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.