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Archive for the ‘life coaching’ Category

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Before I get started on my social networking post, I would like to give a shout out to Alison Hertz and her Doodle Day May challenge. During the challenge, Alison offered a doodle prompt every day in May and we doodled. Then we shared our doodles on her Doodle Day May Facebook page. It was inspirational and fun. I will be posting more about this in the future, but I wanted to mention it today because it truly has been a great experience.

Now on to my intended post. . . .

Have you ever felt like the main character in a horror story titled THE SOCIAL NETWORK MONSTER THAT ATE AN AUTHOR? (And we are talking the author as main character, not the monster 🙂 ) If you have ever felt like the main character, it might be time to reevaluate how you are spending your time and energy.

A while back, I read a Facebook post that went something like this: When I am about to die and my life flashes before my eyes, I’m afraid all I’ll see is Facebook and television. I thought the post was pretty funny. However, as I once heard a famous comedian say, “There is humor in tragedy.”

Back in February, the featured guest blogger for Donna Martin’s Writerly Wisdom series was the award-winning author, Donna M. McDine. The title of this post is “Social Networking Enough Already . . . When It Hinders Your Writing.” Following is a quote from her post.

“Do you want to concentrate on honing your writing skills and writing the best manuscript possible or have hundreds of thousands followers on your social networks with no concrete publishing credits to show for your efforts?”

I made a note of the above quote because I wanted to remember it. I believe it is a good question for writers to ask themselves periodically.

In my January post, A FULFILLING LIFE IS ONE OF BALANCE, I offered an exercise using the Writing Wheel for Creating Balance. Today, I’m wondering if I should have included categories on the wheel for Social Networking and Energy. One of the categories I did offer on the wheel was “Time.” Time is critical in a writer’s life. Time and energy are valuable and limited personal resources. When these resources run dry, so does the opportunity to accomplish our goals. How can a writer maintain balance in life or as a writer if s/he squanders these resources by spending excessive time on social networking?

I feel like I must disclose that I sometimes find myself distracted by social networks and media. After all, I am human. Like time and energy, social media and networking are extremely important and valuable to writers, but if we are not careful, we can be swallowed by the monster and never see the light of a writer’s day – earning concrete publishing credits. Time spent not writing and submitting is time spent not meeting our number one goal.

How are you spending your time?

LET YOUR YEAH MEAN YEAH AND YOUR NO MEAN NO 

When it comes to how we spend our time, one thing we all seem to have in common is an abundance of life choices. We have a never-ending supply of things we feel we must do and things people expect us to do. Then there are all those things that are just too good to pass up. One of the consequences of over choosing is we often end up spending our lives expending ourselves as if we are unlimited, and we are not. When it comes to life choices, one of the most empowering skills we can learn is the ability to say no. The ability to say no to the boss; the spouse; the friends; the TV; the overtime; the recreation and social engagements; social networking and to ourselves. I am not suggesting that we say no to everything. I am suggesting saying no to the combination of things that will create balance when we let them go.

Saying no is a learnable skill, but it is one of the most difficult skills for some women to learn. However, it is one of the most valuable skills because learning to say no becomes a way to honor your values and yourself. Saying no involves choice because when we say no to one thing, we say yes to something else. It is all about choosing to say yes to things that make us more alive and saying no to things that suck the life from us. It is as simple as asking yourself: “What do I want more of in my life?” and “What do I want less of?”

When you first start exercising your right to say no, you might have worries: But saying no is rude. Saying no means, you are not a team player. Saying no means, you are selfish, and on and on it goes. It is important to remember that for every yes you say in life, you are saying no to something else. For example, if someone says yes to working late hours every day, she might be saying no to family and rest. She might be saying yes to her fear of losing her job and yes to powerlessness. Or maybe she is saying no to serenity and yes to security. If someone says no to getting up and exercising in the morning, she might be saying yes to feeling warm and cozy. She might be saying yes to an extra ten pounds or getting more sleep. When a writer says yes to excessive time social networking, she might be saying no to writing. She might be saying no to submitting. And she might be saying no to publication. On the other hand, she might be saying yes to I need a break and a little friendly chatting or learning.

