Writing During Thanksgiving Week

Since next week is Thanksgiving week for many of you, it’s a good idea to plan this week carefully as far as writing goes because we probably won’t get much writing done next week.

With that in mind, I took some time early this morning to plan out my week. I know its not Thanksgiving for me. But I have a Birthday to plan and so there will be cooking and preparation for that.

I also am starting to send my Christmas cards out. So, there are distractions. It is the season for that. Therefore, I am take the time to look for every eventuality of distraction and to write despite these distractions.

Now, all you need to do this week is stick with your plan to finish out the month productively and still enjoy Thanksgiving. I know you can do it! It just takes a bit of planning.

Therefore, spend some time today planning out your week, then simply stick to your plan for a strong finish to the month.

Try it!

How to Write During the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us pretty soon. That usually means that our writing will take a back seat to everything else going on. There will be so much vying for our attention most of which have nothing to do with writing.

To be successful and get some writing done during this season, we need to step back and make sure we set some firm but flexible writing goals for ourselves. This is essential for us to ensure that a whole two months don’t go by without any of our writing goals completed.

So, how can we prepare for such times?  Well, it is best to plan and to keep your writing goals small and manageable. Then you won’t be frustrated.

But more than that, you have to create times when you are writing and can be on your own and unencumbered by all the hustle and bustle of the season for a while.

This holiday season will be like no other. We won’t have the parties to attend, and we aren’t supposed to visit people outside of our bubble, even if they are relatives.  I sure hope that we can all follow the health protocols laid out for us to  ensure that we stay safe and enjoy the holidays.

I believe that this year we have a rare opportunity to keep our holiday celebrations smaller and more meaningful. And we can also create some times to write because we aren’t as busy and we aren’t as encumbered by going shopping and visiting people.

So, what are your plans for the holiday season?  Please take some time to really plan for this time so that you can enjoy yourself and create boundaries around your writing time so that you can actually get some writing done too.

There are six weeks before the end of the year. Please, please let’s not waste all of this time and not do any writing. Instead, let’s reach for our writing and enjoy this season.

You can do that by writing about writing themes. You can blog about the holidays, write out recipes on your blog for people to try, or submit Christmas Stories. Whatever you do, by all means, just write. Find something really interesting you can write about, and sit down and write. Because before you know it, the new year will be upon us and you will wonder why you weren’t quite as successful as you wanted to be.

Over the next few weeks, I will be providing tips on how you can get some writing done during the holiday season. Follow along, and let me know your thoughts too.

To you success, my dear writers!

Irene S. Roth

How do you Spend Your Writing Time?

If you’re a writer, time is your most precious commodity.

So how do you spend your writing time?

If you’re struggling to become a fulltime freelance writer or a best selling author, you need to be particularly mindful of how you spend your time each day during your working hours.

Generally, freelance writers are ALWAYS doing one of two things:

1) they’re promoting themselves and looking for new assignments, and

2) they’re completing existing assignments.

Best-selling authors who don’t freelance may work a bit differently since, generally, they don’t look for writing assignments.

Instead, they sell their novels or nonfiction books to publishers or they self-publish them.

That means they are always doing one of three things:

1) writing a book,

2) working with an agent to sell that book or submitting the manuscript directly to publishers or publishing it themselves, and

3) promoting their published book(s).

Look at your marketing plan and writing schedule for this week.

If you’re a freelance writer, you should be planning to spend 50% of your workdays writing.

You should be spending 25% of each work day promoting yourself and looking for new assignments, and another 25% of each workday working on your own creative writing projects (like your own novel or nonfiction book).

If you don’t have enough assignments yet to keep you busy 50% of each day, then spend more time searching for assignments until you DO have enough assignments to work on for 50% of each workday (but make sure each assignment is worth your time and effort—don’t take on dozens of low paying assignments just to stay busy and to make a few bucks. You won’t make the best use of your time that way either).

If you hope to become a best-selling author, you need to spend 75% of your workday working on your book and 25% of your time searching for an agent or researching the markets so you know which publishers to submit your manuscript to if you choose to work without an agent.

You don’t need to worry about social networking yet, or blogging about your writing experience.

You just need to write your book and figure out how you will sell it.

Don’t waste your precious time on activities that will NOT help you accomplish your writing/career goals.

Make an honest appraisal of how you’ve been spending each workday.

Then make the necessary changes to get what you really, really want from your writing career.

Try it!

