Compartmentalizing Our Lives

I am in the process of doing the latter as there are things that I will have to do differently. For example, I will have to focus on my health and well-being a lot more than six months ago. Also, being summer, I have to recalibrate my time in the office. You see my office is upstairs which is in the attic. So, it is blistering hot in the afternoon. So, things will have to be re-calibrated for me to face my new realities.

So, what is compartmentalizing anyways? Well, I like to think of compartmentalizing like containers. We all know what containers are. They usually have lids and in most cases there are no overlaps between them. Well human life is rarely that simple. But, by creating some compartments in your life, you could really organize your life even more.

So, compartments are the different aspects of your lives. In other words, each of us has different duties and functions that we must fulfill. Some of us work outside to make a living. All of us have families. Some of us also have kids and grandkids as well as nieces and nephews or relatives. Then we have our health needs and concerns. We have to cook healthy food and exercise. We have to take time to rest and regroup. All of these are necessities to make a life whole and healthy. And for writers, we also have to make time to write.

So, here are a few of my compartments:


So, every day, I have duties in each of these compartments because even these compartments are divided up into further sections. Here is an example.

Prepare healthy meals
Follow a diet
Sleep well
Take time to rest
Minimize Stress

Do Bible Study
Go to church weekly
Pray daily
Do yoga and meditation

Clean house
Do shopping
Visit MIL
Do washing
Spend quality time with husband
Do recreational activities a few times a week

So, the clearer we can become of all of our duties and how we can put them into compartments, the more balanced our lives will be. Here is how…

Once you have your compartments in place, and you have labelled what you have to achieve in each of the compartments like I did above, you have to schedule these activities in your planner. To do so, you should decide when you will prepare your meals, when you will exercise, when you will spend time with hubby, when you will rest, when you will meditate, when you will write, and so on. That is the hard part and it can take a lot of time to prepare most effectively.

Here are a few tips to help you out:
1. Decide when you can write, given your other duties. Make sure it is a time that you can be quite certain that you won’t be disturbed. So, for most of us that early in the day or later in the day when everyone is asleep or watching sports.
2. Decide when you will prepare your meals and exercise. These times have to be regular and put in place too.
3. Decide when to spend time with your spouse—then put that on your schedule…as strange as this sounds.

4. Put in any other duties that you have, such as Bible study and going to church. Put those times on your schedule.

5. And follow the same procedure for each of your containers.

Note: Each of your containers contain other duties too. You could picture the big containers containing the other smaller containers. That is what I do and I find that it really can help a lot.

Whatever you do, don’t overschedule yourself. Cut yourself some slack, and see what happens.

So, let’s all go off an create containers for our various tasks and duties, and then let’s also have a container for leisure too. Don’t forget to take time to be creative and regroup.

Irene S. Roth

The Importance of Blogging to Develop a Platform

To develop a platform, you need to start know how to blog most effectively. Blogging is the best online resume and an introvert’s best friend. The writing in your blog can tell so much about you as a writer. It can tell your readers about yourself, your family, your likes and dislikes, your values and the type of writing that you do. It also shows how serious you are as a writer.

If your blog is successful, your personality will shine through it. That’s why it is very important for writers to create a blog and to maintain it regularly. It is one of the best ways to give potential publishers and agents a glimpse of you as a writer.

Here are a few benefits of creating a blog for yourself.

  1. A blog is a free, behind-the-curtain chance for writers like you to be heard, seen and experienced. You don’t have to leave the confines of your home or office. All you have to do is get to your blog and write.
  2. Writers, who don’t have an urge to write in any other place, can analyze anything in the world on their blogs. They could share their unique perspectives on different subjects without criticism.
  3. You can moderate the comments that potential people will leave also. That way you can get their feedback only once in a while.
  4. The blog offers you a way to speak in public without leaving the comforts of your home office. How GREAT is that! you don’t have to get ready, stand in front of a large group of individuals or do anything else.
  5. Agents appreciate to read a solid blog from potential clients. A hot blog with a large following has a better than average chance of a book offer even without pitching.
  6. Many people sell their books through their blogs. So, if you have a book out or will have a book out, you could post it on your blog and people will be more likely to buy it.

