My Writing Zone

Finding time for everything I want to do in life is hard. I’m a mother, a wife, an editor, a daughter. I have pets and a new home to care for. My littlest is two months old, and I’m just now bouncing back from his birth (which is amazing considering the trauma I overcame with my first). I have a toddler who keeps me on my toes. You might as well call him my “work-out routine” because I’d probably never leave the couch if it weren’t for him. I give myself 100% to all of my jobs and it’s exhausting, but I love it. So, today I thought I’d share what motivates me to write and edit since I was asked recently what helps me get “in the zone” to accomplish my writing goals.

Writing and editing are me. I have hobbies and things I enjoy doing other than reading but writing and editing make me feel like myself. This is so important after becoming a mother. So many parents lose themselves, their passions, sacrifice their dreams and jobs for their children, and after the hardship of recovering from birth the first time around I had to find something that was ultimately MINE. Writing and editing are mine.

When my toddler was around one-years-old, I decided I desperately needed to have something that reminded me of me, something that made me feel like myself again. So, I started beta reading, and loved it. I loved it so much I decided to start critiquing manuscripts. Then I learned about Camp Nano a little more and finished my own manuscript in a month. I felt on top of it all. My son was old enough to play alone for a while during my work hours–and I can set my own work hours which is awesome.

But things are more difficult with two. I don’t get to nap when baby naps because it’s a rare phenomenon when both babies are asleep at the same time. I have to stay up after everyone’s gone to bed if I want to get any of my own writing done, which I usually don’t do right now. I focus on getting editing done during the week. I set realistic goals (I divide the number of words in a document by the number of days I have ’til my deadline) and meet them. I add a few extra tasks on to this, like free first chapter reads and edits to bring in more clients or to help authors out who can’t afford an editor. And moreover, I’m still expected to take care of the house (which isn’t the priority right now).

So, what keeps me motivated and what keeps me in the writing zone? How can I do all of this and not be burnt out? I prioritize. Obviously, my kids take top priority. The little one sleeps off and on, so I take moments when he’s asleep to write things like this blog post. Writing this helps me wake up, gets my brain churning before I dive into reading or editing. My toddler spends the morning playing alone, watching cartoons, or playing learning games on his kindle, so I have a little time to think–sometimes. Sometimes, shit hits the fan. Sometimes no one sleeps, everyone is crying, whining and screaming. Sometimes the laundry has piled so high I feel like it will take years to complete. Sometimes writing takes a back seat, and that’s okay. I stay in the zone though. I’m never not thinking about my book, and the edits I must do for clients. And when I get the chance, I take notes on my phone, so I don’t forget the ideas I have.

What keeps me motivated to keep writing even when I can’t meet my goals is knowing writing and editing are mine. My computer is mine. I have a safe space with my writing buddies to brainstorm and chat–even if it’s not about writing. They keep me motivated by talking about their stories, talking about writing styles and rules, etc. Just talking about writing keeps me in the zone. I’m always itching to get back to my phone or computer even for just a moment because writing, #witlingwriter, and inkscript make me feel like me, and it makes me a happier person in life knowing I can still be appreciated for my talents and for being myself.

If you’re struggling to stay in the zone, remind yourself why you write. What are your long and short-term goals? How can you make them more reasonable, more realistic, so you can meet them? It may take longer than you hoped. You can’t always do it all and expect not to be burnt out. So, do what you can, even if it’s writing a few sentences a day during your lunch break. Be thinking about your work often, what excites you about it, what will excite readers. When you’re excited about your writing, you want to write. When you’re defeated, you procrastinate and feel like it’s not worth your time.

A few tips:

In your manuscript, find the last place that truly was a joy to write or excites you and start there. That might mean deleting everything you’ve written after that point. I know, scary. If you need to cut your paragraphs and save them on a separate sheet, do it. But I usually just toss it and start fresh. It turns out better the second time around.

Take some time away from your manuscript. Get a second pair of eyes on your draft. Pay for a manuscript critique. Brainstorm with other writers. People watch or read a book. Do something creative. Go for a walk. Read about writing.

How do you stay in the “Writing Zone?” Can you share some tips on how to get back in the groove of writing when you’re feeling defeated or feel yourself procrastinating? (And remember, not everyone can write every single day).

(It took me four hours to complete this blog post between babies. I probably have typos. This is my writing life.)

“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt

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“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I love this quote. It’s one of my favorites.

It’s hard not to compare yourself to others. As a writer, I struggle not to compare myself to published authors. I have to remind myself their books are finished products, while I’m still on my first draft. When I see new authors or friends in the writing community publish their first book, it makes me anxious to finish my WIP (work in progress). This can be motivating or can make you feel defeated, depending on how you let it affect you.

