wellness

Resolutions

It’s that time of year again when we make resolutions and promises to ourselves. The problem with resolutions is that we break them so easily, and the truth is we could choose to improve ourselves and our lives at any time of the year. However, the start of a new year seems to give us a clean slate, at least mentally. I think the reason a lot of resolutions fail is because it’s such an abrupt change. It’s hard to suddenly stop a bad habit and never pick it up again. Some people can, I’m sure, but for most of us it’s extraordinarily difficult. We would do well to start prepping for the change months in advance–that is, start doing little things and eliminating little behaviors that will ultimately set you up for success when you attempt to change altogether on January 1st.

For myself, I’m planning on making some personal changes, and I was thinking how best to make them stick. I haven’t done any ‘prepping,’ so what’s the second best solution? Of course, it’s the opposite of prepping–committing to the changes slowly over time. We see this a lot in people who want to lose weight. If you crash diet, you’re going to put the weight back on. If you lose it slowly over time and gradually change your eating habits and your lifestyle, it sticks much better.

Since this is a writing blog, I’ll address some writing resolutions that you may have, and talk about how to make them stick if you haven’t been gradually building up to your goal already.

Resolutions:

  • I want to write every day. If you don’t write every day now (I’m guilty of this, by quite a lot) you’re probably not going to start writing on January 1st and keep it up every single day of 2017. However, if you start in little increments: say, writing 200 words a day instead of 2000 when you first start, you might stick to it better. You may quickly find you don’t have time in your life to write every single day, but surely you can find the time to write 100 words? 50? It still counts as ‘writing every day,’ and the days you do have more time, you can write a lot more.
  • I want to finish X amount of stories/books in 2017. If you haven’t started on these stories/books, now is the time to start planning them. Project how long you want these works to be and how long it will take you to write them. You can perhaps schedule time frames, even. Also, pick a number that you know is realistic for you, or else you’re going to disappoint yourself and run out of steam. Even just one is better than none!
  • I want to get published. Whether going the traditional route or self-publishing, this takes work and research, and you need to do that first. Learn how to perfect a query letter, compile a list of agents or publishers, or research self-publishing services. With knowledge in hand you’re much more likely to reach your goal. Publishing isn’t just about writing, it’s a business too.
  • I want to be more active on social media/my blog. I’m terrible at social media. I hardly ever post on FB or Twitter unless it’s something promotional. However, I’m not going to be able to just jump in and become the belle of the ball. Start out making Tweets or posts a few times a week, then move up to once a day, and then if you’re really starting to feel comfortable with it, you can start posting multiple times a day and engaging your readers. Some people are just never going to get the hang of social media, and that’s okay, but remember as a writer making personal connections with your audience is important.
  • I want to get myself out there more. You can buy virtual tours, or approach bloggers yourself. Make a list of where you want to promote yourself and start finding ways to get in. Talk to people and seek out who is taking on guests. I’ve found that I can actually schedule tons of promotion without spending a dime this way.

It’s my opinion that resolutions shouldn’t be all or nothing, but should be a commitment to working toward improvement. Giving or picking something up all at once is hard, and will probably fail. However, a dedication to change over time lays a foundation for you to stand steady on.

What are your resolutions for 2017, and how do you plan to implement them?

The Writing Community

One reason I love the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and participate in the monthly blog hop is because of the support it provides. It’s a huge blog hop, and it’s easy to get lost sometimes and there’s so many bloggers involved it’s hard to get to them all, but it’s a great, supportive community of writers who always have your back. By sharing what’s on our minds and what’s bringing us down each month, we find camaraderie, commiseration, and most important of all, sympathetic ears and shoulders to cry on.

This week I posted about how life has been getting in the way of my writing and I’m feeling drained and haven’t made much progress. The outpouring of support was overwhelming and I really want to thank all of you. It makes me feel better to know that other writers struggle with the same issues, and that all of us drop out of the race from time to time. The fact that we’re there to help each other get back in is heartening.

Lots of things can sideline writers and make it so we can’t get our fingers on that keyboard and produce anything:

  • Real life stress and responsibilities
  • Major life changes
  • Health problems
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Holidays
  • Too much on one’s plate

If you’re dealing with any of these things, I’m pulling for you, and I’m here for you. If you need to talk to someone about it or just moan and share your woes, I’m always available. You can comment here or contact me via email, if you would rather discuss something privately. It’s important as writers that we support each other and help each other get back up when we fall. It doesn’t matter what genre we write in, we all have the same love of writing in our hearts.

