Tag Archives: management routines

Stress Management and the Zen of Journaling

People live with varying amounts of stress, and I totally admit I make my share too easily, despite my intention to simplify things. Is that ironic? No, probably just slow learning on my part. But what starts out simple often morphs into something complex faster than I can keep up.

Case in point: this is (one of) my April blog(s)—that’s a whole other story right there, the tale of my lost second blog of the month—and here I am, posting it in May.

Should I mention this post was prompted by learning that April is Stress Awareness Month? Well, there you go. Welcome, May; hello, Stress, I am aware of you; and, am I on the ball these days or what?

Despite the date, I wanted to share this post because I’m pretty damn sure everyone can relate to the stress in their lives getting out of hand now and again. Worse, perhaps way more often than that. And while I’m no police officer or doctor or someone who holds others’ lives in their hands, stress is real and evident in each person’s life to varying degrees, and that stress needs a release before it takes a physical, mental, emotional toll on a person.

Having said my little piece about that, life—as ever, it seems—has been a tad taxing, so I’d like to share how journaling helps me cope.

On one level, writing is stress-inducing because I’m striving to make my living with it. Learning the intricacies of publishing, marketing, blogging? Switching mental gears from the other aspects of everyday life to something creative? Creating compelling stories to share in the hopes readers will enjoy them? No stress there. ; )

On the flip side, writing is incredibly stress-relieving in another form. I’m talking about journaling, keeping a diary. Or in my world, AKA writing to a therapist without paying for one. ; )

I’ve kept a journal, diary or daily calendar for most of my life. Doing so goes back to my first real diary, which still lives somewhere in my mom’s basement in a dusty cardboard box with my name scrawled in black Sharpie on the outside. Prior to receiving that journal, I vaguely recall using cute, pink notebooks (Hello, Kitty, anyone?) for my scribblings. But being presented with that book—a most-cherished gift—was a turning point.

The perfect-bound book is small but meaty. It’s about 4 inches wide by 5 tall, an inch thick with lavender-lined, white pages dated for every day of the year. No year, though, just days, and I wrote in the diary for many years, on and off, when the mood struck and the need great. When I look at the pages now, I see the rounded loops of my childish cursive mingling with the flatter scrawl of my “grown-up” script.

The cover looks like bleached leather, off-white and semi-smooth, with the word “Diary” debossed in gold lettering.

But perhaps the best part of this notebook was the tiny lock and key that protected all my secrets. That lock freed me. Finally, I had a place to pour out my heart without fear of ridicule or retaliation. For a sensitive young girl like me, that was gold in paper form.

I didn’t understand at the time, but that diary would help me in immeasurable ways. Writing as a career can be exceedingly stressful, but writing for passion, for catharsis, is one of the best stress reducers I know. And a handy side effect: journaling is practically free.

For those of you who’ve not journaled yet, I encourage you to try. Maybe the best part is that you can (and perhaps should) write about anything. When I write in my calendar or a spiral notebook—my diary of choice these days because it opens flat—I’ll jot whatever comes to mind. Sometimes what happened during the day, what new food I made, or what errands I ran. I might segue into a mini rant on the bad drivers around me. Or a musing on the nice person in line who pointed out I’d dropped a five-dollar bill.

Journal and coffee

In its longer form, my notebook holds nighttime secrets, dream depictions that lingered until the next morning. Lots of folks are big into dream analysis; I’m intrigued by that, and I try to note my more unique experiences, either to try to decipher them or simply for later amusement. Whenever I die, whoever reads those dream notebooks will have a field day with my mental state, I’m sure.

Anyhoo, my point is writing in this manner is a release. Putting words to paper releases the emotion—good and bad—that fills my day. When it’s good, writing it solidifies the feeling and helps me enjoy it longer. When it’s bad emotion (stress), I’m able to channel it away to a large extent.

