A Productivity Tip

AWJ Productivity TIps

Since I am a person who can get easily distracted, I’ve been trying some new techniques with focusing for productivity. The goal is to find some methods that will help train my brain to stay on tasks for longer periods of time, as well as provide the breaks needed to avoid burnout.

CaptureProductivity Timer. I downloaded a Google Chrome browser extension called Strict Workflow. There are other timers that can shut off the use of distracting sites like Pinterest (my addiction) and Facebook. What I like is that you can program the extension for the time increment you want. I picked 25 minutes of work, 15 minutes for breaks. You can also edit the list of web sites.

When the extension is active, you are unable to view the distracting web sites until your break.

This extension also utilizes the Pomodoro Technique. You can read more about it at Productivity 101: A Primer to the Pomodoro Technique on Lifehacks.

Journal Record Keeping- Another tool to keep me focused is using a small notebook on my desk to keep track of everything I do. Although I have a to-do list, often through the day other things come up to either distract or demand my attention.

I write the distractions in red so I can return later in the day to work on them.  I write the demands in blue so I can see how much in the way of family, phone calls, business clients, volunteer groups, and other things in my life are also taking me away from my main objectives.

I also add post it notes for new tasks to do that can stick to my desk for a later time.

So far, I’m finding my days very productive, my brain getting more focused, and things are getting done.

What tips do you use to focus and get things done? Post in comments.

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Evocative Writing Tips

SnowfairyOne of the more enjoyable elements of reading a good story is feeling the stirrings of emotion. As a reader, I can cheer or boo the characters, but also sympathize and relate to what they endure in the story.

Words are powerful; they can incite rage, deep thought, even provoke tears. They can change minds, influence beliefs, and take the reader into another realm, letting them live another life, and leave them wanting for more.

But how to get that into your words? Here are some tips;

Ask yourself, what makes you feel? It is the human condition that touches the reader, letting them know they are not alone in the world, that the storyteller, the characters, share their emotion and reactions.

By writing things that we can all relate, touches upon the fact we are social creatures, needing one another, but also empathizing with others. We might not share the same intensity, or respond the same, but feelings of loss, love, anger, jealousy, etc are very universal.

Show, don’t tell. You can’t tell the reader what the character is feeling, and you won’t have to; the situations, conflict, and influences from other characters should be more than enough to help ‘show’ the high emotions of any scene.

A good example is sharing what a character behaves with that emotion, not the emotion itself. Someone feeling grief might range from dissociative feelings to anger, denial, or even a sense of disbelief. Fear takes the form of biting nails, tugging hair, or feeling sick. Rage takes shape in anything from breaking things to dead silence.

Use style to shift mood and pace. Short sentences are best for fights, but scenes that build relationship often require more detail, with sentences of length.

Direct, to the point, style of writing works best in scenes you want to move quickly, to add a sense of tension, or the shift a character who realizes how to solve the conflict. Flowery detail can paint description, illustrate deeper emotion, or share the innermost thoughts of a character.

The highest form of flattery is when a reader expresses how a story made them feel. I’ve had readers tell me how much they cared for the characters, or even how angry they became with certain scenes.

What stories made you feel? Have you ever cried when reading a story? Post in comments. I’d love to hear from you.

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BetterEditor.org Link


I wanted to share this resource today because you can never have too many writer resources at your fingertips.

BetterEditor.org offers style guides, dictionaries, and references such as geography, languages, and quotations.

You can also find some basic books to order, but I also found some online (free) versions as well;

Chicago Manual of Style

APA Style

APS Style

10 more free online style guides in English.

If you found this helpful, please share, comment, and ‘like’. Thanks.

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Book blurb or Synopsis

featherpenLast writer’s meeting, we tackled the synopsis, and the topic led to what exactly a synopsis entailed  Some might argue that it is the ‘book blurb’ you find at the back of a book (or the book flap), but most in the business understand the synopsis entails a bit more.

A blurb focuses on getting a reader to read the book. It should short, sweet, to the point, but also hook the reader into wanting more. It is written in present tense, and you don’t give away the end or any twists or turns of the plot.

A synopsis serves the purpose of appealing to agents and publishers. It includes the entire plot, but sums up only the key points of the novel. You should include main characters, the ‘hook’, and how you will end the story. This is written in present tense, and is often added to the first chapter (or more) to submit for publication.

It could be argued that self-published authors don’t need to bother with writing a synopsis, but I disagree. It makes good practice to write out the plot for reference, as well as a good habit in case you ever wish to publish with the brock-and-mortar publishing company.

I’ve started to keep synopsis of even short stories so the plots gets laid out and used for future reference. Novels offer more challenge, but think of it as a challenge to be succinct and strip the plot of only the essential points.

Synopsis Outline:

  • Main character
  • Theme
  • Setting
  • Hook (the element that draws the reader into the story)
  • Obstacles/Inciting scenes
  • Climax
  • Resolution/Conclusion

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