TRUTH BOMB: Sometimes (okay, lots of times) I Want To Quit

Cate Russell-Cole:

We have all been there… thanks Myndi for giving us reasons NOT to quit.

(Yes, I know I am on holidays, but this was too good not to log in and share!)

Originally posted on Myndi Shafer:

quitterLately I’ve been asking myself this question:

What would happen if I were to quit writing?

I think every writer gets to this point eventually (at least that’s what I’m telling myself). The new shiny has worn off. The over-the-moon-I’m-so-in-love-with-what-I’m-doing feeling goes away. Inspiration dries up to nothing more than a brittle bag of bones that if you shake together real hard might amount to a paragraph or two. And we’re not talking Hemingwayesqe brilliance that makes up for the scant word-count. We’re talking shaky drivel that makes I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGR look like soul-stealing genius.  

And so I ask myself, what would happen if I were to quit?

Life would immediately become simpler. I wouldn’t have to structure my days so intensely. Family time wouldn’t feel so urgent because writing wouldn’t be putting any demands on our schedule. I could cook and clean and play when I want…

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Sanity Saving Blogging Resources

Be UniqueLife flies by at an insane pace… I constantly miss or have to dash past blog posts I want to and need to read. In case you missed it, here are the resources I shared during Blog Taming Month in February. A few extras are thrown in, just because I can… Happy scribing and remember, forget the musts, the have-tos and the myriad of experts. Your best success comes by being yourself!

Micro-Blogging: An Idea to Experiment With

Blogging Survival: Get Ahead by Scheduling

Services Which Make Your Blog Easy to Follow

Surviving BIG Blogging Mistakes

Blog Sidebars: Easy Ways to Add Whatever You Want

Are Your Blogging Goals Slipping? Help to Get Focussed Using Planners and Organisers

Building Community Spirit in the Blogosphere

Is Your Blog Trapping You or Helping You Fly?

Savvy Blogging Cover Image 2If you want even more… and why wouldn’t you? All blog maintenance and promotion posts here on CommuniCATE can be accessed by this category link. Or you can save yourself the trouble and download the free .pdf ebook, which saves you scrolling and reading through all those posts online. This is the download link. It is safe, with no strings attached and comes from my web site.

Chapters Include:

  • Blog Treasures Hidden in Plain Sight
  • Get Yourself A Second Brain
  • Slack, Fake and Egocentric Followers: How to Pick Them!
  • Blog Post Promotion on Social Media: Instantly Hooking Reader Attention
  • Sometimes, It Just Goes Wrong: When to Ditch!
  • The Best Kept Editing Secret
  • 10% On Top: Being a More Efficient Writer
  • Professional, Effective Author Sites: The Problems With Using Blogs
  • Cleaning the Cobwebs Out of Blogs: Reader Engagement and Content Value
  • Guest Posting as Advertising: How To Be Professional and Be Asked Back
  • Your Individuality is Your Greatest Asset: Writing and Marketing as You
  • Faulty-Tasking
  • The Road to Success is Paved by Free-Sharing

Have fun!


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

Don’t “Write” Yourself Off: I Don’t Care How Old You Are!

One of my memoir classes was attended by an eighty year old lady who had little education; had never written a poem, story or anything else in her life – and discovered she could write with absolute perfection! What if she’d opted for the rocking chair and never tried? Obviously, she had been a life-long reader and that had taught her a great deal, but she never knew the talent was there… until she picked up a pen and started to write!

When this came out on Pinterest, I applauded. Take it to heart. It’s not too late until you’re *a week dead.

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(*Survival Tip: be buried with a mobile phone in case it’s not really over. No, really, people do still opt for this.)


REBLOGS WELCOMED

This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

Is Your Blog Trapping You or Helping You Fly?

BlogTamingMonthCommuniCATE2I’ve been looking at this debate for some time, as I see more and more bloggers talking of burnout and writers starting to rebel against the endless demands of what you must do to succeed! To settle the matter, I took a few hours out to read and properly absorb both sides of the argument. It is complex when it comes to the publishing industry. At the end, all I could do was make up my own mind about what was right for me. I have placed as many of the arguments here as I can (without this post being novel sized) so you can also make up your own mind. Don’t follow the herd: do what works for you!

