writing

Writers Wednesdays – A New Cycle

Happy Writers Wednesday! I hope you all are having a great day or evening. I mentioned my writing, editing and publishing lessons learned in last week’s Writers Wednesday post. Now that I’ve churned out a few children’s books (like this one that teaches children about China, and this one that teaches kids about Vietnam), I’m getting back onto schedule.

The book I was working on (prior to working on the children’s books) is basically complete, so it’s time to move on. Starting next week, I’m entering a new writing cycle. However, instead of starting a new project from scratch, this cycle will focus on finishing some of my older, neglected manuscripts. I have quite a few unfinished books that I’ve wanted to complete for the past few years, and these next few weeks feel like a good time to do so.

The way I’m planning it in my mind will mean that I won’t stick to one manuscript, complete it, then move to the next. I’ll likely bounce between three or four works, doing writing and editing tasks until they’re all finished. For me, the challenges lie in four different things:

  • Refusing to start a brand new book (given my short attention span, this will be my biggest challenge)
  • Creating a practical daily schedule (as my schedule has been busier recently, this may be a bit harder to do)
  • Finding enough willing beta readers for my books (not a major challenge, but something to keep in mind as I get closer to completing my edits)
  • Setting a reasonable end date for these writing and editing tasks (my second biggest challenge, since I tend to underestimate the time needed for tasks)

As I look forward, I can see where my weaknesses are, and, by seeing them, I can prepare. In the next few days, I’ll be concentrating on how to avoid or mitigate each of the challenges I listed above. And, more than likely, I’ll share about my strategies, tactics and more lessons learned during the next few Writers Wednesdays posts.

That’s my writing update for this week. Have a great day!

*This post contains affiliate links

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Things I’ve Learned About Writing, Editing and Publishing

I’m finally back with a Writers Wednesday post! It’s been a while, mainly because there were other things that were more important for me (namely, getting into a new routine that accommodates my increased offline activity). But, seeing as how I quickly churned out two books (I mention them in my goal update post for March), it’s safe to say that I have some insights on what I’ve learned through the writing, editing, and publishing experience.

About writing . . .

When it comes to writing, it’s far easier to get into my “zone” than it used to be. The more I write, the easier it is for me to write. And since I’m not as critical about my rough drafts as I used to be, I am able to actually complete a book (instead of wasting time agonizing about the right things to say). Also, setting a fixed time to complete a certain number of words daily is pretty useless for me. I know that having a routine is important, but micromanaging every detail of my daily writing routine (such as the number of words to type) is too stressful for me. I give myself a lot of flexibility, and I don’t criticize myself for writing outside of my scheduled time. I do my best writing at 2-3 AM, and I’m okay with that.

About editing . . .

For me, editing is best done in small chunks. I focus on a few pages at a time, and read it aloud, making the changes as I go. And I get through the entire manuscript, then I start all over again. And then I share with friends, to see if it makes sense. Most of my friends are too busy to read my books nowadays, but if they spend a few minutes looking through my work, I’m appreciative. I stop worrying about editing after 2-3 rounds of edits. Anything more than that is obsessive, and it prevents me from publishing my book in a timely fashion.

About publishing . . .

Amazon used to quickly approve manuscripts, then, at some point, they got overwhelmed and the publishing queue became far too long. Now, they are back to quickly approving books again, and I’m thankful. For me, publishing is the easiest part of the process: I’ve done this enough to get through the process easily. Also, it’s a good idea for me to pre-write my book description before I start going through the publishing process.

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Those are just a few of my observations from working on my latest books. If you’ve published a book before, what are some crucial things that you’ve learned? I’d love to hear all about it!

business · life curation · writing

Create Your Vision – A Sneak Peek Into My Latest Guided Journal

I decided to take a break from Writers Wednesdays, since I’m still editing and doing last minute changes. Instead, I want to take a little time to do a deep-dive into my latest journal, Create Your Vision. This was a special request, and I was delighted to do it for one of my wonderful customers.

Two of the Create Your Visions covers available (25 designs in all)

In this journal, I provide my step-by-step formula for lifestyle redesign, using the power of writing. In the video below, I even give an example of how to change a key area of your life (I use the example of changing careers) by journaling. I’ve successfully used these techniques to change my life and get the results that I’ve desired. Every time I feel the need to change something in my life, I refer back to this formula, since it worked so well.

