Posts Tagged "writing"

Are You a Perfectionist Writer?

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 in Writing Inspiration | 0 comments

Are You a Perfectionist Writer?

Yep. I am. And a perfectionist in general. And it’s a real pain in the butt when it comes to reaching my goals. Signs You May Be a Perfectionist Writer Do any of these traits sound like you? Note how many do, just for kicks. You set unrealistic expectations for yourself, such as completing a novel in three days (though I’m sure there are some who have or can do this) and then beat yourself up if you don’t meet those expectations. You feel like a failure when you make a mistake or at the very least, are very uncomfortable with making mistakes or even the idea of making a mistake. You have trouble deciding where to take your story next, so you either don’t do anything or keep doing what you’ve already been doing even though you sense it isn’t quite right. (This is tied to the above) You have an all or nothing attitude toward submitting or other aspects of your writing or career. If one publisher passed on your story, they all will so why bother? And that’ll happen with all the other ones too so maybe you should just stop writing altogether! Or you couldn’t get the opening to your novel the way you want it so maybe you shouldn’t write it at all. You have a lot of things you believe you should do, rather than things you “get to” do. You should finish that picture book. You should do more social media to market yourself and your books. You should eat that second bowl of ice cream .See my post, Glorious Gratitude, on the dreaded “should.” You tie your self-worth to how much you’ve accomplished rather than knowing you are enough right here, right now. You second-guess your decisions or actions, whether it be a word choice, a revision, or whether you should have mentioned your Ph.D. in Astrophysics in the query you sent.  If you agreed with three or more of these statements, I’d say you can join my Perfectionist Writers Club. We serve extra helpings of chocolate and French fries at our club meetings because all this perfectionism is stressful! The Perfectionist Writers Curse I’m discovering how debilitating this perfectionism thing can be. Even if you don’t have all of the above traits, having some of them may be hindering you from being your best writer self. When I’ve looked at my own patterns, here’s what perfectionism does for me: Consumes valuable time I could be using for something else…like REAL writing or revising (as opposed to tweaking and fiddling ad nauseam) Doesn’t substantially improve the project… It’s true that sometimes fiddling does improve it in a way that is significant and I’m glad I did it, but that often comes after hours of tweaking that was really nothing more than…tweaking. Doesn’t alleviate my fears or whatever is underneath my desire to have it perfect. I still wonder if it could be better or if I missed something. The Perfectionist Cure I don’t have a permanent cure yet—if you do, please share it!—but just recognizing these traits has had a huge impact on me. I’m much more aware of how I approach different aspects of my writing and am starting to release a bit. Most of this is because I really, really want to move forward—to see what can happen with a project, to start on the next project…and more. Life’s too short for piddling and perfecting. Let’s move forward with less caution and more abandon. (Wait. Should I reword that?  😉 )   Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook...

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You Are as Successful as You Believe You Are

Posted by on Aug 27, 2015 in Writing Inspiration | 2 comments

You Are as Successful as You Believe You Are

Everyone has different definitions of success. For some, success is money. For others it’s recognitions or rankings. For even others, it may be both or something completely different. Success by Ranking When my first books came out, I was a slave to the Amazon ranking list. When it was lower, I was ecstatic. When it moved up a few, moving from five figures to six figures (because let’s be honest, it never went under five figures for me), I was devastated. And you may have heard me mention before that I was also subscribed to Publishers Lunch for awhile, where I got a regular dose of who was getting big deals for their book projects. Rather than celebrate the author’s success and revel in the thought that a cool new book would be available to read, I was bummed that it wasn’t my deal. This relates to a topic I covered in 2014 in my post “Measuring Up as a Writer”, quoting Teddy Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Success Redefined Recently I came across a quote that is helping me re-vision the idea of success: “True Success enlivens and supports the spirit; it has not to do with the isolated attainments, but being successful as a total person, attaining a successful lifestyle that benefits not only yourself, but everyone around you.” – from Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. Now that sounds awesome. “Being successful as a total person,” not just because of specific achievements. But the question for me is how to make the shift? Our society is so focused on individual accomplishments, accolades, and such. How can I celebrate those things without having them define me or my success? How can I feel successful in connection with those things that truly “enliven and support my spirit?” I don’t have too many answers yet (though I welcome yours below!) For now, I’m working on detachment from the opinions of others and feeling gratitude and appreciation for all things writer-related. All of you who support and/or write fab stories for young people, the opportunity I have to write, and the joy I derive from it. If I feel truly appreciative, I also feel happy. And when I feel happy, I feel…successful. Wow! Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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It’s All About the Love

