Come play inside a writer's brain, scary!

We hear a lot lately about reboots. The powerhouse Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, is considered a reboot because it takes the franchise in new directions with new characters. The recent Star Trek movies are most certainly reboots with much of the story canon amassed over fifty years being replaced with unrelated material credited to an “alternate timeline.” Yes, well…

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The term, reboot comes from computer usage. When a device refuses to perform, the first defense is invariably to turn everything off, wait a short time, then turn things on again. Often, that’s enough to get the device working properly.

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People can reboot themselves, too. I know of several who are in that process now.
One of the most prominent is actor Wil Wheaton (Star Trek the Next Generation, Big Bang Theory, Neverland, Stand by Me, and many others)
Late last year, he announced in his blog that he was rebooting his life. Unhappy with himself, he made a public commitment to change, doing less of habits that harmed him, and more of those that helped, such as reading more, writing more and exercising more.

In an update this week, he graded himself on progress, giving himself an A on some items and an F on only one – writing more, which had been pushed aside by acting commitments. You can read his story on his blog http://wilwheaton.net/2015/10/seven-things-i-did-to-reboot-my-life/

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A writer friend I greatly admire, Diane Curran, announced yesterday on Facebook that she’s rebooting her life starting Monday, including returning to her beloved belly dancing classes.
“I’ve been a bit slack over the last couple of months. While I never returned to the Caramello and Iced Tea, I did take up Lindt extra dark chocolate and I still can’t moderate [my intake]. Adding back in dairy, grains and potato and reducing exercise and I’m feeling the difference in body and attitude.”
Throughout 2015, Diane transformed herself through diet and dance, until we barely recognized her, except for the sparkle that’s there through thick and thin (sorry, Diane, really bad pun). Starting today, she says it’s “back to Paleo, back to physical activity, back to writing a minimum of 500 words a day.”
https://www.facebook.com/chickollage?fref=ts

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Reboots don’t need to be drastic. In the last month, I decided that my writing office wasn’t serving me. I was doing nearly all my writing at the dining table, the room more and more resembling the office I wasn’t using.
It wasn’t rocket science to work out that clutter deterred me from using my “real” office. The big desk I’d had for years was a clutter magnet, unlike the dining table which I had to clear regularly because, well, it beat eating off the floor.
I bought a new, smaller, table in gloss white with chrome legs – the nearest desk I could find to a dining table. Added a gorgeous white file unit with red drawers that could serve as a return as needed, and went to work. With less surface area, paper can’t pile up. I love my new desk and spend almost all my working time there.
Like Diane, I’m also tackling a body reboot, having lost mumble-something kilos in twelve months. While not exactly gym-ready, I move much more, and no longer cringe at photos of myself in the media.
Writing more isn’t an issue since this year I’ll have published 90 books. But I have changed direction. I’m now writing science fiction, a genre I’ve always loved. Naturally, there is romance in there – albeit with a light touch. But the rebooted me is boldly going where I haven’t gone until now, and having a ball.

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Is there an area of your writing life you’d like to reboot?

Here are four ways you can tackle the job.
1. Start from your strengths
Rebooting yourself is a choice. It doesn’t mean everything you’ve written is wrong. Every word is part of your learning curve and will feed into the writing you do next. If exercise is needed, simply move more. Watch TV or make calls standing up. Weed the garden. Every little bit counts. Do workshops online or off. Find a critique partner in your new genre, and encourage each other.
2. See yourself succeeding
Spend a few minutes each day relaxing and picturing yourself succeeding. Visualise your book cover, or yourself in the spotlight, whatever fills you with energy and determination. Then look to your reboot list and start to make it happen one step at a time.
3. Be gentle with yourself
Wil Wheaton called his a “soft reboot”, focusing on the items he felt would make his life better. He didn’t throw out all his previous achievements, or come down on himself for the one area he felt needed more work. Like Diane, you may have Lindt extra dark chocolate moments. Recognise them and gently put them aside in favour of new behaviours that support your goals.
4. Feel the fear and do it anyway
This is a brilliant self-help book I suggest you read, although the title says it all. New always feels scary. If it doesn’t you’re not doing it right. Your reboot should take you out of your comfort zone into uncharted space. This week I’ve taken the biggest leap of my life into that space and you know what? It felt terrifying but exhilarating in equal measures. There are no guarantees of success, but if you don’t take the leap, you’re guaranteed to fail.

