Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Go-To Apps

“App” is a brand-new word in my fully-formed-in-the-fifties vocabulary. I find, in questioning Google, that an “app” is “an application, especially as downloaded by a user to a mobile device”.

Okay, I have three mobile devices:  Penelope the lappy, a Kindle Fire, and an iPhone. They all work--but “apps” seem to make them work better---I think.
So an “app” needs to actually do something. Right off the bat, I can think of two which work pretty hard for me:
·        Buffer
·        Canva
·        Fotolia
·        FB Author Page
·        Email
I have the unpaid version of Buffer, but I schedule three blogs a week and nine additional links for Twitter--a total of 12, which is more than allowed in the free version, but I can always add more once a few of them have posted.
The unpaid version of Canva also works well. If I want something besides a free background for my image, I don’t mind forking over a dollar.
Most of the images I acquire to use with Canva are from Fotlia. There’s an automatic refill feature which gives you credits as you need them, but I prefer to order on my own.
The FB Author Page is a good way to connect with other writers (and readers) on a more professional than personal basis. Certain posts can be “boosted” for a fee, and sometimes I take advantage of that.
A personalized email came with a website I used to have--dumped the website for another and kept the email for which I pay yearly. But we can’t live without email these days, can we?
There are more apps out there than fleas on a dog, and a person can become overextended in a hurry. I don’t “do” social media via my iPhone, but I do check email and have other “apps” which I find handy:
·        Local weather
·        Fox News
·        Messenger
·        A daily prayer app which comes with a handy-dandy reminder
·        Alarm for reminders throughout the day
As with all things, one has to find what works and stick with it. That’s not to say you can’t broaden your horizons. Maybe someday I’ll work on widening my range, but for now, I’m good to go.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

And my favorite fictional character of all time is...

Hands down, it’s Jane Eyre 
from Charlotte Bronte’s novel by the same name.

Why? That’s easy!

She’s a survivor, and I’ve always looked at myself that way. So she’s not only a role model but a kindred spirit as well.

Read the book

I hope it’s still on the shelves of your local library despite the move to purge our school English classes and libraries of everything “classical” and the least bit “moral”.

If Jane Eyre were written today she would

·        be out for revenge against her aunt Mrs. Reed and the abusive head of the orphanage where she ends up.
·        take one look at Thornfield Hall and say, “This isn’t for me; I’m outta here.”
·        set her cap for Mr. Rochester because doesn’t every girl want a rich husband?
·        ignore his situation and become his mistress
·        steal some of Thornfield’s treasures to finance her escape
·        go to the city and perhaps become a “working girl” to feather her nest and find a more suitable rich husband

If you don’t want to read the book, watch the movie

No telling how many versions of Jane Eyre have been filmed. You can find a comprehensive list here, beginning with the first silent film in 1910, and going through the made-for-television productions.

My recommendations:

·        The 1943 feature film starring Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, Agnes Morehead, Margaret O’Brien, Peggy Ann Garner, and a very young Elizabeth Taylor.
·        The 1970 made-for-television film starring George C. Scott and Susanna York.

Put Jane Eyre on your summer reading/viewing list!

You’ll wonder why you never discovered it before.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

(My) 5 deadly sins of a writing "career"

Where this idea came from, I’m not sure. There are, of course seven deadly sins, but I’m opting for five so far as writing/writing career.

Not knowing your end goal

For me, it wasn’t a “writing career” (emphasis career). Though I’d written as a hobby all my life, when I retired I decided to see if I could actually get published. So publication was my end goal. I succeeded beyond my wildest imagination in both traditional and indie publishing. I had no dreams of being sent on book launch tours with the wining and dining and public attention. A shy sort, I don’t much like local book events, although I do participate on a limited basis.

Not being satisfied with your accomplishments

There are thousands (millions?) of writers out there. Some of them are definitely better than I am--and I’m not talking about those whose names you hear all the time and which I won’t mention. But I’ve achieved my own version of “success”, and I’m content.

Writing what you think will sell and not what you feel  should be written

Face it--we all know what flies off the shelves in many quarters. But it’s not me. I’ve written one book where I felt I crossed the line  (in some respects) of what I should’ve written. It wasn’t “dirty” nor “obscene”, but I let an editor tell me not to rewrite what I knew should’ve been done. It was a good story with a moral theme, but I’m not really proud of it.
I’m working on a novel right now which deals with (as I always do) real people and real life, but I already know I can go back and make it more acceptable. Acceptable to whom? To me. I’m the one whose name is on it. And I never want my grandchildren to grow up and read something I’ve written and think, “Ooooo, Mimi!” You know, “to thine own self be true” and all that stuff.