  • When you find yourself filling in posts with anything, as you just want it done and are tired, drained and over it!
  • Having no direction: which is sometimes apparent in writers with multiple blogs, unless they are for multiple purposes… but watch how much time that takes up!
  • Letting your self-esteem be dictated by reader statistics.
  • If it is an excuse for social media interaction which may be a sign you need to find a better answer to loneliness, or other tasks you are avoiding.
  • When you are investing too much time, and other higher priority tasks are going begging as a result.
  • Getting involved in blog challenges which run you into the ground with time demands and leave you wrecked.
  • When you have made such a hash of a blog that is screams lack of quality, poor commitment to your writing, or stands as testimony to an attitude that makes you cringe!
  • When your content is too personal and can do you damage in the future with potential relationships, employers or contacts in publishing and promotion.
  • Taking on guest bloggers, cover reveals and other sharing initiatives where you are used and not supported or thanked.
  • When the amount of effort invested is not getting you the results you need long term. If you are losing followers, not growing and this has been going on for at least six months, maybe it’s just not the medium for you…

… and you know something? That’s alright: you don’t H.A.V.E. to be a blogger. Do what is right for you. Write what you have in your heart and be true to yourself. Follower numbers aren’t everything.


This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2013. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

The Rebel Writer’s Creed: Set Your Creative Self Free

creed2014My blog posts that are read the most, are the ones where I break out of the “have to” boxes that we sink into as writers. I spend as much time as I can encouraging people to do the same: break free, balance your time and be yourself. That is the only way you will find fulfilment in your creative life.

In 2013 I stumbled across author S.A. Larson’s Rebel Writer’s Creed. I immediately identified with it and promoted it. The 2013 creed was worded like this:

  • BElieve in myself
  • BE me –  don’t compare myself
  • BEat a writing fear
  • BalencE social media
  • Take writing BrEaks
  • BE a writer every day
  • DREAM BIG

It was everything I have been saying in one sidebar friendly image.

Needless to say, I have been waiting for the release of the 2014 creed with anticipation and it has arrived: the post is here and the creed is above. Please visit Larson’s site, sign up to take the pledge and be a rebel writer. Don’t let SEO, online peer pressure, social media fads etc. dictate how you write! You’re worth more than that!

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My most popular rebellious posts:

~ Your Individuality is Your Greatest Asset: Writing and Marketing as You

Surviving Blogging and Writing Challenges: Wise Choices

SEO and Social Media Survival

Getting Real About Writer’s Burn Out and Social Media Demands

Creative Freedom or Selling Out for Profit: Which is Your Choice?

 


Creative Commons License
This work, created by Cate Russell-Cole 2013 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Writing Challenges Online: 2014 Calendar

51A-PsG1t2LUpdated: January 25th 

A master list of all the online writing events I have been able to track down is below. The CommuniCATE Resources for Writers blog has several initiatives planned for 2014, including Support An Author Month in May, “Blog Taming Month” in February and Independent Author Promotion Month in September.

For an amazing series of lists on blogging events based on every topic, word combination or theme you can think of, visit The Daily Post. You’ll be hooked!

All Year

ROW80LogocopyA Round of Words in 80 Days: http://aroundofwordsin80days.wordpress.com There are 4 rounds of 80 days a year. Rounds start in January, April, July and October, but you can participate in as many as you wish. ROW80 is the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life where you post your own goals, check-in twice a week and can change your goals as needed. Join at any time.

5436912_origThe Ligo Haibun Haiku Weekly Challenge:
http://www.yakutia-coppercure.co.uk/l298go-ha298bun.html#.UsyjOaX_Qkg This is original! Haibun is a piece of prose and at least one haiku. The challenge is to take one of the two prompt words, quotes, or visuals and blog it!

Creative Every Day: http://creativeeveryday.com This is a low pressure, all-inclusive, year-long adventure for bloggers. You can join at any time.

#writemotivation by K.T. Hanna. http://www.kthanna.com/category/writemotivation/roll-call/  This initiative runs periodically through the year. You need to sign up, make a realistic list of blogging goals for the month, check-in once a week and visit your team mates to encourage them.

logoNaPoBloMo, BlogHer’s National Blog Posting Month: http://www.blogher.com/blogher-topics/blogging-social-media/nablopomo This now appears to run each month with a theme. People post a link to their posts that they publish on their personal blogs. You must sign up by the 5th of each month.

Blog Blitz by DL Hammons:
Blog Blitz Edithttp://dlcruisingaltitude.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/blog-blitz-wanna-join.html Sign up on the linky list making sure to record your email address, and you’ll instantly become a member of the Blog Blitz Team. Then from time to time, DL will select a deserving blog, email the team members and on that date team members visit that blog and leave an encouraging comment on the most recent post. The aim is promotion and to leave 100 plus comments on each blog selected.

