Posts tagged with: motivation
Posted by Anne Marie Becker Mar 13 2013, 12:01 am in Anne Marie Becker, inspiration, motivation, perseverance
As a suspense author, I enjoy a mind game now and then, and have free rein to use them with my villains and even heroes and heroines. But today, I’m talking about how I use mind games on myself—as a tool to get motivated in my writing.
The “I Don’t Wanna” Complex
Hey, look! It’s already Wednesday. Hump day. The day of the week when I assess how the week is going. Have I encountered challenges that kept me from writing? Are these challenges in my head or external? If they’re in my head, how do I hope to overcome them to turn my week around and make it productive? Or, if I have been productive, how do I keep that momentum going instead of giving in to the temptation to relax and take a break (which frequently leads to difficulty getting back into the writing routine later)?
With spring around the corner, I find myself staring out the window more often, wanting to play instead of work. And I find it easier to say, “I can make up this gap in my word count goal later tonight, after the kids are in bed”… When I’m frequently too tired to write and then tell myself, I’ll do it tomorrow. It’s too easy to make excuses to play when I don’t feel like working.
Getting Over Myself
So how do I get myself (my procrastination and other road blocks) out of the way and get things DONE?
I hear Gollum’s voice saying, “she’s tricksy,” but I wear the badge with pride because I get things done. Whatever it takes, right?
If I’m stalled out, energy-wise, I give myself permission to use 30 minutes on something non-writing (with the caveat that I will then sit down and produce words). I trick myself into believing I’m giving in to my temptation to play, but it actually leads to work. Here are some methods I employ:
- Exercise. Taking a walk outdoors gets the blood pumping to all areas of the body – including the brain. I’ll admit to occasionally dancing around my house with upbeat music playing on Pandora, frequently tuned to the “Pink!” station.
- Brain teasers. Yes, more mind games…of a sort. Engaging in a puzzle (crosswords, Scrabble, and the like), as long as I limit the time I spend, can help open my mind to the potential of doing work that day. It also gets me thinking about words. (DANGER: Beware the time suck! Set a timer for 20 minutes!)
- Attend writer’s meetings, or read or write a blog post on craft. If a writer’s meeting isn’t in the immediate future, I’ll set up a writing sprint online or a one-on-one writing session with a friend who lives in town. Then I’ve got a commitment to keep. (Spending $5 on a coffee drink often encourages me I have to get some major work done to justify the cost!)
- Read the latest RWR or other craft magazine. Seeing what other writers are doing often encourages me to get my head back in the game.
- Read a book! Sometimes this gets me in the mood to write my own. And sometimes reading about other characters makes my own jealous, and they start nitpicking at me until I get back to their story.
- Cattle prod? No, I’m not serious…but, then again, having a timer works in a similar way. If I’m having trouble focusing, I’ll give myself permission to do something else for a few minutes, and set the timer on my iPhone to “prod” me to get back to work.
But what about writing? Once my brain is willing (or sometimes when it is still pouting in the corner but I need it to be willing), there are specific things I do to help me get back into the actual writing part of my day.
- Warm-up exercises. Free-writing for five minutes, catching up on emails, or jotting down notes for future scenes often helps me get my fingers warmed up. I also have a deck of idea cards for writers with prompts designed to get your brain thinking…things like “pick a scene and make your character do the opposite of what you’ve already written” or “tell the scene from another character’s POV.”
- Re-reading the last scene or two. This is almost a “must” for me to get my head back in the game. Besides, rereading helps me regain the energy of the moment I was in when I last wrote. I’ll also go back and reread the last scene in that character’s POV, so that I know what emotional and physical state I left her/him in and can continue from there. (DANGER: I often find myself wanting to edit what I wrote – which is okay if that’s my goal for the day. But if my goal is forward progress, generating more words, I have to stuff my inner critic into its box.)
- Playing what-if with the scene. I do this with troublesome scenes, when I can’t see where the story is going. I once read/heard somewhere that when brainstorming you should list as many possibilities as you can. Throw out the first five or so because they’re often the predictable ones. Go further down your list for an exciting option.
