I haven’t posted since January. Haven’t been working on the Short Story Challenge at all and will have to offer a hearty #NotSorry for that one. I have kept writing, though! And reading! I have lots of things I’d like to share with you all.
Today I’d like to add a new theme to content on here — Book Celebrations. As writers, wasn’t reading our first love? I get such a high when I read a book that resonates with me, or when I hold a new paperback in my hands with a bright cover and turn pulpy smooth pages with my fingers.
I was intrigued when one of my friends sent me “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero, the title alone is enough to demand your attention.
The book is divided into Five Parts and 28 Sections. The names are funny and help you ease your way into openness to changing habits. All of those are available on the free preview.
One of my favorite sections, and the one that I want to share with you today, is Part 4: How to Get Over Your B.S. Already. As the title suggests, this fragment of the book is dedicated to skills that help you unload baggage and drop anything that keeps you from doing the work that you need/want to do.
Here are some things I highlighted and underlined in my copy:
Most of the time it’s not lack of experience that’s holding us back, but rather the lack of determination to do what we need to do to be successful. – p. 151
Nobody else cares or will probably even notice that everything it’s 100 percent perfect – and, quite honestly, nothing ever will be 100 percent perfect anyway so you might as well start now. There’s no better way to get things done that to already be rolling along… – p. 153
If you can pinpoint the precise moment that you say, “Screw it – I’m outta here!” you can prepare yourself for hitting the oil slick by hiring coaches or assistants or pysching yourself up or delegating that particular part of it out, or removing known distractions. – p. 154
I particularly love what she says about respecting time and getting more of it. She says, in a nutshell, that if we respect time, both our time and others’, we will find that we have the resources to accomplish want we want to bring into the world.
If you act like time isn’t important, that it’s fully worth wasting and disrespecting, you’re not in alignment with what you say you want so you’re gonna have a hard time getting it. I mean, think of time as a person. Would you expect time to keep showing up for you if you constantly treated it like it was just some dumb thing that didn’t matter? I should think not. – p. 159
It got me thinking a lot about how I write and how I take on projects. She gives this great example of taking on projects that she really isn’t that committed to, but I can’t find it! It’s in there, promise. She essentially says if you don’t want to do something you will find an excuse. She gave an example of a Yoga class she signed up for, we all know those month-to-month membership deals where you think you’ll do Yoga three times a week but actually dread going, unrolling your mat and doing sun salutations. She said that she went to a class she didn’t want to go to, then basically lied to the instructor and said that she had a wrist injury. She spent the rest of the class in child’s pose filled with self-loathing. Something along those lines.
Well, I believe that’s exactly what happened with my Short Story challenge. Sure, it’s a fun idea (thanks, Pinterest!) but not something I whole-heartedly wanted to do. I do, whole-heartedly, with ever fiber of my being, want to finish my novel and make it good. Then I want to move on to other ideas for more novels. So I am, little by little, writing when I get the chance, sharing my work with others, going to workshops, etc. I’m showing up and making progress. I’m stoked!
Here is some of her advice on productivity that really clicked with me:
- Chunk it Down: divide your task into hour long chunks with specific goals to accomplish at the end of particular time fragments (ex: 1 hour, 30 minutes, 20 minutes). I thought this was really helpful with writing in mind. Sometimes I’ll think “I need to write and I have no idea where my novel will go next!” If I divided my time up into chunks, like “Free write from this character’s perspective” “Outline action of first five chapters” “brainstorm good hooks for the end of chapter seven”, I think I would be a lot more productive and much less overwhelmed.
- Notice where you stop: When do I take Facebook breaks? When do I start checking emails? I asked myself these things and came up with some answers: When I’m stuck on dialog, when I’m trying to work out the order of events in a chapter, when I need to go back and make sure I didn’t include a certain scene in a later chapter… There are tons. I’ve started to turn off my wifi, which helps, and also give myself permission to work on one task at a time.
- Watch your mouth: “Stop talking about how busy you are.” Sincero says. She suggests that this takes the joy out of what we’re doing. I agree! Talk about how excited you are about your project and subconsciously you will be more excited to work when your designated writing time comes up.
I can’t recommend this book enough. It was a swift kick in the ass, but it was a funny, inspirational one.
What kinds of things keep you from writing? Where do you stop?