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Posts Tagged ‘setting goals’

Today I launch my Three Damn Things list for the Type-A personality. TDT is designed for the Type-A person trapped in a Type-B body. Or, put another way, the right-brained person trapped in a left-brained head.

You want to create, but you can’t with so much internal noise, the frustration of letting things go unchecked. If only the voices would stop yelling at you to fix this, call on that, sew this, trim that. The voice is shrill and always will be to the creative Type-A type.

This isn’t about basic life things that need accomplished. I’m talking about the things we can put off for later. And later never comes. If your car is due for an oil change, what’s another thousand miles going to hurt? If you haven’t balanced your checkbook in seventeen months, what’s another month going to hurt? You’ve been meaning to fight that erroneous medical charge, but fighting anything is unpleasant. Put it off. Besides, it’s extra. Extra as in I don’t have to do it and nobody will ever know.

We pretend we don’t care about the clutter that is growing like mold on a shower curtain. We pretend we don’t see the actual mold on the shower curtain. “The new me,” you say (the one who is pretending to be someone they’re not) “is blind to all that. I don’t care. I’m going to finish this novel if it kills me.”

And killing you, it is. BECAUSE YOU CAN’T LIVE LIKE THAT.  It isn’t you. That lifestyle doesn’t fit your personality type. Trust me; I know. You will remain preoccupied with whatever it is you are neglecting. The bigger the neglect (only Type-A would consider something like not color-coding her closet as neglect), the more apt you are to writer’s block. And neglecting your writing to take care of the internal nag doesn’t work either because now it’s your writing that’s nagging at you. It’s a vicious, never-ending cycle, and you need to do something about it, damnit.

When I hear about writers landing an agent eight months after they started the novel, I die a little inside. They are clearly Type B and right-brained all the way. They can write like there’s nothing else to do (I bet their CDs and DVDs aren’t even in alphabetical order). And the Type-A, right-brained can only write when there is nothing else to do.

Don’t take it anymore! Damn it.

Why “damn”? Because I’m fed up, damnit. Writing a to-do list is all fine and great and everything but most of what I put on mine are really just reminders of stuff I have to do and therefore unlikely to put off: scoop litter box, empty dishwasher, pay bills, etc. It’s the extra stuff that put me at my breaking point—damnit—and it’s messing with my creative flow. When I have too much stuff piling on, I can’t think around all the clutter. I can’t write. I can’t blog. I can’t move forward. I’m stuck in the quicksand of life, damnit.

Today. And every day from this one, I will do three things on my backlog. I have to be strategic. Photo albums will take all day so I will list it with two very small things like pull the six-foot-tall weed and find my glasses that I misplaced months ago. I use dime-store reading glasses as a replacement, but these are prescription, and I paid good money for them, damnit (I am fully aware that by searching for my glasses I will find many other neglected piles in my house. I don’t care. I’m ready, with my pen and pad to add those to my list too, damnit).

I can’t wait to wear all my clothes that needed ironed or needed a button. I can’t wait to see my hallway lined with my kids’ school pics from pre-k to current. I can’t wait to make that recipe that’s been glaring at me from a fridge magnet for, I kid you not, fifteen months. But just knowing I’m back in control will silence the internal nagging so I can focus more on my writing. Damnit.

What personality type do you think you are? Do you have any damn things nagging at you?

 

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There’s a piece of writing advice that stands the test of time. Much like the secret to weight loss is to simply reduce calories and increase exercise. No gimmick. No magic pill or elixir. No cream or special belt. Nothing but good old-fashioned diet changes and moving the body more and sitting less. There.

Now the same goes for writing. No gimmicks, music, scented candles, meditation, prayer, deals with the devil, or anything else that you need in order to write. Doing the above is fine. But not if it’s what you rely on to write.

The closest thing to a gimmick I found that actually worked to get my work in progress progressing is a subliminal message.  As my desk (I actually cleaned it up a bit to take the pic) gets cluttered with sticky notes of books to read, agents to query, and new gimmicks to try, I had the solution the whole time, right in front of my nose, a natural home remedy, trying to be noticed. I’m right here, it says, listen to me.

hint: it's a raised platform for my computer

 

So if you are wondering where I’ve been, why my blog is quiet, it’s because a certain subliminal message has taken over my brain.

Disclaimer: Sitting less is the very antithesis of writing more. Though I wholly recommend exercise. Writers need it. I need it. Oh, boy, do I need it. Bathing suit season …

Do you have any good writing advice? Or any advice that produces great results?

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This counts as a blog post from me.  Come visit Fear of Writing, you might learn something on What Not to Do.

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T’was the fourth day of the new year and all is a flutter

I’ve decided on a new task to edit and de clutter

Type B lurks but I shoo it away

for I need Type A, in a bad way

My old plan required edit through osmosis

Now I must stop smelling the roses

The pace I once took was borderline criminal

For how does one revise just on subliminal?

The question I have on this fine day

Where art thou where art thou my buddy Type A

Oh, how I can’t wait for May when Chip MacGregor holds his next Worst Poetry contest. I didn’t win last year (see my entry here) but I’ve sharpened my skills remarkably, don’t you think?

So my friend and mentor Christian did this wonderful post about writer personality types along with a link to a personality test to see which type you are. He uses Monica and Phoebe from Friends in the writer’s workshop he teaches as perfect examples of Type A and Type B personalities. He declared me a Phoebe well before he knew what my test score would be—it’s that obvious.