#challengetowrite http://www.coasahmom.com/p/challengetowrite.html#.UaLiDpUyHHg

awwbadge_2014Australian Women Writers Challenge http://australianwomenwriters.com/2014-challenge/
The 2014 Australian Women Writers Challenge was set up to help overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women. The challenge encourages avid readers and book bloggers, male and female, Australian and non-Australian, to read and review books by Australian women throughout the year. You don’t have to be a writer to sign up. You can choose to read and review, or read only. (Suggestions for what makes a good review can be found here.) The challenge will run from Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2014. You can sign up at any time. Follow @auswomenwriters on Twitter and use the #aww2014


March

NaNoEdMo, National Novel Editing Month: http://www.test.nanoedmo.net This can be used to compliment NaNoWriMo. Your novel, reborn: 50 hours of editing in one month.


April

logo-napowrimoNaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month: http://www.napowrimo.net Write a poem a day in April.

Camp NaNoWriMo, April and July, http://campnanowrimo.org/ Based on November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Camp NaNoWriMo provides the online support, tracking tools, and hard deadline to help you write the rough draft of your novel in a month… other than November!

logo2Wego Health Bloggers Challenge: http://blog.wegohealth.com/2012/04/01/april-is-health-activist-writers-month-hawmc/ Health Activist Writer’s Month is a month dedicated to the art of writing… about health. Award nominations for health bloggers are held later in the year. Watch the Wego website for events and challenges.

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001A-Z Blogging Challenge: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com “Can you post every day except Sundays during this month?  And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z?”

This appears to be one of the more popular challenges which has gained a great deal of traffic for participating blogs. They also have a reflections session at the end and guest post opportunities on their blog.


May

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Story A Day: http://storyaday.org “An annual Extreme Writing Challenge. Write a story every day in May.”

Story of my Life Blogathon: http://storyofmylifetheblog.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/blog-every-day-in-may-challenge.html Blog every single day in the month of May.


June

junowrimo-book-button-large-e1367440612773JuNoWriMo, June Novel Writing Month: http://junowrimo.com Write your novel in June, with a goal of 50,000 words, or 1667 words/day on average.

Word Count Blogathon: http://michellerafter.com/the-wordcount-blogathon/ The Blogathon is an annual community blogging challenge that brings together freelancers, writers and bloggers for the purpose of improving what they do by posting to their respective blogs every day for a month.

#Rockyourblog: http://eatplayrock.com/2013/05/june-writing-prompts/ from Cheap Is The *New* Classy and Eat Play Rock know that sometimes it can be hard to think of something to write about. So, we are happy to bring you this summertime themed list of prompts for the month of June. We hope that these summer topics can provide you some inspiration! As an added incentive, one lucky participant will win a $10 Starbucks Gift Card and a 125×125 ad space for an entire month on both Cheap Is The *New* Classy and Eat Play Rock!


October

OctPoWriMo, October Poetry Writing Month: http://www.octpowrimo.com Write 31 poems in 31 days.


November

Nanowrimo-298x415NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month from the Office of Letters and Light: http://nanowrimo.org Write your novel in a month with a supportive community, word count tracker and a goal of 50,000 words. If November is a bad month for you, see Camp NaNoWriMo under April. This is the biggest event of the year. If you don’t write novels, you can join as a NaNoRebel or…

LeNoWriCha: a “rank-and-reward system is to provide an escape from the “success/failure” paradigm that seems to evolve from NaNo.” Started by David Shelverman Grimes and accessible through here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/david-shelverman-grimes/lenowricha-an-upgrade-to-nanowrimo/10151561140712496

WNFINNOVWrite Non-Fiction in November: http://writenonfictioninnovember.com “Challenges nonfiction writers to spend the month of November writing and completing a work of nonfiction. It also discusses nonfiction writing and publishing and provide a way for nonfiction writers to comment on their writing experiences during November each year. This is not a contest!”


December

2014-01-25_15-56-28INTERNATIONAL PLOT WRITING MONTH: December AKA PostNaNoPlot Perfection http://plotwrimo.com PlotWriMo initially came about to help writers who take part in NaNoWriMo and find at the end of November they are left with a whole lot of words that do not always add up to much. PlotWriMo annually spans the entire month of December for writers who have a draft of a novel, memoir, screenplay and are wondering, now what? This is a chance to revision and redefine the plot arch of your project before actually rewriting the manuscript. (This also works for writers without a first draft. Whether you merely have an idea for a story, a few chapters or scenes, just tweak the assignments to make them work for wherever you are in the process.)



Know of a challenge not listed here? Please let me know.

