Finding solutions for Procrastinating

procrastinateI’m a terrible procrastinator. I keep lots of ‘to do’ lists, but often do very little. This week, I’ve considered a number of reasons, and potential solutions to this problem.

Finding the cause of your procrastinating. When quitting the nail-biting habit (of 30+ years), I realized that it wasn’t the nail biting that was the issue; it was the nervousness that caused me to bite my nails. I think the same goes for my procrastinating. I figure out WHY I put things off, I can solve the problem.

Near as I can figure out, it’s a fear of failure, or worse, fear of seeing no results at all. When I published my first short story, I assumed friends and family would buy and leave raving reviews. I was wrong. That seriously blew me out of the water, led to my questioning of writing skills, and rethinking publishing ever again.

But not trying also leads to no results. This was the cold, hard truth for me. Whatever doubts cause me to put things off,  I struggle with trying to write through the doubts anyway. Didn’t I love writing? Didn’t I want to be writer? Lack of reviews (or bad reviews) shouldn’t deter that simple truth, right? If I like writing, then write for myself.

Do what you can handle. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the amount of things I put on my to do list. I then remind myself that I did it- I put the stuff on there, and I can just as easily prioritize and even cut out things I don’t want to do.

Of course, there are things I HAVE TO do, so they take priority, leaving me to juggle which items stay or go. Being an indecisive person, this often leads me into a nerve-racking task to make a decision.

Big projects end up being smaller, bite-sized activities. Some things get shifted to later to do in the week. And the big helper- ASK FOR HELP! I keep forgetting I have a son and husband to ask for help when it comes to chores.

Focusing can be a real issue for me. I might be bi-polar, ADHD, or just a flake, but sometimes focusing my thoughts ends up being a Herculean task.

026I keep a dry board next to my desk to write the important tasks, reminding me what takes priority.

The bottom area is for chores, while the top I put the most important things to be done.

Change your thinking. This can be tough to do, but with practice, you adopt better habits and thinking patterns. A good example is focusing on here and now, rather than the past. The baggage of bad experience can lend to fear and procrastinating, so shift your thinking to being in the NOW and moving towards the future.

I often journal, and will complain. Since it’s a word document, I now delete the complaining, and shift my focus to writing about positive, hope-filled writing. Its seriously changed my mood.

(It’s also cathartic in deleting the complaining too)

Shift from a ‘to do’ list to an ACTION list. An action list focuses on VERBS rather than nouns. Instead of ‘groceries’, I put ‘shop for groceries’. Instead of ‘blog’ I put down ‘write blog’ (and sometimes add specifics like “write blog about procrastinating’.

I’ll post more as I learn more, but in the meantime….I need to get started on my Action list.

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Author Branding

IMG_5588[1]A month ago, I shared with my writer’s group the basics of setting up a blog and/or web site. We discussed domain names, and what to add, but today’s post is about author branding.

‘Branding’ is ‘the process involved creating a unique name and image of a product’. That product is your writing, but also the branding is about you. It helps build recognition. Using a color scheme, specific fonts, and personalized graphics help people recognize you.

Should your site reflect your book or you, the author?

The answer is simple; if you are a one-hit wonder, publishing only that one book, then by all means, have a web site or blog about it. If, however, you intend on writing more than one books, articles, and other literature, you need to make your name the brand.

kingCheck out Stephan King’s site, where he has his name in a recognizable font, as a graphic, and an animated banner showing off his current publications. The site itself is his name, but the web site reflects all his current writing. You can find his previous publications, but he’s showing off what he’s doing now.

amytanAmy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club, has a site that also includes her books but also her TedTalks and TV/Radio events, and even her personal story dealing with Lyme’s disease. The color and graphics are distinctive. Her site focuses on her writing, but also her heritage, her interests, and even her dogs.

butcherJim Butcher, of The Dresden Files , focuses on his book series. Graphics and titles includes the Dresden name, and although he writes other books, the emphasis is on the series that made his name popular. Take note the graphics are about his current novel.

As you can see through this examples, the authors are showing off their name, which is their brand, while promoting their current works.

Consider your future, as to what book or book series are you going to be known for.  What colors and graphics reflect you, as an author, or the book series you will write?

amazonauthorYeah, I know. I don’t do this myself. A Writer’s Journey focuses on writing, and posts stuff that writers might find interesting. (Oddly, not a lot about my personal writing journey.) Its because my name is Sharon Poffinberger. Its not eloquent. Its not easy to spell. I’ve published under that name, but I haven’t decided if that will be the name I publish for future works. Once I decide that, I intend on making some changes.