Remember Julia Roberts’s line from Pretty Woman? “The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?” It’s always stayed with me because I feel like the bad stuff is also what really sticks with us. Too often, the good stuff falls by the wayside, easily forgotten or overtaken by some other worrisome feeling. So, writing the good stuff is how I enjoy and retain that happy feeling, how I focus on the good when all the mayhem tries to sneak in and overwhelm me.

And writing the bad stuff is how I expel my anger, alleviate the immediate pressure, vent my sadness and confusion and worry. When I need to, I can return to my spewage later to evaluate my reaction, to understand why I responded as I did. To view my stress from a safe distance and work through my problems with a clearer head. Wow, talk about handy.

So, readers, does any of this resonate with you? Who of you have journaled or written in a diary of any form? It’s a practice I’ll keep for my entire life, I’m sure. I hope you found something useful in this post, and that maybe I’ve offered a reason for you to start scribbling in a diary or notebook. It does wonders! Please share your thoughts below. Thanks, and have a brilliant day.

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Stability in a Whirlwind

I’m not one of those bloggers who writes articles in advance and has a stash ready to go at a moment’s notice, aided into the etherworld with the assistance of some tech-savvy social-media-managing app like Hootsuite. I’m one of those think-of-an-idea-then-write-it-when-I-make-time bloggers. Which is why—when generalized mayhem strikes as it did this lovely month of March (some good, some bad)—I found myself ill-prepared to post either of my two blogs-to-be this month.

Well, sort of, since—if luck/determination/the internet all cooperate with me—this post will hopefully go live on my website on March 31. Thereby letting me say at least one of my March blogs posted this month.

I’ve mentioned before how blogging doesn’t come easily to me, but that I enjoy it for the most part (best of all when I feel I have something fun and/or useful to share). But I like to take time to think over what I’m blogging about, make sure I feel it’s relevant to my readers.

So, why did I choose to add yet another serving to my already-full plate? Because that’s exactly what I’ve done.

In the form of starting a new part-time job in February. Man alive, I’m still shaking my head at myself, wondering whether adding such time-consuming madness to my life was smart to do.

So here I am, one(ish) month later, and going strong. For the most part. I’ll share a little bit about the decision without naming names because I’m still in the trial phase as far as I’m concerned.

Friends and readers, you know I like to learn new things. Pretty much all the time. So when I heard of the opportunity of a part-time job at a company I like, whose products I use often, and where I stood to learn a great deal about subjects of interest to me, I jumped. And by that I mean I applied, talked things over with my hub, aced the interview and was hired in a matter of a few days. Hello, whirlwind.

Whirlwind!

There are other layers of logic to my decision besides wanting to learn, though, not the least of which is dropping a few extra bucks in the bank. Having worked from home for the past four years, I also looked forward to a different job environment and new people. And I relished the idea of committing to a real schedule again, something that often proves difficult to maintain in the home-office world.

And that, dear readers, is proving the most challenging part of this. I enjoy the job, all that I’m learning, the people (most of them, let’s be honest), the environment. But the schedule … that leaves much to be desired. To say it’s random is an understatement. Erratic and changeable are better words by far.

Which leaves me with a potential problem. Those who follow my blogs and Facebook and Twitter posts know I’m struggling to complete the sequel to Emerald Obsession. I’m near the end of writing the first draft of Treasure Bound, but after that I have months of editing and other work.

Well, I’m someone who often reacts better to exterior deadlines than self-induced ones. My thought process behind starting a new part-time job included the belief a more structured daily routine would benefit my writing; it would super-charge my daily habits and keep my writing time regimented and productive.

Sadly, I’m not sure that’ll prove true. Though I’m game to keep working for a while longer. Five weeks isn’t enough time for me to feel I’ve gotten the entire job/schedule picture, so I’ll continue to test the waters. But I fear the inconsistent nature of the company’s scheduling, which I wasn’t clear on at the onset, won’t jive with what I need from a part-time job right now.

Either way, readers and friends, I’ll keep you posted on how things go. March had so many other things happening concurrent with starting the new job that maybe April will bring a settling down to life.

