Blog Roundup and Weekend Reading

New Writing Habits

This past week I’ve really enjoyed reading about how other people are thinking about, experimenting with, and finding solutions to the social media balancing act.

This is from Christi Craig in her excellent blog, Writing Under Pressure:

“Blogging, while providing a great outlet to hone my writing skills, sometimes serves as a distraction for me.”

Her solution: Blog less often, so as to free up time for more writing and reading.

Kelsey Ketch at Ketch Tavern is experimenting with timing her writing, something she hasn’t done before:

“I’m starting my writing habits with writing 30 minutes a day on one of my writing projects (no real set time, just write for 30 minutes). I’ll be keeping track of the number of days I have been writing 30 minutes on my sidebar.”

Another writer colleague wrote to me about how, during the school year when her children are out of the house, she tries to put off going online until noon. Yes, noon! What a wonderful idea.

And, on Facebook, an amazing woman I know who has her own business, website, and blog wondered at what point such guidelines and rules become compulsive and how to deal with the fact that many of her networking contacts are, after all, on the network.

I think we are all learning that, just as in education, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We each have our own balancing point that feels right. I’m learning a lot from my friends on this topic, and, ironically enough, I’m learning it mostly through social media and online communication!

A few recent revelations: Once I establish a new habit, I can be somewhat flexible, as long as I don’t find myself falling back into the old habit. For example, I often communicate with our son, back in college now for the fall, through instant messaging. I was meeting him today and I knew he had an early class, so I checked IM before I finished my hour of writing to see if our plans were still on. I didn’t go on the web or do other online work, but I also didn’t allow this perfectly reasonable exception trigger perfectionistic thinking that would otherwise taint my newfound work ethic or morning.

I am also finding that certain tricks help me to stay focused and not be distracted by online tasks that are either not necessary right this minute or, in some cases, not necessary at all. When I am working on the computer but offline, I close the window where my email is rather than just minimize it (do I really need that icon on the bottom as a temptation?). Better yet, if I log out of email and Facebook and Twitter, I need not only to open the browser, but sign in. If I turn off the wireless button, I’m just lazy enough that I’m less likely to turn it on just to see the latest Facebook news.

These kinds of strategies might not help everyone, but they work for me (then again, I always keep my watch five minutes fast).

More Blog News and Writing Tips

E. Victoria Flynn has moved her delightful blog Penny Jar to WordPress, so be sure to visit and subscribe to her work there. She is also beginning a weekly series:

“I’ll call it ‘Throw me Thursday‘ and what’s going to happen is this: somebody who is paying attention will throw me a prompt via Twitter. It doesn’t matter what the prompt is, a word, thought, video from YouTube, a song, a poem, whatever, but it has to come from somewhere. Then I’ll write about it.”

This week also delivered some terrific writing advice in the blog world. Tessa Quin generously shares what she has learned about Word Count and Querying, and Dave Haslett offers 17 Things for Writers to Blog About in his guest post on Sandi Johnson’s The Blue Inkwell blog.

One of my favorite reads this week came from New York Times best-selling author Laura Munson, who writes about The Power of Perseverance:

“Let’s get rid of the story of the tortured artist. Let’s create a new story. Wherein we write what we must with all our might, with compassion, empathy, and vulnerability. And then let’s practice what it is to let go of the rest. To return to the present moment and all its possibilities if only we just receive. I have a quote on my wall: Breathe. Believe. Receive. It’s all happening. Even on the worst days, I hold it dear.

“A famous writer friend once told me, ‘The only difference between being published and not being published, is being published.’ It drove me crazy. Easy for him to say. But it’s true. There is no destination with art. You simply create something, it’s perceived, and you wake up the next day with the same hunger, the same pressure, the same call to empathy, and create something else. It’s all in the act of creation.”

I can think of only one sweeter way to end this week’s roundup, and that’s with author Christine Fonseca’s recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles (it’s worth taking a peek just to see the photo!).

Weekend Reading

What will you be reading in your comfy chair or in a hammock this weekend? I plan to finish The Dragon and the George and Olive Kitteridge.

16 thoughts on “Blog Roundup and Weekend Reading

  1. Thanks for the mention, Lisa. And, I love your thought:
    “We each have our own balancing point that feels right.”

    I agree that the key to finding that balance is flexibility.

