Showing posts with label the routine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the routine. Show all posts

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Authentic Engagement: Connecting with Your Instagram Community and Doubling Your Followers

You know the importance of connecting with your community in order to keep yourself engaged and inspired, grow your platform, and connect organically with opportunities that networking provides. But if you've ever wanted more connections, but don't feel like you have time to search for great accounts to follow and recruit your own followers as well; you will be thrilled to know there is an approach that is authentic, enjoyable, and time efficient. (And I'm not talking about robots or follow/unfollow or any of those scammy ways to increase your following--we don't want mere numbers, we want engaged community because that's what will translate into real results.)

Here are the basics to get you going:

1. Optimize your profile to help your followers find you.

On your profile, make sure your picture is your own photo and if it is not, make sure it is in line with what your account is about (ie. a pen for writing, makeup brushes for makeup, food for cooking, etc)
When people spot you on another account, you want them to gravitate to your profile instead of waiting for the opportunity to be a featured instagram account. Adding a tagline to your profile that indicates the theme is the second step. You will see this strong move in action once you start looking for your own great accounts to follow.

2. Analyze and adjust your content to keep it consistent.

Look at your landing page to see how your images work together. Are they coherent or are you all over the place thematically? It is ok to have more than one interest. Just add them all into the tagline and try to combine them into images when you can. Then use hashtags to attract your target audience. For example, if you are a mother who writes and is interested in feeding your kids healthy food, you could present all of those interests with a kiddie food plate, notebook and pen. Check out the accounts that inspire you to get ideas. If your interests don't align well, it is also ok to separate them into separate accounts or focus on one on Instagram.

3. Find great accounts to follow.

Once you have a couple of rows of posts that look coherent on your landing page (which only takes a week or so of daily posting), start looking on the following lists of those accounts that are similar to yours or are what you aspire to be with yours. Use the profile images and taglines to determine if their accounts are aligned with yours (for instance, I look for words like writing, reading, author, editing). Then, follow those accounts. Once those accounts start following you, visit their pages to comment and like the images that speak to you.

4. Engage with those you're following.

All you have to do to maintain the connection is like the images you like and comment on them as you go through your feed a couple of times a day. Community will grow as you see your shared interests, experiences, and sometimes even locations. There is nothing to be gained by being a stalker. Participate and engage. Don't like things you don't like just to be a people pleaser. On each account, (unless it is one that truly offends you and then it's just best to unfollow it), there is going to be something you can agree on, like, or find visually appealing. Connect there.

5. Have pictures ready so you can post every day.

As you go about your day, you will spot photo opportunities. Take pictures from several angles so you have something to choose from. If you haven't posted by evening, make sure to do so and connect with new accounts before bed. Worldwide time changes will mean you are gaining extra followers, likes, and comments as you are sleeping. Acknowledge them in the morning. That's it! A simple approach that gains you interesting contacts, engaged followers, and a wider community without leaving your usual routine. Let me know how it helps you.

If you have any questions or additional ideas, feel free to comment on this post or email .

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 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. 

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!

Friday, July 08, 2016

Is a writing space important to producing consistently? & 3 Ways to do so.

When you see your favorite author in your mind, how do you picture them? In his or her office with books behind them and reams of paper on both sides of the desk? How does this compare to you? You don't have a dedicated office space for your writing you say? How will that affect your output you wonder. Is that why you haven't made as much progress as you'd have hoped? Before you take out a loan and start renovating, let's explore another more important factor.

Perhaps having a writing space doesn't matter. I'd argue in fact that having a writing routine matters a whole lot more. It doesn't have to be a big writing space to leave enough room to create a great work of fiction. A laptop or a table and notebook is enough. But what is more important is a routine. It doesn't have to look the same every day, but if there are writing routines built into your week, you know you will get to your writing regularly and it will get done. This is far superior to having a room dedicated to writing. A room will only get you in your space, facing the wall. The routine is what will get your writing going.

3 Ways you can make the most of whatever space you have by establishing your routine:

1. Make it realistic

You may have to cut some things out of your schedule to fit in the writing you want to be doing. If you had a lot of free time already you'd probably have tackled the projects that are important to you. By making space in your calendar and booking in your writing time like appointments, you are shaping up your day to realistically achieve your goals. Note: If you front load your day with your new writing time, you are more likely to get the writing work done. New habits call for new routines. If you still find you have creative energy left over at day's end and want to do something besides binge watch Netflix, by all means put in another session. But don't count on late night to be a consistent production source. It doesn't happen for most people.

2. Decide on an outcome you want to achieve

Whether you want to write a certain number of words on your novel per day or blog several times a week, decide on an outcome you want to achieve. Whatever it is, the person it is most important to, is you. Unless you are on staff for a magazine or blogging for a company, you will not have outside expectations. Personal projects and visions require more discipline. Deciding on what will look like success in your writing time in terms of output means you know when you are achieving it because it's a matter of looking at the word count and posting frequency. Looking with a critical eye on the results too early can result in project paralysis. In comparison, the routine system examines process, not results. Focusing on process increases practice and that in turn improves the writing and grows the readership which is what you were after all along.

