I’ve talked about tracking progress before, and today I saw Victoria Schwab’s tweet on keeping a calendar. She awards herself with stars for the number of pages she writes and the number of pages she reads, as well as the amount of exercise she gets each day. The magenta stars are for days she’s travelling or attending events.
As you probably know, I keep a calendar of my writing and submitting schedule. I set goals for the week, then record my progress as I go. But I know I’m not getting enough exercise. Victoria’s calendar has inspired me to keep track of my own physical activity. I truly believe in the importance of balance. We need to be aware of how we spend our time. So much of my life goes to household chores and tasks that have to be done every day. Having a calendar to prove that will force me to take action and reclaim some time for myself!
How do you keep track of where your time goes? How do you make time for yourself?
Note: Victoria Schwab’s “A Darker Shade of Magic” is a current goodreads Choice Awards Best Book of 2015 nominee. If you’ve read and loved it, vote for it here: https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2015.
Taking Jasmine Kay Uy’s piece of art to heart, my daughter, Natalie, and I began a new journey in art journaling. We watched some YouTube videos and looked through a bunch of ideas on Pinterest. Then, we decided to just jump in.
Luckily, we’ve accumulated a LOT of supplies! We visit Hobby Lobby when we get a chance–and some “extra” money. We have a nice selection of scrapbooking papers, stickers, and tags. My husband used to paint in college, so we have acrylics and brushes. Plus, I went through a period of time where I wanted to give watercolor painting a try, so I have some nice, thick papers and tubes of watercolor.
I worked on a simple project with a watercolor rainbow, a stamped message: “dream on,” and some polka-dotted tissue paper Mod-Podged onto the page. Natalie drew and water-colored a bird with a stamped quote: “Believe in what you can do, not what you can’t do.” We both wanted inspirational quotes in our pieces.
Through our experimentation, we came up with an idea for a children’s book. It seemed like once we opened the gates, the ideas just started pouring through. We drew up sketches for each page, setting off on a new adventure together. My mom and I used to talk about writing a book together. As Natalie and I worked, I said that we should bring grandma into the project, too. Then, maybe when that little girl wandering in the background of this picture is older, she can also join us!
It’s a fun way to try to recapture your creativity. And doing it with my daughter was the best part. What do you do to find your creative spirit? What inspires you?
I recently saw an ad for Rachel Funk Heller’s, The Writer’s Coloring Book. If you click on the link to visit the website, it states: “Harness both sides of your writer’s brain with The Writer’s Coloring Book® and write better stories with less frustration.”
Donald Maass, author of Writing the Breakout Novel and founder of Donald Maass Literary Agency, said, “Rachel Funk Heller’s book doesn’t ask you to color between the lines. Instead, it gives you great worksheets and visual tools to draw your own unique story.”
I purchased the book in PDF format from the website for $10. However, if you can’t afford that (which I can’t, but you know…) you can find similar coloring pages with inspirational quotes by doing a simple search. Google “inspirational coloring pages for adults” or search Pinterest for “quote coloring pages printables.” Here’s one from ColoringShapes.com I plan to try: “Today is going to be awesome.”
The best part: coloring helps you deal with stress. Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala says, “When coloring, we activate different areas of our two cerebral hemispheres. The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity when mixing and matching colors.The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.” This isn’t new information, as Carl Jung was “one of the first psychologists to apply coloring as a relaxation technique.” (“Coloring Isn’t Just For Kinds. It Can Actually Help Adults Combat Stress,” Huffington Post)
So, take a break and color today! Then, come back here and let me know if it helped!
Thanks to the Writer’s Digest Platform Challenge, I’ve kept track of this month’s activities on a calendar. I start out with the week’s goals in red and as I complete each task, I change it to black and move it to the day the task is completed. This way, I can look back on everything I’ve accomplished, and still keep my upcoming deadlines in mind. So, when I have one of those days where coffee just isn’t helping me focus, I have something to provide a clear path for what I should be doing.
It’s simple. In Microsoft Word, I create a table with 7 columns–one for each day. Here’s an Example Calendar to show, rather than tell you what I mean.
It’s also important to celebrate your successes!
This year, my poem “Mourning List” appeared in the same issue of Calyx as the memorial to Margarita Donnelly, founding editor of the beautiful publication. Margarita Donnelly died Christmas Eve 2014, the very same day as a good friend of mine, Sarah Edwards McFarland, who I’d known since 4th grade. The title and subject matter of my poem was appropriate, though when I wrote it, I had no idea Sarah or Margarita were going to pass on. I wish I would have known. I wish I could say goodbye to Sarah, or thank Margarita for building such a wonderful home for women to place their works of art.
Sadly, we cannot time travel. (Yet.) So, forget the rejections. Draw from them whatever constructive criticism they offer, then press that lovely delete button. Life’s too short to dwell on your failures. And, if you haven’t had any publications yet, tomorrow is a new day.
In fact, tomorrow is November 1st and… NaNoWriMo BEGINS! So, let’s get to work. And WHEN–not if–you have a publication or acceptance from an agent, come here and let me know. I’ll feature your good news in a pretty post dedicated to your successes and we’ll all celebrate together!
Do you listen to music while you’re writing, or is it too distracting? My kids’ screams often serve as ambient noise while I work. Sometimes, I play nature and meditation CDs with names like Zen Garden or Orient Tranquility. (The kind you find below the machines that play music as you walk by, usually located in the same aisle with scented candles, flower vases, and throw pillows.) Other times, I have a little Norah Jones, Duncan Sheik, or–since I write YA fiction–Lorde playing softly. Then, during specifically angst-filled scenes, I might crank up Rammstein’s Du Hast to set the tone all the way to rage. Every now and then, I like it as close to silent as I can get after my 5 kids have gone to sleep. That’s the only way I can quiet my own mind enough to focus and draw my words to the surface. Though there are times when it gets to be too quiet, so I’ll turn on HGTV to feel like there’s someone talking that I need to ignore.
So, what kinds of music do you find inspiring? Who serenades you while you write?
I’m beginning a new YA novel that threatens to be a complicated mess if I don’t figure out a good way to organize it. As a college composition instructor, I continuously preach the importance of prewriting exercises, including the great and wonderful outline. I searched for a book to help me with this, because I felt a little overwhelmed by all of my ideas and didn’t know how I should organize them into a coherent storyline.
I happened upon K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success. I’m only three chapters into it, but she’s already provided some priceless help. Thus far, I’ve written my “perfect review,” based on her advice:
Often, when we begin writing a story, our ideas are hazy, and the final shape of the story is only a dim outline in the mist. The story we put on the page will never be a perfect representation of the story in our imagination, so it’s little wonder we aren’t always aware of where our stories fall short. But here’s a little trick to narrow the gap between your idealization of your story and its printed reality: Write yourself the “perfect” review before your story ever hits paper. (36-7)
She also recommends downloading yWriter from spacejock.com. This program provides an organizer that allows you to enter chapter summaries, scene descriptions, character bios, and a plethora of other information about your projects. It took about two minutes for it to download and it was completely FREE! I’ll spend some time playing around with it, but it looks like an asset to anyone who needs a bit of extra help organizing their thoughts. ~ Jennifer