Do You Believe in YOU?

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“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

–          Abraham Lincoln

Children around the world grow up believing in different mythic beings – Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, among others. Many people believe that you are what you think. Think positive thoughts and you attract positive people. Words and thoughts can change our lives and the paths we head down. There are many books written along these lines: The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, and Oh Shi*f*t! How to Change Your Life with One Little Letter by Jennifer Powers.

Music also speaks of believing: When You Believe (from The Prince of Egypt) and I Dreamed a Dream (from Les Miserables) to name but two of many songs. A middle aged British woman had a dream – and she believed, and guess what? Yes, I’m talking about Susan Boyle, who’s dream she is now living every day.

As a writer, you work hard at your writing, developing unique characters, creating interesting plots and subplots. You draft and revise. And revise until you have the best story you can write. Next comes the query letter and submitting your story or novel for publication. You wouldn’t be doing all this work if you were not passionate about writing, about your story.

Do you believe in YOU enough to put your writing out there over and over again, no matter what? (That’s what it takes to become published – never giving up, believing in YOU.)

Not to say you won’t face challenges – we all do, and this is how we learn life lessons. And so, I ask: do you believe in YOU?

As we approach 2010, keep this thought in mind:

The most wonderful holiday gift you can give to yourself is to believe in YOU.

Question for today: What might you do differently in the coming year to show yourself and others that YOU BELIEVE IN YOU?

Happy Holidays and an Awesome New Year!

Best Wishes,

June

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Saying “NO” to Distractions

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Distractions are going to happen, no matter what you do. Write this down. It’s reality, like Murphy’s Law. Distractions WILL happen. So what can you do about overcoming distractions so that you get to your writing?

Recognizing that you are being distracted. This is something you can train yourself to do “in the moment.” The goal is to shorten the time between the 30 minutes that just went by when you were checking emails, surfing the internet, or talking to your best friend on the phone, and the time that you consciously realize that you should be writing. Be patient with yourself. This can take time and is not a miracle fix. But recognition is a first step.

Say “STOP.” Or “NO.” Saying this is helpful in many situations, especially if your mind wonders. Once you recognize that you’re falling into distraction, say “STOP” or “NO.” Take a few deep breaths or try a short meditation, and get back to writing.

Is there a “why?” Many times there might be fears behind your distractions. Maybe it’s a fear of failure, a fear of succeeding, a fear of – FILL IN THE BLANK with the fear or emotion that’s delaying your writing. What’s keeping you from writing – your fear or other emotion – might be allowing you to get so easily distracted in the first place. Try journaling about what’s behind your distractions. You don’t have to do this alone. Along with journaling, try talking about this with a close writing friend, your writing group, or a writing coach.

Time suckers. Almost anything can be keeping you from working on your writing project. Here are some common to many writers:

–         Phone calls

–         Email

–         Surfing the internet

–         Housework

–         “Getting Organized”

Do you see yourself in this list?

Here are some things to try in overcoming distractions:

Keep a writing log. One way to track your writing activities is to keep a writing log of what you’ve done each day. You can use this to match against your goals to see how you’re doing. It’s also helpful to have this log of your accomplishments. If you start to feel that your writing is getting nowhere, look back over your writing log. You’ll be amazed at what you have been doing over the last weeks and months.

Yearly, weekly, daily goals. Goals setting might help you to focus on your writing. Set realistic goals that have time limits. Start with your yearly goals and break them down into shorter, more achievable chunks. (NOTE: The January 2010 issue of Live Your Writing Dream Newsletter will cover this topic in more detail.)

Keep a list of unrelated tasks as they try to distract you, unless this is something you need to take care of right away. You might also include how you’re going to deal with the distraction. Most of all: let it go.

If you don’t think keeping a list of unrelated tasks will work, try getting rid of the distraction – giving yourself a time limit – and move on to your writing.

Your writing space. Keep your writing space in a state that helps you to want to write. If you are a neat-freak, use NON-WRITING TIME to clean your space, so when it’s time to write, you won’t be bothered by things out of order. Make your writing space your own. Maybe you like to keep affirmations handy and read those to get your mind in a state for you to write. Maybe you keep artwork within sight to inspire you. How about music? Do you find music helpful when you write? When the phone rings, check caller id before you decide to answer to not.  Make your writing space a place that will WANT to make you write, and not a distraction.

Using a timer for time suckers. If you do need to respond to an important phone call or email, set a time limit for doing this.  The same for any other task that might turn into a time sucker. Set limits. Remember – YOU are in charge of how you use the time you have for your writing.

