Showing posts with label stealing writing moments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stealing writing moments. 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.

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.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Don't Have Time for Down Time? 10 Easy Ways to Recharge Quick

When you are looking at your regular work day and your writing project you're tackling on the side, it may seem like there's no time for down time. But not building it in will risk your losing creative energy. Take time for the things that recharge you. They will make a million other things possible.
Here are 10 easy ways to recharge quick:

1. Take a 20 minute nap.

Napping is not just for kids. The 20 minute nap makes solid health contributions. Web MD calls it a stage 2 nap which makes you alert and ready to tackle both thinking and motor control tasks upon waking. Set your timer and keep your notebook nearby. Frequent nappers often have vivid dreams & 20 minutes is long enough to go through a REM cycle.

2. Do a short workout video on youtube.

Exercise gets your heart pumping and brings extra oxygen into your body. Your brain will be at heightened capacity especially if you drink water to go along with your workout. Taking in enough water improves brain function & exercise superpowers your brain as well. A search for 15 minute cardio will get plenty of results.

3. Handmake a card or two.

Creative pursuits like arts and crafts use a different part of the brain than logical thinking processes. Going into another sphere works to relax you and recharge you for complicated plot twists ahead. The side benefit of having a few cards on hand for upcoming birthdays doesn't hurt either.

4. Putter in your garden.

Getting into your green space lets you clear your head, brings your blood pressure down, and gives you fresh inspiration. Employ your senses and lay on the grass, rub some mint between your finger and thumb, breathe in fresh scents and let your mind wander. Bonus points for cloud watching.

5. Have fun with your writing prompts. 

Taking a creative approach with your writing prompts could mean cartooning your story line, mind mapping your character developing, or painting the feeling you want the scene to take. Keep a notebook nearby for the snippets of phrases that are sure to pop into your head when you are relaxed and musing on your story.

6. Clutter bust.

This is a different enterprise from cleaning house. In a specific room in which you want to write for the next writing session, empty all of your clutter into a filefolder, garbage bag, and donation box. The space should now be spare. Set out something that makes you smile. Clutter gets in the way of clear thinking and busting it improves optimal thinking.

7. Trade massages.

Ask your partner to rub out those shoulder knots or book a professional massage if budget allows. Holding tension in your body puts you at risk for distraction, headaches, and reduction in energy. Having your pliable spine back will allow for more comfortable writing time.

8. Make an occasion out of your coffee run.

Instead of making a coffee run yourself or meeting a friend at a coffee shop and taking up a chunk of time you cannot afford out of a busy day; ask your friend to meet you and go for the drive or walk to the coffee shop. You will have socialization time, which is recharging ( provided you're meeting up with a positive person ), and it will be within a pre determined amount of time, allowing you both to get back to your schedule refreshed.

9. Make a vision board.

A vision board lets you see your goals in front of you every day. It both inspires you and keeps you accountable to what you say you want. Actions are sure to come out of what you are focusing on every day. Cutting out pictures out of magazines and gluing them is a fun change of pace. It works just as well copying and pasting images into a collage on publisher and then printing them out. (slightly easier to do on lunchtime at work as well)

10. Get in the water.

Whether it's a bath, shower, pool, or hot tub; water is relaxing and a true time out. It is hard to be stressed out in such a setting and letting your mind wander is the best benefit of all. You'll find ideas come to you when you are not even looking for them.

For maximum benefit for your writing project, before you start your recharging session determine how long it will be and when you will start writing. Following up a break with a treat writing session means you have a win-win before you.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

5 Ways Summer Makes Your Writing Possible

Summer brings sun and fun (and vacation plans and the kids summer schedule to manage). The last thing you want to do is sit inside a hot house while everyone else enjoys the season. But don’t pack away your writing just yet.

While summer may be looked upon as throwing a wrench in a well executed writing schedule, there are actually a few advantages it affords you may not be taking advantage of yet.
Here are the 5 ways summer makes your writing possible.

1. Those summer days fit in more than usual.

Longer hours means that even given the usual work, socializing, yardwork, and beach trips; there will still be early morning or late night pockets in which to write. Why lay in a warm bed when you can't sleep? Sit on the back deck with a notebook and write a few lines instead. Especially if you're working with an outline, those small writing sessions will add up to something substantial over the summer.

