I’ve noticed many people sitting on exercise balls in place of office chairs lately. I am sitting on one now as I type. This may be a great option for those of you who feel you spend a lot more time at your desk than at the gym or outside. Just sitting on an exercise ball can help improve your balance, core strength and posture. It is also good for circulation and most importantly can add a bit more fun to your writing sessions. The Live Strong website offers some advice about picking the right ball size for your height along with some simple exercises that can be done at your desk. Read the article here:
I took a creative writing in class in college and the textbook for the class was The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron. This book is filled with tips and techniques for generating writing ideas and motivating yourself to write. In the first chapter he shares three things you need to do to get started.
Show Up-Create your writing space and make the time to write regularly until it becomes a habit. Jack says “If you want to write, you must begin by beginning, continue by continuing, finish by finishing. This is the great secret of it all. Tell no one.” Except I am going to tell all of you because this is a secret that should be shared ;).
Acknowledge the Difficulty-Writing can be very difficult. It takes time, energy, commitment, loyalty, courage, patience. But as Jack states it can also “empower you and free your spirit and can be a source of great joy,” so don’t give up. Recognize that there will be difficult moments, but you can overcome them. Jack advises, “Give yourself positive messages” and you can accomplish anything.
Have Joy and Gratitude- The bumps in the road you encounter while writing will only assist you in becoming a better writer and generate more ideas in the long run. Jack quotes Roger von Oech in this section “Skyscrapers weren’t invented by people with a lot of land, but by those who had to figure out how to build more offices on tight and incredibly expensive real estate.” Jack responds with, “So instead of cursing your obstacles, be grateful for them…Obstacles outside ourselves only make us more creative.”
If you commit to these three things I promise that your love for writing will grow, your ideas will abound, and your stories will become increasingly rich, honest, and effortless.
My boss said that to me a long time ago. I didn’t realize how much it affected me until, more than two years later, my frustrated mom told me to repeat what I’d just said to her. “I’m good, but I’m not that good,” I repeated. She reminded me that ever since my boss had said that I’d come to believe it.
Then she said something I will forever love her for, “You are that good.”
PitchWars is great. It’s a fantastic way for writers to meet writers, to find critique partners, to make friends, and to become better. Approximately 1,400 people won’t be selected to compete in PitchWars. If you are one of those 1,400 that does not mean you are not any good. That does not mean you aren’t that good or that you aren’t good enough. It just means that you need to pursue one of the thousands of other ways to improve your writing.
PitchWars isn’t the end-all, be-all. Getting an agent isn’t the end-all, be-all. Getting a book deal isn’t the end-all, be-all. The truth is, you’re a writer. There’s never going to be an end-all, be-all, because even if you make more money than J. K. Rowling, you’re still going to write. You write because you love it. You write because you need to. You write because you feel like you’ll explode if you don’t.
The judges on American Idol tell people they can’t sing. You know what? Some can’t. But they can learn and once they learn they can become better. It’s the same for writing. While I highly doubt anyone in this contest would ever tell us so bluntly that we can’t write, keep in mind that even if someone did — that can change. You can learn. You can become better. You can get that good.
There’s always room for improvement. You can always become better. Life is a learning process. No, you’re not the best writer in the world right now. You’re never going to be. But that’s because “best” is subjective. Be the best writer you can be. Focusing on what the world thinks will only lead to unhappiness. Be your best you.
You are that good. You’re trying. And that’s pretty dang good. Remember that.
Writing is hard. Yeah, it’s fun and a dream come true and I would never trade being able to read and write. But sometimes, it gets you down. It’s an extremely isolating profession. You spend long hours at your computer, forgetting to eat, your only company the characters in your story. To top it all off you’re rarely surrounded by people who “get” why you write. It can be challenging.
It’s during these times that you start to get self-conscious. You think, “I can’t write” and “This entire manuscript is a piece of crap,” and my personal favorite, “Why, oh why, didn’t I go to business school like my dad told me to?!?!” These feelings get overwhelming and before you know it you’ve sunk into a deep depression.
