Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Your Brand is Enough. (Or why you should always be authentic online)

Sometimes it seems that as writers we talk and think a hell of a lot more about marketing our work than actually writing our work.

It's not just us Indie Authors either. Even Neil himself has a vigorous marketing strategy. If you write you market. That's just the way the industry works these days.

Your first step to marketing is to define your brand. All your books fall under the umbrella of your brand. If you have a strong brand you will attract the readers who will love all your books. If readers love your brand they will buy books from you that might not have interested them otherwise. The power of a good brand is strong.

As writers we don't exactly have a brand label we stamp on all our books. Except, of course, that we do. That stamp is . . . our names.

 We've all heard the catechism before in every writing class, writing conference, writing panel or youtube video

"You are your brand"

If

"Your first step to marketing is to define your brand."

 AND

"You are your brand."

The obvious conclusion would be:

"You need to define yourself."

It's a valid argument, and yet, the conclusion is untrue. To define yourself is to limit yourself and the absolute last thing you want to do is limit yourself or your writing.

The first step is not creating or defining your brand (you) but discovering it. The difference is subtle but important.

Creating a brand means that you need to craft it. That there is a right or wrong way to do it. That, if you are not careful you might just get it all wrong. That it has to measure up to everyone else's brand.

Discovering your brand means that it is already there. All you need to do is draw it out. It means that it is already perfect just the way it is and only needs a little space to breathe in order to thrive. Discovering your brand means that it has the room to grow and change and develop over time. Discovering your brand means that it is alive and organic not stagnant and mechanical.

By all means, create a marketing campaign. Selling a book is completely different than writing a book and both skills are needed to be successful. Make sure your name is associated with things that have to do with your work. If your book is about plants post lots of pictures and articles about plants but dig a little deeper than just "My brand is plants". What are your roots? What is the seed that made those plants grow? What is the water and sunlight that nourished them?  THAT is your brand.

Don't tell yourself "My personal brand is cheerfulness" and pretend to be cheerful when you're feeling like crap. That's not genuine and your readers will not be fooled. If you're cheerful most of the time, great! That's a part of your brand. But that day you feel like crap? Instead of pretending or avoiding social media altogether use the opportunity to be vulnerable with your audience and really connect with them. That change in the norm is part of your story. It is part of you. It is part of your brand.

Identify specific tendencies in your personality that resonate with your writing and highlight them but don't make up or over simplify personality traits because you see other successful writers who have them.

If you try define yourself so rigorously you don't give yourself room to grow and change. You give yourself no space to develop both as a writer and a human being. It is so temping to only want to put your shiny, perfect, polished foot forward. To only post when things are perfect and you have the best possible shot to prove it. But think about it for a moment. When you're scrolling how do you feel when you come across those picture perfect, probably airbrushed posts? Do you feel connected to the poster? Do you feel you know them better? Do you feel more deeply invested in their journey?

No. You might be a little impressed but mostly you feel anxious. You feel pressured to "keep up" with that person. You wonder what secret formula or luck of birth they have that you don't that allows them to get it right while you are here struggling. You might even feel resentful that all the cards seem to be stacked in their favor. Perfect all the time does not create the connection that social media has so much power to create for you and your work. It creates distance and an inability to relate. It makes your audience feel bad not good.

By all means design great book covers, use your best photos on instagram and get one hell of an author photo taken. I'm defiantly not saying not to strive to look your best with your online presence. Just remember to be real. Own your shortcomings. Admit your struggles. Laugh at yourself a little. Maybe even laugh at your work.  And above all strive to make genuine, sincere connections with the people you are connecting with. Treat them like the beautiful, unique individuals they are not possessions or potential stepping stones.

When you network with other writers only endorse books you've actually read and loved (or have good reason to believe you will love and actually plan to read if it's not out yet) not because it's a trendy book and you want the traffic. When you comment on other writer's posts and blogs read their content thoroughly. Comment with integrity, seeking to offer them real value with your words. If all you offer them is thoughtless fluff comments it sounds like noise and they aren't going to notice you. Plus, it's not polite. Be real.

