Power of the Mind

icon by eyesthatslay

icon by eyesthatslay

Lani Diane Rich has a great entry worth reading today over at Re-Inventing Fabulous. I’m a writer; no matter what other roles I play in life — and I play a lot — I am, and always have been, someone whose mind turns to how to frame a story.

This means an active imagination, which is great when it’s throwing out plot lines, visualizing a scene, or coming up with that perfect piece of dialogue. Not so great when I find the internal censor telling me why I’m crap or why I’m going to fail at what I’m doing, no matter what effort I make. Those voices can show up at almost any time, but they’ve been popping up over the last few days for me because I’ve had to perform that most dreaded of corporate rituals: writing my portion of my annual review.

I tie myself in knots writing that thing every year because I don’t remember the good things — and there are definitely some good things, but every flaw, every blemish, every stupid mistake comes rushing back. Why did they hire me? Why do they keep me around? And why would they want to give me more money/possibly promote me?

I’m sure most of us have been there at one point or another. That’s one of the reasons I look forward to the turn of the year; it’s a new start and a chance at a new beginning. Even with those voices beating at me until I finished the damn paperwork and submitted it, I’ve been making plans and moving forward. Lani writes:

But this isn’t about my body so much as it’s about my head. My body is a matter of changing habits; that’s easy. It’s my head that’s my major trouble.

So true. I know this already; I just need to be reminded of it from time to time. Much of taking care of ourselves is mechanics: eat right, get enough sleep, etc. But it’s the mind that makes the choices: not adding a sweet to lunch, getting up off the couch to go to bed instead of bringing up something new on Netflix — we have to decide to do those things.

New year, new decisions. I’ve got a number I’m working through right now, setting a course for the months ahead. What decisions are on your horizon?

Goals for January 2011

Slept rather late this morning after staying up to see the new year in. We went out to get a late breakfast which really was lunch and now intend to spend the rest of the day being quiet, knitting and doing some reading. Before that, though, I wanted to post my goals for January. Also, showing off the new site layout.

  • Write 100 words a day – this is part of getting the muscles moving. I’ve already done today’s, which turned out to be more than 100 words and gave me a scene that’s a nice little nugget.
  • Discovery Class – This starts January 16, and the big challenge for me here is keeping up with the homework, participating and not letting myself get distracted when life does its inevitable, “there are other things to focus on.”
  • Blog regularly — seem to be doing okay on that point already.
  • Deal with Facebook — Do I have to? I don’t really care for Facebook even on a personal level, so there’s an extreme reluctance here.
  • Deal with Twitter — More comfortable here, but I’m not quite certain how to actually manage it with everything else going on.
  • Back to the gym — Two years ago, I had just taken off twenty pounds; as of this morning, I’ve put twelve back on. Time to fix this.
  • Clean five minutes a day — If I start at this level, things will get easier as I go along and I’ll get the re-arranged house I want.

That’s a nice, compact list, and all of them are obtainable. Well, except for Facebook and Twitter, but I think that’s going to be a work in progress for a while. So, how are your goals going for the year going?

Goodbye 2010. Hello 2011

Here we are, the last day of the year. There were moments when I didn’t think I’d make it with any scrap of sanity, but it’s the 31st and I’m still typing. Time for a look back and a look forward, for both my writing and personally.

2010

  • Wrote a short story for submission to Big Finish Audio’s Short Trips collection. Unfortunately, it wasn’t accepted.
  • Made it my meetings at LARA much more frequently than I did in 2009. This was definitely good for morale and making me feel inspired at least once a month.
  • Got a promotion at work, which meant more money and being able to leave the administrative assistant portion of what I was doing behind. Didn’t mean the workload got less, but I wasn’t being pulled in two different directions for two different things.
  • Wrote a story for a fannish continuity series — great practice if I ever get invited to participate in one for publication.
  • Stepped in and wrote a second story the series when another writer dropped out. That one let me play with Sherlock Homes (more Brett and Cumberbatch), which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Amazing how that character is powerful enough to dominate every scene he’s in without even trying.
  • Started the blog moving again.
  • Did NaNoWriMo, but didn’t finish for the first time in several years. Am proud of myself for realizing I wasn’t going to make it and wasn’t going to be doing any good or accomplishing anything useful if I kept pushing.
  • After telling myself I’d wait, acquired an iPad in July. Love this little thing beyond all reason and take it everywhere. I’m thinking of acquiring a keyboard for it, but I’m also getting pretty good at typing on screen. Also finally embraced eBooks through the various reader apps. Because of this, I’m reading more. (We’ll ignore the Angry Birds addiction.)
  • At Mother’s Day, realized my mother-in-law had reached a point in her battle with Alzheimer’s that she didn’t recognize me and very likely didn’t recognize my husband. In June, she was having difficulty swallowing. In July, there was a choking incident with her breakfast. In August, she was gone. If I have to point to a event that has had the biggest impact on my life this year, it is this.
  • Started turning my thoughts to being more serious about my writing, and being more focused with my time.

