Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Back away from the Internet connection!

When I'm writing, I am easily distracted. I'll be working a section and think, "Oh, I need info on Regency fireplaces to write this." So I'll stop in the middle of a sentence, do some research, and then check my email, check FB, check Blogger, read the news. And then thirty minutes are gone. Or sixty.

Many times I've wished there was some way to put a lock or a timer on my Internet connection, so that I couldn't access it at random. But alas, the only solution was to disconnect completely. Not an option, of course, because we must have Internet access sometimes. So I relied on my self control. Yeah, that didn't work to well.

In November we bought a new computer. We decided to get a desktop, since working on my laptop was giving me neck problems. We didn't want anything fancy, just something to run Word and the Internet. We found a great Black Friday deal: nice big screen, keyboard, mouse. You know, the basics.

When it arrived, we plugged it in, fired it up, marveled at the speed. And then we clicked on Explorer button. Nothing. Multiple clicks. Nothing. And then we realized: no modem.

Wha?? Is there a computer built today that doesn't have a modem? Yep. We bought it.

And you know what?

Best. Mistake. Ever.

We bought a USB modem, a tiny little thing that plugs into the front of the computer. Easy to use. And easy to hide. Now, I allow myself an hour in the morning to do my social media stuff. And then I unplug the modem and hide it. I retrieve it at lunchtime and give myself another hour. And hide it somewhere else. If I have to research something, I write it down and do it at the allotted hour.

Productivity returns!

What about you? Do you have to take drastic measures to stop yourself from wasting time?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A great contest... Go Enter!

Freelance Editor Cassandra Marshall is having her Spring Edit contest. The prize... a free substantial edit for a manuscript up to 100k words!

I. WANT. But I'm willing to share the chance with you!

Cassandra has just launched a new blog for her business, so head on over to Editor Cassandra now to read up on her services, check out her testimonials, and enter the contest.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wise Words

Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.

- Randy Pausch ( 1960-2008 )

Monday, March 7, 2011

A lesson in building tension and stakes

I couldn't write today.

I couldn't write because my son has been diagnosed with pneumonia.

My son has pneumonia, which means we may not be allowed to fly to Scotland on Thursday.

We are flying to Scotland on Thursday to celebrate my husband's 40th birthday with his family.

We are traveling 4000 miles to celebrate with the family because one family member is quite ill and we don't know how much more time well will have together.

Sometimes life gives you a harsh example of how upping the stakes can effect the impact of a story. Lesson learned, but frankly I would have rather learned it from a book.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Praise of Praise

The lovely Julie Kibler over at What Women Write has a fantastic post today about The Other Kind of Critique. In other words, praise.

Her point, and a great one at that, is how we get so focused on tough critiques to improve our work, that we sometimes forget to embrace the compliments we get as well. At the end of her post, she challenged us to post something about praise we've received. (Go read the whole post here.)

Rejections on partials and fulls can be tough to take, but sometimes a few words in a rejection can offer that little bit of solace, that push to keep going. Sure, maybe its a line, a form letter. But sometimes it isn't. And we should take some joy in that.

I went back through some of my rejections and pulled out some personal feedback:
  • I love your writing, and the setting and believe you have a great deal of promise.
  • I think you are a lovely writer.
  • You have a fantastic manuscript; the details of the house and the intrigue are all fascinating – and it’s well written
  • The writing is really hard to fault
  • Your writing is confident and commercial 
Granted, none of these got me an offer of representation. But they did make me believe it could happen in the future. And sometimes, that's all we need.

So think about the praise you've received, no matter how big or how small, and let it sink in. Let it wash over you and fill you with warmth and hope. And share your good news, the praise you've received, because happiness grows with sharing.