Try This: A Week Without Technology

janav Creativity, Productivity, Time Management, Try This, Writing 0 Comments

In Week 4: Recovering a Sense of Integrity in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, she asks people to refrain from reading for one week. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, and I find most people who come to that task of that chapter don’t try very hard, or at all, to do it. However, reading this article in The Guardian: “‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia,” made me think again about the power of technology and social media in our lives, and how ubiquitous – and addictive – it is. When Julia Cameron originally …

Questions to Ask Yourself When You’ve Lost Motivation

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When you feel unmotivated to work on a project, are procrastinating endlessly, and just can’t seem to get unstuck, it may be time to pause and reflect on what’s really blocking you, and to reconnect with feelings of possibility and accomplishment. Try this: Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Breathe deeply several times. Allow your mind to slow down, and your body to relax. Bring to mind a current project where you are feeling unmotivated or stuck. Keep breathing. Without judging, note how you’re feeling, emotionally and physically in your body. Then ask yourself the following questions, allowing yourself space …

Plan Your Summer Writing Retreat

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Summer can be an ideal time to plan a writing retreat. For many of us, it’s a slower time, and a time when we can make a little space to focus on our writing or other creative projects. You can plan a half day, full day, weekend, or longer if possible. You can do it solo, or with a friend (or several). You can even do it virtually, with regular email or Skype check-ins. Last summer I wrote a post on this that I will re-post here since I think it’s still a good reminder, and since we’re on the …

Try This: Haiku

janav Creativity, Try This, Writing 2 Comments

While on vacation recently, I spent a lot of time writing haiku. For those who are unfamiliar with it, it’s a Japanese form of poetry that has very strict syllabic limits. The first line is 5 syllables, the second is 7 syllables, and the third is five syllables. Seventeen syllables total. They often mention the season or some natural element, and have a cutting juxtaposition that is meant to make a new connection in the reader’s mind. I was reading Matsu Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and got inspired since I was also pretty far north, in …

Try This: Writing as Deliberate Practice

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And they still have to practice. In writing, we often assume that talent is enough, or the most important thing. We might accept that talent needs to be paired with writing a lot of words before we become good. We set our daily word goals, or have a goal to finish a major project like a novel in a year. Words are the units we measure progress in. Sometimes it’s a certain number of hours per day. But just putting down words, or putting in the hours, though crucial, isn’t enough. In the same way that guys who want to …

Try This: A Sense of Place

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I attended a week-long conference in Denver last week (hence the lack of posts). I’ve been there a couple of times now, and don’t really have a total feel for the place, but to be fair when I’m there I’m not in explorer mode – I’m working, or hanging out with a good friend. What I have seen, I like. The parks, the restaurants, the laid-back feel, the sense of space around the city, and the snow-capped mountains in the distance… it has a very different vibe from the northeast, where I live. Unless you travel frequently, it’s rare to …

Try This: Never Give Up

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I got an email recently from a fellow MFA grad who was ecstatic that she finally got an agent after sending out over 300 queries over the past three years. No, that’s not an extra zero. It’s easy to be tempted to give up after ten, twenty, thirty… or 100 rejections. It’s discouraging. Depressing. Why am I doing this? Am I really good enough? Am I just fooling myself? Maybe I should just self-publish… (and maybe you should, but there are pros and cons to that). I’ve been there myself, trust me. I’ve been fortunate never to get any really …

Try This: Voice Workshop

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I’ve been following Brenda Drake’s blog, which recently has featured Voice Workshops with Pitch Wars mentors. If you’re unfamiliar with her, she runs the #pitchmad Twitter pitch contests and Pitch Wars, where agents and editors mentor promising writers. If you haven’t checked out her site, I highly recommend it: http://www.brenda-drake.com/ The Voice workshops (currently the most recent entries on her blog) are professional critiques of writers’ first pages, and are very instructive of what an agent or editor looks for. Read the series, and then look at the first page of your own manuscript. What do you see that could …