Do Things for Pure Enjoyment

Most of us have allowed our leisure time to dwindle down to nothing. Thus, we must rekindle this time for ourselves. We need time to regroup and refocus. Many of us assume we need to make drastic changes to our routines, habits, and bank balances to be happy. However, this isn’t the case. Even small tweaks can yield huge dividends.

Often, we have everything we need to enjoy life in this moment. It’s simply a question of prioritizing what’s most important.

Here are a few simple things you can try to bring about a time for leisure.

1. Make time to relax and reconnect with yourself. Then you can deal with more challenging times as they arise.

2. Explore new ideas. Read. Research. Write. Journal. Do anything creative to let yourself think freely.

3. Explore new places. If you would like to visit a place in the future, just write it down. Keep a list of such places.
4. Commit to trying a few new things every year so that they don’t become mere wishes. You may want to take up drawing or sketching or crocheting or woodworking.

5. Do something creative that puts a smile on your face and joy in your heart. Give yourself permission to set up an enjoyable, drama-free time. This is important for our health and well-being, even if it is for an hour a day.

6. Get outside into nature. Feel the wind stroking your face, basking in sun as you walk. Enjoy a good dose of Vitamin D and fresh air.

7. Commit never stop learning. Make time to explore subjects that interest you. There are so many online courses available now for you to keep learning. You don’t even have to leave the comforts of your home.

By taking these steps, you will be enjoying your life more. There is so much to life which is great. Realizing this can lead to a mindset that helps you feel more peaceful and fulfilled. You will then want to be still more often.

WHAT ARE YOUR AUTHENTIC MOTIVATIONS AS A WRITER

Last week, I posted an article on the difference between Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivations. I also mentioned that you must strive to strike a balance between internal and external motivations in order to be most successful and feel fulfilled as a writer.

Well, today, I will follow up on that idea and hopefully make you think even deeper about your authentic motivations as a writer.

One way to determine where your motivations truly lie as writer is to try to determine where your passions lie. What makes you want to get into your office and write every day? Is it getting noticed by other editors or agents who will be HOT for your story or is it because you truly love to write? Please take some time to really, really think about this. Your quality of writing and the level of fulfillment in your writing life depend on it.

In the beginning, most of us fall in love with the process of writing. We want to write because we enjoy it. But as the years go on, something shifts in us. All of a sudden our friends and family who know nothing about the writing process may be bickering about the fact that we are taking all this time to write yet we have nothing to show for it because we are not published yet. No one has noticed our work. Its as if publishing and being noticed by agents is the most important yardstick for success.

But if we allow this negative feeling to seep deep into our heart, that will precisely become all important for us. All of a sudden, much of our writing time will be taken up with looking for agents, comparing ourselves to others, and how they are doing, and imitating them, not really knowing if that is really where our path to success will lies.

I believe one of the worst things that writers can do to themselves is to become restless and anxious, looking for external approval when they really should be enjoying their writing and the journey that it is taking them on.

I believe that the foundation for any meaningful, fulfilling and successful writing life depends on balancing the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of our writing career. We must decide where our true passions lie. Is it to get noticed by agents and editors (which is completely out of our control) or to enjoy writing and to keep writing regardless of life’s ups and downs (which is completely within our control)?

I hope you will depend more on intrinsic motivations for your writing life instead of merely extrinsic motivations. You can have extrinsic motivations. Just make sure that your most authentic motivations depend on things you can control.

So, which are your primary motivations?

Irene S. Roth

A Wonderful Mystery Thriller

The Big Fall
By Tim Smith

This is a murder mystery that is unique and complex on every page. Its not only a gripping thriller that has perfect pacing and staging, it also has multi-layered characters that linger with you. It is an unforgettable story that will have you wanting to read more and more until the book is finished and the last word read!

The story starts in engaging moments and then intensifies as the story builds in emotional substance, one page and one chapter at a time. Between the words and scenes there is a pulsating intensity that makes the story memorable and feverish.

The story is about Nick and Felicia. They are former spies and decide to take a break from their ordinary lives to head to a casino for some rest and respite. However, their break is laced with unexpected events and even murder. Who would have thought that things would become intense so quickly?

This story shows how past loves can become hatreds to the point where one is willing to allow their feelings of vengeance to get the best of them to the point where unfathomable things happen within a matter of minutes. It made me reflect on the nature of past relationships and how once they are over, a person’s worse and most dangerous emotions come to the fore.

This story also has an intriguing plot and plot twists, giving the story an allure, which will stick with you long after you have finished reading it. It made me wonder how people who loved each other so deeply just a while ago can end up hating each other so deeply that they would want to kill each other.

