Monthly Archives: November 2014

Writing through frustration

We all go through times of frustration in our lives. I’m going through a rough time right now, which I won’t go into but it is being a very awakening experience. At first I went through the lack of focus stage and nothing was getting accomplished. That is getting better everyday but now my whole approach has changed.

I’m now on the overdrive stage where I’m cranking out project after project. My latest YA edits are nearly done and I’m almost done editing all the recital music. Some days lately I’ve felt like superwoman and it feels great. It definitely eases frustration and I feel accomplished getting things done.

I still think the trick to all issues regarding time management is balance. I’m an active person who gets bored quickly so it helps me to balance my time between my writing and my dance business. Of course family comes first, I’m just discussing work balance in this post.

I turn to the brilliance of great minds to help me through frustration or when I get into a rut. I love motivational quotes and find inspiration in them. I think it is important to create a workspace and living space that inspires and motivates. Everyone needs and deserves a boost sometimes, why not create an environment that works for you and not against you?



I also think blogging is helpful. Right now while I’m getting my life back together I like to think that people are reading what I write and may find comfort in it. Everyone goes through rough times. I believe this and I do not feel alone. I hope that when I write about how I’m coping and how I’m meeting (and hopefully succeeding) time management/ productiveness struggles that I’m helping someone out there.

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Living in categories

You may not be able to tell from my house currently cluttered by Christmas craft projects (yes, Little Miss Markey is making new ornaments) but I like order. With that order comes categories. I am not just a mom, a wife, a writer, a dancer, etc. I am many things and keeping several irons in the fire makes me feel fulfilled and accomplished.

Like a file cabinet, think in categories.

Like a file cabinet, think in categories.

While sometimes trying to juggle projects and just life in general can be daunting, I also find that living in “categories” helps me stay focused on everything. I often feel like my life categories feed off of each other making each one great. My dance keeps me in shape and I feel that benefit when I need to stretch out my back from a long writing session. Taking my daughter to her many activities forces me to be social when sometimes I just want to sit at my computer or get lost in some choreography. Cooking for my family makes me feel like I’ve really done something as a mom and wife. It would be easy to cut corners and resort to take-out but making a well-balanced meal fulfills my desire to be a great mom and wife. Not to mention I’ve probably mastered the art of slow cooking and working ahead on meals.

I think it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the categories of our life but if you stop, think and take it all in you may find, like I have, that most of what we do feeds off of the other. Lately I’ve been trying to use this realization in my scheduling. For example, I try to do dance work after writing sessions as it is best for my back. I find that I am best in the kitchen early in the morning while catching up on news and getting ready for the day. I use this knowledge about myself to try and make the most of my time. I often talk about this concept in my “Writing Moms” and “Busy Moms” workshops. Knowing yourself and how you work is the true key to time management. Journaling through your day and creating a self-study over a period of time can really prove to be useful when planning out your schedule no matter what “categories” you are working with.

Try to categorize your life and figure out when is the best time/place to tackle the areas of your life. Make the categories work for you and not against you. When I started looking at things this way is when I truly felt empowered by the schedule I keep and now run down. Give it a try.

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Pause that…Don’t ignore Thanksgiving and other things

Now that Halloween is over the whole world seems to be obsessed with looking towards Christmas but hello, what about Thanksgiving? Yes, as I’m inundated with Black Friday preview and countdown emails I’m trying my best to raise a child who enjoys Thanksgiving and sees it for more than being a necessary step to Christmas. I just about cracked up when one of my girl friends said, “pause that thought” when another friend kept talking about Christmas. I do think it’s easy in many aspects of our lives to get caught up in stuff and forget to pause and acknowledge what is going on just in front of us.

So this is floating around Pinterest and is so true. Too funny!

So this is floating around Pinterest and is so true. Too funny!

This happens to me a lot with my writing. I get caught up in something and forget or just avoid working on a scene that needs to happen in order to get to the really fun scene I want to work on. I also love writing a synopsis. Yes, you heard me! However, a synopsis isn’t much use to me if I’m not ready to submit the story.

So I’m a big believer in the reward system. I try to focus on what needs to be done and then reward myself later with what I want to do. This works for work and also my personal life. Okay, yes I want to plan out our Elf on the Shelf’s upcoming activities (yes, I’m that kind of mom) but I know it’s important to teach Little Miss Markey about Thanksgiving. So each day we’re focusing on something we are thankful for. We’re talking about it or him/her and making cards about what we are thankful for. After that is done then we can read the Elf on the Shelf book and get excited about our little visitor coming soon.

So don’t forget to pause and look at what is right in front of you and needing attention. One thing is for certain, we’re always moving forward. To all those Christmas fanatics, you won’t miss it. Christmas is coming but pay some attention to Thanksgiving.

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My cat’s secret to relaxation and productivity

Do you ever feel that you mind is so cluttered that it slows down your productivity? I often feel that way and I always am saying how jealous I am of my pets. They are always so relaxed yet seem to have energy when they want it. I’m an advocate of self-study. I tell students in my “Writing Moms” class to journal and study what tasks they are best at during various times of day. So I’m actually ashamed that I didn’t think to study my pets, especially my cat, Beast earlier.

Today I’m feeling pretty awesome and productive. What has made today so good? Well I copied my cat and squeezed a “cat” nap into my schedule right after lunch. Okay, to be clear, I’m always wanting to nap but with so much on my daily goal list that desired nap rarely happens. Today I gave in to sleep for just 30 minutes. After the nap I got moving slowly with reading emails and then moved into some stretches, which Beast happily weaved in and out of my legs during. The result? I feel amazing! I think just that half an hour of resting my mind gave me a boost that my body craved. I am definitely going to try and do this more often.

