How to Excel in Our Writing Lives

I believe many of us are living our writing lives at a minimal level. We never seem to want to excel or do anything above what we’ve been doing for many years. We fall into habit ruts that keep us stuck in a groove that doesn’t help us grow as a writer or be our best.

   So, to excel in our writing lives and do more than the minimum, we need to consciously assess our writing lives from time to time to see how we are really doing.   This takes honesty and a willingness to be our best. We must want to do more than just what we have always done. We must want to be our best. And we must demand excellence from ourselves.

   When we only do the minimum in our writing life, we live only by doing the minimum—i.e., completing some of our writing goals, writing in the same genre as we always did, and just trying to carry on, even if we feel dried up and unfruitful. In other words, we will be going through the motion of our writing lives. In order for us to grow as a writer and to be our best, we must do all the things that require us to write beyond the minimum.

   But this isn’t easy. However, it is far better than drifting through our writing lives in a maze of uncertainty and fruitlessness, where the only thing we want to do are the actions that we have always done in the same order and in the same way because its easiest.

   So, are you ready to be an excellent writer? We all have it in us to be such a writer. All it takes is to rethink how we do things and to move past what is usual and mundane.

   We can become more excellent and crash through the minimum by:

  • Taking courses and workshops.
  • Trying to write in other genres.
  • Finishing what we start.
  • Assessing how we are doing in our writing career and making small tweaks here and there to make things better.
  • Try to stretch ourselves as writers. 

Being excellent in your writing life will mean different things for different people. It usually involves really reflecting on where you want to be in our writing life 2, 3, and 5 years from now. Even if your response is vague right now, that’s okay. It will give you something to aim for and it will rip you out of the morass of mediocrity.

Try it!


Irene S. Roth

Book Review: Arcadia’s Children 4: By Andrew R. Williams

This is a sequel to Arcadia’s Children 3: Pushley’s Escape. Like the other three books in the series, this book is just as poignant, and action packed as the rest of his books in this series.

   This is a story of action and intrigue in a unique sci-fi setting. It is a story that will have you reading and rereading passages because you just won’t be able to get enough of this wonderful story. It will linger with you, like a fine wine.

  Ed Pushley is a dangerous man. His mind seems to be influenced by the spirit of dead ghosts. He agrees to go to Midway and transport equipment so that some of the Great Ones can leave Arcadia, which is a dying world.

   Yalt joins Ed on this all-important quest. However, other assassins, such as Tarmy, must take concrete steps to remain hidden because dangers lurk all around them. They want to stay alive. But can they achieve this? Will Ed really complete his mission? Or will his efforts be thwarted, and his life put in danger too?

   This is a spell-binding story that will be hard to put down. I love this book and the whole series which I feel grateful to have read and reviewed. The author, Andrew R. Williams, is a wonderful, clear, and intriguing writer. His stories are deep, involved, intricate, and complex. And this one is no exception. I can’t wait to read his next book!

Irene S. Roth

To purchase this book, please go to this link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B097NHRV9T?ref_=dbs_m_mng_rwt_calw_tkin_3&storeType=ebooks

Andrew R.  Williams’ website is: https://andrewrwilliamsauthor.co.uk/

A Wonderfully-Crafted Story

This story is a wonderful blend of many genres such as action and adventure, mystery, romance, and fantasy. It is written in a unique format—one that I haven’t ever seen before. And the depth and breath of the emotion expressed in this book is also beyond anything I have ever seen, making this a wonderful read!

This book is written by a debut author, Nora Delzelle. Her writing is clean, crisp, and moving. Death Mask is a modern re-imagining of the battles for supremacy between ancient Egyptian deities.

Alex Kincaid gets caught in a deadly conflict by placing a bid on an eBay auction for a golden mask. The bid for a beautiful mask would involve her in events that she never imagined and would ultimately climax to a test of her love and faith, both in herself and her friends. Can she survive these vengeful gods?

The characters and storyline are well-crafted. The story is about ghosts, gods, and cursed relics. It’s a tale of vengeance in which the reader will wonder what will happen next to Alex right to the very end. Alex had no idea that her life would turn into such a perplexing series of events as she picks up a listing with an Egyptian Death Mask that was up for bid on eBay.

This is a thought-provoking work. It is a powerful collection of poems that speak from the heart and soul of a pure artist. I feel that I grew as a writer having read this book. I can’t wait to read Nora’s next book.

