Friday, February 25, 2011

Overcoming fear

I saw a great post this week on Brenda Kezar's blog called "Even Horror Writers Get Scared...Of Writing." Brenda also linked to a post called Writing Terrors by author Mayra Calvani.

I found both posts so helpful, as it's great to know I'm not the only one who struggles with these kinds of fears. I can elevate self-doubt to an art form, in fact it probably beats procrastination as my greatest skill. The "inner critic" that Brenda mentions is a constant companion for me, no matter how many times I try to banish her.

I also connected with the comments of those who said they feared others would discover they were a "fraud," or not good enough. It sounds as if lots of writers have these same nagging voices in their heads. I know when I started writing for Best Friends, even though I was only working as a volunteer, I was almost afraid to send my first article to the editor for fear I would be exposed as a fraud. When I did send the article, I stared at her reply for a few minutes, afraid to open the e-mail. I was sure I'd be told that even as a volunteer, there was no way I could write for a website.

It was silly, and I can laugh at those fears now, especially considering what a wonderful experience I've had working with Best Friends and that editor. But whenever I send a query or submit a story somewhere, I seem to have the same fears running through my head.

I guess the key is to keep writing and submitting in spite of those fears and nagging voices. I do wonder though if I will ever be able to get that inner critic to go away. I doubt it, but I'm glad to know that at least I'm not alone!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My First Blog Award

I received my first blog award today, and want to send a huge thank you to Fi at Fi's Magical Writing Haven for selecting me for the 'One Lovely Blog Award.' This was a wonderful surprise and I'm thrilled to display the badge. Thanks Fi!

According to the rules for the award, I should now pass it on to 15 other bloggers who are "new" to me. I'm very happy to have the opportunity to give the award to these bloggers I discovered last week on the Blog Hop. All of these bloggers are more than deserving and I'm so glad to have met them!
  1. Mystic Mom
  2. Karen Kanter
  3. Janel's Jumble
  4. The Riddle of Writing
  5. While The Dervish Dances
  6. Carole Anne Carr
  7. Desktop Retreat
  8. Backcountry Writer
  9. Dawn Brazil's Brilliant Babbles About Books
  10. The Slight Detour
  11. Meditative Meanderings
  12. Whole Latte Life
  13. Becca's Byline
  14. Pond-er Deeply
  15. Writer's Lounge

Now that I know how to do blog awards, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to send awards to all of the fantastic blogs I read. This was a new experience for me, and a lot of fun. Thanks again Fi for including me!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

250 Words A Day Challenge

I'm probably the most undisciplined person in the world, or if not, I must be in the top 5 at least. I've written before about my tendency to procrastinate, and there's no question that habit is having an effect on my writing goals. I haven't sent out nearly as many queries as I wanted to in the first two months of the year, simply because I will jump at any excuse to waste time and not work on my writing. With March around the corner, I want to get focused and work more steadily.

While not related to writing, one of the things that has helped me become more disciplined in terms of exercise is participating in the 400 Miles Fitness Challenge, hosted by Ellie at Books, Fitness & Other Stuff. I'm really enjoying keeping track of my miles, and watching the ticker move along towards the 400 mile goal. I know this has helped me stay on track with my exercise, as I've pushed myself when I felt lazy just so I could add some miles to my calendar and to the ticker!

In this spirit, I wanted to find a similar challenge for writing, or at least something that I felt would help me to stay motivated. I ended up committing to the 250 Words A Day Challenge at Debbie Ridpath Ohi's site,

This was already one of my favorite sites for writers, as I love Debbie's tips and the Writer's Guide to Twitter, among other features. So I was glad to stumble upon the challenge again, and I hope committing to it will help me stay more focused. I decided to start with 250 words a day even though I also had the option of 500 or 1000 words, as I figured it was better to start small and move up from there.

I posted one of the 250 Words A Day badges on my site to keep me motivated. As per the rules of the challenge, if I don't stay consistent I'll remove it. I like visual motivators, so I think this will be a good one for me.