- The old switcheroo. Changing my location (where I write) or medium (what I’m working on – for instance, using pen and notepad versus a computer) sometimes gets the ideas flowing. I’ve always wanted to try a hand-held voice recorder – I think that would come in handy in these circumstances.
- Follow the energy. This is probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned. Some days, I’m just not feeling it. I try to go where the energy is flowing that day – to work follow my brain’s natural path instead of going against the flow. This might mean writing a different scene than you’d planned to work on that day, or working on the synopsis or query letter instead of the manuscript. Whatever feels like forward progress is good. And stepping back to look at the global picture often helps me get back into the scene I need to write, and I’ll end up getting even more done than I’d intended. (Tricksy!)
- Set a timer or a low word count goal. Taking off a bite-sized chunk of the daily goal usually gets the ball rolling and tricks me into believing I am productive. Especially when, once my brain gets jump-started, my fingers can’t fly across the keyboard fast enough.
- Reward yourself! Peanut M&Ms work for me. I get five for every twenty minutes I spend at the keyboard. Or a bonus five if I finish a scene. If I’m trying to limit calories, I’ll let myself play online for a few minutes, or watch a segment (until the next commercial break) of The Followers or another favorite show. Choose whatever works for you (and fits your diet or budget)…small rewards can be just as helpful as large ones (which I reserve for finishing a round of edits or finishing a manuscript).
These are just a few of the mind games I play to make myself believe I’m playing when I’m really getting down to work…we won’t even go into the tricks I play on my characters once I’m in the scene and the words start flowing. (*insert maniacal laughter here*)
How about you? Do you have ways you trick yourself into being productive? What mind games do you employ when your brain wants to play instead of work?
Anne Marie is an award-winning author of romantic suspense and publishes her Mindhunters series through Carina Press and Harlequin. Always fascinated by people—inside and out—she earned degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Counseling before becoming a fiction writer. As a stay-at-home mom of three young children, her passion for understanding the human race is now satisfied by her roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, and writer.
She writes to reclaim her sanity.
You can find out more about Anne Marie at www.AnneMarieBecker.com.
Posted by Autumn Jordon Jan 16 2013, 12:01 am in Autumn Jordon, Create, creativity, motivation, Yanni
It is because of you that I am.
The above line sounds like a perfect line in a romance novel, doesn’t it? Perhaps it is. I’m sure there are probably hundreds of lines that are similar and hold the same meaning, like the Jerry Mcguire line “You complete me.”
Anyway, it just came to me when thinking about something Yanni said during one of his concerts. Yeah, I’m a Yanni fan. Old Yanni and New Yanni. I’ll clue you in on what he said later.
Now, I want you to take the above line and add the word A to it and then finish it by adding a noun. Any noun. Make a short list of five. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I promise I have a point to make.
Okay, my short list:
It is because of you that I am a light bulb.
It is because of you that I am a wheel.
It is because of you that I am a calendar.
It is because of you that I am a laptop.
It is because of you that I am a song.
Every one of those nouns at one point in time didn’t exist. They were once the idea of its creator—an idea that came to them while they were living life, watching the sunset or as children rolled a log down a mountain side. And they came about because the person had this insatiable drive to bring their brain child to life. To present it to the world.
By this time, you’re wondering what does that have to do with writing a novel? Well, besides the obvious that we always start with an idea, it is my belief that nothing has been created without trial and error, without studying the problem and its effects, and without lots of pondering. Writing a great story takes all of those steps.
Now, for my point today. Don’t beat yourself up for not having your fingers on the keyboard 24/7. I hear a lot of writers chiding themselves for not writing a word for a day or days. Your story hasn’t stilled. It’s growing inside you. A worthy story takes thought and research and study to create. It takes time to get to know your characters just like it did for you to get to know your hubby and friends. Take the time you need. And allow yourself to fumble, just don’t allow yourself to quit.
Okay, here is what was said and got me thinking.