    I love Victoria’s new weekly series — exciting!
    I love the picture of the chocolate chip cookie dough truffles (wish technology was advanced enough to just zap those on over to me now, late at night, when I get hungry).
    And, I loved Olive Kitteridge. Enjoy!

    • I’m loving Olive Kitteridge, too! The main character is completely real for me, and I really enjoy the format of connected short stories.

  2. Ah, Lisa, thank you so much! I will have to remember your fondness for chocolate when I meet you in person in a few weeks 🙂 But before that I need to amend a shopping list.

    When I’m trying to write, though it’s been all about blogging lately, I have to close all those little temptations or numbers start popping up in email folders and Twitter where it’s all too easy to click, click, click.

    Great post and great suggestions!

    • Victoria, thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one so easily distracted by the click click click. 😉

      Amending my shopping list, too….

  3. Thanks, Lisa! The 30 minute writing is going well right now – though some days it’s a tight squeeze in timing 🙂 . At least concepts and scene I come up with the night before are now reach my journals instead of piling in my mind and eventually being forgotten all together.
    I hope you enjoy finishing up The Dragon and The George. The Dragon Knight has been put on hold for a while, but I hope to return to its pages soon.

    • Kelsey, I’m glad the 30 minutes of writing are going well! I’m almost finished with The Dragon and the George. It has kept me guessing the whole way through, and I definitely plan to read more in the series. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

  4. Lisa, I love hearing about your and other’s writing habits. On the days I struggle with keeping my new habits going, it has been very reassuring knowing that you’re out there, too! Congratulations on not getting stuck in perfectionist thinking; I know it’s really hard not to do.

    I’m working away on getting my blog ready to migrate to WordPress. I’m so excited! I’ve come up with, I think (I hope!), an improved framework and schedule that I’ll be better able to work with. Stay tuned!

    I’m so happy to have found your blog. It’s wonderful. I look forward to every post. 🙂

    • Beth, what exciting news about your blog move! I started out on blogger (still have one blog there), and then moved to WordPress. There was a learning curve, but I’m very happy here.

      Thanks for such kind words. Your blog is really beautiful, both visually and in words.

  5. Lisa,
    Thanks for this post, particularly the reflections on the difference between being published and not. For the past year, as I’ve been very focused on researching my genealogy, I’ve struggled with feeling like I’m not a real writer because I haven’t been publishing. I often need to be reminded to stay focused on the process (writing) and not the end result. Thanks for the reminder! Dionne

    • Dionne, I know exactly how you feel, so I’m glad that Laura Munson’s words were helpful. I have no doubt at all that your story will be told and published and read. It’s so strange how being a writer works… I look at your work and think, “Of course she’s a writer!” Why don’t we see ourselves the same way others do?

      When I’m asked what I do, I always say I’m a teacher, because I know that most people will not have heard of the books I’ve written, so a part of me somehow feels that they don’t “count” in terms of making me a writer. Or I tell myself that my fiction isn’t published yet, or whatever.

      I found Heather Sellers’ book Page after to be extremely helpful in helping me to begin to embrace my writing and to own it without apology. I’m obviously not there yet, but I’m taking baby steps!

    • Kristi, I can see how the reviews would be mixed. I’m not finished yet, so I’ll see how I feel at the end. I have always enjoyed getting into the minds of unlikable characters. 🙂

  6. Lisa, Thanks so much for quoting me on your lovely blog. I’m glad you chose those passages because I do think it’s time for a different paradigm for writers– we don’t have to self-destruct under the impossibilities of the publishing world. Especially with blogs these days, we can reach the reader directly and that is not just salve but power. I also love that you chose the quote about creating. That’s what we do: we write. Maybe we get a book published and maybe a lot of people read it and maybe we even go on national television and a book tour…but we’re just the same people, obsessed with the written word, empathetic sometimes to a fault, sitting in our pajamas with tea early in the morning, facing the page and opening our thrid eye. Thank you then, for being a sister in words. yrs. Laura

    • Laura, thanks so much for stopping by and, again, for your inspiring words for other writers. I am glad that I found your blog through your She Writes community blog post. It is gorgeous! And I look forward to reading your memoir.

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