Where and when do you respond with an automatic yes? When and where do you respond with an automatic no? When do you say yes when you really want to say no? When do you say no when you really want to say yes? When does saying yes drain you and saying no energize you? When does saying yes energize you and saying no drain you? Following is a worksheet that might be helpful in evaluating what you say no to when you say yes and what you say yes to when you say no.

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This week’s post touches on three things.

1. My exciting announcement

2. Using the word titled versus entitled

3. Marcie Flinchum Atkins’s great blog series “We’re All in This Together”

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT – COMING SOON! INTERVIEW WITH AWARD-WINNING  AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR KATHRYN OTOSHI

Kathryn Otoshi is the author/illustrator of many picture books, including the highly successful picture books “One” and “Zero.”

In a question and answer format, Ms. Otoshi shares what it is like to be an extremely successful independent publisher. She gives tips and shares her experience as an author, illustrator and independent publisher. You won’t want to miss this interview.

TITLED VERSUS ENTITLED

I just saw it again this week. . . . “Thank you for considering my story entitled, Bla-Bla-Bla.

Over the years, I have seen the word entitled misused all over the place. I have even seen it in published books about writing. To make matters worse, in one book, the error is in an example of a query letter. This means that anyone following this example is sending a letter to a publisher or agent with a writing error that was passed down by an expert. I think it is time I stop letting this bug me by sharing a bit about it on my blog. By the way, in the above example the word entitled should be titled. “Thank you for considering my story titled, Bla-Bla-Bla.” or you could drop the word “titled” all together. “Thank you for considering my story, Bla-Bla-Bla.”

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I offer links to three articles on the subject below. Happy reading!

Purdue.edu – AgComm: Agricultural Communication – “Grammar Trap: titled vs. entitled”

Daily Writing Tips – “Titled versus Entitled”

Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing – “Titled or Entitled?

WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

About a month ago, Marcie Flinchum Atkins started her blog series, “We’re All in this Together.” Marcie and a group of other talented and experienced writers share many inspiring and enlightening personal stories and tips related to the topic of the week. I believe after this week, the series will become a monthly post. Each post makes for a very interesting read, and I encourage you to visit Marcie’s blog, if you have not done so already.

Here is a list of the first four topics posted.

1. Rejection

2. Making Time to Write

3. Revisions

4. Books that Impact Writers

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My friend Marcie Flinchum Atkins has started a blog series for writers titled WE ARE  ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. Each week, Marcie’s blog will feature a different topic, and her writer friends will share their thoughts on the subject. This week’s topic is REJECTION. Marcie has shared some of my thoughts on her blog. I decided I would have a little more fun by offering additional thoughts on my blog. Following are twelve ideas on how one might cope with receiving a rejection letter. I want to warn you in advance that some are tongue-in-cheek fun and others are a little more serious.

1. Scream, cry, and swear. Wad the rejection letter into a ball, throw it at things and stomp on it. When you are done, if you still don’t feel better, consider using it for toilet paper 🙂

2. Print out a photo of the agent or editor who sent the rejection. Draw a mustache, beard, bushy eyebrows, and scars on his/her face. If she/he is smiling, black out some of her/his teeth. If you still don’t feel better, try drawing a target on the photo and throwing darts at it.

Now that I have had a little fun at the expense of agents and editors, I have to say that their jobs are also difficult. They must weed through tons of submissions and make tough decisions. Yet, many of them are kind enough to let us down easy and sometimes even offer helpful suggestions. They are instrumental in forcing us to grow as writers, so I can’t beat them up too much in the name of fun.

3. Grow more bitter with each rejection until you hate anyone who gets an agent or a contract. Really, really hate the writers who are so successful that it seems they have a new contract every time you turn around. Really, really, really hate the ones who have books going into their third printing and are being published in twenty different languages. Hate until you are so green with envy that you are mistaken for an alien. Hate until you can’t stand yourself.

4. Tell yourself that you have no business writing. Tell yourself that you are worthless when it comes to writing. Tell yourself, “What’s the use in trying. I’ll never get anywhere. I give up.” Then stop writing.

5. Once you give up on writing, spend the time you used to spend on writing and submitting by sleeping, staring at the television (on or off) drinking wine and/or eating the most unhealthy foods you can think of. Of course, there is always the old standby . . . eating ice cream straight from the carton.

