Category Archives: Motivation and the Writing Life

How to Slow Time for More Relaxed, Creative Writing Sessions

A hand, holding a pen in its fist, rises out of a pile of paper.

by Colleen M. Story, @Colleen_M_Story

“Oh, I want to write today, but I just don’t have the time!”

You’ve probably felt this way more than once. In fact, if you’re like many of us in today’s world, you’re feeling frequently pressed for time, and like you just can’t find enough of it—especially for writing.

The bad news is that when you’re constantly under the gun, creativity suffers. In a 2002 study, researchers analyzed more than 9,000 daily diary entries from people who were working on projects that required high levels of creativity. They found that stress, in the form of time pressure, resulted in less creative projects.

“When creativity is under the gun,” the authors wrote, “it usually ends up getting killed.”

The good news is that you don’t have to feel this way. Here are five tips that can help you slow your perception of time so that when you do get a moment to write, you can approach it with a calm, relaxed state of mind. Continue reading How to Slow Time for More Relaxed, Creative Writing Sessions

Comfort Zones and Writing

 

Garry Ryan's Matanzas

If you venture out of your comfort zone and can’t find your way back, maybe it’s all good.

by Garry Ryan, @GarryGarrettRya

This story probably began in Singapore. I spent the last two years of high school in a sweaty multicultural concoction of diverse languages, foods and monsoons. It was jarring and I had to adapt. An unexpected dividend was the ability to become a student of the inner workings of societies.

Back in Canada, the kindness of Casey and Pablo exposed me to First Nations’ perspectives. Sometimes the intense heat of a Blackfoot sweat lodge left burns on my shoulders. It also allowed me to see – with more clarity – the connections between humans.

Hummingbird

Continue reading Comfort Zones and Writing

Keeping Motivated

A young man plays basketball and the post text is superimposed: "Keeping Motivated."

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I lurk in a lot of Facebook groups and while there are always writers who are pumped up about writing and promoting (yes, really, there are those writers!) I notice that there are just as many who seem frustrated or discouraged: either with their writing progress or with their lack of sales.

Sometimes they’ll be at least making steady sales and then will get completely undone by a terrible review.

Sometimes they say that they don’t really have family support for writing or feel as though they have to make a ton of sales to justify their writing.

Sometimes their life has turned upside down with medical issues for themselves or for people close to them. Or it’s turned upside down for other reasons.

In these circumstances, it’s really tough to keep going.  There’s a lot to be discouraged about and sometimes it’s hard to be creative or motivated when faced with a lot of discouragement. Continue reading Keeping Motivated

Art in the Everyday

Storm clouds are in the background and a suburban row of homes is below them. The post title, 'Art in the Everyday' is superimposed on the photo.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I was looking for a movie to watch and stumbled across “Paterson” on Amazon Prime Video (free to Prime customers).

The description of the movie reads:
Every day, Paterson adheres to a simple routine: he drives his daily route, he writes poetry into a notebook; he stops in a bar and drinks exactly one beer; he goes home to his wife, Laura. By contrast, Laura’s world is ever changing. New dreams come to her almost daily. The film quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.

It was, I think, the quietest movie I’ve ever watched. Because of its R rating, I kept expecting some sort of horribly violent or upsetting incident to take the film in another direction.  But there was nothing violent or especially upsetting (except, well, maybe for writers. I won’t give any spoilers here).  I discovered later that the R rating was because of language, although I didn’t even remember or notice bad language–a sign that it must have been slipped in very naturally.

Although I’m not a poet (at least not a good one), I loved the way that poetry was woven into the everyday (repetitive, routine, and rather boring lives) of the main characters.  I’m a subscriber to Poet.Org’s Poem-A-Day newsletter, which sends me a poem to read each day (frequently accompanied by the poet’s thoughts on the poem and a bit of bio).  As critic Kate Taylor wrote for The Globe and Mail: “Everyone, it appears, is capable of art.” And: “…The sameness of it all only serves to underline that the creative act belongs to all of us every day.” Continue reading Art in the Everyday

Help Handling Requests

A messy desk and computer are in the background and the post title, 'Help Handling Requests' is superimposed on the top.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I was reading through my Feedly RSS feeds (I work and curate links about a month behind in the feed reader) and I came across a post by writer Steven Pressfield. It was one of those articles where I scheduled a share, but then saved the post to read more closely again later.  It was called “Clueless Asks” and as soon as I read the title, I knew what it was going to be about. Because I get a lot of these asks, myself. In the post, Steven Pressfield explains that time ‘is the single most valuable commodity you own.’

Funnily enough, I was on another blog and they mentioned a post from industry expert Jane Friedman (and I’m laughing as I write ‘industry expert’ because that’s something she addressed in her post, as well). She wrote in response to “Clueless Asks” a post titled “If You’re Successful, People Ask for Help. But Who Deserves It?” She writes: “Today, even before I open my email, my blood pressure spikes thinking of all the requests, problems, and complaints I’m likely to find.” It’s a great post and mentions how she’s compromised in some instances to respect her time while still responding to requests.

These are different from opportunities.  I’m good at saying no to speaking at far-flung events where I will have to spend money for gasoline or a plane ticket and a hotel without getting compensation.  These other requests are, as Jane Friedman and Steven Pressfield put it, ‘asks.’  And they’re from people I don’t know.

I’m adding on to their excellent posts because I know writers (and several of them are regulars here) who are in the same boat.  They want to help people who ask them for help. They’re overwhelmed with emails and requests. What can they do?

Just a  quick note that this article is not directed at my readers or online friends who reach out.  I never mind emailing and reaching out to either of those groups because they know me…either through my books/characters, my blog, etc.  This is more how I handle asks from people I’ve never heard of who reach out.

Continue reading Help Handling Requests