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Posts Tagged ‘We’re All in This Together’

This post was originally part of Marcie Flinchum Atkins’s blog seried WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.

Marcie had asked the contributors to this series the following question: How do you keep yourself motivated? We all like to have written, but find it hard to stay motivated to write.

Following is my response to the question.

Some words my thesaurus gives for “motivated” are inspired, stimulated and encouraged. Some antonyms for those words are demotivated, uninspired, depressed and discouraged.

When it comes to writing, do you ever feel demotivated? Discouraged? Uninspired? Depressed or frustrated? What might be behind those feelings? Following are ten obstacles to consider when you lack the motivation to write. I have listed a few ways to combat each obstacle. Can you find some other ways of your own?

1. Fear
List the beliefs, thoughts, events, situations etc. that are behind the fear and find a way around those obstacles.

2. Lack of Knowledge
Take classes; read; ask questions; participate in writing community discussions; attend conferences; join a critique group; read blogs; join a group like Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12, or kidlit411, or Sub Six, or WOW nonficpic, and many more.

3. Lack of Ideas
Join Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo; start an idea file; live life thinking like a writer – eventually you’ll hardly go through a day without hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting or feeling something that sparks an idea; ask other writers how they get ideas. This is a common question in author interviews, so read interviews.

4. Rejections
Read “We’re All in This Together” posts on rejection (post #1 and post #2) and my post on TWELVE METHODS FOR COPING WITH REJECTIONS.

5. Other People’s Successes
Instead of letting the green-eyed monster frustrate, discourage or depress you, do something nice. Congratulate the other writers. Buy their books. Share their success on your blog or elsewhere. Let their success inspire you. Believe the same is possible for you.

6. Feeling Overwhelmed or Overloaded
Take a break by doing enjoyable things that you have not allowed yourself to do for a long time. Cut yourself some slack and prioritize. Are all those “shoulds” spinning around your head really that important? See time management link in #10 this post. Journal, meditate, vent to someone that you know truly understands.

7. Distractions
Set limits on social media and other computer distractions. Find a place and time to write that is void of distractions. Are you a distracted mom? See Marcie’s “Mom’s Write” series.

8. Writing for the Wrong Reasons
Ask yourself why you are writing. If it is to become famous or make lots of money, those reasons might not be enough to motivate you after you’ve received a few rejections. They might not be enough to motivate you away from distractions. There has to be something in it that makes you want to write no matter what. Even if no one ever reads it, you are compelled to write. What makes you love writing? According to my Webster’s Dictionary, the definition for motivate is “To provide with a motive.” The definition of motive is “Something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act.” What is your motive for writing?

9. Beating a Dead Horse
After sending the same story to your critique group twenty times, you might feel like you are beating a dead horse. After getting twenty rejections for the same manuscript, you might feel like you are beating dead horse. When going around in circles editing the same old five stories, you might feel like you are beating five dead horses. Try putting the dead horses away for a while and start writing five fresh stories.

10. No Time
Look at your time realistically. Are you trying to fit a 72-hour day into 12 hours? If so, you have too much on your plate and something must go. What will it be? When considering this, the first place to look is time wasters. Check out these time management tools.

Your turn: What keeps you motivated when things in your writing life get tough?

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sub six series 2

HOW TO SUBMIT WITHOUT FEELING LIKE THROWING UP

by Yvonne Mes

Through my travels in various children’s writing groups, on-line and in person, I have come across a few people who have said something like:

“I have just submitted my manuscript to (insert name of dream agent or publisher). Eurgh, I feel like throwing up.” Or they took it one step further and expressed the state of their nerves by regurgitating their lunch.

I am here to tell you submitting should not make you feel sick!

You may not be quite as emotional as some, or go to these bodily extremes after submitting a manuscript, however feelings of anxiety are quite common.

I admit to having experienced some strong but opposing emotions when submitting a story. I share a couple of my experiences below.

Ignorance is bliss

My first submission was a picture book story for a writers’ festival competition. I knew nothing about writing for children, but I had children, I loved reading, and I had an active imagination. Therefore, I was confident my story was a winner. Ah, the bliss of ignorance. I whistled merrily as I pressed that send button. I would win that contest. Someone would offer me a contract, and people would soon start calling me the new Mem Fox or Jane Yolen.

Fast forward a few months …

During the months of waiting for the results, I immersed myself in picture book writing. I researched online. I read books. I enrolled in one writing course and then another. By the time I found out I hadn’t won the contest, I was only a little devastated, because by then I had realized that the story I had submitted, well … sucked.

Too much knowledge is dangerous

The next time I submitted a story, to an agent no less, I had almost finished my writing courses. I had spent a lot of time on this story. I had joined several critique groups. Using their feedback, I revised and revised and polished my story so much that I could almost see my reflection in it.

But this time when I submitted, I had realized how hard it was to get traditionally published, how small the chances were and how long it could take. This time, I felt I had everything to lose. And I did feel rather queasy.

