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Posts tagged ‘Santa’

First Monday Mentoring Dec 2018 – is your writing on the naughty or nice list?

Welcome to First Monday Mentoring when I answer questions about the reality of being a writer. This time of year it’s easy to get lost in the fantasy of Santa bringing you a new contract or published book, a bit like dreaming of what you’ll do when you win the lottery.

Fantasizing about seeing that new book on the shelves or on your device is harmless and pleasant. Unless the fantasy takes the place of writing actual words and making your book a reality.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that Santa keeps Naughty and Nice lists just for writers. Which list your writing is on will most likely determine where you’ll be this time next year.

By Naughty and Nice, I don’t mean the content of your books. How nice (sweet) or naughty (sexy) you write is up to you, and there are readers for both kinds plus all stops in between.

Here are some of what might be on Santa’s lists:

Naughty – beating yourself up for not meeting your deadlines

Nice – writing at a pace that’s comfortable and doable for you

Unless you’re committed to someone else’s deadline, you choose how much writing fits into your everyday life. There’s a lot of misinformation around the Internet, such as how you “must” write every day, and “must” produce a book every three months to be successful.

I wish I knew who makes these rules. The truth is, you get to decide how much writing you can do and how often. Some writers produce a book every one or two years. Others produce one every two or three months. Quality will usually win out over quantity in the long run.

Naughty – never reading other writers’ books or craft books because you know all that stuff.

Nice – educating yourself through attending workshops and conferences off or online and reading the latest craft information out there.

Even at this stage in my career, I still read how-to books. If I find one new piece of information, my time is well invested. If a speaker is less than satisfying, I use the time to analyze my reactions as well as their performance. Are they ill-prepared? Is their message badly presented but otherwise interesting? Sometimes I learn more from poor workshops than from those I enjoy.

Naughty – killing your back and wrists by typing non-stop until your eyes glaze over and you can hardly move.

Nice – making self-care a priority, getting up from the desk regularly, doing appropriate exercise and having a meditation practice to handle the stress of giving so much of yourself to the writing.

Being nice to yourself also means taking time away from the writing to refill the well. Last month I looked at gifts writers can give themselves – time to write without interruption, space where you can write, and comfort in the form of a suitable chair, desk, keyboard and whatever else you need to ensure that your writing supports your health and well-being.

Naughty – seeing other writers as competitors you must “beat” to stay ahead.

Nice – reaching out to others, finding mentors and writing buddies to share the journey and remind you that you’re not alone.

Writing is a solitary activity. Taking time to attend local groups, chat online or otherwise connect with your tribe is time well spent. Writing buddies can also keep you accountable. Say you want to write 1,000 words in the next hour, you can go on Twitter and use the hashtag #amwriting to find people with similar goals, a bit like having someone pace an athlete. It’s an honour system and it’s fun. You may not know the other writer, but it doesn’t matter. You’re helping each other along the road.

Looking at this list, do you find you lean more toward naughty or nice? I suggest using the list not to make resolutions – few of us keep those for very long – but as guidelines to a healthy and enjoyable writing practice.What’s on your naughty or nice writing list? Share your thoughts in the space below. Posts are 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 holidays, however you choose to celebrate!

Valerie

I’ll answer your responses here, then in the interests of self-care

I’m taking a break from blogging until February 4

but you can find me on Twitter @valerieparv

and Facebook www.valerieparv.com

For more like this check out Valerie’s online course, www.valerieparv.com/course.html

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First Monday Mentoring November 2018 – gifts writers can give themselves

With the festive season racing upon us, the question I was asked recently is very timely. I was in Canberra recently presenting a workshop on rebooting your romance writing when one of the group asked me what are the best gifts to give a writer.

I had to think for a while, considering all the usual suspects from coffee mugs to stationery and not surprisingly, chocolate. All would be welcomed by writers, but they aren’t the gifts I decided to write about. For the most part these gifts cost almost nothing.

