May 20, 2013

I Moved...

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

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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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