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Not Your Average Romance Writer: Nora Roberts

Visit Nora’s web site at: http://www.noraroberts.com

Nora-Roberts-pic“Nora Roberts (born Eleanor Marie Robertson; October 10, 1950) is an American bestselling author of more than 209 romance novels. She writes as J.D. Robb for the “In Death” series, and has also written under the pseudonym Jill March. Additionally, some of her works were published in the UK as Sarah Hardesty. Nora Roberts was the first author to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. As of 2011, her novels had spent a combined 861 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, including 176 weeks in the number-one spot. Over 280 million copies of her books are in print, including 12 million copies sold in 2005 alone. Time named Roberts one of their 100 Most Influential People in 2007, saying she “has inspected, dissected, deconstructed, explored, explained and extolled the passions of the human heart.” Roberts was one of only two authors on the list, the other being David Mitchell.” Source” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nora_Roberts

Your Individuality is Your Greatest Asset: Writing and Marketing as You

lifeinchalkIf all writers thought and expressed themselves the same way, all books would be the same. Fortunately, they aren’t. We enjoy libraries stocked with diverse characters, settings, views and approaches. There is always something new to discover. It whets our appetite for thinking outside our own style and genre.

However, as I roam around writer’s blogs on the Internet, I see so much of the same repeated. The same blogging challenges, the same badges, the same marketing techniques. I also read regurgitated lists of rules on how often we must blog to capture the attention of search engines, approach social media and present ourselves. There are excellent reasons for following some of that advice… but…

If our success as writers is dependent on our individual creative instincts, why do we fall into a carbon copy approach online? I feel like rebelling: jumping out of line and saying, “Hey, I am going to be ME. If you don’t like my style, that’s OK. I don’t like everyone’s style either. I am not going to conform and fail at being myself.”

Following the flock of sheep in front of us involves the risk that all people will see, is another woolly behind. We can be too well blended into an indistinguishable mass of cream woolly behinds. When you promote other writers on Triberr and Twitter, you can start to tune out and not pass on another round of giveaways, challenge posts and blog tours. You’re looking for something different, something that catches your interest and hasn’t been done before. A new design. A new point of view. A new theme. With the number of people online, that’s not always easy to do; but when you put yourself forward in your own individualistic style, then people do notice. That can generate a more positive response.

is it right

So, while being sensible and sticking to the most essential rules for promotion, may I challenge you to not be afraid to be yourself. Show your personality, show your passion for your work and if you hate blog challenges or tours, don’t do it! Find an approach that fits who you are.

Be yourself. You are your best shot at success.


This video from TED Talks highlights how we tend to gravitate towards like-minded people. They are often the least able to help us when we need to break free of the norm. Please enjoy Maria Bezaitis, speaking on the surprising need for strangeness.


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2013. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture.

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

The Life Journey of a Mystic in Fiction

Image Source: http://www.giantbomb.com/druids/92-4091/
Original artist unknown.

One of the spiritual areas that fascinates me is prophecy. I love fantasy books featuring people who strive to reach a high spiritual calling. Being a Mystic / Prophet appears to be one of the toughest roles anyone can take. They can be held in awe, regarded with fear or suspicion or ostracised… if left alive. It is as demanding as the role of a warrior.

Some prophets have it easier than others. For example, the Oracle of Delphi in Greece, was constantly breathing in toxic fumes from volcanic gasses that came up through a rock. The priests around the Oracle did the interpretation of the gibberish this chemical high produced. They were the ones with the real power. The actual position of Oracle doesn’t sound too onerous to me, though definitely dangerous to their health!

Often these mystical people were embroiled in power battles within epic fables and stories. Being a mystic supposedly gives ordinary people marvellous power; but is that view a myth? Depending on the storyline, that power can be public and impressive, or limited and only able to be used in a covert manner. The little power they have may not be enough; it could often leave the mystic frustrated. How often do the wise ones have to stand back and watch those they warned make avoidable mistakes? That or they can be so power drunk, they start to destroy everything around them, including themselves. You can turn the storyline so many different ways.

According to the Old Testament, if you were a prophet and your accuracy was less than one hundred percent, you could be stoned to death. Nostradamus would never have made it. The Egyptians could change gods like you change your socks. Depending on who you represented, being one of their religious leaders could be a job with a limited shelf life! If you were ever on the wrong side of the current religious fad, you could kiss your robes and your good life goodbye.

Look into the job description of a mystic further. While literature romanticises quests and great adventures, more often, the wise ones were called on to deal with the conflicts and faults of their societies. That can mean that their purpose in life was to be unpopular. I can see why figures such as Jonah legged it when given a tough challenge. For most prophets, the training and standards are anything but easy and would leave them feeling humbled and impotent. Then to make them feel better, people don’t tend to roll out the welcome mat when it’s your divinely-given task to go tell them they are wrong. In the same shoes, I’d go whale watching too. It could be worth the risk. There are always plenty of rocks laying around to be thrown… Moses was another Biblical figure who firstly said “I don’t think so!” when he heard what he was meant to do.

This image was made by and belongs to i_luv_angst
Click on image to go to their page.