The Mechanics of Writing a Good Blog

There are many aspects of writing good blogs, from choosing topics that people will be interested in to choosing themes for your blog which are the best, and structural aspects of the most successful blog. I will cover each of these areas in this section.

Good Topics for Blogs

The basic requirement for a blog is to solve a problem or provide entertainment. So, if your blog does one or both of these, you have a successful blog that readers will keep coming back to.

A blog is about more than just posting. You also have to provide quality content consistently.

The theme of your blog can be whatever you want. It can be as altruistic, broad, narrow, quirky or serious as you desire. But each post must do one of the following or it’s not worth writing a blog post. As a blog writer you should:

  • Draw a laugh;
  • Solve a problem;
  • Provide tips;
  • List references;
  • Show beauty;
  • Excite;
  • Provide an AHA moment.

In other words, each post should trigger the reader to redistribute it to their friends. Soon readers will want to buy your books and read them too.

 Good Habits of a Popular Blog


Professional bloggers are quick to explain good blogging habits because a bad blog is worse than no blog at all. Don’t be remembered for being too bad to return to.


Good blogging habits are not difficult to develop. They just take a dedication and stick-to-it-ness. It is very much like writing a book, maintaining a column or anything that involves writing. Blogging takes a good work ethic.

Here are a few ways to write a good blog:

  • Be brief. You don’t have to necessarily fulfill any exact word count to write a good blog. One safe bet is to write blogs that are about 500 words. Write tight and get your message across cleanly.
  • Be prolific. The more you post, the better you write, and the higher your ranking in search engines. However, don’t’ just throw out thoughts. Successful bloggers research, edit and plan subject matter. Daily blog posts are great but time-consuming. At a minimum, post weekly.
  • Be observant. Take note of how readers respond. You may also want to study the analytics behind other people’s posts.
  • Be consistent. Pick a regimen and stick to it. Develop a plan for your blog and stick to it. This is crucially important. For instance, Mondays you may want to address writing markets, Wednesday you may want to consider writing about work-in-progress topics, and Fridays you may want to have bulleted lists of writing resources, news, and reflections. Follow the same structure every week.
  • Be thematic. Create a focus or theme for your blog and stick to it.
  • Be diligent. Good bloggers see their blogs posts as necessary. When you know you will be busy and can’t get to your computer, write your posts ahead of time and repost them.
  • Be connected to other blogs. Choose at least four or five blogs to be connected to. This will give you more visitors and readers of your blog.

Structure of your Blog

    Every blog post should grab the reader in some way. So, it should follow a distinct format.

Let’s take a look at a good blog layout, from the top to the bottom.

  • Create a great headline—something that will grab the reader.
  • Make sure that the first three of four sentences determine whether readers will want to keep reading your post. So, make them insightful and intriguing.
  • Don’t post your blog without a visual. Go to free stock photo sites to find one that fits or insert one of your own making. Pictures snare faster than words.
  • Create sub-headers. This line makes a promise to the reader of more good to come.
  • Deliver great content at all times. Try to make an emotional connection with the reader about half-way from the beginning of the post.
  • Quote from experts in your blog posts often.
  • Have another sub-header again. This will show the reader what is to come.
  • Provide more clarifying advice or content, make your point, show results, and wrap it up.
  • Call to action.

So, in sum, the best way to structure your blog is to break up the copy, write succinctly, and compel readers to follow through on some sort of call-to-action, even if it’s no more than a question to get them to interact. The longer people stay, the better the chance they’ll absorb your message and learn to like what you offer.

Irene S. Roth



Dealing With Vanning Motivations

A writer’s motivations tend to fluctuate quite a bit from time to time. This is normal because motivations are usually based on temporary or short-term excitement towards a writing project. But for many writers, our motivations alone cannot carry us through all the trials and tribulations of completing writing projects and dealing with rejections. As soon as our energies start to wander or dwindle, or something unforeseen happens in our lives to distract us from our main writing goals, our motivations will turn flat, and we will probably quit whatever we’re working on, many times never to return to it. Again, this can lead to many started and incomplete manuscripts and an unsuccessful writing life.

I’ve been there myself at the beginning of my writing career. Every week or two a fascinating topic would strike me as a promising prospect for a writing project. I would spend a week or so working on the project full throttle. Then one day I’d wake up and suddenly my inclinations to continue working on the project would dwindle and I didn’t want to work on it any longer. This went on for a few years until I realized that I needed something much more predictable to stick with a writing project to its completion. But what exactly did I need?