If you like this post, please share, and leave a comment if you have questions or thoughts you wish to share.

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Characters need conflict

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I really liked this graphic (but can’t remember where I found it). But it speaks to the point of what we need our characters to do in our stories; to develop.

In a twisted way, its our job, as authors, to push those characters to their breaking point, even beyond that point, because its through that we evolve.

They need to suffer a bit, just as we do in Life, to see where those strengths lie. Without conflicts, we grow complacent. Characters need the battles, the strive, and the struggles.

Without conflicts, there is no story.

Writer’s Prompt: Consider your own struggles. What of the three things did you choose as a result of that struggle? Did you overcome, grow stronger, fall apart, retreat, or did you find yourself defined?

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My Writing Space with Tips

003I decided to write about my writing space; otherwise known my ‘magical space’. Its not just for writing, though, but also work and homeschool.  I even keep a tiny altar for my spiritual well being.

My office is my sanctuary; it provides me respite for creativity and work. When not homeschooling my son, I’m writing, scrapbooking, crafting, blogging, organizing my meetups, or compiling all sorts of cool things I want to do (this is why I rarely if ever get bored).

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My first tip is using Command Cord Clips . You can use any type of hook but these specific types are for cords. I use this for my tablet recharging cord so it doesn’t keep falling on the floor.

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I have a number of storage drawers, the clear plastic kind, that can be boring and cheap looking. I use scrapbook paper inside the drawers to add a consistent look and color to my office shelves.  The labels I made from printer paper, but you can also use a Label Maker to organize your drawer’s contents. You can also use a dry board erasable marker. If the marker doesn’t seem to wipe off, use rubbing alcohol- it comes right off.

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This looks like an ordinary box (like a wrapped present), doesn’t it? But it serves a dual purpose. I can use it as a tiny shelf for my desk, but it also hides the surge protector I keep on the desk.

I often plug and unplug things like my iPhone, my Silhouette Portrait die cut machine, and and Fitbit thing to charge. But I also have my landline phone, routers, and answering machine all plugged into this thing. The box hides it all.

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See that mess? It gets all covered up nicely. And how I made it was easy;

Take a box that is large enough to cover the surge protector.

Cut out the ends so the cords can go in and out of it. You could cut holes, or cut out the back of it. You just need that space so the cords can go in leaving the box to sit flat.

Cover the box with wrapping paper, duct tape (there’s tons of neat colors now), or contact paper. Now viola! You have a surge protector all hidden from sight, while providing a tiny shelf on the desk.

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I live by my dry board on the wall next to me. I used my die cut machine to make the words ‘to do list’ and the flourish, as well s the divider. The top lists things I MUST do such as work, projects, and appointments. The bottom, I put my chores like washing dishes, walking my dog, or taking out the trash.

The corkboard includes all the writing projects, craft ideas, and my weekly schedule I make each Sunday.

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A larger command hook lets me hang up the headset I use on the wall within reach. It keeps it out of the way.

Take note of the bread tie used to keep the cord wrapped up.

Another vital tip I can share is using a USB hub. These are cheap and easy to use. You can plug in any USB compatible thing such as flash drives, printers, cameras, computer mouse, and so forth, up to 127 devices on one USB port. This lets you expand your computer/laptop.

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I have a four port hub plugged into my laptop which includes my wireless keyboard, mouse, printer, and die cut machine (not plugged in the photo). I can then unplug the hub…

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And plug into my Surface Pro tablet, and BAM! I can use the keyboard, mouse, and printer.

I prefer my wireless keyboard much better than the tablet’s keyboard (or touch screen) for writing.

I can also share an organizing tip I continually find on the ‘organizational tips’ online;

Stuff you don’t use regularly, gets put away and out of site. Things you use regularly need to placed in a ‘zone’, so when its time to put away, you know exactly where it goes.

I have a shelf for manuals and meetup stuff, with another shelf for craft projects, and another shelf dedicated to my business (learnthepc.net).

Even my drawers are organized by frequency of use, and specific to the drawer closest to me.

I hope you found some of these tips helpful. If you liked- please share, comment, and subscribe.

