Do You Have a Writing Schedule in Place for the Summer?

8727353266_e12280a9f7_z[1]Do you have a summer writing schedule in place? Many of you have a difficult time to stick to a consistent writing schedule during the summer. These beautiful sunny and warm days propel you to go outside and enjoy the short season of great weather. Well, at least it is short in Northern Canada where I live.

Also, for some of you, with kids being home from school and daycare being out for the summer, the lack of structure for everyone can rack havoc for writers to remain committed to their writing daily quotas. It is important to realize that you can write during the summer by taking a few simple steps and set up a writing schedule that can work with new family demands on your writing time.

Here are a few tips for writers to enjoy the summer and still get some much-needed writing done.

  1. Revise your writing schedule so that it will work with your new reality of kids being at home and hubby hovering around the house.

For instance, you may want to write first thing in the morning before everyone wakes up. Or, you may want to write for an hour after everyone retires for the day or while your hubby is watching yet another baseball game. You don’t have to watch a game that you don’t enjoy anyways. Instead, excuse yourself and get such much-needed writing.

  1. Carry a notepad and pen with you as you travel through your day. If you go to a theme-park and you have second to sit down and catch your breath while your hubby is out with the kids on a carousel ride, enjoy that alone time and do a bit of thinking and jot down some notes. You may have new topics to write about right before your eyes.
  2. Set time boundaries with your family for some alone time. You may want to read during this time, meditate, or just lay low.

Women tend to multi-task and work way too hard. If they’re not with the family, they’re doing housework or cooking and cleaning. Try not to do that.

Instead, find yourself a calming routine and escape to bring about peace of mind, rest and much-needed relaxation.

  1. Don’t try to please everyone all the time. Not only will you mostly fail if you try doing this, but you will be constantly frustrated too.

Instead, set times when you’re with family and also times when you’re doing your own thing. You deserve this. It’s okay to say NO and mean it.

It’s okay to cancel your outing with the family if you don’t want to go to the theme park yet again. Let your family go and just spend some time doing things for yourself and taking care of yourself.

By taking these steps, you will be less frustrated and exhausted during the summer months, and you’ll get some much-needed writing done.

It is difficult to be a writer and to take several weeks or worse months off a year from writing. Some writers can do it, but most can’t afford to. By taking the above steps, you’ll be able to write and also enjoy the summer.

Try it!

Irene S. Roth

How to Eliminate Distractions During the Summer Months

0__IMG_6135[1]It’s easy to become distracted during the summer months. Almost anything can distract you, if you allow it to. It can take a long time to learn how to focus on your writing in such a way that distractions will be minimized, if not avoided altogether even during the summer months.

Most of us can learn to focus on one project and write for an hour or two four or five days a week with a bit of planning, practice and discipline.

Distractions can take many different forms. We could be distracted by our children, spouses, family members, beautiful weather, or phone and email. Limiting these distractions can be easy, if you take a few steps. Here are a few to consider.

  1. Set an egg-timer

I find that setting a timer helps a lot. I set it for, say, one or two hours, and during that time, I don’t do anything but think about what I am doing. The timer gives me the structure I need to keep my eyes and mind on the manuscript that I am working on.

  1. Do nothing but write during your allotted time

Nothing, except an emergency, should move you to do anything else than write during my allotted time. If you are serious about writing, make sure that you actually write during your devoted time.

  1. Shut-off all outside distractions before sitting down to write

It is important for writers to shut off the ringer on the phone and don’t answer the door if the doorbell rings during your allotted writing session. Do nothing but write.

  1. Tell Family about your Writing Time

It is important for you to tell your family ahead of time what your writing schedule will be for the week. Then when you’re writing time comes, honor it so that your family can honor it too. Don’t be persuaded to do anything but write during those times. Be firm!

  1. Work on one project at a time

Productive writers usually finish up all their writing projects. They work diligently through discouragement and rejection. They also find a way to work consistently on a project until it is complete.