I loved the story, and I will be re-reading it soon. The characters were unforgettable, setting up a tapestry of intensity and poise. Even the characters will linger with you just like a fine wine. A fascinating read from beginning to end!

Intrinsic Vs. Intrinsic Motivation

Motivation is a critical thing to any writer or creative person, because it’s the fuel for the fire. Without motivation, we don’t get very far. Motivation is the reason we write, or take any positive action for our writing careers. It’s what compels us to sit down and work, rather than watch television or play a video game. It’s the magic that keeps us going even through the difficult times, and what we rely on when the chips are down.

Experts agree that there are many types of motivation. As mentioned above, different things drive different people. One may want the recognition that comes from having a bestselling novel, while another may crave belonging to the esteemed circle of “authors.” One may desire simple artistic expression, while another may seek out the reward of being admired by his friends.

In general, though, psychologists divide motivation into two types:

Intrinsic (internal) motivation

Extrinsic (external) motivation

Some studies have found that one of these is more effective than the other at inspiring creativity.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation​

Let’s look at some basic definitions for these two types of motivation.

Intrinsic motivation comes from inside. You have a desire within to perform this task for whatever reason. Going after the goal satisfies some sort of longing in you and has nothing to do with any outside forces or influences.

An example of intrinsic motivation may be the mountaineer who wants to climb Mount Everest simply because the desire is within him, or because he wants to challenge himself and see if he can do it. Another example would be the person who becomes a doctor simply because of the joy that healing brings her.

Extrinsic motivation is the opposite. It’s a type of motivation that is inspired by external factors. You want to perform a task for the reward that you stand to gain.

An example of extrinsic motivation may be the person who climbs Mount Everest to have this “pinnacle of achievements” on his resume, or to impress his friends. Another example would be the woman who becomes a doctor for the prestige and the paycheck.

How might these two types of motivation show up in writers?

Intrinsically or Extrinsically Oriented Writers

Most writers are inspired by both types of motivation at one point or another, but usually one or the other is the stronger force behind their accomplishments.

An intrinsically motivated writer may say to herself:

It will feel so great to finish this novel. I just really believe in this story.

It’s okay if my novel doesn’t sell a lot of copies. I just feel great having it published.

I have tried to quit, but I can’t. It’s like a compulsion I can’t resist.

I love working on this book because I’m learning so much!

This novel is the best I’ve ever written. I’m just so proud of it, even if it never gets published.

Poetry fulfills me inside.

I love escaping into the lives of my characters.

This memoir has such personal significance for me.

On the other hand, an extrinsically motivated writer may say to herself:

I can’t disappoint my fans—I’ve got to finish this novel.

I’m thrilled that my novel is selling so well.

My friends will be so impressed when they see I’ve published a novel.

Look, there’s my byline on a major website! My boss is going to freak.

Once I have this book published, people will take me seriously.

I just landed a major New York agent—surely I’ll get large advance on my book now.

I love the fact that I can earn a full-time living on my writing. That paycheck in the mail is the best!

I really hope I win an award for this short story.

My client paid me to write this book, so I’d better do a good job.

Which Type of Motivation Is Best for Creativity?

How do you know which type of motivation most drives you? After looking at the lists above, you may already have an idea. If you’re still unsure, answer this one question:

Starting today, if you are never published again, and for some reason you can’t self-publish your work either, would you still write?

If the answer is “yes,” you are probably most driven by intrinsic motivation. If it’s “hmm, maybe not” or “no,” you’re probably mostly driven by extrinsic motivation.

Which is best for creativity? There is no definitive answer on this, but some studies have suggested that intrinsic motivation may be more conducive to creative thought.

And which type of motivation moves you to write?

Negotiation is not Neglect

There are many writers who confuse negotiation with neglecting their family. They feel that when they sit down to write, their family will be neglected. However, there is nothing further from the truth.

In order get some writing done, you can’t be at the beck and call of your family and friends. In other words, you can’t always be disturbed by their demands. Some family members may believe that you are neglecting them and asserting your own needs instead of theirs. Please don’t allow people to make you feel that way.

