The Freedom Journal Journey: Starting is the Hardest Part

So, I’ve been rocking out the Freedom Journal for a week now (yes, rocking it!) and I have to say, I am pretty pumped about my progress. It’s amazing how one simple change can affect an entire mindset. I now have chapter ideas, some chapter descriptions, pages of notes, an overall theme and an elevator pitch for a project I’ve been putting off for at least 6 months. I’ve worked on it every single day for a week when just a month ago I’d barely touched it since I had the idea.

So, yay for the Freedom Journal!

And, as I’ve used this book to achieve daily goals that have pushed me closer to my overall goal (finish my book in 100 Days), I’ve learned a few things about myself and the way I work.

Some Things I’ve learned:

  • Working on a project every day (even if it’s just a little) helps me think about it, even when I’m not working on it
  • I don’t always get the goals completed the way they are written, and that’s ok
  • I start to look forward to the moment where I get to work to accomplish the goals I set down
  • Once I’ve written it in the book, I feel guilty if I don’t complete it

And, most importantly, I have learned (even though it’s been told to me over and over and I’ve read it everywhere that talks about setting and establishing goals):

 

  • Actually getting started is the hardest part.

I may have to force myself to sit down at the computer. I may have to take my computer into bed or get out a notebook or just start by reading a writing book for a few minutes. I may have to tell myself I am just going to write down one quick sentence or idea and then stop.

But, no matter what I do to get started, once I start, I keep going.

No matter how tired I am when I start, I get a burst of energy.

No matter how long I said I would work, I go longer.

And, I almost always go beyond the goals I have set.

They say that in working out, actually going to the gym is the hardest part. Well, in writing, actually turning off the TV, getting off the social media, actually putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, is definitely the hardest part. And, once you figure out you are over the slump, you’re golden. Why stop now if it’s going to be that hard to get started again? Hell, let’s just write the whole thing in one sitting. Ok, that might be a stretch. But, you get the point.

So, I’m on Day 7 of the Freedom Journal Journey and what have I learned so far?

Start. Just start. Everything after that gets easier, I swear.
getting started

The Freedom Journal Journey: Here Goes Nothing

So, I’ve got this book I wanna write. Big surprise, right? Look, a writer that wants to write a book. Want another big surprise? I’m not writing it. I started it…and stopped. I kept trying to get back to it and stopped again. Whoa, shocker. A writer with an incomplete book.

But, that’s a thing. It’s a common thing. But, it doesn’t have to be.

I want to stop complaining about my unfinished work and start being proud of my finished work.

I Did a Thing

So, to give myself a little kick in the butt and complete this book I’ve been talking about writing for a while, I bought The Freedom Journal, created by John Lee Dumas. The Freedom Journal is basically an outline for accomplishing one goal in 100 days. But, the goal must be a SMART goal. This means it is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. You make mini goals to accomplish in 10-day sprints, track what works and what doesn’t, and by the end, your goal is accomplished. Easy, right? FJ1

Well, the goal of the journal is to make it easier. And it seemed perfect for me because I thrive on deadlines, definitely need accountability and absolutely need small, specific tasks to focus on when trying to accomplish a larger goal.

So, I am doing it. And I am going to blog about my journey. Lucky you.

My First Thoughts:

The first step in my journey was to simply peruse the journal. See what was ahead and what I could expect on a day-to-day basis. These were some of my thoughts as I leafed through it, browsed the website and checked out the Facebook group.

  • Holy cow, can I really do this?
  • Is there really room for so much structure in the creative process?
  • I’m going to have to outline, aren’t I?
  • This is so un-panster like of me.
  • I don’t know how many pages I want this to be
  • I don’t have any idea what I want this to be
  • Can I really just crank through such a personal project? (it’s a non-fiction book)
  • This is very business-y. I’m not a business-y person.
  • I set a BIG goal AND A bunch of little goals? I’m not even good at setting one goal.
  • I can already see this pretty book sitting on my desk, halfway completed in about 50 days….

And then I realized that all these thoughts I was having, am still having, are exactly why I NEED the Freedom Journal in the first place.