Writers will usually hit a lot of distractions when they set out to write during the summer. This is to be expected and is very much a part of writing practice. Try not to give up and quit when the going gets tough. Just keep finding ways to write, even if it is for a short period of time.

I always tell the writers in my critique groups that it is important to write as often as possible. We have all made a commitment to write every day, even if it is for a short time such as 15 minutes. You have no idea how much momentum this brings to your writing life until you try it. So, part of our motto is Write every day! And that is the promise we make to ourselves and each other.  And at the end of the summer, we usually get a LOT of writing done!

So, we could try and do something similar in this group. I believe that part of writing consistently is making a commitment to your writing, and finding a time to write every day—even if it is a short time.

Not only will be habitually writing and become more confident as a writer, but your family and friends will also know that you are serious about your writing.

However, sometimes, you will have to think outside of the box in order to get some writing done.

So, here are some unlikely places that I wrote just to get some extra words down on my WIP during the summer:

  • Write in the car—of course only if you are a passenger. If you are taking a trip to a special destination that takes an hour or two, you could bring your paper and pen or even laptop and just write for a few minutes at a time.

I sometimes get into the back seat where it is quieter and I just write for about half an hour or so until the next pit stop on our trip.

  • Write in the airport—while waiting to board the plane. Sometimes there are delays. Most times, we have to get there at least an hour ahead of time. So, this can be a time to write for even a few minutes.
  • Once the plane is in flight, you can write during your flight or at least read to prepare to write.
  • Wake up a bit earlier and write.
  • Stay up a bit later and write for a few minutes.
  • While your spouse is watching television in the evening, remove yourself on the bed or at a table in the room and write for a few minutes.
  • If it is a nice day, write outside. If the weather is stopping you from writing, take your laptop outside and write there. Or take your pen and paper and head for the park. That is what I do. There is no better feeling that actually writing and thinking by the Avon River.

But also have times when you’re plugged off writing during holidays. Otherwise, you will get on your family’s nerves and you will probably not get much writing done. So, do your writing as bookends during the day, either in the morning or at night. During the day, go out and enjoy yourself. After all, that is what being on vacation is all about. Make memories. Take photos. Eat great food!

By taking these steps, you will be getting some writing during the summer holidays.

Irene S. Roth

Give yourself permission to experience a wide range of emotions

take-your-desktop-for-a-walk-through-the-forest-nature-picture-forest-wallpaper[1]Oftentimes we hold this idealized image of how we should be, feel, and act in the world. We believe that emotional health means completely eliminating “negative” emotions and being in a state of perpetual state of happiness and bliss.

This is simply not true. Expecting yourself to be happy all the time is completely unrealistic and unhealthy. Instead allow yourself to feel whatever you may be feeling at a particular moment.

• Don’t try to label these emotions initially.
• Don’t try to understand or analyze them.
• Don’t assign them a positive or negative value.
• Simply allow them to exist and experience them as they come.
• Be patient and compassionate with yourself.

Learn to identify your emotions

After you have become comfortable with experiencing your emotions, it is helpful to learn to identify them. Most of us have a very limited emotional vocabulary.

We tend to be extremely familiar with the major emotions: happiness, sadness, anger. However, we are less familiar with the broad range of emotional experiences that aren’t fully captured by these terms.
What you may experience as anger might actually be disappointment. Perhaps the guilt you think you’re feeling could best be described as resentment. Take some time to develop a deeper level of self-awareness so you can accurately describe your emotional experience.

One tool that was extremely helpful for me was an emotional vocabulary chart. I would carry this around with me and “check in” with myself several times a day. I began to see patterns in my emotional experiences. I truly began to observe, understand, and accept myself more fully.
Again, the point is not to assign judgment or to determine why you are feeling a particular emotion. When you question why, you may assume that something is wrong with the feeling you are having. You are merely observing and identifying in order to develop greater self-awareness.