When thoughts wonder…change your environment. If you find your thoughts keep wondering and saying “STOP” or “NO” isn’t working, set a time limit and go outside your writing space. No matter what you do doing the time limit, return to your writing when the time is up. Take a couple of deep breaths and start putting words on paper or in your document.

Reward yourself. Give yourself little incentives to get to your writing or when you had a successful writing session. (And you are the one who defines what “successful” means.)

Remember: Distractions are something that you do have CONTROL over many times (and no, not 100% of the time) so take charge and find ways to focus on your writing 98% distraction free!  

Today’s Question: What is your major distraction and what have you tried to avoid the distraction to get back to your writing? Does it work? If not, what else might you be willing to try?

Best Wishes!

June

This Thing Called “Time”

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I’ve talked to so many writers who tell me the same thing: “If only I had more time…”

The perception is that you don’t have enough time to do the writing you want to do. Guess what? We all have the same amount of time, and while our circumstances may be different, since writing is important to you, you can FIND time to write.

It’s not really about time; it’s about you and what you do with your day. WHAT? How can that be? You have 24 hours in a day. The amount of time is out of your control. You can’t make your day 30 hours long, change the day when the snow storm arrives, or the time the sun sets. What you can control is how you use those 24 hours. This is a way to create personal power, to take charge of what you can control.

We all have empty times during our days. Empty times = times we’re doing things that, in the scheme of your lives, won’t matter. I’m not talking about times when we’re relaxing, spending meaningful time with friends and relatives, or time we need to do fun things, but time spent watching hour after hour of television or hour after hour of chatting with friends. Times like these when we’re not getting any benefits from our activities.

There are tons of writers who are published – multiple times – who don’t write full time. Yet they organize their days in order to have the writing time they want and need.

Do you plan your writing each day? List what you’d like to accomplish and when this will take place? Prioritize your list? (Remember – think in small chunks and small goals.)

What about the five minutes here and the ten minutes there? What about that twenty minutes later in the day? If you find a small block of time (or several small blocks of time), can you use these to write? Plan your writing for the day?

You can use the five or ten minutes of free time for planning your writing time or times throughout the day, or to jot down information on a new story idea or new character.

What if you got out of bed 30 minutes earlier or stayed up 30 minutes later? Do you carry a small pad of paper with you when you run errands for when you are waiting in a long checkout line? If you take public transportation, do you use the time to take notes, plan your writing, or to just write?

What about the day job lunch time? When the toddler is taking an afternoon nap? Waiting in your car (parked, of course!) to pick up someone? Can you use a digital recorder to write or take notes? What about using a portable word processor, like the AlphaSmart Neo, or a handheld device?

Remember: Even with realistic planning, you might not get everything done. AND THAT’S OKAY! Really – because a plan isn’t set in stone and life is unpredictable. So don’t add stress to your already stressful enough life. Chill! You’ll be planning your writing day again tomorrow.

Today’s Question: How might (or do) you manage to find time during your day to write?

Best Wishes!

June

One Method to Survive Multitasking

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If you are a natural “multitasker” or one who is forced into multitasking, here are several things that might make multitasking work for you.

1. Make a list of the things you need to accomplish in a given time frame.

Yes, many of us make lists, but what to do with it? Try dividing or grouping the tasks you need to get done into groups or categories. Some of your groups might be: the day job, family, friends, writing, housework. Many stop after this step and the list might seem overwhelming. If you stop here, you might get a few or none of the tasks completed.

2. Take the list and prioritize the tasks in each category.

What are the essential items that MUST get done in your time frame? What can wait until later? Assign each item in each category a number or letter or whatever you decide to use to prioritize these.

3. Create a master prioritized list.

Take the highest priority tasks from each group and start a new list, prioritizing each item as you go. From the highest priority tasks in each group, which is the most important? The next? Once you finish the highest tasks go to the next items in each group, until you’re done all the tasks in every group.

4. Mark each item off as it is completed.

Yes! This is essential. Making off tasks after they are done gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Remember: Your list should be realistic and flexible. Like plans, lists can be modified as needed.

This method works for me. It might not work for you, but it might make you think about how you can be more effective and have the time to accomplish your goals.

TODAY’S QUESTION: What do you do to keep on track when multitasking?

Best Wishes!

June

Welcome Everyone!

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I’m excited to get this new blog started! I’ll be posting writing tips and other helpful information to keep you motivated and to move you along on your writing journey.

Today I have a question: What is the greatest challenge that stands in the way of you realizing your writing dream?

For me, I tend to multi-task. I’m forever taking on new projects and tasks and can get lost in the chaos. In my next entry, I’ll give some examples of what you can do to keep on track.

Best Wishes!

June