Either way, I’m a blessed person. My mom just left after a fun visit, today would’ve been Fodda’s 86th birthday; the sun shines bright in the morning sky, the hub smiles and things are right in my world. I hope they are in yours, too. Keep on, right? I’ll just keep on, keeping on. See you again soon.

Mellow rocks
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3 Reasons to Find Your Writing Mentor

I discovered an interesting tidbit the other day as I scanned an online calendar of fun facts: January is National Mentoring Month. Okay, maybe you take that sort of online info with a grain of salt, as I do (Really, National Crown of Roast Pork Day? It’s March 7, according to some.), but now and then I run across a factoid that stays with me and spins the gears.

Such is the case with National Mentoring Month. This struck me because I’m an advocate of mentors (and not just recognizing their usefulness for a month). This past year, I’ve been talking about their importance with my husband, whose business is expanding. As it grows, I’ve encouraged him to reach out to friends and colleagues who’ve already traveled similar paths, so he might learn from their experiences.

Why take this path:

Foggy path

When you can travel a clear path with a trusted advisor and friend:

Path to follow

But to be honest, I hadn’t thought of a mentor for myself as an author before now. I don’t know why. It took that chance mention to make me look at my career and realize how critical a mentor could be for a writer. And many of the ways in which a mentor helps say, an entrepreneur, are the same ways one would help a writer.

So, as ever on my kick about continuing to learn and grow, I searched around for more information. 🙂

Here are three ways a writing mentor can help you:

1—Experience. One of the best things a mentor can do is share the wisdom of their experience. I love the expression “work smarter, not harder.” By finding someone who’s attained the goal you’re aiming for and having them mentor you, you’ll benefit from their knowledge and hopefully will avoid their mistakes. An established writer will counsel you on both creative and business aspects of writing and will guide you along your specific career path.

2—Connection. Another benefit of your mentor will be access to their broader network of contacts. Though writing is usually a solitary effort, if publication is one of your goals, then connecting with others—readers, publishers, agents, editors, other writers—is essential. As an author looking to grow and reach an audience, having a mentor to open doors and offer ways to connect with people will be invaluable.

3—Inspiration and Input. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but for me, it doesn’t happen on a consistent basis. With a mentor, though, you may be only a call, text or coffee chat away from the butt-kick motivation you need to flush out that sketchy scene that’s vexed you for a week. The right writing mentor will offer creative support and unbiased, constructively critical insights. And that’s huge for gaining confidence and thickening the skin to the rejection prevalent in the writing world.

So, readers, what do you think about writing mentors? I believe engaging with one is a great idea for anyone looking to grow their career or passion. Do you have one? Or would you consider mentoring someone less experienced? What would you hope or expect to gain from that association? Please let me know in the comments section. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Or feel free to email me at carolyn@carolyngreeley.com. Thanks!

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Christmas Presence: My First Author Talk

My heart rate doubled. So many faces stared at me. In my hands, the pages of my speech shook, so I laid them on the smooth white tablecloth. Took a few deep breaths.

Did not imagine the audience in their undies or naked. TMI, for sure.

But the thought made me smile, loosen up, and I dove in. This was it, my first speaking gig as an award-winning author. And my early Christmas present. Huge!

Christmas tree

I’ve done a good deal of public speaking in various forms in my previous life as a Manhattan ad woman. Those appearances had been nerve-wracking, empowering, frustrating. But none compares to the experience of speaking about writing and my indie publishing experience to a group of attentive, non-captive Florida Writers Association members and guests.

In November, I’d been asked by one of our St. Augustine FWA chapter heads (thanks, Nancy Quatrano!) to join a panel of speakers for our December holiday meeting. When she approached me, I immediately said yes, thinking of the honor it would be: The opportunity to speak about my love, writing. I felt the first flicker of nerves later, when I sat to brainstorm the specifics.

