Back to Europe, Bye-Bye Coffee, Resolutions & Current Projects

After two days of traveling (we couldn’t come home right away because we had a class to teach in a large nearby city), we are home, sweet home! Ahhhh…. Yes! Funny enough, this morning I was dreaming that I was back at my parent’s house, waking up and getting ready to pack. When I finally woke up, I was beyond relieved. (Not to be away from my family, but that we didn’t have to start the long and grueling packing/traveling process.)

I’m a little jet-lagged, but that’s not the cause of my dull headache. In the midst of the moment, I made a bet that I could quit drinking coffee for three months! (WHAT WAS I THINKING???) So I’m on day one and fortunately, because I’m jet-lagged, I’m sleeping through most of it. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was two years old (Mom used to give us a tiny amount of coffee with milk and sugar — but hey, still coffee) and it is part of my being at this point. However, I know I drink waaayyyy too much so I’m embracing this 90 days and hoping that it will spark an overhaul with my health, too. I am quite healthy, but could definitely lose a few and make better choices with food. Kinda hard to do when the day starts with 3+ cups of coffee and enough cream and sugar to make my large dark roast taste like it did when I was two!

Wish me luck!

In other news, now that we’re well into January, I need to put my NY resolutions down, since 1) need to see it written in stone, 2) I haven’t made resolutions in a long time (I used to be obsessed with NY resolutions and would always stay home on NYE and write them out… in my new journal) so I want this moment documented, and 3) I can check back here in December and hopefully check them all off!

2016 Resolutions (related to writing!)

  1. Read 50 books this year. This comes out to about a book per week… realistic goal, I think. I already read a lot, but much of my reading in the last few years has been research for my novel, so this goal will be more about reading for pleasure, not just material for my book (which is also for pleasure, but you get the picture).
  2. To keep a daily gratitude journal. I have done this before and can say from experience that one of the most transformative times in my life occurred while keeping a gratitude journal. If you choose over and over to see the good in your life and world, you sorta just start seeing it ALL. the. time! It’s amazing. And not just in terms of what you get from the experience, but grateful people are generous people and I found it amazing how my capacity to give grew and grew and grew. So everyday, I’ll be writing this gratitude list. (And yes, I already have logged 10 days.)
  3. To complete the website building project (we’re building passive income sites) with my friend (I’m writing all of the content — lots and lots of content!) by May 1st. Big goal, but we can do it!
  4. To take two writing classes this year. It will probably be online since I live in a small European village that doesn’t have writing classes, but there are some awesome online courses that I’ve had my eye on for a while. I’ll probably take the first one this summer, after I complete the web project with my friend.
  5. FINISH MY NOVEL. As I’ve mentioned here, I need to finish this guy. And since I feel the love and feeling coming back for this project, I know it’s time to seize the moment. While I’ve been writing it leisurely in the late evenings, after May 1st, it’s all go until it’s done. YES!!!

And unrelated to writing:

  1. To complete my 90 days of no coffee (AHHHHHHHHH!!!!) seriously, I would love to be a “weekend coffee drinker” (do you have any idea how amazing coffee tastes when you don’t have it all day long? Ammmmaaaazzziiinnngggg), but it will take some discipline to get there. I’m up for it!
  2. To get into great health and shape. Last year was the first year of my life when I wasn’t active. At all. So this year, I’m going to rediscover that part of myself. I’ll get my fuel from good whole foods and exercise, not coffee and sweets! And no matter how exciting the writing is that day, I’ll get out of my chair and workout. I will, I will, I will!

There are several other, more personal ones that I think I’ll keep to myself, but those are the ones related to writing (yes, coffee is definitely related to writing!).

Writing News:

These days I’m writing content, content, content for the web project (passive income sites) I’m doing with my friend. I also picked up another job managing social media for a small business. I design and write their newsletters and make all the graphics for their Instagram account. It’s actually a lot of fun! I’m still writing, but it’s very little in comparison to the other stuff I’m doing and I get to be super creative with designing graphics — which I LOVE. It’s a nice “break” in my writing day! Each month I make an editorial calendar and that works very well for me (kinda like an outline). I have another side project of redesigning another friend’s website and rewriting all of her content. I plan to be finished with it this month. And I also write part-time for two content companies. This has been great experience for me. I will keep writing for them until the web project I’m doing with my friend takes off. Then, I’ll back away from those two. They pay, which is great, so for now it’s perfect. In the late evenings, I write my novel. Not everyday, but most, which makes me very happy!  More

Camp NaNoWriMo Wrap Up: What I Learned & Moving On

One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. --Henry Miller

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. –Henry Miller

Oh Camp NaNoWriMo… why, oh why, oh why did I… wait… nevermind. It wasn’t a total failure since I did, after all, learn a ton and have a plan in the making for NaNoWriMo this November!

You know those runners who take off like a rocket and halfway through the race, they cramp up, slow down, and finally trot across the finish line in 20th place? And then there’s the ones who start off slow and steady and by the time the 3/4 mark hits, they have that reservoir of energy to pull from, and go sprinting across the finish line. Winner!

So back to Camp NaNoWriMo… I was the rocket that cramped up and died at the halfway point. Some was life circumstances, but some was lack of planning to get across the finish line. It’s like I wore flip-flops to the race or something.

So I’m going to break it down: what I did, what I learned and what I’ll do differently for NaNoWriMo this fall. And you can bet that being the slow and steady one is part of my plan. 🙂 More

Days 7-13: Camp NaNoWriMo & Staying Creative and Productive

Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you're passionate about something, then you're more willing to take risks. - Yo-Yo Ma

Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.
– Yo-Yo Ma

Day 13 of NaNoWriMo!
I’m swimming in it over here. Not quite where I’d like to be, but still moving forward. I know I need to revisit my outline since I’ve wandered into some gray territory, but getting “lost” has done wonders for my creativity and story. Usually when I hit stumbling blocks, I want to run as fast as I can back to my outline and check plot points, etc. But committing to this 50,000 word count for Camp NaNoWriMo has forced me to forget about that and just keep writing. This is a good thing, I think?

On Creativity…
One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the fine balance of staying creative, staying in the flow. In other words, when the words on the page make me want to quit for the day and pick it back up tomorrow, what helps me to push through and stay committed? I toy with this a lot, but for me, I’ve found that sticking to a certain amount of structure and changing things up seem to be a perfect recipe.

Structure
My mom always told me I was at my best when I stuck to a schedule and I couldn’t agree more. I can kill a day doing everything nothing like no one else. Seeing as I can start making a “quick” playlist for a character, then look up 5 hours later to find I’m still looking for one more perfect song, having some sort of structure to my day not only helps me accomplish more, it invigorates me.  And it’s the only way I can consistently get things done.

Some of the structure I’m talking about here is related to actual time, and the other part is related to accomplishments. I’ll explain…

Creating Structure with Time

Part of my day follows time, or a schedule. Every morning I wake up and spend 20 minutes in silence. This could be meditation for some, prayer for others or contemplating on a character or scene that you’re planning to write that day. It’s my time to get centered, acknowledge what I’m grateful for and dream my day so to speak. Next, I make my coffee for the morning. After that, I bring up Scrivener and open my current writing project. I put on my accompanying playlist and write for 90-120 minutes. After I take a short break for breakfast, then go for another 90+ minutes if I’m planning to have a heavy writing day. On a day calendar it would look like this: More

Aside