Not trying to make the next book better than the last

There’s always room for improvement in any area of life. For a writer, whether it’s plot, character, dialogue, or just grammar and syntax, he/she can always do better. You’ve got to work at it, but challenge is the spice of life.

Not writing

Okay, so your last book didn’t sell up to your expectations. Maybe it got some nasty reviews. Maybe you keep getting rejection slips!!  Maybe you don’t feel you’ve attained the attention you wanted. A whining writer is non-productive. If you really want to be a best-seller and honestly believe it’s not going to happen, then quit and do something else. But don’t bite off the end of your nose to spite your face. Either write for the love of writing and earn your living doing something else, or don’t do it at all.

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and may/may not be relevant to the reader--who is free to ignore everything!

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

If these eyes could see...

Great topic--difficult choice! And I can’t make it, not trying to choose a single event from all of recorded history. So, I’m tweaking the topic make a list of TEN events I’d have liked to be a fly on the wall to see.

I remember as a child watching on black-and-white TV the historical drama series hosted/narrated by Walter Cronkite: You Are There. From 1953 to 1957, 147 episodes were produced. Unfortunately, there’s no comprehensive list of titles available, but some are posted on YouTube. (Apparently, the idea has been revived, so not all the linked episodes are hosted by Mr. Cronkite.)

So--here’s my list, and those events posted on YouTube are starred. * These are in no particular order as far as priority, by the way.

2.      The Siege of the Alamo *
4.      The D-Day Invasion at Normandy
5.      The Signing of the Declaration of Independence
6.      Lee’s Surrender at Appomattox
7.      Any of George M. Cohan’s musical productions on Broadway--preferably opening night!
8.      The beginning of a wagon train journey from St. Louis MO
9.      The discovery of life-saving penicillin
10.   The Resurrection of Jesus

What event would you most like to have witnessed?

Friday, June 16, 2017

The three people I'd most like to have dinner with...

Born into slavery, kidnapped as an infant with his mother by slave traders, ransomed and returned to the childless Carvers who raised him, he struggled to educate himself and succeeded. Booker T. Washington hired him to teach agriculture at the fledging Tuskeegee Institute (now Tuskeegee University). A brilliant, talented man, he also possessed a quiet humility and a sense of himself which stood him in good stead against those who disparaged him because of his race. His deep faith in God melded with his scientific mind to the benefit of all. This man has always been a particular hero of mine since I first read his story.

Daughter of a socialite mother and an alcoholic father, orphaned by the age of ten, the “ugly duckling” struggled to find her own identity. She married Franklin Delano Roosevelt and bore him 6 children (5 survived). When she discovered his infidelity, she offered him a divorce which never took place. Standing by him through the bout of polio which left him crippled, and his political career as governor of New York and four-time President of the United States, she became his eyes and ears in places his disabled body could not go. After his death she became a delegate to the United Nations and a human rights activist. She was not only a “survivor” but also someone who contributed to the world around her.

Born into a missionary family which later settled in the United States, she became a missionary herself and later married Jim Elliot, a missionary in Ecuador. When their daughter Valerie was less than a year old, Jim was speared along with four other missionaries attempting to make contact with the Auca Indians. When Valerie was about three, Elisabeth and the sister of Nate Saint, one of the martyred missionaries, went to live with the tribe responsible for the deaths of the men. She returned to the United States and became a prolific author and speaker. Widowed a second time, she married again and continued her ministry in America. She was the personification of a strong woman who also embraced her role as a wife and mother. The words she wrote and spoke touched more lives than all the marching, shouting feminist protestors ever did and ever will.

 Who are the three people with whom you'd most like to sit down to dinner?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What so proudly we hailed...once upon a time

June 14 has been Flag Day for over one hundred years, but it wasn’t until 1949 that then President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress making June 14 National Flag Day.

Alternately known as “Old Glory”, “The Stars and Stripes”, “Red, White, and Blue”, and “The Star Spangled Banner”, The American Flag has flown above government buildings, been carried into battle, draped coffins, adorned graves, been displayed in schools and churches, waved during patriotic celebrations, saluted, pledged to, worn as lapel pins and uniform patches, and, once tattered beyond respectability, properly disposed of by veterans’ and scout groups.

If I’d written that one hundred years ago, I could stop. Sadly, in more recent years the symbol of the United States of America has been set aflame, ripped, spat on, stomped on, defecated on, and removed/banned from public places for fear of “offending” someone.

