Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Here's to Your Jeans Feeling Loose When You put Them On

Here's to your jeans feeling loose when you put them on ~ Jill Badonsky

It's definitely not jeans weather in the Midwest, but humor me for a moment. What does it feel like when you put on your jeans and they are just a little loose? Most of the time, it's a nice surprise. It's a nice surprise because maybe you've been working on a goal to lose a bit of weight. Maybe it's just a nice surprise because you changed just a few routines.

Whatever the reason, doesn't it feel great to experience just a little bit of success? I have to tell you, it feels wonderful. Just yesterday I was able to write a blog post and in A Place to Call Their Own. I was dead tired by the time we were done watching the movie and doing that writing, but I got it done. I slept great and had a wonderfully encouraging comment when I woke up the morning. What a successful day in my writing life!

And that energy is fueling my desire to reach my goals today. Yesterday I wrote about finding the routines rooted in your reality. The only thing I would change about yesterday and today is getting my goals accomplished earlier in the morning before going to work. Maybe I just need to listen to the cat in the morning when he starts whining, feed him and then feed my soul the day?

Be sure to celebrate and marinate in any little piece of success you can achieve towards your dreams. Remember what that feels like on the days when goals and routines feel like chores that have to be done. Remember that especially on the days when working towards your goals feels like the worst chores that have to be done.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Every Time I Close the Door on Reality, it Comes Through the Window

Every time I close the door on reality, it comes through the window ~ Jennifer Unlimited

Every time I've been successful with any goal, it's been about creating routines. At work, I accomplish tasks by following routines. I teach my staff to get their work done by routines as well.

I count quitting smoking and finishing my bachelor's degree as two of my lifetime achievements thus far. Both of those goals were achieved by creating routines and following them. (In the case of quitting smoking, it also meant breaking old routines.)

Publishing a novel is the next of my lifetime achievements. Everything I've read about accomplishing this goal says to follow three important routines: set aside time to write, read other novels to develop your craft, and start building a platform.

Reading is never a hard routine for me. If all else fails, unless I'm extremely exhausted or worn out, reading is the one routine I get accomplished.

Writing every day is a routine I've had to work at. I've tried to change up the time of day I write, I've tried to change up how much I write each day. I am continually adjusting that schedule and trying new things.

Aspiring writers have to be careful about building a platform using social media. If more time is spent on Twitter and Facebook and other sites rather than actually writing, that can actually be a detriment to a burgeoning writing career. I, too, was a slave to Twitter earlier this year. There were days I didn't get any writing done, but I guarantee that I got my daily "mentions" done.

The crazy thing about the routines is that only I can figure out what works for me, and only you can figure what might work for you. Just like my writing routines: only I can get them figured out and make progress. Lately, this includes multi-tasking. Because I didn't get up and get my writing accomplished this morning, and I am committed to getting some writing done today, I'm completing this blog while watching a movie.

Create your vision, set your goals, then develop and follow the routines needed to accomplish your goals. Make sure those routines are rooted in your reality so that you can follow them faithfully and accomplish your dreams.

Make it a great week everybody!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Creative Process and Your Vision

We need creativity in order to break free from the temporary structures that have been set up by a particular sequence of experience – Edward de Bono

My professional work life has calmed down and I'm been achieving some more balance again. I'm back to blogging a bit more than I did in June and I'm back to working on A Place to Call Their Own more regularly.

Although I wasn't actively working on my writing projects during the month of June, I was constantly thinking about them. My vision of earning a living through writing and my goal of finishing the novel this year kept me going and helped me pick things back up a couple of weeks ago.

Whatever journey you're on, use your creativity to create your vision. Once your vision is created, keep it in front of you. That way when there are roadblocks, like my stall in June, you can get around those roadblocks.