Website: https://www.NoraDelzelleBooks.com

Amazon ebook purchase link:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0964249Z5/ref=cm_sw_r_oth_api_glt_2SRW1957Q2SD85ZSTRN7

Nothing Should be More Important than Writing

What’s More Important Than Writing?

 Since I’m a freelance writer, an academic writer, an author, and a writing coach, people are always asking me, “What is the one thing I should do to become a better writer?”

Well, the answer should be obvious, right?

You need to write.  But that is easier said than done if your life is busy and out of control. 

However, writing is only one piece of being a successful writer. You must also learn to rewrite and to be patient in drafting, redrafting and editing in order to produce a good quality of work. 

Ernest Hemingway said, “The only kind of writing is rewriting.”

But I find that most people who want to write something don’t spend enough time on the rewriting and it usually shows in their work.

Today, look at something you are writing.

How many times have you revised it, polished it, and tried to make it better?

Don’t stop with the 1st, 2nd, or even the 3rd draft.

Keep revising until you make the piece the very best it can be.

Try it!

Regrouping During A Long Weekend

  

   For most of us in the North America and Canada, we are in the midst of a long weekend. I took this long weekend away from my desk and went away to Tobermory to regroup. I just needed a break, and I needed a time to deeply rest. (I have attached a photograph of my room for your viewing.)

We all need to step back from our work and our lives for a bit to make sense of it from time to time. This is the case just as much for our writing career as it is for our personal life. There is so much that goes by the wayside and so much turmoil and stress in our lives. And this isn’t just because of the pandemic. This is because of life in general.

   I always advise writers to spend some time alone during long weekends, whether it is for a long walk or hike or a weekend or night away. I always try to get away for a few days because I find that on the first day I am just usually coming down. So, I need a few additional days past the first one to really listen to my heart and soul to determine my next steps.

   When it comes to our writing, it is of upmost importance to take a time out. This is not just the case for the manuscript you are working on now to gain perspective and see flaws, but for your writing career. This I because when you step away, you can see and determine where you want to go with your writing career beyond this book you are writing.

   So, I hope you will take part of this long weekend to get away or just spend some time alone thinking of where you want to go with your writing career. Are there goals that you would like to accomplish? Are there courses you would like to take? Are there conferences you would like to go on? Be bold. Dream a little. And then write a few of these things down so that you can make them happen in the near future.

Happy Memorial Day!

That’s it for now!

Irene S. Roth

An Inspirational Faith-Based Journal

In Sickness and in Health

By Demetria Alexander Grissett

   No one wants to hear that they have cancer. But once Demetria was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma of the bone marrow/plasma cells, she had to find a way to process this news and her journey. She always wanted to become a writer. But somehow life always got in the way. But now she had the rare opportunity to write from the heart, and she did just that!

   This is a wonderfully personal and inspiring account of Demetria’s journey through cancer and back. It is a journal of how she coped from day to day from this terrible disease by putting her trust in God and the process of writing through her pain.

   Each page of this inspiring book is filled with honest and poignant accounts of how devastating cancer can be and how it can trample one’s life. Demetria had an especially tough time during this period in her life. She even had more life-altering situations happen to her while she was trying to cope with her treatments. Keeping a journal was very therapeutic for her, as she was going through all the ups and downs of her life.

   This book showcases the gift of writing, and how it can transform one’s life. Writing is both cathartic and healing. Writing is also revealing and soothing. Further, it is relaxing and expressive. It is the only medium through which the author can cope with life’s tragedies and hardships.

   This book is both instructional and inspirational. It is a book for anyone who is about to embark on a similar journey. The author’s journal entries also reveal how trust in God and an optimistic attitude gave her the strength to endure and overcome all the obstacles in her life. The ultimate message is that we must trust God in sickness and in health.

   People who are struggling with cancer or who are going through a rough patch in their lives will find comfort and wisdom in the pages of this wonderful book. I loved this book and will recommend it to quite a few of my friends, especially those who are undergoing quite a few changes in their lives right now.

Irene S. Roth

Website: www.deegrissett.com


Amazon ebooks (or Other) Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sickness-Health-Journalized-Account-Multiple-ebook/dp/B0792XB9TS/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=demetria+alexander+grissett&qid=1623340426&sr=8-2

A Brilliantly Written Family Saga

The ‘Great’ Kickin’ Dog: A family tree

By Kenneth Allen Crutchfield, Sr.

   This is a wonderful story about a dysfunctional family that tries to cope with life’s ups and downs in its own way. There is sadness, turmoil, and anxiety throughout the pages of this book. But there is also the hope and resilience to overcome a lot of hardships in their midst through perseverance and hard work.