Yvonne's post queasy

Control

Now, I am going to be wildly assumptive and judgmental, or perhaps incredibly insightful and say that most of us writers are control freaks.

When you hit that send button or let that letter slip from your fingers into the great unknown and unpredictable via the mailbox, be it real or virtual, it is out of your control.

You had control when you coaxed it into being. You let others critique it, but still, you were able to decide what was worth taking into account, and you were in control of the revisions. But once it’s gone, you can’t change that sentence around anymore or find a stronger verb. And now that you have let it go, you are worried that perhaps it could have been better.

Yvonne's post calm panicEven if you are completely confident about the creative masterpiece that is your manuscript, you worry about the things beyond your control. What if the mail truck does a double flip en route to Mr. Dream Agent? What if the agent sloshes her coffee over your manuscript? What if a computer virus hacks her inbox? What if your agent has left to join another agency and your manuscript has been filed in the black hole of lost stories?  There are so many variables beyond your control. And it makes you sick. Sick to your stomach. Pass the barf bag.

After a suitable amount of waiting, anywhere from 2 minutes to 6 months, you hang on to every little shred of hope that your story has, in fact, NOT been rejected but perhaps misplaced temporarily or even better is taking longer while a contract is being drawn up. You anxiously wait, and wait, and wait.

Yvonne's post stop.jpg

Hang on, hold on. Stop! What you are doing? Do you really have time to obsess over these things? Let’s be practical.

Set a reminder in your diary at the date the agent or publisher had specified as their cut-off date. If you haven’t heard anything by then, ask them for a status update. If you don’t hear back from them within a few weeks, that’s it. You have been rejected. Move on.

What can you do?

Yvonne's post yoga ladyNow, I am the least Zen or Buddha-like person. I don’t believe in fate and karma, and I can never quite attain a sense of calm and complete relaxation, or at least not for very long. But I do believe in logic.

And my logic tells me that once my manuscript is gone, it is out of my control, and therefore not worth spending energy on.

Let it go.

Know that you have done all you can. You have done everything you can to make this manuscript the best. You did what you could to make yourself visible as an author. You did your homework, your research on your story AND on the agent or publishing house. You studied the craft of writing. You had the story critiqued several times. You have not written the stuffing out of it. Now it is time to …

… let it go.

Know there is more than one good story in you. Revel in the knowledge that even if every submission you ever send out gets rejected, you are already a successful writer. You wrote a story. You made it your best. And you are in the game!

Let it go.

So what if you discover you have made a grammatical error or misspelled Mr. Cszrukosy, your dream agent’s name? Well, it is out of your control now. Besides, if the rest of your query was professional, and your story is pretty awesome on top of that, well then, they will forgive you that mistake.

Go and work on something else. Spend some time with your family or friends or pets. Do something else enjoyable, like read a book! And then … start writing something else.

Let it go.

And if ‘Letting Go’ doesn’t work try the following:

Face your fears

What is the worst that could happen in the micro cosmos of this particular story? It could be rejected. Let’s be honest, statistically that is the most likely outcome. You know that it is going to happen, just not how, or when. Even established writers get more rejections than they do contracts.

Be practical, increase your chances by writing more stories and submitting more often, and if the story keeps getting rejected?  It still doesn’t mean the death of your story. If you receive feedback you can work with, you can submit it somewhere else. If you don’t receive feedback, seek it out. Maybe your story plot is fine but instead of a picture book, your idea will work better as a short story for a magazine or chapter book.

Yvonne's post Brethe In

Whatever you do, keep submitting. Press that ‘send’ button, shove that letter in the mailbox, breathe, smile and let it go.

Yvonne's bio imageBIO

Yvonne has been around children most of her life, if she isn’t working with them, she is raising them. Yvonne coordinates Write Links, the Brisbane children’s writers group  ww.brisbanewritelinks.weebly.com and is a supporter of Kidlit411.com. Her short story My Sister Ate My Science Project will be published in The School Magazine (Australia) this year. In addition to writing for children, she also likes to work on her illustrations.

Yvonne has a Bachelor of Children’s Services, a Certificate in Professional Children’s Writing, a Cert IV in Visual Arts and Crafts and a Cert IV in Training and Assessment.

You can find out more about Yvonne on her website. www.yvonnemes.weebly.com.

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List of other ALL ABOUT SUBMISSION posts.

Marcie Flinchum Atkins’ WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER: ARTIST DATES. A group of writers tell how they replenish their creative energy.

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th (1)JUST SAY NO TO NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

It is that time of year again. I have decided to modify my post from last year and repost it.

And here it is. . . .

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.

THIRTY-ONE JUST FOR FUN

Over the next couple of weeks, take some time to reflect on 2013 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 2013. 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 2014 click on the Sub Six tab to learn more about our Facebook submission support group.
  • Did any submissions get accepted for publication?
  • Did you get any rejections with encouraging notes?
  • Did you find a positive way to accept rejections?