There's nothing wrong with choosing to talk about a subject when that topic is trendy but make sure you really have something new to say about it. A fresh, original take. Make sure what you're saying truly resonates with you. You wouldn't write a dystopian YA novel featuring gladiator type games and a strong female heroine just because they were all the rage right? (RIGHT?) It would feel like an empty, lifeless copy of something else. But if you had a dystopian story already buried in one of your files that might not be a bad time to dig it out and see if it's ready to develop. We all know that depth and authenticity make a book good, not the surface "idea". It's always about how the idea is executed. The same is true for you and your brand.

 To build your brand be authentic. Be true to yourself. Remember why you are passionate about your craft. Make genuine connections.

You are your brand. You don't have to squeeze yourself into whatever idea you've been told your brand should be. You don't have to change to be your brand. You are enough.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Love Sonnet to Books




Ribbon of ink, a soul's entrails
Left from the dead, a story tells
A truth, a lie, a sentiment forgotten
A word, a spell, world I am lostin

Incantation from long ago
Bound inside a rhyme I know
World held still with thoughts repeated
World spun on with life unheeded

Mangled mind unraveled with sore eyes
A scholar watches, stricken as he spies
A life lived and then discarded
Poet's words scrawled on empty space

What has a thousand times been said
He writes again for future eyes to trace

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Spring Fever


So we meet again, my fellow insecure writers. (Thank you, as always Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh for having us) 

Hmmm. Does spring make me want to write more? 


Spring makes me impatient.

The sun starts shining. Birds start singing. Plants start growing. And I want to jump in and join in all the fun. I want to move. I want things to start changing. I want to dance in the rain.

The last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer for eight hours. Or any hours. I want to be outside. I want to be enjoying the universe around me. I want to be free.

But with all the excitement of new life bubbling around me my brain is also springing to life. New ideas. New thoughts. New questions. So much to say. So little time to say it.

So yes, I WANT to write more but I also have less will power to do it with.

I sit in front of a computer screen for eight hours at work. In a cube farm. Surrounded by gray walls and an ocean of people I have nothing in common with (except for our mutual misery of course). I WANT to write. I really do. But it's so hard to muster up the discipline to do it after a long day of work. Even on weekends, that's my only day to be outside, to run errands or clean the kitchen or . . .

I am nostalgic for the days when I worked part time. I don't think I appreciated the preciousness of the time I had to write back then. It's so hard to stay immersed in the world of your story when all you have is a few snatches here and there on weekends to really work on it.

 But I keep scratching away at it just the same. Even if my progress is at a snail's pace. Because, more than anything the itch of spring (Spring Fever, I believe, is what Mark Twain called it) is reminding me that I need to make an effort to finish Night Briers. If I never finish it I'll never escape from the cubicle life.

For those of you who work full time, what magical spell do you cast to find time and motivation to write?


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Got Goals Blog Hop: Crossing the First Threshold



The Got Goals bloghop is it is a lovely blog hop hosted by the Misha Gericke and Jen Garrett. Once a month writers post about their goals: what they are, what their approach is, how they are coming along. It's a beautiful opportunity to share with and encourage one another as we plunge down the long and winding road of writerdom together.

Check out THIS LINK if you are interested in joining.


My ultimate goal is to make a living off of my writing but I'm breaking that down into more bite sized pieces. I'm moving at a snail pace but at least I am moving. 


So how did I do for April?

I have a theory that the stat of your car says more than anything else does about your state of mind. It it's the place between places. It's the place where you are all alone with no one to impress. your car is not your destination, it is your journey. 

I'm a notoriously bad driver. I'm also notoriously bad at taking care of my car. I'll declutter it, sure. Sometimes I'll even drive it through a car wash. But as soon as that check engine light goes on it's "I'll look into that tomorrow." and "Mechanics aren't trustworthy anyways, they're probably just destroy the car more." and "Well she's still running right? It probably doesn't need to be checked." 

Yeah. 

Those are the kinds of thoughts that had been going through my mind all week when I was on my way to work a couple weeks ago. I was driving on the freeway, worried because I had left the house later than I should have and was probably going to be late. 