Failing this…

For me the best gift you can give yourself – or another writer in your life – is time. It’s astonishing how easily we find time for everybody else’s needs, yet invariably put our own need for time last. But how can we write if we don’t allow ourselves time?

We need time, not only to do the work of writing, but for dreaming up ideas and developing them before we ever sit down at the keyboard. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a plotter who conceives every detail of a story before you start writing; or a pantser, so-called because you write “by the seat of your pants” with no idea where you’re going until you get there. You still need time to get your head around the story you wish to write.

Who are the characters you’ll write about? Where will the story be set? What time period? What is the big problem (the conflict) stopping these people from riding off into the sunset together?

Even an hour a day of uninterrupted time is enough to write a hundred words toward your eventual manuscript. How can you set this time aside for yourself? If you have family, can they be persuaded to give you this gift every day, either by doing some chore you might otherwise do, or by leaving you in peace for an hour?

If you like, create some gift cards promising you the hour – more if you can manage it. Hand them to whoever will give you the gift, or pin one above your screen as a reminder to give yourself this time. Choose your most productive time, whether it be early morning or late in the evening as suits you. Then regard the time as sacred to your writing and don’t allow anything other than a dire emergency to interrupt.

        It’s important to manage interruptions

The next best gift is a place to write. Virginia Woolf made much of having a room of one’s own. If a whole room isn’t possible, then find the next best thing. Could you put a small desk into a little-used guest room? Some garages or laundries are large enough to provide writing space, provided they aren’t too hot or cold. A hallway might have cupboards you can adapt with a desk and shelving inside, and doors to close when not in use. Imagination is a writer’s stock-in-trade, why not use yours to find and re-purpose a space for your writing?

The final gift is comfort, not something writers think much about until a physical problem hits, forcing you to confront it. An ergonomic chair may seem extravagant but will repay you many times over in supporting your health. Buying second-hand can reduce the cost but be sure you try the chair before buying. Other comfort options are largely cost-free – making sure your screen or device is at a comfortable viewing height, with suitable lightning and quiet surroundings. Earplugs or headphones can help here.

Santa might not have these gifts on his list but you can take care of them yourself or invite family or friends to assist, letting you look forward to a Happy New Year of productive writing. What gift could you give your writing self? Share your thoughts in the space below. They’re 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 writing!

Valerie

On Twitter @valerieparv and Facebook

www.valerieparv.com

For more like this check out Valerie’s online course,

www.valerieparv.com/course.html

The Writer Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas,  and in every nook,

Not a creature was stirring except me and my book.

The deadline was looming,  I tried not to care though I knew that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The family were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of editors danced in my head.

My agent would freak out and I’d be a wreck if the copious copy edits didn’t get back.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I abandoned my work to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutter and threw up the sash.

The moon on the stretches of overgrown grass gave the lustre of midday to what I saw pass,

As what to my wondering eyes did appear, but Santa and sleigh pulled by lots of reindeer.

The man in the sleigh was so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.

More rapid than a rejection, his coursers they came,

And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now Harlequin, now Penguin, now Allen & Unwin,

On Macmillan, on Carina, on Samhain and Random.”

From the top of the porch, I heard his wry call, “Now write away, write away, write away all.”

As blank pages mock an author’s best try, when we meet with a plothole, and look to the sky,

So up to the rooftop, those publishers flew, with a sleigh full of books and St Nicholas, too.

I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed in red ink from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all grimy with ashes and soot.

A flash drive or two he had in his pack. I started to shake but he motioned me back.

A wink of his eye and a nod of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word as he bent to his task, took the drive to my tablet, not stopping to ask,

turned my chaos to order, the edits all done, I was freed from their yoke, there’d be time to have fun.

And laying a finger aside of his nose, Santa gave me a grin; up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to the publishers cried, and away they all flew while I turned back inside.

As I heard him exclaim, my heart beat like a drum,

“Merry Christmas all writers, New York Times here you come.”

                                With every good wish!

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com

on Twitter @valerieparv

and Facebook

With acknowledgement to Clement Clarke Moore/ Henry Livingston

who gave us the original The Night Before Christmas.

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