Not Writing? An Act of Self Sabotage?

March 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Lucky bambooWriting is all about discipline.  I know that.  Then, my question is, what does it mean when you like to write but in the end find writing to be a task?  For those finding it difficult to settle down and write, is it part of our DNA to prefer activities that don’t chain ourselves to a chair?  Or are we running away from ourselves?  Will our writing reveal more about ourselves than we want to share?  All interesting questions for the writer who finds they are not writing.

Recently, I found out that I am not alone in this struggle.  A talented writer/ friend is exploring that very same question.  What in the world is holding us back?  Why are we self-sabotaging ourselves?

Probably the answer is different for all of us.  However, I do see a similarity as I listen to other potential writers (there are oodles of us out there), read writing threads, and read blogs.  It simply comes down to avoidance behavior. 

If you look closely at your favorite writer, or for that matter, any successful person, you will see that people who show up every day and work at their craft, their business, their passion are the ones who eventually reap rewards for overcoming the challenges from every day demands. 

So, I’m talking to all those out there, and I’m talking  to myself —  If you want to be successful at writing, you need to show up and write every day.  Although the editor in you will say “This sucks!”  Keep at it. You’ll get better and faster with just the commitment to working at your writing with consistency. 

If you have experienced yo-yo dieting, you know it doesn’t work.  All those successful weight loss stories come from a place of discipline and exercise.  Sorry to say, I’m learning that writing is no different. 

You are like your first novel.  Just like every character and every scene must in some way advance the plotline of your novel, so must the writing and reading activities of your writing time. 

I’d like to hear from you, if you had many starts and stops to your writing.  How did you eventually move past your hurdles?

Future of Writing Opportunities

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Recently, I bought a NOOK for my mother.  I was thinking about the direction of book publishing—wondering if we are knocking on the door of the Jetson’s lifestyle.  For those who have spent years commuting on public transportation know the weight of carrying a book around all day, of reading a newspaper without annoying people seated next to you every time you turned a page, and unable to read in dim light.  Yes, the e-reader makes reading more convenient.

If we accept that assumption, can we also assume that if e-readers gain popularity, especially in the schools (texts are more affordable on the e-reader), then the next generation encouraged and nurtured to read, will start a real surge in demand for good writers?  Are we writers going to be able to find our place in the publishing world with more ease, because the demand is higher?

Time will tell which direction and opportunities will be available to us through technological advances.  A few years ago, commentaries on the future of book publishing nervously predicted the end of the hard copy book.  I remember thinking afterward that a writer’s life will probably get harder with fewer publishers.  Life is interesting in that the 90’s gloom of the unknown have evolved in the expansion of more opportunities, not less.

After the 90’s, we witnessed the emergence of new writing opportunities for the web.  Even web development has spawned specialty writers, not only based on subject matter, but also in technological expertise.  New occupations have sprung up .  We now have blog writers, website copy writers, e-newsletter writers, e-magazine writers, and web ad copy.  There are video writers for the streaming video spots. Writers can publish online and can advertise their articles, books, etc in ads, and on other people’s online blogs.  Promoting one’s writing has never been easier.

Technology also has made publishing less expensive with computer editing and printing on demand.  Publisherz can print a modest first run and produce more copies when needed.  

Writers who know their craft are positioning themselves for the greatest jump in their careers.  It is coming.  Will you be ready?

August Doldrums

August 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Ooops!  Where did August go?  Was I having fun? Some. Was I working? Yes. Was I writing?  More like outlining. 

I hate putting my writing at the bottom of my to-do list.  Every time I try moving it up, I succeed for one or two days and then I let external demands derail me. I don’t imagine that I am alone.

August has been a month for reading…mostly background research for my germ of an idea for a series based on the Chinese immigration in the late 1800’s.  I should be taking notes, but I am so engrossed in the material that my eyes glide through the pages like a document feeder. 

