5 Reasons Why We Fail

If you’re anything like me, new  ideas run through your brain constantly. Sometimes, we come across a true gem that we just can’t stop thinking about – because it’s Brill!

Come on, you know what I’m talking about.

All rights reserved to artist Sarah McAtee.

All rights reserved to artist Sarah McAtee.

 Constant brainstorming, rapid note taking, and visions of success are all symptoms of this sort of “genius moment”.  I obsess, can’t think of anything else, skip meals, get sweaty palms. . . and sometimes other symptoms as well including visions of grandeur, best case scenario, maximum outcome positive thoughts.
But then, a few days later or even a month or so the motivation behind the spectacular grand idea just seems to die and never evolves into the next step.  Or you bounce the idea off of a realist and they bring you back down to earth, outlining sometimes in detail why it won’t work.  Sometimes, it’s not even subtle they just poke your big balloon with a giant pin and you feel like crying.
OK maybe you don’t feel like crying but I often do.  Then the evil voice inside my head starts in on it and viciously tears apart any good that I could have ever imagined was in that stupid idea.

I am my own worst critic, and am a confessed self defeatist.

It’s rather sad, because some of those ideas are serious money-making material.
If we can get a grasp on why we repeat this cycle over and over and over again,  we can escape that matrix and build momentum taking our lives to the next level.
So, here are 5 reasons why the ideas in our head ends up in our own slush pile:
1. We Don’t See Any Immediate Results
 Let’s face it, we have become a microwave generation.  In fact the microwave just isn’t fast enough anymore. Instant messaging, drive thru orders, instant search on google, it’s what we are used to.
Ideas take time to grow. Quitting or giving up before there’s even a bud on the vine is a guaranteed way to kill a great idea.  Remember what your goals are and why you were so excited about your idea in the first place.
One trick I learned is to make a road map.  Brainstorm, mind map whatever you call it. Get it down, and out of your head.  Create an outline, a business plan whatever it takes to see what it takes to make the idea become a  plan. Think about transitioning this to a dream board to see your plan to fruition.
Write down the steps it will take to get to where you want to go.  You’ll see you’re only in the beginning phases of the entire process. But, seeing the rest of your “roadmap” (including your goal) on paper will  give you the boost you need to keep going.
2. Uncertain What To Do Next
 This happens all of the time, but it shouldn’t stop us. It’s just the first hurdle, and we just have to do a little more research (or simply ask someone for help!), in order to jump over it.
Also, you can go back to your “roadmap” and see what the next steps are. Remember to take things one step at a time. Often the details will work themselves out as you near the next step.
“Cinch by the inch, hard by the yard.”
3. We Just Don’t Care Anymore
 For whatever reason, you’ve lost sight of why you’re working so hard. When it comes to motivation, here’s what you can do:
  • Remember why you were so excited about your idea in the first place! Envision what life will be like at the end of the tunnel. Revisit the gem, ooh shiny!  Get yourself motivated.  (And people think I’m a dork for posting my self motivational stuff!) Journaling can really help with this  because you have a written reference documenting your excitement in the beginning. Revisit it,   it might breathe the enthusiasm back into your plan.
  • Read an inspirational book. One of my favorites is The 4-Hour WorkWeek, by Tim Ferriss.  I also like Michael Hyatt and Dan Miller.
  • Display your favorite quotes. At my desk, I have this quote posted up on the wall next to my computer: “The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Become.”
  • Reading that always gets me going again.  My favorite is framed, done in Calligraphy, very simple.  It says “If not now, when?” Now that I am reminded of that,  I will have to go find that one as it was moved when I relocated  my “office” to a real desk and not at the kitchen table.
  • Talk it out with someone. If you’re feeling low on energy, sometimes all we need is a pick me up from a buddy. That’s why so many people say it’s a lot easier to go to the gym or stay on a diet if there’s someone else there with them. My Facebook writing friends are the best on the planet.  I’ve been in a local group, and it was a bunch of posturing peacocks.  Everyone looked down their nose at me because I was green.  It’s ok though because I’ll have the last laugh, I already have in some measure.  I find that I often need a sounding board.  My husband is willing,  but when I am firmly in the grasp of the brainstorm frenzy describing my ideas, my eyes glistening with zeal, my husband is looking me like Martin in Finding Nemo – she’s speaking to me and I think she’s speaking English, her lips are moving but I can’t understand the words. Sometimes I wonder if he gets glimpses of the sick depravity that is in the recesses of my mind and isn’t working on his plan for what to do when I finally snap.
  • Take a quick break. We often work on something so much that we forget why we’re doing it. Take a day or two off, and you’ll often see the motivation come back in no time.

