Home of Ane Ryan Walker, Teller of Tall Tales, Writer of Short Stories

Tag: Procrastination (Page 1 of 3)

How old is too old to start?

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.

― Samuel Ullman

Is it too late to start writing that novel you always dreamed about? I don’t think so. In fact I know it’s never too late, unless you’re dead. Once that happens there isn’t much to be done. Unless you believe in reincarnation, or you plan on becoming a Zombie or a Vampire. Who knows, maybe you do plan on one of those two things happening to you.  If not, you may be wasting your time.

I truly don’t think Dracula will be around to revive you once you have infinite amounts of time on your hands.  Really, even if you have all of eternity at your disposal, you will most likely find a way to squander the time, just like you did in real life.

For most of us, aspiring writers that is, we tend to fixate on all the wrong things, thus delaying our inevitable success.

No Fear?

Know Fear!

That’s the aspiring authors beginning motto. We become so entrenched in the things we don’t know, (shameful at your age) that we fail to realize what we do know. What is that, you’re asking? Life!

There are stages to life beyond growth and development, the same way mourning has stages to get us to our end result.

In your 2o’s: Too busy having fun and thinking I already know everything I will ever need to know, plus enjoying the delusion of immortality.

In your 30’s: Very busy convincing yourself you have barely scratched the surface of life and have nothing to gain by introspection.

In your 40’s: 1st OMG moment. I have a family, and husband, children and other extended family members and they all want something from me. What was I thinking?????

In your 50’s: I will be able to retire in a mere 10+ years and then my time will be my own. I can travel, sleep, eat, enjoy fine wine, and I will not have to answer to anyone.

In your 60’s: 2nd OMG moment. This is all falling apart! I didn’t realize the government wants me to work until I’m decrepit at 67+ years old. I didn’t start saving for my retirement when I was young and had money. I will now be too old to do anything I want to do and will probably become a Greeter at Walmart for the paycheck.

In your 70’s: If I had written a single page a day for a single year I would have finished a book by now.

Life lesson?Image result for clip art halloween

Yes! It is never too late to start (unless you’re already dead).

Self Doubt

Doubt is a virus that attacks our self-esteem, productivity, and confidence. Faith that you and your life are perfectly unfolding is the strongest vaccine.
― Sean Stephenson

Sometimes I question whether or not I should continue to pursue a writing career. I have so many stories to tell, but I get distracted so easily. I wonder if I’m serious about writing, and that is not a good feeling.

Maybe, I thought, I just need a little time off. You know how it goes. Thinking I’ll take a little time, ease into the next phase of where my life journey is taking me and determine how serious I really am about this writing thing.

First I think, NANO is coming up and this is the perfect opportunity to establish a new habit, i.e., writing every day. Oh, wait! I had that habit and for some unknown reason, I stopped writing every day. Even now, I wonder why.

Was it because things didn’t go exactly as planned?  Because I failed to get my butt in the chair and just do it?

Some people believe you shouldn’t try to write every day. There I said it, and if you believe it fine, and if you don’t, that’s okay too.

Right now I’m not sure. I know that I made a commitment to turn in critique pages today. I follow through on the promises I make. I always try, an I’ consistent.

Also, through this last hiatus, I realized the value of time off from writing. Some times writers, like stories, need a rest.

Sure it was surgery and drug-induced vacation that got me into the “not writing” mode. Enough to make me wonder if going back to writing was worth the energy. I did doubt it on many days.

This morning I woke up with a whole new attitude. I do want to write, I do have stories to tell, and I find storytelling a pleasure. But, at a different pace.

We are now nine days into NANO, and I’m not there. SO what I’m doing is looking at reviving abandoned stories. Yeah, that’s the reason I decided writing is worth it. So many stories, so little time.

Happy writing, and keep the commitments you make. You’ll be happier for it.

About Writer’s Block

  “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”

― Shirley Chisholm

Writers write. Ask any writer. If they could stop writing, they probably would stop writing. For the rest of us, we write to still the voices in our heads. We write to get our stories out into the world.We write, publish, and repeat the process. Endlessly.

If you ask me about that thing known as “writers block”, I’ll tell you it doesn’t exist. I can pretty much prove it. No other profession allows its practitioners to claim that no work can be accomplished today, tomorrow, this week, next week, or anytime in the near future, because they are suffering from a “block”.