Posted by on Aug 6, 2015 in Writing Inspiration | 0 comments

It’s All About the Love

It’s all about the love when it comes to the SCBWI conferences and boy was there a lot to go around in Los Angeles this past weekend! For some great session and keynote details, check out the official SCBWI blog and 2015 SCBWI LA Twitter Highlights #LA15SCBWI. The sessions I attended were amazing and my Inspiration Junkie was well fed. But beyond that, I was reminded about how much love there is at the conference—for each other, for the craft of writing and illustrating, for kids, for books, for reading—you know what I’m talkin’ about. It’s about LOVE and CONNECTION (and I don’t care how ooey gooey that sounds!) Being there when someone comes out of a one-on-one critique to cheer or jeer, depending on the outcome. Dancing at the Saturday night party with people you don’t know and yet you do because they get it, so they get you. Getting a hug from someone you haven’t seen in a while. Hearing the excitement in a writer’s voice when she describes her latest project. Making new friends and being surprised—but not really—by how deep the connection with them feels. Were we best friends in a past life? It feels like I’ve known them forever. I LOVE that! Think (and Love) Outside the Box For some it’s a reunion, for others it’s an overwhelming brand new experience, but it’s always fun, exciting and filled with possibility. In different ways, I heard speakers talk about approaching a project with your unique viewpoint as well as digging beneath the obvious and the safe to a deeper (and sometimes scarier) place to tell your story. We’ve all probably heard versions of this advice, but for some reason it hit me differently this time. I feel like I’m doing this with my new YA, but something tugged at me at the conference and I want to look carefully to make sure I’m really digging for the Truth of the story. I hope I get to share the love with some of you at the RMC-SCBWI Fall Conference Sept 19-20. I’ll be an attendee only this year so I have time to hang out. Hugs await! Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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Inspiration Junkie

Posted by on Jul 30, 2015 in Writing Inspiration | 0 comments

Inspiration Junkie

It’s true. I’m an inspiration junkie. I love listening to speakers who say things that give me goosebumps or fire me up about my purpose as a writer. I love leaving a talk feeling like I can do anything and be the kind of writer I’ve always wanted to be. I am Writer, watch me soar. That’s why I can’t wait for the 44th annual SCBWI Conference in LA this weekend. It doesn’t get much better than Newbery Medalist, Kwame Alexander, Fancy Nancy author Jane O’Connor, the hilarious Adam Rex, the enchanting Shannon Hale, the amazing Mem Fox…and that’s just a few of the keynoters. Some people go gaga over the folks gracing the cover of Entertainment Weekly. I go crazy over the authors in the pages of Publisher’s Weekly. This will be my first conference as a Regional Advisor Emeritus (RAE)—I will be having breakfast with other RAEs and enjoying the conference from a completely different vantage point. I plan to have a nice balance between learning, inspiration and working on my novel; though I also hope to get some traction on two new picture book ideas by attending some picture book sessions, including “7 Simple Fixes for the Picture Book Text” with Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann. In spite of my excitement, I do find that true inspiration doesn’t just raise goosebumps, it raises me. It makes me want to write better, live better, and just be better. And I love that. Wishing you a weekend of inspiration no matter where you are! Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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How to Jumpstart Your Spark

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Writing Inspiration | 2 comments

How to Jumpstart Your Spark

Piggybacking on last week’s Recoloring Blue Days, I wanted to talk about how to jumpstart your spark of creativity when you can barely see it or it’s gone out completely. Working through my grief over my mom’s death and the death of my friend, Caroline, I haven’t been able to muster up too much creativity. I understand why and am giving myself the space I need, but there was a part of me that longed for it; longed for the joy that comes with creating. The spark flashed briefly a couple of weeks ago when I woke up with a new picture book idea. I jotted it down excitedly, only to stall after a few sentences, the spark gone. Getting the Spark Back These strategies may not work for everyone, but I’ve found they often work for me, depending on where I am emotionally. Creativity Out of Necessity. Look at things you have to get done—writing-related or not. Can you put a creative spin on it? Because I was teaching two craft seminars (which had filled nicely–hooray!) I had to finalize some exercises for each of them. As I worked out how I wanted the exercises to go and pictured the writers working on them, I felt that spark. I asked myself if the exercise would help writers understand the topic better, which gave me additional ideas. Soon I found myself smiling as I created and tweaked the exercises. I think it was connecting the exercise to the writer that got me excited. Creativity in Baby Steps. Pick one small thing to do: Re-read the first lines of one of your stories Read a book that’s similar to your work-in-progress Read a craft book Revise a sentence or a paragraph that’s been bugging you Observe one child or teen during the day and see if it sparks an idea or solution to a current project challenge. I’m really close to finishing my Find a Publisher online course, but I lost my momentum and my enthusiasm waned. But I want to finish it so last Tuesday, when I was sitting at the Honda shop waiting for my car to be checked, I decided to tackle some very minor tasks. After completing a couple, I started to feel a little spark of excitement because I was thinking of how much I love to share what I know and the course has so much great content. Creativity Outside the Box. Choose a different outlet. Pick up your phone or a camera and take some pictures. Draw. Paint. Dance. Try something else that appeals. Without the pressure of “having to get that book done,” you are free to merely create for creativity’s sake.Years ago, when I was stuck for eight months on my novel, I was feeling very discouraged and uncreative. I decided to see what else I could work on and settled on a book trailer for my now out-of-print picture book, Build a Burrito. After a few false starts, I hit on a stop-motion video and had a blast making it! I was excited and feeling creative again. These are my top three ways to jumpstart the spark. If you have others, please share! Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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