A to Z Challenge Day 7: G is for…

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G is for…

Goals.  Write down your goals, for your writing and your life, and post them somewhere you can see them every day. I post them on my mirror so they’re the first thing I see when I get up, by my chair in the living room, and by my desk. I want to always have them in front of me so I know where I want to be, not where I am. Give yourself incentives or treats, be it gold stars on the calendar, special coffee in the café or a glass of wine at the end of it all. I work better with bribes or incentives.  I’ve even started paying myself, putting money in a jar based on how much I write.  Then I’ll spend it on a writerly prize: a conference next year.

Goal

 

How do you manage your goals? What are your short-term incentives?

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A to Z Challenge Day 6:

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F is for…

Finish.

For me, this used to be the most difficult part of a writing project, to write through to “the end.” Right about the midpoint, a new story’s characters would start creeping out of the shadowed nooks and crannies of my mind. They would whisper at first and I could get away with writing down a phrase or page to quiet them and get back to the task at hand. Soon, they would be dancing and partying and having so much fun, that I would leave the WIP and stray, just for a while, to the new project.

And this would happen again and again until I had a drawer full of half finished, partially baked stories, withering and shriveling away. Sure, I had stories. Lots of them. But not one made it to the finish line before I got distracted by another idea, promising flowers and wine and good times until…

I found the best way for me to finish is to write fast and furiously (I’m sure you’ve heard of NaNoWriMo).  It’s too fast and chaotic to get distracted. There’s no time for tangents.  And for me, it got an entire project down on paper. Sure, it needs editing, tightening up some places and filling out others. But you can’t edit a blank page.

Finish your chapter. Finish your book. Finish your project. Just finish…

Finish

How do you get yourself to the finish line?

A to Z Challenge Day 5: E is for…

E     is for Excuses.

Don’t make excuses and Don’t talk about it. Do it.
Melvyn Douglas

It’s very easy to come up with excuses as to why you couldn’t write today. TV, pets, family, social media, day job, meals, shopping, exhaustion.  Everyone wants or needs a piece of you and your time. It’s up to you to decide what’s really important to you.

If writing (or anything else) is your dream and you’re ready to go after it, make it a priority. Yes, food, shelter, the day job that pays for said food and shelter, family are all important. But you needn’t feel guilty about stealing moments to do what feeds you.

Our instincts tend to be to help others first, make sure they’re safe and cared for, that their dreams are being nurtured and chased. Airline attendants always say, for safety, “put your own oxygen mask on first.”  The reasoning behind it is that by taking care of yourself, you can better take care of others. You’ll be happier, healthier, more fulfilled and energetic. And then you’ll be able to better help those you care for. And they’ll learn from you to chase their own dreams instead of someone elses.

Steal moments at lunchtime, during kids’ practice, during the game when your kid isn’t on the field, 30 minutes before or after the Day Job, waiting for appointments, waiting in line.

It took me decades to learn this lesson. But then again, I’ve always been a late bloomer.

                        Where do you steal your moments?

A to Z Challenge Day 4: D is for…

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D.  is for…

dragonmead

That’s “Drrrrragonmead.” You have to read it with the rrrrolled r’s and a Scottish-Irrrish brrrogue. This is my favorite microbrewery. It’s beers are crisp, flavorful and clean. And with it’s Final Absolution’s 8.5% alcohol content, you don’t have to drink

Ring of Fireis my all time favorite, brewed with jalapeno, serrano and habenero peppers. If you like things spicy, you’ll love this! It’s surprisingly smooth with a surprising little afterburn of spicy goodness. While it does have a lovely heat to it, it’s more of a complex spicy flavorburst. One sip and you’ll be hooked!

Unfortunately, it’s only available on tap in Warren, Michigan sporadically. But any of their other house made brews will definitely make it worth the trip. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, let me know. The first round’s on me!

What’s your favorite local flavor?