“Creating is one of the most powerful, deliberate acts that human beings can do. It is one of the most important reasons to exist. If I do my job right, my listeners will experience what I experience while creating.” Yanni
Creating is one of the most important reasons to exist. Love it!
Until The Last Moment Yanni- You Tube
Posted by Dani Wade Dec 11 2012, 1:00 am in Christmas, holiday, motivation, perseverance, time management, writer's life, writing tips
It’s December, and we are currently knee deep into the annual holiday season. As women, we are usually the ones responsible for the planning and plotting that goes into holidays, even if they aren’t being held at our house. The same is true for me—I do the planning, my hubby does the inviting (usually without telling me until the last minute). We end up with a house full of family and friends who eat, talk, laugh, and play games all Christmas day. That’s after a month full of other parties, family celebrations, gift buying, etc. Something I enjoy with a heart full of gratitude.
But all this partying makes it tough to get any writing done. The list of things to do can extend to infinity sometimes (or at least feel like it). All this extra party planning can really cramp my writing style. I’m sure even you non-writers find time short during this busy season. So what’s an author to do?
Here are a few tips:
1. Up your word count on the days you CAN write.
I know this sounds like it will take even more time, but when you do get uninterrupted writing time, do your best to up the amount of your goal. My usual goal for weekdays is 750 words, but for December I’m aiming for 1250. This way, I can manage a few days off during the month without guilt or getting really behind. So push yourself to do more, and enjoy your reward later.
2. Take it One Small Step at a Time
It can be overwhelming to sit down and face a 1000 word goal, but how about 250 words? Oftentimes, I don’t write my whole goal in one sitting. I can’t, because I have very few uninterrupted chunks of time in my day. So here’s how I approach it: During my morning break at work, I plot out the scenes I’m going to work on that day. Then on my lunch break (30 minutes) I type on the Alphasmart. I also have 1 hour set aside for writing directly after dinner. I try to keep that sacred (doesn’t always work, but I try).
Then thirty minutes while the kids do homework or clean their rooms or 30 minutes while the hubby watches a television show. Just 30 more minute before bedtime, then I can sleep. You’d be surprised how much easier it is to tackle any large project in smaller steps.
3. Be Prepared
For plotters, this is much easier. But it is also doable for pantsters too. Before putting down your pen for the day, take a few moments to write out the first few sentences of your next scene. Make sure your notes on the coming pages are complete and you have a decent map for where you are heading. This will make jumping into the next session much easier (no staring at a blank page wondering what the heck you were thinking to have them break into the warehouse so soon…) and your writing will flow more quickly from the start.
I find a To Do list essential for big projects and my writing is no different. This way, I can see how much time I have, then jump into whatever task I have time for, without worrying I’ll forget what else needs to be done.
4. Utilize the Buddy System
Find a writing friend who needs to accomplish as much as you do at this time. Vow to keep each other accountable. Daily emails require you to send in those totals, even if the sum is 0 (and embarrassing enough to force your hands to the keyboard). Set up times for write ins (getting together for the sole purpose of writing—bookstores are great for this).
And don’t forget a reward. Plan an outing to get your nails painted or a massage when all the hard work is done. A night out to dinner with some girlfriends. Or form an accountability group where everyone pitches in $10, and the top three performers during the holiday season get to split the pot for After Christmas shopping! This will give you a tangible reward, other than the relief you’ll feel when you see all those words on the page.
My hope is that you’ll be able to be as productive as I hope to be this holiday season. We’re all busy. I know that. But you can still manage something (this is me giving ME a pep talk here). So tell me your best advice for getting writing (and other holiday tasks) done during this busy time. (because I need all the help I can get!)
Posted by Anne Marie Becker Nov 2 2012, 12:01 am in Anne Marie Becker, goals, inspiration, motivation, perserverance
It’s been six weeks since we saw each other last. (Where did the time go?) If you’ll recall, I gave you a little push in the form of a writing challenge waaaay back on September 19th, hoping it would generate a massive wave of productivity. Today is the conclusion of that challenge, and it’s time to check in. Drumroll, please…
My “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goal: Complete 60,000 words of a new project by October 31st.
