Under Pressure

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about being under pressure and how that affects your writing. I came up with this after going through my own ‘dry’ period and wrote about it here.

For some, being under pressure works. It can motivate you to push yourself harder and further in your writing. That kind of pressure can get you to try new forms of writing, submit to that magazine (that you think is out of reach) or start a new writing project. It can help.

For others (like me recently), being under pressure doesn’t help. It turns our brains into mush, keeping us from writing a coherent thought. Pressure can be intimidating and makes the road to publishing daunting.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. I have a couple of tips that can help you depressurize and get back to your writing.

1. List all of the things that are bugging you. Even the small act of writing out our stresses can lighten the load and helps get the junk out.

2. Separate the things that you can change and the things you can’t. There’s so much that we think about that is out of our control. The weather, the economy, gas prices – there’s just too much out there that we can’t do anything about. So why worry about it? Get rid of the stuff that you can’t fix and work on the things you can.

3. Figure out ways to deal with the things you can change. Maybe change your writing schedule or read a good book. Take a walk or start a journal. Your power is in your hands and you can make your writing happen. No one else can do that for you. Life will continue on without you anyway, so focus on the stuff that matters to you.

4. Give yourself a break. Being under pressure can be hard because you feel you don’t have a chance to breathe. Take five minutes or 30 seconds to just sit and breathe. Take in the oxygen (good stuff) and get rid of the carbon dioxide (bad stuff).  The act of deep breathing (if you allow it) can calm you down and prepare you for the next step.

Life is hard and we all know that. These tips have helped me let go of the junk, empowered me to get back on the horse and allowed me to write again. I just wanted to share with you the tricks that get me through challenging days. Feel free to share what helps you Freshman Writers release pressure and write.

Happy Writing!

Need Inspiration – Take a Walk

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post came from my walk this morning.

When I heard the weather this morning (62 degrees), I decided to walk to work today. The 20 minutes of solitude was great. It allowed me to run through the things I did yesterday, things I needed to do today and things that were picking at my brain.

Sans Ipod, I was able to think about goals, dreams and tasks. I also enjoyed the silence of the morning. There were a few birds chirping, but there was silence for the most part to join me on the walk. 20 minutes was enough to bring me clarity about things that were bugging me and inspired this post.

Writers, if you stuck on a piece or can’t get yourself organized to write – go for a walk. Stepping away from writing for a while can help you stop, breathe and think so that you can get back to it.

Happy Walking and Writing!

Writing & Self Confidence

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Freshman Writers, self-confidence makes a difference. Writing is hard enough without us writers being down on ourselves and/or our writing.

I recently confessed to a couple of writer pals my aversion to entering contests. I don’t want to be measured against other writers and found lacking in someway. Logically, I know that every time I apply for a writing job, I am measured against other writers or at least a writing standard.

But, I find it challenging to enter a contest, because there is a first, second, and third place in it. There may or may not be a cash prize or a prize at all except knowing that one’s writing has come out on top against so many others who entered.

I’ve entered a couple of contests sporadically in my writing life. Two as a matter of fact. But, to constantly push myself to enter so much, no way.

What I do focus on is writing that I know will help others in someway. To me that is the purpose of my writing. I want to be able to help others gain insight, set/accomplish goals, or even make the decision to let the writing come out.

I also focus on my accomplishments as a writer. I’ve been writing consistently for several years now; I’m complimented on my writing style at the day job and I’ve been blogging for a few years about various issues. Reader comments and compliments are also a big help to boosting my self-confidence.

I guess I wanted to share this with you Freshman Writers so that you know you’re not alone in dealing with self-confidence issues and writing. And to let you know that sometimes a kick in the rear end from a great pal is enough to get you started again.

Happy Writing!

PS – Thanks to Gary and Abielle for your encouragement and support today. You’re amazing friends and writers!

5 Tips to Curb Self-Doubt

Hiya Freshman Writers! I’m back on the scene after a long time away and ready to help you Freshman Writers with your writing goals. I got the idea for this post on self-doubt after writing about my own writing challenges this summer. You can read that here and let me know what you think. Can you relate?

Since I know many writers (anyone really) struggle with self-doubt, I’ve come up with some tips to help you Freshman Writers look self-doubt in the face and kick its butt! Here you go:

1. Acknowledge that you have doubts. Everyone has them from time to time. Rather than admit that I was doubting my writing talent, I avoided it instead. Til it came to bite me in the rear end. Admit that you have them because then you can deal with them.

