I recently went on a trip to Augusta to dog sit. It’s a 2 – 3 hour drive each way, and I love to use times like these to listen to an audiobook. While there, I watched a YouTube video created by Ali Abdaal (www.youtube.com/channel/UCoOae5nYA7VqaXzerajD0lg). He’s a great speaker, and his content mainly focuses on productivity. Can you tell what I was having difficulty with recently? This video mentioned a book called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield (stevenpressfield.com/books/the-war-of-art/). During writer conferences, workshops, etc., I’d heard about this book before. I even thought I bought it at one time, but I had yet to read it. Some of the information he brought forth encouraged me to purchase the book. I immediately went to Audible to get it and was happy to see that the audible version was less than 3 hours long. This meant I could listen to it on my return home.
Now, I must stop here and explain why I had not read it before since it had been recommended many times. That is because I genuinely had the title in my head as “The Art of War,” and I’m not a big fan of reading about war. Head slap moment. Right? It’s The War of Art, not the other way around. It might have been my need to organize and put the first letter of the alphabet first. Who knows? Long story short (not really), I did end up listening to it on the way home, and…WOW. Just WOW.
The insight of this man really made me think. It also made my return trip go by very fast. I’d strongly recommend reading this book if you are an artist in any way (writer, painter, sculptor, or even a quilter). If you are a creator of any type, I believe you’d find something in this book to generate your thinking engines. And if you’re wondering why you might recognize his name, it’s because he also wrote “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” which was turned into a movie.
It may take you less time to read it physically, but I suggest you check it out. If you do, drop me a note, and let me know what you think.
I've been struggling with procrastination lately a lot more than normal. Because, let's face it, we all struggle a little with that evil being!
I was scrolling through my older blogs and this one popped up that fit my situation so well, I wanted to re-share it with you. Enjoy!
Two minutes...that's all it takes?
I think it was about four years ago. Someone once told me that she doesn’t go to any more writer’s meetings nor take anymore writing courses. Her reasoning? “Because I don’t learn anything new.” The weird thing is that I sort of agree. I don’t always learn something NEW when I attend these programs, but I ALWAYS get a light bulb moment. It’s usually something I forgot about or even an idea to look at, something I typically do differently.
So, with that said. Has anyone heard of Skillshare? (https://www.skillshare.com/) I recently discovered it, and the first class I watched was on productivity. Aren’t we all in some way working on this? There was a lot of information I’d heard before, but I was hearing them said differently. For example, one of the things he talked about was a two-minute rule. Meaning, if something takes less than two minutes to do, do it now rather than putting it on a “to do” list. I started doing this, and it really gave me those “I’ve done something” moments—a positive reinforcement type of thing. I try to do this every day with anything decision I face. If it takes less than two minutes, then I just do it. Now…what about those things that take longer? Well…we default to the five-minute rule. What this means is: If you’re faced with a task that you’re struggling to get done, tell yourself, “I’m only going to work on this for 5 minutes, and that’s it.” Now, you’re thinking, if this task takes longer than five minutes to complete, why even start? Good question!
Newton’s First Law of Motion – If something is still, it will stay still. If it’s moving, it will continue moving unless an external force acts on it. So, we must start. Ergo, your five-minute rule. So, let’s apply this to writing, shall we?
How do we make these five minutes less stressful?
We start by prepping the area, get our stuff together and turn on the computer. Open the files we need, pull up a blank document or the current document.
This starts the motion. Think about it. You’ve already got everything set in place to write. Continue that motion by writing.
Okay, I’m giving everyone two minutes to get something to write with. That means a paper and pen, or even pull up a word document.
So, you’re going to start with the words above and think about your current or new manuscript. Now, complete this sentence and go on to explain in detail what you want to happen. You can tell it, no need to focus on showing. But, if you get into showing, that’s fine. Now, I’m setting the timer. Ready, set, go! (Go on…I’ll wait while you try this)
Okay, so count your words. It’s okay if you only got 20 words. Now, you did this many words in only two minutes! How many of you could’ve kept writing if the timer hadn’t stopped you? That’s the external force stopping the motion. You wouldn’t have stopped unless told to do so. Let’s say you give yourself five minutes towards writing new words…you’d have double this amount. If you set up another five minutes, you’d get more, and so on and so on. Think about it.
