5 Ways To Get Rid Of Inertia In Your Life

 

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

*Knocking on microphone* Hello? Anyone there?

I’ve been MIA from this blog for a while. Quite a while. I haven’t touched my WIP for almost 4 months. I’ve lost my way. I could blame it on a lot of legitimate reasons. Continue reading

Organize Your Day For Maximum Writing Productivity

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photo courtesy Hustvedt, Creative Commons

By Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Does finding time for writing leave you overwhelmed?

The tug of your creative life versus ‘regular life’ got you feeling guilty?

You’re not alone. Continue reading

5 Ways Blog Reader Surveys Help Increase Your Blogging Audience

Frontier Fiesta, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries

Frontier Fiesta, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

 

Do you wonder if anyone is reading your blog?

 

The comment area looks so lonesome, the analytics don’t change a lot. You’re writing good content. At least you think so.

So what’s the problem?

Maybe you need to do a blog survey and find out. Continue reading

9 Questions Before You Become A Blogging Statistic

'Blog', courtesy of cortege9, Wikimedia Commons

‘Blog’, courtesy of cortege9, Wikimedia Commons

Are you tired of blogging?

I am.

I know that’s sacrilege to admit on your own blog. The stress of moving, illness, and the fact I haven’t posted consistently has me questioning my commitment to blogging.

Am I really getting a return on investment of the time I put into blogging?

Shouldn’t I be focusing on ‘real’ writing?

My blogging journey started almost three years ago. I researched for three months before taking the plunge, thinking about my goals for my blog. I didn’t want to start something new and shiny, to later run out of steam. (I have a tendency to do that.)

I liked sharing and meeting new people. Researching and writing about creativity, blogging, and social media fascinated me. And I loved sharing my write anywhere adventures.

But lately blogging has felt like a burden, a deadline that looms over me and highlights my penchant for procrastination. I’m considering taking a break, or a complete reboot. Should I start over? Will anyone care?

Continue reading

Week #1 NaNoWriMo Check-In: Resistance Is Inevitable (Plus Some Tips)

photo courtesy Btindall45, Creative Commons

photo courtesy Btindall45, Creative Commons

The first week of the National Novel Writing Month Challenge, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, has passed. For you writers who have accepted the challenge:

How are you doing? Continue reading

10 Shortcuts To Defeating Writing Procrastination In Record Time

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

Do you find yourself with all the good intentions to sit down and write that novel/memoir/poem/magazine article/editorial/blog post that’s been tugging at your insides, only to find yourself at the end of another day with nothing to show for it?

If so, you may be a writing procrastinator.

There are a lot of legitimate reasons your writing doesn’t happen, but if you find yourself struggling on a regular basis, procrastination may be an issue for you.

I’m a procrastinator. I struggle. I wallow in indecision on a regular basis. It seems at the moment I decide to write I realize the dishes need washing, the bills need paying, the cat needs feeding, and suddenly messes that have been messes for months must be organized. When I want to I can find all kinds of things to distract me from writing, from de-cluttering to cruising Facebook and Twitter to making lists of things I need to accomplish ‘whenever I finally have the time’. What’s wrong with that picture?

Procrastination affects about 20% of the population. Some people procrastinate because they get a rush from putting things off even though it creates anxiety. Those are the people who say they do best with a deadline looming or cramming for tests at the last minute. Other people procrastinate because they want to avoid the activity they need to accomplish, even though they would tell you they really want to do it, ‘if only’.

If you procrastinate in other areas of your life, it creeps into your writing time as well.

“Lack of confidence, sometimes alternating with unrealistic dreams of heroic success, often leads to procrastination, and many studies suggest that procrastinators are self-handicappers: rather than risk failure, they prefer to create conditions that make success impossible, a reflex that of course creates a vicious cycle.” – James Surowiecki

Many prolific writers have occasional times of procrastination. Procrastination is often confused with writer’s block. Writer’s block is when you have the discipline to sit down and write but nothing comes. Procrastination is when you do all you can to avoid sitting down in the first place, though you may have lots of writing that wants to come out. I think more writers are actually dealing with procrastination issues rather than true blockage.

Perfectionism is also a willing partner to procrastination. A perfectionist would rather not do something than do it with the possibility that it doesn’t turn out perfect. Perfectionism is based in fear and the need to control all circumstances, but in reality it causes a lack of control. Perfectionists have a cushion in procrastination. They don’t have to take responsibility because ‘there wasn’t enough time’.