Here are a few ways to ensure that you don’t feel like you are neglecting your family and friends while also successfully getting your writing goals completed:

  1. Determine your long-term and short-term writing goals and write them down.
  2. Determine your short-term goals from your long-term writing goals.
  3. Choose ONE writing goal. Try to prioritize your most important writing goal.
  4. Plan what part of your writing goal you would like to complete this month.
  5. Now plan what part of your writing goal you would like to complete this week.
  6. Determine how much time you need to complete each part of your writing goal. Then schedule this time into your weekly planner for this week.
  7. Sit down and have a chat with your family. Let them know what your writing goals are for this particular week or two week period and how much time you will need to write. Clearly state your writing hours for the week and when you will be writing each day. (Make sure you check your other appointments such as doctor, dentist, massage, physio, hairdresser, shopping, and date nights. Then schedule your writing time around these times by blocking out the times, and posting the blocked out times on the fridge so that your family can see it clearly.)
  8. Give your family some time to respond to your writing schedule. Once they agree to it, (this is where your negotiation comes in) your writing time should be golden other than for an emergency that is life threatening. (Cat crying at the door, dog barking, spouse walking in to chat, or a phone call is not considered an emergency!)
  9. When your writing time comes, go into your office and write. Your family should know when you are writing. Ask them to respect and honour your writing time. That is their part of their side of the bargain after all.
  10. If your family keeps barging in and disrupting, you will have take further steps to ensure that they don’t do that or you will have to write outside of your home.

So, as you can see from the above, once you talk to your family, you are not neglecting them. If they keep barging in, they are not honoring you much less respecting the fact that you are a writer. You need to be firm with them then. This can take some time. So, you have to be consistent!

After you have established a time to write, one that will work with your family, you must follow-through. And then, if they give you space to write for a week or so, you should reward them by spending time with them watching a movie or having a glass of wine and dinner or a chat and a walk in the park. But don’t reward them if they don’t honour your time. Otherwise, you are rewarding them for dishonoring you.

This is always a dicey topic and our families are sometimes demanding of our time. We need to find a balance not by caving in all the time but asserting our boundaries and honoring our writing.

To your writing success!

Irene S. Roth

Book Review: Unlock Bliss by Dr. Zeev Gilkis

We all want to be happy. We search it like a fine wine. And yet very few of us find it. Maybe its because we are looking for it in all the wrong places. We seem to think that there is something out there that will bring us happiness. So, we purchase big ticket items, go on exotic vacations, buy expensive dream cars, and still we’re not happy for long. What can we do about it? Read Dr. Gilkis’ book!

Dr. Gilkis has known suffering in his life. He lived through cancer and endured many other personal trials. And yet it is his positive attitude and perseverance towards all of these challenges that have helped him not only survive but soar above his difficulties and learn from them. He is a testament that happiness is possible. All we have to do is shift our attitudes and stop looking for happiness outside of us.

Dr. Gilkis believes that our happiness is mostly dependent on us. Dr. Gilkis draws on the research from Sonja Lyubomirsky’s work. It highlights that forty percent of our happiness is determined by our habits, behaviors, and thought patterns, while only ten percent of our happiness is dependent on our circumstances. This highlights the fact that happiness is in our control. All we have to do is develop the right attitude towards our lives.

Some of us are more naturally happy than others. Despite this, Dr. Gilkis believes that we can choose to be happy by seeing the positive side of events and situations instead of negative ones. In other words, we can choose to be more upbeat, even if it by a bit. In fact, the happiest people don’t have the best of everything, but they make the best of everything. Therefore, if we are given lemons in our lives, maybe we should try making lemon juice and learn to enjoy it.

There is an incredible wisdom and comfort in these words. We don’t need to have millions of dollars in the bank nor live in the best house. All we need is the right attitude. Further, we need to cultivate a healthy body to be happy by eating right, exercising, sleeping well, connecting with loved ones, and meditating.

Dr. Gilkis’ book is a memoir on how to live a happier life. I love this book because Dr. Gilkis offers step-by-step advice on how we can get ourselves out of the rut of negative thinking. We can remove these walls of negativity by developing a positive attitude towards ourselves and our lives. Thank you for such words of wisdom, Dr. Gilkis! I can’t wait to read your next book!

Meet Dr. Zeev Gilkis

I am so excited to introduce Dr. Zeev Gilkis on my blog today. He is a very inspiring person who shows us how to age with resilience and stamina and to never give up.

Welcome to my blog Dr. Gilkis!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Originally I was a mathematician. Nobody is perfect…
But the stars were with me and LIFE offered me several opportunities.
I took them all; serving in the mythological 8200 Unit of the Israeli Intelligence, senior positions in high-tech and Venture Capital, and the last, most surprising – establishing and leading an Institute for Biomedical Development. In parallel, discovering the “inner world”, by practicing yoga and meditation.
My message: LIFE offers us some opportunities, usually not too many.
It’s up to us whether we take them, or prefer to stay in our comfort zone.