A to Z Challenge Day 3: C is for…

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C is for…

Coffee, Chocolate, Cocktails

You know, basic writer fuel. It’s our birthright, practically an obligation, as writers to enjoy copious amounts of external stimulants and rewards.

Coffee: To wake up those brain cells and accelerate the synapses so we can create and type really, really fast.. I like it dark and bold and straight and just a little bit sweet. Like my men. Or with the works, a venti-triple-shot-caramel-coconut-peppermint-hazelnut-mocha-iced-no-foam-frappa-scalding-hot-frozen-chino. Non-fat, of course. But don’t scrimp on the whip. Every girl needs a little whip cream. And sprinkles. Did I miss anything?

Chocolate: To reward, bribe, or just keep my blood sugar up for one more chapter. But mostly because I LOVE IT. Again, the darker the better. And organic, if possible. Here are five little words of golden writerly wisdom: Dark chocolate covered espresso beans. Enough said.

Cocktails: Deep, dark red wine, the drier the better & craft beers are my every day go-tos.(Watch the next post for my favorite.) But at heart, I’m a tequila girl(I’m pretty sure I’ll go further into depth when we hit “T” day), so it’s usually a top shelf margarita on the rocks if I’m going for the hard stuff. I make a killer Raspberry Royal margarita. Or a mojito, in homage to Papa (yeah, that’s the reason), while writing on the imaginary beach in my mind…

So, what’s your favorite? Feel free add your favorite recipes or plug your favorite local brewery.

A to Z Challenge Day 2: B is for Believe

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Day 2: B is for…
Believe

“Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?” – Jon Bon Jovi

Writing isn’t for the faint of heart. No matter what you hope your end game will be (the next J. K. Rowling or just a joke on the bathroom wall), you have to believe in yourself. You can’t wait for validation, accolades or even encouragement from anyone else. YOU have to believe.

It took me a long time to believe that I could do this, that my dreams were just as important as anyone else’s. It’s easier to help someone else achieve their dreams than to risk failure. If you don’t try, you can’t fail, right? WRONG! Not trying, not believing, is the biggest failure. Be fearless! And if you’re going to fail (in your own opinion), then DO IT BIG! If you’re going to mess up, do it loud! Do it kicking and screaming all the way down. And at the end, still don’t stop believing.

When writing, there are good days and bad days. There are days when words flow effortlessly onto the page accompanied by unicorns and fairies, and days that you can’t buy a vowel from the miserly trolls that have imprisoned your muses. Still, you write on. You’re a writer. You’re an artist. You’re a goddess/god. You’re worth it. Believe it.

As long as YOU believe, you cannot fail. There will be trolls and cheerleaders,\; pay attention to that which serves you and ignore the rest.

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Clap your hands if you believe!

How do you keep the faith and keep believing? Let me know! I’d love to hear! I’ll be your cheerleader or slayer of trolls.

A to Z Blog Challenge: A Writer’s Life, Warts and All

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Day 1: A is for…
Alter Ego

“My name is Anastasia Beaverhausen. Anastasia, as in Russian royalty. Beaverhausen as in where the beaver live.” ~Megan Mullally as Karen Walker in Will and Grace.

I used to love watching Will and Grace. My favorite episode, or at least the one that really struck a chord with me, was the introduction of Anastasia Beaverhausen: Karen’s alter ego. When Karen wanted to do something or go somewhere that didn’t fit in with her public persona of a New York socialite, she would become Anastasia. Or Shu Shu Fontana, her drag name. And then she would do whatever she wanted, like eating greasy tacos at Taco Time, or become the queen of a gay Halloween party, consequences be damned. After all, it wasn’t Karen, it was Anastasia (or Shu Shu). She gave herself complete, guilt free deniability.

We all have things we wish we had the courage to do. And we might even dare to do them, if no one we knew would find out it was us. This is where the beauty of the alter ego comes in. Or the pen name. Or the jet black wig in the back of the closet, metaphorically speaking, of course. This is how Stella Got Her Groove back, on a vacation far away from prying eyes of those who judge or have best interests at heart.