If you would like to talk in the comments, or you’re in a good place right now and you would like to offer other struggling writers your support, feel free!

Getting Up The Hill

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the December 7 posting of the IWSG will be Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

My insecurity this month revolves around the fact that I’m feeling a little drained right now. Okay, a lot drained. I recently got a promotion at work and the adjustment has taken a lot of my energy and caused a shift of focus. Christmas is also coming and all the buzz surrounding that. As a result, I’m finding it hard to concentrate. I’m not working on writing much, struggling to keep my blog up, and generally just feeling drained and zoned out when I sit down at the computer (so then I screw around online instead of doing work).

I know all writers go through this from time to time, when life climbs on your back and slows you down. I’m hoping as things even out at work and the holidays pass, I’ll get the spark again and be able to concentrate. The funny part is, it’s a vicious cycle: the less I write, the worse I feel, and then the more drained I am. I have to break it!

December 7th Question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

My ultimate ‘writing plan’ has always been to be a career writer. That is, I want to make a living off writing and not have a day job. Far-fetched? Definitely. Improbable? Maybe. Impossible? Only if I don’t do anything to reach that goal. I know it’s something that will take a lot of hard work and needs a little bit of luck thrown in as well.

In five years I hope to at least be paying some of the bills with writing, even if I’m not making a total living off it. How do I plan to do it? The only way an author can make a living off writing: write, publish, repeat. Unless I happen to land a bestseller, it will take lots of work and lots of available work to make a living. Though even if I do magically hit it big, I’ll keep writing more books because–I love writing!

My plan is to do a job I love, which is writing, and live comfortably on it. But it’s going to be a long, hard, sometimes uncomfortable road getting there. I think that’s true of a lot of professions, though. No one becomes a doctor or lawyer overnight, either.

This plan seems incongruent with my insecurities this month, doesn’t it? I guess that’s a sign for me!

How are you feeling this month? Have you ever been drained and unfocused?

Friday Encouragement

Have you had a long, hard week of writing? Things not going so well? Maybe you need a little bit of a nudge, or a hug? I think as writers we should all be supporting and encouraging each other, so in that spirit, I’m going to devote today’s post to some cheerleading. I’ll start at the first seedling and go to the finished project and beyond, so there’s something for you no matter where you are on your journey:

  • Do you have writer’s block? Take heart, it will pass. We all get stuck sometimes. What you might need most is to give your brain a rest, or focus on something else.
  • Are you struggling through the first draft? Keep struggling! Each word you put down gets you closer to a finished manuscript, even if the words come slow.
  • Stuck in the middle? Try a few different doors, even one you wouldn’t normally consider. It just might show you the way forward.
  • Agonizing over the end? Maybe you can write several endings and see which one works best. Remember that nothing is set in stone at this stage.
  • Groaning over edits and rewrites? Take it one little bite at time. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Looking too far ahead makes you trip over what’s under your feet.
  • Not sure if your rewritten/edited manuscript is right yet? Set it aside and come back to it with fresh eyes later. It will still be there.
  • Nervous because you’re about to query? It’s okay to be nervous and anxious. Do some research on where you’re sending it. Polish your letter. Make sure you have everything ready to go. Breathe. Hit send.
  • Waiting to hear back from an editor/agent? Get to work on another project so you’ll have something to distract you and you won’t be pulling your hair out as much.
  • Rejection? It hurts, but it’s part of the writing game. Don’t give up. Keep trying.
  • Acceptance? You may be running around in frantic circles. Celebrate! Congratulations!
  • Is your editor making your life difficult? Try to look at the criticism and corrections with an objective eye and ask yourself what you can learn. Don’t take it personally, because it’s not.
  • Waiting for your book to come out? Focus on marketing and what you can do in the future to promote it. That might help the days from going by so slowly.
  • Your book just came out? Congratulations, breathe a little!
  • You got bad a review? Remember that reviews–good or bad–are one person’s opinion. Your book isn’t you and they’re not attacking you personally. Nod and move on.
  • Your book isn’t selling well? Take heart, only a comparative handful of writers are lucky enough to make a real living off writing. Give yourself career goals and work toward them. You might just end up in that handful.
  • Worrying you’re a hack? We all feel that way sometimes. You’re not a hack. Hold your chin up and look to the future–you will get better and better with time!

