Wednesday, July 29, 2009

 

I really, really don't mean to do it

I really, really don't mean to push my deadlines to within minutes of, uh, well, their deadlines. But sometimes, things just happen that way.
Last week, I was inundated with the annual family visit. (The pleasure and curse of living in a coastal town...a gathering of 31 in various locations around the beach.) The week before, I had incredibly good intentions that were washed aside as I landed on a half dozen calls for various projects.
All I wanted to do was sit down to write.
With deadlines looming ahead, I was trying to write long before my articles were due. Generally, I try to build a bit of cushion so I don't feel anxious and in a rush about my writing. My interviews were mostly done. Alas, with the pressure building as if in a popcorn popper, I flitted about on business call after phone call the days before the onslaught of relatives.
In Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching, we encourage people to take small steps. That Friday, I was lucky if I could even consider any small actions. But, before I fell asleep that night, I had made a list...a list of all that I needed to do (which probably used up a good 50 words that might have made it into one of the stories I needed to write). But I took my list into my week of vacationing revelers and made progress, trying to write each morning before everyone woke. It was progress, albeit small progress.
A colleague once gave me a magnet with the Douglas Adams quote: "I love deadlines. I love the wooshing sound they make as they fly by." I've never enjoyed the whoosh, so I tend to get my articles written on time. But every so often, I need to release some of the built up steam. And ask for an extension. Last week, I did that a couple days in advance of the deadline--and asked for a couple extra days. It was granted.
The articles are now written and turned in. But my to-do list still looks longer than a novella.
But, day by day, word by word and small step by small step, I'm making progress.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer. She also blogs at CoastalCarolinaMoms.com and TheWriteElizabeth.com, where she contemplates finding creativity...and time to write!...each day.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

 

Which side of your brain do you trust most?

Ever since I finished writing a nonfiction book proposal a few weeks back, I have been contemplating the concept of the creative side of the brain competing with the literal side of the brain. The ol' right brain/left brain coming into play. Or perhaps warring factions.
I like to find a fountain pen and brainstorm, writing curlicue words interrupted by doodles on luscious pieces of paper. I like to write and play with words. I frequently like to edit those words. Admittedly, I'm not sure researching and discerning the market information for my book is my forte. Don't get me wrong, I love to research and expanding or following an idea. But it seems like the research portions of the proposal should be more objective, not the subjective like the creative portions seem to be.
What do I mean by subjective? Just like finding an agent, as the writer, you determine who you think your audience will be. But you have no real way of knowing who exactly will read your book, so you research other books that may be similar without the important ingredient of *you* and what you bring to the book. You are unique. How do you quantify that? How can you be objective about you? And, if you aren't being objective, does you literal side of the brain assert itself to the right side, insisting on being heard?
Fortunately, (I think!) I worked on the marketing research first, letting my right brain rest. Then I focused on the more creative aspects, sort of eating the vegetables before getting to the chocolate cake.
Does the creative side of my brain understand that? Will it appreciate that I consider it chocolate cake and perform for me when I ask? Or do I somehow need to start treating the left side better to rile up the right side of my brain, making it jealous?
What does your right--or left--brain think about all this?
Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for CoastalCarolinaMoms. She has her own blog, TheWriteElizabeth, where she discovers creativity. Please note, no brain cells were harmed in the creation of this post.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

 

When did I become such a mercenary?

I'm a writer. I'm a blogger. Yep. We established that a few posts back. But here's my dilemma.... Am I a writer because I get paid to write? Or because writing is my creative outlet? Or both? Or neither?
If I write an article for a magazine or newspaper and I am paid that feeds the belief that I am a writer. If I blog and I'm not paid--in the same manner as a print article--does that feed the same belief that I'm a writer/blogger?
The reason I ask is that frequently, as a writer, I've been asked by friends about their becoming a writer. I recommend a few books, wish them luck and, if they find their skin is thick enough, we enjoy future discussions about this editor or that one. It's part of the networking of writers. But go to a writers' conference and, friendly and fun as it may be, we're all in line to pitch the same editor, competing with one another. Just as my mentoring writer friends did with me, when my friends want to understand how the business works and I'm happy to encourage them, suggest some books and then let them go find their way.
Blogging seems to work in the reverse. At blogging conferences, it seems, there is a joi d'vivre and everyone is happy to see and meet everyone else. There isn't the same competition. My blog is mine, yours is yours. We reach different audiences and I don't have to convince an editor to buy my ideas or words.
More and more I'm being approached to talk to friends and acquaintances who want to start their own blog. But blogging has a technical and business element that is missing from writing for magazines. The talks are more in depth, balancing technology, terminology and the business of writing. Is it wrong to want to monetize these talks? Do you have this dilemma? I hope this analogy works, but could it be the difference between the casual cocktail party conversation talking about your health with a doctor and making an appointment to actually talk to a doctor?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for CoastalCarolinaMoms. She is also a freelance writer and can hardly wait to stop thinking money and starting thinking creativity...or at least gardening. Check it out at TheWriteElizabeth. In between answering comments, she'll be playing in the dirt...flower and vegetable seeds at the ready.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