After some reflection, I realized that seasoned writers need something more than mere motivation. I had to make a decision to see the project through to the end, regardless of how I felt about it in the short-term. So, I had to create a long-term plan to complete the project. Obviously, this took much more than motivation. It involved a firm commitment to see the project through to completion. But many times to make this commitment, we need support from other writers and colleagues. This is something that writers don’t have.

I believe that what writers need to be successful is commitment. Commitment goes way beyond the fluctuating short-term excitement of beginning a new writing project. There is a marked difference between motivation and commitment.

Motivations are based on things that we want, like and that we are momentarily passionate about. Motivations usually have to do with short-term goals that can fluctuate and they are usually based on feelings and emotions more than based on longer-term commitments. So, motivations are not long-lasting and can fluctuate quite a bit.

Commitments, on the other hand, are usually decided upon, they are not based on pure emotion and passion, usually focus on a long-term goals, they don’t fluctuate as much and tend to be much sturdier and up to date. But even commitments are difficult to keep if we are doing it completely on our own.

As we can see, commitment ensures the completion of goals from the most important to the least important. Commitments stop short-term plans from taking top priority in our writing lives. We need to focus on longer projects to be successful writers.

Thus, to be most successful, you should try to be more committed to your projects that motivated. This will ensure that you complete projects and that you will do everything in your power to be the best that you can be. But you need other like-minded individuals to be able to bring about your commitments and ensure that others hold you to your commitments.
Writers are a sensitive bunch. We need that sensitivity in order to write great manuscripts and to be productive. However, that kind of sensitivity can backfire and result in heartache when it comes to telling others what we need to get some writing done. Other people, who are not writers, will not understand that we need to spend SO much time writing and revising your manuscripts. And that can wreck havoc in our output.

Most of our family members want to be doing other things but sitting around at home writing. Unless you are lucky to get married to a spouse who is a writer or who can really understand the writing life enough to put up with the kind of time that you have to devote to be a successful writer, you will have constant strife and conflict. And this can ultimately influence you to reconsider your initial goals as a writer.

Also, sooner or later, if you are not really certain about your motivations, the non-writer will wear you down, and you will be resentfully following them to the baseball park or for a picnic with the family, fuming. That is very unhealthy for a writer. All writers need the space to write, and they need the time to simply relax and write. If they are always under constant tension, they will never be able to write with the kind of concentration that they need to in order to be successful.

Writers need support from other like-minded people who have writing goals. This is why it is so important to belong to a mentoring group where you could get some support or to have writer friends.


Irene S. Roth

Writing for Personal Fulfillment

Do you set some time aside every week to write for personal fulfilment? If you don’t, you probably feel stressed out and not as productive as you could be if you took a few hours off each week to write something that you thoroughly enjoy and feel inspired to try.

About three years ago, I was on a live Teleclass with Nancy Sanders. At the time, one of the things that she was discussing was the importance of writing for personal fulfillment and she encouraged all of us on the call to spend a certain, even small, amount of time every week pursuing this kind of writing. At the time, I only wrote in order to get published and earn income. But Nancy’s idea opened a whole new world for me.

Writing for personal fulfillment is a GREAT way to inspire you to become more productive with your own writing projects during the week too. When you write for personal fulfillment, you are typically trying a new genre of writing that you don’t typically write in. The most important thing to remember about writing for personal fulfillment is that it has to be stress-free and it has to be something that you truly enjoy.

Here are a few benefits that I discovered when I started writing for personal fulfillment:

1. You will be much more content as a writer

There is nothing more rewarding and enjoyable than writing for personal fulfillment. You can choose a genre of writing that you never dared to try for personal fulfillment. Pursue it for a while risk-free and see if you enjoy it. If you do enjoy it, keep writing in this genre. If you don’t enjoy the particular genre of writing you try, move on and try another genre.

2. You will feel more like completing your main writing projects

There is nothing more productive than writing for pleasure. And this is especially the case because writing is a difficult occupation, filled with hard work, small progress, and seclusion. We all need to do the kinds of writing we enjoy for a few hours a week. Then when you get back to our own writing on Monday, we will be poised and ready to tackle our projects with renewed energy.

