New Year’s Eve Goal Review December 31, 2010
Sacrificial Rites & Perfecting Priorities November 19, 2010
I’ve been working on a submission and believe me, my derriere feels the pain. So do my hands! Oh, the nails that once were long and beautiful are short little stubs. And I don’t even want to discuss the hangnails. They are the bane of my existence. But sacrifices must be made in order to achieve my goals.
Here are some of the easier sacrifices I make when I am working toward a deadline:
1-Cooking? What’s that? People, people in the house. Find a pop tart and deal.
2-Cleaning the bathrooms. A little bleach in the bowl goes a LONG way.
3-Why clean floors when they are just going to get dirty again?
4-Unimportant phone calls aren’t answered–I’m talking the solicitation kind.
5-Social media is put on the back burner (but I still check occasionally)
6-Makeup? Hair? What? I’m a writer, not a movie star.
7-Ironing. Like that was hard haha.
8-Menu planning. Isn’t that why frozen lasagna and pizza were invented? To ease my life?
9-Kitty litter scooping–someone else can do it for a change.
10-Watching television–thank goodness for the DVR and taping shows!
But in the midst of making sacrifices, I also know there are some things that cannot be ignored. Here are some priorities I keep no matter what, or who, is demanding my time:
1-Grocery shopping. Apparently food must be in the house even if it is a frozen pizza.
2-Laundry. Clean clothes are a must even if I am not a movie star.
3-Care and feeding of the cats–someone has to keep DFC full on Beechnut Organic baby food.
4-Sleeping. Can’t write if my brain is dead.
5-Eating. Can’t write if my tummy is rumbling.
6-Exercise. Must remain healthy and strong if I am going to keep on writing.
7-Being available to my closest friends in their times of need (friends are forever).
8-Spending time with my Darling Husband. After all, he’s my first hero.
9-A modicum of social time cause I can’t thrive without people contact.
10-Being available to my Darling Teenager in times of stress and in times of jubilation.
Tip: know your priorities and then you’ll know what you can give up to achieve your goals.
What sacrifices are you making to achieve your goals? What are your top priorities and why?
Dive In and Start Swimming November 5, 2010
I once had the privilege of hearing Nora Roberts speak at the Romance Writers of America National Conference. She was the keynote luncheon speaker, and she gave an “author chat” later that day, too. Her books are too many to count and she is very dedicated to her career.
What’s her secret? Just write.
What’s her message to people who give excuses and stay on the sidelines? Get in the pool and start swimming.
This message is true for anyone pursuing any activity or goal. If you want to do something and achieve something, please don’t sit around and make excuses for not doing it. This is just another way of avoiding the possibility of failure. We’ve all been there. We’ve all failed. The trick is to move beyond the failure and keep on trying.
Here’s my tip for the week: Whenever you hear yourself saying “I’d like to do this BUT ….” turn around the phrase and say, “Even though this situation exists, I am going to push myself to work toward my goal anyway.”
Here’s some wonderful excuses I’ve heard whenever I hear people say they’d like to write a book, or they could write a book, or how easy it is to write a book if only….
They’d do what I’ve done if only they had enough time. Well we’ve already discussed the time issue here. They’d do what I’ve done if only they didn’t have a day job. I’ve got friends who work full time and write and raise families. Somehow they manage to make the time. They’d do what I’ve done if only they had no health problems, no people tugging for their attention, no family members sick, no… no… no…
Hmmmm. I see a pattern here. A pattern punctuated by one word. The word “no” is ringing in my ears. If only? If only is another way of saying “no.” “But” is another way of saying “no.”
Turn this around. Tell yourself “yes.” Yes, I will make the time. I will set aside a place for my dream. I will go for it. I will push through the litany of words that hold me back from achieving my true potential. I will seek out the joy of pursuing my dream despite the possibility of failure. I will push through the disappointments and letdowns until I emerge victorious.
Positive Peer Pressure October 29, 2010
You’ve embarked on a journey toward a goal. One you believe in and want to achieve. You tell someone about your dream. That person laughs, asks if you are crazy, rains on your parade and tell you it is unattainable.
Now, if you are a 70 year old and you’ve just told your wife you’re thinking about becoming a circus high wire act despite the fact that you have no coordination then you might deserve the above scenario.