Plumbers block? No. Dentist Block? No. Nurses Block? No. Accounting Block? No.

Trust me, if you are a writer and you’re not writing it’s because you choose not to write.

But wait, you say. I really do have writers block. What can I do? The answer is simple. It’s a choice you make, either a form of procrastination to avoid criticism, rejection, or some other form of negativity. So, you ask, how can I fix that? Start writing. Yes, that’s right. Make a plan and stick with it. Just start writing.

Writing when you have fear is difficult. Fears need to be faced in order for you to overcome them. So of course, the answer is simple. Start  writing.

Having difficulty with your story? Keep writing. Many writers know, you can not fix a blank page, so fill the page, then worry about fixing it later. Nobody–or let me say rarely–does anyone love a first draft. Usually it takes a lot of work, self editing, story restructuring, critiquing, and professional editing to get a story into decent shape.

Did I mention the upside of continuing to write in the face of adversity (i.e, laziness, fear, procrastination, martyrdom, or anything else that prevents you from writing)is you will find your true voice and your writing will improve if you just keep writing.

Trust

We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.”

― Walter Anderson

This post speaks to the issue of sharing your work with others. I know, I know. You write for the satisfaction of having created something from the sheer fabric of imagination. You want to see what materializes from the vapor of pure imagination, and if the story burning in your heart and mind can be told, understood, and shared.

Unless you take the leap of faith and share your story with others you will never know. Remember, it is a leap of faith. As creators of fiction we are timid in sharing our story for fear of our “baby” being deemed ugly. And keep in mind, not every one will love your story. Some may even dislike it. But the stories we write are not for others, but rather for ourselves and those who can identify with the story we need to tell.

Sometimes the most difficult people to trust with a story is our family and friends, who may feel compelled to tell us  our  stories are wonderful.   The people we love, and who love us, often feel compelled not to criticize, even in a constructive way. They don’t want to hurt our feelings when we truly desire to hear their thoughts in hope of finding our way onto the path of success. So who do we turn to?

Sometimes we need to approach and engage strangers to help us judge the merits of our work. We need to be selective in the approach, seeking out readers who will and can give constructive feedback.  This method will more likely ensure assistance in a forward motion rather than annihilate our hopes and dreams.

Beyond that we need to listen. Often, authors who are overly sensitive complain of being unfairly criticized. “They just didn’t get me.” “No one understands what I’m trying to say.”  Do we stop to consider that we, as writers, aren’t making our intentions clear? That editing, and possibly re-writes are in order?

Not every writer is fortunate enough to have a mentor. Not every writer can approach a critic–and every potential reader is a critic–and find the help her/she requires. We have to trust sometimes that the criticism we hear, especially commonly repeated criticisms, are true. When these criticisms are repeated, we need to assume they may be true. Trust your judgement.

 

Happiness

Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.

― Unknown

 

This week, I know exactly what happiness means.

My DH decided it was time for me to have a new desktop computer. I liked my old one, but it threatened to have a stroke and fall off the desk. It’s been threatening me in this fashion for many months now, and I just wasn’t willing to give up the ghost.

Earlier this week I found I couldn’t open any word program files at all.  So, I guess it has been a problem for much longer than I am willing to admit. I decided then and there a new desktop was in order. Also, if I hadn’t gone looking for those old word files, I probably didn’t really need to hang onto them. So finally, I got a new desktop computer.

Next time, I won’t wait so long to treat myself like I deserve something good.

The new desktop is sleek,  lightweight, shiny and pretty. It is also fast. Yea!

It did, however, throw me completely off my game. Wow.

Pay attention every minute because the technology moves so fast it is scary. I mean really scary. I like to think I keep up for the most part with new things, but I could be wrong. I have owned a PC since they first came out and so many people told me it was 1) a waste of money 2) a waste of effort and 3) pretentious.

I don’t dispute any of those things. All of them certainly may be true or were true at any given point in time.  But today I learned something new about the advancing technology.

You just can’t get in front of it.

Accept it. Move on. After four strenuous hours online and on the phone with the tech team, I found that you just can’t go back.  You’re going to have to renew, resolve and download all over again. Just do it.

And that folks, is the only reason this blog came late to the party. I promise you I will have inspiration words , or at the very least something else to b*tch about next week.

In the meantime, just keep writing.

