Coffee Share: In Which I Discuss Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work For Me

We’re ending the second week of January and I’m just now writing one of these posts. Procrastination 101, guys!

Though, giving myself time to think about what I want to do and if I can do it was helpful. If we were having coffee, I’d complain about the silliness of making resolutions and why they don’t work for me.

I set goals that are too big!

The timeline for a resolution is in the name. A YEAR. Huge right? …not! But my idiot self will set goals so big that it takes a ton of time to complete them. When anything is too daunting for me to do, I procrastinate and it’ll be too late by the time I get to them.

Life gets in the way.

This is how I interpret my reality: there’re the things I want to do and then there’s life. Life doesn’t care about my ambitions; in fact, it doesn’t care I exist. It does what it wants!

So when life happens, my resolutions slip out of focus (what’s more important: building an author platform or figuring out how to pay that bill you don’t have money for? Exactly. The platform bill).

To be fair, this is true for any goal. Finding a balance in our lives is a part of being human.

Resolutions? More like a wish list.

This is the main issue. My resolutions don’t acknowledge my reality. I give no thought on how I will complete my goals only that I want to (Write 50 books in a year? Hell yeah! Wait…).

I also forget that things don’t happen cause I want them to. Like, just because I want to get published in every magazine doesn’t mean that editors are going to collective think: Oh, this writer is ambitions and wants to be published in my magazine. I can see she has a ton of talent and is a goddess on the page. Let’s publish her! 

Nope. 😦

So what’s a girl supposed to do?

I stopped making resolutions. It became disheartening to finish a year without accomplishing anything I set out to do.

But…I’m trying again this year with a twist. I’ve made doable quarter goals (January – April) with realistic expectations. My goals are:

  1. Read 2 Books (1 every two months)
  2. Freewrite for 15 minutes a day (total 1635 minutes or 27 hours)
  3. Post daily except on Sundays (total 91 posts)
  4. Out of bed by 8am 50% of the time
  5. Outline and Draft “Drowning in Your Sins” (a web serial 🙂 )
  6. Obtain a driver’s license
  7. Create a newsletter

I did something like this in 2016 and all I had to do was complete half of them. So that’s 3-4 goals for this quarter.

In case you’re curious, my 2018 “resolution” was to be fearless. Here’s what I accomplished:

  • I learned to play the piano
  • I earned two degrees
  • I’ve let others read my work (poetry and flash)
  • I bought the “Inky Tavern” domain name
  • I made some awesome friends
  • I held onto a job
  • I redesigned my blog so that it accurately represents me as a writer

Wish me luck and see you in the next coffee share!

Writing + Day Job: How I Found the Time to Torture Fictional People

…to write a work of genius is almost always a feat of prodigious difficulty. Everything is against the likelihood that it will come from the writer’s mind whole and entire. Generally material circumstances are against it. Dogs will bark; people will interrupt; money must be made; health will break down. Further, accentuating all these difficulties and making them harder to bear is the world’s notorious indifference.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Writing is hard and it gets worse when Life grabs you by the throat and throws you around like some wild animal. This happened to me during my first two weeks at my day job. It was difficult to juggle my new schedule, college, and writing. I did something horrible and I stopped working on my writing projects because I believed I didn’t have the time to.

But there’s always time! All I had to do was change a few things in my routine.

I decided to sacrifice something

I needed to be honest with myself.  How bad did I want to write? Pretty freaking bad. What was I willing to give up? Hmmm…two hours of sleep?

Yep. I did something I NEVER thought I would do. I started waking up an hour or so before I needed to get to work and used the extra time to torture my characters. I felt pretty good about myself afterward. I’m not too sure what that says about my mental health, however.

I kept a notetaking tool on me at all times

Whenever a good idea pops into my head, my inner self says, “You don’t need to write this down. You’ll remember it.” Then, four hours later, the only thing I can remember was how awesome the idea was. Content be damned.

This is why I started using OneNote to jot down ideas or freewrite. I don’t have the luxury to write during my working hours, so I usually do this during my breaks.