3. You will be honing your skills in a new genre of writing

There is no better feeling of professionalism than knowing that you are trying to be your best as a writer. And there is something about writing for personal fulfillment that makes you feel like a professional writer who wants to be well-rounded and is trying all that she can to be such.

4. You will be trying your hand at other kinds of writing

Sometimes, writers tend to get all caught up in a rut of their own making. They seem to merely pursue one kind of writing—regardless of whether or not they are successful. And this can really kill the enjoyment of writing and frustrate writers.

Sometimes, when a writer tries a new kind of writing, they discover that they like it enough to write part-time in this genre. And this will open them up to even being successful in this new genre and perhaps even get published faster. What a Bonus!

So, go ahead and write for personal fulfillment. Determine what kinds of writing you would like to try in your spare time and devote some time each week writing in this genre for personal fulfillment. You will feel fulfilled and content as a writer and you will be very glad to get to your regular projects on Monday!

Irene S. Roth

A Disciplined Writing Life

The disciplined writer leads a disciplined writing life. However, success is not a marathon of disciplined action. Success is often a short race – a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.

So, what makes for a disciplined writing life? Well, success comes about when we do some right actions daily or weekly. This is especially the case if these right actions become habits. Thus, success is based on an inter-relationship between right actions and correct habits over time. They are a foundation of achievement.

In other words, when you are disciplined, you train yourself to do certain actions for success. If you stay with this for long enough, and these actions become routine, they become a habit. The only trick is that they have to be the right actions. And this can take some tweaking until you find the correct right actions.

So, determining and developing the right habits is tricky at first. We have to do some experimentation or many different levels. For instance, we have to experiment when the best time of day to write is for us, given our time constraints and work habits. We also have to experiment with the kinds of writing that we do, and how long we spend at the desk. Some of us can’t last more than a few hours before we need to move on and do other things. Other people can work for many hours with a few coffee breaks before they need to move on. The most important that you can do is to determine what is right for you as quickly as possible and then stick to it.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you are doing some self-exploration:

• When is the best time for me to write? If you don’t know, write in the morning for a few weeks. Then write in the evening for another few weeks. At the end of each week or two, do a self-assessment. How much writing did you do in the morning, for instance? How much writing did you do in the evening? Did you write consistently? These questions should determine when the best time would be to write for you.

• What kind of writing do you enjoy the best? Is it fiction or nonfiction? Do you enjoy researching? Do you enjoy just getting into a story and getting it written down? Whatever it is, jot it down in your success or writer’s journal for future reference. That will give you an idea of which actions to continue and which ones to stop for optimal success.

• Can you continue writing at your optimal time consistently? Or, are there times that my family needs me during these times, making it especially difficult for me to stick to my scheduled time to write. If the answer to the last question is yes, then you will have to amend your writing time a bit to ensure that you consistently write.

For instance, if you are a writer who enjoys writing in the evening after dinner and your family has a tendency to disturb you during these times, set days that you will write undisturbed and then have a few evenings that you could do something with your family. That will make it easier for you to get to your writing in the evening as your family will know that you will be doing things with them as well on other designated evenings. You could supplement the other evenings that you would be writing with a few mornings or afternoons to make up for the lost time.

By asking yourself these questions, you will be getting into habit of writing and you will be taking a few right actions to be most successful. So, what are you waiting for? Start your self-assessment process today by doing the assignment below.

Have a GREAT week!

Irene S. Roth

My Writing Roller Coaster, by Lisa McManus Lange

I always knew creative writing was my thing, but I didn’t actively pursue it until I was thirty years old. I started writing slice-of-life essays and I had dreams of one day being published. The internet wasn’t what it is today, so I relied on writing reference books and a writing group to guide me along.

While juggling two little kids and working full-time outside the home, I wrote sporadically during my lunch hours and when the kids were in bed. After a year of stolen minutes scribbling here and there, one of my stories was accepted for publication in a local parenting magazine. To say I was excited and elated was an understatement. That first published story ignited a fire and deepened my passion to keep writing and to keep submitting to other publications.

Life was busy, but I found time to write. Sometimes those lunch hours were compromised by errands, and sometimes the kids’ bedtimes were not exactly on time. But I kept at it when I could and was fortunate to get another story published.