That’s it for today. I hope you can use the information in this video. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Phoning a Friend

Happy Writer’s Wednesday! Last week, I shared two posts about writing and editing. The last Writer’s Wednesday post discussed how I was ‘in the thick’ of editing. The next day, I wrote about summoning muses, or, in other words, how to find inspiration. This week, I want to go in a slightly different direction.

Do you all recall how I wrote about being distracted and putting off my writing a bit? Well, the same (but different) thing is happening with editing. I find myself needing a distraction because being in my head so much isn’t good for me. I tend to pick apart my words to the point where I’m ready to throw away an entire manuscript. And THAT would be foolish.

So, I did what I always do: I called a friend. It goes contrary to what I’ve advised previously, but one of the key things about the writing, editing and publishing processes is to follow inspiration, or intuition, as needed. Sometimes, your soul nudges you to take a break from your writing tasks and simply enjoy being in the moment. For me, being in the moment means enjoying a conversation with a friend.

But it didn’t have to be a phone call involved. I could have worked on my garden plans a bit further, took a walk (the weather was a bit warmer yesterday), painstakingly cook a meal from scratch, etc.,. The activity doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that doing something different from editing offers me a bit of a mental reprieve.

Flexibility has been key. After talking to one of my friends, I was able to jump back into my editing, more charged than ever. Yes, I think I’ll be able to finish my book edits by the end of this month. This is so exciting: I can’t believe that the final manuscript will be ready soon!

words of wisdom · writing

Summoning Muses – How to Find Inspiration

After discussing the problems that I’ve had during the editing process, I decided to reflect on some of the other “problems” that authors usually experience. Lucky us: two writing posts in one week!

One that I’ve heard other authors encounter frequently is lack of inspiration. I’ve written about this before, but I want to revisit the topic. I’ve written about how I like to let inspiration lead, and I stand by that. I don’t normally have this issue, mainly because I have multiple works-in-progress at my disposal at any time. If I feel “stuck” on one manuscript, I just pick up another one. It may not be as linear as I’d prefer, but it certainly keeps me from getting bored.

That, of course, is not the optimal plan for most authors. So I took some time to consider what I used to do when I needed inspiration. I went back to when I wrote my first book (which still hasn’t been fully edited!) and what I did to bust through those blocks that came up while writing. At that time, that was the only manuscript I was working on, so all of my energy and focus was directed onto it.

I recall going outside, taking a walk near my office, visiting museums, or sitting in parks, to help summon a muse or two. During a pandemic, some of these are not consistently available (museums may not be the most accessible places currently). Also, in the Northern Hemisphere, winter makes outdoor walks or times in public parks quite uncomfortable. So none of my usual options are optimal.


That being considered, what should a writer do when trying to summon the muses during the winter season during a pandemic?

Actually, I recommend everything that I have used to distract myself when I should be editing. Clean up your house, watch YouTube videos that have nothing to do with what you’re writing (I have a YouTube channel if you want to check it out), phone your friends, scroll through social media: basically, do anything you can to give your brain a break. Give yourself a firm time frame for indulging in non-writing activities, then relax a bit.

If self control is difficult for you, then go ahead outside and take a quick walk, even if that means trudging through the snow. It’s better to be temporarily chilled than perpetually distracted.

In all seriousness, the muses/inspiration you need is probably just waiting for you to take a break from feeling the pressure to be “inspired”. You ever notice how inspiration always strikes at the most random times? Yeah, it’s a thing. And it only happens when you aren’t “searching” for it.

If nothing else works, take a shower. Something about the water always makes me feel a little more brilliant (Dr. Henriette Anne Klauser discusses this in her book [and one of my favorites!] Write It Down, Make It Happen). The Archimedes Principle, a physical law that has proven consistent over time, legendarily happened when Archimedes was taking a public bath. Now, if he can get strokes of genius while being naked in front of his countrymen, imagine what you could do in the privacy of your own shower!

And if you need a serious kick in the pants, read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (I wrote about the book here). This book always makes me realize how much of Octavia Butler’s thoughts were true, as regards inspiration. She famously said, “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.” Pressfield concurs with Butler, and while I always feel a little ashamed after thinking what I could have done differently as regards my writing, I always feel a little comforted when reading Pressfield’s work, as it reveals that, as far as authors go, I’m not the only slacker.

Do you all have any recommendations for getting inspired? I’d love to hear all about it!

This post contains affiliate links.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – In The Thick of It

Happy Writers Wednesday! I’m in the midst of editing, and I find myself constantly wanting a distraction.

YouTube, other books on my reading list, preparing elaborate multi-course meals, and even cleaning have become some fantastic distractions for me. I start with several hours of free time, then I underestimate exactly how quickly the time can get away from me.

