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A Writer’s Life

Most days I write. I get up in the morning, usually after 4-6 hours of sleep, still groggy and make coffee. While the coffee is brewing, which doesn’t take long since I have a Bunn coffeemaker, I start my morning pages–my ego is still asleep. I’m usually wishing I were still sleeping.

Once I take the first sip of coffee, I immediately feel better. Yes, I know it’s a mind thing at that point, but it’s a win for me because not only do I like the smell and taste of coffee, but various studies have proven that coffee is good for us…helps prevent cancer, etc.–I will take it as a win.

I head for my writing room. Here is a quick peak of my writing room:

I wish I could say that the first thing I do, after I’ve written my morning pages, is start writing, but most days I check my email, FB, and YT first. I respond to various messages, posts, comments…(I’m now on my second cup of coffee) and if someone posts a video that I can listen to while I work on my journal pages I’ll do that, unless I’ve already prepared my pages the night before.

Lately though, thanks to changing things up because of Project Me and Jenny Penton’s Planner Perfect method I’ve started on my top 3 things for the day. Mine are usually stretches, which I can do while I watch a video (or two, depending on how long the videos are, because I have to do 15 minutes worth of stretching–it helps keep my shoulders mobile, otherwise I’ll lose mobility again); start laundry; dishes and/or shower and get ready for the day.

Once I’m dressed for the day, I sit back down at my desk, open Scrivener, and read the last 2 paragraphs I wrote. Once my head is back in my novel I start writing. Big deal, right? So I’m writing. I’m a writer, that’s what writer’s do. Not as easy as it seems though. I get distracted by the sun shining through my window, by the beeps and buzzes of notifications from my tablet or phone, by the lack of coffee in my cup (I’m usually on my 3rd cup or about to get my 3rd cup, though somewhere in the middle of those cups of coffee I try to drink a bottle of water).

Butt in chair and write! I try to get back to the work at hand. Writing. For a few years now, I’ve been trying to establish a routine. A ritual. The thing about writing a novel is consistency, determination, passion…AND getting your butt in the chair and doing the work. Since I started planning my day differently, less “to do’s” and more “scripting my life,” I’ve realized that scripting my life is helpful for me personally, but not so much for my writing, which is what I consider to be my job. So, I’ve gone back to my writer bullet journal.

However, I’m not doing things the same way anymore. No more monthly calendar, and no more dailies. Not for my writing. I have a monthly log for my wordcount set up for August, and the weekly spread set up. I’ve got the wordcount goals set up so that I know about where I am, and I’ve pushed up my daily wordcount for August. During July I’ve been aiming for 1000 words a day every day, but for August I’m pushing for 2K a day during the week, and 1K on the weekends. That might change, but I am pretty sure if I devote 4-6 hours per day during the week, with breaks in between, and 2-4 hours on the weekends, I should be able to at least write 1500-2500 words a day during the week. I might end up lowering the wordcount on the weekends to 500 per day. We’ll see.

And so I can stay on top of things and and finish my novel… I’ve changed things in my writer’s bible and August is going to rock. I’m hoping to keep the blogs rolling with the videos, and my video schedule is set up for a Coffee Chat on Monday’s, Writer Wednesday, Journaling on Friday’s, and then something or other on Sunday’s… Not sure about that yet.

Here’s the video for that:

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Ways to get Inspired, stay motivated, and Get Shit Done

get shit doneOver the course of several years, I’ve been refining my writing process, which includes ways to get inspired, stay motivated, and get shit done (productivity). Here are some of the things I’ve found that help me.

