A lot has been on my plate this month. I decided to start my own business, my art illustrations and my jewelry the focus. It’s entailed time away from fiction writing but directed me towards writing copy for the marketing end of my business, where I got my ideas for my jewelry and art. It brought me back to around the time I began attending the Deadwood Writer’s Group. I was writing a children’s picture book. I’d developed illustrations which now I am selling as prints on my Etsy page, www.wjkartisandesigns.com. It’s an exciting time in my life and I’m glad and grateful that I get to share these artworks in my own way now.
Another aspect that’s filled my attention is all that goes into starting a business. Finance, marketing, social media, product development – more jewelry and illustration development. It’s a bit nerve-racking to fit everything in, meaning my artistic nature and my need to write juicy and intriguing romances. But a smart woman, when I thought doing both was crazy, told me, “Why can’t you do both?” Her encouragement toward my success and happiness has always been given right when I needed it. So, thanks Mom. Love you!
On other exciting news, I’m going to Ireland soon. I’m not even there yet and I’m already inspired. What kind of stories will sprout from my visit, the brogue, the people, the colors, the constant green that everyone talks about? My heart gallops to fiery beat of a stampede when I think of all the opportunities that have become evident these past few months, words that have been spoken by friends and family. I’ve heard encouragement before, but this time, as my friend and sister of the heart, Jo Self– who is also a branding/strengths consultant for business and the individual, would say, I listened to what the universe was trying to tell me and am using the strengths I’ve been given to make positive things happen.
My most productive day of writing is on Tuesdays. I don’t understand why I seem to be able to write the best on that day more so than others. It is perplexing.
Why is it that my mind can focus on the task of writing someplace other than my desk, in my home where I always have access to my computer, my writing space? What psychology is at work? It goes back to my first confession about procrastination.
I went in search of ways to circumvent my procrastination, and this is what I found. An article in Psychology Today, online, says, “Procrastination in large part reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we’ll feel tomorrow, or the next day. “I don’t feel like it” takes precedence over goals; however, it then begets a downward spiral of negative emotions that deter future effort.” It also says, “Perfectionists are often procrastinators; it is psychologically more acceptable to never tackle a task than to face the possibility of falling short on performance.”
Now, I know I’m not a perfectionist by any means, but I do have goals with my writing and artwork, but the negativity of failure keeps sneaking in, blackening my mind, pulling me away from what needs doing. And when I add even more to my to-do list the dominos keep tumbling down and I can’t catch up fast enough to stop the consequences as they continue to fall away from me.
To add to the stack of black tiles with white dots, I’m starting my own business to sell my art called WjK ARTiSAN DESiGNS. I’m excited but I’m also terrified. But without the risk there cannot be success. So, I’m going for it.
I want to keep the dominoes from falling. What do I do to fend off procrastination? How do I control what needs to happen so my writing, the planning for my business, and my home life tasks all get done? I must break them down into smaller stacks and obtainable goals.
One of the reasons I procrastinate is because I always have other responsibilities at home. It’s why I write outside of my house at coffee shops, things that need to get done in my daily routine as a Mom disappear. There are no dishes or laundry to get to. I don’t feel I need to get back home to do any of that and I can be free to write. There is a time frame, but when I have my headphones on blocking out all the other noise of life, I can concentrate on the words that I’m putting onto the page.
Dr. Jo Minden, Ph. D., in the article Beat Procrastination in 3 Steps , also on the Psychology Today website, talks about breaking things down into smaller tasks and making it easier on myself so I can start something rather than pushing it off until later. He also talks about procrastination as something that stems from anxiety. I would never have thought of it that way because I don’t ever feel nervous or sick to my stomach. As an observer, I can see why this would be the case. Based on my fear of failure which I talked about in my first confessional his conclusion makes sense. So now what?
Dr. Minden says, “Think about what needs to be done, how to make it happen, how long it will take, and whether it’s possible to break the project into smaller and more manageable pieces.” My writing and artwork are in this category. Building stories bring together a lot of parts. It is overwhelming most of the time. Thinking about how I’ve gone about the planning for the next novel in my Hot Blacktop series, Hot Turns, when do I stop answering questions about my characters and their story arcs before I start writing the actual words for each chapter? Am I procrastinating by not beginning the chapters? Maybe. For my art there’s a constant stream of ideas that I sketch and don’t start the final drawing. Is that procrastination. I say yes, again. Because, in my head I’m hearing, “It’s not quite good enough, keep sketching, Wendi.” It’s like I’m a perpetual student that never gets a job in the real world. Ugh. Even writing this blog is making me frustrated and angry at myself. I can see what I’m doing as a write this, talking it out with you, but all I want to do is read another romance novel.
Admitting the problem is half the battle, right? I must force myself to keep scheduling my tasks, limiting my addiction, to read as an avoidance tactic, and get my goals or tasks crossed off one by one. Make each task smaller, more manageable. Even thinking about what I must do makes my eyes go to my e-reader. It’s a scary revelation.
Self-doubt is like a disease that goes undetected, sneaks in, and metastasizes when I’m not looking. It sits like a lump in my mind. It’s awful because it can lead to depression. Creative people deal with this every day. And inevitably, when it latches on to my psyche, it leads to fear and then procrastination. Because I can’t fail at something if I don’t start it, right? But then I think of my mantra, “Failure is a bridge to success.” So, I can only keep looking forward.
