Stop, Look and Listen

It is easy to get caught up in negativity. We all do it, even me. Just yesterday, I missed out on precious “me-time” because someone failed to come through for me. As a single mom of two boys, “me-time” is very precious indeed and hasn’t been coming my way easily these days.

Stop

I was so upset that I had to stop. Everything had to stop. I stopped cleaning, stopped doing other things and sat with my feelings. I was angry, sad, frustrated and lonely. I had to really look at my feelings to acknowledge and work through them.

Look

I took out my journal and listened to my heart. Writing out all of those feelings. I poured them out onto the page. I asked God to let me have the right words to say when I next addressed the person who let me down or to just take my words away and let me say nothing at all. I cried as I wrote. I wiped my tears away, closed my journal and got back to what I was doing before.

Listen

The act of acknowledging my feelings in real time allowed me to work through them and let go. It allowed me to step back and release my anger so that later on when I saw that person, I could just be. I avoided what would have been a big argument that would have really upset me and my boys. We were all able to have a good night simply because I stopped, looked at my feelings and listened to my heart. Sometimes I end up holding on to negative emotions especially when the other person (or anything outside of us really) is someone I cannot change. I can only change myself. Period.

Why is it important to stop, look and listen?

I had to stop what I was doing because I was unable to focus in the moment because of my anger. I had to look at the feelings, sit with them and listen to myself for a little while. And it really was only a little while. 5 minutes, in fact. In that tiny bit of time, I wrote out my feelings, why I was upset and asked for help. In the end, this ability has helped me pass through difficult times rather than making them worse.

And no, it isn’t easy to follow this process. It takes time to practice something everyday so that it can become habit. Do it no matter what feeling you have. Stop, look and listen even when you’re happy, sad, excited, whatever. Do it everyday and it will become as natural as breathing. In this way, you’ll be able to zero in on your emotions, acknowledge and then release them.

 

Self-Care: Using Creative Projects

Self-Care is very important to me. I talk about it at work, home and online. But, I do that because I find that people just don’t take good care of their emotional and physical health. I find parents and anyone working with families tend to feel very stressed out. Taking care of yourself allows you to live happy and healthy.

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Information Overload?

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about information overload. There is no shortage of ways we can get the information we need and even the information we don’t need. According to Brownielocks, October 20th is Information Overload Day.

I know I get very overwhelmed by all of the information out in the world especially that on cyberspace. Here are some tips to keep information from overloading you.

1. Find the one medium that works best for you. These days we can get information from television, radio and online. Figure out which of these is more convenient and practical for you. Stick with the one you use most and chuck the rest.

2. Clean out your inbox. I’m an email junkie. I admit it, I have an email problem. Recently, I went through my inboxes (I have three) and deleted emails that I simply don’t read anymore. I also unsubscribed from any groups or subscription lists that just take up space. If you don’t read it, you don’t need it.

3. Limit the number of email addresses you have. I have one for fun, one for writing and one that I’ve kept for a million years because it was my very first email address. By keeping separate accounts, I’ve found that I can better organize my information.

4. Life is busy, but multi-tasking can make it worse. I read my personal emails on my way to work. I have my emails connected to my Blackberry so I have them organized there. Since I commute to work, it saves me time to read and reply to emails. But, I’ve also learned to put my phone away one stop before I get off. I’ve missed my stop once or twice because of my inbox.

5. Check in on your lunchhour. Lunchtime is a great time to check your email or catch up on your favorite bloggers.

6. Limit your RSS Feeds. I LOVE to read and have subscribed to several blogs. But, I reached the point of hating the number of feeds that I get and don’t have time to read. So as I cleaned out my inbox, I also cleaned out my RSS Feeds. Again, if I don’t read it, I don’t need it.

Hopefully, these tips can keep you from being overloaded. And remember, information helps you write, but too much can keep you from writing. Happy Writing!

 

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!

A Belated Happy Anniversary

Hello once again Freshman Writers! As always, I hope this finds you well and writing.

Wanted to reach out to all of you Freshman Writers to thank you for coming along for the ride for the last two years. Yep, The Freshman Writer’s been around for two years and continues to challenge me to do more to help out beginning writers. Thank you so much for reading and commenting and sharing your stories with me.

That being said, I wanted to get back on track with posting here. My goal for now is to have two posts up a week. I think I overdid it with posting three times a week considering that I have a very demanding day job as well as writing projects to work on in addition to being a single mom.

My hope is to continue sharing great tips, advice and humor with you Freshman Writers and help you succeed. Feel free to ask questions and share what you’d like to see on The Freshman Writer.

Happy Writing!

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!

Fav Friday

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s Fav Friday item is a retreat. A few weeks ago after speaking with my spiritual director about the stressful dayjob, he recommended that I go on a women’s retreat locally.

I haven’t been on a retreat since my son was three and that was six years ago! So, this weekend I’m heading to a retreat center right after work tomorrow. Kiddo will be with his father while I enjoy a whole weekend to myself trying to find my peace and spirit again.

I have a lot on my mind and I haven’t been able to write except for my posts here. So I thank you Freshman Writers for coming back to check in. It motivates me to keep writing for you. 🙂

That being said, I will be sharing my experience with you and let you know how it went. I hope that if you need a break from everything that you consider going on a retreat just so you can recharge and reset yourselves.

Happy Weekend Freshman Writers!

Notable Quotable

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s quote follows this week’s editorial about establishing boundaries.

As writers, you must set the tone and let others know that writing is your priority. Thanks to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, here’s a quote that will inspire you Freshman Writers to get those boundaries in place and you to writing.

Happy Writing!

‘Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe