NatWriCoChallenge: Week 4-ish

Hey friends. Just a reminder that through April and May of 2020, I am offering coaching sessions at a Pay What Feels Right for You rate. That means that you get a coaching session and you choose the price. Read all about this offer here.

Welcome to the fourth and final-ish week of the Natural Writer Coaching Challenge! I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts this month.

If you’re just getting into this challenge, it’s not too late to join. You can read all about the challenge here, and how to participate for your own enjoyment, or to win 2 FREE writing coaching sessions with me. Though, I will say, at this point, it’s going to be a lot of work to catch up with your Instagram posts at this point. But if you’re willing, my requirement for being entered into the draw on June 1st is for each participant to have 31 Instagram posts sharing their flash fiction piece featuring the designated one-word prompt for each day.

Remember, if you want to be entered into the drawing, the post must tag me using the handle @NaturalWriterCoaching and use the hashtag #NatWriCoChallenge. Otherwise, I won’t see it.

Additional Challenge

Each week I’ve been providing an additional challenge for those who need that extra umph to get their creative brains working. Whether or not you do the challenge won’t be taken into consideration for who wins, but it’s for your own creativity muscle-building.

This creative challenge is to write a poem which uses the word-prompt as the theme.

You can take this a step further and refrain from using the word prompt in the poem, but the poem can summarize or describe the word or a situation outlining the concept of the word.

That’s step 1.

Step 2 is to use each line of the poem in your flash fiction piece.

The lines of the poem can be the start of a paragraph, or they can just be sentences in your piece. Maybe even the dialogue. It’s your piece, have fun with it.

However, remember that in your flash fiction piece, you must use the word. While in the poem, the word is optional, it must actually be present in the flash fiction piece itself.

This Week’s Word Prompts

The month of May has 5 Fridays. So far, each Friday I’ve been posting the following week’s word prompts. This will be the last Friday I do this, and the prompts will extend all the way until Sunday, the 31st of May.

Friday, May 22: Right
Saturday, May 23: Long
Sunday, May 24: Deer
Monday, May 25: Unison
Tuesday, May 26: Hole
Wednesday, May 27: Decision
Thursday, May 28: Rook
Friday, May 29: Tambourine
Saturday, May 30: Balance
Sunday, May 31: Join

On June 1st, I’ll announce the winner of the Challenge on Instagram. Are you excited? I’m excited. I look forward to reading your pieces! Feel free to comment below to share your experience or ask any questions.

Book a Free 30-Minute Session with Me

Are you thinking about working with me, but just aren’t entirely sure? Fill out the form, schedule a call, let’s talk. This is a no-pressure, non-sales-pitch call, where we talk about you and your writing, and whether or not you want to work with me. Let’s chat!

NatWriCoChallenge: Week 3

Hey friends. Just a reminder that through April and May of 2020, I am offering coaching sessions at a Pay What Feels Right for You rate. That means that you get a coaching session and you choose the price. Read all about this offer here.

Welcome to week 3 of the Natural Writer Coaching Challenge! Congratulations to those of you who have participated so far. I’m so pleased to see all your creative minds in action.

If you’re just joining the challenge, you can still participate. I just need to see 31 Instagram posts tagging me using @NaturalWriterCoaching and the hashtag #NatWriCoChallenge at the end of the month. You can read the details of the challenge and how you can win 2 FREE writing coaching sessions with me here.

Additional Challenge

Last week I posed an additional challenge for those of you who are just whizzing through these flash fiction prompts. This week, I have another challenge for you. You can use it however you want, whether it’s to combine with last week’s challenge or to use it on its own. It is up to you.

This week’s challenge is to use one of my favorite tools for generating creative and unique writing ideas: the third option.

You’ll hear me talk about this exercise a lot. I first learned about it through a writing competition put forth by Wonderbox Publishing a few years ago. I have loved it ever since.

When you look at your writing prompt, jot down the first idea that comes to you. Then cross it out. Write down the second idea that comes to you. Then cross it out. Write down the third idea that comes to you, and go with that.

The theory behind this is that usually the first two ideas are something we’ve already seen or heard, though we don’t realize it. By chucking the first two ideas, then we get closer to something we, ourselves, have generated.

If you choose to take on this challenge, feel free to share your first two ideas that you tossed away in your IG post. I’d love to hear them!

This Week’s Word Prompts

Each Friday in May, I’ll provide the daily work prompts for the follow week. If you’re playing catch up, you can read last week’s prompts here.