My reality: 61,707 words as of 10/31.
There were struggles, and some very difficult days in which focus was elusive. At least five days, kids were home from school, sick and needing Mommy. Some days, I hit a roadblock in my plot that I struggled to get past. And some days I just felt like procrastinating. There were a couple days when I was traveling or family was visiting, and it made it that much harder to jump back into writing.
Whenever I felt like I wanted to slack off or let things slide, I remembered you were holding me accountable. (Um,…thanks? <grin>)
I also found that having a plan helped. I stuck to my decision to spend the first several days plotting. Using Hope Ramsay’s recent post “Using Scrivener for Plotting,” I was able to organize my thoughts and hit the ground running on 9/24. I found that, when I could, using the evenings to plot and organize the next day’s scenes helped.
What did I learn? That I can do it! But I also learned that my maximum of 5,000 words is not a pace I would care to keep up day in and day out, and 3,000 is a more comfortable goal. Some days I wrote 300-500 words and that was quite the achievement. Being flexible was oh-so-important on days when I felt like one more apple on my cart would topple the whole thing. Most of all, I learned to go easy on myself when I don’t make it. Some days are highly productive, some aren’t. But enjoying life is important to keeping my creative juices flowing, too.
What’s Next? I’ve decided to set this project aside for a few weeks before I go back and finish the last third of it. I simply need a mental break from it. Besides, while I wanted to start a new series, my Mindhunters series is calling to me, too. With National Novel Writing Month starting up yesterday, I wanted to begin with a brand new project that will (hopefully) rejuvenate me. Perfect timing. (I’m “Anne Marie B” on NaNo’s site by the way, if anybody wants to buddy-up.)
The best part of the Ruby Push: I am a writer who seems to make the biggest strides in the editing stage. Having something other than a blank page to work with will help me out so much.
If you missed the 9/19 post, let me know your goals for NaNo, or simply for the rest of 2012. If you posted goals on September 19th in the Comments section, let me know how they turned out (for better or worse or a totally different direction). If you met your goals and let me know in the Comments below by Sunday, November 4th at midnight Eastern time, you’ll be entered in a random drawing for two $10 Amazon gift cards.
Keep focused and GOOD LUCK to you all as you immerse yourself in the holidays, or NaNo, or whatever new challenge awaits you. Don’t forget the Rubies’ Winter Writing Festival starts in January!
Posted by Anne Marie Becker Sep 19 2012, 12:01 am in inspiration, motivation, perseverance
Project: Ruby Push
I don’t know about you, but it seems this year has been flying by at a record pace. The change in weather, the return of the kids to school, and the looming end of the year have me re-evaluating what time I have left, and what my goals were waaaay back in January. It’s the final countdown, and I’m here to push myself, and you. (You didn’t think I was going to do this alone, did you?)
Why a push? A shove is kind of rude. And this isn’t a kindly nudge, it’s a “wake up, there are only three months left until 2013!” full-on push. NaNoWriMo isn’t until November 1st, and the Ruby Winter Writing Festival seems a long way from now, so I say we take charge of our goals NOW. Let’s do this. (Do you see me putting my eye-of-the-tiger face on? My pom-poms are waiting beside me, ready to cheer you on, too.)
First, let’s set some goals. Goals should be “SMART.”
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Attainable
- R = Realistic
- T = Timely
I’ll give you my current goals as an example. Specifically, over the next six weeks (I’ve given myself a November 2nd deadline) I’m planning to write 60,000 words of a new manuscript. (Secretly, I’m hoping to achieve a full, 90,000-word rough draft of a novel, but I’m a little afraid that’s not within the realm of “realistic” for me. I’m still pushing for it, though.) I will be able to measure my progress by word count. The goal is attainable and realistic, because I know I’ve produced 10,000 words (occasionally more) in a week, and my schedule for the next few weeks is dedicated to writing.
Now that I know what I want to achieve, it’s time for a plan.