6. Journal about your feelings or vent to a friend, then get back on that writing horse and write.

7. Meditate or pray until you are at peace, then get back on that writing horse and write.

8. Write a poem or prayer of release, then read it aloud as you burn the rejection letter (or something that represents the rejection). Let it go, and get back on that writing horse and write.

9. Collect rejections as badges of honor. They honor your hard work and dedication, your resilience and your courage. If a writer plays it safe and never submits, a writer cannot possibly get published. Each rejection is proof that you are one step closer to publication. Remember, there are no publishing ninjas sneaking into writers’ homes in search for the perfect story.

10. Keep all your rejection letters in a nice box with a ribbon or some other place that makes them feel like treasured memories. When you get published, you can encourage other writers by sharing how many rejections you received before your first book was published.

11. No matter how many rejections you get, love every person you know who gets an agent or contract. Really, really love the ones that are so successful that it seems they have a new contract every time you turn around. Really, really, really love the ones who have books going into their third printing and are being published in twenty different languages. Love until your heart is so full of joy that you are viewed as a happy and successful writer. Love until you are so encouraged and inspired by these published writers that you believe it can happen for you.

12. Change your perspective. As weights are important to the body builder’s growth, rejections are important to the writer’s growth. With the right perspective, rejections can build your writing muscles and thicken your skin. You can become stronger. And as you become stronger, you will find that each rejection can energize you and push you to work even harder. You have a choice. You can prove those who have rejected your work to be right, or you can prove them wrong. The only way to prove them wrong is to get back on that writing horse and keep writing until you have reached your destination.

PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES

1. What funny things do you do in response to rejections?

2. What self-defeating things do you do in response to rejections?

3. What positive, strength building methods do you have for coping with rejections?

I plan to offer more posts about rejection and perspective. Today I will leave you with the thought that there are many reasons manuscripts get rejected. A lot of them might have to do with personal tastes, requirements, and sometimes even the mood the editor is in. However, sometimes rejections are based on things that the writer can change or improve. Here are a few links that discuss reasons for rejections and one blog post about looking at rejections from a positive perspective.

Marcie’s WE ARE  ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

Jessica P. Morrell’s 25 Reasons Why Manuscripts Get Rejected

Susie Yakowicz, Writing for Kids: 10 Reasons Manuscripts Get Rejected

Romelle Broas, Rejection Letters – From a Positive Perspective

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Where do you draw the line when it comes to changing your story based on critiques and edits?

A few years back, I shared with my six-year-old granddaughter that my writing instructor wanted me to make drastic changes to one of my picture book stories.

I said, “If I make the changes that she wants me to make, it won’t be my story. . . .”

My granddaughter finished my sentence. “It will be hers.”

At the time, I thought, Wow, this is a no-brainer. Even a six-year-old can see it. I ignored my instincts and changed the story anyway. In this case, I think it might have been for the best. I love the new version. However, things did not go so well for another one of my stories.

I loved this story. It tugged at heartstrings. It was action-filled. And it was technically sound. Then the edits started. I made my first edits based on suggestions from my critique group. The next edits were steered by a professional critique editor’s suggestions. A copy editor made the final edits. For the most part, I was still happy with my story. However, the word count haunted me. It was around 1,000 words. After having “500 words – 500 words – 500 words!” drilled into my head by the writing community, I figured this story didn’t have a chance unless I word-chopped it to pieces. Instead, I left it as is and turned it in for a writing assignment.

My instructor helped me edit the story down to 650 words. I was thrilled until I realized that we had word-chopped the heart out of the story. It was a skeleton of “my” story. I ignored my instincts because I was excited that I finally had a short picture book. After all, that’s what “they” say will sell.

Although my instincts told me something was missing, I trusted that my instructor knew best and ignored my inner voice. I started submitting the story. With each rejection, I ignored my disappointment and instincts. I continued submitting until an editor sent me a rejection with two sentences that helped me see where I had gone wrong.

She wrote, “. . .  Also this story does not have enough scenes for a book. It is more of a length for a magazine piece.”

I immediately became defensive. First thinking, I know what I’m doing. Of course, there are enough scenes for a book. I would never submit something so messed up.

Then I found myself speaking aloud to no one, “What! Not enough scenes? You’re crazy!”

I had to prove that crazy editor wrong. I opened my document, studied the scenes and paginated the manuscript. It was a push to get twenty pages out of the manuscript. Now, feeling a bit crazy myself, I did the only thing any self-respecting author would do. I went back to my original, action-filled, heartstring-pulling story. It had 29 pages worth of scenes. It had a tighter beginning. And it was “my” story not “theirs.”

My disappointment and anger at the editor has since transformed to gratefulness. What a great wakeup call.

LESSONS LEARNED

1. Do not lose your focus on ANY aspect of your story telling. I was so focused on 500-words that I forgot the basic elements of picture book writing.

2.  Do not get lazy or overconfident and bypass using a dummy book to test your scenes and pages. Always test the final manuscript before submitting. I had initially tested my manuscript with a dummy book. However, I never realized how drastically it had all changed in the end. If I had tested the final product, I could have saved myself this embarrassment.

3. Do not trust others more than yourself. Even though the story no longer felt like mine, I continued to ignore my instincts. I forced my authentic self to write what I thought they wanted. If you try making changes others have recommended and your instincts tell you it is better for you, follow your authentic path and see where it takes you. However, listen with respect if your instincts scream, “This does not work for me!”

4. Rejections are not all bad.

It took me a long time to get over the embarrassment of submitting something “so messed up.” I had to work hard to make peace with the fact that I presented that manuscript to the agents and editors that were gracious enough to read it. I initially saw these submissions as blown opportunities. Now, I am viewing them as opportunities to learn.

You can bet it will never happen again.

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE STORY?

I put it aside, trusting that I would know when to pick it back up.  Recently, I considered what the editor had said about it being better suited for a magazine. I decided to cut even more words from the story and submit it for the 2013 Highlights’ Fiction contest. In addition, it is still there awaiting its return to a touching, action-filled picture book (otherwise known as “my” story).

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My last post encouraged you to exercise your right to change your mind. This week’s post is about exercising your right to be imperfect, make mistakes and fail. By exercising this right, you open yourself to learning, growing and succeeding.

Some writers perceive rejection letters as failures. This can create a sense of fear each time we go through the submission process. I say embrace these fears and perceived failures. Why would I suggest we embrace fear and rejections? Because each time we muster the courage to submit, and each time we receive a rejection letter, we have an opportunity to learn and grow. The following quote demonstrates how one might grow from being imperfect. Just like Michael Jordan, we can fail our way to success.

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game’s winning shot . . . and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why . . . I succeed.”      — Michael Jordan

The next time you fear submitting a manuscript, or you become frustrated or sad about receiving a rejection letter, remember that these are merely steps along your personal road to success.

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Before, I start my ‘Chooser’s Remorse Clause” post, I want to do a quick check in with my blog followers. I have been wondering if my Life Balance blog series is time well spent on my part. This is important to me because I want to find the best possible use for my blog, and if I am not moving in the right direction, I need to know. I am considering dropping the Life Balance series. I would appreciate comments or email if you have been following this series and if you have any interest in seeing it continue. Thank you in advance for your time.

Now, on to the post!

People often fear making the wrong decision. This fear can grow to such proportions that it prevents people from taking any action, and they remain stuck in place. There is no formula for revealing the secret choice that is just right for you, or which choice comes with a guarantee. At some point, you must consider all the information you have, along with all your options, and then make a decision.

At one time or another, all of us have difficulty selecting among our many life options. When this happens, we can think in terms of choices rather than decisions. Some people think this is just playing with words, but there is more to it than that.

A choice is a selection of one thing over another – a preference. Deciding involves passing judgment, forming a definite opinion or arriving at a conclusion.  If we drop the “de” from the word decide we are left with cide. That’s the same syllable found in suicide, genocide, and homicide. With it comes an image of killing something. Sometimes, deciding can feel like a kind of murder – a killing of alternatives.

Some people, when faced with a decision, react with thoughts such as . . .

“Well, I don’t want this. I don’t want that. So, I guess, all that’s left is this.”

With that type of reasoning, they have killed off the alternatives and assumed their decision is final. The thought process goes something like this . . .

“If I decide this, I will have to live with it forever. My fate is sealed.”