I’d like to recommend a book: Atomic Habits by James Clear This book is exciting.
One more thing from this class that I thought was really interesting:
Pareto Principle – 80% of the results will result from 20% of the effort. OR 80% of output will result from 20% of the input.
So, basically, first draft (crap draft) is 20%,
next round of edits is 20% (focus on active verbs & dialogue),
next round 20% (focus on plot arc),
next 20% is the character arc.
Think about this for a moment. You only need to input 20%, and you get 80% done afterward with the edits.
It goes back to what we hear all the time: You can’t edit a blank page.
We all need that 20% to start. If you’re a new writer or beginning in a new genre, or anything really. Remember getting those words on the page will get you 80% closer to a final draft.
Although this is focused on writing…you CAN apply it to anything else in your life. Let that stew.
Then, let me know how it worked out for you. I’d really like to know!
I'm sure every year, everyone has holiday traditions. Mine started with my children when they were very young, and I wanted to take pictures on Christmas morning without them wearing their most comfortable pajamas. Pajamas that consisted of favorite worn T-shirts, sometimes with or without pants. So, I started a tradition on Christmas Eve. All my children were allowed to open up one Christmas Eve gift. A “Santa” gift. It was always a new set of pajamas. When the kids were younger, they loved opening at least one gift early, present though as they grew older, they knew what that gift contained. This tradition satisfied two significant things for me. First, my children got to open at least one gift, and second, my Christmas photos consisted of children dressed in matching pairs of pajamas. As the years have gone by, my children have grown, yet we still maintain this tradition. A tradition that brings a chuckle to everyone as they always ask: “Gee, I wonder what Santa will bring us this year?". It has become a challenge for everyone to have the most surprising reaction when they open the box and see their new pajamas.
So it would only be natural to be part of a spooky event.
Check this out!
Starting this week, we are introducing stories from our Halloween Flash Fiction Authors, and we will feature two stories a week for the next four weeks.
This week’s stories are:
Samhain Surprise by Teresa Keefer
The Witch’s Wand by Tessa Russ
I love these little quick reads. I hope you do too! Enjoy!
Halloween-ish Flash Fiction and a Give@away for You!
Books, fun swag, gift cards, and more… Be sure to enter our giveaway!
This still holds true for me.
One of the things I usually say to folks when asked to describe myself is that I love puzzles. Not just your typical jigsaw puzzle. Although my mother loved putting those together, I cherished the time I spent with her working on those 3000-piece killers. As life moved on, I went from jigsaw puzzles to brain teasers, word games to literature. Not many people think literature can present puzzles. But they do. Why did the hero do this or go there?
One of my Life puzzles: When I went back to college and reviewed the requirements for an English degree, I discovered I needed four years of a foreign language. Four years. I did Spanish for two and a half years and began cringing when I realized I had another year and a half to go. I would not be able to speak fluent Spanish in this lifetime, nor learn it well enough to take the required final level. That I knew without a doubt. No way, Jose.
Another Life puzzle: Being a single parent also presented its own challenges. How do I stay involved with my kids as I work full time and attend school full time? Easy peasy. I tortured my kids with my homework! My son lucked out with Beowulf. Because really…what boy doesn’t like a story of a hero coming to save the day of a wounded town and frightened king? He also got drawn into Latin stories. Myths, Gods, treachery…he soaked them up. This led to video games and books of fantasy for him. And yes, mom had to reciprocate and learn the video games. Those wicked things can be addictive. Live interactive books. Genius!
Some folks call these challenges. I’ve chosen to call them puzzles. Why? Because eventually, puzzles can be solved, I believe. If one takes the time to look at the entire picture and then plunge in. That’s the scary part: plunging in. But, it’s also the most thrilling.
Have you had a life puzzle that you figured out a unique way to solve? I’d love to hear about it!
Some are soothed by the serene calm of a lake under the sun or moon. Some are calmed by the rapid rushing of waterfalling over a cliff or mountainside. Some even find peace with the sounds of rolling waves crashing against each other. All of these create an ambiance that soothes me. I'm sure you can tell from the pictures I took.
What did you think?
Another amazing day which started with a trip to the Black Forest. Of course, everything tastes better when not at home, including the infamous Black Forest cake. What a grand time to watch one being made by the local chef. Yummy!