4. We’re Not Certain if Our Idea is as Great as We Thought it Was

Maybe you’re having second-thoughts about your idea. Maybe it’s not as awesome as you thought. This is the thought that pops into my head more often than the others and it’s definitely a downer. It’s the reason I have dozens – yes dozens, and that is probably a gross understatement – of unfinished projects.  If I were to sit down and finish every book, every poem, and every article that I started, I would be much further along.  This is part of my plan for the coming years, to finish what I’ve started.
But here’s what you can do to keep your idea alive.
Simply put – think positive thoughts.
Have you ever heard of “The Law of Attraction”?
It basically states that people’s thoughts dictate the reality of their lives. In other words, think positively, and positive things will happen to you. Good juju in – good juju out!
I find it ironic that this is a Biblical principle, but the world is more attune to this than Christians.
“For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7 
It takes a secular book like The Secret to get Christians off their duff, and in an uproar over a concept that the world grasps – The Law of Attraction –  before  they will ever consider that they should be following the same basic philosophy.  It isn’t difficult to figure out really, If you think you are worthless,  you behave as if you are worthless. If you believe that you are a person of value, then you carry yourself, value yourself, and work towards achieving  the goals that you have within you.  If you want positive results then  stay your mind on positive things. Makes sense to me.
Also, you have to realize that you’re not going to succeed unless you give it a shot. What’s the worst that can happen? If you’re doing business online, the worst is probably not as bad as you think it could be.  If it’s getting published, seriously take a look at some of the stuff that has been published and ask yourself if they can get published, then surely I can too.
5. We See Someone Else Doing Something Similar, and It Seems Better: we Lose Hope
Okay, so someone “stole’ your idea, or beat you to it. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Here’s why:
  • That fact that you see someone else doing something similar to what you had in mind is actually a good thing! In fact, it shows that it IS a great idea, that others are already using it to make money for themselves. There’s a proven market for it, and now it’s your turn to join in.  And, no one else can tell the story inside your head, or get the exact plan that’s in your head.  Do It!  Quit being a quitter!
  • The Dry Cleaners Theory: Have you ever noticed how many dry cleaners there are in one location? Here in St. Louis, there are over 100s (according to the yellow pages). My point is this: you don’t need have a unique idea in order for it to succeed. And if there’s a need for something, there’s always room for more options and solutions in the market. This is a concept that has been conveyed with affiliate marketing. You don’t need to control the market, you can do quite well with 5% of the market!
  • Lastly, all you have to do is build a better mouse trap. Put some thought into why people will choose to visit your website, read your content, and purchase from you, instead of someone else.  Spend some time asking yourself if you are a writer:  Would I read this? Would I spend my money on this?  What can I do to make it better?  Does it have enough plot twists? If it’s nonfiction, have I given factual data and clear instructions?  Think – engage your brain.

I hope you will agree that staying on course hurdle jumping is the backbone for the success of any business or blog, which is why I spent some extra time today. Truth be told it’s my own personal self motivational talk.  I just let you listen in because I’m a freaking awesome motivational teacher! Just ask my students from CS.

Work hard, play hard.  If you spent half as much time working hard for yourself as you do for a company, think where you will be in 5 years, 10 years.  Not still in the stock room that’s for sure. When you follow through on your own plans you are working for yourself, to achieve your own goals not the goals of a corporate CEO.  Soon you will be your own CEO.  Nobody is going to work as hard for your success than you are, so what are you waiting for?
I have three potential personal assistants lined up for my next step of success.  I’m hoping interviewing will begin soon.
I used some of Pat Flynn’s material in composing this.  Thank You Pat!  It applies to the writing life so well, and to entrepreneurial ventures as well.  I have enjoyed this self-help discussion, what about you?
Leave me a comment with your next step to pursue your dreams.
Write on my friends, write on!




We make them every single day of our lives.  We make multiple decisions  – every – day.  Most of us get to a point that we don’t even think about the decisions we make,  we  are on auto pilot. For instance in the morning,  getting my cup of coffee, brushing my teeth and getting dressed are automatic things that I no longer consciously think about before doing.

Regardless of whether I am consciously or unconsciously  acting, these are  decisions that could affect not only my future but my here and now. Not brushing my teeth could affect work relations instantly! Long term I could be looking at dentures.

Most of us do those types of things having made the decision a long time ago that this is the right action. There is nothing wrong with that.  We’ve made the conscious decision at some point that this is the action to take. We are in charge. Our decisions today affect our tomorrow and either move us towards the future we want,  or a future we don’t want.

We decide what clothes to wear. It seems this is a harder decision for women than men with the changing fashions.  We decide what foods to eat and when we eat them. We decide the route to take to work, although that one often goes on the automatic pilot track.

Some decisions are weightier than others. Do I accept the transfer at work?  It will mean relocating to a new city where i don’t know anyone. (I can’t help but wonder where  we would be today If I had  taken that transfer to Honolulu. )

Before you make a decision, you should ask yourself how it is going to help you tomorrow. How will it help you 5 years from now?

Choosing to splurge on that pizza  is fine for the weekend game with your buddies but it can’t be the mainstay of your diet or else you will find yourself in the ER with  a heart attack weighing in at 300 pounds when you are 48.  Choosing to lounge on the sofa all day long is fine when it’s snowing outside and you don’t have to  be anywhere specific. But if you chose, say next Tuesday and every Tuesday thereafter to be a couch potato and  binge watch Supernatural  while eating pizza will soon land you in the unemployment line, and eventually out of your apartment and on the street with no TV.

One decision leads to another. A series of bad decisions carries you to  a future that  is  sad, sometimes wondering where did I go wrong?

It’s this way  with weight gain.  Oh, I’ll just have one brownie. Later  that night you choose the pizza instead of the grilled chicken.  The next day you feel lethargic so you get the jumbo sized soda. After a month you’ve gained weight and can’t imagine why.  Hmmm,  gee I wonder. All of those decisions have blurred together with a bad case of amnesia.

What about your financial future?  A string of small expenses that didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time add up to quite a bit over time.  Then suddenly, your washing machine goes out.  It happens.  Appliances are known to break at the least opportune time.  You don’t have the money because you splurged on that cool leather jacket, and then that nice dinner  out that ended up costing way more than you planned especially after the fourth margarita. OH, and then there was the fast food purchases because you were running late. Oh yeah and the little trip you took with your bestie when her boyfriend dumped her.

It’s not the glamorous life.  It’s not even the cool life to  be conscious of every decision but it is a life that will carry you to your dream future.  Many years ago,  I  reached an epiphany. I remember it like  it was yesterday. The recliner broke,   the mechanical footrest thing on the sofa broke, the dishwasher broke, and the dryer went out all within a week.  Our children were in grade school.  My husband was finishing his bachelor’s degree. The company offered tuition reimbursement but what we didn’t count on was the interest that accumulated while carrying thousands of dollars for the semester.  OK, so we were young and stupid!

Over the course of  two years we had 5000 dollars of student debt that the company was not going to reimburse between the interest and the cost of books. This is when our appliances decided to go belly up. We had a decision to make.  We could just put it on the credit card and add it to the amount. It’s what most people would do but not us.  We had already decided that we were not going to live in debt. We had made a budget and the decision that we were going to get out of debt and stay out of debt.

We made trips to the laundromat every week.  I washed dishes the old fashioned way, with my hands and we decided that we would sit on lawnchairs if we had to, but we were not going to  run up anymore debt.  It was uncomfortable.  It was difficult, but it was a decision that we made and stuck to.  It was challenged on every turn.  There were multiple opportunities to just use the credit card.

My point is,  you have the opportunity to direct your future by each decision you make.   Each good decision builds on  the last one. Think before you just react on autopilot.  Sometimes the right decision is not the easy decision. Aren’t you worth the hard choices?  Isn’t your future worth a little bit if discomfort today?

Ask yourself where you will be in six months if you choose option A or option B. You have the keys to your future in your hands each and every time you make a decision.  You can create your own destiny and own it instead of ten years down the road feeling victimized by life and kicking yourself.

There are times for a swift kick in the butt,  but that isn’t one of them.  What can you do today for yourself tomorrow? What can you do today that will move you in the direction of the future you want?

Think about it then act accordingly.

Write on my friends,  write on.




Pioneer to Extreme Sports II


If you missed the first  part, you can read it HERE.

We left off with Hank just about to tell us about  removing the roof.

2013-06-15 16.36.40

II.  The Roof Surfer

“The plan was simple.  Pull the roof off; add reinforcements,  build a second floor, then put on a new roof.  Nothing to it. It was going to be easy money.  Except for her.”

Hank continued to recount the incident as he  enjoyed his meal.  The chains were attached to the roof and the other end was attached to his pickup truck.  When Hank gave the signal, Mary would drive forward and pull the roof off.  That’s when things went horribly wrong.

As Hank worked, securing the chains and removing the last few nails, his wife’s pregnant state was causing an urgent need for bladder relief.  Exchanges were made several times back and forth as she became increasingly restless.

“Now?” Mary yelled up to Hank.  It was the fifth time.  He was giving one final check to the bolt fastening the chains together.  He made a forward motion with his two fingers above his head while he tugged on the chain and yelled  “In a minute!”

Mary interpreted that as the signal.  She hoisted herself into the truck, started the engine and slowly eased up on the clutch.  Hank was straddling the peak, tightening the nut when he felt the tension in the chains.

The roof slid off the house as smoothly as planned.  Hank riding it to the ground had not been part of the plan.  Without even so much a s a backward glance Mary shut the truck off, jumped out and ran to the neighbor’s house where the family that owned the house was staying.  It was that neighbor who noticed Hank lying on the ground beside the roof, motionless.  Three fractured ribs, a dislocated shoulder and a broken collar-bone prohibited Hank from being able to complete the job or earn income from the work he’d already completed.  It also prevented him from earning any income for weeks from his regular job or side jobs.

He calmly sipped his coffee telling the story as if it  were nothing.

“Wait,  you mean you rode the roof to the ground and she just ran in the house and didn’t bother to  look?”  I asked in disbelief.

“Nature called.  She had to go.”  He calmly  cut into his  country fried steak.

“Were you planning to signal her from the roof?  What did she think was going to happen?”

He patted my hand in  a gentle grandfatherly manner. “Sweetheart,  I take it you’ve not been pregnant before.”

“Well, no I haven’t but” the look of horror on my face must have  had him disconcerted.

“It’s all fine.  We managed through that and worse.”  He gave a knowing nod and went back to his meal.”

Stay tuned to more of this fascinating man’s true life experiences.

Write on my friends, write on!




Benefits of Writing


Look ahead they say.  Rejection is  a part of  the process they say.  Delayed gratification will come after a long road to  success.  All true but I need motivation right now!

Top ten benefits  that keep me going:

1.  I like having another identity besides the day job. It’s like I’m a super hero – changing from regular working grunt by day, Wonder Woman by night.  * Dons WonderWoman cape*

2. I have fun writing!  Well, most of the time.  It’s still a thrill to see my own name in print, whether it’s an article in a magazine, or in a column,  or  – brace yourself –   on the cover of a book!  SQUEEEEEEEE!

3. Writing keeps me out of trouble, mostly.   It’s  a relatively cheap pastime, it gives me great pleasure and a sense of accomplishment, and the fantasy world I create doesn’t hurt anyone,  Unless you count my characters. *Sigh*  Alright,  so maybe   in their  view it hurts.  The murder victims – yes,  they were necessary means to an end.  It wasn’t personal, really.  Rosanne Winters in ORal Dilemma, OK so maybe her tragic life seems harsh, but better way to “feel”  the emotions behind the songs?  LIke I said – mostly.  MOving on,  I don’t even want to get into the scenes with the dragons.

4. Writing adds excitement to my life! What other career can you fly with a dragon, murder a college bimbo,  meet an ancient Viking, kill the perfect boyfriend,  leave a man bound in leather and chains in the basement for –  going on 10 months now,  and  climb the mountain to a gorgeous waterfall all in the same day? Not only that,  but who knows what will happen when I send my babies out into the world. Will it be another rejection letter?  Will this be the one that says YES?  Will it be hated, loved, despised? It’s a mystery world don’t you know!!!

5. I’m pursuing my dream! What’s more satisfying than doing something you love, that you feel passionate about?

6.  I’m earning  money from my writing!  It’s not much,  just the occasional short story or article  now but soon my books will go out into the big, big world and multiply the few dollars into mucho dinero. Compared to the  tiny bit now,  trust me it will seem like mucho dinero. Don’t shout down my fantasy!

7.  Research!  I know you’re scratching your head and thinking I’ve gone off the deep end.  Hear me out –  I research things online,  in the library, to write a better story.  I research things that interest me.  Not to mention the fact that I get a strange pleasure from  gaining knowledge nad have this weird think for mostly useless trivia.  How many other people know the names of the Greek gods,  the Roman gods,  the Viking gods and the Egyptian gods?   I find mythology fascinating.

*Glares at readers.*  You watch Cat videos on YouTube.  Leave my gods alone!

8.  I learn more every day!  Learning about the craft,  perfecting my craft, perfecting my prose – it gives me  pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. Yes, I’m a dork and I like to learn!

Why do I suddenly feel like Evie? “You’re wondering, ‘What is a place like me doing in a girl like this?’  Look, I… I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell, but I am proud of what I am.”

Rick O’Connell: “What is that?”

I’m . . . a WRITER!”

9.Writing sharpens my mind. And my wit!  It’s an active thing –  the more I write the more I learn, then I write more and I learn more.  That’s deep, you should write that down!

10.  I take pride in contributing  something useful and being helpful.  Even if it’s ony a single sentence that someone gleans from my blog –   it  gives me a sense of accomplishment!  Every time someone likes my posts,  it’s a little zing of pleasure.  Every time I get a notice that someone follows my blog –  I’m annoyingly happy. (Just ask my husband about how I do a happy dance when I get notifications on my phone much to his dismay!)  The fact that  my followers have grown to the numbers I have –  I am amazed, humbled, and  completely blown away at times that anyone would bother to read a single word I say!  It makes me feel, even on the darkest days like maybe  I do matter.

There you have  it.  My top ten!  Now go write your own!

Write on my friends, write on!


Hazy Daze of Winter

There I was, minding my own business and I got waylaid by illness.  Yes, I know I’ve told you all about it.  Went over the practical applications to prevent in the future.  What I didn’t discuss is the drug induced haze I’ve been in ever since.  Prescription meds  mind you but they have the same effect.

A  friend recently was having some issues with his pain medications.  The doctors had him on morphine and it wasn’t working for him.  He ended up having a very rough reaction and went through a month of anguish trying to get back to an even keel.  In a similar fashion, though not to the extreme I have been having issues with my prescribed medications to help me get over the pneumonia.

One makes me hyper like I’m an 8-year-old  that consumed twelve redbulls.  Another messes with my hormones and I’ve been on this emotional rollercoaster that I can’t seem to get off of.  It’s like the horror ride in a Scooby Doo cartoon, only for real! One pill makes me feel hyperactive and another makes me feel like I’m in a hazy nightmare, and the third  jerks my emotions around.  *One pill makes you happy and one pill makes you sad, . . . go ask Alice*

I was watching The Help and I”m crying because Mae Mobley is such a neglected child. I mean, sobs!  This is fiction people!  Then, later I was crying with Rutledge when Tanner had opened his car door for him to feel the effects of the tear gas on Top Gear!  that was when I realized it was the medicines affecting my hormones that  are messing with my emotions.  Be glad you’re not living with me right now.

I’ve written words and when I go back over them I think – what on earth was I thinking?  I have two more days of one medication, and today is last day of another.  Hopefully, I will get back to normal soon.  Well, or at least normal for me.

Write on my friends, write on!

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

smart goals

Winding down the end of the year is always a busy time.  Winding down is actually a misnomer, as I’m usually gearing up for my plans for the new year.  Evaluating what went right, what went wrong,  what goals I’ve met or exceeded and what goals I’ve completely failed at usually are forefront on my mind as I set my plans for the new year.