You’re your own worst enemy, not the writing community. Someone else’s success, good reviews, books published, support, etc. is not an intentional jab at your own work. Your self worth isn’t determined by someone else. Self worth is your own opinion and value of yourself. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

I wanted to post some encouragement today because there are hateful people in the world who love to watch others fail, who love to bring people down to boost their own selfish egos. These people are the ones who, at some point in their lives, let the negativity pull them down too. They let themselves fall prey to the trolls and their own jealousy/envy. They ultimately fail to make themselves feel better by trying to pull others down with them. Don’t let them defeat you. There’s nothing wrong with an ego boost now and again, but not at the expense of someone else’s feelings.

I’m not the kind of person who gets defeated easily by what others say. I appreciate constructive feedback and often give it. I take things with a grain of salt, and for my own sanity and peace of mind I block the trolls after giving them a piece of my mind. But some people take criticism hard. They take to heart the negativity, jokes or fake compliments, and it hurts their emotional stability.

Do you really want to be the type of person who breaks another writer’s spirit just because you feel irrationally threatened by them? I hope not.

I’m angry this weekend, for more reasons than one, but after dealing with similar attacks on social media, I’m pretty fed up. I’m sick of seeing petty shit from trolls or other writers, who tag along conversations and tear supportive groups apart. Sadly, creating supportive communities, hashtags and large threads of conversations lure these assholes out of hiding. I have a zero tolerance policy for them, along with the spammy bots who always follow. This is why I never feel bad about un-following, ignoring or blocking people, and you shouldn’t either. You don’t owe them anything. 

To those who dare to be petty enough to spew negativity to anyone I know: I’m not one to sit by and let this shit ruin my life or the lives of great friends and writers in my social community. I won’t hesitate to block your ass and make sure the rest of the writing community knows why I did. Don’t ruin your own reputation by being a dick to someone valued in the community. We all have similar goals and should be supporting each other, not tearing each other down.

To those who’ve been affected by the words or actions of others: Protect the peace of your mind and your heart. Block them. Face them. Have ME face them for you, I won’t hesitate to. Do whatever you need to do to get back your fighting and writing spirit because you’re worth so much more than their time and efforts to pull you down.

I hope this encourages someone today, and hope it gives others something to think about. Reflect on the things you’ve posted, keeping in mind how it will negatively affect someone else, and ask yourself if it’s worth it… Finally, stop comparing yourself to others.

“Comparison is the thief of Joy” – Theodore Roosevelt

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Where is Heather?

I’m here, I promise. Can’t you tell? I’ve changed my layout at least three times this week.

I’m just a little busy.

It’s not an excuse. Well, maybe it is, but it’s a good one this time. And, no, I’m not drinking wine as I write this…get out of here. Here’s what I’m up to:

On top of outlining and writing my own book, I’m revamping my website, adding free and paid services to the mix. What use is my degree in English if I’m not using it? And, I have all the time in the world–well, maybe not all day, but most of the day–to sit around and read your manuscripts and give you feedback.

Freelance Editing is the goal, so I’m brushing up on my editing skills. I’m still beta reading, but I’m fine-tuning the differences between my beta, critiques and editing feedback. I’m also continuing to post book reviews as I work my way through my TBR list.

I’ve learned a lot about track changes recently…who knew, right? I wish someone would have told me about this option before now. It would have come in handy in college. I’m giddy over the fact I can now do track changes in both google docs and microsoft word.

That’s a little of what I’ve been doing lately. I’m also hosting #winowip, and eventually #winowipchat, so check them out on twitter. We have fun!

*my services page is still under construction,
so please email me if you have specific questions or requests*

Writing Prompt #11

Talk about your favorite pair of shoes and why you love them so much.

Quick summary of what I wrote about today:

I wrote in third person, about a girl who is digging through her closet for a pair of shoes to wear. She picks through a pile of toddler shoes before finding a pair of heels she hasn’t worn since college. She cringes at the thought of wearing them now. She eyes the rest of her shoes then sighs and closes the door. Her bare feet smack on the hardwood as she walks away from the closet.

So, in short…

I wrote about reminiscing about a favorite pair of shoes…or, really, any shoes lol because I hate wearing them, and don’t unless I have to go out somewhere.

Writing Prompt #10

An alien has just abducted you. Give three reasons why it would send you back to earth.

What? Other than the fact I would annoy the crap out of them with more questions than they could ask me, or the fact that I’d have a toddler strapped to me? They wouldn’t last a day hanging out with us. Between the toddler and mommy tantrums, they’d just give up on me and move on. You’re welcome. I just save the Earth from invading aliens.