Tuesday, December 29, 2009
S= Specific. Identify a concrete product that you intend to create, e.g., a novel, a nonfiction book proposal, a short story, a memoir.
M= Measurable. Goals should include something you can count on a daily basis, e.g., finish five pages per day or two chapters per week.
A= Achievable. Set goals you know you can reach. Most people set goals too high, get discouraged, and quit. Setting goals you have a good chance of making sets you up for success.
R= Realistic. Again, set goals that are do-able for you and your lifestyle.
T= Time Limited. Give all goals a deadline and track your progress using some type of log.
Once you have goals, create action steps that you will take on a daily basis to reach these goals. This can include setting aside time after dinner each evening to write, going to the library on weekends to do research, or taking classes to improve your skills. I call this your Writing Action Plan™.
Post your plan somewhere that you will see it every day, and reward yourself weekly for making progress toward your goals.
Learn more ways to set and achieve writing goals in TIME TO WRITE: More Than 100 Professional Writers Reveal How to Fit Writing Into Your Busy Life-- No Excuses, No Distractions, No More Blank Pages (Adams Media).
What are your writing goals for 2010? Leave a comment and be entered into a drawing to win an autographed copy of BREAK INTO FICTION by bestselling authors Dianna Love and Mary Buckham.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
For an excellent book on the various Thinking Places of famous people, check out:
Thinking Places: Where Great Ideas Were Born by Jack and Carolyn Fleming.
Where is your Thinking Place?
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Every writer has to deal with distractions on a daily basis, but the holidays present a unique challenge. It’s easy to get so consumed by the parties, shopping, cooking, traveling, and visiting with family that your writing suffers. People tend to work less during the holidays no matter what their line of business, and writers are no different. The result is that you lose touch with your work-in-progress and slow the momentum that had been pushing you along the previous ten months.
Here’s how to stay on track with your writing and enjoy your holidays, too.
Modify Your Writing Schedule. Unless you’re emulating Stephen King and decide to write every day including Christmas and your birthday, accept the fact that you are not going to get as much writing done during the holiday season. Plan accordingly by taking a proactive stance. Decide now, before the holiday chaos begins, what your writing schedule will be for the next six weeks. Take out monthly calendars for November and December and pencil in a scaled back version of your typical writing schedule. If you normally write five hours a week, plan on three. If you normally write three times a week, plan on one. Identify the days that you already know you will not write and cross them off your calendar. This exercise will alleviate guilt while also ensuring that you will get some writing accomplished over the holidays.
Modify Your Writing Goals. Along with your modified schedule, temporarily lower your word and page count goals. If you normally write 2000 words a day, lower it to 1000. If you usually shoot for five pages a day, aim for three.
Review Your Progress. The key to achieving any goal is to continually monitor progress. If you feel like you are getting totally off track as the holidays move forward, set aside five minutes and review your modified goals. Did you bite off more than you could chew? If you scaled your writing schedule back to three times a week but discover that you simply can’t do it because of holiday obligations, scale it back to twice or even once a week. Your aim should be to retain some semblance of your writing schedule—what that looks like over the holidays may be dictated by forces you cannot control.
Incorporate Writing Into the
Touch Some Part of Your Writing Every Day. Even on days that you do not plan to write, touch some part of your writing life by making notes about your work-in-progress, thinking about a difficult plot point, or reading a paragraph or two in a craft book before you go to bed. Stay in touch with your writing self.
Be Present. When you’re writing, write. When you’re celebrating, celebrate. Be completely present with whatever you are doing at the moment.
Plan Your 2010 Work Now. Setting long range goals before the hype about resolutions begins often results in saner, more achievable goals. It also helps you avoid overextending yourself when the post-holiday slump sets in. The reason most people don’t keep their resolutions is because they set completely unrealistic targets. Setting yours before or right after Thanksgiving gives you a smooth jumping off point on Jan 1, 2010.
