May 20, 2013

I Moved...

This is the last time...I promise :)

Focus On Finishing

Are you an aspiring writer or a serious writer?

An aspiring writer spends a lot of time thinking about writing, reading about writing, talking about writing, but usually spends little time participating in the act of writing.

People who are more serious about the craft, well, they write often. For some writers, that means being disciplined enough to write every day. I don’t yet have that kind of discipline or time, and I don't particularly believe that as a serious writer you have to write every day, but I do think you should write often. It’s the only way you'll improve your skills.

I also think an important step to becoming a serious writer is to finish what you’re working on. It’s not always easy to finish a piece of writing. There are plenty of reasons that keep a writer from finishing - self-doubt, distractions, lack of ideas, and lack of interest are just a few that come to mind.

Here are some ideas to keep yourself focused on writing so you can transition from aspiring writer to serious writer.

1. Set Up A Writing Schedule. The first thing you’ll want to do is designate a specific amount of time to devote to writing each week, e.g., one or two hours a day every other day of the week. Pencil this in on your calendar. Once you’ve come up with a writing schedule that works for you, treat that time as though it’s your part-time job. Even though you may not be getting paid yet, you still want to act responsibly and take the “job” seriously. Don’t call in sick! This isn't as easy as it sounds, but I'm working on it.

2. Do Only Writing-Related Activities During A Writing Session. This time is for writing, not surfing the internet, not going through the mail, or flipping through magazines. If during a particular writing session you find yourself drawing a blank, try brainstorming ideas. Make a list of topics you’re interested in. Then branch off and make a list of subtopics for each topic. You’re bound to come up with an idea or two for an article, blog post or even a short story. Keep a notebook with you at all times to jot down ideas that spring to mind throughout the day. You’ll be much more productive if you know ahead of time what you're going to write about during a session.

3. Eliminate Distractions. Turn your phone off. Tell your loved ones not to bug you during a writing time, and try to be nice about it when you do tell them. If necessary, set up your work area in a room with a door for more privacy. If you find yourself spending your time surfing the internet instead of writing (uh, guilty), turn the computer off and do your writing with pen and paper. Once you get your first draft completed on paper, then move to the computer to do your rewrite.

4. Forget About the Quality of Your Work. This is a hard one for me, but don’t think about using proper grammar, punctuation, or sentence structure in your first draft. Just write. If you bog yourself down with being perfect on the first go around, you will never finish anything. However, you will accomplish beating yourself up, telling yourself you suck, and most likely you’ll just give up completely (uh, again, guilty). Go into each writing session knowing that what you will produce is going to be rewritten. Get your ideas down on paper first. Once that first draft is finished, then you can move on to the next step - polishing up your work.

These are some things I've been trying - not always succeeding at, but trying anyway. How about you? What do you do to stay focused on a writing project?

May 15, 2013

Writing Prompt Wednesday

I often times find writing prompts helpful in getting the creative juices flowing, whether it's for fiction writing, blogging or just journal writing. They're especially helpful when you're staring at a blank page and can't think of anything to write. Every Wednesday (hopefully), I plan on posting a new writing prompt.

This weeks prompt:
You're alone at the office. You step away from your cubicle for a few moments, and upon your return a small brown bag is sitting on your desk. Who put it there? Do you look in the bag? If so, what's in it? 

Happy writing!

p.s. If you post your finished piece online such as on your blog or website, feel free to share your work by leaving a link in the comments section.

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May 13, 2013

Gardening Progress and Other Updates

I have tomatoes and cucumbers!

During the last week of March, I planted some veggie seeds. You can read about my DIY seed starting adventure here.

I planted the following: Two types of heirloom tomatoes, arugula, and some herbs. A few weeks later, I also started some cucumbers. When the seedlings were ready, I planted them in pots and put them outside. I also planted some radishes, carrots and lettuce. The radishes aren’t doing so well and neither is the lettuce, and the carrots are being overrun by the out of control cucumber in the pot pictured above. I have lots of baby cukes though and about five or six tomatoes so far. Hopefully all will go well and I’ll be eating homegrown veggies this summer.

As you can tell, I haven’t posted much for the past couple of months. My intention is to post more frequently. I’m thinking three times a week, and the tentative plan is a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule. Meanwhile, here’s a little update of what I’ve been up to lately.

Crafting: None. I’ve done absolutely no crafting at all. Still haven’t finished my Le Gran stole, and would not be surprised if I never finish it. I have been itching to start knitting again. For Christmas, I received enough yarn to make an afghan, and I have a pattern in mind that incorporates cables – a knitting technique I want to learn more about.

Books: I’ve read a couple of books over the past couple months. First I read The Effortless Life by Leo Babauta. I read Leo’s blog Zen Habits periodically so I thought I’d read one of his books. This book is about things you can do in your life to practice being more mindful and living a more contented life. Some ideas I agreed with and some not so much, but I gave it three stars.

The second book I read was Lisa Scottoline’s Moment of Truth. I haven’t read one of her books in a long time, and this one didn’t disappoint. It was a fast-paced legal thriller. I plan on doing a full review soon when I find more time.
I haven’t made much progress with my Good Reads challenge. It’s almost halfway through the year and I’m only at 20% of my goal. I’m currently reading Love Overboard by Janet Evanovich, so that’ll help toward meeting my goal.

Writing: I recently finished a 12-week long fiction writing workshop, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Fiction writing is a huge interest of mine and I learned a lot from this workshop. I also received some really positive feedback, which gave me a much needed boost in confidence.