No wonder deciding is tough. Thinking we must live with our decision forever is pretty scary stuff.  Deciding in this way is not a freeing experience. In fact, it might feel like entering prison. However, choosing instead of deciding can change everything.

Choosing is a process that leaves other options intact. The scenario changes when we choose instead of decide. Now, the process goes something like this . . .

“Let’s see. What do I want to do? I could do this, or that, or this. Hmm, I could even do this! Well, I’m not sure, so I’ll just choose this, for now.”

This person has left her options open. She can opt for one thing now and reconsider her choice later. At the time of reconsideration, she might choose something different. Or, she might even come up with a totally new idea. Either way, there is no harm done.

The key feature of this choosing process is that no killing takes place. Not only do the alternatives escape unharmed, they are in robust health waiting to be considered at another time. Choosing “for now” does not rule out choosing again in the future. Our options remain alive.

One tool that promotes this process is Dave Ellis’s “Chooser’s Remorse Clause.” This is similar to an early effort at consumer protection called “The Buyer’s Remorse Clause.” Such measures date back to the days when some door-to-door salesmen used tricks, manipulations and half-truths to peddle a year’s supply of soap or enough cutlery to require a mortgage on your home. In response to this trickery, some states passed laws stating that within, say, three days, you could change your mind. You could return the items and tear up the sales agreement. You owned nothing, and you were not obligated to pay a penny.

A chooser’s remorse clause is much the same. The advantage of using one is that it offers you the freedom to experiment.

“Well, I’m not sure which option to pick.” You can say. “But today, I feel like this one.”

After choosing that option, you can sleep on it. You can also talk to other people about it and see how it feels after some hours pass. And, if that choice does not sit right at the end of your remorse period – whether that’s three hours or three weeks – you’ll know it. Then, you can choose again with no penalty or guilt.

When you exercise your right to change your mind, some people might accuse you of being fickle. “I’m not fickle.” You can reply. “I’m merely exercising my chooser’s remorse clause.”

Even when a choice makes it past your remorse period, you can still review it later. After you have chosen, you can review that choice every month or every year. At those times, you can step back, get the big picture, and see if your choice still makes sense.

Note that invoking the chooser’s remorse clause is not the same as being wishy-washy or uncommitted. We can be fully committed to trying an alternative or experimenting with a strategy. We can play full out, even as we keep our options open.

This is your life. You have the right to choose and to change your mind along the road to fulfillment.

What keeps you from exercising your right to change your mind? How can you overcome that obstacle and make the choice that is best for you at this time?

The information in this blog post is modified from the book “Human Being: A Manual for Happiness, Health, Love, and Wealth” by Dave Ellis.

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In my post titled SETTING THE FOUNDATION TO BUILD YOUR LIFE UPON, I asked you to look deeper into your balance wheels by creating more categories and identifying obstacles to achieving your desired life in those areas. I also suggested that if you wanted to get ahead of the game, to brainstorm in your journal regarding what it might take to bring each wheel area up to a ten. If you haven’t done that, I recommend you spend some time doing so before you move on to the following steps.

TIME TO DREAM

By identifying obstacles, you were working backwards into identifying solutions. Once you know what your obstacles are, you can find solutions for overcoming the obstacles.

Next Steps

Go back, look at your wheels, and choose four areas total from the three wheels. For example, you might choose two areas from the wheel of life, one area from the health wheel, and one area from the writing wheel. Or maybe you want to choose all four areas from your writing wheel of balance. This is your life, you choose. However, because the goal is to create balance in your life, I recommend you start with the areas that you feel are creating the most imbalances. For most people, this tends to be the areas with the lowest satisfaction scores.

Once you have chosen your four areas, it is time to use your journal.

  1. For each area, ask yourself the following questions. What do I really want? What would have to happen for me to feel fulfilled in this area? DREAM BIG. What would a ten look like?
  2. Brainstorm about your dreams or vision for each area.
  3. Make a bullet pointed list of steps you could take to achieve these visions. Be specific. Your list should be written in present tense. You may write in paragraphs if that works better for you. Write as though you are already living a ten. Write as though that area of your life is working exactly the way you want it to. Remember this is your time for dreaming. You are not making any commitments to anyone. Please give yourself permission to dream without judgment, fear, or negativity. Enjoy this time.

