Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Ten Things that Help Me Stay Productive as a Writer

Sometimes it's fun to write lists. In fact, writing lists should be the first thing on my list of things that help me stay productive!

1. My bullet journal.

Sometimes referred to as my "everything journal." This is not just for writing down daily task lists, though. I use it for story ideas, reading logs, Christmas gift lists, blog post topics, birthdays, and so much more.

2. My iPad.

Sometimes I want do work without leaving the comfort of my bed, you know? My iPad makes it easy. I don't even have to sit up if I don't want to!

3. A space heater.

It doesn't matter how efficient the furnace is. Sometimes I need help keeping my hands from freezing.  Typing can be cold work!

4. Tea.

Especially hot herbal chai. Hot tea helps keep me motivated any time of year.

5. Composition notebooks.

They are inexpensive, lay fairly flat when opened, and are easy to tote around. I draft and brainstorm a lot using composition notebooks.

6. My phone.

The notes feature is great for saving ideas, and sometimes even brainstorming or quick drafts.

7. Quality writing tools.

I love a good ball point pen that writes crisp and smooth, like the Pilot G-2. Sharpie pens are also great because they write nicely, come in lots of colors, and don't bleed through my journal pages (don't worry, Sharpie markers, I love you too). I'm also a fan of mechanical pencils, for both drafting (I erase a lot) and sketching.

9. My office.

Having my own designated workspace has been a big motivator, which is funny considering how often I have the house to myself. But the fact is that I love my office, so I want to be in my office. And when I'm in my office, I'm usually working. Go figure.

10. Other authors' books.

As a reader, I love to be impressed by a writer's skill. As an author, I try to learn from writers who are really good at what they do. And, of course, reading can also help me know what not to do in my own writing.

What things help you stay productive in your daily life?

Friday, February 14, 2020

Just a Dog: A Tribute to Chloe the Poodle

Last week we had to say goodbye to our miniature poodle, Chloe, who was part of our family for 16 years. Her health had been declining steadily for the past several months. Then, last Wednesday, she had what we believe to have been a stroke. And last Friday, we made the decision to have her put down. It was a hard decision, and a lot of tears were shed because of it.

And yet, Chloe was just a dog.

Just a dog who greeted everyone with enthusiasm. If you came to our house, you were instantly her new best friend. From her perspective, everyone who came by was there to see her.

Just a dog who had discriminating taste in toys, but not in food.

Just a dog who would trot along beside you when on a walk, until you came to a manhole cover, at which point she would leap as if to avoid a pit of certain doom.

Just a dog who would politely ask for permission before jumping onto the couch, then lie down beside you with her back against your thigh.

Just a dog who would patiently wait to snatch that piece of chicken liver off the kitchen floor until you said, "Okay!"

Just a dog who trained the new puppy we got several years ago better than we did.

Just a dog who would walk up to you when you were busy and lean against your leg as if to remind you that she was there.

Just a dog who would bark protectively whenever Dad roughhoused with the kids.

Just a dog who loved running through an open field, splashing through a stream, and treated every walk like the adventure of a lifetime, even when she was too old to make it more than one block.

Just a dog who curled up on the carpet in the middle of my office whenever I was working just so she could be near me.

Just a dog who, in recent weeks, would wait calmly near the stairs for me to carry her up or down.

Just a dog who merely tolerated being picked up for most of her life, but whose only peaceful moments at the end seemed to be when she was in my arms.

Just a dog who won everyone's hearts.

She will be missed.

Chloe (left) with our other poodle, Gimli.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

20 Writing Tips for 2020

Happy New Year! Are you the kind of person to have a New Year's resolution? Or are you more like me, wanting to avoid the "resolution" cliché, but still wanting to set goals for yourself? Are some of those writing goals? If so, maybe this list of 20 writing tips for 2020 will help you achieve them!

1. Don't let "write what you know" stop you from exploring the unfamiliar. Nobody knows everything about anything.

2. Jot down every idea, even the "bad" ones.

3. Learn how to properly use apostrophes.

4. Participate in writing challenges.

5. Write the stories you want to write, the way you want to write them.

6. Follow writers, editors, and agents online through social media, newsletters, or blogs.

7. Write to write, not to sell, especially when drafting.

8. Get feedback from writers you trust (critique group, critique partners, paid critiques, etc.).

9. Participate in webinars or workshops that will help you develop your skills.

10. Learn the "rules" of writing so that you can learn how to break them effectively.

11. Don't write in rhyme unless you're willing to work harder than you've ever thought possible.

12. Keep track of your submissions!

13. If an idea strikes while you're in the shower, repeat it like a mantra until you have a chance to jot it down.

14. When editing or proofreading, reading your manuscript aloud and in various formats will help you catch errors more easily.

15. Go for walks without looking at your phone.

16. "Real writers write every day" is a lie. Do what works for you, but try to be consistent.

17. Call yourself a writer.

18. Living life is the best way to find ideas.

19. Be supportive of other writers.

20. Give yourself time to pursue other interests.