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Directing Professional Growth Through Stress

An author is a force to be reckoned with as they juggle endless duties. From administrative tasks, to marketing implementation; then continuous study/brushing up of the writing craft and publishing; also, reading books in and out of their chosen genre for a well-rounded literary palate. This is only the tip of the iceberg for most authors. For those who are new to reading my blog, I write romantic fiction and multi-genre short stories. In professional terms, I consider myself a newbie self-starter at three years into the journey. For a year I blogged and have continued to blog. The next year I added in self-publishing two works of fiction – Serendipity Summer, a heartwarming and comical romance, was picked up by Booktrope Media and Publishing. October of 2015 Serendipity Summer was re-published by Booktrope. And now as we approach 2016 I’m looking forward to continuing the second book to follow Serendipity Summer in the Riverbend Way series.

In the time I’ve been building a social platform, writing, and publishing, I’ve noticed a majority of authors (including myself) are fueled by the challenge and madness of it all. After three years of being self-published and hybrid-published, there are many writers who are “rich” in giving of themselves even with no immediate monetary success. I think several authors experience what I have experienced at one time or another in their career: we continue to do what we do because our lives are enriched in some way with the process of writing, producing, publishing, and connecting with others who appreciate it, too.

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Whether authors and writers (one and the same, IMO!) want to admit it or not there is an emotionally rewarding “payoff” to the madness. The return on investment (ROI) surely isn’t immediate when we start out and for some unfortunate ones not at all. Then if caught in a weak moment and discouragement sets in, it’s easy to buy into the “art doesn’t pay” trope just about every writer has heard from friends, family, and strangers alike. They do have a point. Tweet: Many writers have separate careers from writing and publishing. It takes time. #LaurieWriting Many writers have separate careers from writing and publishing. It takes time. Everyone has an opinion and they have a right to it! Authors know about the right to opinions better than just about anyone. So then the author has a big decision to make each time they are challenged with so much it’s nearly too much to manage: act out or act on the pressure-task-cooker they’ve stewed in for the love of their art.

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Yet there are OPINIONS ALL AROUND. Little is more valuable to a writer than to be able to visit a website knowing that what they read will lift their spirits. Perhaps it’s time to weed out some of the more negative perspectives on the people I follow, like, retweet, and friend to reflect my own positive outlook for writing and author community. I get that authors can sometimes be difficult, moody, and hard to work with-but diverse types of personalities are everywhere. Generally everyone goes through slumps, defeats, and success.

I wonder sometimes when I skim articles shaking their proverbial finger or fists at authors for not doing EVERYTHING if the people writing the pieces have actually re-read their manipulating content of all the things authors could do better. Sure, a lot of the posts hold great writing craft and marketing tips, but at what cost to the writers value of their individual process? Writers, haven’t we heard over and over and over: PROTECT YOUR CREATIVITY.

So why do we (yes, me too-though not as much as I used to because there are times when it doesn’t serve my writing process or motivation) continue to absorb what I like to call “tough-love” information in our precious reading time?

It could be tough-love motivates you (me)? Suggested content of an article screams :”here’s the heart where my art was born, please stab it with your scoured word-spear” -your mouse clicks the link- and the brain replies, “yes, please!”

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img cred: newsnster.com

Facing the negative, not responding to it, and taking from it what serves your writing process is a clear indication of professional maturity. As we continue to write, we allow an internal compass to guide us. This compass is a combination of self-discipline (directly benefits our interests) and what some call a thick skin (directly benefits others interests): Our Interests + The Interests of Others = The Sweet Spot where stress has potential to become a compass for professional growth and direction.

If you take something with you from my ramblings today, please remember it’s okay to re-direct your goals this year and adjust your internal compass. Tweet: Stick with what nurtures your health and well-being. Always be writing. #LaurieWriting Stick with what nurtures your health and well-being. Always be writing. 

I’ll leave you with a paraphrased quote from  friend who guided me into the publishing waters:

I realized after nine books, working with an agent, and treading water in traditional publishing -then going into self-publishing and being my own agent-that someone somewhere wanted to read my books. Then gradually many someones read my books. Now I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Next Week on LaurieWriting: 

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The Biggest Block To #Creativity and Tips to Prevent It

Whether it’s a craft project or you are fortunate to secure a creative career, being able to manage time and tasks is a big deal. Most jobs require employees and managers to perform basic tasks, such as being able to stay organized, take care of their health and communicate effectively in tandem with continuing their skillset.

At first it may seem like someone with a creative career or growing hobby is less structured, more sporadic, or that they have advantages over someone working in a more common work environment.

However, creatives have a way of becoming so dedicated to seeing a project through that surface advantages may become a block to their very livelihood: their creativity.