And it’s LIBERATING to put your truth out there, be it a dream, a goal, a thought or prayer, or just something that YOU wouldn’t normally dare to do, if someone was watching.

What would be your alter ego’s name? (You’ll meet mine later in the challenge.) What would you dare to do if you didn’t have anyone to answer to?

‘Twas the Night Before NaNo

T’was the night before NaNo, and all through the world
Ghosties and goblins and writers are heard
Moaning and groaning at the frightening sight
Of blank screens and notebooks, no ideas in sight.

The WriMos were pacing, their hearts were sinking
50,000 words? What was I thinking?
They heard the haunting “tick, tick, tick, tock”
And picked up the stapler to throw at the clock.

They walked to the cabinet and pulled out the brandy
Then to the counter to feast on the candy
Chocolate and peanut butter. To hell with this diet!
Then outside the front door it sounded like a riot.

They stomped to the entry, ready to fight
And throw open the door, such a grizzly sight.
The drink spilled over and they looked out with a glare
Crumbs on their shirts, Cheetos in their hair.

The moon shined down on the assembling crowds
Dimmed by the shadow of gathering dark clouds
But what on the front porch did they hear with a fright
“Trick or Treat!” yell the kiddies. It’s All Hallows night!

A vampire! A princess! A pirate! A ghost!
A zombie with brains he snacks on the most!
A kitten! A monkey! Super heros and thieves!
One brat hits another with a big bag of leaves!

Ideas are soaring! Inspiration abounds!
Quick! Where’s a pencil, some paper, a wall?
The kids scream for candy but now there’s no time
The door slams in their faces, they coat it with slime.

New charactes and plots, settings and scenes
As hopse for best sellers sneak into our dreams.
The witching hour comes with the chimes for midnight.
Happy NaNo’s Eve to all, and to all a good write!

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The Busy Parent’s (or Couch Potato’s) Tricks for Maximizing Writing Time

There are days when I just get totally unmotivated to do anything. I get sucked in to whatever is on TV, sink into my chair with my blanket and my dog, and don’t move. It’s so easy to succumb to a “veg” day, which can turn in to a “veg” weekend, or spiral into a “veg” week, and so on.

To paraphrase Newton, a butt on the couch will stay on the couch unless compelled or bribed by something more enjoyable to do. Or a full bladder.

To counteract the siren’s call of these totally wasted days, this is what works for me:

In the mornings, after I knock the alarm clock off the nightstand and drag myself out of bed to the insistent whining of my dog, I get dressed. If it’s going to be an “at home” day, this is workout gear, including my tennis shoes. It’s really hard to get motivated to do anything wearing slippers, flip-flops, or going barefoot. And, if I look like I’m ready to go to the gym, I just might actually do some exercises at some point during the day.

Next, after starting the coffee maker, I do my hair and make-up. For me, I don’t feel like myself without my hair done and my make-up on. It’s my psychological symbol that the opportunity for a productive day is there, if I want it. And I’m more likely to get out of the house if I feel like I’m ready to meet other human beings.

On the days I get sucked in to TV programming, I force myself to do “Commercial Clean Up.” This is something I used to do with my kids during weekend cartoons. During the commercials, we’d all have to jump up and work on some chore: cleaning, laundry, picking up toys, you get the picture.

You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in that short snippet of time, and how much it all adds up by the end of the day. And technically, you can still sort of be a couch potato, if that’s a badge you wear proudly.

In the space of a commercial break, you can:

  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Start a load of laundry
  • Bring a basket of clothes from the dryer to be folded during the program
  • Clean the toilet
  • Clean the bathroom mirrors and counter
  • Clean the bathroom sink
  • Clean the kitchen counters
  • Clean the kitchen sink
  • Prep veggies for meals
  • Plan the day’s/week’s meals
  • Sweep the kitchen or bathroom floor
  • Mop the kitchen or bathroom floor
  • Do some jumping jacks
  • Lift some weights
  • Hold a yoga pose
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Line edit several pages

You get the idea. You can break up the chores you don’t like into small increments, and reward yourself by enjoying your favorite programs. Call it multitasking for the unmotivated. You don’t have to waste your “free” time doing these things, and you’ll have more time for your writing.