One hears, “Well, if they (those who show contempt and disrespect for the flag as a symbol of America) don’t like this country, let them leave. They won’t be missed.” The last statement is probably true--how can one miss what one abhors (the action, not the actor). But is that really the answer? It’s like raking leaves in the fall--you never get them all, and the next year they’re back.

I fly my flag proudly. Because I have solar lighting trained on it, it’s spotlighted at night and can thus remain 24/7. So far, the powers that be in this subdivision haven’t written it out of acceptability, but if they ever do, I won’t take it down without a fight.

Ignorance and intolerance of patriotism, religion, and other cultural beliefs, like death and taxes, is inevitable. It’s incumbent on individuals who, after all, make up communities, towns, states, and ultimately this country, to take a stand for decency and respect. Those concepts are taught first at home and then in the institutions tasked with educating children to become productive adults--i.e. our schools.

Growing up, my generation pledged allegiance to the flag every morning before school. We stood, hands on hearts, when the band played the national anthem at athletic events. Our parents and teachers were quick to call us out for any disrespect--even unintentional.

This generation goes with the flow, whatever feels good at the moment, and no one says a word about it. Sometimes, if someone speaks out, they become the “bad guys”--thanks in part to the news media. I wonder if, like Pandora’s Box, once the lid is lifted and the ugliness allowed to escape, it can ever be put back again and contained.

We can only hope.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

You just have it to do...

This expression doesn’t seem to have an origin, so I’m assuming it was coined by the person I heard it from--or by someone she heard it from.

She was an older friend, an adult while I was still in high school. In summers I would spend a week in her home where her disabled husband doted on me and spoiled me beyond reason. She balanced things out with her strict requirements for chores. (I wasn’t a guest but rather part of the family for that week.)

I can’t remember the first time I heard the words, but over time she shared her difficult younger years as a child of the Great Depression when she “boarded out”--tended children, washed, ironed, cleaned houses, and did whatever she had to do to survive. Once her principal said to her, “If you don’t come to school more, you’re not going to graduate.” To which she replied, “Then I guess I won’t graduate because I have to eat.” Perhaps that was the first time I watched her eyes look into those past years and say, “I just had it to do.”

As I grew up and later as an adult myself, I often heard those words directed at me when I’d complain (whine) about something I didn’t want to do but couldn’t find any way to get around the inevitable. She never dished out sympathy of any sort. Rather, “You just have it to do,” assaulted my ears--not so much advice as a statement of fact.

I hear them now. Having always considered myself a “survivor” of (more than) my share of life’s traumas, perhaps the memory of her experiences tended to make me understand life isn’t perfect--nor is it always fair. She dealt with desertion, divorce, the determination to pay off debts she didn’t own (always working two jobs toward that end), the care of the second husband until his death, betrayal by some she considered friends and financial worries more on than off. But she survived.

And so, it seems, have I, though I still find it necessary to tell myself regularly, You just have it to do.

What’s inspired you to keep on keeping on?

Friday, June 9, 2017

My top 5 writing distractions and how I boot them!

What distracts me from writing?

1.      The internet
2.      The call of household chores
3.      (Necessary) errands
4.      Rewriting as I go
5.      Not having a clear idea of where the WIP is going

The internet solutions

1.      Schedule social media and don’t deviate.
2.      Use Buffer to schedule tweets
3.      Write all three blogs, post, and schedule at the same time
4.      Stay OFF Facebook (except for author page). I’ve already made my exit and freed up tons of time--and I don’t miss the drama!

The household chore solutions

1.      Have a routine and tweak it as necessary
2.      Schedule big chores (general housecleaning) for one day a week--be flexible
3.      Pick up as you go--leave your desk clean and ready for the next day
4.      Remember your home is your castle--not your prison!

The “necessary” errands solutions

1.      Schedule as much in one day (preferably half a day) as possible. Make the miles count.
2.      “Necessary” is the key word. What will wait?
3.      Include a writing lunch a couple of days a week. Have laptop, will travel.

The rewriting as I go solutions

1.      Don’t do it! Remember--first drafts stink! You can stand the stench until you get it all down and then clean it up!
2.      If you’re a pantser rather than a plotter, take a break when you get bogged down. Sit and “commune” with your characters, and then go back to work.

The not having a clear idea of where the WIP is going solutions

1.      Making a few notes doesn’t ruin your reputation as a “pantser”.
2.      Don’t get bogged down in plotting to the point of being inflexible. Be willing to change horses midstream.
3.      Remember--you’re supposed to be enjoying this!