Time management should not be ignored, especially in creative careers. Poor planning may cause bigger problems to arise such as lost communication from valuable sources, health problems, working way too many hours and causing creativity burnout.

Here are a few tips to prevent this from happening to you.

Start the week with a plan.

It’s Monday. There are pages of files not put away because of much-deserved time off after working a six-day work week. Email is overflowing, and you’re certain you’ve deleted that important message from a lead client. You feel sick because you haven’t been eating well. Who has time to cook when you could be working?
Also, your three points daily checklist goes out the window when a co-worker needs your guidance to work out details of a project at the last minute.

As soon as you’re aware you have an hour of time to think about your schedule and upcoming events for the next week, outline touch-points as a day-by-day reminder. You may even do this as you go, and keep lists with reminders and alarms on Wunderlist or another app. An hour is a small price to pay, especially when due dates and deadlines are looming.

The point is to be aware of what is ahead. After adjusting the reminders a few times, you’ll have a fail-proof routine.

Busy doesn’t always equal productivity. I like how Kory Kogon author of The Five Choices distinguishes “busy” from “productive” in this video on inc.com.

Reserve thirty minutes to file away emails and messages every week.

If you’re unable to manage that, take fifteen-minute breaks daily, to ensure your files are in backup storage files and are sorted. Gmail requires users to make use of folders, tags, and favorites to sort. If convinced your computer is on the verge of crashing while typing an important document, set up a free account on Dropbox as a backup on the cloud. Double save files. The only drawback to this system is that you have to be consistent saving files to your main saving source plus remember to back up the file on Dropbox time. Once you’re in the habit of keeping a filing backup system, you won’t have to worry about recovering files or paying someone to do it for you. Instead, you could buy your dog a year worth of treats so this doesn’t happen or buy ridiculous items like the tiny broom slipper.

Write email responses or messages ahead of time and send them at the beginning of the following work week.

Set an alarm for every couple of hours (or your preferred time increment) to remind you to get up and walk around if you have a sedentary job at a computer or sitting constantly.

Walk for 15 at least twice a day. The health benefits of walking is far better than the risk that comes with always sitting without exercise–blood clots, heart desease, and diabetes are leading health complications related to not exercising. (American Heart Association.)

Pre-prepare super simple meals ahead of time.

Quinoa can be prepared in five minutes, is gluten free, and packs protein to keep a stomach full. There is instant oatmeal, and add raisins, Splenda sweetener, or berries (unthawed in the fridge overnight) to enhance a bland breakfast into morning fuel.
Oatmeal is one of the wonder foods in whole grains and has been proven to curb high-cholestorol.

Coffee is usually good in moderation, but some side-effects like ulcers can cause discomfort. Also, caffeine is addictive. Instead try this: eat an apple. No joke. This works every time. Sure, it will take time to get used to, but it’s better than keeling over in pain from an ulcer.

How you like them apples? (quote from the movie Good Will Hunting.)

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Make a brief outline of the week ahead, even if you get off track.

Daily checklists are bound to be rearranged and moved around unless your sole mission is to be a robot. The fact is, we’re humans (gasp) I know. Surprise, surprise.

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Image Source, Jo Gibney 

So it’s good to note to pre-write those emails even if you don’t get around to it. Set reminders to take care of the most pressing issues on the days when you know you’ll have a pocket of time to deal with them. Preferably not on lunch break. Take lunch with a friend or watch a favorite show or read a physical book. Start a creative hobby you want to excel at and take note of your progress. Maybe join a creative community in real life or a nearby city.

You’ll be surprised at how encouraging it is to do a different type of creative project and be great at it. Soon the creativity starts flowing; the creativity blocks aren’t quite as high, and the less-stressed side of you is free to deal with the issue at hand:

What the Kardashians are doing today.

Oh, no. Wait. That’s not it.

What is for dinner.

Hmm. Probably good to know, but what I mean to say is:
Don’t give up, plan for the best, and if it doesn’t turn out right, keep creating something and being proactive until it happens.

Tiny Disclaimer: I’m not a weight-loss, health, or time-management guru by any means, but the tips in this post are brought to you by things that work in my own sometimes chaotic life.

I’m happy to share with you: Serendipity Summer, my first book with Booktrope Publishing, will be re-released soon! I’m planning fun giveaways, contests, and you’ll have the opportunity to access first news and more freebies by signing up for my newsletter. My promise to you is that I will not spam my newsletter to your inbox. It shall be a wonderful a glorious way to keep in touch with those who follow my blog and publications, so they have first dibs on the most awesome events,freebies, and opportunities. For now you can follow my blog and be updated by email when a new post is up or if you haven’t checked out my author website–what are you waiting for? 😉