I know what you’re thinking. Christine, what does clutter have to do with my writing? Well, whether we like it or not…many outside factors impact our writing habits. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I realized just how true that was. Thankfully, over the last year, I have taken time to declutter much of what prevents or hinders my writing.
Hey, I’m not perfect. I’ve had some major lulls in the past year too, but the point is always to return. The more we keep to organizing and/or cleansing our writing lives, the easier it will be to keep to a healthier routine. Sometimes the clutter isn’t physical clutter on our desks or working surfaces of choice, but in our minds. Here are four ways to declutter your writing life:
One: Clear that space. So, what I really wanted to say here was, clean that desk. However, I’m more realistic than that. In fact, I know there are people who enjoy a less organized home. However, there is something about approaching a space to create and having the room to do it. What I mean is, even if your living room is covered in unfolded laundry and/or kids toys, make a spot for you and your work.
Even if it’s just for an hour or two, clear a corner, a coffee table, etc. for your writing tools of choice. I always find that when I approach my clean coffee table, light a candle, and open my laptop…all of that clutter in my mind moves aside for some writing time.
Two: Make the time. Yesterday, I attended a small tribute to the late poet, Mary Oliver. Ten or so of us gathered, reading bits of her work. In her book, A Poetry Handbook,Oliver spoke about how important it is to show up for your writing.
She wrote, “If you are reliably there, it begins to show itself–soon it begins to arrive when you do.”
Isn’t it the truth? For me, making the time often means getting up for #5amWritersClub. I’ve only been back in the club for a week now after being out for two months, but gosh what a difference it has made.
Three: Keep a clear inbox. Recently, I found myself scrolling through a full inbox. Tons and tons of emails, piled on top of each other. It dawned on me just how out of sorts it all was. I think we sometimes forget just how overwhelming something so simple can be.
Remember, everything can be sorted into folders. What a difference it makes! Drafts, query letters to agents, rejections letters, you name it! If you’re going to keep it all, you might as well organize it.
Four: Protect Your Plan. Whatever it may be, an hour in the morning, a fifteen minute break at work, or some late night time, protect it. There will always be a text message, phone calls, new episodes of This is Us, well…you get the picture. Temptation is there, waving at us in the corner of our homes. It’s important that we take that type of clutter and press a big metaphorical pause button. Texts, calls, TV, etc. will be there after we dedicate an hour to our writing.
So, there you have it. Cleanse. Write. Repeat.
Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Thank you for joining me here today. You can look for a new post next Thursday.
As writers, we often find ourselves juggling the balance between our creative goals and our every day life responsibilities. I’m sure many of us spend 40 hours a week at a day job that doesn’t involve writing at all. I know I do. Besides that, we all lead personal lives, have families, and tons of chores. Personally, I spend my free time writing and 9 times out of 10 it is incredibly fulfilling. However, there are times when we can get so wrapped up in our goals and progress, that we forget about ourselves. When does it all become too much?
When I was thinking about writing this post, I was further fueled by the unfortunate passing of one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. For me, she was a self care poet. A poet I would turn to when it all just seemed too much. I want to now take that self care mindfulness and give it to you. Take a moment to ask yourself the last time you did something for you.
Trust me, I understand wanting to accomplish goals. The thrill of to do lists and spreadsheets fuel me like a strong cup of coffee! However, sometimes we all have to take a moment to breathe, light a candle, and give ourselves a pat on the back for the progress we’ve made.
Now I will leave you with a poem called, Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver and the hope that you will plan something for yourself after reading this post.
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
If you’re a writer of any kind, at some point you’re going to reach a point in your career where you will find yourself in need of a critique or have to give one yourself.
I have been part of intense writing workshops and consistent monthly writer groups for many years. Each experience has had its positives and negatives, but one thing remains true. As writers, we need constructive criticism to grow.
Lately, I have been pondering what makes a good critique partner. What can we do as writers to lift each other up while also giving constructive feedback? I’ve come up with three key points that I try to focus on when giving critiques.