Two or three hours later, and I’ve descended down the rabbit hole of Truly, Barcroft TV, and Hooked on the Look. And I’m still no closer to finishing up the book edits.

I think it’s almost an inevitable part of the process. The deeper you are in the editing process, the more easily distracted you become. I think it’s partially due to fear: if you actually finish editing, then you have no excuses for why your book isn’t published. And once your book is published, you open yourself up to scrutiny, which can be mortifying.

I understand it well: fear of being “seen” is real. I have absolutely suffered from it in the past. Sometimes I think I’ve overcome it . . . Then I start editing a new work and those feelings come rushing back to me.

Also, it could be a bit of imposter syndrome: I have, in the back of my mind, thoughts of being not good enough, not worthy of being published or having fans, and feeling unworthy of even of being supported by my loved ones. It’s so easy to see all of my shortcomings and automatically go to thoughts of being inferior and unworthy.

As I try to edit, all of these low-vibe thoughts come to mind. And it paralyzes me far more than I care to admit. But this blog is about transparency as regards the growth process, so here I am, admitting that while I’m in the thick of editing, I’m scared senseless.

Despite those feelings, I press on. Not because I want to overcome those emotions, but because I’ve committed to creating a product by a certain date, and I hate failure more than I despise the discomforting thoughts that have been running through my mind.

So I press on, staying the course while I’m in the thick of it. I’m looking forward to seeing you all on the other side.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Starting to Edit

So, it’s Writers Wednesday, and I’m editing.

Lord help me!

Actually, I don’t mind editing. If anyone is going to kill my darlings, let it be me, so the death will be merciful. As it turns out, I’ve been blessed (and cursed) with a critical eye, so I’m a natural editor. So, this experience isn’t so bad.

Editing is time-consuming, but rewarding. I love seeing my ideas come together more cohesively, so the editing process is fine with me. I’m giving myself the entire month to get it done, and even a little more time, if necessary.

For my fellow writers, do you all do your own editing? Or, do you hire an editor to do it for you? I’m curious about what works for you.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Race to the Finish

Happy Writers Wednesday! Can you believe it’s the last Wednesday of the month? I can hardly believe it myself!

I’ve been hard at work trying to hit my January 31 deadline. I’ve been managing my time more carefully, doing my daily word requirement, and getting hits of inspiration here and there. My deadline is quickly approaching. And guess what?

It’s not gonna happen.

I need a solid rough draft before I even try to start editing. I’m only about 70% done with my draft. Unless I hype myself up on caffeine and power through the next few nights, I won’t be finishing this draft by January 31st.

And I’m okay with that.

A few years ago, I would have been so hard on myself, kicking myself for what I *could* have done differently. But I’m in such a different space now: I realize I live a busy life. I care for myself, my grandmother and her sister, my daughter, and my dog. I have a job, a part time tutoring gig, and several small businesses. I have a chronic illness.

Basically, my cup runneth over, even before I throw book writing into the mix.

So yes, I’m racing to the finish, but I’m not breaking my neck or any other body part to do it. I’m giving myself an additional week, which should be enough time to get this done. And if not … I’ll give myself another small extension (I’m pretty sure one more week will be enough). Then I’ll move onto the next step.

On this path, I recognize that my biggest ally is to give myself lots of grace and treat myself as kindly as I treat others. I had to literally sit and think about the time when I would ask colleagues for information colleagues that I need, and when they asked for a little more time, I gladly confirmed that extensions are okay. Of course, that isn’t always possible, but for this writing project that I have, it’s fine. Not only am I okay with giving myself an extension, but I’m always looking forward to the fact that this extra time will really help me get a great first draft.

Editing is hard enough: writing while editing is torture. I’d rather get this done well than to try to rush it and have to end up rewriting almost all of my manuscript.

That’s it for my Writers Wednesday for this week. I hope you’re having a fun and productive day. Take care!

writing

Writers Wednesdays – How to Stop Self-Sabotage

Welcome back to Writers Wednesdays! How is your writing coming along? Probably a little (or a lot) better than mine! I made up for slacking over the past week by knocking out a whopping 100 words in a weekend.

No, you did not misread that. I completed one hundred words in a weekend. And that’s ALL I could manage to write. I had family visiting (not too many members: gotta stay safe!) so I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to my writing. I’ve since made up for it over the past couple of days, clocking about 1,000 words per day. However, this still puts me behind schedule.