On a side note, thanks again to everyone who showed up here on the She Writes blog hop. It was great to meet everyone and learn about so many wonderful blogs!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

She Writes Blog Hop

I just joined a wonderful site called She Writes, and I'm participating in the Books and Writing Group Blogger Ball. The Ball is hosted by Meg Waite Clayton of 1st Books, so thanks to Meg! I'm really excited to have this opportunity to meet some fellow writers and bloggers. Hello and welcome to anyone who comes by here!

Meg suggested we include a blogging tip as part of this welcome post. I am so new to blogging that I don't think I am qualified to give any tips, but just in my limited experience, I have seen the importance of blogging consistently. Setting up a blogging calendar with a goal of at least three posts a week has been very useful for me, as the consistency has helped me feel much more comfortable in this medium.

Here's a link back to Meg's blog post, with others participating in the hop.

Thanks for visiting, and I look forward to meeting new writer friends!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Women On Writing Contest

Today I entered the Women On Writing Flash Fiction contest. The Women On Writing site hosts a quarterly short story contest that seems like a great opportunity, and also seems fun, so I was excited to officially sign up for the winter contest today. I haven't sent in my actual story yet, I have until February 28 to do that, but I sent in my registration.

I just wrote the story I intend to submit yesterday, when I was stressed out after a lousy week, and felt like writing because it helps me relax. I know I need to review it and do some editing, but overall I'm happy with it. The contest stories can't be more than 750 words, and my story has 744, so I just came in under the wire.

I got the idea for my story using The Writer's Toolbox by Jamie Cat Callen. I ordered this from Amazon nearly a year ago as I thought it looked like a fun kit, but after I opened the box, I promptly put it in a drawer and didn't give it another thought.

But yesterday morning when I felt like writing, something made me think of that Toolbox, so I dug it out and started playing around with it. One thing that caught my eye was a group of  little sticks with "first sentences" on them. You choose a stick, and then use the sentence on that stick to start a story.

I browsed through the sticks, and came upon this sentence:

"I put tulips under all the pillows, and then I set fire to the house."

Isn't that a great sentence? I thought it was so intriguing, and so full of possibilities. I like thrillers and suspense stories, and this sentence was so dark and chilling, it caught my attention right away.

I sat down with my laptop and wrote out a story in a few hours. I changed the sentence to fit my story and didn't use the same wording, but the idea behind the story came right from this little sentence stick.

It was a lot of fun to write this, and I'm excited about the opportunity to enter the story into the contest. I'm so glad I decided to get my Toolbox out yesterday, as I'm anxious to go through the rest of the sticks, and also through the other tools, and see what kinds of ideas they generate.

I don't know why it took me almost a year, but I'm glad I finally put the Toolbox to good use. 

Hope everyone had a Happy Valentine's Day! :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Does anyone here use LinkedIn? I just set up a profile there this week, and would be interested to know others' experiences with it.

I haven't really done anything with it yet, as I filled out the profile and then got distracted for the rest of the week. I'd heard that there can be great opportunities for writers there though, so I thought it was worth a try. I admit that networking is not something I've ever been very good at, and in fact my natural inclination is to avoid it, so I'm not sure how comfortable I will be on the site. But since I had promised myself that I would take the "try anything" approach this year as far as writing goes, I decided to give it a shot.

If anyone reading this is on LinkedIn, please share. I'd love to connect there, get suggestions for using the site, or just hear about your experiences.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Like a graceful vase, a cat, even when motionless, seems to flow. George F. Will

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fitness For a Non-Athlete

To say I’m not an athlete is a huge understatement. While I love to watch sports, playing them has always been a different story. I still have bad memories of gym class in school, as being ridiculed for not being able to spike a volleyball or jump a hurdle was not an easy experience for a shy and insecure adolescent. 

For this reason, I shied away from exercise and physical activity for most of my adult life. I did try various aerobic or cardio videos over the years, as I wanted to find something I could do at home, but none of them ever worked out for me. I would get frustrated quickly, as it was always difficult for me to follow along with the instructor, and many of the steps that looked so easy on the video would turn out to be impossible for me. 

