Finding daily motivation

This is a picture heavy post. You’ve been warned.

So I’m an odd sort of lady. I tend to waffle between being, super calm/carefree and being an emotionally over charged wreck. If my shoe lace breaks then the world is ending. If I find a chocolate on my desk, it’s Christmas. I probably need medication now that I think about it, but regardless…

At the beginning of November, I decided to try a new method of journaling. To try and keep my mood swings in check, I’d start each day with a page of wisdom. The date would go in the top corner, and my only rule was that I had to spend at least five minutes thinking about it before I filled the page. As an added bonus, I colored them with a pack of highlighters. So when you get to this pictures near the bottom of this post don’t be surprised if they burn your eyes.

Some days I found quotes from other writers, but most days I just made it up as I went along. Stickers? Sure. Drawings? Why not. Whatever I thought would get me through the day and keep my focused on the task at hand, I wrote down.

I’ll be the first to admit that some day went better than others, but for the most part, this idea turned out to have some pretty cool consequences. Like I’ve got about 30 pages of things the motivate me personally to look back at any time I’m feeling like a Doctor Who marathon should take precedence over my novel.

If you struggle to keep your goals in check on a daily basis, or you find that you’re easily swayed by the thought of tumblr/youtube/facebook/netflix/etc. binge, then you might want to try adding this to your routine.

I should also add, that this was a two part process. The first page of the day was always colorful and creative. But the second page was just important. Opposite my cheerleading pages, was a list of goals for the day and a list of obstacles. If I knew I’d be seeing friends, it’s an obstacle. Didn’t get enough sleep last night? Well your naps, might get in the way of what you planned to do for the day. A lot of the time, I was just over ambitious.

But I will say that these pages helped me to increase my output of everything for the month.

Since December 4th, I have read 6 books (The Heroes of Olympus anyone?),  written 8 blog posts, worked out 15 of 30 days(currently the 30th), and managed to completely edit one of my novels from beginning to end. I’ve also still managed to watch an obscene amount of tv…Though I don’t think that’s an accomplishment. A great deal of other time went into planning a number of other projects too, and I dare say I wouldn’t have been as productive without my journals egging me on each day, reminding me of good days.

If you don’t think this is for you, keep doing whatever you’re doing. If your interested, feel free to take a look at my motivation pages for the month.  ^__^

 

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Tracking your writing goals

Each month I go through countless pages in my journals, detailing my goals for the next thirty some odd days.

How many days are there?

How many pages or words, I need to write daily to get where I want to be?

If I watch netflix for four days and do nothing in the way of writing, how much work do I have to do to make up for it…. Etc. 

I filled a fair few notebooks with facts and figures about my progress, and while I find it somewhat soothing and motivating, I could always do more. 

So you can imagine my joy when a fellow writer recommended Write Track to me. 

If you’ve ever participated in Nanowrimo, you’ll quickly realize that this free site is essentially an evolved version of the stats page. You can add as many projects as you want. Chose how long you’ll work on them, and how much you want to do. Want to write 60k  during February, go right ahead. 25k in August? Why not?! 

Once you create a project you can see how much you need to do each day to achieve your goal. The projects can be viewed as calendars based on your dates, or as charts/graphs. But be warned. LIke the nanowrimo stats pages, which sometimes claims that you’ll finish your November novel in February when you’re really only 3k behind, this program has the same flaw. If it’s 4pm, and you’ve only done 1k of your necessary 2k, the program will try scare tactics and the rest of the month will say you need to do 3 or 4k each day to catch up. Of course if you reach your goal for the day then the chart is totally accurate. No scare tactics til the next day. 

The other feature that I would like to mention is your ability to have friends on the site who can view your goals. My writing group is using this feature so that we can keep track of each other’s goals and make sure that no one falls behind no matter what their project is. 

If you’d like to check it out, it’s a free program and I kid you not, takes a minute to set up. Just enter your email, username and password and you are ready to go, so why not give it a try. 

 

Happy scribbling!

Ideal writing conditions?