With that being said, I know a little about self sabotage. I often find myself throwing monkey wrenches into my own plans. Sometimes, the delays are due to health issues, but other times, it’s that mental “block” that exists when you have a big goal that feels gargantuan.

You know the ‘block’: it looks a lot like writer’s block, or procrastination, or an overloaded schedule. Whatever form the block takes, it can ruin your grand plans if you let it.

So the important question to ask is, HOW can you stop self sabotage?

For me, getting to the root of my self sabotage always starts with examining my emotions. Asking myself, “How am I feeling?” usually reveals the biggest clues behind the “block”. When I feel depressed, I usually experience writer’s block, or lack of inspiration. When I’m feeling anxious, I generally procrastinate. And when I feel fear, I overload my schedule with activities so that I don’t have the time to write.

Taking inventory of how your emotions manifest into particular behaviors will probably reveal some patterns for you, too.

After examining the emotion, I address it. For depression, more sunlight, upping my self care, and immersing myself in creative and artistic media (old Hollywood movies, art museums, music from around the world) usually does the trick. Not to mention, I have a great book by Ginie Sayles, titled, “Writer’s Block is a Crock”. I often use that to help me through those tough times. Anxiety is remedied by slowing down and being more intentional, (again) upping my self care, getting back into my yoga practice, and breathing deeply. For fear, I’ll admit: I don’t have a remedy that I can self-administer. I usually rely on a kick-in-the-pants from a well-meaning friend.

One of my favorite books for overcoming writer’s block

Fear is always the toughest one for me to manage. It isn’t fear of criticism, so much as it is fear of not being able to create a work that I’m proud of. I fear that I will write a mediocre text. And if there’s one thing I detest, it’s mediocrity.

Fortunately, I have great friends that encourage me to make my work better. They give specific examples of how it can be better. Then they trust me to make up my own mind, either to accept or reject their advice. I’ve done both, and I’ve been pleased with the outcome each time. They don’t take it personal if I choose a different strategy. But because they have great perspectives, I rarely discard their advice.

So fear is one that I’m still working on, to be honest with you. That’s what I’m experiencing right now. That’s why I made meals from scratch, two days in a row, during the time that I should have been writing. But recognizing the emotion is the first step. And I’m relying on my friends to help me through it. If you don’t have a trusted counsel to help you with things like this, I advise you build that group NOW. I promise you won’t regret it.

That’s it for today. I hope you all are well. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

*This post contains affiliate links.

reading list · writing

Writers Wednesdays – The Power of a Brain Dump

Welcome to another edition of Writers Wednesdays! I think this topic will be especially helpful to the writers that have a ton of ideas but can’t quite make sense of them all (or, that struggle to organize their thoughts).

Here’s a little story: this past weekend, I had every intention of writing at least 50k words (I know, ambitious). But I figured I could do it because I’m a little crazy and I love big goals. And, I planned to use voice typing to help me get the ideas out when I tired of typing by hand. It all sounded so easy . . .

Then I had a few visitors (extended family) drop by on Saturday. And they stayed FAR longer than normal. When they left, I was too sleepy to write. It was worth it, since I had a good time with them. But it took away a chunk of my writing time.

Then Sunday came and I realized I had tons of clothes to wash and put away, dinner to prepare, overall home tidying to do, items to put in my shed, etc.,. My to-do list was overwhelming. It looked like I wouldn’t have any time to write.

But I got the idea to voice type as I folded clothes. That one decision allowed me to get 800 words out of my head and into print. It was a lot less than the 50k, but it sure beat 0 words. It wasn’t very well structured, but it was a brain dump that allowed me to get a few ideas out, and I can always mold my thoughts later. The important thing was to just WRITE: I’ll worry about the editing later.

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When you decide that you want to be a writer (part time or full time) you quickly realize that every other thing that you have to do magically becomes urgent and need attention during your designated writing time (that is, if you have actually scheduled a writing time). It’s almost inevitable (Murphy’s law and all that jazz).

If you find it difficult to reach your daily writing goals, I recommend that you pull up a Google Doc or Microsoft Word document, turn on the voice typing feature, and talk out your ideas while you do another task (like folding clothes, washing dishes, or cooking). That way, you can just “dump” the ideas instead of waiting for free time to type.

Clearing your mind via a brain dump can really help you become more efficient in other ways. Once I finished doing my voice typing, I could concentrate more on the tasks at hand. Doing a brain dump helped me feel more accomplished, and that motivated me to take care of my other tasks.

Do you ever do brain dumps when writing? I’d love to hear more about your process in the comments below!