Suddenly my car started slowing down. It completely ignored the pressure of my foot on the gas pedal. I heard a crashing sound coming from the engine. Cars were zipping past me, honking. I switched my hazard lights on and tried to pull off the nearest exit but she just kept going slower and slower until I was at a dead stop in the middle of the freeway.


In my rush to leave that morning I had also forgot my phone. I got out of the car and tried to walk down the rest of the off ramp but I was still a lane over and this was the freeway. I realized as soon as I stepped out of the car that that was a terrible plan. Car after car zipped by, honking, angry that I was in their way and making them late. If someone hadn't stopped and called 511 for me I don't know what I would have done.  


After I got off the freeway  to walk to the nearest Starbucks to use their wifi (I didn't have my phone on me but I did have my laptop) so I could message a friend from work and ask her to tell my supervisor that I wouldn't be coming in. I then rented a car so I could get home and use my phone to call a tow truck. 


The repairs ended up being way more than I could afford and I ended up having to trade the car in for a new one. All because I kept ignoring all the little warning lights that kept going off, thinking only of my destination and never of the little engine that was taking me there.


This misfortune was not only an unforeseen circumstance that kept me from getting as much done as I wanted to in April. It also jerked me out of the complacent limbo my mind has been in, caught up in a routine that wasn't making me happy, ignoring all the little warning signs in my life telling me that I am on the wrong path because dealing with them would have been inconvenient. 

Let's hope this mind shift will help me achieve more in May but to recap my April Goals:

  • Reconnect with myself. Feed my soul. Find my drive
----- Yoga.  Attend nineteen classes before next update day. I went to none
-----Meditation. Meditate twenty six times for fifteen minutes each time. I didn't really count but I'm going to guess it was around ten times. 
----Go for mindful walks on my break at work. I managed this five or six times. 
----Actually use my sit-stand for a total of thirty eight hours. Again, I didn't count, but I have been doing this a little the last couple weeks. 
---- Drink a total of one hundred and eighty tow glasses of water. I downloaded an app to help me keep track of this. It added up to one hundred. 
  • Find True Love. Because it exists
--- Read The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer.  I started the book but haven't finished it yet. 
  • Finish writing and publish NIGHT BRIARS
--- Carve out time to write. Ten hours.

Alas, not what I wanted. I may have to push back my release date at the pace I'm going. Fortunately I haven't announced it yet so maybe that's okay. At least I'm getting SOME words done every week.


---Write three slam style poems. 

I did write one! I liked how it turned out. 


---Post on my Author Facebook page twenty five times. 

I posted more than usual but, again, I didn't count. It was not twenty five times. 


--Post on my personal facebook page fifty times. 


I did not count


--Comment on one hundred and fifty facebook posts. 


I did not count


---Participate in Do You Have Goals bloghop. 

I'm  two days late. does that still count? 


--Participate in The Insecure Writer's Support Group bloghop. 


I did this!


--Write and post a book review.

Nope

--Comment on fifty seven new blogs that I genuinely find interesting. Each comment is a quarter toward improv class.


Nope


The reward system didn't really seem to help much for April, mostly because I didn't keep track of what I was and wasn't doing. So it's time to re-strategize again. Unfortunately some of that means I just need to be a little less ambitious. With a full time job and an hour commute I don't have as much time as I did when I wrote my last two books. I know some you all are super heroes and can manage rigorous writing schedules while working full time or raising kids but I am not. 

So these are my goals for May



  • Reconnect with myself. Feed my soul. Find my drive
-----Meditate Daily
----Go for walks on my break at work
---- Drink eight cups of water a day
  • Find True Love. Because it exists
--- Finish reading The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer.  
  • Finish writing and publish NIGHT BRIARS
--- Carve out time to write. Sunday Morning Brunch and Write every week AND an hour of writing time with dinner every night after work.

---Memorize and practice performing my new poem  and one of my old ones

---Spend on hour every night after work on social media. I have a check list for myself of what to do each day, but for simplicity's sake I'll only include the hour of concentrated social media focus in my goals. 