No matter where you are on your writing path, I hope today finds you well. May your words be abundant and clever, your ideas bottomless, and your readers plenty! If you have other words of encouragement for each other, leave them in the comments!

Writing resolutions

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and a happy new year! Did you make any resolutions this year? Every January feels like a fresh start and a chance to try again–and I know we don’t often keep our resolutions, however well-intentioned we start off the first month…or week…or days… I’m pretty bad at keeping resolutions myself, and yet, I still make them.

I have a few personal resolutions this year which I won’t get into, but I thought I’d detail some of my writing resolutions here. Maybe typing them out will help me keep them–and maybe if you’re looking to make some resolutions of your own, they’ll give you some ideas.

My Writing Resolutions:

General:

  • Write more. This seems the most obvious resolution for a writer, doesn’t it? The more you write, the more you have written, which is the most important thing. I have a bad habit of using too much of my free time being distracted and messing around instead of being productive. I’m going to create a schedule for myself–a flexible one that I can adjust until I find what works best for me. I would like to cultivate more discipline.
  • Focus tighter. I also have a bad habit of working on too many projects at once, which is also distracting. It ends up making the projects take longer to complete as well, because I keep switching. I’m going to strive to focus on one thing at a time, that way my mind is conditioned for it and my concentration is better. I’m also going to focus more on writing full-length novels instead of shorter works.
  • Learn more about promotion and try to schedule some each month. I’m always striving to figure out what does and doesn’t work as far as promotion goes. I’m going to try to find the things that work the best and schedule something each month to keep my name in front of readers. I’m going to spend less time on promotion that, in the past, has proven not worth the time I put into it.

Social Media:

I’m actually pretty terrible at most social media. I want to improve that.

  • Facebook. My Facebook author page is mostly just news and announcements. I’m pretty bad at getting ‘personal’ on Facebook and my attached personal page under my author name isn’t used (but has to exist in order to moderate the author page). I do have a personal Facebook under my real name, which I’m more active on, but prefer to keep exclusively to friends and family. I’m going to try to be more personable and chatty on Facebook.
  • Twitter. I’m a terrible tweeter too! I was once pretty good at it on my personal account, but I slack now. I think I can be much better at Twitter because it’s a shorter, quicker format than Facebook.
  • Blogging. I have to say, I’m pretty proud of my blogging prowess–mostly because once upon a time I was TERRIBLE at blogging, but I got much better with practice. I try to post three times a week and I’m going to keep at it.
  • Other social media. I’ve been thinking about making a tumblr–I have a fun one, but I’d like to make one more professional and associated with the writing community. I’ve also been told by everyone that an author needs a mailing list, but I’m still not wholly sold on it. I’m not sure what a mailing list might provide that my blog readers don’t already get here.

Other:

  • Blog hops. I do Insecure Writer’s Support Group and I did the April A-Z Challenge last year and honestly, this is where I got many of my followers from! I love blog hops and I’m going to continue to seek out the best/most relevant ones to participate in.
  • Research. I’m going to continue to research the business side of writing and try to get better at it–and work on making more connections.

So there are my writing resolutions for this year–let’s see how well I can do. Do you have any writing (or non-writing) resolutions that you’re hoping to hold onto?

Let’s give some #writerhugs today.

This past Wednesday I co-hosted the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and the massive, positive response to my post really blew me away. So many people stopped by to comment, not just to say “hey what’s up?” but to add discourse and talk about the things they’re struggling with and going through. I tried to answer every single comment thoughtfully and thoroughly. I’m still getting responses, so if I’m a little slow replying I apologize–I WILL answer every single person who comments.

The idea that we all doubt ourselves in some fundamental way really got me thinking, though. As writers, we should be here to lift each other up, not just professionally but spiritually. Even if we don’t write in the same genre or often cross paths, we’re still in this boat together, navigating a stormy sea. Life is hard enough and here we are, trying to make it harder by creating art and shouting our meager voices into the void. It’s good to know we’re not alone, but even knowing that, sometimes we feel very alone.

