Overcoming The Cliff

6FCF0933-BBC0-4203-884A-8CF446BC293DIn deference to our upcoming Cliff Day….

Cliff Day, you say…what is that? Well on average New Year Resolutions fall by the wayside on Feb 9 because willpower will only takes a person so far And it takes, on average 66 days to form a habit.

I’m on day 33 so I’m half way there but there’s a whole lot of self talk I’ve been doing because I’m looking to own my life and to have me take me to the goals I desire. Not to say that I’m opposed to have family and friends by my side…no person is an island and I want to spend time with family and friends. What I’m saying is it isn’t their responsibility to take me to my goals. That’s on me.

So what I’m learning so far…. And I’ll use resources when I can…According to James Clear (JamesClear.com) to change a behavior, such as creating better habits, a person has to change his or her identity….basically how he or she sees themselves instead of focusing solely on the new behavior.

It’s kind of like a peach here. The skin is what other people see. The flesh of the peach is an individual’s actions (what people focus most on when trying to make changes). And the pit is the belief a person has about themselves.

Does what you believe matter? Of course. We tell ourselves things about ourselves all the time. You may be a person who believes you ‘CAN’ or you may be a person who believes you ‘CAN’T’ and either way, you’re right based on what you believe. If you don’t believe you’re a person, for example, who exercises in the morning and you’re trying to create that action you are going to have internal conflict. This is great for books and movies and even tv shows but bad for reaching your goals. Your sense of who you are is going to win out over the long run.

So what do you do? Well, based on things I’ve recently read and heard it’s as follows:

First …Decide the new kind of identity you want to have.

I’ll use myself as an example. I want to be a person who get things done, who works diligently on improving my craft of writing and my love of learning, along with providing a safe nurturing space for those I share care for, AND be in top form and continue advancing skill-wise so I take on anyone on the fencing field.

Ok so I’m changing my identity – now what?
Second….Take small steps.
Wait, did I say that right?
Yes, I did. DON’T start off with life-changing transformations. (Lose 50 lbs, Publish 5 books, Earn $20,000 more)

There’s nothing wrong with aiming in that direction BUT that’s not pointing you in the direction of success. INSTEAD, start off with life changing behaviors. (Drink 8 glasses of water a day, write a paragraph everyday, work an extra 5 hours as a freelancer) And work up.

So what am I doing? I am drinking more water per day, exercising a minimum of 30 minutes a day – and I generally break that into a 15 minute morning tai chi and yoga and a 15 minute afternoon fencing drills, plus I occasionally throw cycling the exercise bike in too. I’ve scheduled my write time and well…there are other things I’m still working on.

Third…Put this new behavior in the routine you already have and use the 3Rs.
Um….What are the 3Rs?

· Reminder (or cue) – starts the behavior: Example your morning alarm goes off.
· Routine – the action you take: You get up and get ready for school or work.
· Result – You continue getting a paycheck or you eventually graduate.
So for me (Reminder) the alarm clock goes off and (Routine) I’d snooze it a few times, then roll out of bed and get the kid and me ready for school and work and get to work feeling frazzled. (Reward) I got a paycheck. And did what I absolutely had to.
Okay so incorporating from this schedule Now the alarm clock goes off, I snooze it once but instead of falling back to sleep I think about what I need to do and in what order. I get up then and do 15 minutes of tai chi and yoga because well, now I’m a person who does this in the morning, and afterwards, I get me and the kid ready for school and work feeling less frazzled.The Reward? Not only will I keep getting a paycheck and do what I have to but so far within one month’s time I’ve lost 9 lbs and feel calmer, more energetic and motivated. And again, this is a work in progress.
Four… Celebrate Your Wins. Embrace it. Own it. Building on successes is a sturdy foundation towards the life you want.

Yes so currently I’m trying how to celebrate wins without a lot of food rewards. I’d be thrilled to hear any ideas you may have.

In closing this little ‘rah-rah you can do it’ post, I’d like to say if you’re still working on your New Year’s resolution good for you! Keep rocking it! And if you fell off, don’t despair. Anytime is a time you can make positive change. Look up. The view is amazing!



Writing tips (ongoing)


Writing tip #35: Does each of your scenes advance the plot, develop the character(s), illustrate your theme or help contribute to suspense? How can you make it do double or triple duty?

Writing tip #34: Even when you’re not feeling the muse, get something on page EVERYDAY.

Writing tip #33: Do you know what your beloved character just would not do? What happens when she does it?

Writing Tip # 32: It isn’t what you, the writer. wants to tell your readers (all that juicy backstory and details floating through your head)….IT’S what the character desperately wants the reader to know.

Writing tip 31: If you are not happy with a scene, figure out why. Does it drive the story forward and/or deepen the character?

Writing tip #30: Be on intimate footing with the elements which create the heart of your story for this is your ‘Throughline’ and it shall run quietly through every page and push your characters out of the dark middle woods and into the light of resolution.