Taking a break for the holidays doesn’t mean you have to take a break from your writing life. Use these tips to stay in touch with your writing life and enjoy your family’s festivities, too.
©Kelly L. Stone. All rights reserved.
Question for comments: How do you plan to stay on track with your writing during this holiday season?
Monday, November 30, 2009
Please welcome award winning author and musician, Michael Brant DeMaria, PhD, as guest blogger today. Michael, his wife, and their extended families have been dear friends of mine for more than 2 decades. I always feel refreshed, inspired, and encouraged after spending time with Michael.
Michael is a psychologist with over 25 years of experience in helping guide others on their life journeys. He has published and presented numerous papers on the role creativity and spirituality play in the healing process nationally and internationally. Michael is the author of Horns and Halos (1992), Ever Flowing On (2001) and the book of poetry, Moments (2008). He is the youngest recipient of a Ph.D. in the clinical psychology program at
Leave a comment below and be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of Siyotanka – the Native American Award Winning album and #1 New Age Recording February 2009.
Let's hear what Michael has to share about creativity, writing, music, and life...
Q: Welcome Michael! You have won several awards for your music. Please tell us about that, yourself, and what books and CDs you have written.
A: Hi Kelly, thanks for having me. As you know I’m a big fan of your work so I’m honored to get a chance to share with your readers. I like to say I’m a psychologist by day and a musician, writer and artist by night. What’s amazing to me is over the last few years I’m a more and more a writer/artist and musician by day as well. As you know this last month my last album Siyotanka not only making it to #1 on the New Age charts in February, but then went on to win the Native American Music Award in the Native Heart category in Niagara Falls New York. It’s been a very exciting and fulfilling time.
My first love was music growing up in New England (
Q: Is the musical creative process different from or similar to the writing creative process? How so?
A: That’s a great question Kelly – one I haven’t been asked! For me all creativity is inherently healing – and what I mean by that is it helps us get in touch with parts of ourselves that are usually ignored during our day to day domestic lives. In this way there is something wild in the creative process – and I mean ‘wild’ in the good sense of the term – that is, fresh, raw, full of energy. To me this is very soulful energy – I see the soul as a child of nature and the ego as a child of society. The soul in this way is more instinctual, more wild naturally than the ‘ego’. So in all my creative work it’s about connecting to this more wild, untamed, energy – in that way I find both of them very similar. Writing a personal growth book for me is much more difficult and takes more time for me than say writing poetry or playwriting which are more like music for me. I like to tell parents, our children come through us, not from us – and I feel the same way about the creative process – because I see creative work as ‘giving birth’ in a very real way. There is the impregnation, the incubation, then the as always final painful delivery. For many indigenous people music is considered to be all around us and a musician is simply ‘tapping’ into that music and being a channel for it to flow through us. I’ll sometimes hear my compositions or read my poems and say, “who wrote that?” That is a great experience – and reminds me to stay very humble about the whole mysterious process of creativity.
Q: You are also a licensed psychologist. Can you share one or two techniques that work for you when you find yourself wanting to create but perhaps experiencing the dreaded writer's block?
A: Ironically, or perhaps not so ironically, music. I see music and writing for me like crop rotation. You know if you plant only cotton it depletes the nitrogen in the soil and after too many years you won’t be able to grow cotton anymore – so they alternate cotton growing with soil enriching crops like peanuts and peas. They even sometimes rotate the crops during different seasons in the same year – which helps discourage pests, help enrich the soil and make it more erosion resistant. Probably more than you wanted to know about crop rotation! So, I practice art rotation - alternate composing music, with writing plays, poetry, non-fiction and sometimes with painting. Of course, exercise is another wonderful way to ‘rotate’ throughout the day or week. Finally, I have to say that actually doing therapy is a form of crop-rotation for me. As you know the creative process is a very internal one – and you become very self-absorbed in creative work. After about 4 days of that I’m ready for my 3 days a week of clinical work where I can be there for someone else – sit across from them to listen to them instead of myself. Of course, after three days of being outside of myself listening to others I am SOOOO ready to dive into my creative work again. The old model (which I’m sure still works for many people) was to focus on one thing – for me that is the kiss of death – I always have multiple projects going in many different mediums – that keeps life interesting for me and prevents burnout or blockages. If I’m blocked I just move to something else for awhile until the inspiration comes back.