2. Let a friend know about your doubts. It’s always good to have a cheerleader, someone on your side who wants your dream to come true as much as you do. Freshman Writers, you cannot go it alone. A cheerleader has faith in you, can pick you up and help you see what they see – a talented writer.

3. Connect with your mentors. If you don’t have a writing mentor, get one. It can be someone you chat with online or someone you can meet with regularly to talk about writing, goals and life in general.  Also subscribe to free newsletters from your favorite writers. It may not be the same as having a personal relationship with your mentor, but that nudge in your inbox can motivate you to get writing.

4. Get back to basics. In a previous post, I wrote about how to return to the beginning of your writing journey. By remembering how you did things during a successful time, you can see what works to get rid of your doubts.

5. Be good to yourself. My biggest challenge in the last few months was taking care of myself. I didn’t sleep well, didn’t have much of an appetite and couldn’t really take a break. Check out this post where I share tips on avoiding burn-out. Remember that your writing is affected by anything and everything affecting you. Taking care of yourself allows you to take care of your writing.

6. Finally, recognize that you’ll screw up. You are going to have doubts. Period. There’s no way to get around that reality, but there are ways to curb it. Just do what works best to get you believing in yourself and writing again.

I hope these tips are as helpful to you as they have been to me so far. I’ve been slowly working to get each one up and running as well as my writing. Treat yourself well and remember that you have the talent within. You just need to work to get it out.

Happy Writing!

Back from Hiatus – Sort of

Hello Freshman Writers! I’m back from a much needed break. Since my last post, I’ve been resting, destressing and spending quality time with kiddo. In addition, I’ve been looking for a new job, which is my biggest challenge. A crazy schedule keeps me from spending quality time with kiddo during the week. So, I’m looking for something better.

I’ve been journaling often and focusing on finding my joy again. If you want to read about it, check out my recent post here. Can you relate?

I will be writing on the site though right now I’m not sure of the schedule. I want to ease back into it while maintaining my joy and peace. So, keep checking back here Freshman Writers for more editorials, quotes and other thoughts for beginning writers. Take care!

Taking Rest

Hiya Freshman Writers and happy Tuesday! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about a topic that I find myself going back to frequently. Mostly, due to my own challenges in getting enough rest.

This past weekend found me enjoying four days of doing mostly nothing, including writing, which is why there was no Fav Friday or editorial yesterday.

For me, the greatest challenge is making sure to keep my plate 85% full. I tend to get overwhelmed when I have so much to worry about. And I do. I’m a single working parent with a full-time AND part-time job. Granted, my part-time job is online, but I tend to get glued to my computer and not give myself enough time to simply rest.

So, this weekend, I did that. I went to a couple of barbecues, but I slept in a lot and took several naps. I also stayed off the computer most of the time. I tweeted and responded to emails from my blackberry, though.

Not only trying to take rest, I’m also cutting things out. I recently dropped out of a writing class that I’d been wanting to take for the last couple of years. Yes, it bothered me to drop something I’d enjoy, but I couldn’t focus enough to do even the first assignment! You see, exhaustion and stress have been wreaking havoc on my eating and sleeping habits. Mostly coming from the day job though partly from stressors stemming from single parenthood.

Bottom line, I need a break. So, this past weekend was the beginning. Next weekend, I’m off on a women’s weekend retreat. It’s local enough for me to get to, but far enough away from everything that I can enjoy my time away.

So Freshman Writers, what’s stressing you and how are you taking rest?

Happy Writing!

Catching up

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. First, I’d like to apologize for not posting the Fav Friday item last week. Overwhelmed with the day job and home issues, I’m back on track today. So I’d like to give you a two for one deal this morning.

What would have been my Fav Friday item is my subscription to The Writer Magazine. I love this magazine for its straightforward advice about the work of writing. Not only does it provide info on various genres and forms of writing, but it is also offers exercises to boost creativity and get you writing. I’ve had my subscription for a year, but purchased individual magazines here and there up until I found I was getting it more often.

Now, the editorial. Ever find yourself so overwhelmed that you have to take a break in order to catch up? That was me in the last week. I found myself having to deal with one task at a time until completion. This was hard for me because I’m used to multi-tasking regularly.

But, I just could not seem to catch up with myself. I felt like I was rushing through everything and still not getting anything done. So, I took a break from writing and even reading about writing. I’ve been focusing so much on learning the craft and using writer-speak all the time, that I forgot everything else.