The best advice:  Take a break! 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Making New Year's Resolutions in June!

Summers bring the (joyful) task of helping out with the Small Person (soon to be 10) and the Wee Bear Cub (just turned 7). I’ve never wanted them in daycare during the summers, so I’ve always planned for them to be with me several days a week while they’re out of school. This summer will be no exception. I scheduled two days a week--Mondays and Tuesdays--but this coming week, the first week, I’ll have them Wednesday-Friday because their babysitter has prior commitments. The following week is Vacation Bible School, and in order for them to attend as they do every summer, this summer I’ll need to pick them up at noon all 5 days. So--that’s what I’m going to do.
What am I NOT going to do? Here’s the hopeful list:
1.      Neglect writing. The paper edits of The Legacy of Diamond Springs are in progress. After corrections and some major rewriting, which I didn’t anticipate, I’ll have to do it all over again! But the goal is for the novel to be publication-ready at the end of the summer.
2.      Fail to journal daily. There are three parts to each daily entry: free writing/writing prompt/the day’s reality (insights, etc.)
3.      Give up walking a mile + a day at the fitness center. This will be difficult on the days I have the girls, but hopefully I’ll have enough energy to race up the road after they’re picked up for the day and do my mile!
4.      Plan fall traveling. This is an easy task because I enjoy it. Half the fun is getting there!
5.      Fail to keep tweaking closets, panty, files, etc. as needed.  I’ve reached the age where clearing up and clearing out is not just a goal but a necessity. A few years ago I did a major overhaul of my house--but it takes regular maintenance to keep the pack rat in me from taking over!
We’ll revisit this subject again on the day school starts--and, hopefully, call it a complete success!

What are you NOT going to do this month/summer?

If you’re looking for something to DO, may I suggest

 And while you’re there looking around, be sure to click on “I’ll tell you a story”
for a free read

“At the End of the Story, No Regrets”

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Is a writing challenge worth the effort?

The end of StoryADay for May 2017

Our last assignment as StoryADay participants is to write a blog post or journal entry detailing what we’ve learned about ourselves as writers during the challenge this month--and to use the positives in other writing projects. So--what have I learned?

Benefits of participating in a writing challenge

(1)For starters, while not all the prompts appealed to me, I found it possible to cobble together at least 500 words which can be tweaked later and turned into a story to my taste.
(2)A second benefit came from sticking to the commitment I’d made to write daily. Did I do it? Yes and no. One of the caveats was that we could take weekends off if necessary, so I decided to do that because I take care of my obligatory three blogs on Saturdays and Sundays. However, I ended up taking only one weekend “off”--that’s two stories I can go back and pick up at a later date if I want to. Ending up with twenty-nine stories--or at least, the bare bones of stories--is no small accomplishment.
(3)Finally, despite the fact I was deep in edits for The Legacy of Diamond Springs, scheduling time for both worked out most days. While I’m not finished with said edits, they’re coming along. Now that StoryADay for May 2017 is complete, I’ll give my full attention to the novel in progress now and have that completed within the next five days--barring a literary catastrophe!
I first heard of StoryADay in September 2016 and gave it a try but dropped out after ten stories. But ten stories are ten stories, so it wasn’t a waste of time and whetted my appetite to try again, this time obviously with more success.

NaNoWriMo is coming up in November!

Another great challenge is NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month when begins at the stroke of midnight on November 1 and ends at the same time thirty days later. The goal is to write 50K words during the month of November. Having participated several years and “won” all but one time, I’d also recommend giving this challenge a try also.

BICHOK--Backside in chair, hands on keyboard

We’ve all heard before that writing daily is good discipline, and indeed it is. Real life, of course, interferes from time to time, and it’s important not to let guilt creep in and rob one of a feeling of accomplishment. The more I write, the less I’m inclined to dance with the guilt of skipping a day, even a week. The important thing is to write as often and as much as possible. Otherwise, nothing gets done.

Visit my website 
for this month’s free read, which just happens to be a story from the StoryADay Challenge in May.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Your Summer Writing Retreat CAN Happen!

On the road again…

As you read this blog, I've just completed a day trip to Mena AR some 83 miles up a back road. It wasn't not a writing retreat per se, but I checked out a couple of B&Bs for just that purpose sometime in the near future.
Meanwhile, I’d recommend these two articles to help plan your own writing retreat. I don’t write, you say? Well, take along a notebook and do some journaling. Write some real letters. Oh, all right, take your laptop and shoot off some emails. And for those of you who do write…

Plan your own writing retreat today!

·        From the February 2017 issue of The Writer Magazine:
“Introducing the DIY Writing Retreat”
for groups or independent retreats, including a packing list!
My recommendation: Woodsprings Suites (formerly ValuePlace) in a location offering the opportunity for burn-out breaks. For the price of two nights at a regular hotel, you get a small, clean, quiet room with desk, bath, and kitchenette for a week. No frills--but you’re not there to be pampered but rather to write write write!
·        From the June 201 issue of The Writer Magazine:
“Take a Writing Vacation”
Includes tips for writing at the seaside, in the wilderness, in the city, and from home
Plus prompts and reading lists
My recommendation: If a big vacation isn’t in the budget, think about a cabin at a state park, a couple of nights at a B&B, or a daily visit, say for a week, to the nearest fast-food establishment where you’re sure to find a quiet corner after the lunch rush.

Be creative!

The possibilities for your own writing retreat, “mini-“ or “extended” are limited only by your imagination. Get on the computer and find out what’s available--be in a coffee shop, a state park, a city park, a B&B in the next town, or an extended-stay hotel like Woodspring Suites. (I’ve never been disappointed, but do look for recent reviews!) 

Wherever you go and for whatever purpose, don’t forget:

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Monthly Link List

It’s time for the monthly link list again. All these links have been previously posted to my Facebook author page and also on Twitter.
Hope you find something you can use.

               How to Improve Your Descriptive Writing
               How to Write Suspense Like Hitchcock
               What Your Author Website Is Likely Missing

Follow me on Twitter @BigChiefTablet

Like my Facebook Author Page: @vintageromance.romanticsuspense.cozymysteries

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Pennies in My Piggy Bank

StoryADay for May 2017 is almost over. Except for the one weekend I took off--which is permissible as participants set their own rules--I’ve cobbled together a story everyday. Are they finished pieces? By means! But they ARE a starting point for same. They’re horses in my stable. Pennies in my piggy bank. Cookies in the cookie jar. Bones in the trunk waiting to be strung together into a skeleton--and then fleshed out.
So what do I see as the big advantages of StoryADay?
·        Commitment to write daily. Even if I haven’t signed a vow in blood, I’ve promised myself to do it--and so I do.
·        A break from slogging though developing a novel with its numerous rewrites and edits. Several of the stories could spin into longer works, but the option for a finished work of 2,500+ words is motivating.
·        No word count limit. I’ve struggled with cutting stories down or fleshing out stories to satisfy a word count--and it’s always difficult to add to something viewed as complete--and especially to discard a scene or some dialogue.
·        A folder full of more than just ideas. All the stories have possibilities, some more than others. It’s like finding a package of ground beef in the freezer on a cold stormy day--the options are limitless.
What advice do I have for writers or those testing the writing waters if you decide to try this challenge next time around? (I think it will be back in September.)
·        Find your comfort level and set your own rules. If you need to take weekends off, twenty stories are better than none.
·        Make a firm commitment to yourself. I want to write. I will write. I won’t stress over how much I write or when.
·        If you don’t think you can write from a particular prompt, tweak it so that you can.
·        Keep a list of all the prompts for future reference.
·        Save your stories CAREFULLY in their own folder. Back them up!
·        Don’t get discouraged if “real life” interferes with your writing schedule. Life happens. Make it up, or let it go.
Meanwhile, watch “I’ll Tell You a Story” at my website for a new story coming June 1. Even though I didn’t get into the StoryADay Challenge in 2016, I still ended up with ten stories which I’m editing and sharing now.
And, above all…remember...

Check out these two “shorts” from Solstice Publishing
For quick summer reads by the pool or on a plane heading for your dream vacation!

Available at Amazon
Available at Amazon

Friday, May 26, 2017

Day tripping for writers

Some months ago I subscribed to a free email newsletter called Only in Arkansas. Several times a week I receive information and absolutely gorgeous pictures of places to go and things to do in the Natural State.
One of the best advantages of living in Arkansas (besides the fact it’s a beautiful state) is the minimal distances between points of interest. Under one hundred miles can equal a nice day trip with an early start, especially during Daylight Savings Time when it’s light until 8 PM. And day trips save big bucks on hotels and too many meals out.
Being located pretty much in the center of the state, only about 40+ miles from the capital of Little Rock, I’m in a position to go any direction with ease. If I don’t want to mess with interstates (and the conglomeration of same in LR isn’t fun), backroads are available. They’re not four lanes, of course, and sometimes they’re pretty winding, but they’ll get you where you’re going with less stress than an interstate. (And being retired, who’s in a hurry?)
You’re not from Arkansas? Go here and select your own state--or any other for that matter--to find the delights awaiting you.