2. Relaxed routines means chores can be a snap.

If there was ever a time to give up a full on meat and potatoes dinner and made beds, it's now. A rotisserie chicken and a salad equal a balanced dinner and if your family hasn't heard the research yet, especially in warm weather, it's a bad health idea to make the bed. Use the extra time to finish up the rest of that short story and submit it to a writing contest.

3. Summer's happenings give you more writing material to work with.

Summer brings new experiences from food to events to road trips, not to mention more restaurant patio dwellers (if you're not above eavesdropping to glean plot points for your next book) If you're writing for a commercial market, your day trips can be turned into new articles for local and national publications

4. Nature is at its inspirational peak.

Step into the outdoors and into nature at its inspirational peak. Not only do you gather the benefits of reduced stress, bolstered immune system and connection to family and friends, but nature is a created entity like creativity. When you engage with it as you were designed to, you will experience heightened awareness (descriptive phrases popping into your head, colors you didn't previously notice, and more plot line what if's happening) Don't forget to take along your notebook.

5. Your office is portable. 
      All you need is a notebook and then a story can find you anywhere: sitting on a park bench, in the back yard, on a rock on a trail. People watching is plentiful. Your creative energy is up. There are no artificial lights buzzing at you. You are able to focus on your story. Get it down in those little inspirational moments. No one will know how much you're scribing but you. There is still time for many summer memories outside of the pages of a book.

      Are any of these strategies ones you use already? What else helps you write in the summertime?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

3 Ways your Writing can Benefit from a Bad Day

Of course we'd all like perfect days in which to do life and in which to fit writing. Because shouldn't one make sure everything is going smoothly before trying to fit in something else? I don't believe so.

We can't control whether all of the conditions are ideal, but we can control how we respond to any conditions we find ourselves in. Responding with creativity is the best way to turn things around. And a bad day often makes the best creative fodder.
Here are the 3 ways your writing can benefit from a bad day:

1. It gives you believable characters.

A bad day makes you able to empathize with your characters. No one's life is perfect and writing about perfect lives is boring. We know what we know, but we also write about people different from ourselves. We need a broad range of experiences to give to these characters to bring them to life in order to resonate with readers. If one of your developing characters now gets put into your bad day situation, you can think through their response to it and work it into the storyline. A believable character is one who faces situations we can see ourselves facing and has human responses to them.

2. It can serve as a good read for someone else.

For your own benefit, writing your bad day onto paper serves to give you some distance. For others, it can be entertainment. Whether you write it humorously or poignantly, it can serve as a good read for someone else (who may well be escaping his or her own bad day) Good for you -- helping your readers out! A great story is one you can sink into. Readers who have this experience will be back for more.

3. Your writing will benefit from a production boost if you use it as a distraction technique.

Sometimes you'll need a break from whatever was going on that made it a bad day. Writing is the perfect fix. Getting into someone else's story is the exact opposite of minding your own business and it's a great break from reality. Your word count will thank you.

Sometimes a little rain is good for your art in a way that nothing else is. Benefit from it and then move on and have a great day tomorrow.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

3 Ways to Make Sure Your Writing Fits into Your Daily Schedule

Working on your writing project is important to you. Important enough to follow productivity advice and schedule it in to your calendar like you would exercise or anything else you want to make happen. But what happens when the inevitable happens and something has to give. You look around your schedule and it seems the least risky category to shortchange. And that's true -- if putting roadblocks in front of your writing dreams doesn't spell risk to you. If it does, you'll be looking for an alternative. I have three:

1. Look for something else to bump first.

Especially if you are at the start of your project and haven't invested the time in that you have in other day to day items of your life, it may be an easy decision to skip writing. Once you start investing in your writing in terms of time and effort, it shows up higher on your mental to do list. It requires a re-think. Just because you've always checked your email three (or more) times a day, does that have to happen today? Perhaps you can take one of those times out, make something easier for dinner, short shrift a chore or put an errand off until tommorow.