And when you get your kids involved, it becomes a race, a fun little competition. Small bits of chores are much more tolerable than 30-60 minutes (or an entire day’s worth) of doing the stuff no one want to do, but we all have to. And if you can make it a game, even just with yourself, it’s not as bad.

Now, for my (late again) mid-week update:

  • Blog post: done!
  • Reading fiction: Working
  • Editing: 20 pages done
  • Query: thinking hard J
  • Exercise: bust L we’ll see what happens tomorrow.
  • Everything else: still in progress.

Keep Writing! I’ll do the same!

Beth Ann

Writing Goals Update Week 1: Time to Re-Evaluate

This past week, everything that could go wrong, did. Power outages, internet issues, insomnia and my health taking a downward turn have all put a damper on my apparently overly ambitious objectives. And I’m late on my Week 1 check in. I have decided to  down scale my goals for this round. My health has to be my number one priority.

Writing is a part of that. It keeps me sane and lifts me up when everything is crashing down around me. It’s my sedentary escapism. But, I’d rather succeed in accomplishing (and maybe surpassing) smaller goals and feel like I’m winning at something than continue to fail at everything.

So, here’s what happened last week and the updated goals for the next part of this round.

1. Writing

a. 750 250+ words a day on MS 2 (after completing outline by this Sunday.)

b. Final FINAL edit on MS 1.

c. Write query and synopsis for MS 1 by Sunday end of the July.

d. Send out MS 1 queries to agents (YIKES!)

2. Blogging

I need the connection to the outside world. I’m isolating myself too much, even though it’s unavoidable until I get some physical energy back. What little bit of energy I have goes to basic needs and medical appointments.

I’d like to come up with weekly theme days: 1 or 2 to start (planning on beginning this next week)

     a. 1 Blog post per week while I figure out the format of my blog

I have some things in a file I may dig out and repurpose for this until I’m in the state of mind and body to create something completely new.

     b. Comment on 5+ 3+ blogs per week

     c. Create blog format (i.e. Manic Mondays, Twirly Tuesdays…)Still to do

3. Reading/Reviewing

     a. 1 Book review per week every other week, until I get caught up. (Then, it’s at the mercy of how fast I can read.)

     b. Read fiction each night before bed. Done!! Woo hoo! Keep working this!

     c. Read (and review) at least 1 craft book per month during this round.

4. Health

I’m fighting my health issues with everything I have, which isn’t much right now. I’m desperately trying to stay optimistic…

     a. Increase stamina and muscle tone.

                  i.   Treadmill in small increments throughout the day.

Start with 10 minutes per hour as tolerated. Epic fail. Rough health week on so many levels. Still overall goal.

                ii.   Light weights during commercials (when not writing) as tolerated. Epic fail. See i.

     b. Really focus on eating properly. Fail. See i. Too tired to prep much. Finally went grocery shopping yesterday for the first time in 2 weeks and it kicked my a$$. Hopefully I’ll energy to prep and pre-cook tomorrow. In the meantime, yogurt’s healthy, right?

     c. Continue with doctor’s orders. Doing. Just started new treatments. It’s an hour’s drive each way to the doctor’s office, plus an hour for the treatment, two times per week. The whole thing wipes me out. I try to do whatever errands (I pick 1 each day) are a priority on those days, because I know I’ll be whipped for at least the next day or two. Plus, it’s about the only time I get out of the house, so hopefully I can do something to give myself a little boost. Yesterday it was grocery shopping (the dogs needed food—and so did the family); hopefully on Thursday, I can stop at the bookstore. That’s always been my go-to place, usually each day on my lunch hour at work. It calms, relaxes and recharges. And a great place to visualize my book being front and center someday!

I’m not giving up, just doing a little…adjusting. Thanks for listening and for coming along for the ride!

Beth