I say not to ignore criticism. Often we can learn from things others have noticed. The importance is to be discerning. Someone may have a valid point, but a rude or passive-agressive delivery. Separate what is good (noticing what you can use to make your work better) from what you can leave (lack of appreciation for your genre, projected feelings of insecurity, etc.) Good criticism will have information you can apply to make improvements. Bad criticism is simply discouraging and says more about the giver than it does about your writing.

5. Invest positively.

You can invest positively to grow your writing identity. Giving reviews for your favorite books on and promoting articles that were of help to you adds value to others' lives. You know how much you appreciate knowing that a book is a good buy before you invest your hard earned money on it and love to read an article that helps you out without having to go search for it. Make others' lives better in the same way. It will grow your reputation as someone in the know and will help you to see yourself the same way.

6. Be thankful for what is part of you.

Writing is something you are driven to do. Ideas come to you begging to be executed in a way that not everyone experiences. Taking the time to be thankful for that and the joy it brings to your life is a good way to connect with writer you. The process is more than the outcome. Instead of striving for a certain outcome, focus on taking action steps that support the direction you want to be moving in. Progress and growth are not a straight line. Celebrate the whole journey there.

Friday, January 20, 2017

5 ways to Make Systems a Part of your Writing Life

Systems are the functional cycles of activity, repeated habits, and procedures we put into place to make our lives easier and better. In a company, systems produce policies, manuals, standardized work checklists, and the like. At home, they can be things like having your gym bag packed the night before and setting your alarm to go and work out at the same time every morning, bagging lunch snacks into individual portions during TV time so that packing lunches is a breeze in the morning, or as simple as keeping the keys on the front foyer table so you are not looking for them when it’s time to go out the door.

By doing personal inventory, you will quickly identify the systems you already have in place and by thinking of what went well and what didn’t in the past week, you can identify where more or different systems are needed in your life.

In your writing life, the same principle applies. Here are 5 ways to make systems a part of your writing life and achieve greater results in less time:

1.Write every day.

It doesn’t matter if it’s only ten minutes. Over a week’s time you will have invested more than 1 hour of your craft. This can quickly add up to freelance writing material, blog content, or that book you’ve been meaning to write.

2. Get back on the horse.

Not hitting every goal or intention is part of being a human being living life. What ever gets done is more than would have if you never set a goal or intention in the first place. Learn from what derailed you and set a system in place to get around it next time. If you are setting too lofty of goals and are missing them more often than not, set small ones that you can easily hit consistently and work up from there. (x amount of words or x minutes per session are both effective)

3. Have a filing system.

No writing session will ever be wasted with a filing system. If you write something you are not particularly proud of or it seems off topic to your current project, simply file it for another day. Months down the road, you may see where to invest new life into it or what edits are needed or what market it may serve.

4. Keep writing prompts nearby.

Even if you don’t use them every session, nothing cuts into your writing time like looking at a blank screen. If you are not working on a specific project (and even then, decide what scene or subheading you are working on before you start your timer) pull out a writing prompt to get the words flowing.

5. Connect with other writers.

Whether it is a formal group or a friend who you meet with to discuss your writing journey, having someone else to be accountable to really make a difference. Set deadlines to have work ready to share. You can use the same accountability system to ready manuscripts for submission, save to attend a writer’s conference, or swap blog guest posts. Benefit from the systems built into community.

If you want more information on systems, writing prompts, or other writing related processes, email and ask to be added to the free newsletter mailing list.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

How to Make Your Writing Goals for 2017 Work for You

Good for you! You have some writing goals that you've set before you. Perhaps you've worked on them the past year(s) or perhaps 2017 is the first year you've set them before you officially. Having goals is awesome, but it does not automatically ensure you will accomplish them. How can you make sure this year is the one? Well, there are ways to make your goals work for you. The secret is, goals work best in systems.

What systems are:

⇒ Systems are a set of actions, behaviors, routines, and supporting structures that work together to contribute to an outcome. A business is a good example. First you have the human resource system: all of the people who make things happen -- everyone from the intern to the CEO and who they report to and consult with. Next you have the policy system: everything that guides what happens in each possible scenario to prevent the company from having crisises every time something out of the ordinary happens. Taking the time to think about and plan for them ahead of time makes the company train keep moving along the track no matter what. In the day to day operations, you have the procedural system: what everyone does, when they do it, and how they do it. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but you get the picture. Systems are what facilitates progress.