The early life of a prophet involves sacrificing a normal life; developing exacting discipline; being misunderstood; learning focus and meditation; studying relevant areas such as magic, medicine, history and literature; making your fair share of humiliating bloopers when you hear or judge the facts wrong and the obligatory “character building” wilderness experience.

The best prophets are grown in the toughest places and at times, are called into a time of living in solitude, while they do the equivalent of a Prophetic Masters Degree… in the middle of nowhere with scant protection and few comforts, if any. If they were really lucky, the wilderness would be their permanent mailing address. Loneliness is often the prophet’s closest and only friend.

Prophets are deliberately developed where the conditions are toughest. If you were a Celtic mystic, they may have chosen to go to sea. Sometimes they made landfall, sometimes, they didn’t, being on a boat for weeks. The forests and the desert are not the only choices for getting away from it all to hear clearly.

Celtic Monasteries have been found on tiny, wind-slapped islands (not wind-swept, that is too gentle), where you need to be a mountain goat to move around. The tougher the life, the better one’s attitude grows. It’s the truest of cliches; suffering gains you perspective on human nature and shows you what really matters in life. You must have suffered to be able to relate to others’ pain.

So as you write about awesome soothsayers, crystal ball gazers and wand carrying heroes, consider what manner of life experience and training that led them to the centre stage in your novel. True mystics are not born with all the talents and graces they need, they’re made: most probably the hardest way!

This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

No images on this blog may be copied, captured, or altered for your own purpose without the consent of the originating owner. Where images are marked as being iStockphoto.com images, they are paid for and licenced to Cate for use on this blog. If you take them, iStockphoto.com has the right to take legal action against you for Copyright Infringement.

Please see the Blog Content and Image Copyright page of this blog for further information in regards to Guest Posts, other images, Cate’s checks on infringements and Liability.

What Has Writing Done for You?

guest series logo

I am shy. If given the option of being that person who goes to parties (or anywhere people I’ve never met before may be milling about), or the one who sits home, alone, wine in one hand, television remote in the other – I’ll take the lonely wine drinking TV addict any day.

Fifty years into this life and I’ve not completely figured out this side of me. I want to be outgoing. But I’m not. I want to stand in a room full of strangers and not quiver in my boots. But I don’t. Or I can’t. Or maybe I just never learned how.

blakeWhen I write, I can be the best version of myself. Not just in fiction, but on my blog too. I share my opinions and feelings, ideas and thoughts, without filter, without interruption. Some might think I share too much, but I’ve found it cathartic. I feel safe in the cyber writing world. No one is sitting across from me, eyeballing me with that questioning look on their face. When I write I don’t feel the need to temper my thoughts to avoid offense. Not that I’m particularly offensive. I have a deep-seated desire to be ‘nice’ after all. Damn Canadian politeness.

I have always had strong opinions, always had great ideas and right answers (no, really!). But I hold back, keep things to myself. There is the fear of being wrong. The fear of rejection. Fear of potential conflict with those who disagree. Fear of looking like an idiot if (when?) I inevitably trip over my tongue and say something stupid.

Clearly the underlying issue is fear, no? Hand me my psych degree, please – nailed that diagnosis!

In the cyber world I am fearless.

This in-the-safety-of-my-own-home, open-vein style of expression is having an unexpected, surprising, confounding, and wonderful effect. I’m opening up in the real world. In the face-to-face world. My cyber courage is spilling over into interactions with people in the flesh.

I’m still shy, but I’m losing the fear. Or at least I’m doing a better job than usual of faking it. But as far as I’ve come, I’ve a long way to go.

So I did something outrageous. Something crazy.

Something brave.

juliebirdI signed up to be part of a book signing with 16 other indie authors. In Texas no less – an entire country away. It was “Indie-Vengeance Day” at Half Price Books flagship store in Dallas. I interacted with the authors, hid my intimidation, and soon realized something amazing. There was nothing to be intimidated about! They are all wonderful, and after spending four days with them, I consider them friends.

Once the doors opened, a few readers wandered in. I resolved to engage them all if they approached me. Approach they did. And engage I did! I managed to sell seven books, give away dozens of copies of a booklet with three of my short fiction pieces, and about 50 personalized bookmarks emblazoned with the covers of my two novels.

It was a liberating weekend. I extended my resolve to speak with strangers at Dealey Plaza where I engaged the only conspiracy theorist to brave the rain. Then I chatted up the clerk in the museum gift shop. He admired my Batman wallet. I told him I am Batman’s girlfriend (he just doesn’t know it yet). The clerk shared that he would be Batman for Halloween and would be singing at a party. I asked him to sing for me. And he did! I would never have done that a month ago. It was amazing.