I hope everyone is staying cool during this heat wave that is affecting most of the U.S. For me, that means there's no excuse not to stay in and get some writing done. What about you? What are you working on inside since it's so hot outside?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

If You Cannot get rid of the Family Skeleton, you may as well make it Dance

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance ~ George Bernhard Shaw

If you ask most successful writers how they began or where to begin, they will tell you, write what you know. Sheila Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, and Kerry Riechs all write stories set in places near where they live or where they have visited. Marie Bostwick writes about quilting, which is a hobby of hers. I have thoroughly enjoyed all these author's works.

Especially if you are a beginning author, writing what you already know about will, help advance your plot, develop your characters, and create a story others will want to read. A Place to Call Their Own was inspired by a visit to the Pea Ridge National Military Park in 2008. After visiting the park and learning about this crucial battle, my ideas for the novel came together and I started writing. Again, I was living in the area at the time and I have an extreme interest in local history and the settlement of the West after the Civil War.

I'm spending the weekend in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. You can bet at some point in my writing career, at least one of my novels will be set in this beautiful, Victorian resort town.

Use what you already know to have the courage to step out of your box and go after your dreams.  For me that's writing a novel, what about you?

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Reflections After Reading Heartwood

Heartwood was Belva Plain's last published novel before she died in 2010. I received the book as a birthday present and thoroughly enjoyed it. Heartwood is the mother/daughter story of Iris Stern and Laura McAllister as Laura navigates marriage, family, and career in the 1970s and 1980s. Of course, Iris has her own demons to deal with as her life transitions from middle age into retirement age as well.

What's fascinating about this story is how both women try to cope with what's going on in their lives. Heartwood is a study of generational shifts and how differently Iris and Laura view marriage, motherhood, and themselves through the transitions presented in the novel.

If you're a writer, you'll want to read Heartwood to study the differing points of view. The author uses each character's point of view at just the right time during the story to advance the plot and give the reader more information about the situation. From Iris's nearly seventy year older husband to tween-aged Katie, Laura's daughter, we are allowed to know what each person is thinking at just the right time in the novel.

The final book of the Werner family saga, Heartwood stands alone as a beautiful story in and of itself. Now I'm going to have to go back and read about Anna Friedman, Iris' mother and Laura's grandmother.

I read Heartwood in just three days last weekend. I started Friday afternoon and almost finished Saturday night. It's a spectacular summer read.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

...Look Foolish...Being Great

Until you're ready to look foolish, you'll never have the possibility of being great~Cher

What a great comment on success from one of the most popular pop artists of our time, in her sixties and still a beloved icon. What does it mean to us as writers, or for those of you that follow me on our parallel journey's to success?

To me, it means that I work tirelessly to balance a busy career with the dream of writing a novel. Not only does that mean working on writing every day, but it also includes blogging and developing a network on both Twitter and Facebook. I blog about this journey and pass on advice that I pick up and try to follow.

But even I don't follow the advice that I've passed along the way. The last eight weeks have seen sporadic blog posts and a non-existent presence on Twitter. The only routine I've kept going is reading everyday.

I've read three novels since the middle of May. All of them have been beautiful stories and well constructed by the authors. And all of them ended right when the characters realized their hopes and dreams. It's almost as if the universe is telling me that the journey is more important than the goal itself.

Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and declare to the world what you aim to be: writer, successful business person, direct sales leader. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and pick yourself up and keep going along the way.

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Reflections After Reading Letters From Home

Letters from Home, by Kristina McMorris, is the story of three young women and their relationships with each other and their families during the last year of World War II.  As the war comes to a close and the world finds peace again, Liz Stephens Julia Renard, and Betty Cordell find themselves.  Life will never be the same for any of them after the war.

The heart of the story is a love story inspired by the author's own grandparents.  It's a beautiful story, but I had to stop reading at many points along the way.  This was not because I was tired, not because it was late, not because I was bored.  I had to put the book down because I could no longer read through the tears I shared the emotions that the characters were feeling on their journeys during this turbulent time in history.

As a writer, I learned how to construct the plot around multiple characters in multiple locations.  The chapter headings help, but there's a bit more to the construction of the plot than just the chapter headings.  The choices on how what happens to each character, in each location, at each time, is integral in the telling of the story.

Letters from Home would be a great addition to your summer reading list.