The following examples are very basic. I hope you will make your bullet points or paragraphs as grandiose as you wish. Have fun. Dare to dream.

Examples:

  • My husband and I have date night once a week. We also have alone time every night between 9:00 and 10:00. We are more in love today than we were twenty years ago.
  • I call my mother every Sunday and visit her twice a year, once in June and once in January.
  • I have a closer bond with Jason. We work together cleaning his room every Saturday, followed by lunch and a movie. I have learned more about him, his refusal to do homework and his anger. Jason is doing much better in school and speaks to me with love and respect.
  • My writing community is growing. I have made hundreds of writer friends and contacts online. I attend SCBWI events monthly. I meet with my local critique group monthly. I offer support and get support through these wonderful groups, and my writing has improved tremendously.

I will give you a couple of weeks before I post the next steps in this series. Come back next week to read about “The Chooser’s Remorse Clause: Reserving the right to change your mind.”

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ORIGIN OF THE WHEEL OF LIFE

In my post titled A FULFILLING LIFE IS ONE OF BALANCE, I offered you a Wheel of Life as one of the tools for assessing your life balance. Variations of the Wheel of Life are a common tool used by life coaches. No one knows the origin of the life coaching Wheel of Life. However, the symbol and the term “Wheel of Life” originated in the Middle Ages. This was a time when, by today’s standards, life was short lived and difficult for most. Back then, the Wheel of Life was carved into the stone walls of cathedrals so that folks could find comfort in viewing them. People believed that the symbols on the wheel were instructions regarding coping with life’s cycle of unavoidable change.

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The above image is an example of the Middle Ages Wheel of Life. I will take you on a tour around the above Wheel of Life, using clock hand positions to describe the four points on the wheel.

HAPPINESS

Sitting at the 12:00 position, you will find what appears to be a queen or king (for the sake of this post, let’s say “queen”). Although it is difficult to detect a smile on our queen, I have read that this figure is usually smiling. She is sitting in the position of HAPPINESS. This represents the part of life’s cycle when things are status quo or going well.

LOSS

Moving clockwise to the 3:00 position, you will find the queen hanging upside down. It is my understanding that on some wheels you can see a distressed look on her face. She is now hanging in the position of LOSS.

SUFFERING

Moving down to the 6:00 position, you will find the queen stripped of her crown and royal clothing. Some wheels depict her stripped naked. This is a symbol of trudging through the messy, uncertain, troublesome and difficult phases of life. The time when one might feel s/he is losing, or has lost, everything s/he finds valuable. This is the position of SUFFERING.

HOPE

Moving forward to the 9:00 position, the queen is climbing up. This is the position of HOPE. The anticipation and hope that she will return to happiness fuels her climb.

A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THE FOUR POSITIONS

Happiness

Loss

Suffering

Hope

We are always in one of these four life positions. Of course, HAPPINESS is our position of choice. Everything we do and experience seems to click when we are in this position. Our routine works perfectly. We feel comfortable and successful. Then life brings change. At this point, we usually move into the position of . . .

LOSS

Here, we are faced with letting go of our routine, comfort, and sense of normalcy. We are challenged by the desire to regain equilibrium and return to HAPPINESS as quickly as possible. Since life’s wheel does not turn counterclockwise, we sometimes get stuck in the position of LOSS. The only way to return to HAPPINESS on the wheel is to move forward to . . .

SUFFERING

This is a time of hard work and transition, where we experience life and allow its natural flow through acceptance. The only way to move forward into HOPE is to move through the SUFFERING position by fully experiencing change and the pain that sometimes comes with it.

HOPE

Moving through to hope also requires action to create a new routine that will lead to comfort. So, we work hard planning, executing the plan, and revising the plan until our plan begins to work, and HOPE emerges. As our action steps move us forward, we begin to feel capable of achieving . . .

HAPPINESS

Back to the place where we start regaining the equilibrium we so desire. Things start clicking again, we feel comfortable and successful. Yet, this new normal is different from the last time we sat at the top of life’s wheel.