I credit my newfound bravery, this pseudo-confidence that is quickly shaking off the pseudo, to writing. It is more than about telling stories. More than vomiting words onto a page to make room in my brain for more words. It has become therapy. A coping mechanism to deal with long-standing social anxiety. Writing, like my kids, is everything.

What has writing done for you?


a711d3e2c1030ad8956ea6.L._V374543340_SX200_Follow Julie

Amazon Author Page:  www.amazon.com/author/juliefrayn

Website/Blog: www.juliefrayn.com

FaceBook: www.facebook.com/juliebirdfrayn

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This blog post is Copyright Julie Frayn 2013. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without the author’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-use if it is for a commercial venture.

Surviving Blogging and Writing Challenges: Wise Choices

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The aim of this blog is to equip, encourage and empower writers. I pass on as many resources as I can, including writing and blogging challenges which appear sound.

We have NaNoWriMo, OctPoWriMo, NaPoWriMo, JuNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo, the Wego Health Bloggers Challenge, the A-Z Blogging Challenge, Story A Day, Script Frenzy, NaPoBloMo, ROW80, NaNoEdMo, Story of my Life Blogathon, Word Count Blogathon, Creative Every Day, #writemotivation, Blog Blitz, Write Non-Fiction in November, more Wego Blogging initiatives, commercial authors such as Jeff Goins have their own… and each time I look at Twitter there are more!

For a full list of the ones I have identified, please visit this page.

There is something for everyone and that’s not a bad thing… however… exhaustion and creative burnout beckons: the time requirements are absolutely deadly on some of those challenges. When considering getting involved in these challenges, don’t follow the crowd. Please ask yourself:

  • blog post ideasWhat are my time, family and energy constraints?
  • Is it flexible enough to encompass the goals I need to work on.
  • Is the “encouragement” given in this challenge cracking the whip too hard, making me feel pressured or guilty?
  • Is the stated time period without rest days? (This is deadly to your mental and physical health: ask any counsellor, psychologist or balanced life coach.)
  • Will this take me away from my work in progress which is my top priority?
  • Will this actually increase my skill as a writer? Am I just ticking a box that I blogged?
  • Will this make me feel good or bad at the end, as I aced it or failed miserably?
  • Can I take the inspiration and do my own version, at my own pace?
  • Are the social requirements too much or too tempting as a distraction?
  • Will the time it takes to read other’s posts and check-in be too much time away from what I actually need to be doing?
  • If you are not feeling motivated to write, are you using this challenge as a crutch to get motivated? If so, don’t use the challenge as a magical remedy to put you on track. It won’t. Especially if your issue is lack of confidence, time shortages or exhaustion.
  • Am I relying on other’s around me in challenges for affirmation, rather than working on my own self-esteem as a writer?

Sometimes when we feel exhausted as writers, it is because we simply need a break to re-charge our batteries. Like any body part, your mind needs rest. If you over-use any muscle in your body, it will become strained, painful and you won’t be able to work. If you are simply over it, maybe the best remedy is time-out before you burn out. Don’t get to the point where you go months without writing again.


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2013. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Write Where You Are: Sourcing Blog Posts from Your Heart

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I think I need to post a blog post more often. People I know tell me they’re amazed I post one twice a week. I don’t know what the “right” posting frequency is, but I do know two things:
1. I don’t think I could come up with more to say more often than I currently do, and
2. I’ve learned to “write where I am.” Or I guess to write about right where I am.

The only way I know to write my posts is to write from my heart. To share what I’m learning and facing. To honestly and hopefully authentically reveal the good and the bad about my experiences. Although I still want readers to gain some value from what I’ve posted, I’ve given up trying to sound smart. It’s too hard to put, and keep, on airs. Anyway, people can smell a fake, even virtually.

smallLisaKohnSo I write where I am – or about right where I am. The blog posts I most love reading on my favorite blogs are the ones about the writer’s human experience. I guess it’s what we all have in common.

I feel the same way about my memoir writing. Maybe I’d be a “better” writer if I tried to be different than I am, or to sound as if I was in a better space than I’m in at a moment, or to tell stories in ways that make me sound good. But I’ve learned in life that realness counts. And I think it should count in writing as well.

It’s funny – I wonder if people will get tired of reading about my struggles. And then I wonder if they’ll get tired of reading about my joy. Or if they’ll tell me I complain too much, or gush too often. I haven’t heard that at all. I’ve had great responses to both. It’s weird – while we all have different stories, there is so much that connects us and unites us. So much we have in common. That’s what I write about, as much as I can.

If you find something to laugh about, capture it on paper (or electronic paper). If you’re brought to tears, chances are someone else will be as well. If you’re facing a challenge your struggle can help someone feel validated, and your triumph can help someone feel hope.