How they can help your writing:

⇒ You may not have previously paid much attention to systems in your own life, but as soon as you start looking for them, it's hard to stop. You have a system or routine to get to bed and to get off to work in the morning. When you leave for a regularly scheduled activity, your system ensures you have your required supplies in hand or are scrambling for them. When you look at your life's systems you will see why you're early to some things and late to others, why some days writing happens and some days it doesn't. Don't get overwhelmed when you're processing through them: identifying what works and what doesn't is what is going to make the difference in your year ahead. If this interests you, you may want to grab one of 10 spots in the free month long online workshop (coming in January 2017) Making Room for Writing in Your Already Full Life. Registration is now open and will be filled first come first served. To reserve your spot, email

Why you need the right mindset to accompany them:

⇒ Mindset predicts whether we will do what we always have getting the same results we always have, or if we will morph and grow as our dreams and responsibilities do. This important work was first pioneered by Carol Dweck who is facinating to hear speak Before we can change our systems, we need to identify whether we are working in a fixed mindset ("I'm not good at _____, I'll always be ____. It's who I am") or a growth mindset ("I'm looking forward to learning ____. I can change who I thought I was. Growing and improving is a natural part of life.")

Note: If you'd like to explore the systems mindset further, I'd recommend Sam Carpenter's Work the System and Systems Mindset. You can order the hard copy or download the e-book or audio book for free.

Congratulations! As Dr Suess, beloved author and prolific writer, says, "Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting! So get on your way!"

I'd love to hear how you feel the systems mindset could help your writing. Comment below or email and claim one of the January workshop spots.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Establishing Writing Project Deadlines for Yourself: 5 Elements to Include to Make the Process Easier

Good for you! You have a writing project going or have an idea you want to execute on. How can you make it happen if you don't have a publisher, agent, or editor to motivate you with their deadlines, advance cheques, and book tours? The truth is, you can do it yourself by establishing writing project deadlines for yourself. Here are 5 Elements to include to make the process easier.
1.    Make it realistic.
You may have a lot of ideas you want to execute and if you have all the time in the world, it may be possible to start work on them all now. If your time is more limited, you will want to have separate and staggered timelines for each. As a new opportunity arises, measure its potential against the rest and plot it on your timeline accordingly. Stay clear of self-sabatoge in its many forms: perfectionism, tackling too much at once, or talking about your project more than executing on it. Break your project into small tasks and get to work.
2.    Set a productive pace.
If you space out your writing sessions too far, you risk wasting time getting back into your project each time or having to familiarize yourself with it again. Have an outline or another goal visual (x amount of query letters, contest entries, or novel pages) and hold yourself to it, no matter how small your planned execution each time. Slow and steady will still win the race.
3.    Build in momentum.
Making progress on your project will excite you and you will likely spot other opportunities to build on it as you go along. Be discerning. Not everything needs to be done at once, but something small needs to be happening all the time. Don’t let your inspiration, marketing, contacts, or opportunities shrivel up and die from lack of attention. Build in dates on your calendar to address the many facets of your writing project. (and yes, pre-marketing even if it is as simple as a single web landing page or author page on facebook is a good idea. Your publisher will ask you if you have one. An author with an audience is an easier sell)
4.    Affirm yourself.
It sounds silly, but even a chart with gold stars for completed tasks will do the trick. You don’t want to give away the impetus for your project with over-talking about it (psychologically it makes us humans less likely to do the grunt work as talking about it makes us feel like we’ve accomplished more than we have) Affirming yourself means you can use your talking time to see what your audience wants. Engage in community by helping. It’ll help you too.
5.    Grow by challenge.
Most of the time you will be doing things you are already comfortable with – hitting your word count, writing your blog post, coming up with a new scene idea. Plan for every 4th session in a 5 day a week model (adjust accordingly for your schedule) to be something that stretches you a bit: try a new genre, comment on some different blogs, offer to teach someone else what you know (whether by post, youtube tutorial, or in-person workshop), or try something new on your social media account (giveaway, guest post, picture of you at work, etc)