  • Clean up your work area, as well as other areas that bother you and/or need cleaning. A 15 minute clean in your work area, a quick clean of your living areas. A 30 minute clean for important areas. Sometimes it’s hard to work when there is clutter, especially if the clutter distracts you. So taking fifteen minutes to clean really helps.Writing Desk
  • Books that help inspire and motivate you to be creative have really helped me lately. Books like “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, or the one I’m working on right now, “Finding Water,” also by Julia Cameron. Another book that’s extremely helpful with productivity is “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.artist's way
  • Morning Pages are a great way to start your day. They help with clarity, are a great tool to get you in the mood to write, and are overall a great way to put those negative things that are rolling around in your brain down and then let them go–after a while you’ll see that what you write is less negative and more positive.
  • Music. Music is a great way to help you get in the mood to be creative, to write, clean, create (art, etc) and to keep you motivated. I often listen to classic rock while I clean, instrumental music or Rainymoods.com when I’m writing, and various kinds of music when I’m creating art.
  • An artist date. An artist date, as defined by Julia Cameron, is a solo adventure, that includes something fun, playful and are aimed at romancing or wooing our artist within. I like going for a walk in a park, swinging on a swing at a playground, going to for a cup of coffee and reading or writing or drawing, as well as going to lunch by myself and taking a book along with me. Most of my artist dates include coffee and a book or notebook and/or my camera.june 3rd and 4th
  • Candles, Incense…I use these things to help get me in the mood to write, to help cleanse my work area of any negativity, and because they smell good.
  • Journal. I often write a few lines down here and there about what I want to do, as well as use my bullet journal to make a list of tasks for the day, week, month. I jot down projects, and then break them down so that I know what I should start with, as well as making sure that I have smaller goals to start with (which helps me feel better, more positive and less fearful–less self-doubt).june 1st and 2nd
  • Vision board. This can be a physical vision board, one on Pinterest, in your journal using collage, or whatever works for you.
  • Read a book for fun. I often take a break when I feel a bit burned out with writing and read for fun. I now have a goal to read for at least 30 minutes each day just for fun, not for homework or for “working on my self,” but for FUN!
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Space for Writing/creating Art/etc. Whether it’s a corner somewhere, or an actual room, having your own space, a space that is for your creativity  helps.amwriting april 22
  • Limit Distractions. Block out a certain amount of time that is just for writing. That means no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google searching, etc. You and the page (and my cup of coffee or glass of wine.)
  • Get dressed. Get out of those pajamas, those sweatpants,  and get dressed. It doesn’t have to be “dress” clothes, but it does need to at least something that you’d wear to the grocery store, to the craft store, the bookstore… It’s a mindset thing. I’m dressed and now I’m ready to go to work.
  • Writing buddies, or “Co-conspirators” as Ms. Cameron calls them. Find others with like interests so you can talk about those interests. For me it’s the #writestuff community, #writetube, FB…I have quite a few writer buddies and it really does help knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles (whether it’s with procrastination, self-doubt, editing woe’s, or trying to figure out whether your book should be in 1st or 3rd POV).Camp nano 2016
  • (and last but not least) Schedule. This has been the hardest for me, yet it really is one of the top things I should be doing, should stick to so that I’d be more productive. I know this. I do, but the struggle has been real y’all. I know that I should block out specific chunks of time for writing, for art, for… and cut the distractions, and Just Write, but honestly, outside forces like Mr. Rockstar’s crazy schedule, which changes at the end of this week finally (he goes back to having a regular schedule instead of rotating shifts), or family, or things that happen, or staying up too late because I had insomnia or was in pain and then I don’t wake up until mid-day (or later)… But today is the start of brand new week, and last week I did better than the week before, and this week I’ll do even better than last week, and before long I should be back into my routine.2nd week of june

One last thing, if you’re striving for perfection then you’re bound to be disappointed, so instead of striving for perfection, especially with that first draft, remember this:

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ~Marilyn Monroe

 

 

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Messy Desk or Creative Clutter

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” ~Einstein

Einstein wasn’t alone, Mark Twain and Steve Jobs also had a “cluttered” desk, and I’m sure that there are many others, those are just the one’s that I know off the top of my head.

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It looks semi clean, but it’s not…

I prefer to think of my desk as “creative clutter.” Though, if I’m honest, there are places all over my house that could be termed creative clutter. Don’t get me wrong, there are also places that are organized, but my desk (and the damn kitchen counter) are almost always in a state of mess/clutter/creative chaos. Well, the kitchen counter just ends up cluttered, there’s really nothing creative about it.

According to studies from the world’s foremost creatives show that just the right amount of mess on your desk can help you achieve greater creativity, defy convention, and even be more productive. ~5 Reasons Creative Geniuses Like Einstein, Twain and Zuckerberg Had Messy Desks-And Why You Should Too

I’m no Einstein, Twain, Jobs, or Zuckerberg, but I am a creative person, and I do tend to have a “messy desk.”