But the truth is, writing my short presentation turned out to be crazy easy. Sure, I toyed with a few different directions to start, but once I sat and began typing, the words flowed, the message clear and concise: I took myself from NYC newbie writer to FL published, award-winning author, and I learned a hell of a lot—about publishing and life—along the way.

Author Awarded 2016
2016 RPLA Trophy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My real anxiety didn’t hit until the morning of my talk. But the openness of my fellow panelists, and the welcome of the FWA heads and audience members helped mellow me. After the first couple of minutes, I felt like a million bucks.

One of the best parts? The questions and interest from the group after my speech. Holy smokes! People asked questions, sought my opinion on publishing, wanted to know more about how I handled the pressures, time-constraints, technical aspects of publishing on top of simply writing. I knew I’d learned a great deal over the past years, but I hadn’t truly realized until then how my insights could help other writers, at least in some small way.

So now, at the end of this incredible year of more firsts, I give thanks again for the unique and humbling ways in which my life continues to unfold.

The holiday season makes me as reflective and maudlin as the next person. The new year is around the corner, and that’s soon enough to contemplate resolutions and remedies.

For the last days of 2016, I plan to be grateful for the joys of this year. They are many, though interspersed with sorrows. Though we’ve lost a terrible number of artistic souls this year, my year has ended on a writerly high note. I hope the same is true of yours.

I’m sending all best wishes for a year of betterment, of love, peace, happiness, growth and wisdom. Let’s continue to strive for this.

By the way, if you’d like a copy of my speech and the list of online resources I found useful on my publishing road, please let me know in the comments section or email me at carolyn@carolyngreeley.com. Sharing = caring. <3

Thanks again and Happy New Year!

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Is a Writers Conference Right For You?

Each September for the past nine years, St. Augustine, Florida, has hosted the Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writers Conference. Since I’m fortunate to have my lovely, artistic town present this writers conference and book fair, I do my best to attend. I’ve made it two out of my three years here (couldn’t last year, as the hub and I were full-on into our house renos).

Let me give a quickie explanation: The FHBF is both a writers conference and a celebration of books and authors Floridian. It’s organized around critique sessions on Thursday, a full day of conference workshops and lectures on Friday and a series of author talks on Saturday.

I decided to attend only the Friday conference this time around. My Saturday was full-up with another FWA meeting (great tips and tools for writing press releases, courtesy of Nancy Quatrano) and more house-y everything. Yep, one year later, and we’re still finishing the renos. You know, those whole-house remodels really take some time when you’re not working on them full-time. Here’s hoping we’re done before next September. : )

As many of you know, when I’m not renovating, I’m writing my second adventure-mystery novel, the sequel to Emerald Obsession. I’ve been struggling with it here and there. Partly from a time perspective, partly from an exhaustion perspective, partly from a distracted-creative-brain perspective. I think many of you can relate; we all have things we like, want or need to do, but we don’t necessarily have the bandwidth or energy to do them (or do them well). At least, not as much as we’d like to. The rest of life often disrupts our best intentions: family, work, home, friends … all grab and hold our attention, stealing it from our other endeavors.

Well, that’s where a writers conference can help. I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions how incredibly helpful my critique group is. Well, picture a writers conference as a critique group on crack. Super-charged and offering valuable advice and information.

FHBF Sign
FHBF Sign

This year’s FHBF conference offerings resonated with me, and I knew attending would fire my imagination and rev up my commitment to writing. Several sessions were geared toward: scene development, plot building, and characterization, as well as writing strategies and book marketing. Two presenters I enjoyed for their engaging, entertaining and truly informative presentations were Roy Peter Clark and John Dufresne. So glad I heard them, but sorry I couldn’t make the concurrent sessions. So many workshops, so little time. ; )

So, is a writers conference for you? Obviously, I can’t make up your mind, but hopefully these few items in a “pro” list will help you decide in favor of attending:

  • You’ll learn so much on a wide range of writing topics. The whole idea of a conference is to share ideas and knowledge. You want to be a better writer? A single conference can cover a huge spectrum of information; it’s like one-stop-shopping on both the craft and business of writing. Fabulous!
  • You’ll meet lots of people with the same interests, so networking and sharing ideas can happen almost automatically, even for introverted writer-folks such as we may be.
  • Being with other artists can energize and inspire you and your writing. Plain and simple.
  • The experience of a new place can provide excellent writing material. And even a familiar location can come alive when you view it with a new perspective.
cell-download-2-2014-2078
Stairway at Markland House, where sessions were held.
One of the classrooms; caveat, this photo is from a previous conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No surprise, there are more factors to consider when deciding. Two important points are location and cost. But something to keep in mind is there are many conferences of varying sizes and across hundreds of locations for you to choose from. You may even find free workshops or seminars to get you started. By the way, don’t forget to talk to your accountant, because you may be able to write off your conference expenses.

Here’re three good conference listings to get you started: http://writing.shawguides.com/ and http://thewritelife.com/28-fantastic-writers-conferences-authors-bloggers-freelancers/ and https://www.awpwriter.org/wcc/directory_conferences_centers. But be sure to google for yourself, especially based on the type of writing you do. And don’t forget to check your local library for info.

Another big thing to consider is what each conference offers. Most present a broad variety of activities to participate in, but among the usual suspects are: focused lectures, keynote speakers, workshops, critique sessions, agent and/or editor appointments, discussion panels, author signings, writing prompt activities and pitch sessions.

With so much fun and thought-provoking stuff going on, you’ll wish you could attend every conference. : )

How about you, friends and readers; have you been to a writers conference? If so, which one(s) and what was your favorite takeaway? : ) Please share your experiences in the comment section. I’m looking forward to hearing what you’ve found helpful.

Thanks for hanging, and don’t forget tell your friends about my website, so they can sign up for my newsletter and read all the latest. See you again soon!

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Swaying Palms

The Write Time … for a Summer Treat

Like most writers I know, I feel like I don’t have enough time to write. We juggle a ton of other responsibilities, so that even when we carve out time at our computer or with a notebook, things often interrupt and push writing to the back seat.

One of those things currently stealing my writing time is cooking dinner for me and the hub, something I’m adapting to since we married last year. Because I work from home, I have more flexibility in my schedule. And, though very challenging mentally at times, I have to concede my daily physical workload is not quite as exhausting as my hub’s is as a contractor. So, most days making dinner falls to me.

Those who know me know I wasn’t much of a cook when I got hitched. I’d lived in the West Village and worked in Hell’s Kitchen (love that name) for all of my 17 years in Manhattan, and world-class cooking and cuisines greeted me whenever I stepped outside.

To say I hardly cooked during those NYC years is massive hyperbole. I boiled water for pasta, ate cheese and crackers and pepperoni (thanks, Uncle John!!) and occasionally heated a can of soup or scrambled a couple eggs. Could’ve ended in tragedy, considering my love of food, but with a decent salary and so many readily available scrumptious options, I had no choice but to indulge my restaurant craving.

Fortunately for me, for a relatively small city St. Augustine boasts a disproportionately large quantity of fabulous eateries. But that’s a topic for another blog. : )

As much as I’ve enjoyed the culinary additions (yay, a Thai restaurant finally opened downtown), one cannot live on restaurant food alone, said someone somewhere, surely. And since neither my hub nor I are rolling in dough (hello, can we say “whole-house reno,” anyone? Another writing-time-suck, BTW.), I’ve taken up cursing—I mean, cooking—to keep us eating tasty, healthy food on a reasonable budget.

Well, now. Shopping and cooking for more than one person is quite the experience.