I learned to suck it up and write after work

Like any other introverted weirdo, I feel mentally exhausted when I come home from work. All I want to do is kick back on the couch and rest my eyes for two seconds…which somehow turns into a three-hour power nap.

My art is important, so I do my best to push through the exhaustion and write anyways.

…Or that’s what I would do if I was a responsible writer. Instead, I work on my projects after I take my power naps. Don’t judge me!

I started making the most out of my off days

I know. Days off are sacred! It’s a time to relax, party, binge watch a new Netflix series and etc.. However, it’s a waste to squander a free day. So before I start a six-hour gaming session, I invest some time into my projects because they’re important to me.

 

Now, these are the strategies I use to work some writing time into my life, but it may not work for you. I suggest analyzing your day and habits. What can you give up / limit? Where can you squeeze some writing time?

Whatever you do, the most important thing to remember is that there’s always time.

How do you find time to write around your day job / non-writing career? Share them in the comments below.

My Letter to Fear

Dear Fear,

You’ve always been there for me. Always made sure I was safe. Always kept me alive. Always looked out for me.

…Until the day I dreamt.

Remember that day? When I had the audacity to believe I could be more. When I thought I could spend my days bathing in my creativity. When I was stupid enough–your words, not mine–to believe I could actually become a self-sufficient writer.

Remember?

You ought to. You poisoned that dream with paranoia, paralyzed me from achieving it and, worst of all, brought me down when I showed the slightest inclination to defying you.

Guess what? I‘m done letting you control me.

I’m not completely abandoning you (you’re necessary to some degree), but I’m limiting your influence on my dream. You will try and stop me, but this time…you’re not winning.

Sincerely,

A Dreamer

 

How I View Writing Contests and Magazine Submissions

When I first started submitting my stories to contests and magazines, a question bothered me: would the judges praise me for my goddess-like storytelling skills or want to cleanse their eyes after reading my garbage?

My naive mind couldn’t handle being rejected from my first submission. I felt like giving up on writing and didn’t pen anything for months. I eventually realized that my expectations were unrealistic and developed a new mindset. It goes a little like this…

It’s not impossible to win or get accepted, but it’s also not a guarantee.

Why do some writers feel disappointed when they receive a rejection or lose in a writing competition? I think it’s hubris (What do you think?).

The reality is that it’s unlikely your fiction will come out on top if you consider the slew of other writers who submitted along with you. Think about it: if you submit your fiction into an international contest or magazine, your piece will be competing against BILLIONS of other pieces.

This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to win, but it’s most definitely NOT a guarantee!

Don’t be snooty!

Non-paying avenues can be just as beneficial to your writing career as paying ones.

If a free-to-enter, non-paying magazine with a large audience base features your work, guess what? You’re getting exposure on a well-established platform with readers looking for awesome writers. It’s a chance to grow your platform and advance your writing career.

Rejection means not for them. Not “not for the entire world!”

Whether your piece wins a contest or is accepted at a magazine depends on the judges and editors reading it. They’re humans—like you—with unique tastes and they may not like your work. That’s fair. Get over it. Art is subjective and fiction is art. You can’t please everyone.

Rejection doesn’t devalue your writing. It just means you have to keep submitting until you do find those who will like your work (side note: some contest judges and magazine editors will give you a free critique—use it to improve your writing…or not!). You can even use your stories to build your readership on your blog or sell them as a collection.

 

Ever since I adopted this philosophy, I stress less when I submit my stories. It’s not a full-proof plan, but’s it’s something!

Do you have any submission philosophies? Is submitting to contests and magazines beneficial? Let’s chat in the comments below!

Coffee Share: In which I’m trying to be more creative

I think I know how vampires feel…um, the running from the sun part not the weird blood craving thing. Daytime highs around here are always in the upper 90s and sometimes kiss 110! I’ve spent most of my Summer trying to hide from the big, bright jerk in the sky. So, if we were having coffee, we’d have it later in the day when it’s cooler. Then, I’d tell you…

I completed my Creativity Challenge (aka I’m a Camp NaNoWriMo “Winner”)

Camp-2017-Winner-Profile-PhotoI learned something about myself this year: if I’m not being creative, I’m filled with anxiety and am very cranky. After going through this for six months, I decided to do something about it.