How do you gauge yourself?  Do you spend time evaluating how you did in meeting goals you’ve set for yourself? If you’ve failed every goal then you either didn’t apply yourself or you set ridiculous unattainable goals.  On the flip side of that, If you’ve met every goal that you’ve set for yourself you’ve set your sights too low.

I’ve missed some of my goals.  I break down into ten areas the goals I set for myself.

  1. Career Development – This includes any webinars, seminars, training and such that I will need for my career.  Getting relicensed each year goes under this category.
  2. Financial – What % I plan to save, invest, or spend.  For instance a medical procedure that our insurance deems elective is having a large mole removed from above my eyebrow.  As an elective, this simple procedure is going to run me $3000. out-of-pocket.  There are other things that have taken priority over this. I know women that have gotten boob jobs for less than that!  At this point all financial decisions are weighed against my daughter’s upcoming college years.
  3. Education – Any class I decide to take or that may benefit me for personal gain, not covered by job requirements will go here.
  4. Family – Establishing time to spend with my family, planned outings, vacations, or simply a game night.  Last year I had set the goal of 24 dates with the hubs.  There are 52 weeks in a year, you’d think that we could have managed 26 dates but no.  Missed that one by a mile.
  5. Artistic – Do you want to achieve any artistic goals?  this past year I decided to rekindle my interest in drawing, and managed about five sketches.  Granted, four of them were illustrations for my own purposes for my books, but it helped me to gain a visual as well as getting back in the swing of sketching.
  6. Attitude – Our mindset is the biggest aid or enemy.  I find that in some categories I am my own worst enemy, in some I’m a slave driving task master, and in others I’m a great cheerleader for myself.  Hey, we all have our strengths and weaknesses.  Is any part of your mindset holding you back? (If so, set a goal to improve your behavior or find a solution to the problem.)
  7. Physical –  This is where my weight loss goals go, as well as my fitness goals.  I had planned to lose 50 pounds this past year, but I only managed 26.  However slow progress it may be it is still progress, right?  It’s more about overall health than weight loss for me.  In the coming year I have set specific SMART goals for myself in this area.  This is one of the areas I have struggled with.  Newton’s 3rd law of motion definitely applies to me here, an object at rest tends to stay at rest.  It is with great effort that I drag myself to the gym. I’m not happy with where I am, but I’m not accepting it and saying oh well.  I’m doing something to change it even if it is slow progress.
  8. Pleasure – We are creatures of comfort.  We will seek pleasure out in whatever form is easily obtainable.  By planning in fun time, I insure that I will be productive during the work part.  I am allocating myself a certain amount of time per month for playing games, the new Tombraider will be out this year and I still haven’t beat Underworld.  Then again, I thin I’ve maybe spent a total of six hours gaming in the past year.  Trust me, I do better with some down time.  Work hard, play harder!
  9. Public Service – This is where I allocate the volunteer work, charitable donations, and any other contribution in whatever form.  Whether it’s purchasing and delivering bottled water for tornado victims  or working as an usher during a church service; serving others helps me to keep my head, and realize that I indeed have much to be thankful for.
  10. Personal Goals – This is where I put those things that don’t tidily apply to other areas.  For instance, reading goals.  Last year I set myself a goal to read 26 books. One book for each letter of the alphabet.  Either the title or the author had to begin with the letter.  I’ve read 38 books this year, and none for letters Q or X.  Darn, missed that one.  I set myself reading goals every year.

What about you?  Do you set goals for yourself?  Try to set your bar just a little harder so that you have to push yourself.  We are capable of more than we realize.  This is the whole reason why a personal trainer can get you to do more than you can yourself, because they push you.  They encourage you.  They see the long-term effect where as we get hung up on the momentary discomfort.  Hey those first few weeks in the gym were killers!

Spend some time brainstorming what you want to accomplish this next year, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. You may also want to consider just a single goal in each category if it seems overwhelming.  For me,  I like having a long checklist of things I have achieved, so I make several goals.  For each year I make the number of goals equal to the number of years of my age. You may want to consider trimming yours down so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on.

As you do this, make sure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve, not ones that your parents, family, or employers might want. (If you have a partner, you probably want to consider what he or she wants – however, make sure that you also remain true to yourself!)

Here’s the thing, if we don’t set ourselves goals we achieve nothing.  We just go with the flow, day-to-day and end the year the same as we did last year, or the year before, or the year before that.

Failure to plan is planning to fail.  I don’t like to fail.  I’ve found that if I don’t set myself goals to achieve, I drift aimlessly and achieve nothing.  I’m of the belief that we get one shot.  This is not a dress rehearsal, it’s the main event.  I want to be the best me I can be while I’m here and contribute to the world around me in a positive way.

What about you?  Got plans?  Got an areas that you’re not satisfied with?  If you’re content, could you give your time or energy to less fortunate people?  There’s always something more that we can do, but it’s a personal plan for each and every one of us.

Write on my friends, write on.

I’m Plotting

Yes I am plotting.  I’m not plotting a new novel, I have plenty of thsoe to work on.  I”m not plotting a cemetary into individual graves for the dead horse – that’s just futile.  What I am plotting however is a Grand Mayan end of the World Party!

Yes that’s right!  Prince was a little premature in his “Party like it’s 1999” song.  The purple years have passeed without incident.  Now, however even the national weather bureau is talking of the mayan calender ending summarily on December 21st.  Perhaps my zombie horse was a predictor, it does say in the Bible that the dead shall rise  in the end times.  Hmmmm.

Regardless, we’ve decided that a grand festive Mayan party is in order. Hot chocolate will be served, as will a giant chocolate fountain to cover whatever you will, even the cute guy in the corner! (That’s right I’m talking to you!)   Chocolate coins will be plentiful as the Mayans were rich with gold, and er,  chocolate.  Tortilla chips and salsa will be upon every table, and a tequila fountain flowing in the front corner. Other refreshments will be made available I am just undecided at the moment.

One of those “yule logs” will be burning on the computer screen where the great effigy sacrifice will be made to the jaguar god.  A paper effigy pattern will be made available, so that the guests may attach whoever’s picture on it that they are going to offfer in sacrifice.  At a specified time, effigies will be offered in mass burning on the yule log to appease the great jauguar god and hopefully delay the end of the the world. If that doesn’t work we will offer 10% of the Twinkie stash that was hidden for post apocolyptic survival.

I’m sure some hackers out there somewhere will come up with a Mayan trojan or some other virus to destroy laptops and tablets.  I have no such deviousness planned. Simply a last chance party.  Last chance to live it up if it truly is the end.  Last change to believe that perhaps the Mayans really knew what they were doing an they didn’t die off  becausee some other tribe killed them. I always thought perhaps the calendar maker died and no one else knew how to finish, then of course the Spaniards came in and took over.

Whatever reason, I’m really tired of this whole end of the world thing.  Here’s a news flash – none of us get out of here alive!  I know sounds like a pessimistic view but it’s not.  Everyone has to die eventually.  It’s all just part of the great circle of life. (cue the Lion King music) While everyone is refusing to attend a myriad of holiday parties for religious reasons, my party will be the smash hit of all time – becasue it’s the LAST party of all time!   ROFL  The end of the world does not discriminate for race, creed, color, sex, sexual preference, religious views, or age.

Tribal dancing, effigy sacrifices, mass consumption of chocolate – what can possibly go wrong with that?  Let the tequila fountain flow!

Write on while you can my friends, write on!





Make The Time To Write

Most excuses  are just that – excuses.  It’s no different for writing than any other pursuit.  If it’s important, you’ll make the time.  I will be the first to admit that there are many that are more diligent than I am.  The initial excitement soon gets bogged down in the middle, which becomes work, but tenacity forces us to continue.

Whether the goal is weight loss, learning a new skill, or writing a novel it’s important to make the time to focus on the goal.  Weight loss just doesn’t magically happen, well at least not for me.  It’s a matter of daily decisions accumulating to a one pound loss, then five pounds then more.  It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose one pound.  As the pounds add up, the motivation rises.  The finish line gets closer with each smaller accomplishment. My weight loss has been slow, but steady.

It’s the same principle with writing.  If I write only one page a day –  that’s about 300 words, I will have a book in a year! With other obligations in our lives it is sometimes difficult to manage even that minimal amount.  Last year I made writing a priority.  I average around 2000 words per day.  I don’t write every day because there are days  when life gets in the way.  For those days, it averages out for the days when I write huge amounts.  My record is close to 10,000 in one day but that is the rare occurence. My writing pace is much slower than I would like.  In the past six months, a friend made a simple statement to me that greatly impacted my thinking.  If you’re going to be a writer then approach it as a real job.”  So simple right?

If I were at a “real job” I wouldn’t spend work hours folding laundry.  I wouldn’t spend hours watching mind numbing tv shows on the job either. When I worked in an office I was prompt and professional.  Should I apply myself any less for my own success? I know others who work from their home, and they spend virtually all day in their pajamas.  I can’t do that.  I need to apply more self-discipline to be my own boss than when I worked in the office.

Here are some simple tips to make the time.  It’s easy to apply the same tips to whatever your specific goal is.

  • Write every day. This saves time as you don’t have to reread as much to figure out where you were going, and it sets the daily habit which is important.
  • Set daily and weekly goals.  I’ve fallen down on this one more than a few times.  If I fail to set goals then I tend to meander aimlessly or lose motivation.
  • Use your writing time wisely. This is where you have to apply your unique approach to optimize your efficiency.    If you are a morning person then make the time to write in the morning.  If you are a plotter,  then plot out an outline to work from.  Have the tools you need ready  for best productivity.
  • Know your work area.  Do you require a perfectly sanitized clean desk?  Do you have a mountain of clutter?  Are you somewhere in between?  Know which is best for you and maintain your work area.
  • Don’t ‘research’ during prime hours. It is a major disruption to the flow of your writing to have to stop in the middle of a scene to research.  I make notes on a notepad, yes the old-fashioned kind with an ink pen as I work.  I note the chapter, scene, and sometimes page where I need the information.  I jot down a note, then usually the next day I research when I’m online.  I find it too distracting to actually write when I’m online because I want to chat with my friends.
  • Decide how badly you want it.  Are you willing to give up television?  Are you willing to give up housework?  ( A hearty amen to that one!) I’ve decided that I can’t afford to sacrifice sleep any longer.  Sleep deprivation is not something I’m willing to go back to.  I’m not willing to sacrifice my family for my writing endeavors.  Managing this one takes planning ahead, and being disciplined with yourself.