But I’m getting used to juggling both. And to my hub’s ears’ and stomach’s delight, I’m improving. I won’t bog you down with my best tips and tricks for shopping fast, healthily and affordably. There are so many other more worthy sites you can check out for better tips than I could give. Here are two to try:
http://www.eatthis.com/best-supermarket-shopping-tips-ever
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/grocery-shopping-tips/

So what I’ll do here is share a few fun summer dishes that I tweak to fit what I find in my kitchen, along with links to a couple great recipes. Check out these fun yums:

–Old Bay Shrimp:

Spicy Shrimp over Rice

http://oldbay.com/Recipes/Shrimp/Appetizers/OLD-BAY-Steamed-Shrimp-with-Cocktail-Sauce.aspx

Ridiculously easy and incredibly flavorful, especially if, like me, you love OB. Bonus: shrimp are healthy; something about that low-mercury, good omega-fat thing. : ) For kicks, I make my own cocktail sauce using ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice and Tabasco. I don’t have a recipe; I just mix everything until I like how it tastes.

–Cold Pasta Salad:

Pasta Salad
Easy Pasta Salad

Yeah, there are a bazillion varieties out there. Try them all. ; ) Pasta salad is a great, easy way to have a healthy, cheap-ish summer dinner (or lunch) without going crazy in a hot kitchen. One of my versions includes: mini shells (try the whole wheat or fiber pastas), store-bought cooked chicken (like those Perdue shortcuts, if they’re on sale; otherwise, use whatever leftover protein-y substance you have in-house, like a can of chickpeas), grape tomatoes, cucumbers, a few onions (the hub loves onions), olives, cheese (feta’s great, so’s pepperjack), peppers and zesty Italian dressing. Dice up the bits, add to the pasta and mix it all with the dressing. Easy part: cook a large quantity of pasta for dinner some night, then reserve some unsauced to use the next day in the PS. : )

–My hub’s Czech Cucumber Salad:
So good, if you like vinegar, as we do. And super-easy: peel, then grate (with the big holes) 3-4 large cukes into a bowl. Add white vinegar, salt, pepper and a dash of sugar to taste. Stir. Almost like having cold cuke soup, but not pureed.

–Easy Smoothies:
I make these with an immersion blender; it’s so fast, easy and healthy, because you start with frozen fruit instead of ice. Toss in your fruit—I use froz mixed berries, plus whatever fresh I feel like: banana’s great, watermelon, peach. Then add milk and some fruit juice or lemonade to reach your desired consistency. I sometimes add Greek yogurt (great protein), applesauce, etc, too, for extra health or flavor. Or try some avocado!! Zip the whole thing for about 30 seconds, then pop in a straw and sip. Sometimes when we’re needing a “special smoothie,” I’ll add a splash (or two) of vodka. Healthy and mentally refreshing. ; ) Once in a blue, we get wacky and refreeze the smoothie into pops:

Pops
Smoothie Pops

So there are a few of my go-to, summer faves. I do actually cook many more things, including chicken, fish, pork and beef. Plus actual real veggies and carb-y things.
AllHomemade

But this post would draaag if I listed them all. Plus, I’m—happily—finally getting the hang of (somewhat) cooking on the fly. I find a recipe that sounds good (check out allrecipes.com), but I never seem to have all the ingredients, so I throw in whatever’s hiding in the cabinets. So far, no one’s gotten sick.  : )  But that does make it hard to share recipes! Whoops.

Do you enjoy cooking? What do you prepare during the dog days of summer? Please share some of your favorite dishes, either to cook or to eat, in the comment section. I LOVE food! Almost as much as I love writing. Happy eating and happy writing. : )

Oh, and as a bonus, follow this link to a delicious Gambas al Ajillo recipe. Courtesy of Lauren Aloise, the recipe is similar to one used to prepare the Gambas San Martin dish Lexy and Claire salivate over at Las Ramblas Tapas Restaurant in Emerald Obession:
http://spanishsabores.com/2014/04/10/gambas-al-ajillo-recipe-spanish-garlic-shrimp/
If you’re ever in NYC’s West Village, stop by for the real deal at Las Ramblas on West 4th Street: www.lasramblas.nyc. It’s one of my favorite tapas joints. <3

Thanks for visiting. And please be sure to tell your friends about my website so they can sign up for my newsletter to get the first scoop.