So, I used Camp NaNoWriMo as an excuse to be creative for at least 90 minutes everyday (2790 minutes total).

And…I performed better than I thought I would: I’ve written a total of 69 pieces of flash fiction, short stories, micro poetry, and micro fiction; spent twenty hours outlining Knight and then completed a 15,800 word first draft; and brush lettered for six hours.

Today, I feel rejuvenated and ready to have more fun with my creativity. So, yeah, mission accomplished!

I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming

In my opinion, this was the best Spider-Man movie EVER. It totally bypassed the origin story and just got to the point. Thank you, Marvel!

I’m renovating my blog with an emphasis on creativity

I’ve blogged here since 2014 and it’s been great! I’ve met awesome readers/writers, gushed about reading, shared my writing life and discussed the technical side of writing.

But…it’s missing my creative side—and that’s the side of me that wanted to start this blog in the first place.

I’ve been renovating my blog in between writing sessions so that it better represents me as a fiction writer. This meant fixing my homepage, rewriting my About page, and making my WIP page more dynamic. I’m also thinking about posting some flash fiction or creative nonfiction just to spice my posting schedule up (after I, you know, get over the fear of sharing them).

 

So that’s my coffee share! What’ve you been up to?

Fiction, Life, and the Suffering Writer (Virginia Woolf)

For fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible; Shakespeare’s plays, for instance, seem to hang there complete by themselves. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in mid-air by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering human beings.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Staying Motivated through Camp NaNo and Beyond

For this year’s Camp NaNo, I decided to challenge myself to be creative. My goal is to write a piece of flashfiction (maybe post some and submit others), work on my neglected WIP(s), and brush letter for a 1hr and 30mins every day.

Now I made up this goal on a coffee high, so I wasn’t in my right mind. A whole month? Everyday? Do I have the motivation for that?

Then I started thinking: July is just another month on the calendar. I’m going to face the same troubles as I would any other month: writer’s block, imposter syndrome, self-doubt, and etc.

So I decided to write this post as a preemptive measure whenever I’m not feeling motivated to write. Maybe my words of wisdom will also help you during your NaNo-ing adventures and beyond.

Whenever you’re not feeling motivated, remember to…

Employ good ole’ fashioned grit

Honestly, this is going to be your default all through your writing life. Just shut up, sit down, and start working.

A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper

E.B. White

Expect “good ole’ fashioned grit” to fail you

Grit, like most of the tips in this post, will only take you so far. You have to keep in mind why you decided to start writing in the first place.

Plan the day out

Before you go to bed, sit down and plan out what you want to do the following day. Don’t set yourself up for failure with unrealistic goals (ex. “Outline the whole novel in a day” isn’t realistic).

Expect your plans to fall apart

SOMETHING will always get in the way of writing time. The trick is knowing how to be flexible. Plan for interruptions by creating make-up days or lightly scheduling your week.

Get up early

It’s ten times easier to write when the majority of the household is asleep. No one will interrupt you, meaning you can finish your work early and go about your day guilt free.

Expect to miss the alarm

Morning GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I know, sometimes the pillow is more comfortable than sitting in an office chair. Just crawl out of bed when you can and find a quiet place somewhere. There’s always a quiet place.

Know your bad habits, and prevent them

Pull yourself away from things that’ll distract. If you have to hide your devices in the sock drawer or unplug the internet modem just to stay off social media, do it!

Expect relapses

It happens. Just dust yourself off, get something done before bed (no matter how small), and plan to do better tomorrow.

Good luck wrimoes!

 

How do you keep yourself motivated to write?

Coffee Share: My Little Adventures

With the Spring semester finally over, Summer break has arrived!

This means I have more free time than I’m accustomed to, but no worries. I know exactly what to spend them on: late night reading, intensive video gaming, more reading, binge watching, long writing sessions, more reading, new creative projects–oh, I’m getting chills just thinking about it!