The start of 2018 is a good one, even if it has been a rocky road. There have been some bumps, okay a lot of bumps, which is self-doubt. I’m still confident that my plan is manageable, which means even the days that I’m down, my goal is still in my mind. It pushes me forward with my writing and art. And I’m still using the bullet journal to see my accomplishments.
The days I wrote and didn’t paint or draw, I used a couple of Donald Maass books on writing. The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write with Emotional Power, Develop Achingly Real Characters, Move Your Readers, and Create Riveting Moral Stake, and his Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling. February was a fun, productive month in character development. The exercises will lead to a better outline and scenes that are full and beautiful with story. Each book has great lessons at the end of each section. Questions are listed so I can express the people I create in a more meaningful way. Most questions ask, how would a character react or function to inner and outer conflicts? They help define characters in a way that is more in-depth and intense. The reader will latch onto them to encourage experiencing the emotions the hero and heroines elicit. That’s what I want. It’s what my writing is missing. I even created another character that I didn’t see coming to add more tension to the story arc, which could lead to another book in the series.
There have also been places where my scenes are flat. They have no meaning to the story, or they aren’t becoming a part of who the character is, or fails to show what the place means to a character. I recently finished a chapter and shared it with my writer’s group, Deadwood Writers, for specifically this goal. I wanted the chapter to feel as if the reader was stepping into the soul of the character. That the place I was creating was a living memory of what the character experienced throughout her lie and to have the main heroine understand that it was something she could/would want, or as someone put it in the writer’s group, or not. In conclusion, I decided my character isn’t ready yet to deal with what she’s feeling. So, I had to create a space that was lived in and had a good history. But at this point she must have it on pause, like a still painting in the back of her mind, ready to bring it back to life when she’s ready. I was pleased with the result. But you’ll have to wait to read it since it’s in the sequel to Hot Blacktop.
I’ve also worked on some fun projects in my art life, which I also listed in my bullet journal. I was on a mission to see where my art could fit into retail locations, and online at an Etsy store that I’ve started to create. I asked myself questions regarding starting a business along with talking with small gift shop store owners where I frequent. How can I sell my art? Where is the best place to do that? How do you choose the art you sell? Do I need a lawyer to create a business? How do I price my art? I did research online looking up other artists. I found videos, and articles, and will continue to develop what I intend to do.
Even though I stumbled in February, not working as many days as I did in January, I still made good progress. I can’t let the days of idleness get to me. I’m still doing what I love. I’m still learning. That’s all that matters.
Previously launched on Deadwood Writers Voices.
Trying to figure out what process I want to take this year for the Deadwood Writers Voices has been a swirling dilemma for me this past couple of months. And I discovered through my creative process last year writing the meet-cutes drew me away from writing my novels and editing my works in progress. It helped with future story ideas, but my other works got sidelined. I’m striving to balance each piece of my writer’s life, and my artwork—which I’m developing more to open my own business—by using the scheduling process I’ve launched. I’m hoping it will allow me to see how to accomplish everything I want to each week, month, and year.
My weaknesses to this end are reading too much of my favorite genre, romance, and leans heavily on procrastination which is a result of my fear of failing what I’m trying to accomplish. The fear of failure is another reason driving me to schedule things. I can hold myself accountable.
One of the highlights of writing things down has been, aside from the monthly schedule, my bullet journal. I started this along with the scheduling so that I could see my progress. It has helped. I write down every accomplishment. I’ve blocked off six columns which are designated as follows, each day of the month, Hot Blacktop (I needed to fix some grammar and word confusion issues, so I could upload the new content), A New Life (work in progress), Hot Turns (the sequel to Hot Blacktop), DWriters (our blog), and Other (which could be a new story idea or even my artwork). What is exciting about using the bullet journal is I can focus on the accomplishments. If I can see what I’ve done every day, I know I’m progressing even if it is baby steps. It might not be even more than a couple of hundred words, or questions I’ve answered regarding characters and content that will make the work stronger. It’s progress, so I’m going to record it.
Talking about progress, learning more about writing techniques to improve my skills or getting advice from experienced authors on how to be a better writer is on top of my to-do list. Compiling a list of books to read this year has been fun, so I’m sharing the non-fiction list I’ve gathered so far. These are in no particular order, and each is linked back to Goodreads.com.
• Heroes & Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders (Okay, this is the next book on my list. The others are in no particular order.)
• Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne and Dave King
• Steven King on Writing A Memoir Of The Craft
• The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke
• The Writer’s Guide to Psychology by Carolyn Kaufman, Pey. D.
• Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass
• Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path by Nancy Pickard and Lynn Lott
• Still Writing – Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro
• The Last Draft by Sandra Scofield
• The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass
• Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass
• The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
• The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi (This book is more of a reference guide)
I hope you would comment and add any books that have helped you in your writing journey, or any book that has helped you in life.
The window into my writer’s life at the beginning of this year has been a short one so far, but insightful. I hope you’ll continue along on my journey and see what happens in the coming editions of my writer’s confessional.