Learn to express your emotions

Expressing your emotions to others is an important part of healthy and mature communication.
Consider the following statements.

“You made me angry.”
“I feel angry.”

Did you notice any differences?

There is a subtle but powerful shift in emphasis between the two. The former places blame and assumes that the other person is responsible. This often leads to defensiveness and can shut down further efforts at communication.

The latter effectively communicates the same feeling but eliminates blame and indicates a personal acknowledgment and acceptance of the internal experience. This is an example of something known as perceptual language, which I’ve found is a powerful tool for learning how to communicate in a more mature and healthier way.

It becomes more of a report than an accusation. In my experience, these types of statements are better received by others and also give me a greater sense of control.

In communicating your emotions, it’s not only about the words you say. Your intention is also extremely important. Be careful that you are not expecting the other person to make you feel better. This often leads to anger, frustration, and disappointment. Instead, find ways to soothe and comfort yourself.

Allow other people to have their own emotional experiences

Once you have given yourself permission to feel and identify emotions within yourself, it becomes much easier to separate yourself from the emotional experiences of those around you.

Just like you, other people must be accountable for their own emotional experiences. Allow them to experience, identify, and express their emotions in their own way.

Once you have clearly defined emotional boundaries, you no longer hold yourself responsible for other people’s emotions. This ultimately leads to healthier and deeply satisfying relationships.

Until Next Time!
Irene

A Writing Article by Karen Cioffi

The Elevator and One Sentence Pitch for Your Manuscript
By Karen Cioffi

Your one sentence pitch is a very condensed, super-tight yet concise description of your story, specifically the plot of your story. Think of it as a one sentence calling card – you’re unique selling proposal or proposition. A beginning step on your book marketing journey.

You might ask why does it have to be only one sentence. Well, it may happen that the time you have to pitch your manuscript is under a minute.

Suppose you’re at a conference and happen to get on the elevator at the end of the day with a frazzled publisher or agent. You want that very short span of pitching time to be as effective as you can make it, without annoying or further frazzling your target. It may be the only opportunity you’ll have for a direct, although very brief, uninterrupted pitch.

This is where the one sentence pitch come in.

The one sentence pitch, also known as a logline, takes time, effort, and a lot of practice. You need to condense your entire manuscript into one sentence. Within that sentence you need to harness the soul of your story (the plot) in a simple, concise, and hooking pitch.

The general writing consensus is to do your best and create one sentence that tells what your story is about. Once you have it nailed, expand it into a few more, adding only the most important aspects of the story. This expanded version is consider your elevator pitch. This is excellent practice for tight writing.
This way you’ll have two different versions of a micro pitch. It’s important to always be prepared – you never know when or where you may come upon an unsuspecting publisher or agent . . . maybe you’ll have a few seconds, maybe you’ll have 3 minutes.

EXAMPLES OF ONE SENTENCE PITCHES:

From Nathan Bransford (1):

Three kids trade a corndog (FLAVOR OF THE STORY) for a spaceship, blast off into space (OPENING CONFLICT), accidentally break the universe (OBSTACLE), and have to find their way back home (QUEST).

From Writer’s Digest (2)

NOT: “A burning skyscraper threatens the lives of thousands, including a pregnant woman trapped on the top floor.”
INSTEAD: “A former firefighter, fired for insubordination, races to save the lives of thousands of people in a burning skyscraper, including his pregnant wife.”

From Madeline Smoot (3):

The Emerald Tablet — In this midgrade science fiction novel, a telepathic boy discovers that he is not really human but a whole different species and that he must save a sunken continent hidden under the ocean.