LIFE’S GIFT

With each cycle and each new HAPPINESS design that life creates, we receive the gift of growth. I say it is a gift because the one constant in life is change, but we can learn from it. Learning is the gift. Growth is the gift. With growth, HOPE grows stronger and never completely fades as we travel life’s challenging journey. With growth, the trip around life’s wheel can become more comfortable. With growth, the ride becomes smoother as we learn to return more quickly to HAPPINESS.

THE WRITER’S LIFE CYCLE

A writer’s life cycle can be similar to life’s cycle. We are happy when we are writing and dreaming about success. Then something changes. Something happens that leaves us with a sense of . . .

LOSS

What causes you to lose your writing happiness?

Your writing routine?

Your writing equilibrium?

Once we lose our writing happiness and start feeling a sense of loss, the next step is . . .

SUFFERING

What is your writing suffering mode?

Self-doubt, fear, sadness, frustration?

When do you feel like life is dragging you through the messy, uncertain, troublesome and difficult phases of writing?

How do you move through and beyond your suffering?

What are some of your “SNAP OUT OF IT!” methods?

HOPE

Once we snap out of it, we begin to move into HOPE. HAPPINESS is just a hop, skip and a jump away.

How do you find hope as a writer?

HAPPINESS

Yay! We are back to status quo, writing, dreaming, and writer’s life HAPPINESS. I know from experience that with each cycle, we can grow. With this growth, we always have a glimmer of hope. The cycle becomes less painful. And the ride back to HAPPINESS is smoother and faster.

SHARING WITH OTHER WRITERS

I would love it if you would share some of your answers to the above questions. What kind of changes set you on the path around the writer’s wheel of life? What are your tricks or tips for getting through the Writer’s Life Cycle?

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Life is made up of many facets, and they are all equally important.  A fulfilling life is one of balance. Even though, this blog is for supporting writers, I would like to encourage you to view your life beyond writing. Some of the areas I will suggest you look at are as follows.

  1. Significant other, romance, love and sex
  2. Immediate Family (spouse, children, and grandchildren)
  3. Extended Family (parents, siblings, grandparents)
  4. Friends
  5. Home/physical environment
  6. Fun and Recreation
  7. Work/career
  8. Finances (money and possessions)
  9. Physical health
  10. Emotional health
  11. Mental health
  12. Honoring your values
  13. Self-care
  14. Relaxation
  15. Fulfilling personal needs
  16. Spiritual growth
  17. Personal growth
  18. Availability of writing time
  19. Writing space
  20. Writing knowledge
  21. Writing support from others
  22. Writing ideas
  23. Writing organization
  24. Writing submissions
  25. Writing ability

By looking at these areas, you will gain awareness of what might be missing in your life, or what might be needed in your life. Why is balance so important? Here is an example: Let’s say, like many people, you are focusing 75 – 80% of your energy on one area of your life, if something happens to change that one area, you won’t feel like you have much of a life left. Maybe you put most of your energy into your job or a relationship. If you were to lose your job or that relationship were to end, you would be knocked so off balance that it would most likely feel as if your life has ended. Using these examples alone, can you imagine how something like the above might impact your writing?

Where is your life out of balance?

Where do you focus the majority of your attention?

What life areas are most satisfying? What areas are least satisfying?

Have you been putting parts of your life on pause? If you are like most people, self-care is one of the most common things to be neglected. Things such as fun, time with loved ones, and your health are often put off until a tomorrow that seldom comes.

WRITER’S WHOLE LIFE PERSPECTIVE “LIFE BALANCE” HOMEWORK

At the end of this post, you will find a “Wheel of Life for Creating Balance,” a “Health Wheel for Creating Balance,” and a “Writing Wheel for Creating Balance.” If you want to explore the facets of your life, duplicate these wheels and complete them as follows: Each section of the wheel represents an area in your life. With the center of the wheel rated as zero and the outer edge rated as ten, rank your level of satisfaction with each area of your life by coloring in the appropriate space (see the example below). Zero should be used to indicate that you are not satisfied at all, and 10 means that you are 100% satisfied.

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Copyright Alayne Kay Christian 2013

Once you have colored your wheels, look at the outer edges. Are they smooth and even? Or are they uneven? Imagine these wheels are on the car you are driving through life. How easily would the wheels turn? How bumpy would your ride be? Now, imagine that you have a deadline for a personal or professional writing commitment, but you must be traveling in this car. You have paper and pen in the car, and someone is driving for you. How many words do you think you would be able to write down during this crazy, bouncy ride? How good do you think the story would be? Do you think you would be able to make your deadline?