There you have it. Plan to make good on your vision and take those small frequent steps to make it happen. A note as we part: don’t be scared to change up your strategies. That doesn’t indicate failure. How you get there matters less than getting there. Find what works for you by taking action.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sailing Through Your Plot: 5 Steps for Easier Execution

When you first conceptualize your story idea, writing flows free. As you write, new ideas join in and demand to be made note of for later and new characters arrive on the scene like it's a popular new club. This is a beautiful writing stage. But, even when it ends -- when you're fixing plot holes or are stalled, in need of new ways to move your plot forward; you can employ a few strategies to keep making progress on your story no matter the day or writing session.

Here are 5 Ways to Easier Execution:

1. Interview your characters.

Your characters (and your creative subconcious) know all sorts of details you need for your story. Ask your characters what motivates them and what they're scared of. This is helpful even for small details like what a character is wearing to his job interview, whether he is fighting hayfever, or if he is nervous about his bank balance. These give you a sense of what is of concern and what can move the plot forward plausibly.

2. Check back with your outline.

If you still need to make an outline, check out my free resource on the righthand sidebar. An outline helps to guide you when you are compiling ideas and want to combine them in an order that makes sense to your reader. It gives you a place to plug in those scenes written on envelopes or typed into notes on your phone. Outlines save time while allowing you to enter creative inspiration mode and let your mind explore, knowing you will have something to come back to and nothing will be wasted. (a note on finding out a scene does not fit after all -- do not throw it away! file it -- virtually or otherwise and use it as a resource for a future story that needs some more meat)

3. Explore your setting.

Setting often contributes to character and plot development. If a trendy coffee shop is nearby, the main character might decide to become a barrista, meet another important character there, or write some poems on a tiny table for one. Climate is going to determine what your character is wearing and what the local economy is doing (especially if it is a tourist town or a place with extremely cold winters) Use your setting to determine the direction of your story.

4. Map out character growth.

If you know your character is going to get less judgemental or defensive as she develops, put her in a variety of situations that will enable this to happen. Who does she have to meet? What will they say? What can she observe about life? Character growth is a great place to show not tell. Showing things makes your reader feel like they are discovering. Telling them makes them feel like you think they're stupid. Example: TELLING - Sara noticed she was feeling less defensive and judgemental. Contrast that with SHOWING - Sara couldn't remember the last time she had enjoyed a whole night out without worrying about what she was wearing, whether people liked her, or being put off by someone's unusual behavior. Jane was right, it was so much more enjoyable to live and let live. 

5. Ask why?

Going through your manuscript and asking why people are doing what they're doing means you will learn more about them. These character flaws and strengths will determine how they act later on in the story. Delving into that early on makes the story flow and make sense. Unless a character is growing or has had a life changing experience, you don't want them to start acting in a way that is not anything like what they have done in the past. Knowing a bit about them means you can introduce a plot twist and know instinctively how they will respond. 

Have fun employing these steps no matter where you are in your writing progress. They can be used more than one time. They are helpful in finishing up the first draft. They come in handy when you are filling plot holes identified in the second draft. And they are great for tightening up any loose ends before you send your manuscript off for its final copy edit. Feel free to share them with your writing community and compare how they work for you.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Completing your Writing Project with the Same Enthusiasm You Started it With

You know this scenario: you have a great idea, have made good progress with your action plan, but now things are starting to slow down. Your project doesn't have the same appeal, you are getting tired of the strategy, and you're starting to feel like you may never complete it. Is it doomed? No! You are just confusing strategy with outcome. The latter is the focus. The former can be replaced.

Here's how to go about doing just that:

1. Review what you want to accomplish and why you want to accomplish it.

Your writing project, when you first conceptualized it, pitched it, and started working on it; had promise and you were excited to make it happen. The reality of sitting down to write, fighting your inner editor, and worrying about the outcome may have dampened your enthusiasm. Maybe you're even worried that you'll never get it done at this rate. But you can recapture that first momentum by selling it again to yourself and picturing the completed project and what that will accomplish for you and how it will feel.