I know this from personal experience. I’ve struggled with perfectionism and the guilt that follows all my distractions in order to avoid writing because the truth, if I’m willing to face it, is that I fear I will be found out as a failure.

Procrastination boils down to fear.

Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of judgment, fear of commitment, self-doubt.

Fear.

“Procrastination is not Laziness”, I tell him. “It is fear. Call it by its right name, and forgive yourself.” – Julia Cameron, The Prosperous Heart

Procrastination guarantees one thing. You don’t move forward. You don’t move at all.

What does procrastination look like?

  • You ignore the activity or act like it doesn’t exist.
  • You wait until the last minute until it’s too late to do anything about it, and blame it on your ‘lack of time’ or ‘being so busy’.
  • You have a Scarlett O’Hara attitude. “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
  • You downplay the importance or priority of the activity.
  • You substitute a less important activity for a more important one. “These dishes aren’t going to wash themselves, I need to shine the silver (that you haven’t used in three years) in case someone drops by.”
  • You deserve a reward or comfort for all you’re going through. “No one cares about all the frustration I’m going through with my writing. I’m going to cheer myself up with some comfort food/drink/new shoes/a night out, etc. This is legitimate until it starts happening regularly while writing does not.
  • Unproductive productivity. You convince yourself that your delaying tactics actually help your writing. “I can learn about dialogue so much more if I watch the entire season of Duck Dynasty, read these fifty blogs and seven writing instruction books that I need to read before I start writing, and go meet my writing friends for coffee four times a week to talk about writing.”
  • You focus on your weaknesses and give them all the power. “I’m just too tired/angry/depressed/anxious/in pain/lonely/to do any writing.”

Self-sabotage is the sneakiest kind of roadblock to your best writing life because who better than you knows all your triggers and knows how to use them against yourself?

Sometimes the universe aligns and the words seem to drip off our fingertips. But most of the time we slog. We march in the mud. We throw wild punches at the air. We rant and rave at the blank page. And then we write.

Writing is hard just like life is hard. As you work to move forward through life, don’t let procrastination keep you from moving forward in your writing life. Fight for it. Push back at fear.

Here are 10 Shortcuts To Stopping Writing Procrastination:

  1. Admit it. Just like any other bad habit (and it is a learned habit), you first have to admit you have a problem before you can do something about it.
  2. Consider the root cause of your procrastination. Why do you delay and distract yourself from the writing? Fear? Past failures? Lack of discipline? Not wanting to face the truths you are writing about? Take time to examine the heart issues that result in procrastination behaviors.
  3. Ask for help. Let your friends and family know this is an issue for you (although they already know) and that you’d like encouragement and support as you’re trying to change your habits.
  4. Find a buddy. The buddy system works in many behavior modification scenarios. Procrastination is no different. Connect with someone else who is struggling with procrastination and hold each other accountable. Three writing friends and I used a calendar system for accountability to help us focus on writing productivity. It’s surprising what you make time for when you know someone is watching.
  5. Get unblocked. If you feel like you are dealing with true writing blocks, try some unblocking techniques like writing prompts, free writing, other creative pursuits (painting, photography, etc.), or work on another project for a change of pace.
  6. Be realistic. Perfectionists tend to make grandiose plans that they know they can’t complete in the finite amount of time they give themselves and quit before they start. If you have a day job, small children, or other obligations, know that those things are not going away and you have to negotiate your time. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Start your time management make-over with small consistent bites of time to encourage yourself. A timer set for 15 minutes works wonders.
  7. Show up. Position yourself at your desk or wherever you usually write and hang around awhile. If you write, that’s great. But if you don’t, that’s okay, too. Train yourself to show up and eventually the writing will come.
  8. Stop comparisons. Comparison is only helpful when you are trying to find the best deal on hamburger at the grocery store. Don’t compare yourself to your writing friend who writes for seventeen hours straight or writers who may be at a different skill level than you are. Do what works best for you and be content with that.
  9. Embrace the process. Vanquishing procrastination is not something you do in one fell swoop or a single proclamation. “I’m not a procrastinator anymore. Ta-dah!” Instead it’s the accumulation of a million small choices, day in and day out. Don’t quit just because you backslide into old habits from time to time.
  10. Resolve to do one thing every day towards your writing goals.

BONUS SHORTCUT: Let go of excuses. Today.

Stop postponing your dreams – what are you waiting for?

Eradicate procrastination with this epic blog post master class:

What has been the greatest self-imposed obstacle to your writing?