Lots of stress in the past twelve months, a lot of emotional ups and downs. A major life change with my mother-in-law passing, the shockwaves of which we are still dealing with. For over a year before her death, much of our lives revolved around her care and needs and the family dynamic that surrounded it. Now, everything has changed and we’re trying to rebuild.

That’s where I was. Time to look forward to where I hope to be. These are high level goals for the year.

2011

  • Stronger focus on my writing. I’ve already taken some steps with that by signing up for the StoryWonk Discovery class that starts in January. Need to bring an idea to class; I have eight. Need to make a decision on that.
  • Be better on my social media. This isn’t just for the purpose of putting my name out there, but because I need to the connection to a larger circle. This is reclaiming some of what I lost when my focus was dominated by family matters.
  • Re-do the house. Things have gotten a little out of hand with the past year and who I want from the various areas has changed.
  • Get a handle on time management. That’s something that will help in all areas of my life.
  • Buy a new car. Well, new to us. Not what I want to do, but it’s clear that’s going to be a necessity.

I could list things like “complete and submit three books,” but I’m trying to keep this at a high level. If I focus on my writing and work on my time management, then the other things should follow. Oh, there’ll be monthly goals, but that’s the big picture.

So here’s to the sands of 2010 running out and welcome 2011!

Good Intentions

New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. — Mark Twain

Yup, I’m starting to make my resolutions for 2011. (We will not mention the fact that I had resolved to go to the gym yesterday and didn’t because I ended up working far later than I intended.) The thing I like about New Year’s is that it feels like a fresh start even if it really isn’t. That’s probably a good thing psychologically; 2010 wasn’t a particularly great year from my point of view and I’m glad to see the back of it.

The problem is, what do I set as goals in a year when I’m trying to figure out what constitutes “normal.” I have crossed “Win Pulitzer Prize” off the list because I thought that was biting off more than I could chew. Seriously, though, I’m trying to figure out what would be some goals that will prove a stretch and a bit of a challenge, but not be so far out of reach that I can’t possibly obtain them.

Some goals are fairly easy — write regularly, keep up the blog, don’t let myself go into hermit mode. But those are also mechanical goals. I need something more concrete to work for and not just “finish a book and submit.” What type of book should it be? What do I hope to achieve with it? What am I hoping to do that will push me to stretch and grow?

That’s the questions I need to answer — and maybe that’s the first goal. Decide what I’m hoping reach for in 2011. Think I can do that in the next four days?

Another Goal For December

Try to write and finish my posts the previous evening so I’m nit running about like a mad woman trying to finish before I have to get ready for work.

Just sayin’ it might be a nice idea and contribute to a certain level of sanity around the place

NaNo Hangover

Welcome to the morning after. I know some folk probably wrote like mad last night, trying to get the last bits of words in. I cleared some things off my plate, put in my final count (I totaled 36,473, which I’m quite happy with under the circumstances), and relaxed by watching the latest edition of The Fashion Show. Seriously, the show is pure cheeseburger for the mind. Just follow Tom and Lorenzo’s advice and mentally add something to the end of each of Iman’s pronouncements, such as “Or I will kill you” and the whole thing takes on this strange, almost James Bondian-villain aspect.

But it’s now the morning after the madness and the question remains “What now?” The reason I stopped pushing last week was because if I didn’t, I would have found myself going into non-writing mode to clear my mind. I’ve done that before and it’s the last thing I wanted to do at the moment. Doing NaNo is great, hitting 50,000 words is great — but if you stop writing coming December 1 because you’re exhausted, what’s gain? The holidays are around the corner (Hanukkah starts tonight), and it’s all to easy to lose the moment November has brought.

If you were pushing yourself at the end to get 50,000, do yourself a favor: write 100 words today. You can write more if you want or are capable of it, but don’t write less. If you’re between projects, write a 100-word character sketch or scene idea. Just keep the creative juices flowing. Let’s not make the momentum and energy NaNo generates a once-a year thing.

So, accomplishments for month of November:

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