Habit 6: Have a Vision for Your Writing Career

Do you have a vision for your writing career? Where would you like to be 1, 3, 5, and especially 10 years down the road with your writing career?

A vision is not only a hope for your writing career but an aspiration of what we plan to achieve in the long-term. Then you could you plan to accomplish. A vision statement usually tells us what decide which of these goals to pursue in the shorter term.

In order for your vision statement to be most effective to inspire you to be your best, your vision must be measurable and achievable. So, don’t create a vision statement such as: I want to become a New York Bestseller in five to ten years. Instead, say, I want to write five books in 5 years or 10 books in 10 years. This goal is much more concrete and it will allow you to measure the progress of your vision statement as time passes. This is crucial to your success as a writer.

You can only become an excellent and inspired writer if you know where you are headed and what your writing goals are. In other words, you have to define what an excellent writer is for you.

Writers who have a vision for their writing career, and keep evaluating every year how they are doing, are the best and most excellent writers. Not only that, but they have self-confidence and they are successful.

The Specifics of a Vision Statement

A vision statement is usually something that we prepare for ourselves to become aware of our hopes and aspirations for our writing career. It is great to dream of what you would like to achieve. But eventually, we have to put these dreams into reality for us to become excellent writers.

A vision statement should be concrete so that it is grounded in reality. The beauty of a vision statement is that it allows you to dream and then to assess the likelihood that you will achieve your vision within the time frame proposed.

If your goals are based on impossible goals that you have no control over, such as I want to become a New York Best Seller, then you won’t be successful and very frustrated because that is not in our control.

So, your vision statement should be based on your values and beliefs as well as your purposes as a writer. So, a good vision statement should have the following headings:

• Purpose of my writing: is it to teach, guide, inspire or all of the above.
• What genre or type of writing do I want to do? Fiction or Nonfiction?
• What audience do I want to reach? Adult, geriatric, young adult, middle grade, or kids.
• How many hours can you devote to your writing?
• Do you consider yourself to be a writer? Is it part of your identity?
• How many books would you like to have published and written in 3 and 5 years?

By asking yourself these questions, you will be determining your vision as a writer. And you will be at your best if you work from your vision statement to more concrete goals for yourself as a writer.

Excellence is derived from dreaming where you want to be in your writing career a few years from now. Confidence is built by ensuring that every day you bring yourself closer to your goals. Further, the quality of your writing can be developed by having a vision and consistently bring it about.

Irene S. Roth

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Habit 5: Don’t Overload your Schedule

We each know when we are overloaded because we feel pushed in way too many directions without a seeming purpose for any of them. This is counterproductive to being excellent and something that has to be remedied if we are to embark on the path to excellence as a writer.

To avoid overloading, you must settle down and reflect on things, and put things in perspective. The greatest gift in life is finding harmony in yourself so that you could ensure that you don’t overload yourself.

You can prevent overload in your writing career by planning for meetings, major commitments, and other scheduled activities so that they are not back-to-back. Space them so that you do some writing in between them.

If you feel an overload coming on, take a few moments to relax. Don’t get upset and overwhelmed. This can put you in a healthier frame of mind.

You may want to just go to the bedroom and close the door. Lie down and just relax for five to ten minutes.

You may feel overwhelmed by too many demands. Decide how much you can handle and adjust your pace before getting into trouble. This often means saying no to people, situations and requests.

You should also direct the course of your life, rather than direct the course of other people lives. That way you will be sure to control what you can control and avoid the rest.

At times, we have too many requests and demands on our time. We should learn to take control by taking these concrete steps.

• Decide how much you can handle and how much you take on.

• Set priorities and follow them. A continuous diet of overload and stress can destroy the quality of your writing life, health, performance, and relationships.

• Have a plan to prevent overload.

• Embrace simple joys.

• Schedule time for quality rest and enjoyment in living.

• Maintain a sense of harmony in your life.

• Adjust your pace if you feel disharmony.

• Be realistic in making additional commitments.

• Overestimate how much time you need.

• Leave early enough for appointments.

• Say yes only to things that you want to do.

• Choose to do more things that lift you and less things that drain you.

• If you are unsure whether you want to take something on, don’t do it.

• You have to relax outside of working hours.

So, your long rang challenge should always be to prevent overload, to embrace the different loves of your life more fully, and live your life more joyfully.

In this way, you will be embracing the path towards less overload, more health and well-being, and doing more quality work. And you will be doing your best writing too.

Irene S. Roth

Habit 4: Avoid Distractions

One mental skill that distinguishes excellent writers from others is the ability to refocus in the face of distractions. It can be hard to focus at first. We live in a world of noise and technology. So, to focus you must choose what you allow your attention to engage in.