From Janice Hardy (4)

A meek bank teller discovers a magical ancient mask that unleashes his deepest desires — and gives him superhuman abilities to act on them. (The Mask)

And, here’s my own one sentence pitch for my children’s fantasy chapter book. The 39 word version hooked a contract with a publisher:

Twelve-year-old Wang decides he’ll be rich and powerful if he can become a mystical Eternal; but after a year of hard work as an apprentice, and very little magic, he quits, but not before learning to walk through walls.
Obviously, if you have a scheduled pitch you will need to adhere to the publisher or agent’s rules as to the word count. But, even if nothing is scheduled, it’s a good idea to have that logline on hand for that you-never-know moment.

References:

(1) http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/05/how-to-write-one-sentence-pitch.html
(2) http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/thrillerfest-2011-pitch
(3) http://www.madelinesmoot.com/the-art-of-pitching-your-book-to-a-childrens-book-editor-in-just-one-sentence/
(4) http://blog.janicehardy.com/2011/10/heres-pitchits-hit-crafting-your-novels.html

About the Author

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, children’s ghostwriter, and an author/writer online platform instructor. For more on writing and book marketing, and lots of valuable freebies, get free access to The Writing World http://thewritingworld.com

Be True To Yourself!

0__IMG_6135[1]Being introverted can mean that we are badgered by many negative feelings and emotions. Most social situations make us feel very uncomfortable and sometimes even fearful. This is because we are so afraid of criticism and to be humiliated in front of others. But this need not be the case. You could change your mind-set from always expecting the worse, to simply lightening up and accepting what is.

Introverted writers all have to create a safe haven for ourselves. But before we can create this safe haven, we have to get to know ourselves and what paralyzes us completely. Here are a few things to consider when creating your safe haven:

• If public speaking is really painful for you, skip it and self-promote via Skype. You could also self-promote online and present online workshops.

• If traditional publishing scares you with all its querying and intense competitiveness, then self-publish. There are so many online opportunities to self-publish that there is no excuse not to look for that option if you are really paralyzed by the thought of sending out manuscripts.

• If meeting people in person scares you, meet them online on Facebook and Twitter. These are all possibilities and you can ensure that you still meet people and sometimes even the right people to be the best writer that you can be.

However, introverts have to remember one thing: sometimes we have to challenge ourselves and do something outside of our comfort zone to grow as writers and individuals. Introverts are especially prone to doing things that don’t scare them because they want to maintain control. But this only makes us stagnant and we won’t evolve and grow.

So, once in a while, introverted writers should do something that will be a bit uncomfortable but so that we will grow over time. If we always do the same things over and over again, we will probably not grow and we will not only remain the same but we will constrict. So, we try not to do that. Instead, we should try to challenge ourselves once in a while, and do something different.

Try it!

Irene S. Roth

Don’t Worry…Be Happy!

take-your-desktop-for-a-walk-through-the-forest-nature-picture-forest-wallpaper[1]Being introverted doesn’t have to mean that we are always fretful. However, it means that we appreciate being alone and in solitude. It also means that we enjoy our own company and thrive with a bit of alone time. However, extroverts are the opposite—they thrive only when they get out of the house and spend time outside.

Being an introvert seems to be a writer’s dream. However, there are drawbacks to being an introverted writer. In order for a writer to be successful, she must not only be cooped up in her office writing for endless hours, but she must also present at writer’s conferences, send out queries and manuscripts, and consistently work at self-promotion in order to sell books.

Sometimes being a happy, introverted writer requires that we let go of control. When we are ourselves, we have all the control in the world. Not too much can happen and people are not going to criticize us or our work. However, when we are in the public domain, criticism is a very real possibility. So, many introverts refrain from going out into the public domain too much. And this again is detrimental to their success as a writer.

Here are a few ways that introverts can enjoy both the solitude when they write and social situations when they have to get out into the world to self-promote or present workshops.

1. Lighten up on the need to control

We should accept people and situations as they are. People are what they are, and there is nothing you can do about it. For instance, you can’t control the comments coming from a member of the audience; however, you can control your response to the person. Also, there is such a thing as constructive criticism. So, always take the good points out of a criticism and discard the sarcasm or nastiness, if it exists. That way you can learn from the comments and become a better writer without getting hurt all the time.