2. Post a visual representation of the finished project where you can see it regularly.

Designing your cover, author bio, and back cover (even if someone else will doing the real ones down the road) and posting them on your computer desk top or office bulletin board means the project will become more real to you and you will naturally be drawn to making it happen. You don't have to spend a lot of time to make it happen. Make a mock up in Microsoft publisher or canva or delegate the project to someone on fiverr

3. Brainstorm a variety of strategies for making the process enjoyable.

The beauty of the brainstorm is that ideas can be collected quickly. Don't limit yourself. Giving yourself permission to put down the ideas that feel silly at first can help you stumble onto some brilliant ideas (ie. paying yourself $1 for each 10 minute writing session = vacation funds and a finished project) You may find rewarding yourself with a walk, reading, TV watching, socializing etc also works. Maybe it's making your writing session inviting with a new venue, accessories, or favorite food or drink. Try a few strategies and record the results and you'll find what gets you producing.

4. Varying up the approach to execution.

Within the same project, you can take different approaches within your writing sessions. Let's say you have a book outline, several drafts with different tones and points of view, and an imbalance in the attention you have given the chapters. You will need to fill in the book outline, merge the documents and move the project over to the tone that works best, and focus on the chapters that need beefing up. These are all components of the project, but as long as you stay focused on the overall project and outline, you can do them in any order you want. Some days may be better for identifying gaps, others for editing flow, and others for research and developing further content. Having a flexible approach means one of the approaches will appeal on any given day.

5. Adjust the delivery date if necessary, but find a way to overdeliver.

Keep touch with your due date and the amount of work left to do when adjusting your daily goals. If you are far behind, set aside a stretch period where you will overachieve on your usual productivity. This is not a strategy that can work for days, but it is perfect for sprinting within the overall marathon of the project to make up time. You can also adjust your delivery date. Just remember to make your daily goals doable and then hit them consistently with your new approaches. Keeping focused on your project and steadily executing on it means it will be great when you finish up. Pace yourself and have fun.

Remember to stay away from negatives including approaches that haven't worked for you, days you were less than productive on your project, or defeating self talk you may have engaged in. Don't beat yourself up. Learning is part of the process. Review what has gone well, re-engage with your great idea, and go make it happen!

Saturday, October 08, 2016

The Secret That Can Help You Achieve More With Your Writing

Do you ever wonder why some writers manage to execute their word count consistently, learn new technologies and publishing procedures, get their work to market, and build network contacts all in the same hours per day as the rest of us?
Their secret is now yours.
High achievers in every field use a strategy, whether conciously or unconciously, known as speed of implementation.

Here are 5 ways to use it to your advantage:

1. When you learn something new, use it right away. 

Have you ever been in a workshop or read or watched something that was genius and you thought "that would help me" but then you put it away, got distracted, and when it occured to you later to use it, you had to go looking for it and review the process? Research shows that when we use knowledge right away, we retain it better, and will find more opportunities to use it in the future, both cementing our competance and confidence. When you learn, put that time invested to use. Think of the multiple applications it can have and try it -- no perfection necessary. You can always polish up something you've done, but if you wait to execute because you worry you won't have enough time to get it perfect; you'll likely be doing the reverse. Waiting means using the knowledge when you're not fresh from learning it. (If you want to try something new today: think book covers, marketing materials, or blog art, try canva )

2. When an idea comes to you, take action.

Taking action on a new idea doesn't necessarily mean bumping the current project. It may been a supporting idea that fits in your current project or something you can use as a side interest like a contest submission or a guest blog post. If it is something larger and something better put off, you want to get enough of the idea captured to come back to it later and start it up without a hiccup. A 1 page synopsis and an outline while it's fresh will do that. Also, if you meet up with an agent in the time between idea conception and execution, you will still have something to pitch. (If you're interested in having the opportunity to pitch to an agent or editor, sign up for the pnwa's annual conference early bird deadline and have pitches included in your registration)