Friday, May 15: Bulb
Saturday, May 16: Singing Bowl
Sunday, May 17: Fresh
Monday, May 18: Seed
Tuesday, May 19: Starlight
Wednesday, May 20: Cornucopia
Thursday, May 21: Desert

I look forward to reading your pieces! Feel free to comment below to share your experience or ask any questions.

Book a Free 30-Minute Session with Me

Are you thinking about working with me, but just aren’t entirely sure? Fill out the form, schedule a call, let’s talk. This is a no-pressure, non-sales-pitch call, where we talk about you and your writing, and whether or not you want to work with me. Let’s chat!

Breaking Habits That Keep Us from Writing

Steps to Breaking a Habit: A Table of Contents

The Reason | Wanting to Quit | The Deal Breaker |
Finding the Compromise | The Result | Recap/Homework |
Contact Me

Habits can make or break a writing career.

One of the best things you can do as a writer is create a writing habit. This could be that every day at the same time you sit down and write for x amount of time, or it can mean you get into a weekly system of writing, editing, marketing, repeat. Everyone has something different that works for them.

However, creating habits is just part of it. What is equally important is breaking habits.

There are so many things we do each day that act as distractions or hinder us entirely from working toward our goals.

I want to share my story of a particular habit that I am trying to break: Facebook.

Note: I recognize that not everyone wants to read my experience. you folks out there, I see you, and I’ve got your back. you can skip to the part just for you here.

This is not an anti-Facebook post by any means, I have many, many reasons for wanting to distance myself from it. I wanted to share this because it is a habit (or addiction, as many might label it) that many people can relate to. What’s more, many people might broaden the term to encompass any social media, or might instead swap it out for another form of social media or digital distraction (like streaming shows).

The Reason

I always thought that I had social media under control. After all, I was holding down a job, and doing well at it, and could always make sure my phone was out of sight while on the job. When I was with friends, I only pulled out my phone if the subject matter of discussion warranted it (like showing pictures or swapping info), or if my friend got sucked into their own phone.

Plus, I’ve always needed it because it’s an excellent source of marketing. It’s how I share my writing, my business (and I’ve had many businesses, as well as general interests for which I made a FB page for, such as eco-living, excellent and important podcasts, etc.), and once I moved to the UK from Washington State, it was how I kept in contact with my family and friends.

Finally, I got a lot of my news from Facebook. I have a lot of friends with a lot of interests who were keeping up to date with scientific advances, interesting practices and recipes, and of course, politics (which I tried to double check whenever I could).

Facebook has always been essential.

Wanting to Quit
(But did I really?)

I have tried to cut back on Facebook many times. I deleted the app, but then found that I would just log on via my browser anyway. I put myself on a timer, but I got annoyed when it would shut me down in the middle of reading something, so that was short lived. I then tried to keep track of my over-all screen time on my phone with weekly reports, but could never really remember how I did the previous week.

And when it came down to it, there were worse things I could be doing with my spare time, like husseling or smoking meth. I happily have never had an inkling to do either of those things, so Facebook has always seemed like a pretty reasonable habit to replace what could be far worse.

The Deal Breaker

Like I said, there were a lot of reasons why I wanted to quit Facebook, but I had a lot of excuses for why I should keep it.

I won’t go into what the actual deal-breaker was. That’s just for me and maybe some of the people I interact with (fun fact: you can book a free 30-minute session with me, and ask me all about it while you tell me about your work in progress!). However, when I did reach that point, I struggled to know where to start. After all, some of those reasons were valid reasons.

However, I knew that I actually wanted to do it. There was no shred of me that wanted to keep it around except for what seemed like the obligations such as keeping contact (a welcomed obligation) and marketing.

Finding the Compromise

I took several steps to make sure this happened, and I’ll tell you, it was hard.

Step 1: Timing

I picked a time when I knew I was going to be busy. I was in my second week of my visit to the states, and had about four days left to cram in everything I wanted to do with my friends and family, as well as showing my partner around my home state. By the way, Washington has tons of cool stuff to do, even in January.

One the four days were up, the following two days were going to be spent traveling and stressing. While I was traveling as well, I intended on catching up on a ghostwriting project I had at the airport and on the plane. Again, with needing to keep focus on the actual travel situation and get some work done, this made for a perfect time to switch off from distractions.

Step 2: Practical Steps

I needed to get rid of anything that would tempt me into checking Facebook. I deleted the app and deleted the history of it on my phone and on my computer. It’s really easy to go to Facebook when all you have to do is press the f + enter.