Anyway, it’s been kinda quiet on my side of cyberspace. And, to be honest, I missed writing blog posts and connecting with the blogosphere (It’s been too long you guys!). I’m going to use this week’s coffee share to tell you about…lets call them my little “adventures.”

College Adventures

School eats up the majority of my time, so it only makes sense for it to be the first on the list. Ignoring the stressing over midterms and rushing through an assignment twenty minutes before class part, I did experience some pretty awesome things this semester.

One of the six classes I took, also the most challenging and fun, was astronomy. Studying the different properties of the planets within our solar system and analyzing the H-R diagram were two of my favorite topics in class. Not only that, but it was awesome to have classmates who struggled but encouraged each other not to give up.

We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands.
Carl Sagan, Cosmos

However, the highlight of this class was the field trip at the beginning of May. It was at a beautiful park with a huge lake in the center of it. The local astronomical union set up telescopes right before sunset to view the stars. Sadly, it was too cloudy to see anything. I did, however, get to see the sun before sunset via a solar telescope.

Also, I observed and got harassed by the rude locals: geese.

While astronomy awakened an interest in me that I didn’t know I had, English will always hold a special place in my heart. I had to do a ton of reading during my British Literature class–which I loved! The best part was that my professor structured the class like a book club. We didn’t just read, we discussed (to which I met a few word nerds).

I also acquired a new role model: Doris Leasing. The woman had a lovable attitude, check her out.

Bookish Adventures

There was no shortage of fiction as British Literature kept me reading all semester long. I’m currently rereading Middlemarch as some chapters were skipped during the semester for the sake of time (yes, I’m a nerd like that).

I also picked up Cinder from my college’s library seconds after discovering that it actually had a fiction section hidden WAY in the back of the library. It’s now my new hiding spot.

Sometime in March, I stumbled on a book sale in the college library. The moment I saw the Book Sale sign I was like, “Oh, yeah. Definitely going in here.” Imagine my excitement when I learned everything was a dollar. I would’ve spent all day sifting through the piles of fiction and writing reference books, but my ride was waiting for me (sigh).

In my haste to choose the best books I could find before someone else snagged them from me, I picked up The Professor at the Breakfast Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes thinking it was a Sherlock Holmes novel (ugh!). Good thing I actually read the back flaps of the two thrillers: Ties that Bind by Phillip Margolin and The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver.

Later, my family and I stumbled on a small business in my neighborhood who sold used soft covers for $0.50 and hardcovers for $1.

Oh yeah, I took my time with this one.

None of the books were in order, so it was basically a scavenger hunt–but I did find some gems! I found The DaVinci Code (I barely remember the movie adaption to this book so I thought, “Why not?”), Lost Symbol, and Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. I noticed Brad Meltzer’s political thriller The President’s Shadow right before I dashed to the register. Score!

Birthday Adventures

May 2nd was my birthday and I spent two weeks doing extra work to free the three days after. They were supposed to be my lazy days, but it didn’t work out. Finals were just around the corner and I made the decision to sacrifice two of three for studying.

I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!
Yondu

Despite this little quibble, I had an awesome birthday week. My parents bought me Horizon: Zero Dawn (an awesome sci-fi game with a beautiful world and story) and my friend got me a gift card to Star Bucks. I also went to the astronomy field trip I talked about earlier and saw Guardians of the Galaxy (I love that movie *sniffle*).

Creative Adventures

In other news, I picked up a new handlettering hobby during December. It’s so much fun and oddly relaxing. Check out one of my pieces:

Be true to you.

And, of course, I’m still writing. I’m working on three projects at once, but Ruin has been making headway. I sent it to my Alpha readers back in March and am now going through their responses. At this point, it still needs a lot of work, but it has come a long way.

So, anyway that’s what I’ve been up to these last four (?) months. What have you been up to?

Life is Beyond Conventions (D.H. Lawrence)

Let us learn from the novel. In the novel, the characters can do nothing but live. If they keep on being good, according to pattern, or bad, according to pattern, or even volatile, according to pattern, they cease to live, and the novel falls dead. A character in a novel has got to live, or it is nothing.

We, likewise, in life have got to live, or we are nothing.

D.H. Lawrence, Why the Novel Matters