3. Attach a deadline

In order to build accountability into your personal project, attach a deadline and inform some people who care about your success. Let them know when they can read your post, first draft, contest entry, etc. Put it on the calendar and meet up and produce the work. Alternately, saving time over meeting up in person, there are many writer's forums and online groups in which you can post deadlines and share work for feedback. Take advantage of them or create your own. It is by utilizing these micro deadlines that you will achieve the project you've been dreaming of. 

So yes, a space is nice, but it is not essential. What is critical to your writing success is to establish a routine for getting your writing done. With it in place, all you have to do is execute.

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.

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.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Don't Underestimate What You can Get Done In Your Lunch Hour

The other day, on my way to work, I reworked the illness of my main character’s mother and ironed out all the details that would affect plot line following. Before I knew it, I was at my turn off. I counted it as writing time. Because I know that this pre-work is what makes sitting down to write in a structured early morning session work.
When I started writing novels, each chapter was a page and they were housed in duo-tangs. Because when you’re seven year old writer, that’s how you roll. The main difference between my writing then and now is in the keyboard practice and schedule.
Sometimes aspiring writers get hung up on the fact that living adult life takes a lot of time – the working & raising a family obligations that cannot be shoved aside for leisurely days of writing. But this is not a new thing.
At seven, you can’t write while you’re at school, but you can run home and write in your orange duo-tang instead of heading to the park.
When you are in the child rearing trenches, you can’t write while changing diapers; but at naptime, you can sit down and work on your story instead of scrubbing the house.
When you have a day job (or two), you can’t write while commuting, but you can give your writing your lunch-hour instead of meeting a friend for lunch or get up early and write before doing anything else.
I am thrilled to work a seven year old novelist into my summer writing project. I have fond memories of my own orange duo-tang.
If you want to connect with other writers or get feedback on your project, put the 2016 Writer’s Weekend on your calendar (Oct 21-23 in beautiful Hope, BC) For more information email or

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I may suggest what to buy your loved ones for Christmas

The last month has been a crash course in event planning. Our friend's beautiful wedding (the first wedding D & I have hosted and it was a dream), D's 40th birthday, and then a great event at work.
Now I'm back to the regular: a much slower rotation of work, writing, scrapbooking, thrifting, reading, and Netflix series obsessions.
The high schooler is on the cusp of his own driver's license which I'm not sure will cut down my driving as the other two have their own jobs and activities to go to, but it is thrilling (and hand wringingly nervewracking ;) to see him at this milestone.
I'm one of those annoying people counting down until I can turn the Christmas carols on. I've restrained from posting a countdown on my Facebook, but that hasn't stopped me from liking everyone's post who does ;)
Currently reading: Free the Children by the founder of Me to We (it has renewed my interest in )
Currently writing: A writer's guide with my other half of the Writer's Weekend. It should be out for Christmas purchasing.

Friday, April 11, 2014

it's spring. go outside.

 we took advantage of this first spring weather day to haul the living room table outside and paint it to match my Adirondack chairs. instant set for the cost of $1 paintbrushes (that was my rationale while the living room sat tableless for the week and D was wondering where to put his coffee cup in the meantime.)
 no wonder the middlest  and little c picked this tree to hold their tree fort -- check out the view. 10 points if you spot little c's silhouette reading off the ground.
a week later I came across this "tater bin" (as written on the tag in a local thrift store) great price, amazing workmanship, and weathered hinges. it had coffee table with book corralling storage written all over it. so I brought it home.

on the home front -- all three boys now have after school work to be driven to. little c couldn't be more thrilled to inherit some of the lawnmowing jobs the middlest did before getting a few hours at a local farm helping to feed calves. we've also added school track team and my soccer to the schedule because tis the season. if my stories take on a carpooling and athletic tone, you'll know why.

my reading team has their work cut out for them.e book launch is coming up in less than a month. and more exciting news to come. stay tuned.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

books and virtual candy

It's been a writing intensive spring break. Took some days off from work to hang out with the kids and alternate between reading, writing, candy crush, and my favorite short workout  on repeat to train for soccer season. Missing my oldest who is gallivanting with his French class in Quebec and Montreal. Have been driving the middlest to his new farm job, and keeping the youngest in craft kits. Dinner party last night (amazing thai food this time), breakfast out with my cousins and sister this morning, and some more family celebrating for d's grandma's bday tonight.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

from PB & J to vintage lace

little c takes a page from my "presentation is everything" notes

 post adventurous tea with my editor 2 editors ago (with her adorable baby and toddler in tow hence the adventure) who I copy-edited for on this book. So exciting to see the finished product. which is inspiring, beautiful, and makes one more than a little travel hungry (it covers her and her husband's travels as journalist and photographer respectively pre those beautiful babies as they documented humanitarian efforts around the world)
 working from home as I do in the summer means I can actually sit down with something freshly made at lunchtime and watch real crime video
more babies have been born. among the moms, my editor three editors ago just had a beautiful little boy. a perfect excuse to use up my vintage ribbon stock.