My Desk

My Desk in use…

I’ve tried the minimalistic approach to my desk, I’ve tried organized and clean, I’ve tried rearranging a number of times, but no matter how clean and organized my desk starts out, or how I arrange it, it ends up messy.

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This is a working desk. I art journal, write, plan, journal, read, etc at this desk.

There are other places in my “Creative/Writing Room” that are organized and clean, just not usually my desk.

My books are usually arranged by author, and sometimes by genre.

My books are usually arranged by author, and sometimes by genre.

If someone were to ask me where something was, nine out of ten times I could tell you exactly where that item was, especially if it’s a book, journal, or art supply (though I do not know where all my stickers and ephemera are exactly–I really do need to organize that stuff).

Mr King's bookcase, along with a few other authors, though eventually it will just house all of my SK books.

Mr King’s bookcase, along with a few other authors, though eventually it will just house all of my SK books.

For example,  my red bookcase holds Mr. King’s, Mr. Koontz’s, and a few others’ books.  But the smaller bookcase houses poetry, classics, literature, dictionaries, along with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles.

One shelf is my "Writerly" books, the other has my Harry Potter and Anne Rice collection.

One shelf is my “Writerly” books, the other has my Harry Potter and Anne Rice collection.

Then there are the vertical shelves (the room also passes as our guest room since there is a click-clack couch that pulls out so space is limited).

My art section... Sorry there's a mirror on the dresser so I'm in the picture...

My art section… Sorry there’s a mirror on the dresser so I’m in the picture…

And if you haven’t gathered, I like color. My art section is organized, at least the top of it is, if you look in the drawers, which I suggest you don’t, then that’s where you’ll find the creative clutter. (I really need to work on that, but the room is a work in progress.)  I’ve been organizing the room, tackling one or two things each week.

My storyboard is on the wall above the click-clack couch, which I often times sit on to read, write, etc....

My storyboard is on the wall above the click-clack couch, which I often times sit on to read, write, etc….

I surround myself with books, art, color, and other things that spark my creative side, that inspire and motivate me to be creative. There are books in pretty much every corner of my room, as well as some type of inspiration, either a quote, or picture.

Patricia Cornwell bookshelf.

Patricia Cornwell bookshelf.

For example, when I sit at my desk, like I am right now as I type this, I can see the rain falling outside my window, it’s a rather gray day but I love writing to the sound of rain. I look to my right and there is my corner bookshelf with Patricia Cornwell (and a few Nora Roberts books thrown in because I didn’t have anymore room on the other shelf), and to my left is my red bookcase filled with mostly Mr. King’s books (yes I’m a fan, one of his Constant Reader’s).

Stack of books against wall... it's time for a new bookshelf.

Stack of books against wall… it’s time for a new bookshelf.

Not to mention the books that I have stacked against the wall because I’m out of shelf room–I really need another bookcase, and in the process of figuring out exactly what I want so a friend of mine can build them for me for my birthday. There’s nothing like handmade bookshelves. 😀

So, yes… I’d say that a messy desk, or creative clutter, works for me, though there are definitely some things I have to have organized and clean.

 

 

 

 

 

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Where the magic happens

One of the things I love about preparing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is that I usually make sure that I have my writing area (room) clean (for the most part), which includes my desk. That might not seem like such a big deal, but for someone like me who tends to be a creative clutter (aka stacks of books everywhere, along with pens, notebooks, sticky-notes, coffee cups, etc) it is a big deal. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in NaNoWriMo, Writing

 

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Where Do I Write?

I’ve seen several posts on WP and Blogger, and Twitter #writingspace about the writing process, where writer’s write, and what their favorite things are or what inspires them. When I was in college I wrote in between classes, at the coffee shop, at the cafe, outside at a picnic table on campus, in my bedroom on my bed, at my desk…You name it. But that was homework, research papers, etc. Things have changed over the past 15 years.

Once I started taking my writing seriously instead of just thinking of it as a dream deferred, a hobby, or a creative past-time I began dreaming about having a writing shed, or at least a room of my own. And for a short while that happened, but alas I am now back in a main part of the house, which is fine when I’m home alone, but not so great when it’s not just me at home.

My red and wood desk, and my husband's desk. with bookcases...

My red and wood desk, and my husband’s desk. with bookcases…

My red bookcase, and the curtain I wrote the lyrics to "our song" on for my husband.

My red bookcase, and the curtain I wrote the lyrics to “our song” on for my husband.