Keep your colored wheels for your visual representation when you come back for my next post.

Also, in preparation for my next post, please buy or make a journal. Any notebook will do. However, there is something to be said about having a “special” journal for exploring your “Writer’s Whole Life Perspective.” I had promised we would be doing some goal setting next, but I am honoring my right to change my mind. Besides, I suspect most of you have already satisfied your goal setting needs with the new year coming in. There are a few more steps in the process before it will be goal-setting time. Next, we will be looking deeper at the colored in wheels.

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I created a “Health” wheel separate from the “Wheel of Life” because I feel our wellbeing is the foundation for a balanced life. I also believe it is the part that often gets neglected the most.

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Copyright Alayne Kay Christian 2013

Your writing needs “for balance” might be different than the categories on my writing wheel. Feel free to create your own wheel based on what you believe is essential to your writing life.

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JUST SAY NO TO NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

A common question in life coaching is, “What’s the difference between a life coach and a therapist?” The answer goes something like this: Imagine you are driving a car through life with a psychotherapist as your driving instructor. The psychotherapist will spend a lot of time instructing you to look through your rearview mirror at where you have been. A “life coach” driving instructor will encourage you to look out your windshield at where you are going.

A NEGATIVE DRAIN

Today, I am going to swim against the life coaching current and ask you to look back at where you have been. New Year’s resolutions often have roots in the past. We look back, with a certain amount of regret, at what we failed to accomplish in the outgoing year. Focusing on our shortcomings, we resolve to make up for them in the New Year; usually with bigger and better plans than before. Although setting these goals can leave you feeling hopeful, looking back with self-judgment can sap your confidence and drain your spirit.

ENERGIZE YOUR SPIRIT

Instead of looking back at your shortcomings with regret, look back at your successes with confidence and gratitude. Looking back and acknowledging your accomplishments will give you the opportunity to celebrate your successes and energize your spirit as you look forward to your new year.

YOUR FIRST “WRITER’S WHOLE LIFE PERSPECTIVE” CHALLENGE

Thirty-One Just For Fun

Over the next couple of weeks, take some time to reflect on 2012 and list 31 things that you accomplished throughout the year. I hope you will celebrate your successes by coming back and sharing some of your discoveries in the comments section of this post. The most important part of this challenge is recognizing the positive, energizing events of 2012. Even if you are unable to list 31 achievements, come back and celebrate with us by bragging a little about your year.

QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU GET STARTED ON YOUR LIST

  • How did you grow personally, professionally or as a writer?
  • Did you have a positive impact on others?
  • What writing skills did you learn or strengthen?
  • Did you improve organizational skills?
  • Did you find the secret to time management?
  • Did you complete any writing challenges?
  • Did you join any groups?
  • What personal strengths did you gain?
  • What goals did you achieve?
  • What unplanned accomplishments did you achieve?
  • What character qualities did you strengthen?
  • Have you improved your communication skills?
  • Have you gotten better at saying no to others, to yourself, or to activities that drain you?
  • What acts of kindness did you share?
  • What special, memory building moment did you have with family, friends, writing groups, by yourself and so on?
  • Did you submit any of your writing? If you want to challenge yourself to submit more in 2013 click on the Sub Six tab to learn more about our Facebook submission support group.
  • Did any submission get accepted for publication?
  • Did yo get any rejections with encouraging notes?
  • Did you find a positive way to accept rejections?

THIS CHALLENGE IS NOT JUST FOR FUN

In spite of the name of this challenge, your list of 31 accomplishments is not just for fun. It will be a building block as we move forward with other challenges.

COMING UP NEXT:

JANUARY 9, 2013. Now that we have looked at the past, we will look at the present from a Whole Life Perspective. How smooth or bumpy is your life’s ride? Do your tires need balancing? You need to know where you are before you can know where you are going.

JANUARY 16: We will look at the future. If there are any New Year’s resolution addicts out there, you will be able to get your fix in a more positive way.

Disclaimer: Lest I offend any therapists, I will say that more and more therapists are integrating life coaching methods into their practice and helping their clients look forward.

 

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