   The story is about John Coleman Sr. He has a large dysfunctional family to support. His wife has many psychological challenges that she is trying to work through. The family lives in a Chicago low-income housing unit during the 60s.

   He is trying to raise his family of four girls and two musical prodigy boys. The environment where they live is less than ideal to bring up kids. But John Coleman is determined to make sure that his family makes it and not only survives but thrives.

   He tries to get out of the pathway of their circumstances through his talented sons. He drags his musically gifted boys on a journey of hope, from talent shows to Blues clubs. He sees their reputation growing right before his eyes. He is so proud of them!

   But while helping his boys become great, he battles an alcohol addiction himself and his wife’s neurotic behavior that is fueled by resentment from his daughters who are envious. These toxic feelings stem from the family’s history of mental illness.

   However, he still is coping with these challenges when suddenly a family tragedy shakes him and his family to the core. Can he pull out of yet another tragedy in the midst of his many other challenges?

   This story is superably written and richly descriptive. The characters are drawn in a brilliant and luminous manner. The author is very obviously an accomplished playwright. It is a story that is loosely based on the author’s own family. It is a story of hope, redemption, and resilience.

 I loved this story from the beginning to the end. I will certainly reread the story in the future and recommending the book to my friends.

Website: https://kickindog.wixsite.com/website

Links: AMAZON

Kindle :ASIN: B094P2TDYB 2nd Edition

Paperback: ASIN: B094L7FFYX 3rd Edition

BARNES AND NOBLE

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-great-kickindog-kenneth-crutchfield/1138597768?ean=2940162535249

Paperback: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-great-kickindog-kenneth-crutchfield/11386142?ean-9781666213553

How to Follow-Through

One of the most important things that writers can do for success is follow-through from their long-term to their short-term writing goals. This one practice alone divides the successful writers from the unsuccessful ones. If writers don’t follow-through, they won’t be as productive as ones who do because there is no real way for them to take stock of their writing goals. Following-through requires that you step back from your writing goals and assess how you’re progressing in completing them.

    If you get into the habit of following-through often, you’ll be able to determine where in a particular manuscript you are and where you want to end up, successfully completing your writing goal. Ideally, it is important to follow-through on your writing goals every week to make sure that you’re still on track with your long and short-term writing goals, and that you stay on track as time goes on. So, reviewing your writing goals often and assessing how you’re progressing both on various writing projects and your writing career as a whole is critical to your overall success as a writer.

    When you don’t take time to follow-through on your writing goals, you blindly flounder about in your writing career. This can be very unproductive, both in the short-term and long-term. So, to be productive, you have to consciously follow-through on your writing goals and then take stock to see how you are doing and to celebrate your accomplishments. Following-through need not be a bore or a chore but the process should fill you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Remember the overall purpose of following-through is not to determine whether you failed in completing your writing goals as it is to assess your overall progress with your short-term and long-term writing goals. So, following-through need not have a negative connotation at all. It should be an inspiring process in its own right. Thus, following-through is extremely beneficial for writers at any point in their writing career.

Definition of Following-Through

   To follow-through is to regularly take stock of your writing goals and to routinely assess your progress on those writing goals. This process need not take a long time. It could take as few as ten or fifteen minutes at the end of every week. But the process is important because it can help you feel more successful and self-confident in your writing career because you’ll know how you are doing with your goals. And this feeling of self-confidence can help you feel more certain about your writing career and ability in completing projects over time.

   Following-through consists of these six steps—Just follow them and you WILL be a much more successful writer:

  1. Assess your progress on current writing projects

This requires that you write a list of your long and short-term writing goals and regularly check off which ones you have completed. Make sure these writing goals are in sight when you are writing so you feel like that you’re accomplishing a part of your goal every time you sit down and write.  See Appendix A for worksheets on creating long and short-term writing goals.

  • Reassess your long-term writing goals

Every month or two, it is important to reassess your long-term goals. Did you set out to do too much? Are you progressing towards your writing goals? Will you complete your writing goals in the timeline you originally thought you would? If not, change your target completion date and keep moving forward towards completing your writing goal. 

For instance, as you examine how you are progressing on your goal in the short-term, estimate whether you’ll complete your goal in the timeline you originally set. If you are progressing well, continue on. If you’re not progressing well, set a new target date and keep moving the completion date back a bit.