August has been a time to ponder the direction of this blog.  I didn’t want this blog to be specifically about HOW to WRITE.  There are oodles of websites that can do it well and obviously are better at time management than I seem to be.  I thought maybe the journal angle would be fun, but who really wants to listen to me moan and groan about my inertia?  I certainly wouldn’t, but then again, maybe it would attract attention because global journal sharing seems to be the trend.

I could blog about my research, but then, why would I write the novel, if it is already out there for people to see?  Anyway, I am superstitious.  I don’t talk too much about these things in order to avoid being jinxed or too many people asking me questions like why isn’t it written already.  Maybe I should stick to reviewing a particular topic? 

Hmmm.  Well, it gives me pause for thought about which direction to take this blog.   Stay tune.

Finding Time to Write

July 5, 2010 Leave a comment

When I was in my 20’s I lived paycheck to paycheck for many months.  Eventually, as the Universe would have it, I would have to learn to be more responsible.  I had to have a major repair on my car and had saved nothing for an emergency. 

I did what everyone else would have done.  Charged it.  “Don’t worry too much. You have two paychecks before the bill arrived, ”  I told myself.  It was a very tight 90 days.  I don’t think the Universe expected me to be a financial wizard, but I knew that I had to do something different because living like a pauper wasn’t cutting it for me.   The lesson learned here is obvious:  Save something from every paycheck and don’t spend more than you earn.

That said, I need to take this page out of my experience playbook and apply it to my writing.  No money. No time.  Same difference.  I didn’t put my financial health high on the priority list and sooner or later, the inevitable expense threw my financial equilibrium off (and notice it only took one good size invoice).  Just like my financial negligence, I am doing the very same thing to my writing.  There are other things obviously more important to me, although I espouse how I value writing time. 

So I am applying what I have learned at work…well, intellectually learned at least…to my writing.

Here’s what the business coaches would say if I made novel writing my career:

Make writing the first thing you do each day.  Once the day has begun there is too much competition from distractions and external energies vying for your attention.  DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO OPEN YOUR EMAIL FIRST!  Guarenteed you will not have time to write.

Apply the Pareto Principle.  Those in business may know it as the 80/20 Rule…80% of your desired results come from 20% of your effort.  An example of this rule:  80% of all the books sold are written by 20% of authors.  So, it makes sense, that if you spent 20% of your day or about 2 hours on your writing, would that book be written and published by now?

To apply the Pareto Principle, you must drop all the busy work that gets you nowhere.  You may have to work on defining this, because we all get into habits of just doing.  Before each activity, ask yourself, “Will this task help me finish my novel?”  Some you will say overwhelming ly yes.  Some will be a little less connected.  For instance, a trip to the dentist.  The results of a dental visit is integral to the success of getting that novel done.  If you neglect your health, you will not have the energy, concentration to complete a novel.

You will have to learn to prioritize and organize.  If these traits do not come naturally to you, you need to step up to the plate and figure out how to make this work.

Writing a novel is like running a marathon.  You need to keep going until you reach the finish line.  Any distractions will certainly derail you from your goal.

On your computer create a tme tracker for your writing.  No doubt you have heard about food tracking for dieters. Well, you should track how much time you spend each day on your writing tasks. 

Ask for help and learn to delegate in your family.  Even though your family wants to support you, changing their behaviors to help you might be a challenge especially if you are dealing with teenagers.  I suggest you explain to your family what you would like to accomplish and what it means to them.  Some families will get on board with the change immediately; some will need more time to adjust. 

Learn to say NO.  This is one of the hardest lessons learned for women.  Women seem to be better at multi tasking and well, the nurturing and caring strengths actually work against women novelists.

Write a goal list for your writing.  You do it at work all the time.  You have a list of tasks you would like to get done that day.  You write grocery lists, errand lists, and procedual lists.  You will find better results if you know that you will finish writing a scene with the protagonist that day and read Publisher’s Weekly.  Accomplishing only two things a day for your writing is huge.  When you complete those two things. you know you have gotten something done and are that much closer to the finish line.

Are you ready?  Get set. Go.

Why Haven't You Written That Novel?