2. Lighten up on being right all the time

It can be so exhausting to always try being right. It is downright difficult and it can open us up to stressors that we would not necessarily have if we didn’t always insist on being right. Try not to be opinionated. Instead, allow others to share their views and be kind when they do.

In addition, we should not take their negative views of our work personally. Most of the comments that are made by others are not personal attacks. They are simply subjective comments made by another person. So, we have to step out of the victim role and be much more secure and confident about ourselves as a writer. I realize this is hard to do at first. But with practise, you can achieve this.

3. Lighten up on the blame game

Writers tend to feel better when they can blame others for their misfortunes. But most times, when something goes wrong, it is our own fault. For instance, when we don’t get to the desk to write for days on end, it’s not our family’s fault but ours for not sticking to our original writing commitments. So, try to think positively and get out of complaining and blaming others for your misfortunes all the time.

By lightening up on these forms of control, introverts can stop worrying and they can be happier and more fulfilled. We all need to be less controlling and to just let things happen as they should. This is especially the case if we are with people and in social situations. We cannot control what others will say or do. But we sure can control what we do. And who knows, maybe the most important insights come to us from other people. So, we should look for these gems of wisdom as much as possible.

Irene S. Roth
Philosopher, Freelance Writer, Author, and Editor

From Inspiration to Self-Discipline

newyears-path-1024x633Do you find yourself inspired to start a project only to find that you lose energy and don’t want to pursue the same project even a few weeks after you started it? Do you start all guns blazing only to crash in terms of your motivational energy to complete the project?

If you answered the above questions in the affirmative, believe me you’re not alone. It seems that inspiration is not enough for us to complete our projects. Yet, inspiration is certainly enough for us start a project. But over time, our inspiration for a project will turn flat and begin to dwindle down and our energies plummet. That is when we will be tempted to quit this project and start another one.

What is worse, it is quite possible for us to never get back to that project, further complicating whether or not we will complete our writing projects. Obviously, if we don’t complete the writing projects that we start on a consistent basis, we won’t be productive or successful. And this, in turn, will cripple our self-confidence as writers, and make us feel as if we can’t complete any manuscripts.

But this need not be the case if we realize that, although inspiration is necessary to start a project, we need more than inspiration to actually stick to a project through all the ups and downs to the point where we are successful in completing the project. What we need is the self-discipline to complete our projects. If we have self-discipline and inspiration, then we will successfully work on our projects until completion.

So, what we need to stick to a project long-term is more than the fleeting feeling or emotion that is associated with the initial high that we receive when we get a new idea to write about. We need to make a commitment to the project and to have the self-discipline to slog through all the hard times—and yes, there will be quite a few such times. They are what one of my writer friends call test markers. A test marker is something that tempts you to quit or abandon your project because everything seems to be going wrong for you. Not only that, but your initial motivations probably died by now and you are merely going through the motions. So, it is much easier to simply quit. But notice that this temptation to quit is usually based on a feeling that is fleeting and temporary. If you just stand back for a few days and not quit, you will probably carry on quite well and complete the project.

As we all know, quitting is not conducive to success as a writer. And if you get into the habit of quitting many of the writing projects you start, you will be frustrated and unsuccessful. So, it is important to develop the self-discipline that will take your projects from inspiration to completion.

When you have self-discipline as a writer, you won’t be tempted to quit, even when everything is going wrong, because you will have a long-term plan in place for completing this project and you have committed to it. Self-discipline is not based on a feeling but it is based on a long-term attitude of commitment towards working hard to complete what you started, regardless what you feel at the moment.

So, try to develop self-discipline as a writer so that you could finish writing projects that you start. Not only will this build your self-confidence as a writer, but you will also be successful. And your inspiration along with self-discipline will help you to be the most successful writer that you are capable of becoming.

Irene S. Roth