But in late 2009 when I first decided I was going to lose weight and get in shape, I happened to come upon the Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds DVDs at my local library. I had never heard of Ms. Sansone before, but the idea of walking as exercise appealed to me. I thought, maybe even I can do these!

I wasn’t disappointed, as these videos appear to be designed for people like me. The steps are simple to follow, and I’ve never felt like I was getting lost trying to keep up with the walkers on screen. Plus, Ms. Sansone has a pleasant demeanor that is very encouraging. 

I’ve since bought several of these DVDs, and I love all of them. My favorite collection adds weights to the walking routine, and I love the extra burn that the weights bring to the workout. While I never thought I would feel this way about any kind of exercise, I actually look forward to doing these walks, and I’ve been inspired to do more walking outdoors as well. 

So if you’re like me and still remember lining up and waiting to be picked last for the team in gym class, I would definitely recommend these videos. Thanks to them, I’m starting to feel like even I can be an athlete!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

400 Mile Challenge Updates

I didn't intend to write two posts in one day, but I wanted to create a post to update my progress on the 400 Mile Fitness Challenge. I'm hoping I'll be able to edit this post to update my mileage each week.

I had a good first week, and walked 11.5 miles. I'm so happy that I found this challenge, as so far it has been a great motivator for me to be more disciplined again with my exercise. I also love updating the ticker and seeing my little runner moving along on the way to the 400 mile finish. :)

Week 1 (1/30-2/5): 11.5 miles
Week 2 (2/6-2/12): 9.5 miles
Week 3 (2/13-2/19): 11 miles
Week 4 (2/20-2/26): 11 miles
Week 5 (2/27-3/5): 13 miles

Writer's Market

I came upon an article about freelance writing recently that I really enjoyed, but unfortunately I have been reading so many things that I’ve lost track of exactly where I saw this article, and who wrote it. But I do remember that the writer worked as a freelancer himself, and he discussed steps he had taken to launch and expand his career.

One of his suggestions was to read Writer’s Market from cover to cover, and go through each and every market listed. He had done this instead of just looking for specific markets he thought might be a good fit for him, and it had significantly increased his opportunities.

This seemed like a daunting proposition to say the least, and akin to reading the phone book from front to back. But the writer was so convincing in his arguments that I decided to find out for myself, and sat down with my copy of the book. It took me quite a while to get all the way through it, but it’s turned out to be some of the best advice I’ve ever read. 

I wrote down every market that seemed potentially interesting to me, and ended up with nine pages of new possibilities. I also discovered several more fiction contests that I am excited to learn more about, and possibly enter. Reading the Market book was not only interesting, but also motivating, and it was not the tedious chore I expected it to be at all. 

When I was a kid I used to love paging through the JCPenney Christmas catalog and marveling at the toys and games. It's funny to me now to remember how excited I would get when this catalog came in the mail. I loved marking the pages of all the things I wanted for Christmas, whether I had any chance of actually getting them or not. The Writer’s Market turned out to be another kind of Christmas catalog, and it was fun to mark down all the shiny new toys!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blogging Calendar

I read about starting a Blogging Calendar here on the Writing Spirit blog. I think it's a great idea, as I have kept a calendar like this before for exercise goals, and the positive reinforcement of that calendar worked really well for me. So I decided to start a calendar for writing and blogging, and hopefully this method will help me to be more consistent and disciplined in reaching my writing goals.

This is a (badly taken!) snapshot of the calendar I just completed for January: 

I like seeing a fairly good number of BP, for Blog Post, days there, but this is a good reminder that I want to be more consistent.

I decided to use colored markers from now on to make the calendar more interesting and visually appealing, and I'm also going to add my walking for the 400 mile challenge, as well as the query letters I send out, to the calendar. So I'll use a different color for each goal I'm tracking, and I'm looking forward to seeing the calendar fill up with lots of multi-colored entries!

As I've mentioned before, procrastination and lack of discipline are big problem areas for me. So I'm hoping this calendar will be another step towards changing that behavior. If nothing else, I already love using the markers!