 

 

Learning the Craft

   “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

― St. Francis of Assisi

In order to write that novel you always talk about, or dream of writing, you must start. I know you may not have the skills required to write the next great American novel. I get that, you know that, we all agree it’s not happening. But where do you start?

You just start.

Don’t stop by the Idea Store and purchase anything. Don’t ask your mother, father, girlfriend, boyfriend, or your best friend what they think. We all know they have opinions. Everyone has an opinion.Your opinion is what counts in the immediate moment.

A seasoned writer usually has developed a method for determining if they have enough idea to sustain a story, and what size of story (word count) the story idea can support. They have a good grasp of what it takes to make a story work, and this is why seasoned writers don’t always discuss their ideas until they’ve determined if the story has legs. Can it stand on its own?

For the beginning writer, there is no valuable advice –especially for a first novel–other than to start writing. That’s correct, just take a page from Nike, just do it.

You could of course, ignore this advice, and attend writing classes, make an outline, fill out character sheets or do character interviews, design a storyboard, ask for advice from other beginning writers and do any number of other things that only delay your writing. That’s correct delay your writing.

The number one reason unpublished authors experience a failure to launch, is basically simple; it’s a failure to write. We each have a certain amount of words we need to write before we can identify our own voice. Some experts say you won’t recognize your voice until you’ve written a million words. Now, I don’t know if it’s true, but I do know you need to start writing.

My first book was a fantasy novel, beautifully written with engaging descriptive backgrounds that made critique partners “see” the landscape of the novel. Yea for me! I’m good a world building. They told me the characters engaged the readers and all were anxious to see what would happen next. Yea for me, great character development. One critique partner described my passages as “liquid poetry”, and I was flattered, and amazed and felt so good about my writing. Except 400 pages into the story, the characters great adventure, no actual plot was found.

That’s right No Plot, BIG Problem.

I didn’t know what my weakness was until I started writing. Based on this experience, I never start a novel, novella, or short story without knowing the full plot. Every pinch point, every turning point, every reversal and big black moment is down on the sheet before the writing begins.

You have to determine what your own shortcomings are, and define your style, before you can learn the craft skills necessary to become successful. Once you have accomplished this, then the life long learning begins and you may have your feet firmly planted on the road to success.

 

 

 

Making Progress

   “ It is important that we forgive ourselves for making mistakes. We need to learn from our errors and move on. ”

― Steve Maraboli

Almost everything I’ve ever learned about writing I learned from making mistakes. Most of the time, the mistakes don’t hurt anyone but me. Often they come from a failure to plan the work. If you’re working from a plan, you can always adjust, backtrack, or take a new direction. You have plenty of leeway to turn and twist, and head off in a new direction. But you always do well to start with a plan.

The focus keeps the task at hand…at hand, so to speak. Early on in writing, but never early enough, a good friend and a prolific author told me “never sit down to write unless you know where you’re going.” This in fact, is the best advice I’ve ever been given.

When I first learned this, I still worked full-time and had a lot of responsibility at home. Since my husband and I owned a business, I had a lot on my plate. The first hour of daily writing was wasted on the guilt trip how I could better spend the time I was “wasting” on writing. Not published at the time, I took time-wasting very seriously. I thought I should be doing things or paperwork that was business related: bookkeeping, ordering, organizing, or selling new accounts.

I wasted about an hour guilt tripping, then procrastinating, and agonized later that neither task was productive. I didn’t get the bookkeeping, selling, organizing or the fiction writing done.

When I learned to end the writing every day (according to the time allotment) I marked the end of the session with a plan for where I would go next with my story. Eureka!

Thus the new guideline became, don’t start writing unless you know where you’re going with the story. In other words, plan just a little bit, such as the next scene, the next chapter, or up to the next pinch point or turning point. Not too far ahead, but just enough to keep you going. Kind of like headlights on the road in the dark. You only need to see so far ahead, not enough to be considered a “plotter” but enough to keep you on a steady course for accomplishing something productive.

This kind of progress keeps you on track without letting you write a hundred pages you’ll need to rewrite later. Of course, we all realize there will be re-writes later. But still, we’re making progress.

 

 

Getting Started

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

― Jim Rohn

There is a lot to be said for starting a new year. It’s a time when many of us choose to set goals for ourselves or even…dare I write it?  Make new year resolutions.