- Visualize it, and believe it can happen. (And it CAN happen, because you’ve set realistic goals, right? Right. So, no excuses.) This week, I’ve been working on plotting out a detailed outline of my manuscript, so that I’m already getting to know my characters and plot and I can jump into writing with both feet.
- Make writing a priority. I will sacrifice other things – reading, TV time, and—if I must—housework (oh, darn), in order to make my word count each day.
- Look ahead. I’ve taken a look at my planner/calendar and know what days will be tough to focus on writing (for various reasons). I’m planning to accommodate for those by writing more on the days my schedule is lighter. (See “Be flexible…”)
- Be flexible. I plan to build a buffer into my word goals so I can take a sick day if needed, and take a day off every now and then. Some days, when my obligations are fewer, I plan to write 3,000 words. Others, such as weekends when the family is around, I plan closer to 1,000 words. If I miss a day’s goals, I will not be discouraged. I will be doing the best I can, and that’s enough. (But I’ll still push myself, because creating a new manuscript in 6 weeks would be AWESOME.)
- Reward hard work. I believe in celebrating small successes as well as the larger goals. A special meal with hubby or a glass of wine after a particularly grueling day. A 30-minute nap. A walk around the block in the sunshine. Buying a new book. Whatever will rejuvenate you and get you away from the computer for a bit—make a plan to include that in your routine when you meet your goals, at least something each week. (And plan an extra-special reward for November 2nd!)
- Use others—in a nice way, of course, which is why you’re here. You’re going to hold me accountable, and maybe I’ll see you on Twitter (#1k1hr, anyone?) or Facebook, where I’ll be posting my progress regularly. Please feel free to share your progress, too. I’m motivated by others’ success, and I understand the tough days, too. I think I’ll invent hashtag #RubyPush for this purpose.
Okay, it’s your turn. Don’t be shy. Now’s the time to make your goals a reality. It’ll be 2013 before we know it.
Post your goals below – make them SMART. Word count, page count, or whatever measurement works for you. What’s your plan? What are you willing to do to make these goals a reality?
And because I believe rewards are important, I’ll be giving away a couple small incentives when we check in six weeks from now, on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2nd. Non-rubies who post their goal(s) in the comments TODAY and who meet their goals by 11/02/12, AND let me know by commenting on the Ruby blog on 11/02, will be eligible to win one of two $10 Amazon gift cards I’ll be giving away that day). I expect you to set goals that are going to challenge you. And yes, we’re using the honor system, because my faith in the goodness of humanity is still strong… Happy writing!
Posted by Sara Ramsey Feb 22 2012, 12:01 am in check-in Wednesday, motivation, Pep Talk, perserverance, Winter Writing Festival
Where has the winter gone? It’s already time for the Winter Writing Festival Week Six check-in, and we’re entering the home stretch. There’s ONE WEEK LEFT (said in a British “Mind the Gap” voice, so as to incite calm progress rather than screaming panic).
Some of you have been plugging away at your goals and making consistent daily/weekly progress. If you’re one of those people, stand up and take a bow! I wholeheartedly applaud you (even while wondering how you did it, since ‘making consistent daily progress’ has never been one of my traits). You only have to keep it up another week. And once this week is over, hopefully you’ll carry those great habits into the rest of the year and achieve more than you thought was possible.
Some of you have been working in fits and starts, catching up some weeks and falling behind in others. That’s fine too! I’m a big believer in celebrating all progress, whether you technically hit your goal or not. If last week just wasn’t been your week, for any reason, don’t be shy about checking in anyway. No matter how much or how little progress you made, you’re still moving forward. You’re still eligible to win some of the book giveaways below (and get some encouragement/commiseration/motivation in the comments section). And you still have a week to catch up. There will be more sprints to help motivate you, and I’m sure you’re not going to be alone if you’re chained to your desk writing frantically this weekend.