So in the spirit of how humbled and awed I am by the response to my post, today I’m encouraging everyone to spread support. Go to one of the blogs you follow, the blog of someone you admire, the blog of someone you know–or even don’t know–and leave an encouraging, kind comment on their latest post. Or tweet them. Or leave a Facebook comment. Even if they don’t seem to be outwardly struggling, remember what goes on in our heads rarely matches the smiling faces we put on for the world.

Go out into the internet today and say something uplifting to another writer. #writerhugs! Even if you’re not a writer, you can join in. We need all the encouragement we can get.

The wild ride of life

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year. And I mean extreme ups and extreme downs. It’s been a rollercoaster ride. I’m really hoping 2016 will be a more even ride. I’ll take lower highs if it means things are a bit more steady–anything, as long as those downward dips aren’t as sharp!

A lot of amazingly good things happened to me this year. My debut novel came out in March, and has done well since then, is up for an award, and has been well-reviewed. My second novel comes out in November. So does a separate novella. I’ve had two other things published this year and I already have two things lined up to be published next year. I’ve also gotten stories into a few anthologies. Writing-wise, I’m doing better than I ever have in my life.

In my personal life there have been some good things too. I work at a ‘day job’ I love. I have a lot of good friends. I went on a few trips this year. I definitely can’t say I’m not surrounded by people who care about me.

But the lows have been extreme, too. I’ve had some relationship and terrible money issues I won’t go into, but I’ve had some major health-related issues this year as well. I’m going to preface this by saying I am NOT accident-prone, I swear! Before this year I can’t even recall a time in my life I suffered a significant injury from an accident. I rarely get sick. I don’t have any major health issues. Me and doctors are passing acquaintances.

Until this year.

In February, I slipped on ice and broke my wrist in two places. It was a fairly graphic, visible break and the aftermath was awful–I had no use of my right hand for four days while my arm was wrapped and in a sling until the cast could be put on (you can’t put a cast on a limb until the swelling subsides, otherwise the cast won’t conform). So, needless to say I wasn’t writing during that time. Then I was in a cast for five weeks and had to learn how to type around it. The cast came off the day after St. Patrick’s Day. My wrist healed well but I still have pain in it from time to time, I think it’s arthritic now.

Then in July my best friend took me to Las Vegas for my 40th birthday. On my actual birthday, after dinner, we were walking back to our hotel room and I tripped on my shoes and fell. It seemed like a minor fall at the time but it ended up causing such a severe knee injury I still haven’t recovered from it. The injury was extensive and it took over a month of medical care before it could even be minorly corrected, and I also suffered several infections and a brush with sepsis due to the extent of the injury. It’s still not completely back to normal and I have a slight limp.

Am I boring you rambling on about all this? The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes life is a mixed bag. For me, I always seem to get very bad and very good together. I can never just get a bag of awesome stuff with a few tiny negative things thrown in. I don’t know if this is coincidence or just how my life is fated. Maybe something out there thinks I can’t enjoy the super highs if I don’t experience the super lows.

How about you, how has your luck been this year? I’m wishing us all a 2016 with many more highs than lows, and if not that, at least an even keel.

I will leave you with a song by one of my favorite bands: Jump Rope by Blue October.

Because I’m happy…

NaBloPoMo_PHOTODuring the month of May I’m doing the NaBloPoMo challenge–blogging every day of the month on the theme of photos.

Today’s prompt: Photo: Your Feelings

These days I’m generally a pretty happy person. I wasn’t always, but my life has changed dramatically in the last eight or so years. I made major changes location and relationship-wise, started working a job in an industry I love, and over the past two years, my writing has really taken off and I might actually reach my ultimate life goal in the next few years–to make writing my career.

Based on that, here’s a few happy pictures from my life:

The cake my coworker got me to celebrate my book release!

The cake my coworker got me to celebrate my book release!

Me and my bestie with our toes in the water.

Me and my bestie with our toes in the water.

My favorite coffee mug.

My favorite coffee mug. You can’t be unhappy drinking from this!

A guest blog about wellness.

I’m at Nina Crespo’s blog today, capping off her #ReadersWritersWellness week. I’m blogging about writing and health (or lack thereof) and how the sedentary life of a writer needs to be balanced with activity and a healthy diet.

Comments don’t work on Nina’s blog for some reason, so if you’d like to leave a comment, just come back to this post and leave one. I’ll be around all day to answer!