Depression is a real thing. It’s a problem. It’s not imaginary or “all in your head” or something you can just “get over.” It’s an honest-to-goodness disease, just as real and serious as pneumonia or a broken leg or Netflix withdrawals. (Okay, maybe not that last one.) Unfortunately, because symptoms of depression differ in everyone and aren’t as easily recognizable as, say, a giant wart on the tip of your nose, depression has become somewhat of a faux pas.
Guess what, guys? It’s okay. It’s okay to have depression. It’s okay that all you did today was get out of bed to use the bathroom. It’s okay. You’ll try again tomorrow.
(Just a quick note to say that if you’re at the point in your depression where you are only waking up to go to the bathroom, having any suicidal or self-harming thoughts, or basically at the point where you feel like a Dementor is sucking out your soul, it’s time to get some help. Go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org, call your insurance agent, or Google psychiatrists and/or therapists in your area. There is help out there. It’s filled to capacity with inspirational quotes and encouraging memes just calling your name. But seriously. You don’t have to be alone in this. You don’t even have to think you’re “that bad.” If you or someone you loves thinks you need help, get help.)
Since I feel like a lot of writers suffer from various forms of depression, I thought I’d give some tips as to what helps me round-house kick writers depression in the face.
1. Don’t write in your pajamas.
I know what you’re thinking. “WHAT?!? The best part about my job is that I get to write in my pajamas!!!” And that’s partly true. What I mainly mean by “don’t write in your pajamas” is that you should get up at a set time in the morning and get ready for the day. If you shower and put on clean pajamas then that’s fine. Just get ready in the morning.
One of my triggers (something that triggers my depression – hehe) is when I stay in the same clothes as the day/night before. I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything which leads to feelings of self-loathing and I just kind of spiral from there. When I get up at a decent hour and go through my normal morning routine, I feel like I’ve at least accomplished something — I got up.
2. Exercise (even when you don’t want to).
Because I work out 4x a week, people don’t believe me when I say I hate to exercise. I do. With every fiber of my being. But exercising helps depression. It’s just one of those sad facts of life, like acne or how Khol’s sells out of whatever item you just put in your shopping cart. The first few times (*cough* weeks *cough*) it won’t feel like it’s helping. You might even be more tired and irritated than you were before you started exercising. But once your body gets used to it and you are able to get through a workout without wanting to strangle your trainer or break the elliptical, you’ll see how much it improves your mood. You’ll feel better emotionally and you’ll be keeping your body healthy in the process.
3. Take a break.
But…you’re on a roll! You can’t take a break! That’s crazy-talk! Unfortunately, it’s a two-sided coin. If you don’t take breaks you will go crazy. Marathon writing is all well and good. It’s awesome and feels great to accomplish so much. But too many marathon days will burn you out. You might get tired or sick, and then think all your writing is crap right before you go headfirst into a downward spiral.
Take a nap. Go on a walk. Run up and down the stairs for two minutes. Watch an episode of Gilmore Girls. Do something where you don’t have to think about writing for just a little while. When you come back you’ll feel more energized and be ready to hit your next 2,000 word goal.
4. Eat healthy snacks. Really, just remember to eat and drink (water).
That grumbling sound in the pit of your stomach? That’s your body telling you to eat something. When you’re crazy-into your story, the last thing you want to do is mess up your groove by getting something to eat. You’d have to leave your computer and everything! Being Hangry is a thing. Not eating right can contribute to your depression just as easily as not sleeping well.
You can prepare your snacks for the week beforehand so it’s just a thirty second break until you’re back writing. Cut up some strawberries, watermelon, carrot sticks or whatever you fancy and put them in snack-sized containers so you can easily grab them, take them back to your desk/couch/park bench, and enjoy. Believe me, I’m all about the sweets. Self-proclaimed Reese’s addict. One thing I try to do is to eat super-healthy during working hours and then I can have a treat at dinner.
Another thing you need to remember to do is keep hydrated. When I’m working, I’m constantly forgetting to drink water. It’s like my thirst disappears when I’m writing. It’s important to stay hydrated because all sorts of bad stuff can happen when you get dehydrated. If you have to go to the hospital for an IV you’re going to lose writing time. Keep drinking that water even if you have to set a reminder on your phone.