Resolutions are one of the most questionable practices human beings engage in on an annual basis. We set the pace by starting off a new year on the road self-improvement, where the largest percentage of us convert our resolutions to intentions, albeit good ones. Once we have a firm grasp on the new year, usually about six weeks into the new calendar, this becomes the road to hell.  Which we have ourselves paved with good intentions.

Be advised, if you didn’t already know this, we do not keep resolutions. Why?

I’m not really sure. What I do know is that it takes time and effort to change your behavior, regardless of what behavior you desire to change.

To establish a habit takes work. Let’s say you resolve to write every day. Good, but a little bit too broad. So state your intention to write x number of words daily.  Perhaps your style is more attuned to page count. Then resolve to write x number of pages. I don’t claim I can or will write every day. I do write every day, but that’s not the point.  The point is that I like to give myself some wiggle room. I resolve to write five days a week. This allows for disasters out of my control, like getting the flu. It also allows me to not feel guilt if I miss a writing day. Sometimes, you just can’t do it.

If you want to be successful and keep the promises you make to yourself (resolutions), you have to work for it.  Working the plan means being realistic and organized. Do not bite off more than you can chew. Writing 10,000 words a day would be great, if you could do it. Not many people can, and god bless those who can accomplish it.

Just a word to the wise, make those goals doable and you will benefit. I commonly exceed my daily goal, in terms of the number of words I like to write, and also my weekly goals because I write six or seven days a week even though I have not committed to more than five in my writing plan.

Habits can be adjusted upward for success.

 

Goal Setting

People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.

― Brian Tracy

Happy New Year!

Time to make some resolutions, right? Wrong. We generally as a species don’t change things even when we plan to change. We are all, on some level, resistant to change.

It’s that time of the year when we need to reflect, reevaluate and sometimes even reinvent ourselves. So this year instead of wasting time and energy on making promises you are not likely to keep, why not reflect and reevaluate with a goal for the future that you might actually accomplish?

Reflect on your behavior, attitude and experience in 2014.

What did you learn?

Did you take a class? Perhaps you attended a conference? Read a “How To” book? Or maybe the opportunity to learn from life experience presented itself in one of life’s more awkward moments? This year I learned to practice what I preach the hard way. In one of those priceless lessons from the universe I slipped and fell at the gym and couldn’t return to working out or even get around very well for more than a month. This gave me the opportunity to slow down, and reflect.

What did you do?

Did you take a class or achieve an instructors level in a  life long subject you’re passionate about? I have two friends who each accomplished  life long goals of doing things for themselves. These women have spent many year nurturing others and at long last, they each achieved instructor level proficiency in subjects near and dear to their hearts. One became a Yoga teacher and the other a certified Padi diving instructor.

What is your big dream for 2015?

Most of us, at some point or another in our lives assemble a bucket list. The simple list of things we hope do not become a legacy of regret. The way to avoid regret is to spend your valuable time taking your dreams from the dream state into reality by making a plan. Planning your future is always a good thing. Make sure those benchmarks to achieving your dreams are measurable, specific, and realistic.

Well, mostly realistic.  Sometimes you need to go for the moon in order to reach the stars. Plan big.

 

Success

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.

― Vince Lombardi

I think he knows what he’s talking about. I had the will and I found a way, and YES! I succeeded at NANO! Count me in for the Winner’s Circle!

If you think I’m celebrating too early, you would be wrong!  I know it doesn’t end until the drop dead date of November 30th, but since I make my living at writing and I do write every day, I hit the 50,000 word count early.  But no worries, I’m still right here writing with you. The truth is for professional writers, we are never done. If I had three additional lifetimes I would still not have enough time to execute all my story ideas.

There is nothing like success to make you feel good about your self.  The joy of knowing you made a promise to yourself and you kept it.

The most important thing to remember is that choice, not circumstance, is what determines success. If you’ve stayed at it, if you continue to work hard you will finish, if not the book itself, at least then the 50,000 words.  And that’s a heck of a start in anyone’s estimation.

Hard work and determination should see you through this last week of writing.  I know, I know, sometimes you just think none of this makes any sense at all and why are you still here?  Because you made a commitment to yourself, and if you don’t keep the commitments you make to yourself, how in the world can anyone count on you to keep promises made to them?

You can do it! Just keep writing. Focus your full attention on what you want, (getting the novel first draft done) and head straight for the finish line.

I’ll be there waiting for you, with bells on.

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