Above all, realize we are only human.  My friends remind me constantly that I am merely human.  I have a tendency to think in super human goals, making it impossible to achieve.  That is a self sabotaging trait that I am working on overcoming.  The overachiever in me has to be realistic and breathe.

Have you ever set your mind to a task and achieved it?  Would you be willing to share your struggles with others?  Strong willed people tend to have to figure things out on their own.  I can read about someone elses struggles and appreciate their growth but it isn’t until I learn from hands on experience that it really sinks in.  What  about you?

Write on my friends, write on!


Time Passages

So you’re recovering from the weekend, whether it was  the neighborhood football game, acting wild and crazy, traipsing over woodland trails,  or household repairs.  Then it’s back to work on Monday.  Wait?  Wasn’t there suppose to be some resting somewhere?  Do you ever feel like you need a rest from the weekend?

Monday begins the work week, new projects, new routines.  Ever get to where you feel like screaming “Jane, stop this crazy thing!”

It’s pervasive in our society – – the constant rushing, the over scheduling — all of which leads to feeling grossly overwhelmed.  I know I don’t do as much as my friends.  I hand them the superwoman costume gladly!  I’ve spent a great deal of time helping others to accomplish their goals, but ironically there’s never anyone around to help when it’s time to accomplish my own goals.  Nobody is going to guard my time but me.  In the business world time is money!  Actually I feel time is more valuable than money. You can always get more money, not so with time.  We get 24 hours in a day, universally.  When you work for someone else you are trading your time for money.

When dissatisfaction occurs, you begin to question the merit of that, and realize that time is a harder commodity to come by than money.  It’s why you pay the plumber to fix the clogged drain – because the time it would take you versus the time it will take him is worth the money.  It’s why you pay someone else to do the physical labor.  Consider the cost in everything you do. Sometimes it’s more beneficial to pay triple what you could do it for yourself if  you are DIY handicapped.   There are times when it’s worth the time it will take you, and save the money.

I don’t mind painting.  In fact, I enjoy it.  I will gladly sand, spackle, patch, prep and paint the entire house  because it’s something I enjoy doing.  It would be disastrous for me to try to tackle the wiring.  Aside from not knowing electrical codes, and not having the proper certifications or licenses, I would likely cause a fire or cause damage to myself!  It’s worth it to pay the electrician – and thank you Chris for  fixing my  kitchen outlets!

There comes a point when you have to guard your time.  It seems there are more people trying to take my time than there are people trying to separate me from my money.  I am setting a new schedule to help me achieve  my professional goals.

Monday starts the work week, and usually that day is swamped.  Tuesday is sometimes less hectic, but in my case lately, not so much.  Often it is midweek before I actually get to address the “new ideas”  I had for Monday.  My big plan for  a new schedule that was supposed to begin on Monday has been pushed back.  That’s ok, it gives me a little more time to adjust it and make even further improvements.

Setting a workable schedule is an important aspect to working from home.  Aside from the constant stream of traffic that think I do nothing since I’m home, there are the distractions of my own making.  There are five areas where I undo my best laid plans.

1. meals   I make sure the family is fed and out the door in the morning, but often jump into my work without eating breakfast.  Sometimes I forget to eat something until 2 in the afternoon. By then I could eat anything and everything in sight.  Not a good thing for someone who is trying to lose weight.  Skipping meals is not a healthy thing to do!  Then there’s the flip side of that – after several days of skipping meals I’m ravenous and the kitchen is just right over there ! (points to my left)

2. Chatting  I open Facebook to check on things, read comments, catch up.  I can easily get tied up in a chat with a friend much longer than I intended to. What can I say, I’m a chatty type of person.

3. Research – Follow the bouncing link into cyberspace infinity.  Come on, you know you do it too.  There  are links demanding to be  clicked!

4. Reading articles  My friends post all sorts of interesting articles, I click and read.  I want them to read mine so I read theirs. I will include blog posts in this as  well.  Chuck comes up with some interesting things. Not to mention Raymond, Joseph, Aurora, Penelope,  Boogz, yeah I could go on and on and unfortunately I often do.

5. Multitasking can be unproductive  Splitting my time between multiple projects keeps me busy – oh yes very busy.  However, it can be rather unproductive when project A has a deadline tomorrow and I haven’t made the progress I had planned, so everything else is put aside to finish project A in time. Project B is vitally important to my career, but seems to be pushed back frequently.

It’s amazing how these things just creep in and take more and more time from my schedule.  It’s the same principle as feature creep.  You patch that spot on the wall, then notice another, and another. soon you’re painting the wall, then the room, then the entire house.

Working from home requires decidedly more discipline than working in an office if you are ging to be effective at it.  It also requires re-evaluating your progress periodically to see where you can make changes and improve the processes.

What are your areas of feature creep that are stealing your time?  Are they self-made disasters  or real constraints?  Leave me a comment, even if it’s to say I’m the only one that deals with these issues.

Write on my friends, write on.

