Category Archives: procrastination

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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great expectations – the gap between what we want to write and what we actually produce

Does the end result of your story stop you from even beginning? That seems to be my current problem…

“I dream of an Eagle, I give birth to a Hummingbird.” ~ Edith Wharton

There is a gap many writers experience. Between the expectation and the final product. In my head it’s a beautifully weaved quilt of literary genius. On paper (or screen) it’s a mess of my random connections between characters, inner intentions and very vague symbolism. An example is one scene I wrote in the Finding your Writer’s Voice Workshop… (can’t believe I’m sharing this; don’t stone me!)

Tiffany saw the way the Earth looked at dusk, but never from yards above the rooftops. She didn’t expect it to be so cold and wobbly. Though Gretchen did say there would be flashes of lightning.

“All the better to see you with, my dear,” she had said in her wicked witch voice. Complete with a cackle.

Tiffany couldn’t get used to that voice on Gretchen. But she really couldn’t get used to the energy that surged under her skin and lifted her feet from the ground.

“The umbrella is for effect?” She asked Gretchen.

“No, Mary Poppins, the umbrella is for control. The wind will carry your five foot frame wherever he wants, but at least you can guide the journey.”

 Journey. Exactly what Tiffany had wished for at the beginning of the summer. This is not what she had envisioned.

When Dad came home alone from the hospital last month, Tiffany just thought the baby needed more time to grow, develop, heal. And mom, too. But Dad’s face…

The image that prompted this rambling start of a YA story is pictured below (the girl holding the flying umbrella.)

top row, third from the left

Yes, this scene is very disconnected, riddled with grammatical errors and paced awkwardly. Given, it was written in Three Minutes. So, I need to forgive the drafting phase and remember…

“Value the process, not the product.” ~ Jane Yolen

How are you valuing your process? Do you have rituals? Ways to work through the doubt, through the Big Expectation?

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Filed under Advice, Believe, characters, Fiction, Inspiration, procrastination, Voice, writers, writing inspiration, Writing prompts, Year of Nurturing

plant a SARK seed

So, I’ve talked about discovering SARK well after her height of popularity. But still, her concepts and inspiration ring true at any time. The magic of an artist’s spirit soars beyond society. 

Some SARKisms I jotted down in my notebook:

“I believe we need to go to where we want to be, and the resources will follow us.” ~ SARK, Inspiration Sandwich

WRITE IN COLOR…use a sketch book as a journal and my old scrapbooking markers to journal, make lists, collect quotes and draw/doodle little flowers and random patterns.

INVENT NEW WAYS OF BEING…reflect on how my life has changed since practicing The Year of Nurturing

I HAVE A LOT TO SHARE WITH OTHERS…Writing is therapy – without the appointment

WRITE MY BOOK…only I can :)

What do these concepts mean to you? How can each help to bring your creativity to the forefront of your LIFE??

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Filed under procrastination, writers, writers block, writing inspiration, Writing prompts, Year of Nurturing

Resurrecting Creativity

We officially passed the mid-point of the year (June 25) and my Year of Nurturing is still in progress… (what was your theme??)

So, I naturally gravitate to words like Zen, Spirit, Peace, Calm. I clicked on a link from Pinterest that had Zen and Writing in the title and landed in an article titled: Zen Power Writing” 15 Tips on How to Generate Ideas and Write with Ease. The blog post features tips mainly for article- and blog-writing, but I found this tip handy for my procrastination on my novel…

9. Leave end and beginning to the last. We can get stuck if we start at the beginning. The beginning is supposed to introduce the theme. But at the start of a writing project we may not know exactly what we’re going to say. So, it’s best to write the introduction later on. Once you have completed your first draft, it’s time to add an introduction and a conclusion. The intro can be short but it needs to say why your theme is important, or to outline the benefits that follow from reading your piece. The conclusion should tie it all together.

Do you procrastinate on any particular part of your writing? Beginnings? *raises hand* Middles? Ends? Editing? Querying? Maybe just sitting down with a vague and clichéd idea?

I’ve been struggling with resurrecting and developing my creativity since New Year’s Day, (2011 was filled with family and job drama, leaving me in an artist’s drought.)

I’ve made some false starts and some interesting, helpful discoveries. Wanna go on the ride with me? Come back tomorrow…

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Filed under Inspiration, procrastination, writers block, writing inspiration, Year of Nurturing

Is it Planning – or Procrastination?

 

“Life is too short to waste. Dreams are fulfilled only through action, not through endless planning to take action.”  ~ David J. Schwartz, Trainer and Author

“Transformation isn’t a future event, it’s a present activity.” ~ Jillian Michaels, Fitness Guru, Author of “Unlimited”

“Planning is nothing but procrastination in disguise… Failure doesn’t come from poor planning – it comes from the timidity to proceed.” ~ Scott Ginsberg, “The Nametag Guy”

 

These are just a few quotes I reread daily to get my head in check. I am THEE Queen of lists and planning to a fault, I now realize. Overplanning, procrastination, over-responsible, not finishing projects: these are all traits of ACOA’s (Adult Children of Alcoholics) yet I struggle with denial. Anyone else do this?

Once I push past the “preparation” that pulls on every. fiber. in. my. being, I actually get a lot of real work done. For me, this means writing new or revised scenes for my LAKE-RESORT Novel. This Sunday, I sat on my patio in the gorgeous fall weather and wrote long-hand 8 notebook pages of  a pretty tense scene between my teenage protag and her estranged mother. The key for me? Don’t over think it and don’t work on the computer (the internet is called the Web for a reason!)

How will you push past the planning and onto productivity today? Share your tips and tricks!

