Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Writer Wednesday - Take the Pressure Off

A few days ago I can across a Word doc in my "potential blog posts" file that spoke to me. I'm not sure when I wrote the content but I imagine it was a couple of years or more ago. The thing is, it still applies to me today. The theme of the post is mostly two-fold -- quit beating yourself up if you don't make your daily word count, and write every day regardless. Good advice.

I realized as I was reading through the rough copy that I had written that I actually think it was an email I had written to someone else. I often find myself doing that -- sending encouraging and uplifting and inspirational emails to other authors when they are feeling like shit because of not writing. Hey, been there. Done that. And honestly, after 30 years of chasing this writing dream, I just have to say this: 

STOP IT.
YES. STOP THAT SHIT.

There is nothing that can halt the good stuff faster than the negative crap we poke in our brains. Stop dwelling on it. Just write every damn day. That's my advice. I don't care if it's two words or two thousand words. Just get words on the page. Every day. 

I thought perhaps you'd like to read that email. It spoke to me again. Perhaps it will speak to you. 

I don't know if it will help, but lately I've been having more success allowing myself to write less each day. I started off a few weeks ago with a strict calendar and deadlines and a 2500 word a day goal. I kept getting frustrated because I wasn't making my goal every day. 

They I decided to say fuck it to the 2500 goal. I realized I was comfortably writing between 1000 and 1500 daily. While beating myself up over not reaching the bigger goal, I failed to realize I was still significantly moving the book forward each and every day by writing less than the goal. And, I met all three of my last deadlines without doing that, and I should make my deadline at the end of the month on this current WIP.

Why the difference? Less pressure. I've divided out my day loosely -- fiction in the morning, non-fiction in the afternoon. It's helping me to balance all of these different kinds of projects. And I've been happier with what I've produced each day.

So, I think what I am saying is, perhaps, give yourself some firm deadlines, a timeline of sorts, and allow yourself to write LESS each day, as long as you write EVERY DAY. I am finding the every day advice to be pure gold for me. I don't put it off anymore. It's the first thing I do in the morning.

Make sense to you?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

By the numbers -- A look at the New Year

We’re all thinking about new beginnings right now. After all, today is January 1, the first day of a brand new year. It is normal to ponder starting over, setting new goals, and pledging resolutions to do things differently or to make improvements in our lives.

I’ve been thinking along those lines too.

As I wrote in a blog post a few days ago, 2016 is getting a bad rap all over social media, and people are happy to see the year go. I hope, for all of those people who were so adamantly negative against the year, that 2017 will bring greater joy and awesome things for them. I wrote in that piece that perhaps what needs to happen is a change of attitude. I’m not the judge and jury on that, but I do have to wonder if others really think and analyze what went wrong with 2016 for them, and how it can be different next year.

And then, there is Elizabeth Gilbert, who shared in this Ted Talk that perhaps some things aren’t our fault. That perhaps we’re assigned muses or beings or somethings to our lives who make us look at things this way or that, help us write our stories, do our work, and so forth. That perhaps, it’s not just talent—she thinks that’s a heavy burden to put on our shoulders—but that it’s how much our muses decide to show up for work each day. Which lead me back to thinking about new beginnings again and numerology.

Now, I’m not a fan of numbers. I’ve never really liked working with them—yet, I hold a great respect for them. Mostly, I respect people who understand and love working with them. I’ve never found numbers as fascinating as words. The concept of numerology, however, has long fascinated me and if you go back to Elizabeth Gilbert’s philosophy, I like it even more. Perhaps things are ordained, so to speak, for us. Perhaps it is the choices we make within that “plan” or path that is set forth too. Maybe it’s a combination of fate and determination, with some wisdom tossed in on the side.

At any rate, I’ve looked at the numerology predictions this morning for 2017. Both the Universal Year Number and my Personal Number are number 1. That means that this next 9-year cycle for me should be a good path forward. According to a couple of articles I read online here and here, this is what I can look forward to in 2017 and the next nine years.

• New beginnings, change, and progress in many areas (ideas, interests, status, friends and business, vocation)
• Leadership is strong
• Individualization
• Confidence – time to assert my will
• A year of ideas! – and being a self-starter (I’ve always been that)
• A year to shine! – with confidence
• Motivation
• A time to listen to my personal ideas and desires and decide what I want to accomplish

I’d be remiss not to mention that this Universal and Personal Year of 1 grows out of a challenging 2016 for me. When I look back over the year, I realize a tremendous amount of change occurred for me during this time.
• I abruptly and unexpectedly lost my mother
• I went back to full time work after nearly three years of working at home writing
• I ended a significant relationship

All the while, I kept plugging away at life. I’ve taken some time the past couple of weeks to reflect, finally, which has been a good thing. I have gained wisdom from this past year, and the previous cycle, but now it’s up to me to put my lessons learned to practice in the coming nine years. I know it’s not just fate, but I’ve been told that numbers do not lie. I have a healthy respect for what they are telling me.

I know I need to put in the work too. I need to show up and do my part. If nothing else, I have determination. I’ll take that boost from the numbers and run with it. And I’m looking forward to 2017 and the next 9 year cycle providing me with the skills, wisdom and insight to move things forward.

What are your thoughts for the new year?