July 4, 2010 Leave a comment

missing puzzleI don’t have time to blog regularly.  I don’t have time to tweet or check facebook.  Some days I wonder why did I start this  blog.  I find the pressure to write a blog at the end of the day painful.   So, you can only imagine.  It should come as no surprise that my book ideas still sit in my head. 

I have analyzed my resistance.  I have told myself every excuse in the book.  I sometimes think I am like an addict to my established behaviors.  I make excuses so I do not have  to change, even though it would make a positive difference in my life and take me that much closer to achieving my writing aspiration — to write that novel.

Here are some classic symptoms.  You may recognize them in yourself.  I guess I’m doing that analytical thing again.  (And is blogging another avoidance behavior mechanism?) All of these actions murder the writing spirit.  Are derailing yourself from ever writing that novel?  How does one stop these self-sabotaging behaviors?

  • You are always too busy to write.  The holidays. The family. The house.
  • You start a story, but suddenly stop  because you don’t know what comes next.   You tell yourself, you are going to let yourself think about it ….the story eventually lands in a desk drawer bottom because you never find a good resolution.
  • You wait for inspiration, cause you don’t know how you want the story to progress and figure that when you see or hear it, you’ll know it.
  • You feel much better if you had someone to share your writing pain.  You can’t write anything without a partner.
  • You have anxiety about completing a project, because you may not feel you did this or that.
  • You think your first draft stinks…and most likely, it will.
  • Your family doesn’t support the alone time that it takes to write and research.
  • You find it much more fun to do the research and not so much the writing.  You like the idea of being a novel writer, but resist doing the work.
  • You over analyze everything.
  • You want each paragraph to be perfect, so you find it difficult to ever get to the end of a chapter. 
  • You do more blabbing about your story line than writing about it.  That has to mean something.

In the weeks to come, I will explore each of these Resistance to Success behaviors.  If you are reading this and want to share your story…maybe owning up to it will get you that much closer to achieving your writing goals.

Or if you have strategies to overcome the resistence to write, please feel free to share.

Pro Flowers

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And if you ever want someone to be your raving fan, go the extra mile for your target audience. This includes writing promotions. Pro Flowers has bent over backwards to make me happy. I have been using them over the years, and twice they have stepped up and re-issued my order without a new charge…without giving me a hassle. One a few years ago was a legitimate request, but the one for this Mother’s Day won me over.

Go to http://www.proflowers.com for all your flower delivery needs. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed, even if life throws in occasional glitches.

Nature or Nurture?

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I am in transition.  As I reflect back at my life (yesterday was my birthday), I see that I unwittingly followed in my mother’s footsteps.  Was this nuture or nature? 

I can make an argument for both.  My mom is the creative type, a bit wayward.  She has structure in her approach toward her goals, but the structure is limited to the scope of the immediate project.  She is detailed in a microcosmic way, never able to step outside herself and see the bigger picture…see that her artwork is wonderful and how her talent was never discovered (except by close friends and family). 

As I look back into a couple of generations before her, I see her shortcomings are the shortcomings of all the women in her family.  This could be  generational, societal, and ethnic —all equally responsible for her lack of consistency.  It could be a lack of a role model in self promotion.  But what if she were lucky to find the right mentor?  Would her inherent choices in life change? 

While genetics doesn’t help you make decisions, it does govern your responses to situations.  If you tend to be shy, self promotion may be extremely difficult.

I am so much like my mom, it is frightening.  I fear that I will follow in her footsteps.  The path isn’t quite the same, but the results parallel each other.  My mother strove for self-actualization in her artwork.   She is 80 plus years old, still painting, producing her best work, but the staccato rhythm of her projects makes it tough to get any momentum. 

My lifestyle differs from my mom, but yet, I too suffer the same staccato pattern.  Is it learned behavior or the inability to stay focused for any length of time? 

I am moving past my genetics, my learned  behavior.  I, unlike my mom, understand what strategies I have to employ to reach my goal.  I know I am not alone. My internal struggle is shared by many others.  I just wonder sometimes, if the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has merit.