You can develop distraction control through regular practise. To practise distraction control, you must learn to hold to focus and refocus when you need to.

Distractions come from a variety of sources. Some of them are:

• Winning
• Losing
• The expectations of others
• Family members
• Relationships
• Teammates
• Coaches
• Illness
• Fatigue
• Extra demands
• Changes in familiar patterns
• Your own negative thinking patterns

Distractions are an ever-present part of life. You have to decide whether these things will distract you, upset you, lower your self-confidence, put you in a negative frame of mind, or interfere with your performance.

Remember something becomes a distraction only if you allow it to distract you. Otherwise, it is something that happens. You can choose to let it go.

You don’t have to let distractions affect your mood. You may not like what someone says or does but you don’t have to let it destroy you or your day.

When you react emotionally to distractions, you defeat yourself and stop yourself from being your best because these distractions take away from your quality of performance. If you continue to react negatively to situations, you will not only become exhausted, but you may also get sick. Reacting to negative and stressful situations takes a lot of energy and lowers resistance.

If you are to face additional stress, additional rest is a necessity. If you are rested, you can cope with stress a lot better. Also a stressful event, rest a while. This will replenish you and make you feel restored.

Plan each day so that you get some rest. Do something you enjoy and gain some sense of control over what you do in very stressful environments.

Most stressors don’t really matter in the long run. It is only in the short run that they make us feel queasy and uneasy. We must remember this so that we don’t take things too seriously when we feel stressed out.

Here are a few ways to get back on track quickly so that you don’t waste a lot of energy:

1. Commit to remaining positive.

2. Focus on doing what will help you stay positive and in control.

3. Get yourself into a positive state of mind before a stressful event.

4. Look for advantages in every possible situation. Look for reasons to remain positive, confident, strong, and optimistic.

5. Find the positive in even the most stressful situations you are experiencing.

6. Remind yourself that you don’t have to get caught up by distractions. You can let them go.

7. Expect things to be different – don’t expect the worst.

8. Practise getting back on track.

9. Make an effort to remain positive.

10. Every day, be proud of your efforts. Then start a new day.

By taking these steps, you will get on track sooner and you won’t waste valuable time and energy.

Distractions are the number one cause why writers don’t write their best quality of work. We have to avoid distractions and write for a block of time without doing anything else but write. This is the process that will lead to perfection.

To uni-tasking!

Irene S. Roth

Habit 3: Writing From the Heart

There is a vast difference between what you can get from the mind and what you achieve from the heart. The mind is limited; the heart is unlimited. So, to do your best writing, it is important to write from that truest place inside your soul.

Here are 10 steps towards writing from the heart:

• Meditate regularly every day, at least 5 minutes first thing in the morning, and again before you write. Simply focus your attention on your heart in the center of your chest. Try to listen to your heartbeat. If any thoughts enter the mind, just return your attention to your heart.

• Keep an area of your house pure and clean in which to meditate. Keep the room well-aired. You can bring in fragrances such as incense, something from nature that inspires you such as a fresh flower, and perhaps a picture of something meaningful to you. Keep a separate area for writing, and introduce similar sources of purity and inspiration into your area.

• Writing from the heart means being constantly aware of one’s surroundings. This is what Buddhists call mindfulness. It will not only bring you a fuller experience of life, but also lead to deeper and authentic writing. Get into the habit of simply observing the world – people, nature, each of your own senses, and your own feelings.

• When you are used to observing your surroundings, you will naturally start to accept things as they are. You may see the same scenes day in and day out. The mind may tire of them, but if you observe from the heart, you will find new beauty and inspiration each time.

• Observation and acceptance naturally engender love, gratitude and joy. These are invaluable keys to meaningful and quality writing. Conveying these experiences through words will help others to see beauty and inspiration in their own lives.

• Protect that effort you have made to see and feel things in a positive way. Unconstructive criticism, anger, and jealousy can thwart your inspiration and prevent you writing from the heart, whether they come from yourself or from other people. Try to avoid encountering these negative forces. If you cannot avoid them, try not to pay attention to them.

• When you are in the habit of observing your surroundings, allow words to come to you, without the intention of writing them down. When words are not written down, they have more freedom. Practice describing the things you see. Look for depth not just the surface.

• Carry a notebook with you everywhere. When a sequence of words comes to you and thrills your heart, write it down. Let more words grow around it.

• Do not let the mind plan a finished product. Let the writing blossom and become what it wants to be. This is where your heart and intuition come in. That way your writing will have its own authenticity and integrity, and the result will be more valuable.

• Trust the creative process that comes from the heart, but also use the mind to polish and revise your writing. Sometimes that which comes from the heart can benefit from a little clarification.