New Projects

Starting a new project is always exciting.  This is when the creative is at their best.  New, exciting, exhilarating, no boundaries, the sky is the limit, and your imagination is free to run wild.  Firing synapses create their own special sort of “spark juice” that fuels the muse and keeps her euphoric.

Alas, in every project there comes a point where the newness wears thin and the work part begins.  Creative muse goes poolside, munching bonbons and sipping fruity drinks while Javier fans her with a giant palm frond.  Helga, the über nazi muse takes over and slaps her riding crop in her hand as she paces behind the creative, threatening harsh punishment if I even think about quitting.

Every new project is gold when you have the “spark juice” flowing.  It’s important to go with the brain gush with the initial idea because you want to get as much down as possible.  Learning to use the creative energy to the fullest advantage is crucial.  If you cut off the creative spark before  the brain gush has given the initial draft – regardless of how many pages of writing, or how large the canvas is.  Business plans are drawn on napkins, or in my case on the back of an obituary, are forms of the creative burst.

Every creative person out there knows very well that at some point – –  and you know it will come soon – –  the creative gives way to work.  EEK!  Yes, work.  *sigh*  That four letter word that the less disciplined avoids – work.

I am very guilty of having many, many unfinished projects.  *SIDE NOTE FOR THE GRAMMAR NAZI – I know typically the use of two “many’s” is poor grammar – unless you saw the size of my unfinished projects list, then you might have me add a third. *

Unfinished projects can  be a manifestation of two main problems:

  1. Lack of discipline  – It takes a lot of work to write a book. It takes time with your butt applied in the chair day after day after day.  It takes a great deal of thought beyond the creative spark to come up with a plot, a rising action, the inciting incident, recognitions, reversals and end up at a satisfactory climax with tidy denouement.  My biggest argument against the pantsing from my own experience is that although I wrote a lot of good material, it didn’t really move the story forward in a progressive manner.  It takes brain power to get in there and plan out the story, knowing where you’re going to lead your characters.  I will also have to argue against fully planning  because if I plan my story out completely, it becomes boring.  I know everything, and no new mysteries are unfolding.  By full planning, I’ve expended the creative energy into the plan and haven’t expended it into the brain gush.  Now a larger portion of the writing has become work.
  2. Addicted to the “Spark Juice”.   There is a certain element of operating in the creative part of the brain that is addictive.  Unfortunately, creatives tend to not be self-disciplined as self-discipline is a left brain function, and creativity is a right brain function.

New projects are a regular occurrence.  The trick is to balance the new with continuing the not so new.  Whether it’s writing or in any business, new projects are part of the business.  Very rarely in the workplace are you given one file to work on and only that one file from start to finish.  More often its several files that you work on simultaneously.

That habit follows me with my writing as well.  To me, it is a benefit, because  it keeps the projects new and fresh, and helps keep from getting to the boring work part.  There are always different phases of projects to be done.  One project needs research, one needs some editing , one needs to be written, and the work files continue.

I am going to incorporate two aspects for time management beginning today.  One of my friends from an online writing group shared her spreadsheet with me.  It helped to give me an idea of how to juggle and schedule my writing time/ work time/ family time/ workout time/ cooking time/ and other responsibilities time.  She thought her schedule was tight,  I still haven’t managed to include any sleep time on mine.

The other part  is from 13 Tricks to Optimize Your Writing Routine. I already do some of these things but the others can be implemented.  I’m not going to be getting up earlier, I already get up at 5:30 or 6: 00 a.m.  The staying up later is debatable too as I think part of my frequent problem is the lack of sleep.  I have a writing routine, but I am modifying it. In the words of Veronica Sicoe, “. . . many people misunderstand the term “routine”. Here are a few hints to point you in the right direction:

You know you have a routine when you consistently repeat an activity within set parameters; when you don’t need to be in the mood to get the work done; when the people close to you only need to look at the watch to know what you’re doing; when you can estimate the time you need to finish any task related to that activity and are able to plan ahead.

You don’t have a routine if you’ve made a schedule but don’t follow it; if you turn your TV off, send the kids to their aunt and throw the phone away, but play Solitaire instead; if you talk and talk about your writing or the craft but never actually do it yourself.”

Yeah, well . . . I’ve done that before.  I’m guilty of talking about it and not actually writing.  I’m guilty of thinking about it while playing games.  When someone calls for an impromptu lunch – sure!  This is especially a problem when I’m at the dry work part of the writing.  When I’m having to think out how to fix that giant plot hole that I created during NaNo, any diversion is used.  Unfortunately, it’s highly unproductive!

Working from home requires a lot of discipline, the discipline that has been sorely lacking lately.

Now, those of you who are observant are going to say:  Hey!  Wait a minute.  Didn’t you just lack week talk about not being in a rut in Dare To Live Beyond The Rut?  Yes, I did.  I stand by that firmly.  A rut is to be avoided, but to be productive and effective a routine is mandatory.  Occasional diversions are helpful.  When there are so many diversions that it disrupts the productivity, this is unacceptable.  It’s a fine line, and we tend to veer to one ditch or the other.

Always a work in progress and always a new project to tackle.  My new project?  Refining and reestablishing a working schedule that I and my family can live with.

What about you?  What projects do you need to tackle?  What changes do you need to make?

Write on my friends, write on!