Category Archives: Perseverance

writing in slo-mo

writing and ruminating

“Give yourself time for your subconscious to work…Make lists of every solution to the problem that you can think of. Even if you don’t come up with a solution on your list, it’s a warm up for your head, and you might think of it later (while in the shower or on a walk, etc.).” – Gennifer Choldenko {I found this wonderful quote posted here while reading about the 14-week novel project. Another post for another day)

I really think I’m going to try this. My YA “DANGER” Novel is nowhere near finished and I feel I keep rushing myself. But, when I rush in plotting, writing, not only is it crap (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but I get bored and frustrated with the story. I’m forcing it, and forcing my characters to do things – like smashing Barbie dolls together to make them kiss, even though they may not even like each other.

So, to Ponder, Brainstorm, Make Lists. (I LOVE lists!!) This will also be a lesson for my control-freak nature. What helps you solve the problems in your writing?

Written to the beats of ANIMAL, Neon Trees

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Filed under Advice, Believe, Perseverance, procrastination

your 15 minutes?

2.  Write every day. My music teacher says that it’s better to practice for fifteen minutes every day than to practice for two hours three times a week. I think the same is true for writing. Even if you can only dedicate a few minutes to writing every day, it will become an ingrained habit. Writing will become an integral part of your life. more tips…

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someone else said it better

which is why I link to them here…

Stephen King’s Top 7 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer … gotta love the King

Plot like a Best Seller: 8 Things you Should Know …oh, plot, where art thou?

Determination vs Confidence…or, didn’t we just talk about this??

Tips for Writing a Best-Selling Novel…Lessons from Star Wars…may the force be with you

5 Tips for Starting (and Finishing) Your Novel…now to put it into practice!


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believe.

Writing is more than creativity. It’s confidence.

{from tumblr.}

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I Am Not My Past:

 

Defining Yourself

 {Guest Post by: Chynna Laird, author of White Elephants}

When a child is abused or victimized, it changes a tiny part of him forever. That much is true. He comes to believe that he actually deserves the treatment that was bestowed on him. He thinks that, maybe, if he was cuter/smarter/faster/better behaved than the abuser wouldn’t hurt him anymore. We all know this couldn’t be further from the truth but this is the mindset these children fall into. And when we don’t keep reminding the child who he truly is underneath it all, we are inadvertently reinforcing those negative thoughts. Allow me to explain.

Whenever people found out what was going on in our house, or what happened to me specifically, one of two things happened. Some people focused on all of the statistics that say people who abuse become abusers or that we have to be watched closely because we’ll become addicts or hurt ourselves or, God forbid, commit suicide. This is a dangerous stereotype because, as with all stereotypes, they exist due to misinformation and misunderstanding. And when a person hears these stereotypes often enough, they end up believing them and living up to them. This line of thinking keeps these children living as victims rather than as a child who just happened to go through this horrible thing but who was brave enough to go on.

Others simply became so uncomfortable they wouldn’t interact with me. They didn’t know what to say to me or how to act around me and avoided me. That hurt tremendously because it made me feel like, maybe, I did deserve what happened to me if no one else wanted to be around me either. Again, this happens because folks just aren’t informed or understand the situations well enough. Taking the time to understand what these kids go through in general, as well as the child’s specific situation, will help ease any discomfort. Avoiding or ignoring them only intensifies their own insecurities.

I understand that not everyone knows what to do when finding out a child they know has been abused, neglected or otherwise victimized. The main thing you can help with is restoring the three basic things every child should have: self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence. All of these are broken down next to nothing when they’ve been abused. And those are the main components of helping these kids define their own paths.

A dear friend of mine, and the CEO of a local child protection charity I work closely with, told me once that she never reads the files for the children that come to her center before she’s met with them. She sits down with the child, playing games with them or talking about what they enjoy doing. Once she’s gotten to know the child inside and out, only then does she finally read the file to learn his or her history. Think of the significance of that for a moment.