--Attend one writing or literary event

--Attend one Critique Group 

--Post four blog posts

I think focusing on WHEN I am going to do each thing and how much time I will spend on them will help a lot in getting me on track again. Fingers crossed. Wish me luck and I hope your April Goals faired much better. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Blood and Kissing (Insecure Writer's Support Group)


Hello fellow insecure writers! (If you are an insecure writer but don't know why I just called you one go HERE to find out and connect with other writers!)

It's been difficult to motivate myself to write in the last couple of years. I usually blame it on working full time in the corporate world and living completely on my own and spending so much time in traffic In all honesty though, those are  the excuses I use to avoid the more difficult to admit reasons writing has become harder and harder over the years. 

When I first started writing I was thirteen. I wanted to write a book because . . . I loved books. I figured I would publish it (of course) when it was finished but didn't think much about it. 

It wasn't until I had drafted and edited my third manuscript that I got around to researching how publishing actually works. By then I was nineteen and needed to start thinking about the "What am I going to do with my life?" question in a more tangible way. 

That was eleven years ago. I've learned a lot about literature, publishing and the ever changing writing world in that time. I've written four more manuscripts and published two of them. I've written a handful of short stories and lots of sonnets. I've performed my poetry on stage. I've learned about all this social media and marketing stuff. I've moved from working at a burger joint to working in a cubicle (with lots of interesting stops along the way including the zoo and a German deli). After all this time there's a question I've begun to ask myself that I don't like to admit to anyone that I've been asking.

What's the point of writing?

Not "What's the point of literature?" or "What's the point of reading?" I have very strong beliefs on why storytelling is massively important to us as human beings. It connects us in beautiful, honest, emotive way that nothing else can.

 But why should I specifically continue to write the specific stories that I am writing? 

What am I trying to tell the world?

And, perhaps more pointedly, is the world even listening? 

When I wrote SNOW ROSES it was because I felt like I had a scream in my brain demanding to be smeared onto paper. I obeyed. I spilled the ink out onto the page like blood from my soul. When the book was finished and released out into the world the reviews were positive.

"Great fight scene at the end." My fans said. "You write such beautiful descriptions."

My little writer's heart sank. 

"But, but" I wanted to protest "Did you question the conventions of what love really is? Did you notice the Oedipal relationship between Lucille and the two girls and want to stand up to the authority of the past? Did it make you want to face your fears despite the consequences? Did it CHANGE you?"

 I'm not saying I ever wrote to teach or indoctrinate my readers but the reason SNOW ROSES came out of me with such force and intensity is that the thoughts and emotions encapsulated in it are very dear to my heart. I've read so many books, especially when I was younger,  that really made me question the way I saw the world. Those were some of my very favorite reading experiences. I wanted to create something like that for my readers. 

When you examine the writing market today it's hard not to feel gloomy. In our current society we've all experienced the feeling that everyone's screaming to be heard but nobody's listening but --for me at least--it runs deeper than that.

As a reader I am finding it harder and harder to find books I actually enjoy. The market is so saturated with stories that are all more or less the same. Even most of the covers look the same. And they're being published so fast. I really only have time to keep up with a few of my very favorite series-- mostly by authors who debuted more than ten years ago when it was still possible to tell authors apart. 

 At bookstores I find myself staring at all the identical covers decorated with author names I've never heard of and blurbs swearing up and down that they contain concepts no one else has thought of before with lots and lots of blood and kissing, trying to guess which one --if any-- are actually worth my time.. More and more I find myself steering away from the noisy, overwhelming fiction section and purchasing copies of titles like "How to Talk to Anyone" and "Being Peace". 

So why should I add to the noise? What value am I really giving the world by producing another dark romance with a rose on the cover? 

I believe in the depth behind the stories I am telling. But do my readers? Do my readers care about the depth and growth of my characters? Do they care about what sorts of mindsets and insights the plots lead them to? Or are they just in it for the blood and kissing? 

And if they don't care, should I? Aren't I producing something for them? Shouldn't I be giving them what they want? 

But I do care. 

 I will keep writing, of course. The stories want to be told whether they are ever fully understood or not. Perhaps a story --and life for that matter-- is not meant to be understood. Perhaps it is just meant to be. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Do You Have Goals: Magical Aid


As you are reading this I am in the mountains, meditating with monks, being very good and not touching my phone (No Taryn, not even to read Update Day posts or text your ex to tell you miss him. Do you want to do this or not?). As soon as I get back Sunday, after Easter dinner with my family, reading all your Do You Have Goals posts will be the first thing I will do. 