3. When you meet a new connection, reinforce the relationship. 

Even if you don't start a new project with your new connection, introducing them to someone who would mutually benefit from the new contact keeps you in both of their minds. Adding a new contact to your social media outlets like facebook, linkedin, or instagram, or exchanging blog or website addresses also lets you have intermittent contact, making it a natural move to touch base when something arises that would benefit your writing careers. (For example, The Town Crier is accepting applications for a 1 month editor in residence with an honorarium attached -- assemble your list of 8-10 writers you'd draw on and apply here )

4. Use the principle towards your daily word count. 

You've heard me say it before: outcome is what matters, strategies can vary. Pick one and use it until you find a better one. You can reward yourself with any number of motivators. Use a writing prompt if that's what gets you going. Set up a challenge with a friend. Commit to a set number of words or minutes writing a day. Speed of implementation means that your scene concept becomes fleshed out before procrastination kicks in. This is why you'll see established prolific writers turn out a predictable number of books. They have practice consistently producing (and the motivating advances that accompany them). 

5. Fight the fear.

You may be a better writer than many you see in the marketplace, but if others don't see your work, what good is that to you? Bringing your writing to your readers is scary, sure, but it is also rewarding. When you receive constructive critique that improves your project, connect with a reader that really enjoyed your work, or inspire another writer to try; you will know why you're doing this. And yes, your work will not be loved by all, but that's ok. The world has plenty room for a variety of voices, subject matters, and approaches. Take a leap of faith and share yours today. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Writer Quick Tips You Can Use Today

Writing is more than just putting a story to the page. It is also about building author platform and running the business side of your writing. This is a place where writers who want to start sharing their work with their readers often start feeling overwhelmed. And the worry is, will the business of getting your work to your readers impact how much time you actually have to write? But the good news is, you can be productive in both spheres and the momentum in each can feed the other.

Here are some quick tips you can use today across all categories:

1. Social Media

As you start sharing your work on social media, don't worry about coming across as contrived. Writing is what you do. You are just showing more of yourself to your network. Think about it, would you feel odd sharing your love of travelling, crafts, a great meal you made after work, or a book you really enjoyed? No, you wouldn't. Because it's interesting to you and you know others will be interested either because it coincides with a shared interest of theirs or because they like you and want to know more about you. So think of something to share and do it -- a picture of your writing space in your early morning session, a great book you are reading that teaches you more about your craft, or a website other writers would enjoy.

2. Word Count

It helps to think of chapters as just being made up of scenes and paragraphs. And each of those paragraphs is made up of sentences. You can write sentences, can't you? Good. So you can write a book. Have your outline nearby to save yourself time. (If you produce 1500 more words today, but they don't fit with your plot line or character development, you have just completed a writing exercise, but not more of your book) You can grab my free resource -- Take Your Book from Concept to Finished Product in Less Time by signing up on the right hand side bar.

3. Reader Feedback

You don't have to have a book released for sale to get your first reader feedback. You can get avid readers you know to act as beta readers for you -- they don't need to have editing experience to let you know how your work comes across to them. If you feel like they're not getting it, you probably haven't explained the storyline or your character well enough. Ask questions until you see what needs more developing. Then, you'll also have a plan for your next writing session (ie. 2 more scenes that explain why Martha has such a problem with her neighbour)

4. Free Resources

There are so many resources you can access for free to fuel your writing progress from everything from author platform building to the keys to finishing your project. Some of my favorites (other than the one listed in #2 above) are Michael Hyatt's interviews on youtube, the website The Write Life, and scribd, the netflix for books.

5. Writing on the go

To ensure you have access to your writing projects wherever you go, I recommend carrying your jump drive and/or your notebook. Often times ideas will come to you as soon as you take a break and your brain switches modes into the creative. You can take advantage of those spurts of inspiration and spaces in your day by making sure your story is nearby.

6. Office set-up

Keep your work space ready to go. If you're going to stack paper, don't do it where you write. Simple things like keeping your laptop charged up and having a pen and paper handy, and having enough desk space for your coffee cup means you can start writing without having to address all of that. Because while moving back and forth from writing to other tasks works if it's structured on a day you have open primarily for writing; it does not favor production to have distracting tasks to do when you have a small window of time in which to write.