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An Interview of My Short Story (from the past)

myinterviewI’m not sure if I ever mentioned I was interviewed by a fellow writer, Roxanne Crouse. I high recommend you read her short stories on Amazon. She writes in the paranormal genre.

This interview happened after the writer’s group published our short stories, after the anthology we intended to publish went bust. I encouraged members to get out there and publish the short stories, and did so myself. The interview is about the Into the Shade short I published in 2012.

Her blog, SoMuchToWriteSoLittleTime, offers author interviews, book reviews, and her own take on her writing journey. Don’t forget to subscribe to her blog, and read her stuff. Its very good stuff.

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Marketing by Self Publishing Coach

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Marketing is key to those who self-publish, but also for those who go the traditional publishing method with the brick-and-mortar companies. You’re still expected to market yourself.

So here I present an Internet find; 200+ by Self Publishing Coach- a page with 200+ marketing and author tools. But you might need to get a snack or coffee first. The site and all the links and ideas will take time to peruse.

I now keep a file on marketing ideas so I can keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Naturally, consider a length of time to see results. For instance, when using the Amazon KDP Select, I saw 11 sales before I posted an announcement. Sadly, no reviews as of yet.

Here is the DOC file of the Marketing Task Worksheet I use;

Join Kindle Unlimited (free 30 day trial) and read the anthology book for free.

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Tedtalks on Writing

tedtalkswriting

I love TEDtalks. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, but more importantly, its ‘ideas worth sharing’.

The lectures are from professors, scientists, and even celebrities. Topics range from science, education, and, what I wanted to share today, writing!

The Writer’s Workshop series offers a page of various talks on the subject of writing. You can find one on the comma, another on plagiarism, and more.

Other writer related lectures I loved by TED talks are;

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

Amy Tan: Where Does Creativity Hide?

John Green: The Paper Town Academy

And there’s so much more through TED talks. I highly recommend watching if anything to inspire, provoke, motivate, and get you thinking.

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Writer’s Block and Homeschool

008I don’t post enough on my blogs. Its not intentional; its all those distractions Life keeps throwing at me.

For the past month, I blame homeschool. We recently switched to an ‘umbrella’ school, since we grew to hate the Board of Education reviews. Where teaching and learning was once joyous and fun, the reviews forced me to stick with paperwork and textbooks. BORING!

I grew to hate teaching, and my son loathed having to start homeschool. The idea of his going to school bothered me greatly, since it was just more of the boring reading, note taking, and reciting stuff.

Learning should be filled with wonder, even a hunger to know more. People naturally learn all the time, from things that interest them, to the relationships they have, to even the entertainment they consume. But the way we were expected to conduct homeschool, too much like public school, and I was so bored. My son was bored.

In his younger years, teaching was a blast, and my son enjoyed the lessons. We explored all sorts of neat things, gobbling up the material in the form of documentaries, games, field trips, even music, stories, etc.  As he grew older, and the reviewer began to demand more text work (you know, but text books), it just sucked out all the fun and creativity for us.

What I found is that it also sucked out my own creativity. My mind and heart had to focus on my son’s education. I began to second guess everything I did, and writing creativity turned into sitting at a blank screen, unable to type anything but Hemmingway-like sentences, written by a third grader.

Where the heck did the creative muse go? Did she forsake me? Did the orthodoxy of school throttle into submission?

Since we passed our review (and my son is now entering high school grades in homeschool), the umbrella school reviewer is by far more open about creative learning. Imagine hearing angels sing as the clouds part, and this epic soundtrack start- yeah, it felt like that- I can be creative again. I was given the freedom to express myself through teaching but also through crafts and my writing.

Maybe I can’t compartmentalize like a true author should be able to, but I don’t care- I can be free of the shackles now, explore words and sentences, and let go of that self-questioning doubt.

And I should remember that this blog is about The Writer’s Journey, the process to share my words, and ups and down that goes with that.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. I also helped a fellow writer publish his memoir booklet, Walking With Faith. His story tells of his childhood loss of his mother at a young age, his growing up helping community, but later he tells about his battle with cancer, how it helped lead him to helping others with his non-profit, Openheartsopenpalms.org.

He’s a very sweet guy, full of enthusiasm and genuine concern for his fellow man (and woman). He’s working towards building community gardens to feed soup kitchens, and a van to help veterans get to their doctor appointments- just to name a few.

I designed the cover, par his instructions, and published to the Amazon Kindle Singles.

Now I’m on vacation….relaxing, thinking of my own stories to share.

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