May 2011


On writingOne of my major writing goals is to become a published novelist.  I have many story ideas that have been on my mind for quite a while now.  And after jotting down a few ideas about the characters and the story lines, I’ve decided that there’s no time like the present to get started on ONE book idea.  After all, when will I write this book if all I’m doing is collecting ideas and scribbling notes about characters and their ensuing drama.

I decided to writing every day in June to complete my first draft.  I had good intentions of participating in last year’s NaNoWriMo.   Ahem, however, I became distracted with my magazine writing goals and some other freelance projects.  Now I’m juggling my schedule better these days (it’s not great, but it’s better).  And with a handle on new projects and a designated time in the mornings to kick off my writing, June seems like an ideal time to begin writing my book.  I know, I know, NaNoWriMo’s goal is to have writers complete 50,000 words.  And at this rate of 1000 words (my new writing badge goal), I’ll only get to about 30,000 words by the end of my June challenge.  However, my goal isn’t to “hit the mark” in word count.  Because I’m doing this challenge to get in the habit of writing daily (at least 1000 words), and by June 30 I will have a draft, not perfect by any means–just a solid start.

So, how will I stay motivated to write?  Here are a few ideas I’ve implemented to keep me on course:

  •  In order to remain motivated I’ve added Debbie Ohi’s “1000 Words A Day” writing badge to my blog as a reminder to commit to writing daily, even after my challenge is over.
  • Armed with my free, autographed copy of Lisa Leonard-Cook’s The Mind of Your Story, I will use this book as a guide to shape my story.
  • I’ve joined a Meetup group for writers that schedules writing events in NYC, which brings fellow writers together in a supportive environment.

Throughout the month of my JuNoWriMo Challenge, I’ll post frequently about my challenges and successes in keeping with my writing schedule.  And in 30 days, I’ll have a solid framework for my book–the seeds that will bloom into the novel that I will be proud to say that I wrote.

Most people who know me have heard me mention this phenomenal website: Free Rice, and now I’d love to share it with more people.

I love words.  Reading, speaking or listening to words is a moving, thoughtful and engaging experience.  For others it may be reading to their child at bedtime, the last conversation with a loved one, or  hearing words of encouragement after a bad day.  Words have meaning that can draw out various emotions from us.  And this is how I ended up finding Free Rice, which is a site that tests users knowledge of words.  The site is great for writers (or anybody for that matter) to use for two reasons.

One – You’re learning.

Two – You’re helping out a great cause at the same time.

Free Rice is the sister site of  And through partnerships with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the United Nations World Food Program, Free Rice is able to make donations of rice to feed millions of people since the program started in 2007.  If you’re looking to improve your vocabulary and love to help a good cause then you should visit the website.  It’s fun, free, easy and another way to make a difference in somebody’s life—just by clicking away.

And you don’t have to spend a lot of time playing the vocabulary game to make an impact.  For every correct answer Free Rice donates 10 grains of rice through the United Nations World Food Program.  Now that may not seem like a lot.  But, when you consider that the organization has helped to feed so many people already that’s when you realize just how many people are playing.

If vocabulary isn’t your thing, don’t worry.  The site offers other subjects that you can test yourself in such as geography, math, art and science.  Free Rice provides its users with a chance to learn and make a difference at the same time.

So, what are you waiting for?  Spread the word around and watch how learning can help change the world.  Now that’s food for thought!

A common complaint that I think everyone at one time or another can agree on is the sense that time flies by.  No matter how organized you try to be, or how diligently you work, time can seem to be moving at warp speed.  And before you know it your to-do list doesn’t seem like you’ve done much all day

Well, rather than giving yourself grief over how much you didn’t do focus on your accomplishments no matter how small.  As a new full-time freelancer, I’ve adopted a glass half-full perspective to help me throughout my day.

So focus on the positives like you’ve actually gotten some priority work done (and no I don’t mean catching “The View” on ABC).  I try to keep a 9-5 schedule (I know, I know I said “try” to, and I do accomplish this most of the time).  Now that my day is almost done, I’m looking at my tasks and realize that I still have a few more items to take care of.  While some tasks are housekeeping items like consolidating my numerous email accounts (Why did I need so many Gmail accounts to begin with again? I forgot.), other tasks include moving along to the next session in an online copyediting (CE) course I started.  But rather than getting fixated on what I didn’t do, I’m checking out what I actually did accomplish today:

  • Pitched ideas to two new markets and resubmitted an old idea with a different slant
  • Conducted a one-hour phone interview
  • Completed a CE exam for a potential freelance opportunity (2-hour timed test)
  • Replied to emails about freelance opportunities that I’m being considered for
  • Submitted an article that was due today
  • Had breakfast & lunch (Hey, a girl’s got to keep her energy up!)

As a newbie to the business of freelance, I’m learning to be happy with the progress I’m making.  Getting frustrated is part of the process, but I’m channeling my energy toward recognizing my accomplishments daily and not just waiting for those BIG moments like scoring more clients on a consistent basis or getting published.  After all, it’s the things that I do daily that’ll get me to those hallmark moments in my career.

Freelance work has been a stressful transition for me after leaving a 9-5 job in publishing.  So, I’m striving to manage my time better, to be accountable even when I don’t have deadlines looming, and to learn to give myself a break when I don’t finish everything I set out to do daily.

So, are you a glass half-full freelancer?  When was the last time you slowed down to give yourself a pat on the back for those little victories in your day?

I am a firm believer in the idea that if you want something in life you have to align your thoughts, words and actions to match the dream.  In pursuing a writing career, I believe that I am a writer.  And the things I say and do complement each other to mirror that reality.  When people ask me what I do – I tell them I’m a writer.  I don’t go through this whole spiel of explaining that I just started out, and that I’ve gotten some clips, and yadda, yadda, yadda.  Part of my process involves visual aids that help me to focus on the path toward evolving as a writer.  Here are some of the things I’ve done to create visual motivators for myself:

  • Visual Board – Write your goals on a chalkboard, stick a list to your refrigerator door, or find some other way to create your very own visual board.  The idea is to have your goals in one place where you can easily view them.  In my attempt to take small steps toward becoming more “earth-friendly”, I made my visual board using PowerPoint, and I run a 3-minute slideshow every morning that has words of encouragement, motivational images (e.g. cropped image NYT best-seller list with my name ad book title among other writers), titles of my books, and phrases like “Book Signing today at Barnes and Noble”.
  • Book Cover Inspiration – That novel idea that’s been running around in my mind for a while now, well I’ve finally started writing it.  And to keep me motivated, I’ve created a book cover for my novel which keeps me on course and inspired.  My book cover has my name, an image, and the working title for my novel.  It’s also included in my visual board.  But to bring in a bit of reality into the mix, I taped it over another book so I can actually pick it up and touch it…well, it is my book.  It serves as a concrete reminder that I am working toward something real, not just an idea of being published one day.  It feels nice to see my name on a book and the proud feeling that stirs up in me is the fuel I need to keep on writing.
  • Just For Fun – We’ve heard the saying: Fake It Till You Make it–well that’s the confidence to believe in yourself even when you have no idea when you’re big break will come.  I like to play around with this website to create a magazine cover.  It’s cute, fun, and if anything another visual source to keep me motivated.

Do you use visualization to keep your morale up?  I’d love to hear your ideas.

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