First Monday Mentoring January 2021 – change the ‘donts’ in your writing life to what you ‘do’ aim to achieve
In the last minutes of 2020 many online friends posted memes booting 2020 out, saying good riddance, and commiserating on the trials and tribulations of last year.
For most of the world, this was a trying year and I haven’t heard anyone regret its ending. But regret is a negative emotion, hardly a useful guide to what we do want from 2021. An example of this came from American psychologist and NASA consultant, Dr Denis Waitley, with whom I was fortunate to work when he visited Australia. He explained how, years before, he was asked by a retail client to help them reduce shop-stealing.
Dr Waitley suggested placing a barely noticeable message under the store’s background music, saying, “Don’t shoplift. Don’t shoplift.” To everyone’s surprise, cases of theft went up. When he changed the message to, “Please pay at the checkout,” the figures dropped dramatically. Next time you want something done, replace “Don’t forget to…” with “Remember to….” even as a reminder to yourself. Positivity works.
It can be harder to work out what you want than what you don’t want. Here are some positive changes you CAN make to your writing life in 2021.
Be kind to yourself
Instead of beating yourself up for not writing every day, or reaching a specific word count, put star stickers on a chart, or create a sparkly list on your phone of what you did accomplish. Break the task into bite-sized pieces. I used to put housework on my to-do list until I broke it into specific chores I could cross off as I went along. Which would encourage you more – putting write book on your list, or setting 200 word daily goals?
Do some meditation
Above all, writers need time to think. Forcing yourself to write, you may miss the inspirations that come from letting your brain relax. I do Chakra meditation most days, but you have many options. Gardening, walking, playing with pets, all allow your thoughts to wander as you consider your story options. Just remember to write down or record on your phone whatever ideas come, so they’re available to you later.
Take screen breaks
If I’m off social media for a day, I’ll get PMs or emails asking if I’m OK and did I get their message. The sender means well but it’s impossible to create new material if you’re constantly on call.
Try new challenges
For me, this was indie-publishing my memoir, 34 Million Books. The experience was such a buzz, I committed to writing a Christmas ebook set in my invented kingdom of Carramer. Started in early November, the story was up on Amazon by December 2, and is one of the most fun writing experiences I’ve had in years. Your challenge can be as easy or hard as you like but should feel exciting and even a touch scary.
Be your authentic self
Within sensible security limits, share your authentic self on social media. Be open about your writing challenges and ask others how they deal with similar issues. This isn’t humble bragging or virtue signalling, it’s an honest attempt to connect with others on the same path. Many times I’m asked when the fear of the blank screen will go away and the writing become easier. I believe we write to see if we can do it. No writer ever knows it all. This keep the work stimulating.
You can also nurture connections beyond your writing goals
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of connections, whether friends, family or colleagues. Make time to meet, online if actual meetings are restricted. Hang out with animals. My rent-a-cat Jessie, and Cookie the teacup poodle are special furry friends who give far more than they take.
Last week I discovered that the current Valerie Parv Award holder, Kristin Silk, whom I’m mentoring, shares my love of guinea pigs, and we’ve happily exchanged GP experiences on Facebook.
Take a break from your four walls. This isn’t always possible during lockdowns, but when you can, visit a cafe for takeaway if need be, and people-watch to refill your idea well.
How will you refresh your writing self for 2021? Share in the comment box below. It’s moderated to avoid spam but your comment can appear right away if you click on sign me up at right. I don’t share your details with anyone.
Happy New Year, happy writing,
Try a new short read – Her Royal Secret Santa
on ebook universal link mybook.to/SecretSantaParv
takes you to your nearest Amazon site
OUT NOW Valerie’s latest title: 34 Million Books,
Australia’s Queen of Romance shares her life and writing tips
Print and ebook buying links at www.valerieparv.com
Find Valerie on Facebook and Twitter @valerieparv