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Memory Plucking and Listening To Your Heart

public domain

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

It’s raining today. It feels like a good day for rain. Health challenges loom over me like the storm clouds outside. In the midst of those challenges, I did some things that weren’t that great for me physically. I drove 1100 + miles in 3 days time. That wouldn’t bother some people but it was too much for me. I got sicker. Why would I take the time, energy, and money I didn’t really have to do that?

I drove across three states to attend my only grandson’s first birthday party. It wasn’t any huge shindig, just snacks and a birthday cake. But I wanted to be there. Destined-To-Be-A-Musician was mostly grumpy and a little overwhelmed. He hated having cake icing on his hands and cried terribly while he held his fingers out to be rescued by Mama’s trusty washcloth.

Musician Daughter and Musician-in-Law tried to pull him out of his funk, but when little ones are tired, they are tired, and that is it. He won’t remember that I was there. But he’ll know later, when it’s worth knowing. Nanny (that’s me) was there.

Within the same three day period I drove for a total of four hours to visit my grandmother. She lives in a nursing home now. She just recently moved there. She was pretty grumpy about it, because at 90 years of age, she still thought she could take care of the daily business of living. She couldn’t and that was that. The nursing home that she could afford was far away from her friends, family and church.

I had been sending her letters, plucking memories out of the ether, trying to help her clutch at the remnants of her mind. Remembering. Like how she taught my sister and I to shuck corn and string beans and how to pick blackberries without getting stuck by thorns.  Remembering how she would pour a cup of coffee and shush us when her ‘stories’ were on tv and how Jack Abbott was an evil cad. How she and Grandpa went into town for the Moose Lodge dances every Saturday night and she wore such pretty dresses. How she let us try on all her costume jewelry and ruin her Hazel Bishop lipsticks and helped us memorize our vacation bible school verses.

To go visit her at the nursing home I had to take away time from things that other people wanted me to do that they felt should be a priority. She might not even know me now, I was reminded. She had good days and bad days, so I might be wasting my time.

She certainly could have thought she was wasting her time when she sat patiently day after day laughing and clapping at the proper times when we presented our daily ‘plays’ all those summers we spent with her. But she didn’t. We didn’t have much else to do, being city kids trapped in the confines of a rural summer. Our fantastic productions amounted to dressing up in scarves bought at the Woolworth’s, shuffling our feet on the carpet, and taking big bows.

There were many things she didn’t do well over the years, words she said that hurt and cut and left tiny scars, especially as age moved in with her like a messy house guest, but the wisdom gained with time and a bit of therapy have shown me that she tried her best with what she was given by her parents and her generation.

Others might say I shouldn’t be so forgiving, but I’d say it’s more understanding than forgiving. Casting stones and all that.

When I walked through the door of her sterile double-occupancy room she knew me after a little prodding, and we laughed and hugged and looked at photos for the next ninety minutes. She didn’t remember my three children very well, but she knew Destined-To-Be-A-Musician Great-Great Grandson as soon as she saw his dimples shining out at her.

Later she whispered a secret to Keeper Hubby and I: She had a boyfriend! Was it today or seventy years ago, no one knew, but I giggled with her anyway. Then it was time for the cafeteria and she raced off on her walker to make sure she got the seat she wanted. It was a mind intent on ordering the mashed potatoes that absently waved goodbye. I didn’t know if she would remember I was there, but I would remember for both of us. I was there.

With all this in mind, when a read a blog post this week by Leo Baubata, it exploded in my spirit. It’s a post he wrote several years ago about making intentional time for the things that really matter. Now, don’t be deceived by all my goodness and light mentioned above. I am a time-waster, procrastinator and busybee of the first magnitude. Making time for things that are sometimes hard but needful is right there on my list with ironing my socks.

Leo’s post was about steps to adopting a minimalist lifestyle, but the quote he shared pricked my writer’s heart:

“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”

– William Strunk, Jr.

Leo went on to share about omitting needless things and needless activities in order to make what you have, say, and do count.

Read the entire post The Minimalist Principle: Omit Needless Things

Omitting unnecessary clutter and busyness out of your life is a great idea. What would make it doubly powerful is determining what IS needful.

This requires being present in the moment. Sometimes what is needful at a moment is answering all your email. At another time it is sitting in silence on your back porch. At another time it is banging out 3000 words on your work-in-progress. At another time it is playing Candyland for the 500th time. The trick is knowing what is needful at the right moment.