current projects on the go: ebook content wrangling, freelance work paperwork, and a 30 day project. I love those days of focus. Will let you in on details in 29.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

weekend snapshots

I enjoy shopping for girl birthdays so the middlest had to bring ruffles and sparkles to his friend's bday today. good thing he is confident enough to pull it off.
I have been reading The Book of Awesome ( see pic #3 for sourcing) . I knew it was going to be great because Gretchen Rubin was going on about it on the cover -- a ninth of the way in and it has already made a mind shift impression (plus is hysterically funny in the vein of works like the three martini playdate, Bobos in Paradise, and Stuff White People Like)
it focuses on hyper focused gratitude -- celebrating awesomeness in the everyday. example : pg. 17
Title: Seeing a cop on the side of the road and realizing you're going the speed limit anyway
rationale: stress level goes up. stress level goes down.
you know I love the profundity ;)

 My blurbs of awesome for today: garage saling with my sister (see planning meeting above). in looking for one hard to spot garage sale, we came across a free dresser -- the kind with a missing drawer I can put some baskets in. thrilled! AWESOME!
realizing my penchant for 25 cent loot means that today's finds(including that dresser, a fascinator from a red hat club lady, some great reads and some vintage Christmas wrap among other knick knacks) came to a single fiver. AWESOME!
stumbling upon an unexpected sweet spot in my day (just dropped oldest off at work, middlest off at a birthday party, and picked up some pizza doritos for some cucumber chip sandwiches (fave food compulsion) when the youngest decided his oldest cousin's graduation ceremonies last night had caught up with him and fell asleep an hour before d was due home. vegging in peace. AWESOME!
spent four days this week in ISW and one morning found little c eating breakfast and watching my videoed teaching footage (the best trick to quickly lowering the amount of times you drop "um" into presentation is to watch yourself do it. horrifying!) Because it is all about process, I got to spend time with brilliant peeps from a variety of disciplines and participate in amusing classes like "how to wrap a cat". loved every inspiring minute of it. AWESOME!
perhaps because I am hyper-aware of all the gestating all around me (my sister M and my sister in law T are expecting their 1st and 5th respectively on the very same day in October) I am very drawn to little ones and birth stories. if you want to read a great one from one of my favorite bloggers go here

Monday, February 11, 2013

it's who we are.

it's family day and we are using it to be a more chillaxed version of who we are.
the highschooler is in bed.
d and i are wandering around in pjs (he checking work email and world news) and i (altering a dress for the weekend's valentine's dinner with friends it was a lose 7 lbs dress but i read eat pray love belatedly and inserted a corset ribbon instead and taking pics of the pics i took with an ancient phone which turns out only has internal storage that doesn't plug into the computer of course)'
the two youngest are alternating bickering and hanging out together.
i have a freelance deadline hanging over my head
and some housework
and i suspect there is some good family eats and a glass of wine in the day.
and another book
to replace the one from anne i finished this morning right before i did in E, P, L.
oh and i should read a bit more of a friend's manuscript
cool writing plans in the works.
you know i'm pysched.
 love this pic of dirk and i found on his phone from a few year's ago weekend away. makes me want to run out of town again with him
 ready for a sweet night of celebrating. already fashion-showed it to D -- he's a fan
 lazy family smorgasboard
 making my own David tea concoction as I ran out of my favorite "birthday cake tea" -- mix of loose black tea, chai, and candy sprinkles with french vanilla soy milk, heated almost too hot to drink
below: flowers from my sister on my favorite table.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

shots of september

lately when i've been talking to other moms, i've felt like most of us took nearly all of september to hit our stride again combining life with the kids' school routine with work. it could be i'm only running into the affirming ones and that's ok too ;)

 went on a local aboriginal tour with some work peeps -- beautiful fascinating day
 we've been board-gaming up a storm -- the favorites: scrabble, guess who, and hangman
 summer is refusing to pack it in. i'm ok with it. family swims on the weekend didn't hurt anyone
 kitchsy kitchen cross-stitch -- you know it -- thrifting
 on another thrifting excursion -- found the mini oil that i'm sure someone else picked up on their travels for me -- love it
 heart warming fridge art
 found this picnic basket while thrifting -- plan to incorporate it into our Christmas pics if it works
loved this book. found it at the exchanging bookshelf at this holiday -- canadian experience, canadian content. -- yeah, i'm a fan
now if only i could only get my house managing down to a science... i've done the 30 day no spending before and now am knee deep in a 30 day organization bid. you have faith. i know you do ;)

maybe if i reward myself with writing time...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

to do, schmo-do

did i mention how much i love easy summer eats? (this is little c's plate -- he likes to make veggie to dressing ratio completely even)

 my beautiful friend cindy and half the crowd of kids we dragged to the local spray park
the good thing about summer is also the bad thing about summer. a thousand projects are underway -- each of them partially complete, but few checked off. posting reminders to myself everywhere to enjoy the journey and go with the flow and delight in what the day brings. and i've also learned -- if all else fails, take the littlest to starbucks and get him to read the continuing sunny weather forecast to you. ps. have now given in to mild beginner pinterest addiction. yes, on top of houzz. i know -- looking like more hours equivalent to turning pages of magazines... ;)