Hoping for a great writing weekend for you. Make it count.

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?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Finding Space to Write Even if You Can't Go Away

Before I started going away and investing in time at conferences, writing weekends, and on location writing; I imagined that not having had previous access to them was the barrier that was keeping me from more production.

But I was wrong.

As great as those opportunities are and they are great for networking, connecting with new information that can help propel your writing career forward, learning new skills, being creatively inspired and cementing your identity as a writer; they are not the answer to writing output.

Writing output is the work of snatching time throughout your day, as many times as you can per week, whether it is early morning, during breaks at work, or instead of your favorite TV show at night. It is rewarding yourself with a day off in which to write and guarding it on your calendar. It is setting the timer and making it happen, even if it is in 10 minute blocks.

Here are 5 strategies to try:

1. The Early Morning Silent House 

Set your alarm 1/2 hr earlier than normal. Wear clothes to bed that you will be able to write in and set up your writing instruments on your dining room table or office so that they are ready to go. Take the time to pour a glass of water or run the keurig but no more. Spend the time writing.

2. Breaks at Work

Have your scene ready to go and set a timer. Stand up and write if you want a change of position. You can also get up and stretch your legs by putting away items in your office after your break is over to avoid sitting all day even though you've used up your break.

3. Trading the equivalent of a TV show 

This is another set the timer option. If you want to add the novelty of "getting up during commercials" set the timer for 2 minute breaks every 10 minutes to give yourself a moment to stretch and let the dog out.

4. Alternating chores and writing 

This one has the benefit of having both chores and writing feeling the least like work and is my current personal favorite. Do a fast version of a usual chore. (whatever you are noticing most needs attention) and then write a specific word count (ie 100-500 words) and then go to the next chore alternating until you are out of time, chores, or have hit daily word count.

5. Rewards for a Job Well Done

Productivity research is now indicating that rewarding ourselves for something doesn't help us in the long run because it cements in our mind that the habit needs a reward and is a punishment in itself. The way around that (because who wants to give up rewards?) is to connect the reward to the habit you are trying to reinforce (for the writer: new notebook, jump drive, writing session, mug, pen, resource handbook, class or workshop, etc)

So, know you will get things done, even if this is not the season of wide open writing time for you. Your strategy is out there waiting for you to unearth it. Start experimenting!

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.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Taking in Writing Advice Without Risking Losing Your Individuality

There are so many interesting people out there doing their writing thing. Each one seems to be on to something. But how do you incorporate their advice and insights while staying true to your path? Here are 4 tricks to keep you on your own track no matter how much your browsing the writing world out there: (& how to avoid changing direction every time you hear something new)

1. Level out your experience and their input.

That is, make sure you are logging at least as much writing time as browsing and strategizing time. The business of writing and the art of the craft are crazy interesting to research, but you don't want to sacrifice precious writing time for them. Strike a balance by agreeing with yourself to have a certain amount of time for browsing and note-taking and then an equal or greater amount for your own querying and article topic brainstorming, story development, and word count generation.

2. Research the ones that make sense for you.

Whether you are a horror or romance novelist or a poet or business writer, keep to the strategies in line with your genre and save yourself a bunch of time by following respected writers in your field and googling interviews with them or connecting with them on goodreads or linkedin . Of course, you can adapt great strategies from one genre to another, but only sign up for this if you have the time to spare.

3. Take what works for you and leave the rest.

No need to get off balance if a strategy that is working well for you is not the favored one of your favorite author. Similarly if a list of intimidating recommended new technologies only has one or two on it that you want to try. Don't feel like everything from anyone is right for you. Before long, you will be recommending your favorites to people and they will be taking what works for them too. Writers are people before they're writers. We are all different.

4. Celebrate your own journey.

Take some time to write up a blurb about what you're learning and your process as a writer. You can blog about it, write up your own interview and post it on social media, or connect with another blogger who does guest posts or profiles.

As a great writer once said, "To thine own self be true." And another "There is nothing new under the sun." But the world is waiting for your version. So like the doctor says "get on your way".

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Books You Jump Out of Bed For

 holiday is also good for getting thrifting in -- 75 cent hammered silver cup my latest find.