Yes, dreams should be realistically attainable.
If your dream is realistically attainable, and someone in your life says you shouldn’t try to attain this dream, then you need reevaluate your relationship with that person.
Tip for the Day: Surround yourself with positive, supportive people as you pursue your dream.
I wrote about my own journey from solitary writer to writer with a wealth of support here. I’ve heard the negative comments. One close relative said “you’ll never get published” when I told her I was writing a book. Do I share my dreams with her now? No way because I believe I will get that call. But it’s more than my own faith in my dream. I want the people in my life to be excited for me because I’m doing something I love. It feeds my soul in ways that I never expected. The end result? Publication? That’s just part of the dream. I am living my dream. I am a writer. I write. I am happy because I am writing.
Here’s the thing: people who are negative about your dreams and your goals aren’t happy so they don’t want you to be happy either.
Trust me. I’ve learned this lesson and it has served me well. I repeat: when someone is mean or nasty to you and rains on your parade it is because that person doesn’t want you to be happy and fulfilled.
I am writing because it brings me joy. Sure there are days that I want to drop kick my laptop to the ends of the earth. I get frustrated. I feel the sting of rejection and throw personal pity parties (for a finite amount of time), but I keep on writing because that is when my positive community of support comes into play. These are the people who remind me about how much fun it is to do what I do. They encourage me. They lift my spirits. They make me laugh. They drink wine and eat dark chocolate with me while they tell me YOU WILL SUCCEED.
Surround yourself with positive peers who celebrate your dream and encourage you to keep working hard to attain the prize you seek. These are the people who must be in your world as you pursue your dreams. They are the people who want you to be happy and fulfilled. They are the people who want you to have joy in your life.
And when you reach your dream? They will be first in line to celebrate your victory!
Get Your Groove On-Motivation Comes from Within October 15, 2010
I’m an unpublished writer. There’s no pay, no glory other than the occasional contest final or win, and there’s no one beating down the door to read my novels (except for my critique partners). But I write. I get sit down in front of a computer screen and type away for hours with no end in sight. I write my stories, submit them to contests, query them to agents and editors, win or lose contests, get rejected. But I persist. I persist despite life happening all around me. I know other writers who persist as well despite the odds.
We are an exceptional breed.
Kelly Stone said that there are research studies performed on writers: we’re motivated high achievers according to the researchers. I say we’re delusional, masochistic, optimistic dreamers. And I believe we’re not the only subset of people, the ones who write and FINISH books, who persist despite the odds.
This blog isn’t just for writers. It is for anyone who wants to accomplish something and has to do so in a vacuum. Or a mini vacuum. You can be a student, an artist, a decorator, a mother (last of the unsung heroes in my opinion), a cancer patient fighting to live and go on–the list goes on.
What makes you move? What wakes you up in the morning and gets you to do what it is you have to do despite the odds?
I’d like to know. Meanwhile, I’d like to share what is working for me as a writer because I think it can apply to any profession, any pursuit of excellence, and any situation that requires focus and stamina.
Once a week, I plan to share how I motivate myself. Why? Because I grew up in a household where I wasn’t encouraged to succeed. If anything, I was encouraged to fail (but that’s a women’s fiction story that I really think would bore most readers–who hasn’t got some dysfunction in their lives, right?). But I managed to put myself through modeling school, get my GED/High school equivalency certificate, study for the SATs on my own and score over 1100 back in the day, go to college and graduate with a 4.0 and at the top of the Dean’s List.
No one did this for me. No one cheered for me. Years later a mom of a friend said to me, “You really did accomplish a lot and you should be very proud.” I appreciate her words so much because up until then I had really just had the attitude that the job had to be done so I did it.
Apparently I am an exception to the rule.
I want to make YOU an exception to the rule.
If you’re a writer, a painter, a mother, a student, a (fill in the blank), then it’s time to embrace your dream and go for it.
Here’s the first tip: make time to perform your duty/seek out your golden grail.
In other words, don’t just talk about doing this wonderful thing you are about to do. I can’t tell you how many people I have met who say to me they are also “going to write a book” when they learn I am an unpublished writer. I can’t tell you how many of them want me to write their love story of pain and loss and victory or just loss. But they’re just talking. They’re not doing.