2. When you’re not preparing for marathons, writing, and training, what are your interests and hobbies?

My primary interest is neuroscience. I’m fascinated with the processes in the brain. My PhD thesis was about the learning process and now I’m building models for other processes. But it’s probably a topic for another interview.😊
To keep my brain in a reasonable shape I also play bridge and chess. Once, in the far past, I played in tournaments, but nowadays everything is online…

3. What was your inspiration for writing Running Back in Time?
On my 68th birthday I set for myself the goal to run a full marathon on my 70th birthday, and took the courage to announce it (!) so now I have to do it…
I strongly believed that I’ll make it, despite I was just recovering from my second serious knee injury, and was told by two orthopedists to stop running. But it was also very clear to me, that it will not be straightforward and I’ll have to overcome many obstacles.
I thought that sharing these experiences may inspire others to set ambitious goals and go for it. Setting a goal is motivating and causes us to take out from ourselves the best!

4. How long did it take you to write the book?

I write one book per year. It would be too difficult for me to do it in a shorter time, as I want to enjoy life and to do many other things in parallel. But on the other hand, more that that seems too long for me. So, I set to myself the one-year-deadline.😊

5. What propels you to focus on your health as much as you do?

This is a great and so important question. Many times we appreciate the health only when something goes wrong. It also happened to me, when I was diagnosed with an advanced stage cancer.
Since then, I believe that the best medicine is the preventive medicine: the right nutrition, physical activity, positive approach and more. I write about it in all my books.
It’s not only for me. It’s also for the family. I had to take care of my parents were they became very sick in their last years. I don’t want to be a burden on my family.
And of course being perfectly healthy is a great feeling and enables me to do many things and realize my dreams. Like taking free diving course three months ago😊
I was the oldest free-diving student they ever had😊😊

6. What kinds of books do you read?

I don’t read much. Still don’t have enough free time😊
I usually read only books, which I believe can teach me something.
I believe we all are in an ongoing process of a personal evolution. We can continue improve in all aspects (“get better each day”…), but for that we need to learn and implement what we learned.
It’s worth the investment.
When I read, it’s more like studying. I love to learn; neuroscience, physiology, psychology and more. Learning a new thing causes me joy and elation.
I would mention a few books, which made a major influence on me & my life:
BORN TO RUN, Christopher McDougall
HOW TO STOP WORRYING AND START LIVING, Dale Carnegie
ZEN & THE ART OF MOTOCYCLE MAINTENANCE, Robert Pirsig
SIDDHARTHA, Herman Hesse
THE PILGRIMAGE, Paulo Coelho. I loved it even more than “The Alchemist”. In this book he demonstrates beautifully that the journey toward a goal is much more important than achieving the goal!

7. Tell us about your current writing projects?

I’m in the middle of my fourth book, a continuation of running Back in Time, and plan to submit it for editing in March next year, so it takes a significant chunk of my time.
My observations and conclusions about what happens in our brain will be the subject of my fifth book. It will be in a “popular science” language.
BTW, I touch some of these issues in Unlock Bliss.
And I maintain a diary, so much happens in my life… recommend very much to everybody. Not necessary on a daily basis. I usually summarize a week or so. Including photos.

8. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Yes. Sometimes writing may be frustrating. But it’s worth the effort!

9. Do you have any advice for people who are middle aged and sedentary?

Yes, definitely!
The message is that physical activity is for everyone at any age. It can be almost effortless, becoming a source of joy and satisfaction, while dramatically improving the quality of life and physical health.
It’s also the best remedy to prevent any mental health issues in the future.

The activity doesn’t have to be intensive and the motto is that “even a little is a lot!” The idea is, that it is much easier to persist when we do a little, and what is important is to be physically active in the long run. Actually, as long as we live.
The beginning can be 10 min/day.

Sport activities are strengthening the immune system, therefore are the best preventive medicine for the COVID-19.

All in all, the best investment in health, in our quality of life and in our future – to grow old with health and vitality.

10. What would you like readers to take away from Running Back in Time?

Age doesn’t matter!
The beautiful quote below is attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

11. How can potential readers get in touch with you?

I always reply to e-mails (zeev.gilkis@yahoo.com) . Sometime it may take me a few days, but I don’t leave anyone w/o a reply.

12. Where can they buy your book?

All my books are available on Amazon. The simplest is to type the name of the series: Younger Than Ever and all three will show.

Thank you for being on my blog today Dr. Gilkis!  I look forward to reading and reviewing your next book. You are a very interesting and inspiring person!