If you are the kind of reader to have several books on the go at the same time, you are likely the kind of writer to do the same with your novels in progress.

So even though I have a few books I really should finish, I had to jump out of bed and write out the newest that came to me in a big chunk while trying to fall asleep last night: title, plot, sub-plot, main character, and even cover design. Time off work is good for the creative soul.

What writing hot looks like this morning: one fourth of a chapter in 30 minutes. At that rate, it would take 1 work week to get to first draft. But given that most of my writing is done cold (making oneself sit down and get to fleshing out the next scene) it will likely occur within scheduled early morning sessions before my daily walk. Even at that optimistic production rate, this means 100 days until draft completion. I think I have my 2016 project before me.

If you have a writing question or want some feedback on your 2016 writing project, email me at

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Big Fat Newsletter, Cheap Eats Advice, and What to do with those Scraps of Paper Lying Around

It's been a bit since I last posted.
I confess, I've been letting instagram get the best of my day to day. (it's hard not to -- the whole family including my grandma is on there so it's like visiting with them all day long)
My account doesn't get to be the charming hour by hour play by play my sister raising two kids under 2 manages -- my teenagers would definitely not be ok with me following them around for the shots ;) but it'll still be an overshare of what I'm reading, what color polish I'm wearing, and what last food D has cooked up for us. (all riveting, I know ;)

My everydaywritingcoach readers will be happy to know that they will be getting a twice-as-thick summer newsletter for July & August this week. (If you want to sign up simply email You can send your writing questions there as well.)

I am also happy to share this blogger with you. If you are interested in eating real food, buying local, and spending very little money doing it (she feeds a family of 4 on $330 per month), you will want to check her blog out as well.

I'm off to release that newsletter and corral my scraps of paper notes into the summer manuscript.
Will keep you posted.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Fit your Writing into Life and Other Concerns

images courtesy of (which is more helpful and less morbid than you'd think)

It's that conference time of year. Which means while I am presenting tommorow (on the query letter -- the key to getting your work into magazines) and attending sessions; I am also free of the second shift and rooming with another rabid writer, so after my essential 7 hours sleep, I'm switch-hitting writing projects like nobody's business. (it's the excitement, I think)
D has already texted the everything's going well/have a great day/all's clear this morning. (which I didn't realize I needed until he sent it.) Here's to stealing writing time.

If you're a writer with questions about carving out writing time more regularly or with technical questions about the craft, email for the answers.

Monday, June 23, 2014

rooms of sadness and other things i study

read and loved this book. it was about the kind of darkness you have to read through fast so it doesn't sit too long on your soul, but half way through the book, it took a turn and the heaviness lifted and as a mother of boys, the relationship between mother and son really resonated with me.

currently studying some really interesting material and making notes for what may be the next novel.
if you need a writing prompt click here.
if you want to win $100 to spend on good eats click here

Saturday, May 31, 2014

signage, gilt, and speed housekeeping

 i'm not sure why i post signs like this in my kitchen. i have three boys. it's not like they need any encouragement.
 of all my thrifting adventures, I cherish the 25 cent finds the most. this gold cherub frame was one of those. I was explaining to friends the other day that tailoring life choices to your own quirky sense of self means there will be less competition for them. if everyone did the same thing you do, you be hard pressed to get an opportunity to do it. (supply and demand and all that) that applies to everything from how you spend your time to what you buy or don't (i keep leafing through this mini board book of d and my 1 night getaway a few years ago -- even though it takes a master scheduler to coordinate multiple boys' activities and supervision in our absence, I'm thinking it might be worth it...)
this feels like a good Saturday morning to me: blogging, reading some brain candy and texting friends. I'm giving myself another 10 minutes until I have to whirl this house into enough shape (read: cleaning like people are coming over in 20 minutes -- it means I won't have to spend more than 20 minutes on it) and can get on with the rest of my day: writing, puttering, visiting.

little c is in the middle of negotiating sales for his loft bed thanks to social media. he has great visions for its replacement. you know it involves collecting the rest of the household's belongings into his room -- the studio apartment for a nine year old that it is ;)

if you are looking for a prompt to start writing, click here