Over time, frustration crept in. I wasn’t writing as often or as often as I would have liked. When you have kids, plans are often sidetracked and disrupted. My family would always come first, but writing was my escape, and my lack of time to write was bringing me down. My big drams and the passion fueled by my few published stories were starting to fade. I began to complain about not having time to write.

Then various life challenges intervened. My job situation changed. I battled depression. Due to family demands, I eventually had to leave my writing group. My kids were getting older, which meant my household lifestyle was changing. My inspiration, fire, and passion withered away. The writing life I was once so excited about stalled. Then it stopped.

I just couldn’t get back into it. Many of my reasons for not writing were valid, but I would later figure out some were just excuses. I blamed everything and everyone but myself for my stalled writing career. I stopped writing for almost two years.

As my life got better again, my heart told me it was time to resume writing. I wrote when I found a scrap of time here or a flicker of inspiration there. I felt shaky and uncertain, but I submitted an article to a local magazine and they accepted it. My kids got older and busier, but I kept writing when I could.

Then my kids approached their tweens. I started feeling sorry for myself and moaning, yet again, about having no time to write. It was as though I was on a writing roller coaster. As soon as I would hit a high, a huge low with a sharp turn would follow, threatening to derail me.

I had read that writers – successful published writers – have writing routines. They write something every day, at the same time, without fail, no matter what.

I listed my excuses. Those writers probably didn’t have kids, they don’t work outside the home, they have a house cleaner and can write all day, whenever they want. I slouched and pouted, moaning about my lack of writing time.

By then, then Internet was in full swing, nothing like it was when I’d first started writing. Through researching and connecting with other writers online, I soon learned that many of them were, just like me, moms who worked outside the home. And yet, they still managed to have a writing career. While tripping over baby bottles and toys on the way to their jobs, they found ways to engage in their passion, including a better attitude and a writing routine. They didn’t make excuses.

Some wrote early in the mornings, seven days a week, while everyone slept. Some were weekend-only writers. Some wrote three nights a week after everyone went to bed.

No matter when or how often they wrote, they set a schedule and stuck with it. They were determined, productive, happy, and proud of what they were doing.

I broke down my day and realized my usual morning routine of watching the news with a cup of tea before work while  was still asleep was the perfect time. I am a morning person and I was willing to sacrifice a bit of sleep to do what I loved—and my household wouldn’t suffer for it.

At 4:30 AM, the house would be quiet and there would be no distractions. Prepping my writing area (the kitchen table) with my work-in-progress the night before would save time. I would have an hour, sometimes more, to dedicate to my writing. And if I wrote Monday through Friday, like my regular work week, it might help maintain a working/writing/family balance.

It worked!!

Some mornings are harder than others; either I’m tired or I can’t get my writing gears to work. But I show up every day in front of my computer and write something. And then I show up again the next day, and the next.

Five years have gone by, and I have kept to my routine. Sure, the roller coaster picks up speed sometimes to derail me. But I keep facing forward, holding on tight and knowing that with the right attitude I will always stay on track.

From: Reboot Your Life by Amy Newmark and Claire Cook

Oh…the Perils of Monkey Mind

Today, I want to talk about….The Perils of Monkey Mind

I have learned that nothing stifles productivity more thinking of so many different things that are completely unrelated to writing. This is why I write in the early mornings. For a part of my life, I also wrote in the evening and also in the late night. My arthritis really stops me from doing that, and the fatigue that I experience after a long day. So, I tend to write new material in the earlier part of the day. I write my academic manuscripts in the early morning, and my creative nonfiction in the early afternoon. I find that this routine works given my teaching schedule.

So, what is monkey mind????

Monkey mind occurs when you can’t focus on one thing for too long. Monkey mind describes a mind that jumps from thought to thought like a monkey jumps from tree to tree. The monkey mind is not content with existing in the present moment, but rather is constantly distracted by the thoughts that pass through. Does this describe your mind when you write?

To be most successful, you should focus on the writing project in front of you when you sit down to write and nothing else. This means you have to decide what you will work on for the next hour or two ahead of time, and do NOTHING but work on that project. Don’t think about what you will do next or what you plan to do tomorrow. Instead, give what you’re working on one hundred percent of your concentration.