Writing tip #29: Remember (like in the real world) – it isn’t always what is right in front of the reader which rivets attention but what can be read between the lines.

Writing tip #28: It’s good to keep the reader guessing. However, don’t make him/her kin to Sherlock Holmes on his best day- in other words, don’t be stingy with the clues. AND remember all the answers shouldn’t be dumped in one massive pile at the end.

Writing tip #27: Implement the good things you pick up about your craft before the information transforms to dandelion fluff.

Writing tip #26: Finish what you start. Practically every writer gets to the muddle of their WIP (work in progress). Remember what originally excited you about the project and work through it.

Writing tip #25: Make the details in your setting count. Not only should it clue the reader into where he/she is but how it impacts the POV character. And remember, there is more in the sensory toolbox than what the character would see.

Writing tip #24: Part of the ride for the reader is to live vicariously through your characters.So learn to ETAC after a serious thwarted goal knocked the wind out of your POV character. What is his/her reaction (E – emotion and T – first thought)? What can he/she do (A-action)? And what is his/her decision (C – choice)? Then immediately go back to GOS (Goal-Obstacle-Situation).

Writing tip #23: Learn to GOS a scene. In other words, do you know what your POV character wants most desperately in the scene (G – goal)? What’s keeping him or her from it (O – obstacle)? And what is the consequence is (S – setback)? And now the bonus kicker question — Is your reader able to pick all that up simply reading your scene?

Writing tip #22: Look up and explore new places. Get out of your comfort zone and research not only on the internet but with the experts.

Writing tip 21: Read what you’ve written aloud. Is there inflection? Rhythm? Flow?

Writing tip 20: Technology is wonderful to leverage. Have pen and paper or a smart phone when you’re out and about and the muse hits. But remember — butt glue (fanny in seat) is key to consistent writing.

Writing tip #19: Keep a dream journal or daydream a scene. a character, your world or dream how it’ll feel when you’ve become the successful writer you want. Writing is in the business of dream it – it may come.

Writing tip #18: Having a bad writing day? Well, was there something new you wanted to explore? Remember writing is fun It is the ultimate pretend playtime an adult can have outside of romping with a pack of kindergarteners — just keep filling that play pail.

Writing tip #17: If you don’t have a deadline, consider making one And don’t be afraid to get your writer friends to keep you honest. It’s one of the ways writing budz can help.

Writing tip #16: Tension is what keeps readers turning the page so make every scene contain somebody’s thwarted desire – external or internal. This also is the key to allow your reader to truly experience the caliber of your characters.

Writing tip #15: Trust in your storytelling abilities particularly when the anti-muse whispers you are wasting your time. Write anyway, Continue to learn your craft and keep writing.

Writing tip #14: Your protagonist must be bigger than life. Readers connect with a sympathetic character and these characters can allow a reader to live vicariously through them allowing the reader to experience things he or she would never do. Write big. You can always scale back during the revision.

Writing tip #13: The world needs storytellers and storytellers should know many tales. Remember to read — first for the ride and then the critique.

Writing tip #12: Don’t limit your creative process. For example, if you can’t “see” a scene try story boarding it or play act it out.

Writing tip #11: Having difficulty starting your writing day? Set a timer for 120 seconds, bring up a blank page and type anything…even random letters. Only rule – don’t stop or go back to correct on this exercise.

Writing tip #10 – Play the “what-if” game often. Think of at least 10 different options of what could happen within a story-line and be prepared — the last what-if, many times, will be the one you want.

Writing tip #9: Be brave and bear your soul on the page. After all, what reader hasn’t gotten the willies, or became teary-eyed or angry or laughed out loud when reading a good book? Have you experienced any of that when you’ve written? If not, is it because you’re afraid to let go?

Writing tip #8: It is your duty to be a troublemaker for your character. Yes, be a problem-solver and then be an even bigger troublemaker. After you get in the swing of it, it’s actually sort of fun.

Writing tip #7: Give yourself permission to not be perfect in your writings. Instead just get it all on paper (physical, electronic, it doesn’t matter). Worry about revisions after.

Writing tip #6: Interact with your imaginary friends aka your characters. Do you know their top 3 strengths and weaknesses? Will your other characters corroborate with you or do they have a differing opinion?

Writing Tip #5: The top three most important things to do is write, write and write! Carve out at least 15 minutes a day to do these three most important things.

Writing tip #4 Your muse is your friend. Feed her often with all sorts of thoughts and ideas — she will spin you something amazing.

Writing tip #3 — At the end of your writing day, give yourself a loose end, a deliberate unfinished place to be an easy diving spot to plunge back into your “other world.”

Writing tip #2 – When the muse starts whispering – jot down everything she says – of course, some things you won’t be able to use (at least currently) BUT other things will be pure genius.

Writing tip #1 — To truly know one’s heroes, one must know the villains.