  • Determine your progress every step of the way

At the end of the week, take a few minutes to evaluate your progress in your writing journal. This will help come to terms with where you are with your writing goals. This will also help you to complete your short-term writing goals that lead to completing those big long-term goals.  Following-through will also give you the self-confidence that you need to keep working on your writing goals.

  • Determine whether or not your writing goals are realistic

It can take a long time to learn how to set realistic writing goals. Many times, you set goals which may be completely unrealistic because of a lack of experience in how long they take to complete. This can be very detrimental to your success and self-confidence in completing your writing projects. If you find that you are not completing your writing goals by Friday, or you are completing all of your writing goals by Wednesday, it is time to create new writing goals by revising the old ones.

For instance, if you decided to complete two chapters of your manuscript a week and you’re writing four or more hours a day and still you have not completed your first chapter by the end of Thursday, next week plan to only write one chapter instead of two. Then you’ll be more successful and less frustrated. Also, you will be much more productive in the long run.

  • Keep taking stock of your long-range writing goals

Every quarter, sit down and determine how each of your long-term writing goals is progressing. Are you completing your writing goals? Will you complete your long-term goals at the targeted time that you originally set? If you aren’t progressing as quickly, it is time to examine some of your writing habits and determine if you can make a few small changes so that you could be more each successful in the future.

For instance, many writers work on more than one writing goal at a time, and when they do so, one or more of their writing goals don’t get completed as quickly as one or two of the other writing goals.  That is because we usually focus on one goal more than on the others. So, it is best to commit to only ONE goal per quarter. Complete it, and then move on to the next writing goal. Taking stock will help you to achieve this evaluation more readily.

  • Do a micro and macro analysis of your writing goals at the end of the year.

A micro analysis of your writing goals is a short-term analysis of how you are progressing. This will tell you how you are doing on the short-term goal.  You should do a micro assessment of your writing goals once a week to determine how you are doing on your short-term goals.

A macro analysis of your writing goals is a long-term analysis of your goals and how you are progressing over each quarter with them. You could also do a quick macro assessment at the end of each month, in order to determine how you are progressing towards completing your writing goal at the end of the quarter. Then do a follow-up macro analysis at the end of every quarter.

By regularly performing both of these assessments, you’ll be able to clearly determine how you are doing on your long-term writing goals and change the goals which are not getting done in the short-term and keep doing the things that are working. These regular assessments are important to your success as a writer.

By doing these kinds of self-assessment, you will be able to assess your overall progress on writing projects. If you are not doing well, you’ll be able to change your writing goals or some of your week-to-week habits to make sure that you are successful in the short-term so that you complete your writing goals in the long-term.

~ Irene S. Roth

Writing for Personal Fulfillment

   Do you write for personal fulfillment? Or do you slave away at your writing all week and then quit writing for a few days and do something else and then go back to your wiring on Monday un-refreshed?

   Many of us treat our writing as a job, and on a rudimentary level it has to be if we want to be successful. But just as we must take time away from our job to refuel and refresh ourselves if we work outside the home, we should take the same kind of time away from our main type of writing on the weekend. One way to refuel and refresh when you work outside of the home is to do something that you enjoy, such as play tennis or badminton. Or, you may want to cook special foods on the weekend for the week ahead. The whole idea is to do something completely different so that you could look forward to going back to your job on Monday.

   Similarly, writers who write full time should also take time to refuel and refresh. For writers, this may mean trying a different kind of writing just for fun. The beauty of writing for personal fulfillment is that you don’t have to feel pressured to publish. Therefore, you don’t have to send out manuscripts all the time or querying. Of course, you could do that eventually when you feel the urge, but you can be much more relaxed about it. This way, you can take time to do a new kind of writing for fun in order to relax and regroup for Monday.

   I learned this cool idea after reading Nancy I. Sanders’ Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career. Writing for personal fulfillment is one of spokes of the Triple Crown of Success. Nancy argues that in addition to writing to earn income and to get published, she believes that we should also write for personal fulfillment. What a gem of wisdom! I’ve been following this scheme for over five years now and I look forward to writing for personal fulfillment every week.

   Generally, you should not spend more than say five hours a week, depending on your other time constraints, to write for personal fulfillment. But you sure can get a lot of writing time in this time frame—that’s twenty hours of writing for fun a month!  Now doesn’t that sound like a lot of fun? It sure does, and I have written over 20 picture books in that time over the past three years.