But is there really a trick, a ten-steps-to post, a formula to determining what is needful? I don’t think so, and I don’t think we get it right most of the time. But beginning a habit of  really taking some time to listen to your heart might be a start.

That reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible. This is the Kristin paraphrase:

Two sisters are host to Jesus and his disciples. Martha was all about hospitality and making sure everything was just perfect for her guests. Mary got comfy on some pillows in the living room and listened to what Jesus said all evening, hanging on his every word. Martha got in a tizzy because she was making sure all the napkins were on the right side of the plate, filling the guests’ glasses whenever they took a sip and putting out the unused little guest soaps in the bathroom while her sister was just sitting around listening to the conversation, not helping with anything.

She came up to Jesus and said, “Hey, here I am slaving away for you guys, you had this awesome five-course meal I cooked, I cleaned the house spotless and all my decor looks like it should be in the Pottery Barn catalog. Mary didn’t lift a finger and she’s still not helping me. Tell her to get her butt in the kitchen!”

Jesus said, “Martha, your perfectionism’s got you all stressed out about all this stuff and fearful about what might happen and what people might think, but only one thing is needful. Mary has chosen to grab all that is in this moment before it passes her by, which is the better thing right now and I’m not going to slam her for it.”

Take the time to cut out all the chatter and busyness and listen. Listen to your heart.

Sometimes it takes extra time and effort. Your spirit can hear what the needful thing is at that moment. If you give it a chance.

Twenty-five days after visiting my grandmother, she had a massive stroke. She is unresponsive now, and the doctors say it is just a matter of days. Most of the time I feel like I’m just stumbling through life, caught up in my own petty troubles and vices. But once in a while my heart breaks through the noise, and I come away with no regrets.

Here are two posts that will encourage you to listen to your heart:

Learning What Is Needful For Now and Letting All Else Go from Joyful Mama

Missing The Days of Niffie-Poo from Jenny Hansen

Have you ever had a time it was hard to listen to your heart but you’re glad you did?

Start Your Week Off Write: Writing and the Fear of Failure

First, a news update:  I’d like to send a big ‘Thank You’ to Christy Farmer for nominating kristin nador writes anywhere for the Liebster Blog Award. It’s the first award this here little blog has gotten, and I so appreciate it. Please send Christy some blog love by checking out her great posts over at Christy Farmer. Now, on with the show…

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

I was catching up on my blog reading and found a great post over at Jeff Goins, Writer. He’s one of those awesome bloggers who does crazy things like point out the truth, ask questions and make you think. Jeff’s blog post ‘What Would You Do If You Couldn’t Fail?’ focused on how fear holds us back from doing what we really want to do because we are afraid to fail. Some of his thoughts I could really relate to both in my personal and my writing journey (although I’m not sure how you separate those at times, or if you should).

“…more often than not, we don’t fail. The things we fear will happen don’t.”

That was my experience when I drove to St. Louis to work on book research in August. I planned on going in May, but I conveniently got pneumonia. Not that pneumonia is ever convenient. Then a lot of life circumstances happened. Finally there was no excuse, in August I would only be an hour away from St. Louis visiting family. I started to make up excuses not to go: I was too tired from the visit, I would have to spend more money that wasn’t really in the budget right now, the weather was so hot I might get heat stroke. Crappy Excuse Trolls reared their fuzzy little heads by the dozen. (See Kristen Lamb’s blog for a definition of Crappy Excuse Trolls.)

crappy excuse troll reminder that sits on my desk - cute but deadly

The truth was that I was afraid. Afraid to do what I had never done before, afraid to be uncomfortable and push myself, and afraid that all my plans would evaporate into failure. So what did I do? I did it afraid.

“Fear is overcome like any enemy – inch by inch, one small victory at a time.”

If you wait until you are unafraid, you may not accomplish much. Stepping out in faith towards your dreams is scary, but small steps add up to a solid path moving towards where you want to be. The first time I took a writing class I thought I was going to throw up right in the classroom. You, start a new career in writing? At your age? What do you have to say that anyone would be interested in? But I did it afraid, and discovered writing was what I wanted to do.

The first time I had a short story read in a critique group, I felt as naked as a newborn baby. Surely, these writers will all laugh themselves out of their chairs with my horrible prose. But I did it afraid and received helpful and encouraging words.