Above you’ll see a few pictures of the writing room I had for a brief period of time. Once my son finishes college (since the military thing didn’t work out for health reasons) and gets a full-time job I’ll get my writing room back, or by then we’ll be able to afford a wooden shed so I can convert into a writing cottage.  But for now, where I write is in the living room.

The pillows on our couch match my writing space...

The pillows on our couch match my writing space…

Red bookcases and desk go well with our updated look.

Red bookcases and desk go well with our updated look.

This is actually clean considering it's Camp NaNo

This is actually clean considering it’s Camp NaNo

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2014 in Home, Life, Writing, Writing Room, Writing Space

 

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Camp NaNo Day 1

So I’m coming right along with my novel for Camp…3226 words on Day 1. Not bad for the first day.

I spent part of today organizing my physical writer’s bible. I’ve printed out several things over the past few months–writing resources, outlining info, detailed character worksheets–and I needed a place to store them, in an organized manner, instead of stuck in various drawers of my desk. Now that I’ve moved my desk to the living room, there’s no way I can continue to have the creative clutter I had on the desk when I was in my own writing room. I dream of having a writing shed/barn/cottage/ in the backyard one day, but for now I’m in the living room….

Book cover, Save the Cat, notebook, etc

Book cover, Save the Cat, notebook, etc

This is actually clean considering it's Camp NaNo

This is actually clean considering it’s Camp NaNo

Thought I’d share what my desk looks like while I’m at Camp….IIt’s much cleaner since I’m in the living room now.

 

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Cover for Camp NaNo Book and other stuff

I am so excited….A fellow NaNoer made the cover for my book for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo which starts tonight at midnight (only 1 hour and 15 minutes away for me)… And I love it!!!!!

My cover… I saw this pic while looking through Deviant Art and she got permission from the artist to use it. Isn’t it amazing! How it turned out! The pic itself! I love all of it! It looks like a real book cover. I am just so excited!!!!!  (Makes me feel like a bonafide writer!!! Once again I’ve changed everything at the last minute! SIGH!!!

bonafide writer mug

I can’t seem to help myself. I’m using almost the same premise. I’ve changed the character’s names, and the title of the series but not the title of the book. I’m in the process of changing the whole outline to fit the revamped premise and characters… Double work, maybe, but I was reading Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and realized what I had wasn’t going to work, not the way I wanted it to. Thus the changes. I’m okay with that. It means working on my outline at the last minute, but I’d have been doing that anyway, at least now it will be the right concept, theme, etc for what I want. I’m happier with it now, even though it means more work. But I found a great outlining video over a year ago from Katytastic that if you’re interested in learning more about outlining using the 3 act structure from Snyder’s Save the Cat, or outlining with Scrivener in general, it’s a great start.

Isn’t that the great thing about WriMo though?… You sort of need just a little pantsing to make it fun… At least for me I do. I’ve gone from a pantser to a plotster so I guess I have to throw some pantsing in there somewhere or it’s not fun for me.

I’m in a cabin now, with people near my age bracket (last time I ended up in a cabin with a group of NaNoer’s around my children’s age, which wasn’t really a good thing for me since they are between the ages of 25-14)…I’m happy about that. And our living room is finally finished… YAY! I no longer have my writing room… BOO!! But my son has his room back. He was injured while at bootcamp. He’ll be able to recycle in the next 6 mths, but he has to heal. While he’s healing he’ll be going back to college and is thinking about going in the reserves (Navy or Air Force) instead of going in the Army full time (Can’t say I’m unhappy about that–I’m all for serving our country, but I believe in working smarter not harder and the Army and Marines are definitely in the work harder category).

The pillows on our couch match my writing space...

The pillows on our couch match my writing space…

Red bookcases and desk go well with our updated look.

Red bookcases and desk go well with our updated look.

So here are the pics of my new writing space… Instead of being in the dining room we decided to completely rearrange our living room so that I could have my own little space. We painted the walls, moved everything around, and put our pictures in completely different places so that I could have this space. My husband ROCKS!!!! (Now I just need to paint the hallway and we’re done with the khaki/taupe color and it’s off to figure out what color to paint our dining room and kitchen. I love how our new living room looks.

Ok, I have less than 1 hour so let me get back to outlining. Happy NaNoing and have a great night.

 

 

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