Time to Convert

Yes, I am a panster, and typically proud of it. But, where has that gotten me so far? Yes, I have a few completed books, but they are two books in an incomplete trilogy. They’ve been thrown together and torn apart with no real plan on how to glue them back into place. Being a panster got me this far, but now I have no idea where to go. Because I didn’t have a plan.FJ2

Now, thanks to the Freedom Journal I have a plan. I have a goal and lots of little goals. I also have a support system. And, I am excited. I know that I’ve had a lot of ideas and plans that have come and gone. You’ve witnessed it on this blog. But the important thing is that I am trying again. And when I complete this journey, I hope it shows any other Resistant Writers out there that even the most goal resistant, panster of a writer can set and stick with goals.

Or, I’ll end up with a really fancy doorstop.

Stay tuned…

The next step in my journey is to set my SMART goal and plan the first couple of days. 

gotthis

Networking for Writers Who Hate to Public: Getting Started

In my last post, I laid out a scary truth. Writers should be networking. And while many of you already knew this, it’s still scary. And it’s tough to figure out where to start. Writing is a whole different ballgame than say sales or marketing.

Or is it? 

hamsterstare

 

When writers set out to tell their work, they begin to don many hats. They suddenly have a product to sell, a persona (which is a businessy term that writers should know and refers to the “character” you want to present to the public) to push and sales to make. And, depending on their publishing contract (or lack thereof), they may be doing all of this themselves.

I know, just the thought of putting on pants and talking to people is scary enough let alone talking about all those hats, even if they are cute hats. But don’t worry, there is good news. In today’s world, there are a lot of different ways you can network…and some might not even involve leaving the house.

BUT wait…yes, there’s a but…

Where to Start?

And here it is: I am going to contradict myself for a minute and say you might have to go out in public. A little. At first. You might have to talk to some folks. Strike up some conversations. *Ducks as you swing at me* Trust me, the more you do it, the easier it gets!

But, before you put on your pants, let’s head to the Google. There are a few things we need to look for.

Writer’s Groups

Start searching for writer’s groups in your area. The Capital City Writers Association, for instance, is in Mid-Michigan and is a fabulous place to start. They even have programs you can participate in online. There will be groups in your area. Find them. They may have membership fees. Pay it. The people you meet in these groups will not only offer a sense of camaraderie you can only get from meeting other writers, but they will have their own networks you will slowly be introduced to and connected with. And, it’s ok if you’re a little awkward. They are too.

Meetup

Another great place to start is Meetup.com. Just Google Meetup and your city. If you don’t have an account you can set one up and they will ask about your interests and curate meetups for you. You’ll get to see other people attending, learn what they do and see how often they meet. You can even leave comments to break the ice before just showing up. Or, try some author readings. Simply sit, listen, and maybe shake a few hands after the event.

Facebook Events

You know those creepy ads and sponsored posts that follow you around Facebook and are scarily accurate? Creepy, yes. But also super helpful. Facebook knows you. It knows what you like and what events will interest you. Listen to it. Try out a few of the things it suggests. Show your face to your local writing community. Get some contact info. You’ll need it.

Once you do this a few times you will be allowed to once again retreat back into writerly seclusion, I promise.

While the people you meet may not be business connections or publishers or even people that know how to get published, they are people who know people. And remember my last post? That will help you later.  

Oh yea, they’re also fun.

And the other writers won’t judge you if it’s the first time you’ve been out of your house in a month.
Now that you’re exhausted from publicing so hard, take a break. My next posts will show you how to Network from the confines of your very own home.

Miss my last post? Figure out why, as scary as it is, you need to be networking. 

Yes, Writers, You Need to *Gulp* Network (Here’s Why)

So, there’s this thing that I used to fear. I would avoid it all costs and when I had to do it I would get all nervous, sometimes sweat a lot, forget my own name and usually drink a little to help me get through it. But, there were always people telling me to do it, that everyone was doing it and I would feel better when it was over. And, this was one instance where the voices of peer pressure were actually right. Continue reading “Yes, Writers, You Need to *Gulp* Network (Here’s Why)”

Supposed To Syndrome

There’s a disease spreading through the general population and it can be hazardous to our health. It can eek into our everyday lives, infecting our insides and spreading to our loved ones. The more we let it affect us, the more it affects others. It’s called Supposed to Syndrome and it is spread simply by speaking. Continue reading “Supposed To Syndrome”

Seventh Inning Heat Hits a Home Run (Or, How I found myself reading romance & using baseball puns)

(BTW, Yes. Yes, this is a Kissing Book)