I didn’t delete Facebook entirely. Again, I still felt that my reasons were valid. So, I kept the Messenger app and downloaded the Facebook Pages Manager app, but put them on the second screen over. This meant that it wasn’t on my front screen, and I had to work to remember where I’d moved them to. This interrupted the automatic habit of clicking on them just for the sake of it. I had to think about what I was doing.

Step 3: Replacement

There were plenty of things to replace my habit. I could just get super hooked on Twitter instead, or Instagram. Or I could think constructively.

There are a lot of apps that I could use that would work toward writing, providing writing prompts, or creating a space to write and email what you’ve written fairly easily. Or I could even just write out blog entries on my phone. But I thought I would go with something entirely different.

I opted to learn a language.

So, now instead of spending hours on Facebook, I am learning Greek on Duolingo. It’s like a game, you get points, you level up and compete a little bit against others, and I’m learning at the same time. It’s expanding my mind.

This isn’t the most optimal, because I’m still distracted by it, but I am doing something constructive and working toward something that’s been on my goals list for quite some time.

The Result

At the time of posting this, I will have gone five weeks without Facebook. Again, I have kept the Messenger app and the Pages app, but that’ sit.

There have been some slip-ups. For example, while looking for a new car, I’ve clicked on a link that’s taken me to the Facebook Market place. I quickly exit out of the tab and start my search again, but usually, I don’t feel the draw to actually check the 61 notifications I saw at the top of the page.

The only time I actually miss Facebook, is when I feel that actual physical pull of mechanical habit wanting to hit f + enter. To be fair, that is most times I’m on the internet. But, through eliminating FB from my history, I no longer have that ease of being able to hit those two keys. I have to type out the whole address if I want to visit there. When I do slip up and hit f + enter, it just searches the letter f. This has helped me to be aware of when I do it, which is slowly making me aware of the want to do it before I get around to it. When I’m conscious of it, it’s easy enough to do something else entirely to deter the want.

The Take-Away
(Your Homework)

So yes, that’s great for me, but what about you? You’re reading this so that you can learn to break your habits, not to know that I was able to do it.

Here’s what you can take away from my experience:

1. Make Sure You Want It

Partially wanting to quite a habit isn’t enough. You need a reason that you can hold on to. Whether you’re trying to quit smoking, trying to quit chewing your nails, trying to quit binging Friends for the hundredth time, or trying to quit toxic relationships. You need to be able to have a solid reason to tie yourself to.

2. List Why You Want Need Your Habit

Go easy on yourself. Examine the reasons you don’t want to break your habit, or why you feel you need to maintain it even if you don’t want to. Go through that list item by item and reason with it. How can you get around it?

3. Pick a Time

When you feel like you’ve negated your reasons or found a way to work around them, and when you’ve found your anchor to tie yourself to, then consider your timing.

When dieting, for example, it is strongly advised that you time the start of your diet right. When are the times you’re likely to stress eat or go for the junk food rather than the good stuff? Time your detox of your habit right.

4. Create a Step-by-Step Plan

Once you know your timing, then think about what steps you can take to break your habit. I once read a review of a self-help book. The book apparently suggested that if you wanted to quit smoking, you just didn’t light the cigarette, it was that easy. The review said, “Really, it’s that easy? Have you done it?”

Habits can be unconscious things. Sometimes we don’t realize we’re participating in it until we’re already doing it. So while you’re considering your plan, think about those times when you numbly fall into your habit and how you can navigate around them.

The art of remaining present in mind is a massive help. A great introduction to how to do this and the benefits of this is Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. By learning to stay present, you don’t fall into the mindlessness of automatic action without thinking.

Take practical steps that you’ve outlined in your plan and take them. Do you have a cold-turkey plan, or a gradual plan?

5. Find a Replacement

Let’s say you’re trying to replace toxic friendships in your life. What can you do instead of spending time with these people? You can put yourself out there to find new people, first of all. This could be by joining a book group, writing group, yoga class, or volunteering. Or you could decide that the time you spent on those toxic people is better spent on you. You could go to a movie by yourself or take yourself out dancing.

Spend time doing something you love, that brings you joy and lifts you up.

6. Bonus

Remember, you’re human. You’re going to have slip-ups. We all do, and that’s okay. But when you do, or when you catch yourself doing it, there are a few things you need to do:

  1. Notice that you’re doing it. If you don’t realize you’re doing it, then you won’t be able to stop yourself.
  2. Forgive yourself. Ragging on yourself for slipping up isn’t going to do you any good. In fact, it’s only going to put more pressure on you and make it more likely that you’ll do it again and again. However, if you can show yourself compassion, then you’re releasing good thoughts toward yourself. When you can think good things, then you can release those wonderful and good brain chemicals, and they’re the ones that are going to see you through this.
  3. When you do notice yourself slipping up, or feeling the urge to give in, drink water.