By sitting down with the child first, my friend is seeing only the child. She’s understanding who he is, what his interests are and what he likes or doesn’t. She takes the time to figure out what that child is good at and draws that out. She relates to him at his comfort level, treating him like any other child she might meet up with. And doing this without knowing what he’s gone through is what she calls, ‘Defining him by who he or she is rather than whatever labels are attached to the child through their experiences.’

I can’t tell you how much that means to these kids. We can’t change or erase those experiences as much as we’d like to. But what we can do is remind him of all the good in him because no person can take that away from him completely. The way you can do that is to follow what my friend does above.

Plant the seeds of self-esteem by reminding her she is worth spending time with. Let her know that her presence matters and that she is still just a kid—a fantastic kid. She needs to see and believe that in order to keep going. Don’t worry, she will.

As that grows, nurture it so the first signs of self-worth start to sprout. Remind her of all the great things she can do, helping her to draw on that for courage and strength when things get tough. Show her that despite what’s happened to her, she is supposed to be here and get her to see all of her ‘Can Do’s’.

Once you see those take strong root, you’ll finally see the blossom of self-confidence develop and grow. When he knows others believe in him, he will believe in himself. Self-confidence isn’t just thinking you can do something, it’s what gives us the tenacity to try, and keep trying, until we feel bigger, stronger and more powerful than what’s trying to scare us from moving forward.

We aren’t born with any of these things. We’re supposed to learn and develop them from our caregivers. But when a child is abused, they don’t have the chance to develop properly and neither does the child. But children are resilient when given the proper support. Trust me on this. I wouldn’t be here today without my loving support network surrounding me each and every day.

Even if you don’t know what else to do, you have the ability to make a difference by helping to nurture these traits in these kids. We can all do that. By doing so, you’re giving them a most precious gift of all: the ability to define themselves and to say, “I am not my past!” And that is powerful.

Chynna Laird

CHYNNA LAIRD – is a psychology major, freelance writer and multi award-winning author living in Edmonton, Alberta with her partner, Steve, and their three daughters [Jaimie (almost nine), Jordhan (six), and baby Sophie (three)] and baby boy, Xander (five). Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder and other special needs.

You’ll find her work in many online and in-print parenting, inspirational, Christian and writing publications in Canada, United States, Australia, and Britain. In addition, she’s authored an award-winning children’s book (I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD), two memoirs (the multi award-winning, Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD and White Elephants), a Young Adult novel (Blackbird Flies), an adult Suspense/Thriller (Out Of Sync to be released March 2012), and a Young Adult Suspense/Mystery/Paranormal/Sweet Romance (Undertow, to be released 2012). She’s also working on a sequel to Not Just Spirited called Not Just Spirited: The Journey Continues and a few other projects in the works for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers.

Please visit Chynna’s website at www.chynna-laird-author.com, as well as her blogs at www.the-gift-blog.com and www.seethewhiteelephants.com, to get a feel for her work and what inspires her.

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Filed under Advice, Believe, books, emotion, Inspiration, Perseverance, writers

Letter to things: alarm clock

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Tuesdays with…my inner muse

Every once in a while, I like to open my journal and spill my inner thoughts onto the screen. Here. For you all to read…

 

Comet ~ My feathered friend

9.12.2010 9:50am – on couch, open door, sunny, cool, quiet

I am alone. Alone in my house except for Comet who is picking through her wings and tail leaving an ash of bird dander on the arm of the couch, and the fish who swim silently under the hum and bubble of the filter.

I am alone with my book and terrified. I’m beginning to despise my characters and be bored with the whole plot line. Is this normal? Do I press on, muddle through with the passion of designing monotonous sales reports in Excel? Or do I take it as a “do over,” the white flag of defeat waving at my tired, relieved eyes?

Does every author go through the boredom phase? How can they? If the writer is bored, certainly the reader will be bored, too.

I need more writer interaction, camaraderie to bounce these feelings of doubt and despair off of.  Will they tell me they feel the same? Or, is this just another procrastination tactic, like doing character journals or creating Twitter accounts for my Protag and Antag?

I need to just do the work. Best I can. Read what I have. Read it again. Mark the places that make me squirm of embarrassment or gloss over because it is bland and weak like a wallflower.

Then I need to get in my character’s head, feel what they feel and do the “what if?” exercise. I tell my students to do this; I should practice what I preach.