5. Don’t write in your bedroom.
Again with the “WHAT?!?!” reactions. I currently don’t have the luxury of having an office, so I do write in my bedroom. If that’s your situation, that’s okay. But try writing somewhere different – in a coffee shop, in the park, at a table in Denny’s (they won’t mind, they’re pretty much empty anyways and they have great pancakes). Get out of your house and be around people. I get that you have to do what works for you and if the only way you’re inspired to write is in a dark room with the glow from your computer as your only light – then that’s great. For the rest of us, I suggest trying a change of scenery.
Not all of these tips will work for everyone. The real trick is to identify your triggers and start to recognize them. Once you do that then you can figure out ways to combat them. It’s a complex business, but with enough practice (and possibly therapy) you’ll be able to head writers depression off at the pass. Not only will identifying your triggers keep you from sinking into a depression, but they’ll also help increase your productivity because you won’t spend half your time worried that you’re losing your ability to write.
I can’t be the only one who has writers depression. What are your triggers and how do you combat them?
A couple weeks ago at RT I went to an AWESOME session by Rachel Hollis called “How to Become a Social Butterfly.” If you have the chance to see her, I highly recommend it. I took a ton of notes and thought I’d share some of them with the world. Hope you find them as helpful as I did!
She first talked about branding yourself. She told us to think of three words that describe us and then think of the colors you associate with those words. For example if you want to be known as happy and happy to you means pink, use pink. Have that color everywhere.
– Choose what you want to be and have that be your color.
– Use the same style and the same fonts across all your pages to keep your brand consistent.
– You want your readers to recognize your stuff before they know it’s yours.
PLAN AHEAD: You can schedule posts in advance. Take a ton of pictures beforehand and then schedule them throughout the week/month.
ALWAYS RESPOND: Take time to respond to your fans.
DON’T REPEAT YOURSELF: Don’t put the same thing on every platform. Use each individually. She recommended reading the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk. Offer three things every time you ask your fans to do something for you.
TAG EVERYONE: No matter what platform you’re on, take time to tag people.
She covered a lot of information so I’ve just put down a few tidbits for each platform she went over. She did an excellent job presenting, so again, remember these are just some highlights I picked out.
Don’t direct sell on Facebook.
Get a business page, not a personal page or you’ll run into “friend” problems. It caps out at 5,000 friends. Have people “like” your page instead.
Post at least once a day, but no more than five times.
Have a picture with every post.
The better your post does the more people Facebook shows it to.
Don’t share anyone else’s work if you don’t know who did it. If you do, tag them.
Twitter is a conversation starter. Use it to talk about things you’re interested in.
Tweet at least 1-5 posts a day and more if you spread them out.
Don’t use all 140 characters so people can RT you.
If you start your tweet with a @ then only people who follow you and the person you’re tweeting will see the tweet. Use .@ if you want everyone to see it.
Pinterest drives a lot of website traffic.
As you’re writing you can make a secret board with all the things that inspire you. When you’ve published your book you can make it public so your readers can get a glimpse of your inside life.
Write copy of things people are going to search for instead of your thoughts on the image or post you pinned.
One board should have more than 10 pins and less than 50.
“Nobody gets to tell you how big your dreams can be.” – Rachel Hollis
The other day I had to officially write my dedication page. Since Twisting Fate will be released in the next couple weeks it was incredibly important that I get this done soon. Luckily, I’ve known exactly what my dedication page would say for the past year.
In preparation for the moment you all read my dedication page I’ve compiled a list (by now you’re thinking – another one? Yes, I have another list.) of five of the best dedications I’ve seen.
The Selection by Kiera Cass: “Hi, Dad! ★waves★”
Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows by J. K. Rowling: “The dedication of this book is split in seven ways: to Neil, to Jessica, to David, to Kenzie, to Di, to Anne, and to you, if you have stuck with Harry until the very end.”
Matched by Ally Condie: “For Scott, who always believes”
Austenland by Shannon Hale: “For Colin Firth — You’re a really great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends.”
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Once Again To Zelda”