Friday, February 20, 2015

Memo to self:

One foot in front of the other. One step at a time.

That applies not just to writing novels, but all the other creative endeavors I'm taking on.

I have to avoid my usual tendency of being 10 steps ahead of myself and seeing all the things that go into a project to make it successful. I can't overwhelm myself with all of those steps. Just do one thing at a time, and even if it's a small step, it's still progress.

Progress is the goal, even if it goes slowly. Or in a twisty-turny way that makes sense to almost nobody else but me. I have faith in me to do exactly what's right, even if it takes a little longer or is a little more work.

Every day I make any progress toward any of my (3? 4?) main creative goals is a step in the right direction.

Now I just need to shut up that voice in my head that says I'm not stepping fast enough, or doing enough.

I have to remember I'm doing the best that I can at any given moment. (I really am.)

And that good things take time to build. Time that it's OK to pour into a project so it gets done the right way.

I'm never as far off as I fear I am. I'm always closer than it seems.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Silencing that voice.

Too often, I feel like I’m metaphorically smushing my palms to my ears and yelling “LALALALALA!!!!” as loudly as possible.

It’s all because I’m trying to conquer the voice in my head. You know the one. It’s the voice that says:

You can’t.

That’ll never work.

You’re not qualified for that.

What a stupid idea.

I’m fighting back against that voice, starting today. Not by shouting, but by talking back in a rational way. And now, I say:

Others have done it. Why not me?

If it doesn’t work, at least I tried. (And then I’ll try again.)

I may not know all I need to know right now, but I’m learning.

I won’t know if it’s truly a stupid idea until I try.

Actually, I can.

That voice is the mindset of those who don’t dare, don’t dream, and don’t do. And it needs to STFU, pronto, so that I can get back to dreaming, daring, and doing.

That voice is the thoughts of a frightened child, a worrywart, or someone who is afraid to fail. I cannot be afraid to fail. If I fail, what do I lose? The time spent learning and doing? The small amount of money I spent on things like informational courses and books? All of that is worth the risk.

I can drown out that voice with my own. I can counter the irrational points with rational ones. That voice doesn’t like to be talked back to, and in time, it’ll go away if I keep effectively countering its points. It won’t go away if I try to push it into some cobwebby corner of my mind and pretend it’s gone away even though I know it’s over there, lurking in the dark, ready to make itself known at the worst possible time.

Fighting back feels weird. It feels like I’m doing something wrong or being disobedient. But I have a voice of my own that’s worth being heard, just like I have ideas worth exploring.

If I fight back enough, using my own words, at some point I won’t need to fight anymore. That voice will be silenced. 

Today is the start of my journey toward having one voice, and one voice only, in my head:


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year, new approaches.

As the New Year approaches, I've already adopted some new attitudes and habits. I'm reading and learning rather voraciously every single day. I'm doing crazy stuff to keep my head in my novel, like having Twitter conversations with my protagonist. I'm starting to exercise, which I'm hoping I eventually stop loathing.

Here are the three things I'm doing, productivity-wise, to keep myself on track with my big picture:

Maintaining a Done List. I started the Done List at the end of this year, and I love keeping it. All I do is print a calendar, and in the box for each day, I write the significant things I did that day. 

For example, I go to work 5 days a week, so I won’t write “Went to work”—that’s too ordinary. But if I got a written compliment from a company executive regarding one of my projects, or I finished and was satisfied with a major project, I’ll note that. I’ll also make a note of any learning I completed (for example, completing a module of the social media course I’m taking, or reading a helpful ebook about creative habits) and any relevant writing I did (novel-writing and revising, freelance articles, short stories, and poems all count!).

Essentially, this provides me with motivation and a sense of accomplishment. I’m less likely to beat myself up for not doing enough when I can look back on a written record of what I’ve done. 

Giving myself measurable half-year (not full-year) goals. In general, my goals include making progress with my writing and losing those last few pounds. I’m setting specific goals to work on January through June, and then I’ll evaluate my progress at the end of June and switch up my goals where necessary and to build upon milestones I achieved.

Writing and social media:
Write 1 short story or poem each month.
Read and re-outline first Emerson book.
Finish social media management course.
Begin revising first Emerson book (May/June, after anticipated move).

Weight loss:
Begin exercising 5 days a week.
Keep tracking food.
Aim to lose 1-2 pounds each month, for a total loss of 6-12 pounds over 6 months. (I am already in the “healthy weight” category for my height, so I only need to lose a little bit, and am comfortable making slow progress.)

Focus on writing, but not completely. In addition to getting serious about writing, it’s good for me to take on other activities that can boost creativity and happiness (all of which leads to me writing better). Those activities include fun in the kitchen (learning how to make macarons, learning how to make quiche), being crafty (learning jewelry-making basics, stepping up my paper-crafting game), reading more often (I’m aiming to read for a bit each night before bed), and reconnecting with friends.

What are you doing to kick ass in the New Year?  :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Looking forward...and getting out of my own way

I have only one goal for the coming year:

To get out of my own damn way.

In 2014, I accomplished a lot. But not enough. (Never enough.)

Sometimes I can’t do more. But sometimes I can. And this is the year I'll capitalize on that “can” a little more.
I have to learn how to shake off my moods more. I need to remember that writing something well can even fix some of these moods.

I have to set aside writing time every single day. And during that time, I have to actually get up when I’m supposed to and be productive in a writerly way. If I’m not writing, I’m outlining, researching, strategizing, revising, editing, or doing marketing-related things. I can’t be Sephoraing, emailing, iTunesing, or dozing off. Writing time means doing writing activities, period.

I have to kick fear to the curb. (Would Emerson ever let fear stop her? I don’t think so.) Fear of being a bad writer, or fear of being a good writer—it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I am a writer, and that means I write (and edit, and revise…etc.). I can always fix bad writing, or take a few minutes to wrap my head around it and become comfortable with it if it’s really good. But I can’t—and I won’t—be afraid of my own words or thoughts any longer.

I have to trust my instincts, just like Emerson does. She learned it from me, and now I have to re-learn it from her.

Although this seems counterintuitive to my goals, I have to be okay with downtime. Sometimes I need it. But I should only take it when I need it. Not when I’m just feeling a little lazy and I want a little downtime. I don’t actually need it then—instead, I need direction. Even if it’s just accomplishing one small task, that’ll be better than accomplishing squat.

I have to remember how much I want this.

I have to remember why I want this.

I have to remember what happens if I don’t accomplish my goals.

And I can’t let anyone, or anything—including, and especially, myself—bring me down so far that I can’t do what I need to do.

I can’t, and I won’t.

I will not be my own roadblock.

Instead, I’ll be my own green light.

And now…it’s go time.