And last but not least, if you’re still reading this long-winded post, I rejoined Weight Watchers at the end of March. I’ve managed to lose almost 10 pounds, but it hasn’t been easy. To try and keep me on track, I’ve created two new boards on Pinterest (here and here) to help with motivation and bookmark low-cal recipes.

That, in a nutshell, is what I’ve been up to.

How about you? Have you crafted much, written anything interesting, or read any good books lately? I'd love to hear about it!

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April 23, 2013

I'm A Book Hoarder

Actually, I'm a hoarder of many things, but today I'll just be focusing on my book obsession.

Over the weekend I was doing a little spring cleaning. A rather unusual activity for me. One thing I do not obsess about is cleaning, so when the urge hits me, I take full advantage of it. Anyhoo, part of my cleaning involved a bookcase tucked away in a corner of my bedroom. As I swiffered away the thin layer of dust covering the shelves, I realized that most of the books lining those shelves had never been read. Then some pretty obvious questions popped into my head: Why is that? What's been keeping me from reading all of these books?

I pondered the answers as I continued to clean and came up with the following list of reasons:

  • No Time: Most people would think that a single, childless adult would have plenty of time on her hands to read, but that's actually not true. Obviously, working full time eats up a lot of my time during the week. For the past few years, most free time that I've had has been spent working on crafts - knitting, making jewelry, etc. So that hasn't left much room for reading, yet I still buy books. I just can't help myself.
  • Too Tired: I've been dealing with chronic fatigue issues for many years. I'm not saying I have chronic fatigue syndrome - I've never been diagnosed, or worked up for it for that matter - I'm just simply chronically fatigued. I live a pretty sedentary life as well as hold a job that requires me to sit in front of a computer eight or more hours a day, so it's really no surprise that I have no energy. Anytime I pick up a book, within two or three pages my eyes are drooping and I'm ready for a nap.
  • Reality TV: I will admit that I am a reality TV junkie, or at least I was. Real Housewives, Top Chef, Project Runway, Mob Wives, Deadliest Catch, Big Brother, Survivor - you name, I've watched it. Spending too much time in front of the TV didn't leave much time for reading.

As of now, I'm not crafting much at all and I don't spend nearly as much time watching TV as I once did. I've also been working on my fatigue issues by starting to exercise and changing my sleeping habits - going to bed the same time every night, getting up the same time every morning and not hitting the snooze button 8 times before dragging myself out of bed - so I've had a little more stamina lately. I have no excuse for not reading anymore.

I'm still working on my Good Reads challenge and I've decided to add the following unread books from my collection to help me meet my goal: 

  • No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
  • Blood Vines by Erica Spindler
  • Moment of Truth by Lisa Scottoline
  • The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
  • The Innocent by Harlan Coben
  • All Around Town by Mary Higgins Clark
  • Two For The Dough by Janet Evanovich
  • The Manhattan Hunt Club by John Saul
  • Have Your Cake and Kill Him Too by Nancy Martin
  • Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline

I have a variety of genres lining my shelves, the bulk of them mysteries and thrillers, which is the category the above titles fall under. These should keep me busy for awhile. Once I tackle the bookcase, then I'll move onto the unread titles on my Kindle and maybe get a handle on my book hoarding problem.

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April 2, 2013

The Need to Explain...

Some of you out there may be wondering about my blog posts over the past few weeks. Particularly the holiday-related ones. As we all know, the holidays are over and done with, so the timing of these posts may seem a bit odd.

All posts prior to this one were actually written between October 2012 and February 2013. A Creative Yarn started out as a Typepad blog. I decided that since I'm a sporadic blogger, and right now I view blogging as a hobby, using a free blog service is a better option.

In other words, I'm cheap. Free is always better in my mind. And since free blogging is available, why not utilize it?

I transferred all of my posts over to Blogger and scheduled a few of them to post each day. Now, I'm finally caught up, so any future posts will reflect more current themes. And unless I decide to blog on a regularly scheduled basis, those posts will more than likely appear sporadically :)

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April 1, 2013

Book Review: Sanctuary by Nora Roberts

a creative yarn
I was once a huge Nora Roberts fan, but I stopped reading her books years ago. Her story lines were becoming stale, at least to me, so I lost interest. Some time after that, I lost all interest in romance novels and moved on to mysteries.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the mood to read a quick romance and decided to give Nora a try again. I chose Sanctuary. The plot line sounded interesting and it was one of the few Nora Roberts books available for my Kindle as a library loan.

Sanctuary is a story about Jo Ellen Hathaway. She's a photographer in her late 20s whose dealing with some demons from her past. When she was a child, her mother disappeared. After a long investigation, the police could find no signs of foul play, so it was decided that she left on her own accord. Well this tore the family apart and eventually Jo became estranged from them and moved away.

She became a famous photographer and life was going well until she started receiving mysterious photos. They were always shots of her in various places, and of course this creeps her out. The last package of photos she receives includes one of her mother, who happens to be dead in the shot. This sends her over the edge. After a brief stint in the hospital, she decides to go to Sanctuary, the family home in Georgia. There, she is reunited with her family, who aren't exactly warm and fuzzy when she arrives.

At first, she doesn't tell anyone what's happened to her or about the photo of her mother, which has disappeared and she's not even sure existed in the first place. She begins to think she's really going crazy. Of course, she meets a guy - Nathan - who has issues of his own. Rather than spilling more details, I'll just say his secrets come out and eventually he helps Jo solve the mystery of what happened to her mother.

I really did like this book, although a little predictable (I figured out early on who was sending the pictures). It was a fairly quick read and had the right amount of suspense mixed in with red hot romance to keep the pace of the story going. All in all an entertaining read.

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