But is it normal to already be thinking of the next book? Feeling the anticipation of getting to know new characters, new stories, new settings, kind of like the beginnings of a dating relationship. The wonder, the awe, the highlighted sensitivity to every emotion and exterior feeling in the air.

Yes, I guess that is normal, otherwise how would authors produce books so quickly? They have to have their inner muse weaving and developing a small seed of a new idea under the surface of revising the current project.

 Can anyone else relate?

Update: 9.27.11 – I’m STILL revising said novel from this journal entry. Though, I think I had a breakthrough on Friday. Yes, another one. Sheesh!

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Part 3 in the 3-part series to Stop the Chaos

A Recap…

Step One:  Set Your Top 5 Life Priorities: in each area of your life, take stock in whom and what is important to you and fills your soul. Click here to see mine, as an example.

Step Two:  Write down Your Top 10 Goals: Specific Details on what you’d like to accomplish; measurable and with a deadline; that align with your Life Priorities.  Click here to see mine, as an example.

Today, we tackle > >

Step Three:  The Motherlode List: a long, ever-changing list of mini action steps for each of Your Top 10 Goals.

The Motherlode List is a big, hairy, time-consuming step, but absolutely necessary if you want to see results.  How else will you achieve each of those Goals to live the life according to your Priorities? Planning and Action!

The Action Steps on my Motherlode list would be…

 What I need to do and How I’m going to do it

Look at your goals. Some may require a bit of research first. Say, your goal is to publish your novel by x date. How are you going to get there? Well, of course you need to start with the obvious – have a finished novel : )

  1. Write novel
  2. Revise novel
  3. Woo beta readers with chocolate and get their feedback
  4. Revise novel again
  5. Subscribe to agentquery.com or similar Literary Agent search / book
  6. Research blogs, websites and Twitter feeds of authors you admire, and then their agents!
  7. Begin marketing your book
  8. Write Query letter
  9. Revise Query letter
  10. Send Query letter
  11. Continue marketing your book
  12. Upon inquiry, send manuscript – or sample chapters and/or synopsis to agent
  13. Sign book deal : )
  14. Start another round of revisions
  15. Continue marketing your book, go on tour, and make appearances
  16. Begin next novel

These Action Steps are just a rough outline and will be different for everyone.

Since most of these are a big action step in themselves, you’d break it down even further – into mini action steps and set a deadline for each mini action step.

For example, if you’re on the step Woo beta readers with chocolate and get their feedback, you’d probably  …

  • Start by identifying your readership.
  • Next, determine if anyone in your circle of friends or colleagues fit the bill
  • Then, decide of those above, whose opinion do you value? Are they avid readers of your genre? Do they have writing and /or editing skills? Would they provide constructive criticism?
  • Next, reach out to your selected beta readers: ask if they’d be willing to read and provide feedback on your novel. Consider your time line and ask if can they deliver feedback within that frame. (Offer chocolate in form of payment!)
  • Know what kind of feedback you are looking for. Character development? Plot holes? Verb usage, etc.?
  • Send ms in a format they prefer to read – pdf or hard copy, entire book or one chapter at a time, etc.

Get the idea?

Currently, my Motherlode List has 76 Action Steps! Yikes! Quite overwhelming. 

Except, as I review my Top Priorities daily I focus my energy like a laser beam, not a flood light. From my Motherlode List, I’ve prioritized deadlines by this week, this month, this quarter, this year.

Then I take it one week at a time, sometimes broken down by day. That’s it. I’m not looking ahead, I’m not getting buried. Yes, I struggle with distractions, I just have to keep my “eye on the prize!”

You’re up!

Instructions for you: Each week, review your Motherlode List, comparing it to your weekly calendar of commitments. Survey your available time or time you can make for your goals: ) Write down the action steps you can take this week. Feel the exhilaration of crossing.off.each.step. Slowly, you will conquer the chaos!

Don’t let me sweat it alone – share your progress with me!

**If you would like to see my Action List for my #1 Priority of Getting to and Maintaining a healthy size 4, SUBSCRIBE to this blog, and then respond here in the comments! I will email it to you! (Current subscribers, just drop me a line below!)