In order for writing to have life and be found credible by the reader, you need to feed it. How do you feed your writing? Live your life. As simple as that sounds, it isn’t. You’d think that I’d be able to do that since I have so much on my plate. Only trouble was my plate was too heavy and I couldn’t focus on anything except the weight and pressure coming from it.

The good thing is that I recognize that. Another good thing, the plate has gotten a bit lighter. I’ve made decisions, completed tasks and have decided to take time to relax away from the day job. By taking small steps, Freshman Writers, I’ve found that I’ve got a much more positive outlook. I feel like I can accomplish goals.

So Freshman Writers, what do you do to catch up when you’ve fallen behind? What advice/tips would you like to share with other writers? What works for you?

Happy Writing!

Falling Behind

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing.

I fell behind this week. Due to a bad head cold, I spent two days in bed and even missed work on Monday. Sometimes life gets in the way, causing us to stop everything. So I fell behind in my writing and this is the first bit I’ve done so far this week. But, I’ve decided to use it to write. Let me explain.

What do you do if you fall behind? Do you have a positive outlook or do you go along with your negativity? Do you let that negativity fester or do you attempt to get it out? One of the best things to write about is our emotions. How we react to and how we feel about something says a great deal about the kind of person we are. And that helps us with our writing.

Often times, we can get stuck on a character (if we’re fiction writers) or an theme (non-fiction) and end up leaving that manuscript aside. But, when we’re falling behind due to a life event outside of our writing, that event can be the very thing that puts us back on track.

Write down how you feel when you’ve lagged behind. Give details and try to answer the Five W’s – Who, what, when where and why. Not only can you gain personal insight through this exercise, you can also use it when you’re building a character in a story. For non-fiction writers, you can use this as an exercise in getting the junk out so that you can have access to your theme. Then go back to your previous work-in-progress.

Remember that everything you go through can be used in your writing. Whether you’re developing a character or writing about life events. If you fall behind, use your personal experiences to catch you up and get back on track.

Happy Writing!

Taking on too much

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about taking on too much. Even if you are at the beginning of your writing journey, you can take on too much and be easily overwhelmed.

I spent Easter Sunday in City Island with my father, his girlfriend and my son. I was so excited about going because it had been years since I had been there. I spent many weekend afternoons there with my parents as a child and the magic of it hasn’t changed. And this time I was able to share it with my son.

Well, my eyes feasted themselves on a dozen fried shrimp, half a dozen raw clams and fries. Chasing all of that with a pina colada, I knew that I should’ve stopped halfway. I was shocked that I could walk back to the car as stuffed as I was. After running around at a local park, I was still stuffed, but not so much that I couldn’t add a strawberry ice cream sundae. See where I’m going with this Freshman Writers?

Instead of slowing down and really gauging how much I could take on (in this case – food), I kept going and going. Last night, I felt the effects of my chowdown and was sick to my stomach. It was a late lunch so I skipped dinner. Obviously, I skipped dinner.

The lesson here Freshman Writers is to see what is ahead of you, look at what you have on your plate right now and analyze what you can and cannot do. This same concept works for many situations, but especially for writers.

I recently had to let go of a possible writing job because I saw that I could not do the work. After all, with a full time job, part time job, my son and other responsibilities I have, there was no way that I could do the tasks outlined. So I let it go. It was hard because it was a decent paying job with opportunities for growth, but it wasn’t for me.

Freshman Writers, learn to see what you are capable of doing and how much time you have to devote to it. Writing can be a career; you just have to plan it out. And when you can’t, your best bet is to slow down, regroup and start over.

Happy Writing!

Overwhelmed?

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about being overwhelmed and ways to overcome it.

All of us get overwhelmed from time to time. Whether it comes from family responsibilities, work or writing. We can fall behind due to different factors such as emergencies, illness, etc. How are some ways you can deal with this?

1. Plan. The first step to combatting the overwhelming feeling is to plan effectively. Create a writing plan that works around your schedule and utilizes your peak writing times. For me, that is in the mornings. When I get up early to write, I feel that my day has started off on the right foot. I have my writing time scheduled in my planner and it works well for me. Find what plan works for you.

2. Take it slow. Sometimes Freshman Writers want to rush through the writing process to get published. This does not work. By taking your time to study your writing process, you can better gauge how much work you can or cannot take on. You can also see how much writing you can do and change your goals to reflect your writing speed.

3. Take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough rest and schedule time to have fun. Being overwhelmed can be a result of too much work and no fun. Schedule time to relax and recharge your batteries regularly.

Hopefully, these tips will help you meet your goals and keep from being overwhelmed. Let me know how they work for you. Happy Writing!