   The wonderful thing about writing for personal fulfillment is that you can organize your writing career so that you could have balance and self-fulfillment. You could slave away all week writing to make income and to get published. But then once the weekend comes, you are in luck!  You could take the time to do the kinds of writing that you truly enjoy or that you want to try for fun.

   So, choose a time when you could pursue a few hours of writing for personal fulfillment every week. Schedule this time into your weekly writing time and be sure to get to it. Friday and Saturday afternoons are my times to write for personal fulfillment. Make sure that you choose your times carefully so that they don’t interfere with your other commitments.

There are SO many benefits to writing for personal fulfillment. Imagine giving yourself permission to do any kind of writing that you would like to pursue. We have so many ideas of writing that we would like to try. But we never have the guts to try. Well when you write for personal fulfillment, you could try any kind of writing that you would like. The only thing that is limiting you is your imagination.

   So, here are some of the known benefits of writing for personal fulfillment:

  • You could write a manuscript that is near and dear to your heart without worrying. Just have fun with it! So many of us write manuscripts that we are not truly inspired with. But when we write for personal fulfillment, we will be writing manuscripts that inspire to be the best writer we are capable of.
  • You will feel refreshed and refueled and motivated and eager to do your regular writing on Monday. When we do another kind of writing from the ordinary one we do, we feel refreshed as a writer.
  • You’ll have variety in your writing career. Most of us are capable of doing many kinds of writing. However, unless we write for personal fulfillment, we won’t know what those different kinds of writing are. For instance, I would have never known how I enjoy writing picture books unless I tried writing these books for personal fulfillment. I even have one picture book published. But I wasn’t counting on it when I started. This is a kind of writing that I do to relax.
  • You will be a versatile writer. When writers write in different genres, they are versatile and well-rounded. Being stuck in one kind of writing can cause a lot of boredom and unrest for a writer. Also, after a while, the writer may not feel motivated to write any longer.
  • You may be developing a new kind of writing that you could be successful at later on. There are so many different kinds of writing that we could explore. We should explore as many as we can for personal fulfillment.
  • You will develop a love for the very act of writing. When you take the time to simply write for the beauty of it, you will know how great it feels to write without worrying about publishing or sending queries.
  • You will develop self-confidence as a writer. If you pursue writing that you feel joyous to do, you will be developing self-confidence as a writer. What a wonderful feeling.

Given these benefits, you can’t help but feel fulfilled as a writer. You will enjoy your writing career, and you will feel motivated to get back to your regular writing on Monday morning.

So, what type of writing would you like to write for personal fulfillment in your spare time? Dream big and then get started.

Irene S. Roth

How to Set Goals Using the WOOP Method

   There is a line of research that suggests that setting a goal is as important as considering what may prevent the goal from becoming a reality.

   This s a method called mental contrast, where you begin by visualizing what you want, followed by the obstacles.

   An evidence-based goal-setting model called WOOP, which stands for wish, outcome, obstacle, plan, developed in the field of positive psychology, appears to be an effective way to set goals.

   The wonderful thing about WOOP is that you can use it for small daily goals or for larger longer-term goals. Its straightforward and can be used on demand anytime.

Here is a six-step process to achieve the WOOP method.

  • Find five minutes of quiet.

Before beginning, be mindful, slow down, clear your mind, and relax. The goal of this step is to find some calm.

  • Wish.

What do you want to achieve? Think about something in your life that you want to achieve. For example, say you want to write a book or part of a book by a certain date.

  • Outcome.

What is the most desirable outcome? If you achieve this goal, visualize how it will help you and what the benefit will be to you. Think about what you expect this outcome will do for your overall sense of well-being and happiness.

  • Obstacle.

What are some obstacles to achieving this goal? Think about the things that could make this goal hard to achieve, and then what options you must work around them. If obstacles arise, what would you do? Picture yourself working through these obstacles to your goal.

  • Plan.

Plan as to how and when you’ll begin to achieve your goal. Think about what you can do to get from point A to point B. consider the different what-if situations so that in the event you face some challenges, you are prepared.

  • Write out your plan and how you’ll measure success.

Once you plan your goal, write it down.  Putting a goal on paper helps to reinforce it and increases your accountability. You can add a daily measurement of progress toward your goal in your journal. Increase your accountability by telling y\any trusted friends or family members what you’re trying to achieve. Often when we make things public, it increases our accountability to others and ourselves.

The sooner you become comfortable with goal setting, the better. This is a much laxer kind of goal setting. If your life is complicated now, like mine is, this is the ticket to getting things done.

Good luck and let me know how you do!

Irene S. Roth