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Sunlight through trees

5 Writing Tips for a Spring Refresh

Spring’s here, and I’m so glad. Signs of a refresh are everywhere: budding trees, longer days, spring training. Life reinvigorating itself. Noticing the new season’s changes made me take a closer look at my writing routines. And that prompted a question.

How do I spruce up my writing habits to better manage everything that needs doing?

That’s the rub, isn’t it? Every day in a writer’s life is about more than the words on the page. What happens when it’s time to refresh not only your words, but the habits that frame your writing? I’m sure you can relate. Like others in charge—of households, businesses, et cetera—now that I’m the boss (ha, I like that one), I juggle more tasks than just the basics. My time is split between doing what I love and doing what makes my business grow.

When I published my first novel, I went from simple wordsmith to: website designer, book marketer, blogger and social media content provider, office manager, accountant and help desk technician (yes, I’m awful at that last role).

With all these parts to play, often on a daily basis, how do you keep up? Especially when you have a day job and a life that requires at least marginal attention.

Since taking on these additional duties, I’ve struggled with how to make sure everything gets done, well and reasonably on time. Wearing several hats isn’t new to me, but being the boss is. I’m the one responsible for my business, and being in charge requires a heightened level of discipline.

Now that I work as a professional writer, I’ve discovered how to make my routine manageable.

Here are my top five strategies for organizing my writing and business habits:

1—Practice writing 5 days a week. Many sources (and famous writers) say to write every day. I’d love to, but that doesn’t work for me. Does that mean I’m a lousy writer? No. Will it take me longer than some to improve or get ahead? Maybe. But I’ve recognized my limitations, and for now, writing seven days a week rarely happens. I’ll still try, but I won’t beat myself up for missing a day. There’s enough pressure on, and all those other hats need wearing, too. As always, pick your battles.

2—Vary where, when and how you write. Sometimes I’m on my computer in my home office. Other times, at one of the coffee shops downtown. I type on my laptop outside. I grab one of my ever-present notebooks and write longhand, preferably in blue ink (blue makes me happier than black). I write in the morning, afternoon, evening and middle of the night, though not usually in the same day. The upshot: write when- and wherever you can.

3—Work with a critique group. I mentioned mine in my post, “Under Pressure.” I cannot stress enough the huge help those guys are, nor the support they give on many levels: sounding board for story ideas, insights into the writing business, founts of info and resources, and obviously critiques and camaraderie, which I absolutely need. Family, friends, loved ones…all crucial in life, but other writers? Sanity when you think you’ve lost it.

4—Make friends with a content marketing editorial calendar. Mine’s on the lean side at the moment, but it’s enough to keep me on track with the big-ticket items, like blogging and marketing. There’s nothing like seeing what needs doing in black-and-white (or blue-and-white, in my case) to keep me accountable. Hello, whiteboard, my old friend. You can add in dates for financial reporting, ordering supplies, whatever you need so you stick to a schedule. Here’s a calendar source to check out. I don’t endorse or use their products, nor get compensation for the mention, I just found useful info there. Find what works for you.

5—Embrace a To Do List. On a smaller scale, you’ll usually find me with my To Do List somewhere handy. My editorial calendar lives on my office wall, letting me see the month at a glance and know my basic tasks, while my To Do List drills into the down-and-dirty, like specifying details for a contest submission or picking up research materials at the library. When I feel overwhelmed, I’ll even write down something I’ve finished, just for the relief of crossing anything off my list. Yes, I’m one of those people. : P

So there you have it, a few things that keep me mostly on the straight-and-narrow. Do they work all the time? Hell, no. But they’re helping, for sure.

What about you, readers, writers, fans and friends? What are the writing and business habits that work for you? How often do you revisit your routine? I’d love to hear what keeps you motivated, so leave a comment below or shoot me an email. Thanks for reading and please share.

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