This isn’t always easy to do without a bit of practise because your attention IS skewed and we ARE distracted all the time. There is so much coming your way all the time that you may have a hard time to simply put everything aside and focus on one thing—what each of you are working on.
Here are a few tips for you to try if monkey mind is a problem for you while you write.

1. Decide what you will work on before you start

Ideally, you should decide what you will work on during your writing times the weekend prior to the week ahead, and then when the allotted time comes, all you should do is sit down and work on THAT project and not on anything else. This is one sure way of eliminating the constant distraction that comes from monkey mind when you sit down and write.

Don’t let anything distract you from working on what you decided to work on beforehand. This is a recipe for monkey mind and anxiety, not to mention that your productivity levels will plummet. There is always something else that will vie for your attention if you allow it. Just let it go as much as possible and keep working on what you set out to work do.

2. Decide how long you will be working on a project ahead of time

Many of us get to our office and are unsure what we will work on and for how long. We sometimes have an idea of what we want to do. But the idea tends to fluctuate to such an extent that by the time we sit down to write, we are so flummoxed about what to work on and for how long. This is when monkey mind sets in. As you sit at your desk, your minds race from one thing to another. You may say things such as:

• Oh yeah! That is what I should be doing.
• I just heard from Mrs. Dickson, the Editor. I had better redraft that article now. I’ll get back to my regular writing later.
• I haven’t blogged for two weeks. I better start by writing a blog for my website.
• No, I had better write that book review first. That review has been sitting on my desk for weeks.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone. But you must do something to not get into this monkey mess in the first place. And the only way to do this is to simply open the document on your computer that you decided to work on ahead of time, set your timer, for the allotted time and write nonstop.

For instance, if you’re supposed to be writing for two hours on Project A, make sure that you write for that amount of time on Project A. Don’t do any less or any more. Just stick to your allotted time. The more often you do that, the less monkey mind will have a chance to creep in during your writing time.

3. Be very disciplined when your writing time comes

One of the best ways to ensure that you focus on your writing is to have a separate computer to write on and to another one to answer email and do other administrivia. I know ever since I have a separate computer to do my writing, my productivity almost doubled over the past two years. So, it is well worth the investment of getting a separate computer to do your writing. Then all you have to do is get to your desk, turn on the computer you write with and write for your allotted time.

Even then, make sure that when you sit down to write that you do EXACTLY what you thought you should complete ahead of time. Otherwise, monkey mind will creep in quickly. Keep working towards completing your project or article. Make sure you are working your plan each time you sit down to write. This is crucially important for your success as a writer.

4. Keep your mind focused on one thing at a time

It can be difficult for writers to focus on one thing at a time. We are multi-taskers from way back. It is a cultural virus that has infected all of our thoughts and actions. Multi-tasking is not something that writers should do during their allotted writing time.

Instead, writers should sit down undistracted and work on what is right in front of them. If other thoughts come racing into your mind, either write them down for future reference after you have finished your writing time or discard the thoughts. Come back to the present moment and the project that is in front of you. Don’t let monkey mind steal your productivity and creativity. Monkey mind will creep in during your allotted writing time, if you allow it.

5. Eliminate all distractions, and just decide to write.

If your mind focuses on what you will be having for dinner or what you will tell your spouse when (s)he gets home, let go of that thought. Just think of what you’re doing right now—but nothing else.

One way that you could successfully do this is by practising a centering exercise before you start your writing session. Your centering exercise doesn’t need to be complex at all. It could be as simple as sitting down quietly, setting an egg timer for 8 to 10 minutes, and closing your eyes. Take a few deep diaphragmatic breaths. Then focus on your breath. If thoughts pierce through, just let them go. Just keep focusing on your breath and that peaceful, still place inside you. Breathe deeply! Then return to the here and now and start writing.

6. Don’t check email while writing either. Do nothing but write

One of the surest ways of experiencing monkey mind is by continuously checking email, opening snail mail, or answering the telephone while you’re trying to get your writing done. Unplug from all technologies when you’re trying to write. Some of you will use monkey mind as an excuse to not get your writing done. But this need not be the case. You must try and focus the best that you can on your writing, and reserve answering email AFTER you have done your writing for the day. This is a sure recipe to being productive and getting a lot of work done.

By taking these steps you will be avoiding monkey mind when you write.

Do ousting monkey mind for good!

Irene S. Roth