By taking these steps, you will be writing from the heart. Not only will you be doing the best kind of writing, you will also enjoy your writing and feel connected to it.

Irene S. Roth

GUEST POST: OBSESSED BY V.M. GLASS

I Obsess

M. DarkAgnelo

 

I’m a writer, and I Obsess.

I don’t know if this is a common occurrence, I know I’ve come across a number of people who do similar things to me, but I don’t know if this is an affectation of the artistic mind, or just a human failing – of mine.

I obsess. If I develop an interest in a subject, I will inevitably buy ten books on the topic, read all the articles I can find on the internet, watch all the YouTube videos and really feel that this new idea is going to be something I’m going to be into for years.

And then the next subject piques my interest and the process starts all over again.

I might mention that I’m usually in the midst of a novel, or short story that truly needs my whole attention and it occurred to me, relatively recently, that these little obsessions, some which last a couple of weeks, some will last several months, could all just be ways I avoid doing what I’m supposed to be doing – writing. But I’m compelled to dive so deeply into this new idea, or ‘way of life’ that everything else falls to the wayside.

And I say to myself, Vicki! Why is it you cannot throw this same obsessive behavior at your writing project? Why do I end up squeezing in writing here and there, sometimes get lucky enough to devote an entire month to one writing project – only to be derailed once more by a shiny new idea. (Currently, I am devouring personal development books, podcasts and YouTube videos). Why do I do this – ?

Perhaps the truth is – writing sometimes scares me. In my current obsession, I’m learning to be extremely honest with myself. And I have to face the fact that my writing scares me, for two big reasons. Number one is, and this could fall somewhere on the impostor syndrome scale, not feeling skilled enough to call myself a writer. And number two, which may be larger than number one, in fact, I know it is – the fear that if I make a career out of writing I will hate it. And that would make living hard for me, because writing is my world. Words are my world. Expression through painting a picture with description is my fire. It’s what lights me up.

And if I were to hate it, that would devastate me.

So, instead of facing that, I jump whole hog into something else. Is that classic avoidance? Is this common? Common among writers? I mean sometimes I can get away with justifying it as research for a story. (Winky, winky, blink face)

Sometimes.

Usually though, I have to call it what it is, a diversion. And often a welcome one, so I usually let it ride, because there must be a reason for why I’m avoiding a story – perhaps I’m subconsciously working through a plot hole that I haven’t noticed yet – that actually did happen once – or a new character is forming that will help the story move forward. I’m hoping that’s going to happen this time – I’ve got a kickin main character, but I feel like I’m missing her Mr. Miyagi, and maybe that’s why I’ve picked up the motivation/manifestation kick.

I’m coming for you Tony Robbins.

 

If you liked this and would like to read more from my unusual mind – please visit my website vmdarkangelo.com for more!

 

 

Habit 2 of Excellent Writers: Find Balance In Your Writing

It can be really difficult for writers to find balance in their lives. This is because for many serious writers, life always seems to get in the way. They want to write, produce, and submit. And sometimes they may even become negligent of your own health needs and those of your family in order to get even some writing done. Still other writers get bogged down by doing family and career responsibilities and not find time to write. In each case, this signals that you are out of balance as a writer.

I know that for myself, my housework gets second dib’s when I’m in the middle of a writing deadline. But then, of course, I have to catch up. Sometimes, I have to hire a cleaning lady to help me out. Many writers have to balance their various roles with their duties towards their writing.

Below, I will show how you can bring about some balance in your writing life and still get a lot of writing done as well.

Balance is a feeling of fulfilling all of your important roles properly. Life balance isn’t so much about the time spent on your various roles as it is about the degree of engagement you feel in each of your roles. In other words, balance isn’t only about what you do, but about the fulfillment you get from what you do.

Generally, you can find balance by focusing on what is most important in your life. Here are 5 tips to restore balance into your writing life.

1. Build downtime into your schedule

When you plan your writing time for the week, schedule time with family and friends to help recharge your batteries. You may decide to have a date night with your spouse. Or, you may plan a family activity once a week, say every Sunday afternoon, and stick to it. Another way you could bring balance into your writing life is to wake up an hour early to meditate and/or exercise. This will help you feel refreshed and energized for the day.

2. Drop activities that zap energy and waste time

There are many empty, time-consuming activities that writers do which simply waste time. Writers have to answer emails, phone calls and constantly, multi-task. It is crucially important for writers to only do things that are important to their overall writing goals first, and then work on these empty, secondary activities. You must drop all the extraneous things that are not related to your goals.