Writing where you are can be easy, because you don’t have to make too much up. But writing where you are can be tough, because you’ll expose the good, the bad, and the ugly. Truth is though, it’s probably only ugly to you.

We’re all on a journey and we’re all on it together – as much as we think we’re alone or different from the rest. Write where you are and share yourself with others. Maybe they’ll write back!

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Lisa Kohn is the author of the soon to be published, “Way Out,” an autobiographical work about a period in her life which she describes as: “I was raised in and torn between two conflicting, bipolar worlds. There was the world I longed for and lived in on weekends – my mother’s world, which was the fanatical, puritanical cult of the Moonies – and the world I was forced to live in during the week – my father’s world, which was based in sex and drugs and the squalor of life in the East Village of New York City… Way Out chronicles my journey – from my unconventional childhood, through my self-destructive early 20s, through my Way Out to challenges, peace, and healing today. My intention in writing has been to offer hope and potential joy to others who may feel beaten or damaged by their upbringing or circumstances. If by telling my story I can help others find their own Way Out, it has all been worth it.”

She is also an accomplished leadership consultant, executive coach, and keynote speaker with a strong business background and a creative approach. She has over 25 years of experience, including over 15 years direct consulting, coaching, and speaking with Fortune 500 clients in areas of leadership, communication styles, managing change, interpersonal and team dynamics, strategy, and execution.

Lisa has taught as an adjunct professor at Columbia University and New York University’s Stern School of Business, and has been featured in several professional publications.

Blog: http://www.lisakohnwrites.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisakohnwrites

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisaKohnWrites

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lisakohnccg


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Copyright Lisa Kohn 2013. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using this work if it is for a commercial venture. Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Lisa Kohn is the attributed Author.

Sending Your Readers in the Right Direction: Blog Post Marketing

bigblogsThe bigger your blog gets, the harder it is for readers to find the content they want, or you need shared the most. However, there is an easy solution: build in a simple mini-search engine for your readers which is easy to access and takes no technical wizardry to set up.

Last week I posted on how and why I had cut my posts down to make the blog more reader friendly. I was also wondering who was going to read back through over 200+ posts? Probably no one. However, there is one way to keep high quality older posts accessible to readers: by effectively using categories.

While it can take some time to go through a big blog and categorise old posts, it’s worth that investment! Think through the best way to represent your topics. A straight label may not always be effective. Cleverly named categories may work well as teasers to pique curiosity. If say, a book title isn’t drawing traffic, alter the category name your book posts are under, to draw interest.

To make categories readily searchable, you can either use the category sidebar widget that your blog has, or do as I have done as used a text widget to separate the categories out of the cloud and make them more readable. To increase their usefulness, you can also link straight to a category and share it on social media; or as I have done, list them in places where they will draw attention, such as on my Best of the Blog page and my web site. Don’t forget to use the slug feature which allows you to put in a brief description or explanation of the category. It will clear up any confusion and let you communicate extra information.

wlogoI’m interested in hearing what categories draw your attention. What works on your blog? Please share in the comments. Here is my new category list.

Getting Real About Writer’s Burn Out and Social Media Demands

The Scream by Munch

The Scream by Munch

I was going through my Triberr stream today and someone had blogged on people who are too “big for their britches” to say thank you for retweets, comments etc. I shared the post as they do have a point. However, there can more behind this issue than mere rude behaviour: it may be overwhelm and silently suffering burn out.

Lack of response can come down to time availability, overload, required response numbers… and the need for a balanced life which includes family, recreation and rest. Those of us who have the sense to balance our time, or step away from “must-do to succeed” tasks, can pay a price in public criticism and the god called search engine rankings. It’s time for technology and all writers to stop cracking the whip and set better standards. Our online culture needs to allow people to lead balanced lives! We are creating our own hell… but we can create a way out of it, by changing our expectations and what we pressure other writers to do.

As my blog and business have grown, I have had increasing issues with time. I cannot comment on all the visited blog posts I would dearly love to respond to, which makes me feel very guilty. Thanks to Triberr, I have more RTs than I can keep up with. Add on the demands of marketing, networking, supporting other writers, time for writing, home life, book keeping, bills, health challenges and the many, many social media must-dos which I am supposed to follow… it all becomes physically and mentally impossible to keep up with.

For the last few years, I have worked my butt off trying to do it all the right way and it has slowly and surely led to me balancing on the edge of total burn out. So I chosen to step back from much of my prior workload for a time. Does that mean you will judge me as “too big for my britches,” as I need to switch comments off for a time, or because I am not on Twitter saying thanks every day?