2. Make sure you're being realistic about your scheduling.

 If emergencies often come up, you may benefit from building some more margin in your schedule. Margin is the space in which you plan realistically (so you don't have to speed to get to your appointments on time) and leave a bit of extra wiggle room for the unexpected (a train, a long line, your child forgetting their lunch). Virtual coach and author Michael Hyatt has a free ebook on  creating margin that is well worth the read.

3. Do whatever you can on your project no matter how small. 

When you come up to a day that's especially off the wall or a schedule you are struggling to reduce, don't lose hope. Remember that small incremental change can still completely change your life, begin daily writing practice, and produce a book. Be as kind to yourself as you would a friend and use that saved emotional energy for the writing.

Your writing deserves to have top billing in your daily schedule. You have a message, a story, or insights to share. You don't have to be leading the ideal time abundant life to make that happen. These few tweaks to your day and tommorow will be another story. And with practice and progess, next year even more so. Remember your top priorities. Don't let what's happening today determine if you will get to them. Make your top priorities your top priorities.

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.

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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

the important things

A bit of what I've been up to.
The day job has wrapped up for the summer.
Which means the backburner projects have my undivided attention.
(when I am not being distracted by the important things -- see above)
I'm heading to bed early in order to wake up for an early writing session tomorrow.
If you are looking for a writing community or some inspiration, make sure you are signed up to receive the everyday writing coach newsletter --

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, April 13, 2015

My Newest Book and a Plan for You to Write Yours This Year

 Celebrating the completion of another after-the-work-day-online-course with some $7 walmart spring bling. Now armed with the skills to make some writing coach videos, you know they are coming.
 Thanks to my online fitness coach and this little bit of technology tattling on me whenever I pull couch potato days, this last week was the first one I averaged 10,000 steps a day. (which is a big deal to me when you factor in the fact that I commute and desk jockey for 8 hours a day)
Behold, fall 2015's new release. This book has been rattling around in my head for some time as I talk to women managing modern life and read up widely on the subject.

A new promotion for those trying to fit writing into the after-work day and weekend corners of their lives, there is a new free monthly coaching service to help you. Email to sign up for the monthly newsletter full of the tips and tricks you need to know. As a bonus, sign up this week (April 13 - April 18, 2015) and receive Stories Your Mother Never Told You absolutely free.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Some Words if you want to Sneak in a Writer's Retreat in Every Month Without Your Family Noticing

 I like to leave notes for myself. At my house if it's on a wall, it's either one of two things: a photograph or some words. Here are some of my favorites. ABOVE: the best to-do list
 ABOVE: my about to be graduated high schooler's grade 1 lines for being noisy at lunch ;) The rowdiness I worried about then is a smile-at-the-memory now.
 ABOVE: spread the love, joy, peace, perseverance...
 ABOVE: my little sister brought this back from Ireland for me. It's among my favorite reminders.
ABOVE: this is as true to me today as it was when the boys were little: "Don't wait to make your son a great man. Make him a great boy" Investing love and answering the "why" questions intentionally when you think they're too little for it to make a difference and you will see the results when you've forgotten about the exhausting effort.

The beauty thing about being a writer is that you can string together your own words for others to be inspired by. If this is your leaning, you are in luck. GIVEAWAY for my blog readers: 1 year subscription to the everyday writing coach newsletter (like a writer's retreat in your inbox every month) email with 1YEARFREE in the subject line. You can ask your writing questions as well. New FAQs will be featured every month.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Of thrifted treasures, dinner I didn't make, and time with my boys

One of my favorite things to do to decompress at the end of a demanding week is thrift. This weekend's under $10 haul: 2 farm animal collectibles, a chair for the corner of the kitchen, and a laptop bag.
It was D and my 18th anniversary yesterday. We did our favorite day: hanging out with the boys, getting our individual projects done, going for a drive, and watching TV to a dinner he made. And, chocolate, of course. It was lovely and mellow.
Working on a few to-do's before the kids wake up and the before school and work rush starts. This is my usual writing time. I get it back in a month. I've learned if I try to get everything done at once, I will likely get nothing done. Better to be realistic and compartmentalize the calendar.