I want to draw one other analogy here from nature. Part of the creative infinity of nature is its commitment to diversity. If you look at the most durable, sustainable and resilient eco-systems they are tremendously diverse. The more diverse an eco-system is the more resilient it is to drought, storms, natural disasters. Now look at a corn field – a corn field is one thing and one thing only - corn. It’s a monoculture and there are few things more fragile than a corn field. It’s tremendously vulnerable to decimation by pests, weather changes, or natural disaster. So I learned early on to be very diverse in my creative life. It’s just the way my mind works anyway. Some work may go slower that way – but then when the energy comes watch out!
Q: From your perspective as a therapist, why is it important that people routinely access their creative selves?
A: Sanity. Plain and simple. Plato use to say that if you go into your madness voluntarily it won’t come out involuntarily. Jung said something similar, he said, if you bring out what is inside you it will free you – if you don’t bring it out it will kill or destroy you. This may not be true for everyone, but for the creative person I find it to be generally quite true – and have seen it in my own life. It is also inherently healing. It keeps our minds and hearts fresh – it puts us back into alignment – like a chiropractic adjustment for the soul. What is Creator doing all the time? Creating. So when we create we are aligning ourselves with the very fabric of creation – I’d say that is an important thing to do now and again – wouldn’t you?
Q: Do you have any upcoming workshops?
A: As you know I just have come off a busy few months of traveling with workshops and/or performances in
Q: Where can readers learn more about you?
A: My brand new website was just launched this last week at www.ontos.org or www.michaeldemaria.com – I’m very excited about it. There is a lot of new content, a blog, a free meditation healing space with a free track available off of Ocean – the most recently promoted album that we hope will be charting well in the coming weeks and it also has a very soothing video that accompanies the music and I guide the listener through a short, but very relaxing meditation.
From Kelly: Thanks for a great interview Michael!
Question for comments: How does tending to your creative side enhance your day to day life?
Leave a comment and be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of Siyotanka – the Native American Award Winning album and #1 New Age Recording February 2009.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Q: Some writers believe in writer's block, others don't. What's your take on it? Can you give us a strategy that's worked for you?
Thanks for being here Anna!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Welcome guest author Margie Lawson!
Margie is a psychotherapist, writer, and international presenter. She has applied her psychological expertise to dissect and analyze over a thousand novels. A former university professor, Margie taught psychology and communication courses at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Her resume includes clinical trainer, professor, director of a counseling center, hypnotherapist, and trauma specialist. Her psychologically-anchored Deep Editing tools are used by all writers, from newbies to NYT Bestsellers. She teaches writers how to edit for psychological power, how to hook the reader viscerally, how to create a page-turner. In the last five years, Margie presented over fifty full day Master Classes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. She also offers intense three-day Immersion Master Classes on Deep Editing from her home. She lives in a log home on a mountain-top west of Denver.
Let's listen to some words of writerly advice from Margie!
By Margie Lawson
Who controls your moods? Who controls your life? Your mood, and life, is comprised of what you do each day, each hour, each minute. How you choose to live your life is determined by how you choose to live each minute. What moods do you choose? Are you riding the horse, or LETTING the horse ride you?
At times, we all have stress. We all get hit with bleak times – and black times. Times of seemingly insurmountable loss and depression, trauma and fear. Many of my clients attribute their negative moods to external causes. They apply an external locus of control. They allow the horse of life to ride them. They focus on the negatives. They feed their depression. They complain. They are miserable. They make people around them miserable.
Some writers buy into that external locus of control piece. They relinquish control of their moods to things they cannot control.
