Your True North – Goal-Setting for the New Year

janav Creativity, Productivity, Writing 0 Comments

Many people, myself included, are setting some sort of goals or intentions for this year. As we look at all the things we want to change in our lives, it’s easy, in the rush of enthusiasm and optimism of the New Year, to overdo our ambitions. Or to think that we should. That word, should, is a telling one. When I set goals for myself (or help other people with theirs), I first write down everything I’d like to do differently this year. I usually put them under larger umbrella categories, like “Health” or “Creativity.” I just get it all …

“Brutal” Truths About Creativity?

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I winced a little at the word “brutal” in the title. Creativity, it seems to me, is not best served boot-camp style. But the tone of the article is positive overall, and I agreed with its points. All of us are born creative. Some use our creativity more than others. Some give up at the first hint of “failure” i.e. when the world responds with a yawn or a criticism. And that is what is brutal about creativity, in my mind: that often, we’re just doing it for ourselves, because even what we truly hope will resonate with people doesn’t …

Friday Favorites: No Plot? No Problem!

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From preparation, gaining allies, figuring out your physical space, creating incentives, getting food… and actually getting through the 1,667 words per day, and dealing with the mid-month slog and other challenges (illness, lack of support, sudden time crunches), this book takes you through the entire month of novel-writing drama. I highly recommend reading it before NaNoWriMo, so you can appropriately prepare. You can, of course, just show up on Day 1 and start writing, but knowing about and planning for the inevitable setbacks and challenges will help you keep to your goal. I like the just do it! approach, and …

Prepping For the Big One

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The gist is that in order to hit 50,000 words, you need to write 1667 words per day. This is a lot, to be sure, but a do-able goal, especially if you take advantage of the supports offered by the NaNoWriMo organization – forums, local groups, online inspiration, etc. Confession: I’ve never actually done NaNoWriMo, mainly because I always seem to be in the middle of a book when it comes around, and one of the precepts is that you must be starting something new. I do applaud it, however, in the sense that it keeps you writing for one …

Three Lessons to Keep You Going When You’re Stuck

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]I met with my alumni writer’s group this past weekend. I almost didn’t go. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with other life stuff lately, and had a To Do list a mile long. I didn’t meet my goals of finishing the draft of my novel before our next meeting. My heart wasn’t in it. But then at the last minute I decided to go, and I’m glad I did. Community is incredibly important for writers, and creatives of all kinds. Some of us work collaboratively, but most of us, especially early in our careers, work alone. Since we’re often not making …

Stop the Waiting Game

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“But,” we say, “what’s the point of writing at all, when it won’t be my best because I: get distracted/don’t have time to go deep/am tired/don’t know what to write/etc.” Don’t wait. Find fifteen minutes, somewhere. It may not seem like enough, but it is, in fact, better than nothing. Fifteen minutes per day adds up to almost 2 hours per week. (Why not throw in a half hour, just to round it out to 2?) I often say, it’s better to commit to a tiny amount than just wait and hope you’ll feel inspired to do a bigger chunk …

Friday Favorites: The War of Art

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Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art is not just for writers. It’s a book for anyone who wants to overcome their Resistance to doing anything, whether it be a creative art form, exercising, starting a business, etc. As he says at the beginning of the book, “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: it’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”* I don’t know as I agree that the writing is the easy part – it’s …

Overcoming Resistance

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Confession: I struggle with Resistance every day. Part of the reason I keep so busy is that otherwise, I’d get nothing done. You name it, I resist doing it: exercise, writing, working, chores, calling people, cooking…. Sometimes I think I’m a sloth in a human body. Once I’m doing whatever it is I’m resisting, I’m usually fine. I get in the flow. I just do it, and it’s almost never as bad as it was through the lenses of my Resistance. Then once I’m doing it, I resist moving on to the next activity. I know this one, I’m comfortable …

Befriending Your Work

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Every so often, I catch myself saying, “I should write this weekend.” Or, “I have to finish that chapter.” It’s easy to get caught up in the crazy “to do” lists we have, and add our creative work to them. There can be a fine line between making writing a habit and making it just another thing we “have to” do, or “should” do. But that kills any enthusiasm or motivation we may have. Sometimes it’s a matter of reframing how we think of writing. Yes, it can be hard, and it’s also something we love to do. When it’s …

DIY Writing Retreat

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I just returned from a fabulous weekend in Vermont, where I actually managed to get some writing done, despite the lure of friends, gorgeous hikes, great food, and lots of shopping (for birthdays and Christmas – and some goodies for myself, of course!). The weekend was partially intended as a writing retreat, but it was somewhat ad hoc except for Saturday morning, when we had a more formal writing session using prompts, and gathered to read our work aloud or just talk about the process afterward. I love doing mini writing retreats. If you don’t have the time or money …