A sleeping Beast AKA our cat

A sleeping Beast AKA our cat

Next I’m setting my hourglass timer and diving into a writing sprint. I predict it too will be productive considering how I’m feeling. Maybe naps aren’t such a bad idea for busy people. There is a lot of information on the web about this topic and depending on what you read the source is for or against naps. Like all things I think the key is finding out what works best for you and making that happen.

Taking breaks through the day certainly helps our cat Beast. While he is napping now I know that soon he’ll be racing around the house, diving off furniture and playing Spiderman with our drapes. Everything is relative – to him that is being productive.

Do you take a daily nap or take time to rest your mind?

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Creating rituals to meet those word counts

We all have rituals. Some may be seemingly normal while others a little strange. When I danced competitively I always got to the competition early and sat by myself to watch other dances. I never ran through my dance because I felt that if I didn’t know it by then there was nothing I could do. I had to pop my knuckles and hop up and down six times before taking the stage. While waiting for my results I talked to no one; I just sat by myself and watched the other dancers. I did this every time I danced and it worked for me. What may seem strange or silly to someone may be a comfort to another.

I also find myself creating rituals without even meaning to. When I write I must play music and not just any music – I have to have something from Two Steps from Hell or the composer Thomas Bergersen. If you have no idea who I’m talking about then just think of trailer music. Their music often accompanies memorable and epic film trailers. Without my music I feel lost and out of sorts. I also love to write in one-hour intervals. After an hour I’ll stop to work on a dance, check emails, etc. and then I’ll dive into another hour of writing. I love this format so much that for my birthday this year my husband bought me an hourglass. I now use it rather than my old egg timer. This just feels way cooler to me!

New office addition next to pen holder. So much better than an egg timer!

New office addition next to pen holder. So much better than an egg timer!

November is a month when a lot of writers try to push their writing to the limits with NaNoWriMo. I’m one of those writers. A nice way to ease the stress is to not be afraid to take time and seek out helpful rituals when you’re having a great writing sprint. What made that writing session productive? It may have nothing to do with a ritual but then it might. Take note as to what the setting and other environmental factors are when you are feeling motivated.

I feel it’s important to be observant of you. Try to find out what motivates you and find creative ways to replicate that scenario when you want to tap back into that productiveness.

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The art of waiting

Waiting can make us weak or strong…it’s your choice. Credit:

Waiting can make us weak or strong…it’s your choice.

Lately I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of waiting. I’ve never been a patient person but really waiting gets under my skin like a pesky hair on your chin. I’m always waiting. Waiting to take or pick up Little Miss Markey from something, waiting for my YA to be ready for submission, waiting for meetings about planning my upcoming dance studio’s recital, waiting to finish my website and new Spring enrollment process and the biggest wait lately- waiting for the youngest daughter we lost to be sent home to the U.S. (Note: Never die in a foreign country because it’s a legal paperwork nightmare to ship a body home.)

Today though during my morning stretches and reflection time I tried to analyze all the things that I’m waiting for and how I can either control the situations or not. Waiting is frustrating but doing is rewarding. I quickly was able to come up with ways to speed some “waiting” time along.

I preach it all the time in my “Writing Moms” lectures. There is much to be accomplished when we are waiting. I’ve organized grocery lists, followed up with emails, etc. So while I often get tired of waiting for things to happen it is possible to move the things I can control forward and this makes me feel accomplished and satisfied. Plus it’s good for me to practice what I preach!

Movement is the best cure for waiting fatigue. If you’re like me you can always be moving forward. This is especially true for writers. There’s always something to write!

So if you are waiting for something to happen think about what actions you can take to keep things moving forward. Now this cannot be applied to everything but I bet you’d be surprised at how many things this thought process can speed up. For one, my manuscript I’m waiting to have ready for submission…..well now I’m off to devote another hour of editing to it. I can control how fast it takes me to send it off to agents.

Waiting truly is an art. It can be irritating and frustrating but depending on how you handle it you can become more productive and satisfied.

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Welcome to the November frenzy

Hello November and hello frenzy. I love November. I love the weather (even in Saudi) and I love the lead up to Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can practically feel the excitement but there also is a frenzy in the air. For many writers November is NaNoWriMo and many are rushing to meet the goal of writing a novel in a month.

November also means it is Christmas shopping season. For parents this means making sure you get those toys on the top of your little one’s list, especially the “Santa list.” If you have a little princess like me, then you are also probably fighting the “Frozen” phenomenon to get those extremely popular toys. I thought I had that all sorted and now I’m on a wait list for some “Frozen” boots. Ugh!

So whether you are a writer writing a novel in a month, a parent stressing over toy shopping or just trying to find the perfect gift for someone who is hard to shop for—November can be a stressful time. This is why I have to force myself to sit back and be thankful. November is really about giving thanks, not all this other stuff that causes stress. I’ve started giving thanks each day for someone or something in my life. Each day this month will be dedicated to something or someone else. For me doing this exercise keeps everything in perspective.

Yes, I’m participating in NaNo, yes I’m working on finalizing our Christmas shopping and yes I’m planning our upcoming trip to the States and family vacation to Disney World but all of this doesn’t take away from what I’m thankful for.

So how do you keep it all in perspective during the November frenzy?

Is your child asking for all things “Frozen?”

Is your child asking for all things “Frozen?”

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