You can’t do what you want to do if you are only talking about doing it.
You must sit down and do it.
How? You say you don’t have huge chunks of time to do this thing you want to do? I strike down this opposition. You have a half an hour? You have time.
You’d be amazed how much you can accomplish in just half an hour.
Try it. Schedule half an hour a day at least five days a week to perform your thing that you want to do. Or to prepare to do that thing that you want to do. Half an hour. That’s thirty minutes away from Facebook, surfing the Internet (which is how you found this blog), or emailing videos to friends.
You want to go to medical school but haven’t applied? Apply!! You want to paint a picture, but don’t know how? Call a craft store and find out if they have classes. You want to learn to cook like the amazing Julia Child? Take a class, buy the book, start cooking. You want to write (I know you are out there reading this), close down the web server and turn on your word processor. Don’t have a story? An idea? Start writing. You’d be amazed at how quickly the universe opens up for you and sends you a story.
There are no excuses allowed in my world. If I can write through a father-in-law dying of cancer, a husband having hip replacement surgery, health problems and more, then you can do what it is you have to do. When my husband had his hip replacement, I didn’t even force myself to write a half an hour. I told myself to write “every day.” Yes, there were days that I only wrote a sentence or a paragraph, but there were also days where I wrote pages and pages.
I wrote. I finished the book.
What do you want to do? Do you have half an hour to do it? Do you have more than half an hour? Go for it. What is the worst thing that can happen? You fail? You flop? Your writing never gets published? So what? At least you can say you gave it an effort. You’re success is truly in the effort given to the project. All the rest of it? The As, the certificates, the money, the fame (yeah, let’s dream about it), the careers–they’re byproducts of our efforts.
My daughter’s middle school principal told her eighth grade graduating class that their group was the first group he’d seen come through his doors in over seven years that had so much potential. They did. He wasn’t just saying these words year after year. All the teachers, the counselors and the parents knew this group was special. Something was in the water that year. This group was by far one of the most empathetic, giving and supportive wave of students they had walking through the doors. I have my theories about why. They were in the 2nd grade during 9/11 in the DC area. They were in the 3rd grade during the sniper attacks and had to rely on adults to protect them. They had no recess for 6 weeks, they had to practice shelter in place in case of biological warfare attacks. They had to trust their teachers and each other and other parents. They developed a level of empathy in young people I have yet to witness again.
They developed some strong empathy and bonds. And they are a unique group. I know I will many of them become stellar adults in this crazy world we live in today.
But here is what else this principal said. He said “potential without perseverence and persistence is pointless.” Now is the time when you must ask yourself what you are willing to do to get the job done. Develop your potential. Grow. Learn. Apply. Do. You cannot just be a lump of clay. You must become the vessel that hold the water that nourishes the thirsty.
Work for it. Develop your talents. Strive to win.
Blogger Oz October 11, 2010
I’ve just finished taking an amazing social media class with Kristen Lamb via Candace Havens website. I’ve learned a thing or two about branding myself (ouch, that could hurt) and social networking because of this class. And, ouch again, I have decided to retool my blog space to reflect the lessons.
Super ouch again because I am also going to *gulp* learn more about social media and branding myself via a book I ordered. Kristen Lamb’s book WE ARE NOT ALONE: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is recommended by editors and agents to newly contracted authors.
I’m not contracted yet. But I had better learn how to use social media to sell my books and my name if I want to make it in this business. The writing world is huge, the business is changing every day, and I need to get savvy about utilizing this FREE network.
I have dabbled in it before, but never pushed too hard because social media can suck up a lot of time. Facebook is not for playing farmer games or finding treasure. Well, in a way it is. I’m farming for future readers and digging for future treasure in sales when the day after my book hits shelves finally arrives.
Yes, dear readers, the MILLS & BOON contest definitely brought the concept of self-promotion home to me. If I want to sell books, sell novels, sell my stories I have to be bold, fearless and courageous about marketing.
I’m not in Kansas anymore. And Oz is a bit frightening. There are a lot of wild characters and new lands to explore. There are wild colors, terms I don’t understand, witches and wizards of writing promotion to conquer. Oh, I am nervous. But I am not going to crawl back into the back corner of the house I just flew in to get here and hide from the experience. I’m going to embrace it.