What? Drink water?

Honestly. Drinking water is your friend.

When you drink water, you think clearer and make better decisions. Plus it hydrates you, which can make you feel better, supports your immune system, supports the function of your body, and is a good habit to be in, anyway. I do this all the time when I catch myself getting distracted instead of writing or working on things for my business. Try it.

You Try

What is your habit that you’re struggling to break? What are you missing out on because of this habit? I’d love to hear about it and have a conversation about it. Feel free to contact me, or to leave a comment below.

Book Your Free 30-Minute Call

Fill out the form below to talk to me about your piece. This is about getting to know you and your work, and deciding if we make a good pair to get you through your project.

Success! You're on the list.

December 11 Journal Prompt: First Quarter Season

What is your writing goal for the first quarter of 2020?

Yesterday we spent some time looking at what habits we can form during the first month of the year. Today we are going to look at how those habits can be implemented over the first quarter of 2020.

But we’re going to look at this a little bit differently than we did yesterday. Today, we’re going to look at the seasons, and we’re going to consider our personal seasons.

Learning Your Seasons

Rebecca Campbell, author of Rise Sister Rise and Light is the New Black, talks about personal seasons. Just like the planet, we experience times of fruitfulness and times of rest. There are times when we are productive and times when we just can’t begin to look at what to tackle.

And that’s okay.

Knowing how you function best is going to help you to be your best. Knowing yourself is going to be the key to the optimal you. Everyone needs to rest, and it’s good to know when your resting times are. These can happen monthly, daily, and annually.

For example, I, living in the northern hemisphere, discovered that I can get next to zero work done in the summer. I am highly productive in the winter and in the spring, but summer I go into my personal winter of work hibernation.

Does that mean I stop working altogether? Not at all. What it does mean is that I adjust my workload to accommodate my resting time.

Not all of us have this luxury—it’s one I have worked hard to cultivate, and I know that nothing is permanent. However, in terms of our goals for on-coming years, we can take these “winter” periods and adjust our goals to work around them. Likewise, we can adjust our goals to work around our energetic, “summer” periods.

Journal Prompt

Reflecting on Winter and Summer

Reflect over the last year and compare it to the year before, and the year before that. Do you recall when you were at the height of your energy each year? Do you remember when you struggled with your energy?

Spend some time journaling about the most productive times that you recall, and see if you can narrow it down to a time of the year, time of month, time of week, time of day. If you can’t pinpoint it, that’s alright. Perhaps you might want to make it a goal to pay attention this year to when your energy waxes and wanes.

If you’ve managed to do this, then we’re going to move on to the second part of the prompt: developing a first quarter goal.

Quarterly Goals

If you have an idea of how well you work during certain times or periods, then you can more readily make goals for the first quarter of the year.

If you find that your seasons line up nicely with the year, then you can consider spending the first part of the year gearing up for your more fruitful times. The first quarter should be a time of preparation, gathering momentum, and building to the “climax” of your year.

If you find that you’re more productive in the winter, or find that you have to be more productive in the winter (shout out to my SAD people!), then acknowledge that the first three months of 2020 will be preparing to take a little bit of a break during the summer to recharge your batteries.

Now look at how you function on a month. Campbell also mentions that she finds, as a women, she is more spiritually tuned in during her period, and thus will adjust her work schedule so that she can allow for lower-key days and meditation during that time. Some folks might find that they are more productive or less productive around a full or a new moon.

At the end of the day we are writers. As writers, we tap into out creative side which depending on who you talk to, is linked to our subconscious. Our subconscious is that deeper part of us that we allow to be expressed through our dreams and through our creative works. Thus, we may not know what rhythms our subconscious and our creative side might be aligned with, so we should explore every possibility.

Once you’ve spent some time considering how and when you work best, then you can begin setting your first quarterly goal. Consider the habits you want to form during the first month, and look at how they can contribute to a bigger goal for the first quarter.

Learning your own personal rhythms is going to be what sets you up for a successful year, and hopefully, a successful decade.

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package.

This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.

Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Book Your Free 30-Minute Call

Fill out the form below to talk to me about your piece. This is about getting to know you and your work, and deciding if we make a good pair to get you through your project.