Minions take over world
Begin your reboot today. As a writer, choose a new direction or genre you’d love to try, and read in that field. Study the available markets. Then plan how you’ll write in it. 500 words a day is good, but 100 will do if it’s all you can fit in. Even at 100 words a day, you’ll have a novella or half a novel done by the end of this year, and that’s with most weekends off.
Let’s compare notes back on this blog in six months time. Not to beat ourselves up over what we haven’t achieved, but to look honestly at where we are and what still needs work.
Do you plan a reboot in your life? Share your thoughts in the comment box below. It’s moderated to avoid spam, but you can skip this step by clicking on “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone.
Happy writing and rebooting,
Valerie
http://www.valerieparv.com
on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook
Check out Valerie’s online course, Free the Writer In You
At http://www.valerieparv.com/course.html
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Comments on: "When should you reboot your writing life? First Monday Mentoring February 2016" (9)

  1. I’m honoured to be quoted, Valerie. It’s funny – 1st Feb has worked for me twice in the past. 6 years ago on the 1st Feb, I gave up drinking the evil black liquid aka Coca-Cola and haven’t touched it since. Last year I gave up refined sugar, mostly Iced Tea and chocolate, which were my two main vices.

    Maybe the rebooting or the defraging needs to be a yearly recommitment for me, or maybe I just had to remind myself why I shouldn’t be eating the bad stuff. My body has certainly reminded me.

    Here’s to a fabulous reboot for everyone!

  2. I also recommend downloading the Don’t Break the Chain chart to break a habit or create a new one. It kept me on track last year.

    • Are you sure we’re not clones? I’ve talked several times on here about Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t break the chain.” For those who don’t know yet, he simply picks a habit he wants to resolve, or an amount of writing to do, whatever is needed, then starts marking off on a calendar each day he keeps his commitment to himself. Gradually the calendar fills with a “chain” of Xs, the objective being to keep the chain unbroken. It really works.

  3. Definitely need a reboot. I don’t know if I need to be different, but I need a restart of my Windows on the world.

    • Hi Grace, good for you taking the first step – recognizing the need for change. Remember, it’s not that YOU need to be different, so much as aspects of your life need rebooting. You could make a list of what would feel like improvements to you, and work on them. Tackling even one habit you’d like to change is a great start. LOL at restarting your Windows on the world. If you mean outlook or attitude, can you think of some baby steps to change your “windows” such as committing to think of one great thing about your life as soon as you awaken? Whatever you decide, I wish you success.

  4. Part of my reboot is writing and submitting more music this year (and, yes, more books, too). 500 words a day sounds like a reasonable challenge, although so far I haven’t done nearly that well. And that reminds me. While it’s still the end of January in this part of the time machine, I’d better finish that novel I’d planned to finish by tonight! 🙂

    • Excellent targets for your reboot, Marion. I think it’s better to set a lower word count than you expect to accomplish. You can always do more, while not putting yourself under too much pressure as that can undermine your plans. Good luck with finishing your book by end January where you are.

  5. I’ve been thinking a lot about this post over the last day or so. I’ve received what I think will be the final rejection for my latest MS. I sent it out to six places after it made top 25 in the Harlequin SYTYCW15 contest. I said on this blog a good while ago that I wasn’t going to write for publication and I haven’t. I’ve written stories that I want to write. But to justify the time and money I spend my DH expects results. I stopped writing virgins and wrote a heroine who was really different, so I guess I was a little more hopeful this time. In fact I got some positive feedback from my rejections. A couple wrote they enjoyed the story and that I was a talented writer and have a strong narrative voice. Apparently that is not enough.

    So I’m thinking I need a reboot, but I don’t know what. People keep telling me to self-publish and this is a realistic option these days. But doing it properly requires a different skill set. I’m sure I could do it. But do I want to? So yeah…this is where I am at at the moment. Contemplating what kind of reboot I need or want.

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