This is a list of my own preferences, to remind me that it is impossible to have all my favorite conditions at once. But that doesn’t have to ruin a writing session. If I can only have a few of these I’ll be ok.

~ hot tea
~ cold water
~ clear mind
~ weary adrenaline
~ 8am-12pm
~ 11pm-3am
~ warm bed
~ hard desk
~ lyric-less music
~ people nearby
~ silence
~ purple pens
~ soft pages
~ dull screen
~ beautiful ideas
~ harsh outcomes

Clearly, my writing preferences are a collection of contrasts. What are the things that make your experience productive?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The wonderful thing about writing

The wonderful thing about writing is, well, everything. The other day I began a journal entry on this topic and later realized that it would make a decent post. So without further ado…

1. No fancy supplies.

A writer can write on a thousand dollar computer or in a dollar store notebook, or on a cell phone, or with finger paint if you so choose. There is no limitation on what you can use to produce your work. Pens, pencils, laptops whatever. Which means writing is accessible to everyone.

2. Anytime, anywhere.

At home, at the office, on a bus or train, while walking, on the treadmill, in a coffee shop, etc. You can write anywhere. I written in classes, or trams and buses, in my bed, at the library, at McDonald’s, at cafes, restaurants, bars, under tables, on top of tables, the gym, even at my treadmill desk. There are no limits on places to practice your craft.

3. No qualifications.

I attended university for French and international affairs, not creative writing. You don’t need a degree, license, or anyone’s approval to start writing. You get to decide when and where and how you write all on your own and there no wrong way to do start.

4. No limit to what you can do.

Romance, fantasy, sci-fi, literary, fiction and non-fiction, western, crime, mystery, horror, whatever. Children’s, young adult, adult, teen, middle grade, take your pick. If one doesn’t work for you pick another. Hell you can even change your pov or your choice of persons. All the options are at your disposal.

All of these reasons as well as more basically mean that absolutely anyone can be a writer. You don’t need anything special, you can be any kind of writer, anytime, anywhere.

I think sometimes it’s easy to forget about the stories that need to be told and get caught up and overwhelmed by all the things we don’t have. Degrees, expensive writing programs, someone’s approval. But really, the only thing that sets writers apart from one another is passion. Passion for the story, for the characters, for the reader, for the escape.

So go ahead, forget all the reasons why you can’t or you shouldn’t be a writer. And write.

Because writing is a wonderful thing.

All I want for Christmas … A writer’s wish list

Now this probably goes without saying but Christmas is the time when I, like many of you I would imagine, stock up on writerly things for the year. Be it office supplies or books, I’m always more than a little anxious to restock and replace my most used possessions. Out with the old and in with the new they say.

So with that in mind I thought I’d make a little list, of what I’m hoping for but what might work well for yourself or other writers in your life.

1. New notebooks!
I don’t know about you but I am constantly writing. Go figure. I have a food and weight loss journal, a daily checklist/diary journal, and of course at least one notebook per project that I’m currently working on. And depending on the size of the notebook and the frequency with which I make entries, I can go through 4-8 a year. And o course my stock pile is dwindling so I’m in the market for some more cool notebooks. I’m thinking a replica of river songs diary from dr who! Available at thinkgeek.com.

2. Pens!!!!
What good is a notebook without a writing instrument. I have this particular quirk where I hate black, blue, or red pens. So what do I use you might ask. Well, I write with purple. Only purple. All the time. And I’m almost out so those are a must find. And on that note.

3. Quills and ink
Yep you read that right. I actually am really fond of nibbed pens, so I like to pick a few of this up every year. They make quite a mess if you spill the bottles though so beware if you’re clumsy like me. 😉

4. Lap desk
I frequently find myself writing in bed so this is a wonderful tool to have, very comfortable and convenient with a pen slot and cup holder. Unfortunately I use mine so much that they fall apart on me every 6 months or so.

5. Hard cover books!!!!
Or just books in general. I have about 200 books on my to read list but this year I’m requesting hard copies of some books I have digital copies of and some that I’ve just recently read from the library.