We’re in the home stretch. The best part of this week is that it’s not quite the end — so you still have some time to catch up, wrap up, and end on a high note! And no matter whether you “win” or not, I would encourage you to think about what worked for you over the past few weeks and replicate it whenever you write, not just during the festival. If you love sprints, use Twitter to meet up with other writers and sprint there. If you like the accountability of a points system, suggest doing something similar with your critique partners. I would love to hear any strategies you’ve found useful for meeting your daily/weekly goals, whether you’ve applied them consistently or not!
Anyone who checks in today (on the Ruby blog – check in there if you’re reading this on the WWF site!) is eligible to win one of the following:
In addition, if you report in and say I MET MY WEEKLY GOAL (in all caps), you’re eligible for the drawing for any of these awesome prizes:
- 1 chapter critique from Liz Talley (chapter of winner’s choice)
- 1 chapter (up to 20 pg) critique by Vivi Andrews
- $10 Amazon Gift Certificate
- Audiobook of Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester read by Richard Armitage and a copy of Elizabeth Essex’s The Danger of Desire
Best of luck, everyone! Here’s hoping we all meet our goals by February 29!
Posted by June Love Feb 13 2012, 12:01 am in craft, motivation, writing tips
I’m not a Reality TV Junkie, but I do enjoy watching couples race around the world, cook their way to stardom, and survive in meager conditions. Whether it’s dancing, singing, looking for a mate, mining for coal, digging for gold, hunting for alligators, or driving across ice roads, these players/contestants have one goal in mind—to win the prize. It doesn’t matter if the prize is wealth, a record deal, or a shot at a television show. They all want to walk away the winner. In that respect, they are the same. Where the difference comes in is their motivation or reason for wanting the prize and to what lengths they’ll go to obtain it.
Posted by Jeannie Lin Jan 16 2012, 12:01 am in motivation
I was walking downstairs to do the laundry and I saw this still stuck on the wall where my desk used to be:
I’m such a goof, I write little inspirational messages to myself and tape them up over my writing desk. This particular question was up when I sold my first manuscript and it seemed to work so well for me that it’s stayed there since. (Hence the coffee stains and creases)
Posted by Gwynlyn MacKenzie Jul 22 2011, 12:01 am in guest author, motivation, perseverance, Staying sane, writer's advice, writer's life, writing through setbacks
I’d introduce our guest, but I’m pretty sure you know her. So without further ado, please welcome New York Times Best-selling Author, Madeline Hunter.
Is there a writer somewhere in the world who has not experienced disheartening setbacks? I haven’t met her yet. Life as a writer is an emotional roller coaster, even when things are going well. So learning to deal with setbacks is a life skill that it is essential to master.
No one knows this better than unpublished authors. Since all authors are at some point unpublished, that means we all know this. However, even for an author who thinks she is experienced in handling setbacks, there can be the one that flies in from left field and hits her in the gut.
We can argue over which are the worst ones. Is the tenth rejection in a row the worst, or the rejection that comes after something raised your hopes? I personally think the latter is more dangerous, because I know writers who never overcame that kind of setback.
Posted by Elisa Beatty Jun 27 2011, 12:01 am in motivation, nano, NaNoWriMo
Many Rubies and loyal Ruby blog readers won’t even see this post, since they’re already en route to RWA Nationals in New York City, their bags crammed with sassy, chic (yet comfortable!!) shoes, fabulous conference outfits, and silky, sparkly evening attire…
Me, I’m still sitting here at home in my usual writing PJs with the coffee stains.
I could be moping and feeling sorry for myself (just the teensiest, weensiest bit) that I’m missing out on the NYC glitter and glamour and fun, but I’m not, ‘cause I’m packing my bags too: for CAMP.
Remember camp? Sleeping in tents, finding weird insect life in your sleeping bag, suffering heart-wrenching crushes on the cute counselors, wearing the same mud-encrusted cargo shorts for eight days in a row, and drinking nothing but bug juice? Filling your days with lake-swimming and archery lessons and sunburn and ghost stories and s’mores around the campfire?
Well, this camp is just like that camp…except you don’t actually leave home, and you get TONS of writing done.
What camp am I talking about?
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