~ Writers cannot control getting an agent.
~ Writers cannot control getting a contract.
~Writer cannot control getting on a bestseller list.
Writers can control some aspects of their moods. When a disappointment hits, they can allow themselves to feel sad for a short time and kick themselves out of that pity pit by making plans to move forward and putting their plans into action. A Change Coach (and Career Coach) can be an incredible resource for a writer who is emotionally whomped. Change Coaches are also top-of-the-heap butt-kickers.
If you’ve taken my Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors course (offered on-line in January), you know a Change Coach can help a writer jettison the junk in their emotional trunk. If a writer can’t jettison it all, a Change Coach can help the writer box it, duct-tape it, and anchor it in the trunk. No more distractions from annoying banging and clanging. The writer’s focus shifts from lamenting to implementing.
Do what you need to do to take charge of your moods. Don’t let the horse of life ride you.
I idolize people who grab hold the reins, smile, and ride their horse of life through the worst of times. When you meet or read about someone whose life is loaded with cosmic-careening challenges . . . aren’t you awed? How many of us could graduate from Radcliffe—have twelve books published—get elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame—do all that and more---if we were blind, deaf, and mute like Helen Keller? Writers can learn from Helen Keller’s grace, perseverance, and courage. When we feel emotionally challenged, we can put energy into taking charge of our moods.
Check out these quotes from Helen Keller.
- We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough.
- The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision.
- College isn’t the place to go for ideas.
- When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened.
- Life is either a great adventure or nothing.
- What I am looking for is not out there, it is within me.
- Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.
- One cannot consent to creep when one has an impulse to soar.
Did any of Helen Keller’s quotes speak to you? What can you do to take charge of your mood today? This week? Next week? I will respond to posts several times today and this evening. Anyone who posts a comment TODAY has a chance to WIN a LECTURE PACKET from one of my on-line classes. I will award a Lecture Packet to one of every 25 people who post today.
1. Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors
2. Empowering Characters' Emotions
3. Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More
4. Digging Deep Into the EDITS System
5. Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist
6. Powering Up Body Language in Real Life: Projecting a Professional Persona When Pitching and Presenting
I’ll post the LECTURE PACKET WINNERS tonight, at 8:00PM Mountain Time.
In January, I’m teaching Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors, a power-packed on-line course that helps writers access their strengths—and empower creativity and productivity. Lectures from each of my on-line courses are offered as Lecture Packets through PayPal from my web site. Lecture Packets are $22; I donate $5 per Lecture Packet for ALS (my cousin).
Please visit www.MargieLawson.com and click on Lecture Packets to read the course descriptions. If you’re interested in a sample of deep editing, I include Deep Editing Analyses in each issue of my monthly newsletter. To receive my newsletter, click on SUBSCRIBE on the home page of my web site, www.MargieLawson.com
THANK YOU for stopping by Kelly L. Stone’s blog today! I’m looking forward to seeing your blog posts.
Thanks for an insightful and inspiring article, Margie! Please visit Margie's web site to learn more about her newsletter, on-line courses, presentation schedule, and Immersion Master Classes, www.MargieLawson.com. If you would like to contact Margie about presenting a full day Master Class to your group, e-mail her: Margie@MargieLawson.com.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
I'm thrilled to have as my guest today CJ Lyons, bestselling author of three medical thrillers. As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about. In addition to being an award-winning medical suspense author, CJ is a nationally known presenter and keynote speaker. Her first novel, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), received praise as a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller" from Publishers Weekly, was reviewed favorably by the Baltimore Sun and Newsday, named a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine, and became a National Bestseller. LIFELINES also won a Readers' Choice Award for Best First Novel. Her second novel, WARNING SIGNS, was published by
CJ is graciously giving away a free copy of WARNING SIGNS to one lucky person who leaves a comment!
Do you have a Block Buster that works for you? Please share! One commenter will win a copy of my second novel, WARNING SIGNS.