Like a big, juicy reward for all that meditating. 

The Got Goals bloghop is it is a lovely blog hop hosted by the Misha Gericke and Jen Garrett. Once a month writers post about their goals: what they are, what their approach is, how they are coming along. It's a beautiful opportunity to share with and encourage one another as we plunge down the long and winding road of writerdom together.

Check out THIS LINK if you are interested in joining.

My ultimate goal is to make a living off of my writing but I'm breaking that down into more bite sized pieces. I've got a lot of groundwork to lay first!

Here's how I fared with my March Goals: 
  • Reconnect with myself. Feed my soul. Find my drive
---- Mindfulness. I have registered for a five day retreat at a Monastery. I'm super psyched about it. Hoping I learn lots of useful things about myself. (CHECK. I'm there right now!)
----- Yoga.  The goal is to attend five classes a week like I used to. (I attended nine yoga classes in March. That's a little less than half as many as I wanted to. It's still an improvement but I'm giving myself a half check for this one. )
-----Meditation. Fifteen minutes a day. No snoozing this time! (Including my time at the zen retreat --still in progress-- I've meditated 16 out of 31 days this month. Half check. )
----Go for walks, specifically on my break at work. Every work day unless it's raining. (I walked at work seven out of twenty one work days. Failed.) 
----Actually use my sit-stand for at least two hours every work day. (I used it three out of twenty one work days. Failed)
---- 80/20 vegetable/ not vegetable ratio. (Not even close. Failed. )
--- Keep house clean. (Meh. It didn't get too bad. CHECK. )
  • Find True Love. Because it exists
--- Look for and appreciate evidence of love around me
---- Spend quality time with those who value me
----Practice telling people what I need from them

These goals are a little harder to quantify. I have worked on them but it's hard to say how successful I've been. They did not yield the results I wanted but does that mean I haven't improved? 

I don't know. As badly as I want it, being open to love is hard. Every time a relationship fails I wonder if things would have been different if I didn't keep myself shrouded in so many layers of walls. 

And yet, it seems like every time I manage to pull a wall down I find another one behind it, stronger and more constricting than the first. 
  • Finish writing and publish NIGHT BRIARS
--- Carve out time to write. Eight hours a week. My production schedule says that the first draft needs to be typed (It's mostly in hand written at the moment) by the end of February so I"m already behind schedule. If I have to bribe myself with brunch out every Saturday and Sunday to get it done, so be it! 

I wrote a total of eighteen hours this month. It wasn't the forty hours I had intended to give myself BUT I did manage to finish draft one. Still, because the goals was forty hours of writing time, half check

---Read at poetry readings or storytelling events. I'm going to attend four before next update day.  That's about one every week.

Failed. I did not go to any. It was that dating thing. It took up a lot of the time I would normally spend on networking events. 

--- Post poetry and writing updates. I'll give myself the goal of fourteen writer related posts before next update day.

Failed. Including this one I managed six out of the fourteen. 

---Participate in Do You Have Goals bloghop.

CHECK! Here I am!

--Participate in The Insecure Writer's Support Group bloghop 

Failed. I have an excuse for this but writing this post is making me tired of hearing myself give excuses. I really wanted to participate in this bloghop in March but . . . I didn't. 

---Organize and attend one Crit Group 

CHECK! Grit Group is always one of my favorite nights of the month. 

So that comes to:

Four checks
Three half checks
Five failures 

Not where I would like to be. Last month I tried easing up on my expectations of myself a little, hoping that by being gentler on myself I might achieve more.  Unfortunately that didn't help as much as I'd hoped it would. Trying to achieve less just gave me more license to . . . well not try very hard. 

It's really hard to motivate myself. I've been struggling a lot with depression. Just getting out of bed or taking a shower feels like an Olympic marathon right now. But the reason I have these goals is because they are things that make me happy. It's important that I don't give up on them even when it's hard to find the energy to brush my teeth (gross, I know). 