So, despite the fear, two weeks ago I drove to St. Louis by myself and stayed for three days. I went here and there, exploring and taking photographs. The scariest thing of all? Walking into the research library of a museum and answering the librarian when he said in his Librarian Gatekeeper voice “Why are you here?” “I’m a writer doing research,” I managed to squeak out. I waited for the sky to fall, lightning to strike, the ground to swallow me, because surely I was the biggest liar on the face of the earth. You, a writer? The only thing that happened is that I discovered one very important thing: YOU are the one who gives your fears the power they hold over you.

“Nothing is holding you back now. You have permission. You can go back to being safe tomorrow.”

On the other side of your fears is freedom, and once you get a taste, you might not want to go back. Does fear of failure hold you back from making decisions towards your writing dreams? Be bold and make a decision, because no decision is still a decision. A decision to let fear hold you captive.

I encourage you to head on over to Jeff Goins’ blog and read the entire post ‘What Would You Do If You Couldn’t Fail?’ and post an answer to the question. And if you need more encouragement to face your writing fears, check out these links:

Question: Does fear of failure affect your writing? How? What small step could you take to conquer that fear?


Start Your Week Off Write: Make Your Blog Ideas Stick

What do you use to make ideas stick?

When I started my blog way back in the day (otherwise known as two months ago), I had a ‘ton’ of ideas to write about. My mind: 1 ton=seven. So I had a week’s worth of blog post ideas and started writing. One idea I didn’t really like, two seemed completely without merit and another one I finished but it stunk. That left me three, count ‘em, three ideas. I wrote my three posts, and during that week I had several more bursts of creativity. The only problem was these creativity bursts were thwarted when I self-edited and threw the idea out, or I was busy at the moment and told myself I would write about it later.

Those thoughts floated into the ether, or back into the giant bingo cage in the sky, to pop out for some other lucky person who had the means and smarts to write it down.

After reading Kristen Lamb’s book Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer I decided I would do what Kristen suggests and make a weekly schedule of topics to blog about. Check out my schedule here. I got a notebook to keep track of ideas, but alter ego Perfectionist Me would get irritated that ideas could not be kept in order, as ideas usually don’t pop into one’s mind as a list. She insisted that I should follow them in numerical order. You can tell she is working to sabotage my writing career. She would prefer me to be eternally making lists on Post-It Notes, which is also known as Procrastination Hell on Google Maps. Have you ever been there?

Then out of the recesses of my mind came a wild and crazy idea. I called it a Blog Rubric. What if I could use my Post-It fetish to my advantage?

Post-Its brimming over with magically delicious ideas!

This is my blog rubric. It may not be the technically correct term, but it sounds a bit smartypants. It’s just a big piece of paper, courtesy of Artist Daughter’s hoard of paper rolls, tacked to my office wall. First I listed the days of the week and my blog subject for that day. Then I went brainstormin’ ballistic and wrote any idea that came to my mind. No editing involved. (Perfectionist Me could barely stand it.)When I got an idea that matched with a topic, I stuck it under that topic. Otherwise I left it unclassified over at the side. There weren’t many of those, because as I focused on my rubric topics, ideas tended to focus on those, too. I also carry Post-Its in my purse for when I’m on the go, I can ‘stick it’ when I get home.

So now I have a lot (not going to say a ton) of ideas, and when I get a new one, I just stick it up on the rubric. When I’m done writing about one, I take it down. When I see a topic list is shrinking, I brainstorm for ideas on that subject. I can see it taking shape in front of me, and Perfectionist Me still gets to write her little Post-It Notes without regret.

You may say,”That is very 1996, Kristin.  You know, you have the Stickies application on your Mac. Why don’t you use something more technologically advanced?” Well, we could argue the technological advancement of society due to Post-It Notes, but I agree it is a little old school. I’m very visual and not too tech-y, although I’m increasing my knowledge daily. My wall notes are accomplishing their goal and keeping that pesky Perfectionist Me from sabotaging my blogging efforts.

Want some other ways to capture your blog ideas and make them ‘stick’? Check out these links:

Momcomm talks about How to Mind Map for Better Blog Writing

Jessica shares about Capturing Inspiration for Blog Topic Ideas

Gingerbread Snowflakes gives you advice on organizing ideas ‘Old School’ here

Christopher S. Penn gives a YouTube pep talk on how to be a digital superhero with How I Blog with Evernote

Bonus: Capture ideas in the shower with AquaNotes!

Question: How do you keep track of your blog ideas? Any tricks you care to share about getting good ideas?

Related Posts: Start Your Week Off Write: Blogging Help From Social Media Guru Kristen Lamb