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Filed under Advice, emotion, goals, Novels, procrastination

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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Filed under Advice, Believe, Commit to 3, Deadlines, Inspiration, Organization, Perseverance, procrastination, writers

“Magic is believing in yourself…”

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ~ 1749-1832, Poet, Novelist and Philosopher

 

When a process doesn’t work, you need to break it down and see where the fault line lies. I’ve been struggling with the “Commit to 3” practice. No kidding, right? I’m sure you can tell from my sporadic Monday postings.

So, let’s break it down: Am I  procrastinating because I just dread the things on my to-do list? Maybe a little, but some tasks are fun, like writing a new fight scene for my YA novel.  Maybe this is just another trait of being an ACOA – resisting authority – even if it’s by my own authority. That is very possible. {More on ACOA traits later; because it is a central theme in my novel.} Maybe these to-do’s aren’t very important on a daily or weekly basis and other, more pressing tasks take priority. Bingo!

I wasn’t scheduling to-do’s based on my overall goals. So, what are my overall goals?

With the help of my new Personal Trainer, Dani (check her out – she’s AWESOME!!), I discovered that I needed to write down my PRIORITIES for life, first. Or else fall into the chaos of mile long to-do lists with no real purpose.

Wanna do this together? Let’s go!

Step One: List your Top 5 Priorities for your LIFE . For example, look at each life category and list who/what is truly important to you and your happiness/fulfillment. Really give this some thought:

Family/Friends

Job/Career

Personal Health in Body & Mind

Spirituality/Humanitarianism

Finance

Home/Travel

 

Step Two: write down specific visions for your selected categories, what the ideal looks like to you. Use details. See my examples, below. (You may have several in one category and none in others, that’s fine – these are your priorities! )

Side Note: Don’t feel guilty if your list is heavy in the “you” category. Remember, when you are happy and well-balanced, you bring rewards to all areas and people in your life. I know that by reaching and maintaining a healthy weight will give me the energy and confidence I need to go after those other goals!

After several drafts, here is my final version:

My Top 5 Priorities for Life

  1. Reach and maintain a healthy size 4, with toned definition all-over.
  2. Have a home that is simplified and uncluttered, which will inspire creativity and be a safe haven for my family.
  3. Earn my full-time income and benefits through writing books, teaching workshops, speaking at events and having multiple streams of income (on-line platform? Rental space?)
  4. Have inner peace and balance, living in the present so I can be a supportive wife and mom.
  5. Financially secure with a healthy retirement savings and college funds for both boys, at the same time able to vacation four times/year.

What are yours? Share them here!!

Tomorrow, we’ll look at setting your Top 10 Goals, and how to make sure they align with your Top Priorities.

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Filed under Advice, Believe, Commit to 3, goals, Organization, procrastination, writers

Commit to 3

I started this weekly series a few months back, with the intention of motivating myself and others. The purpose was to have that One Big Goal in mind and chip away at all the necessary steps in reaching that Goal, while maintaining the other “necessities of life.”  Commit to 3, i.e. baby steps.

Well, I’ve been slacking in the commitment department, at least in the posting and focusing of those commitments.  I apologize if I let my readers down.  Going forward, my promise to you (and myself) is to post my Top 3 Commitments each Monday. You can help me, by posting your goals, too. And if you don’t see the “Commit to 3″  post every Monday(by dinner time), I give you permission to email me and ask “What’s up, Mary Jo? What are you committing to this week?!” mjcwriter”at”comcast”dot”com

So, from my list, I’m going to choose only 3 items that MUST be completed this week. I challenge you to do the same! Oh, and don’t forget your “Salary.”  

*BONUS CHALLENGE: Make 2 of the 3  goals for YOU only(not your kids, spouse, friends, etc.)

This week I commit to 3:

  1. Bake cookies for teachers of KidsClub (deliver Wednesday)
  2. Complete Exercises from Ch 1 of Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress (use as Reader Wednesdays post in the future.)
  3. Phone call with (possible) new personal trainer – learn about her plan and rates – make decision (excited, scared!)

Salary:  2 hrs of uninterrupted reading time on Sunday (to catch up on FREE ebooks & workbooks  by Jonathon Mead)

As you’re creating your Commit to 3 list, keep this in mind:

“One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do.”

Earl Nightingale
1921-1989, Author and Speaker

So, how are you pushing yourself towards your goals? Make your list, commit to it, post it in the comments so we can keep each other accountable! Go!

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5 prompt Friday

         Here we go again…

  1. The empty feeling in my stomach spread to my chest and head, threatening to pull me inside out.
  2. How do I say this to you?
  3. On her wrist was a bracelet made from multi-colored paperclips.
  4. His voice crackled through the walkie-talkie, “The Eagle Has Landed.”
  5. Are you ready to do this?

Have a story or prompt to share? Post it here : ) Happy writing!


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Seize Every Second

“You’ll seldom experience regret for anything that you’ve done. It is what you haven’t done that will torment you. The message, therefore, is clear. Do it! Develop an appreciation for the present moment. Seize every second of your life and savor it. Value your present moments. Using them up in any self-defeating ways means you’ve lost them forever.” Wayne Dyer, Author and Speaker

I used to keep a list of things that brought me fear. Not things like “spiders” or “house fires” but things I had control over. Action steps I could take that would flip that fear on its head. Some I completed, most I did not. Of course I have regrets, but Mr. Dyer is right. Usually those pangs of remorse are because I DIDN’T do something. Something fun, courageous, adventurous or just small and simple, but if completed would have far-reaching results. These things I need to ponder. What about you?

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