First and foremost, you have to be honest about the work you are reading. Sure, that might sound simple, but sometimes things get in the way of telling the truth.
For many of us, we pair up with our friends as critique partners. This can be complicated. If you happen to come across work that you don’t think is all that good, it can be hard to be honest to a friend. In my experience, I have always made sure to make it clear that I was honest feedback. As previously stated, writers need constructive feedback to grow, therefore, you’re really doing your friend a favor by being honest. If we just sat around stroking each others egos all say, we wouldn’t get very far.
In my personal experience, I will never forget the time I went to a week long workshop. I was 100% torn apart. Did it hurt? Yes. Did it make me grow? More than any other workshop or group I have been a part of.
With that said, don’t feel like you can’t praise each other! I have read work before that was practically perfect in every way and I proudly told them so! For every two things you say that might be a little difficult to swallow, try to throw a positive in the mix. As in most cases, balance is key.
I have been part of groups before when people go in too hard. They ignore positive feedback and find it to be useless. In reality, it’s just as important to give some positive feedback as it is to be honest. We aren’t trying to beat each other into the ground here.
Remember the workshop I mentioned earlier? They had some strict rules about balancing negative feedback with positive. It helped to balance the process. After about three days of adjusting to a real critique environment, I saw the light. Once my group noticed I was trying to improve and letting my ego go, that’s when the real magic started to happen. Which leads me to my next point…
All in all, the previous two points don’t mean anything if you aren’t open to it all. I’m not telling you to believe every single critique you get, because there will be times you disagree. The beauty of feedback is you can take what you need. You are still in control of your writing. Try and take the time to be open and to thoughtfully digest your critiques. On the other side, be open and thoughtful when you are giving them too.
We are all in this together. Creative souls unite!
Tell me, what do you think makes a good critique partner? Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Thank you for joining me here today. You can look for a new post next Thursday.
Happy 2019! *throws pixie dust* I’m so happy to be back in the steady blogging game! This year, I promise to bring you, what I hope will be, some very entertaining posts.
If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll know that last month brought the completion of my second draft. (Now, this is my full second draft–there were many half drafts before that!)
If you are stopping by for the first time…here’s a warm chocolate-chip cookie gif…
Welcome! I’ve been working on my current novel for two years now. It is a Young Adult Fantasy novel, and I am very happy to report that I am entering the planning stages of the query process.
The Query Process…where to begin? This isn’t my first rodeo, but it is the first time I am tackling this process in a long time. My last attempt at querying agents was in 2014. Five years later, with a YA Fantasy in hand, I am ready to BEGIN!
So, what does that mean exactly? There are tons of books, websites, hashtags, blog posts, and more to help a writer navigate the complicated world of publishing. However, I always begin with an organizational method. It’s how I operate as a human.
I took a poll on Twitter the other day regarding Query Tracker. I used this method of organization the last time I queried, but I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I want to use it. I think creating a custom spreadsheet might be a better fit for me this time around.
With that, I have purchased the latest addition of Writer’s Market: Guide to Literary Agents. I will spend the next few weeks formulating a list of agents in that book and then hunting them down on social media to ensure that they are open to submissions. As I move forward, no doubt adding more columns to my spreadsheet, I will surely refine my process. Right now, I’m just excited about getting started.
You have to begin somewhere, right? I’m happy to start the New Year off this way.
I wish you tons of luck on your 2019 writing goals! Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. You can look for a new post next Thursday.
Tis the season for hot chocolate, Christmas music, and writing sessions. The past two months have been quite intense as I juggled my day job and a hefty list of writing goals.
However, I am happy to report that I am right on track to finish my second draft this coming Friday! I don’t know about you, but I think the Christmas season kept the pep in my step! That, and a ton of coffee.
After that, my draft will be sent to a few trusted writing partners for critique! All in all, I’m feeling quite positive about the journey ahead. 2019 will be filled with writing pitches, query letters, and hopefully some MAGIC will happen.
I wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season! I’ll be back in the New Year with some awesome new blog posts (on a regular blog schedule because ya know…that’s one of my goals for the new year!) See you in 2019!