3. Plan some relaxation breaks during the day

You should examine your typical writing day. How does it look? Do you slot in times for relaxation into each day? If you’re not, you don’t have enough balance in your day. As you schedule your writing for the day, schedule some relaxation breaks right into your day.

4. Realign your writing priorities

Only do what’s most important and forget about the rest. When you get to work, look at your desk. Then re-read your writing goals for the day to refresh your memory, and do the most important ones first. If you have time, do the next one on the list. Then take a break. Come back to it, and if you have time, you could try to tackle the last one. At this point, it may be best to break for the day so that you could recharge your batteries.

Take the time to determine your personal and professional priorities. Write them all down, and schedule all of them into your work schedule every week. By writing them down, you’ll be committing to your writing projects. As you do, you’ll experience much more balance in your professional and personal life. You will also be as likely to burn out.

5. Delegate

It is important for writers to delegate extraneous activities to others in order to save time for writing and give themselves some much-needed free time. Determine which mundane activities are taking up a lot of your time. Is it the washing? Or, cleaning? Maybe it’s picking up some last-minute items at the grocery store? Whatever it is, you could find someone to help you with these tasks so that you could free up some much-needed time for yourself and/or your writing.

Balance is so important for a writer. Without it, a writer will feel overwhelmed and unproductive and this will take away from becoming excellent. Thus, it is essential to create a writing schedule that can cohere with your personal and professional life, your family, and other duties.

Irene S. Roth

 

Habit 1 of Excellent Writers: Develop Mental Resilience

We all possess some degree of mental strength. But there is always room for improvement.

Developing mental strength is about improving your ability to regulate your emotions, manage your thoughts and behave in a positive manner, despite your circumstances.

Just as there are those among us who are predisposed to develop physical strength more easily than others, mental strength seems to come more naturally to some people.

There are several factors at play to determine the ease at which you develop mental strength:

Genetics

Genes play a role in whether or not you may be more prone to mental health issues, such as mood disorders.

Personality

Some writers have personality traits that help them think more realistically and behave more positively by nature.

Experiences

Your life experiences influence how you think about yourself, other people, and the world in general.

Despite these factors that are beyond your control, you can increase your mental strength by devoting time, and energy on self-improvement.

The Basics of Mental Strength

To understand mental strength, you have to learn how your thoughts, behaviours, and feelings are all intertwined, often working together to create a dangerous downward spiral.

Therefore, developing mental strength requires a three-pronged approach. We have to manage our thoughts, behaviours, and emotions.

Here are some more specific tips on how to strengthen and manage your thoughts, behaviours and emotions.

1. To strengthen your thoughts, you must identify irrational thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones.

2. To strengthen your behaviors, you must strive to behave in a positive manner, despite circumstances around you.

3. In order to strengthen your emotions, you must strive to control your emotions so they don’t control you.

We hear from many psychologists that we should think positive. However, unfortunately, optimism alone isn’t enough to help you reach your full potential. What we have to do in addition is to choose behaviour based on balanced emotions and rational thinking.

Balancing Emotions and Rational Thinking

We can make our best decisions in life when we balance our emotions with rational thinking. Stop and think for a minute about how you behave when you’re really angry. It’s likely that you’ve said and done some things that you regretted later.

However, making choices based on rational thinking alone also doesn’t make for good decisions either. We are human beings, not robots after all. Our hearts and our heads need to work together to control our bodies.

We all have some difficulty to control our thoughts, emotions and behavior. However, the more we control them, the more mentally resilient we will become.

The Benefits of Mental Strength

It’s often easy to feel emotionally strong when life is going well. However, we all go through periods of time when our life is going anything but well. There is sickness, death, and injustices that we all face every day, regardless of the kind of steps we take to avoid them because many of them are beyond our control.

When you are mentally strong, you are much more able to deal with life’s challenges.

The benefits of increasing mental strength are as follows:

1. You will experience increased resilience to stress. Mental strength is helpful in everyday life, not just in the midst of a crisis. You become better equipped to handle problems more efficiently and effectively, and it can reduce your overall stress levels.

2. You will experience improved life satisfaction. As your mental strength increases, your confidence will also increase. You behave according to your values, which will give you peace of mind and you’ll recognize what’s really important in your life.

3. You will experience enhanced performance. Whether your goals are to be a better writer or to increase your productivity, increasing your mental strength will help you reach your full potential.

To improve your mental strength, you have to actually improve every day by developing new ways of dealing with difficulties and by using some measures to avoid emotional outbursts as much as possible.

However please remember to be patient in this process. It can take a long time to develop increased mental resilience. The more patient you are, the better you will feel, and the more you will achieve. So, slow and consistent will win the race for you.

I wish you luck in developing mental resilience!

Irene S. Roth