During his workshop at the Georgia Romance Writers of America Moonlight and Magnolias Conference, Michael Hauge asked each writer to examine her/himself in terms of this question: I’ll do anything to be a published writer except ??? because THAT’S NOT ME.
Well, I can fill in that blank. Before that workshop, I could say, I’LL DO ANYTHING TO BE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR EXCEPT SELF-PROMOTE BECAUSE THAT’S NOT ME. It’s not. Not totally. After all, that’s called “drawing attention to oneself” and I have my own reasons for not wanting to do that to myself. Sure, those who know me will say I am outgoing and gregarious. But if you really spend time with me and get to know me, you’ll notice that what I am actually doing is getting people to TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES. I’m PROMOTING OTHER PEOPLE to draw attention away from myself.
Good self-preservation trick, eh?
Now all this eye-opening self-awareness at a deeper level than I had ever examined of myself before isn’t going to stop me from continuing to motivate and encourage the people I love and admire to achieve their goals as writers, mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, husbands, students…. ah the list goes on. It’s an amazing feeling to see the people around me grow and become who they have the potential to be in this great glorious life. I’m just adding one more person to the list. Me.
Don’t worry if you see your blogs falling off the sidebar and little nuances of change in the blog. All will be redone and done well (hiring the darling teen to help me out with this!). I’m tweaking my blog and reworking the layout while following my own Yellow Brick Road to publication.
When "Life Happens" May 16, 2010
Life happens. The real world presses in on our writing work all the time. Sometimes the pressure is low. Other times, one feels as if trapped in a diver’s shark cage under the sea, oxygen is low, oh, and by the way, there’s a shark. Oh, and another thing, cage door lock is broken.
This week was a lot like being in that diver’s cage.
Darling Father-in-Law passed away on Wednesday morning. Not unexpected. Not wanted, either. But there it is: the end of a man’s life. One who never demanded anything of us, one who I loved, and one who is missed.
And surrounding the loss of a loved one are all the people, the personalities, the old pains, the unresolved issues, the layers of good and bad, the stages of grief being played out by all in varying orders. One becomes angry, the other sad, the other practical, the other helpful, the other in denial, the other accepting. And so it goes. Will go on for about a year depending on the person and the personality.
Me, I guess I already grieved a lot prior to the loss. I have accepted it. I suppose my anger stage is being used to fight the VA for my FIL’s deserved benefits. Good use of it, I say. I guess that covers the practical, helpful stage of grief, too. But I know at various times this year, and in the ongoing years, I’ll mourn a little again. It’s normal to miss someone we loved long after we have sad our goodbyes.
But despite all the “life happening” moments this past week, I managed to write. Not as much as I would have liked, but more than expected. The writing helped me go through the whole denial thing again. being lost in my world of people and their personalities shielded me from some of the pain of losing my FIL. I challenged my feelings into my writing, and it helped.
But when the phone rang, I didn’t ignore it. When my darling daughter heard the news and burst into tears, I held her in my arms till her tears subsided. I called, too. My darling hubby needed encouragement and love. My FIL’s sister and his widow needed emotional support. I did, too. I also gave myself a day to do nothing other than clean the house from top to bottom. Cathartic. I tend to get practical when life happens: cleaning, ironing, organizing, busying.
I’ve learned that we grieve the way we live: our personalities and how we cope with life also dictates in a great way how we will cope with death.
I’m a doer, a practical sort with a desire to get things done. So I got busy.
I wrote, I story boarded, I moderated an online workshop, I tussled with my synopsis, and I prepped my MAGGIE entry for review this week. I didn’t have an editor breathing down my neck who expected me to turn in my revisions by Friday. But I wrote because I gave myself a deadline, albeit self-imposed, and I will meet it.
I treat my job as a profession. And writers must work harder, even if published, to maintain that attitude. Other than my OWN death or serious illness, there are NO excuses. I must complete the task I set for myself by the intended deadline to maintain the self-discipline I need to become a successful published author. This isn’t a hobby I can set aside. This is my career.
How do you treat your writing, if unpublished, when “life happens?”