 

The Organized Writer's Six Rules

by Julie Hood, OrganizedWriter.com

Are you trying to get organized so you have more time to write? Here are six rules guaranteed to make you more productive and more organized when you add them to your life.

1. Work with Yourself, Not Against Yourself

When you're trying to become more organized, it's tempting to try and fit into the existing organizing system of an "expert." They seem organized and they promise that if you try it, you'll be organized, too.

What's more effective is to understand your personality and what works for you. There are MANY solutions and you may have to experiment to find the system that best fits the way you work--your mind, your body and the way you think. And this might be a combination of ideas from many different experts.

Give something new a fair trial, but if after a month or so it feels awkward or counterintuitive, let it go and find something else!

2. Focus and Pay Attention

If you find that you always seem to be busy but that you never have anything to show for it, this could be the most important tip for you.

When possible, do one thing at a time. Don't let your mind or hands wander to another task. Picture the finished project in your mind, and focus only on that. Get in the "zone" � you're able to be so much more effective when you're giving your whole mind, thought and attention.

When we split our attention between different tasks ("multi-tasking"), most likely none of them will get done right, if at all. As well, you can find yourself in a perpetual state of having many "open projects" started but not completed. Each project moves forward just an inch at a time.

If you choose ONE, you can move it forward to completion much faster. To choose one, you need to estimate which project will give you the best results when it's finished. It sometimes takes an outside perspective and feedback to help you make that choice, and a coach is a great tool for this.

Putting aside other projects clears the clutter from your mind, attention, desk, workload and focus.

3. Invest Your Time

Just like we invest our money, we have to invest our time in the best way. Setting up your new organizing systems can be considered an investment.

Applying this tip can have the greatest impact on your level of organization. By investing your time at the beginning of a project to examine how you can complete it most efficiently, you can save yourself a lot of frustration later. Saving just 20 minutes each day gives you an extra 120 hours each year.

For example, set-up a mailing station with all of the supplies you'll need to ship out book orders. You can also set-up a schedule of weekly errands such as the bank and the post office. If you know you'll be heading out to the post office on Wednesday, then when an order comes in on Friday you don't need to stop what you're doing and prepare that order immediately. You know you have a different time set aside for shipping.

4. Make a Habit of It

Once you have these plans in place, work at making them a habit. You can create a new habit (or lose a bad one!) in 21 days. For only three weeks of effort, you can create a lifetime of good working habits.

As you are creating a habit, you'll need some kind of trigger to remind you to do it � alarms on your computer (i.e. Outlook or PDA), a "to do" list or a written schedule for the day with time blocked out for your specific tasks.

Start small with one new habit at a time, and then see if you can add more (pull back if it gets to be too much).

5. Use the Right Tools

Make sure you have the right tools handy when you need them.

From the low-tech (I only use retractable pens � the kind that "click" on and off � because there's no caps to lose!) to the high-tech, there are many ready-made solutions out there to keep you organized. As we mentioned in Rule #1, it's important to find tools that work FOR YOU.

Another example � did you know that if you use PayPal as your shopping cart, they're automatically tied in with the US Post Office and you can print your shipping labels right from the PayPal site? This has been a huge time-saver for me when shipping my Organized Writer CDs.

6. Work Forward

Organize for your work ahead; don't organize what's already finished. We're often tempted to organize our old bills, receipts and invoices. Sometimes we're afraid or hesitant to move forward until we've finished old stuff.

It's much more important to set-up the system and files for what�s coming at you next. Look at what has been creating the biggest stress in your life and start by improving that area going forward. Then, when you have more of your future work under control, you can deal with the old paperwork (the old bills, receipts and invoices).

As you work on bringing these six rules into your life, you�ll be amazed at how much more time and energy you have to pursue your writing and remember the number one rule � only use what works for YOU!

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Ever wonder how much you could write if you were just more organized? Find out when you subscribe to the newsletter at Organized Writer. Julie Hood is the author of the ebook, The Organized Writer: 30 Days to More Time, More Money and Less Frustration.

Article Source: http://www.directorys.uniquearticles.info


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