I see so many writers say every week. “I am out of ideas.” “I want forget all the social media: I am forcing myself, as I am told I have to.” “My book isn’t working any more, I am going to ditch it. I don’t know what to do.” Guess what, like me, you’re over-tired. If you’re stats are low on blog visits or followers, maybe your content is bad as you’re too tired to think straight and good ideas have stopped flowing. If you’re stuck on a plot problem, maybe you need to let your mental muscles rest and regenerate.

Rfc1394_Danger_-_High_Voltage_(Alt_1)Technically burn out is: “the condition of someone who has become very physically and emotionally tired after doing a difficult job for a long time.” There is a fallacy that if you are doing what you love, you can’t burn out. Yes, you can. Burn out advances faster when you feel trapped, stuck, frustrated or are doing a task you don’t enjoy: but it can still quietly sneak up on you when you are doing what you love. It comes from being out of balance.

It comes from not getting away from your desk and taking “you” time; from giving into the online peer pressure to be so involved in everything, you are too busy for your creative brain to rest and for your stress level to reduce. Long term, those two don’t just lead to writer’s block, increased stress hormones will make your body sick. If you over-rev a car, the motor will burn out. We are no different.

There is an answer: rest, reduce your workload and balance out your time.

Until I feel better, my Triberr shares will automatically appear on Twitter, but I will rarely be doing my usual sharing; I won’t be on Facebook much; my time on Pinterest and Google Plus will be the barest minimum if at all; and I will be rarely reading blog posts I have subscribed to. I am not going to be stupid with my mental and physical health. I have to take time out, now.

According to SEO and all the good advice on success, this is suicide. According to Jeff Goins and his Slow Down Challenge, it is wisdom. For me, it is necessity. I am going to stop and quietly repair.

I challenge you to join me in re-assessing what you’re doing:

  • Look at your stats and see what social media/promotion doesn’t work, and have the courage to radically reduce your time on it, or stop using it.
  • Limit the number of days a week you post so you don’t run out of ideas, energy or overload your audience.
  • Get out of Facebook and Google communities and groups that are unresponsive, spam attractors or criticism ridden. (I exited 17 last week to pull my work load down to a controllable level.)
  • Stay away from Blogging challenges that are demanding more than 3-4 posts a week, or modify your involvement to what you can handle without stress, regardless of the rules. (I dropped out of two last week. I feel free! I’ll stash away the prompts I like and do them in my own time, for me, when I am ready.)
  • If you know NaNoWriMo and challenges like it are unrealistic and will scorch your sanity and stress you, don’t do it! Give yourself a longer time frame.
  • Reduce word counts to a level you know you can achieve and be patience. Just because it takes longer to get there, doesn’t mean you won’t!
  • Reduce extensive goal lists to the most important and work on no more than three at a time.
  • Stop being a type A and enjoy your family, friends, fresh air, fun and the good parts of life which involve no computer connection.

Take very good care of yourselves.

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Writing Toxins: Optimising A Fully Functioning Mind

Image from Flickr under a Creative Commons Licence. Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/-cavin-/

Image from Flickr under a Creative Commons Licence. Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/-cavin-/

Like all writers, I have days where I just can’t get work done. I have goals, deadlines and a schedule I try and follow, but it can be easier to plan than to write. If I have failed to nurture my mental energy, I just want to fall asleep on my keyboard, achieving nothing. One of the biggest source of this problem comes from the mind – body connection we all have. Brains need fuel. The most critical components are oxygen and sleep.

We have heard it all before… but it is true. You can’t think if you’re:

  • tired,
  • dehydrated,
  • living on junk food,
  • drunk,
  • drugged (including the damage done by smoking which starves the body of O2),
  • getting by on caffeine,
  • or haven’t moved from your chair for a long stretch.

Sitting at a desk for hours can be as toxic as living on fast food. It is not just your eyes that need a break from the computer screen. You need to get up and move around periodically so that oxygen gets pushed through your body tissues and is able to refresh and power your brain.

Image and great information available from http://www.signs-of-stress.com/symptoms-of-stress.html

Image and great information available from http://www.signs-of-stress.com/symptoms-of-stress.html

The other great killer is stress. It will do harm to your body and your creative mind. Any time we are out of balance, we risk damaging our physical health and our creative minds. I see writers who work all day, rush home to care for families and then stay up late at night writing.

I understand time constraints, however, when you push yourself to do too much on a continual basis, you will run dry both physically and mentally. Ideas will not come; ability to see mistakes when editing will go astray and you will start to feel like a failure.

So take a deep breath; be realistic and work out how to take care of yourself properly. If you aren’t taking care of you, then you won’t be caring for your writing. The body and mind go hand in hand. Love them both.

 


This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2013. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

No images on this blog may be copied, captured, or altered for your own purpose without the consent of the originating owner.