The creative Phoebe in me writes the stories, but it when it comes to editing I have some real issues relating to self-discipline. I had jumped to the conclusion that I was experiencing profound wisdom by starring at the tree squirrels outside my window, as if they would somehow subliminally implant an editing hard drive into my brain. Then I would open up my WIP, and three pages in my eyes would glaze over. Squirrels are highly overrated. I would then decide to check my email, read agent blogs, go to other blogs and read and comment, all this I viewed as warming up. By then it was time for bed.

So instead of relying on outside sources to tackle what my right brain repels against, I must unearth what little Monica I do have and put her to use.

I urge you to visit Christian’s blog and take the test and leave him a comment about your results. Then hop on back here and tell me. If you don’t want to reveal to me your results that’s okay; I respect that. I’ll just return to his blog and see what you left there. I’m not that nosey anyway. FYI, I got a 38.

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This time last year, I was an internet virgin. I knew it was out there; it offered nothing for me. My employment years involved a sheltered company computer with only their narrowed focused program. Looking back, it was like living in a country that has only one kind of programming for TV viewers.

I had been writing in Word and corresponding with my critique group, but other than that, I was unaware of the worldwide writing community at my fingertips.

And then I became deflowered—overnight.

Members of my writing group can take credit for this. They spoke amongst themselves of this mysterious place, this mystical magical place of wonderment. They spoke of each other’s blogs—what’s a blog? I thought, but too afraid to ask. I was given blog addresses, whereupon I came to visit and leave my comments (it would be three more months before I started one of my own). I learned from each blog that there were agents who had blogs—agents have blogs? Nathan Bransford was the first of many distractions resourceful agent blogs. Then came the industry blogs, which contain every vital piece of distractions information necessary to find and agent and become a published author.

Now there’s a tiny part of me that wishes I just stopped at the writer’s blogs, because before the onslaught of industry blogs, I had hope.

And now, I know too much.

I benefitted greatly from all the online advice thrown my way, but it also came with a price—self-doubt. Ignorance had been my bliss. I had no doubt mine would be the next bestseller and my pounding out thousands of words every day, my belonging to critique groups (trying out several for size and sometimes belonging to many at once), my completing my first draft in a year and having two short stories accepted by a magazine, was a testament to my ambitious goals.

But I have to admit my ambition waned once I became aware of the difficulties of the publishing industry: how it was hard to break in before the bad economy, has now become close to impossible. How does one carry on after such daily news as that, along with all the other negatives? It affected me. I haven’t had many writing successes since I became “aware.” But yet, I am thankful. The tiny part that wishes I was still in a blissful state is overshadowed by the great improvements in my writing since. Once you’re equipped with the power of knowledge you can’t go back. Once you know the world isn’t flat, you don’t continue the same thinking path you once took. I need to return to that prior blazing trail I had been on without sacrificing my daily addictions of agent blogs. I shall overcome.

So I just want to say I am thankful for my knowledge, for the internet distractions  community of industry professionals willing to take the time to educate and empower. And most writerly related of all, I am thankful for the blog friends I’ve made. Each one of you is walking the same path—some at a different pace—and it comforts me to listen to your stories and to share some of mine.

Happy Thanksgiving

p.s. feel free to share what you are thankful for.

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My April Fools gift to myself was to send out my first query. April 1st is special to me in that I began my novel 2 years ago on that day, and then finished the first draft on that same day one year later. So it seemed fitting to do something significant on the day of my 2nd year anniversary. What  better way to celebrate than to actually offer it for publication.

I worked on this query for months, so much so, I forgot what the book was about. I read every piece of query advice out there on the agent blogs. I read bravely posted queries on critique sites, which are quite helpful if you are writing a plot-driven novel as most of them were. But I have yet to see a sample query of a character-driven novel, so I had to go at it blindly.

Then came the agent research. I didn’t want to go crazy on this special day; one agent was all I needed to fulfil my ceremonial neurotic desire to feed my symbolic nature. The other queries can follow at different times. So after careful selection, I pre-prepared my query and saved it on my draft. I was having house guests and knew I wouldn’t have time on that day.

D-day: Houseguest arrived. My daughter declares she must move out of her apartment that day. My husband in Minnesota visiting his ailing father, calls to tell me his father passed away unexpectedly. Despite the events and drama, I remembered to hit the send button, but decided to read the first chapter as it looked on the email only to discover it went font crazy. I couldn’t fix it and had to rush and find an agent who didn’t want any pages of the book–query only. After pouring over my list of prospectives, I selected two query-only agents and shot it off to both, felt the world lift off my shoulders, and went to bed with grief about my father-in-law, but a semi clear head.

Lo and behold, I awoke with an email message from Jessica Faust at Bookends that she was not interested (no word on the other agent yet). And weirdly enough, it didn’t bother me. BTW-besides research conclusions, I chose Ms. Faust because she has a sweet and honest face.

Well, Jessica, all I can say is that you ruined my chances of holding seminars on “How to pick an agent based on their face.” Ruined it, I say.

Oh, and one more thing. Jessica at Bookends launched Agentfail on her Bookends site on the very same day. She rejected me at 2:52 am the next day. This is after reading 250 mean remarks about agents from writers. Could it be she was tired and angry? Yes! That’s what it is. If I queried her on any other day she would have called me personally to say how excited she was to represent me and where have I been all her life. Maybe I’ll give her another chance … and another … and another. Ha Ha. Just kidding. Not really.

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