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Part 2 in the 3-part series to Stop the Chaos

Have you completed your Top 5 Priorities for Life? Heavy stuff, right? Good! It should be! Now, armed with our Top 5 Priorities list, let’s set some measurable, realistic goals that will help us achieve that dream lifestyle. Remember, these goals must align with our Priorities, otherwise we may end up with 10 ways to make more money, but forget that we also wanted to build intimacy in our relationships or learn to laugh at ourselves.

State your Priority

Let’s take an easy one from my list yesterday, which happens to be my #1 priority:

Reach and maintain a healthy size 4, while toning and defining all-over.

Find Your “Why”

Why is this priority important to me? Because losing weight, toning up and gaining energy will help me achieve the long-term goals I have and give me the added confidence I need to make some big life changes.

Your WHY is very important – it would benefit you to Write. This. Down. And refer to it often.

Make it Measurable

Well, it’s nice to have a goal weight – but I need to give it a deadline. A reasonable weight loss is about 2lbs per week. So, let’s say I want to lose 10 lbs by Aug 7 and fit a size 6. That would be my goal, it states the “what”  and the “by when.”

Now I need 9 more that align with my *Priorities.

Drop and give me 10!

Currently, these are my Top 10 Goals (NOTE: These will be reviewed and renewed every 4 weeks, so don’t stress about what to include on your list):

  1. By August 7, I want to have lost 10 lbs and be a size 6. {Life Priority #1}
  2. Earn $______ by Feb 28, 2012 through teaching writing workshops. {Life Priority #3}
  3. Earn $_______by April 1, 2012 through teacher workshops and speaking engagements. {Life Priority #3}
  4. Have Half Moon Bay Resort novel ready to query to agents by January 1, 2012. {Life Priority #3}
  5. By November 1, have our bedroom de-cluttered, repainted and my office area streamlined to promote focus and creativity. {Life Priority #2}
  6. Save $____ per month, so we can take a family beach vacation in December. {Life Priority #5}
  7. Stay true to my weekly planning and prepping nutrition. {Life Priority #1}
  8. Train to walk in the JDRF 5k on Oct 2, 2011. {Life Priority #4}
  9. By July 15, have hall and front closets cleaned out and repurposed. {Life Priority #2}
  10. By August 1, have the boys’ bedroom de-cluttered and organized into “zones” they can maintain to simplify their space and promote creativity and peace. {Life Priority #2}

I’m curious to see what you guys have on your Top 10 List of Goals – and your Top 5 Priorities. Please share with us!

*What happens when something on your Priority list is so far-off, you don’t know where to begin to reach it? Come back tomorrow when we’ll  talk about all the baby steps that lead up to the Big Goals. It’s the Motherlode List…

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commit to 3

First, Accountability…

Last week I committed to:

  1. Bake cookies for teachers of KidsClub (deliver Wednesday) - decided against this, since the tray of cookies would be clamored up by 1st-4th graders and that wouldn’t help anyone!
  2. Complete Exercises from Ch 1 of Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress (use as Reader Wednesdays post in the future.) complete! (mostly)
  3. Phone call with (possible) new personal trainer – learn about her plan and rates – make decision (excited, scared!) complete! I’ve signed up for Team Beachbody on-line and will begin my personal training a week from today. Very excited to finally have direction – and accountability!

Salary:  2 hrs of uninterrupted reading time on Sunday (to catch up on FREE ebooks & workbooks  by Jonathon Mead) Instead, I rewarded myself with 2 solid hours of reading Jillian Michaels’ Unlimited. Fantastic book – highly recommended

How did you do last week? Complete the 3 goals you set for yourself?

This week, I commit to:

  1. Read & provide feedback on crit partner’s 1st chapter & send her latest version of my novel’s Ch 1
  2. 100 crunches 6x and 30 min walk after dinner 5x
  3. Review notes on novel-in-progress, write next scene

Salary:  Practice Lesson 1 of Rosetta Stone- Italian (library loan)

Baby steps, just pick 3. Share them here for accountability. (ha, I’m a poet!)

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