Friday, August 20, 2010

Develop and Follow Routines: Back in the Saddle...

After six months of working a crazy schedule in a retail environmentl, I am just finishing the third week of a new job.  What makes this so significant for me is that I've been able to return to a regular writing routine.  This includes writing for this blog on a regular basis.  Even this week, working evening hours, I've made it a point to use my morning time as I would my "evening time" and get exercise, chores, and writing accomplished every day.  A Place to Call Their Own is progressing nicely, and I'll have two blog posts this week.  (FYI:  I'm hoping to post the next section of A Place to Call Their Own on next week.)

The other routine I've made sure to keep up this week is my reading.  I have read at least a few minutes each night, both in my fiction as well as my non-fiction topics.  This commitment to reading has helped me relax at night and get to bed at a decent hour.  This, of course, so I can be up by seven the next day to start again.

The reason I'm sharing this with you this week is so that you understand my commitment to making the best out of an undesirable situation.  I knew going into this new job that I would have the possibility of working later hours.  And knowing that, I also have commitments to not let my work schedule get in the way of my writing schedule.

Another catalyst for my situation is the fact that we're sharing a car.  I have to get up and take Thomas to work.   I used to be able to get up, run a quick errand, and go back to bed.  The older I get, once I'm up, I seem to be up for the day (although a nap about one or two in the afternoon is always good!).

The other catalyst that has made this week so productive is the fact that I prefer to write and create in the morning rather than the evening.  These mornings I set my fifteen minute timer just to make sure I do my fifteen minutes a day.  After the timer goes off, I tend to linger as much as I can (the timer went off at the beginning of this paragraph!  I have a wedding shower gift to wrap today!).  When I'm working more of a standard shift, and I don't' get up in the morning early enough to write, I'm usually done mentally as soon as that timer goes off.

Whatever the routines you've set for yourself, I hope they are working.  Constantly revise your routines to make them fit work for you and your family, whether or not things like your career or your children's schedules are getting in your way.  When you have solid routines in place and goals that you're reaching for, it's so much easier to get back in the saddle when your schedule gets disrupted.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Find a Buddy to Make the Journey More Enjoyable

Since we were young we were always assigned a "buddy" to do things with.  In elementary school, there was the field trip buddy.  In middle and high school there were science lab buddies.  College brought study buddies and groups.  In Corporate America today, very few people don't work as part of the "team."  You should find Writing Buddies as well.

The thing about a Writing Buddy is that you have to seek them out yourself, rather than it being assigned by a teacher or facilitated by the corporate culture.  You are looking for buddies who are interested in writing similar stories and accomplishing some of the same things as yourself.  You are also going to look for those buddies to provide you with honest feedback about your work so that you can prepare it for it's ultimate destination.  You'll want to be prepared to do the same.

So how is a buddy different than a close friend or family member that supports your writing?  I think there are two things that make buddies different.  First of all, a buddy should be able to give you honest criticism of your work, to make it better.  The other thing that makes this different is that your buddy has experienced or may be experiencing the same challenges that you currently face with your writing projects.  Although your brother, sister, or cousin may support your writing wholeheartedly, and may criticize your work, unless they are also writers, they can't always provide you the support you need when you're having a down day.  This is where a good buddy can empathize with what you are going through and help you get back to the place where you are moving forward and being productive.

If you're just beginning where do you find buddies?  The first place I would begin is a local writers group.  You can find writer's groups through the public library, bookstores, even writers groups associated with colleges and universities.  You can also do a web search for "writing groups in [insert your city}" and see what comes up.  Some groups charge a fee for your participation, others do not.  I highly encourage you to participate in whatever group fits your schedule and your budget.

Another place I've found writing buddies is on Facebook. After "Liking" some of the writing business pages, you'll find others who share similar interests.  Go ahead and offer them a Friend Request and interact though Facebook.  My current writing buddy is from Spokane, Washington and she found me because we were mutual friends of a new author we had both "friended."

No matter what you're trying to accomplish in life, buddies help make the journey more rewarding.  A good buddy will be there to share your triumphs, give you honest feedback when needed, and pick you up when things aren't going your way.  And don't forget, to have a good buddy  you need to be a good buddy.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Setting Boundaries

This week I'll return to my success series.  The next topic I haven't written about yet is about setting boundaries.  Setting boundaries is a little bit like setting goals and at the same time it's a bit different.  In my opinion, there are two methods that you set boundaries.  Boundaries are set around the times that you write and boundaries are set around the places where you write. 

First of all, you have to set boundaries around the times that you devote to your craft.  Again, this is a bit like goal setting.  If you look back at goals setting (see blog post here:, I suggest that you create a goal around when you want to finish your project or that you devote "X" number of minutes to writing every day until you accomplish your goal.  This type of goal helps me get going on my writing and get working on a project.  But once I get going, I can get carried away.  I can end up neglecting household chores, bedtimes, paying attention to the things that matter just as much as accomplishing my writing goal.  By setting boundaries around time, I ensure that I continue to function in life and don't neglect my sleep or my household chores (One of these days, I'll be able to afford a cleaning service and then I can devote more time to writing, right?).

The other boundary that's been helpful for me to set is with my workspace.  Find a place to do your writing that works for you.  For me, it's the home office when I'm at home.  I attempt to keep it organized and uncluttered so that during the times that I write, I can sit down and do it without constantly searching for supplies.  I keep one or two reference books available for my current project.  The printer always has paper in it for the times that I want to print something and do some editing.  Find a place to do your writing and create that routine.  For some, their writing space may be a coffee shop, carrel in the public library, a park bench.  Although I've never had to resort to this to get my writing done, it's a great idea for someone who is struggling with balance and making writing a priority.  It would be akin to going to a part time job:  going to a specific location to complete a specific task.

Time and space are just two of the boundaries I believe you have to set as a writer.  Get those two boundaries out of the way and you'll be well on your way to accomplishing your goals, through the routines that you set for yourself.  In the end, you'll realize that vision that you're working towards.

Have a great week!