This years list…

Hunger games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The name of the wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The wise man’s fear by Patrick Rothfuss

2-5 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
1-3 of the heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan

So I wish you happy gift hunting and Yuletide celebrating.

Also 6. Chocolate

7. High quality tea or coffee

Fellow lonely writers…

It is times like these, at 4:20 am to be precise, that I long for a literary confidant. With my manuscript and highlighters scattered across my desk, fiance firmly tucked away in bed, and my tea growing cold beside me, it strikes me that this might not be the best time to be contemplating editing or writing. And yet, it seems, I often find myself napping the evening away and pouring over my work into the wee hours of the morning.

Some of those times lead to very productive writing or brainstorming, and others, like this evening, leave me with cold fingers, and an itch for someone to kick me in the literary butt so I can go back to writing.

Writing is most often described as a solitary business, and from the years I’ve spent slowly chipping away at stories and honing my ability to drink an obscene amount of caffeine, I would agree. However, that has not yet eliminated this urge, which generally catches me off guard after a particularly good day of creating, for a writing companion.

Someone to bounce those stray idea’s off of, to confirm that my characters are in fact still behaving the way someone who had read the first 100 pages would expect them to. This imaginary person who would be just as excited to chat about my new subplot at four am as I am. Unfortunately, writing is a solitary occupation. One which others around me don’t quite get. I’ve many friends and family who, upon hearing a blurb or an excerpt, are more than willing to read my drafts after they’ve been polished. But no buddies with any idea what it takes to create good fiction. Which is to say, I’ve no intimate writing buddies.

The saying It takes one to know one, comes to mind as I contemplate this problem. A fellow writer can spot the error of another’s ways, when a plot is off track or a character becomes unruly. This, I suspect, is why writer’s make such good readers. But when you’re surrounded by readers, what is a writer to do?

I wonder if perhaps this is a common problem amongst us? Do many of you find it hard to find someone willing to know your characters as intimately as you do?

It’s not hard to find like minded people if you know where to look, but I seem to have a missing page in my copy of the yellow pages, and no map to take it’s place…

If any of you, fellow lonely writers, feel as I do, please feel free to let me know in the comments. Better yet, if anyone is interested in working with a gal on an atrociously long, urban fantasy series about the afterlife and values of humanity, that is probably vastly offensive to anyone even remotely religious, please feel free to contact me. I need some trustworthy penpals/email/4am skype friends.

Have a great day everyone, and may your writerly prayers be answered.

Finding focus

Sometimes life has a way of stepping in and keeping you from your goals. The car breaks down, the pipes freeze over and it seems like everything is totally out of your control.

You’ve got two options.

Curl back up under your covers and reacquaint yourself with tumblr or Netflix, or….

Take back control.

Shit happens. Not everything is going to go to plan all the time. Hell, half of the things I plan to do never see the light of day because so much goes on in my life. But isn’t doing half of what you hoped to better than not doing anything at all?!

If you’re anything like me, then one thing gone wrong can ruin your day. Far to often I let that angry conversation, stubbed toe, or pile of dishes ruin my mood and spoil productivity for the rest of my evening

Certainly it’s easier to catch up on old star trek episodes than to tackle that troublesome scene that seems to be just one more problem on the heap of problems in my day.

But it really doesn’t have to be.

Everyone’s a little different when it comes to finding the peace and the mindset to make real headway on a project. So here’s a list of some of the things which help me find focus during hectic or otherwise miserable days.

Journaling
Hot Tea
Chocolate
Reading a few chapters of a favorite book
Warm bath
Running
Yoga
Sketching my scenes and it’s problems
Creating lists of what I have to be happy about in my life
Listening to my favorite playlist/soundtrack
Hugging my pets
Hugging significant others

I’m sure some of these might be helpful and others won’t be, but just remember that if you want something to happen, you’ve got to put the effort in.

It’s easy to work on the good days, but working on the bad ones is more meaningful in the long run.

Besides if you can finding happiness without the stars and planets aligning to give you a perfect day, then you’ll have a lot more good ones than bad.