When I first started reading “Seventh Inning Heat,” by Lyssa Kay Adams (Book 1 in The Vegas Aces Series) I was simply reading it because she is my friend and a fellow author and I wanted to support her. I don’t typically read romance. I don’t usually read about sports (or watch sports or talk about sports). It is a book I never would have picked up if it weren’t for the obligation I felt toward my friend. BUT, that feeling of obligation disappeared after only a few pages. Soon, I was reading for me. I was reading for the characters. And I was reading because the writing was amazing. Continue reading “Seventh Inning Heat Hits a Home Run (Or, How I found myself reading romance & using baseball puns)”

I Found a Hobby Not Related to Writing, and I Won’t Feel Guilty About It

For most of my life, writing has been my passion. It’s always been one of my only passions. Then it became my passion, my hobby and my job.  I’ve never had many other things I could say I was really excited about. As I got older I discovered Geek Culture and going to Conventions and now I would definitely call that a hobby. But, for the most part, I’ve never had anything else that I really enjoyed doing outside of writing and reading (and a lot of the time reading was simply used to fuel my writing).   Continue reading “I Found a Hobby Not Related to Writing, and I Won’t Feel Guilty About It”

A Writer’s Out of Body Experience

Sometimes, It Hits You…

The other day, I was sitting in a bustling coffee shop while the snow fell haphazardly outside and the wind blew furiously. Folks on either side of me were engrossed in their work, leaned forward toward their computer screens or immersed in vibrant conversation. My computer was open in front of me, the Economist in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. I was engrossed in the words in front of me, trying to decipher the language in the article I was using to research an assignment due the next week and bopping my foot to the Indie Rock dancing out of my headphones when it hit me.

I caught the scene as though I were outside of my body looking in and saw myself sitting there, reading and researching for an article that I would write that would then be published and I would get paid for, and I realized- Yup. I am a writer.

imawriter

As kids, we all have those milestones that, when we reach them, will signify that we have in fact grown up and reached a new level of maturity. Like, when I can drive I will feel like a grown up. Nope, that didn’t do it…maybe when I can vote…or when I move out…when I get married? We are constantly waiting for that next moment that will tell us we have arrived in a new phase of life.

I think writers experience something similar. Especially if they are slowly transitioning into the world of writing to make money. We rely on these invisible milestones to tell us that we have finally become professional writers. Like setting up a home office, or establishing an LLC or waiting for that first day you don’t have to go into an office. We are constantly waiting.

We rely on invisible milestones to tell us we have finally becomes #writers, and we shouldn't. Click To Tweet

And then, we realize, we are just spending our whole lives waiting for the next level.

waiting

Stop Waiting…

So, when I caught this out of body image of myself toiling away in a coffee shop while I was once suffering through 8 hours of answering phones or scheduling appointments, I savored it. I may wonder from day to day where my next paycheck will be coming from. I may wish I had the traditional benefits and insurance of a 40 hr, 9-5 job and I definitely face challenges every single day. But, I would rather be facing these challenges knowing that I am doing something I love, rather than stressing over a job I hate.

So, whatever your situation, whether writing is your job or your passion (or both!), stop waiting for the next level or next step to tell you that you have reached some invisible goal. The next time you are sitting down to write, take a moment and take it in. You are doing what you love. You are choosing to pursue your dream and no matter where you are in that pursuit, that’s a big deal. Take a look around, smile and say, “Yup. I’m a writer.”

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Have you ever had an Ah-ha moment where you looked up and realized you were doing exactly what you’ve always wanted to do? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Don’t Snooze Your Life Away

Ugh, Mondays. Amiright?

Your weekend was probably great. You probably did all the things. Or, even better, did none of the things. Maybe you lounged. Maybe you focused on your writing or curled up in your favorite spot with a good book. Or, maybe you spent your days running kids from activity to activity. Whatever you did, my guess is that when that alarm went off this morning, you wanted your weekend back. Continue reading “Don’t Snooze Your Life Away”

When Thinking Hurts My Writing, I Don’t Think

Writing Is Like Breathing (But not in the way you would expect)

Have you ever tried to concentrate on your breathing?

Like, during a meditation or when the doctor tells you to take a deep breath while he’s listening to your heart? Ever notice what happens? Suddenly, the simple act of breathing in becomes incredibly difficult. You’re in the middle of breathing in when he quickly tells you to breath out, but you’re not done breathing in and you don’t have enough air sucked to complete a full breath out and what does oxygen taste like again and why is your heart beating so hard and it’s a wonder you’re not passed out in a gutter somewhere if breathing is this damn difficult… Continue reading “When Thinking Hurts My Writing, I Don’t Think”