So . . .

for April I'm going to try something a little different. I'm going to enlist a little magical help in the form of rewards. 

Also known as self bribery. 

With any luck this will also do away with the all or nothing, Failed vs. Completed mentality. I can reward myself a designated amount each time each time I move toward a goal regardless of whether or not I am completing it entirely. This will (hopefully) keep me from beating myself when I don't accomplish as much as I want to and keep me motivated to keep at it even if I know I'm not going to meet my full goal. 

April Goals:  

  • Reconnect with myself. Feed my soul. Find my drive
----- Yoga.  Attend nineteen classes before next update day. After each class I will set aside five dollars to a vacation fund. If I make it to all nineteen classes I will add an extra twenty dollars at the end of the month. 
-----Meditation. Meditate twenty six times for fifteen minutes each time. Each morning I meditate I will reward myself with a chocolate banana smoothie for breakfast. When I don't meditate I'll just have plain, unsweetened oatmeal. 
----Go for mindful walks on my break at work. That's nineteen work days between now and next update day. Each time I do this I get to eat a piece of (vegan) chocolate. 
----Actually use my sit-stand for a total of thirty eight hours. Each hour I do this I get to eat a piece of  (vegan) chocolate. 
---- Drink a total of one hundred and eighty tow glasses of water. With each glass of water I can spend a quarter on clothes or other fashion accessories. If I drink all Hundred and eighty two I can add an extra five dollars to round the total up to fifty dollars. 
  • Find True Love. Because it exists
--- Read The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. When I finish it I get to get all dressed up and go dancing!
  • Finish writing and publish NIGHT BRIARS
--- Carve out time to write. Twenty hours of writing before next update day.

Bribing myself with brunch every weekend while I write has been working pretty well. I'm way more focused when I write at a cafe instead of at home.  I'm going to add a dinner out with me and my laptop every Monday as well so that I cover more time. 

---Write three slam style poems. 

Each Poem gives me forty dollars to use for improv classes but they must be high quality poems. 

---Post on my Author Facebook page twenty five times. 

Each post is a quarter toward improv..

--Post on my personal facebook page fifty times. 

Each post is a quarter toward improv.

--Comment on one hundred and fifty facebook posts. 

Each comment is a quarter toward improv but they must be genuine and add real value

---Participate in Do You Have Goals bloghop. 

Five dollars toward improv.

--Participate in The Insecure Writer's Support Group bloghop. 

Five dollars toward improv. 

--Write and post a book review.

Five dollars toward improv.

--Comment on fifty seven new blogs that I genuinely find interesting. Each comment is a quarter toward improv class.



So that's my April strategy. Have you ever experimented with a reward system for yourself? What has worked best for you? 


Friday, February 23, 2018

Do You Have Goals: Refusal of the Call


Happy Update Day! 

Today is a special day because . . .

I managed to return to the Got Gaols bloghop which is basically the same as winning at life.

If you don't know what the Got Goals bloghop is it is an ingenious blog hop hosted by the lovely Misha Gericke, author of  Twisted Earths, Mayhem in the Air,, Ghosts of Fire, and  Endless and Jen Garrett. Once a month writers with goals post about how they are proceeding with said goals. It's a beautiful opportunity to share with and encourage one another as we plunge down the long and winding road of writerdom together.

Check out THIS LINK if you are interested in joining.

My ultimate goal is to make a living off of my writing. (For me that would be around $40,000 a year). I'm starting with baby steps though. 

Let's see how I did with my goals in February, shall we? 
  • Reconnect with myself. Feed my soul. Find my drive
---- Mindfulness. Weekly visits to the monastery (Ongoing) CHECK. I did miss one week but I'm still going to consider this one completed
---- Gratitude journal (Ongoing) FAILED. I did not write in my gratitude journal once. 
----Improv class (Complete-able. I intend to take a total of four classes (seven weeks each) throughout the year) CHECK. First seven week class completed!
---- Progressive Relaxation (Complete-able. I want to do this every day for three months) FAILED. I did not do progressive relaxation once. 
---- Physical therapy exercises (Complete-able. I want to do this every day for three months) FAILED. I did not do my physical therapy exercises once. 
----- Yoga (Ongoing.) CHECK. It took me until the month was almost over to get back in the swing of yoga but I DID eventually renew my membership at the yoga gym I go to and I did start going regularly again
-----Meditation (Ongoing.) I'm going to give myself a half check for this one. I started out really strong and then started hitting snooze on my alarm instead of getting up for that extra fifteen minutes of mental check in.
----Go for walks, specifically on my break at work (Ongoing.) Another half check. I did go a few times throughout the month but not every day as I had intended. 
---- 50/50 vegetable/ not vegetable ratio (Complete-able. When I've done this every day for three weeks I will move on to my next dietary goal) CHECK
--- Keep house clean (Ongoing) CHECK
---Write in my dream journal  (Ongoing) FAILED. I did not write down a single dream 
  • Find True Love. Because it exists
--- Look for and appreciate evidence of love around me
---- Spend quality time with those who value me

There were actually some surprising developments on this but I don't want to say too much just yet. 
  • Finish writing and publish NIGHT BRIARS
Specific tasks for February to move me towards this goal are:

--- Carve out time to write. Six hours a week. My production schedule says that the first draft needs to be typed (It's mostly in hand written at the moment) by the end of February. FAILED. I'm not even going to give myself a half check on this one even though I did get SOME writing done. I still have a whole chapter before I'm done with the hand written draft so I'm veeeeerrry behind schedule. 
---Read at poetry readings. I'm going to attend four before next update day. Half Check. I only read at one poetry reading. 
--- Post poetry and writing updates I'll give myself the goal of fourteen writer related posts before next update day. Half Check. I didn't actually count the writing related posts but it was more like six. It's still a start but not the goal I had set for myself. 
---Participate in Do You Have Goals bloghop This is to say I will actually return next month. CHECK! Here I am, doing this one now. Yay!
---Organize and attend one Crit Group CHECK

7 Checks
4 Half Checks
5 Fails 

Not as bad as I thought but still a long way from where I wanted to be. I'm particularly disappointed that I didn't get much actual writing done. I want to change that this next month so that's where I have to make the difficult decision. 

Am I going to double down on my efforts for March or ease up on my expectations of myself? 

A little bit of both. 

In improv class they talk a lot about "Yes and" and the power of saying yes. It's a beautiful reminder to be open with the world and always be ready to create new possibilities where you didn't expect them. There's a nuance to the concept though that I think is not always fully recognized.

Because saying "Yes" to one thing often means saying "No" to something else. If you're saying "Yes" to healthy skin, for example, you have to say "No" to the donuts your coworkers bring into the office.  And you have to KEEP saying "No" or you will never get that clear, beautiful skin. 

So if I want to say "YES, OH YES" to a finished and typed draft of Night Briars I will need to start saying "No" to some of my other goals and habits. 


So, with that in mind, here are my March goals:
  • Reconnect with myself. Feed my soul. Find my drive
---- Mindfulness. I have registered for a five day retreat at a Monastery. I'm super psyched about it. Hoping I learn lots of useful things about myself. 
----- Yoga.  The goal is to attend five classes a week like I used to
-----Meditation. Fifteen minutes a day. No snoozing this time! 
----Go for walks, specifically on my break at work. Every work day unless it's raining. 
----Actually use my sit-stand for at least two hours every work day. 
---- 80/20 vegetable/ not vegetable ratio.
--- Keep house clean.
  • Find True Love. Because it exists
--- Look for and appreciate evidence of love around me
---- Spend quality time with those who value me
----Practice telling people what I need from them
  • Finish writing and publish NIGHT BRIARS
--- Carve out time to write. Eight hours a week. My production schedule says that the first draft needs to be typed (It's mostly in hand written at the moment) by the end of February so I"m already behind schedule. If I have to bribe myself with brunch out every Saturday and Sunday to get it done, so be it! 
---Read at poetry readings or storytelling events. I'm going to attend four before next update day.  That's about one every week.
--- Post poetry and writing updates. I'll give myself the goal of fourteen writer related posts before next update day.
---Participate in Do You Have Goals bloghop.
--Participate in The Insecure Writer's Support Group bloghop 
---Organize and attend one Crit Group