I will post some of my 31 after my list is completed. In the meantime, six writers and I share some of our 2013 achievements on Marcie Flinchum Atkin’s blog in her “WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER” series.

For tips on celebrating your achievements see CELEBRATE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS BIG AND SMALL. Be sure to scroll down to the section about the achievement jar, so you can celebrate all through 2014.

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One day, after a discussion with my friend about manuscript rejections, she said to me, “We are just going to have to keep writing until we get it right.”

Part of me agreed with her until I woke the next morning thinking, Who says we don’t already have it right?

My daughter loves beets and I hate them. Which one of us is right? Or is the beet wrong for tasting the way it tastes? Sometimes, manuscript rejections might merely be an indication that we have not found the right match for our work – the person who will love our beets. Of course, this thought process doesn’t mean that I won’t keep trying to improve my craft. However, it does mean that I have decided not to let other people’s personal tastes make me doubt that I have it right. There are plenty of famous, extremely successful writers who were rejected numerous times before they found the right beet-eater.

I might not like beets, but I love black jellybeans. As far as other jellybeans go, red ones are okay, and green ones? Yuck! It is all a matter of taste for me. I think I would even reject the green ones if I were starving. I could take or leave the red ones. But I cannot resist a black jellybean.  I had to taste a lot of jellybeans before I could determine which flavor I like. I had to taste beets before I could learn that I hate them. Who knows what writing flavor an agent or editor will love without first offering them a taste? Yes, we can do our best to research what they like. But sometimes, it is a matter of building a relationship and learning their literary tastes.

Image

In the above image, there are very few black jellybeans.

Like an agent with manuscripts, I would have to reject a lot of colorful jellybeans to get to the flavor I like.

I have a friend who signed with an agent earlier this year. That same agent also rejected my friend’s first manuscript submission, and then another and another and another. My friend kept submitting manuscripts to this agent until she found the story that the agent could not resist. That story must have been a flavor the agent loves. Now, my friend is trying to rewrite the first rejected story to see if she can change the flavor enough to get her agent to take a bite.

I hope if you ever find yourself feeling dejected over a rejection that you will take any critique comments into consideration, but also keep in mind that sometimes rejections are nothing more than a matter of taste. Even the picture book/literary genius, Jane Yolen, gets manuscript rejections. This week, she shared on Facebook that she received a rejection from one of her favorite editors, and she will continue looking for the RIGHT editor for that particular book. To me, the RIGHT editor will be the one that loves the flavor of Ms. Yolen’s book.

OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT LIKE

TWELVE METHODS FOR COPING WITH REJECTIONS

WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER: REJECTION POST #1

WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER: REJECTION POST #2

ROMELLE BROAS – REJECTION LETTERS FROM A POSITIVE PERSPECTIVE

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There are some weeks where it makes more sense to let other people do the blog writing.

I’ll start with Marcie Flinchum Atkins and her “We’re All in This Together” series. This month, the subject is motivation. Part One features stories and tips from Sue Heavenrich, Carol Munro, Vivian Kirkfield, and Marcie Flinchum Atkins. Part Two features the one and only ME. In this guest post, I offer ten common obstacles to staying motivated to write. I follow each one with suggestions for overcoming that obstacle.

Carol Munro continues the motivation theme in her guest post for Donna Martin’s “Writerly Wisdom” series. The title of the post is “Dealing with Deadlines.” Carol gives tips for keeping deadlines for both professional and personal writing commitments. These tips on meeting deadlines crossover to staying motivated to write.

Earlier this month, I mentioned Alison Kipnis Hertz and her “Doodle Day May” challenge. Today, I am excited to share that Alison will be continuing Doodle Day May in July. The challenge is to doodle every day in the month of July. Each day, Alison will post a doodling prompt, and all the doodlers in the group do their best to find time to doodle that day. The next day participants share doodles on the Doodle Day May Facebook page. This time around, Alison has asked for help coming up with prompts. I am happy to say that I will be contributing three prompts in July. At the end of this post, I have shared some of my favorite doodles from May. I tend to get carried away at times, so some drawings may seem like more than doodles. But the perfect thing about this group of doodlers is that there are no judgments, just lots of support and encouragement. This challenge was extra fun for me because my daughter and granddaughter did the challenge with me. Thanks to technology, we were able to share our doodles across the 900 miles that separate us. That reminds me, this challenge is open to all ages. It is the perfect thing for children who need something fun to do while out of school for the summer.

My last share of the day is Kristen Fulton’s “Nonfiction Picture Book Week” challenge. For one week, participants will be challenged to perfect, hone and produce great Non-Fiction Picture Books. This includes True Non-Fiction (Biographies and Historical events; How-To books and information or reference books); Faction (Facts presented in a fictitious way); and Historical Fiction (totally fictitious story based on real people, real events or real places). Kristen is offering some outstanding prizes to those who participate.

I posted this without sharing my doodles from Doodle Day May. If you would like to see them you can find them here.

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