I prefer to travel in the fall when the weather is nicer, but day trips in an air-conditioned car to see air-conditioned places or sit outside in the shade with a cool breeze blowing works for the hotter months.
My first day trip will be the 80+ mile drive to Mena, arriving mid-morning for a late breakfast, probably at the Skyline CafĂ© touted for its down-home cooking, and a trip to the Visitor Center (no website link available) which is, I understand, a must-do. Then a leisurely day of strolling around town, making sure to stop in the Mena Antique Mall and The Mercantile Before leaving, I’ll drive around to check out some fantastic B&Bs (Jansen Park Place, Johnson Manor , ABears Den, and Rainey Day Resort for possible writing retreats at a later date. I can’t leave without driving up to Queen Wilhelmina State Park for the view. Leaving as late as 6 PM will get me home by 8, but I’ll probably not cut it that close.
I love researching new locations to visit and find the smaller places much more interesting than the traditional tourist spots. Friendly folks always ready to chat about their town is the icing on the cake. There used to be some television advertisement that said, “getting there is half the fun”--and I find the planning to be the same. Planning makes sure I don’t miss the important things--and have time to see them!

Bon voyage!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kick those bad (writing) habits!

Every writer, whether full-time or part-time, has her various routines. Sometimes they vary from one day to the next. Other times they’re set in stone. We all know the bad habits which creep in to disrupt our writing routines. But do we know how to kick them?

What works for me

Through trial and error, I’ve come up with a few habits which work for me. That’s the key--finding out what works for you. There’s a lot of sage advice and how-to articles out there, but if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work.
·        Sketching out blog topics for a month at a time X 3 blogs per week = 12-14 blogs per month.
·        Writing the blogs on weekends.
·        Posting the blogs with labels, pictures, and links at The Word Place usually on Sunday night and scheduling them to go public on M-W-F.
·        Using Buffer to schedule Tweets about the blogs on the correct days.
·        Making a weekly calendar to keep track of “real life” and also work in times to write each day.
·        Finding a place to write (short story, novel, edits, rewrites) undistracted by the internet, whether it be a fast-food place, a park, or the back seat of my car at Sonic.
·        Doing what needs to be done with internet availability first and at home in the study before taking off on a mini-writing retreat.
·        Setting up the right “atmosphere”--blinds open, lights on as necessary, essential oil diffuser on, CD player going (classical music)--whether I’ve chosen to write at home or am just taking care of business on the computer
·        Checking off tasks completed--a great motivator.
·        Keeping personal business and writing business organized in separate notebooks and handy on my desk.
·        Leaving my desk clean and organized every night--a holdover habit from my teaching days. When I walked into the classroom every morning--other than distributing materials or writing instructions for students on the overhead projector, I was good to go--and it made for a productive and less stressful day.
·        Giving myself permission to deviate from my schedule so long as all the tasks are checked off by the end of the week.

What happens when routine/habits/plans are disrupted?

Well, it happens. I’ve had carefully-laid plans to write all day, for example, while multi-tasking with such mundane necessities as laundry or waiting on a service person to arrive. Then comes the early-morning phone call to say a grandchild needs to stay home sick from school--and could she hang out with Mimi? Yes, of course, she can. At that point, the writing just takes a back seat--although at times, when on a deadline with edits, I’ve explained to said munchkin that Mimi must have some time. They’re really pretty good about entertaining themselves with books, cartoon videos, or art work--although they always migrate to the study. Proximity to Mimi seems to be a necessary thing.
The point is, life happens. I don’t earn my living writing, so I have more leeway than a person who does. Also, I’m retired--and the day I closed my classroom door for the last time, I stopped hurrying. Life’s too short.

Kick the (bad) habits

·        Aimless internet browsing (not solid research for a writing project)
·        Unnecessary social media time--a kitchen timer set for 5-10-15 minutes is a good way to pull yourself back into reality.
·        Putting off ‘til tomorrow what you have time to do today--whether you want to do it or not isn’t negotiable.
·        Running between one non-writing task and what you’re trying to accomplish with writing. (Leaving long enough to transfer clothes from washer to dryer doesn’t count--anything more complicated is going to interfere with your word count!)

Don’t kick the (good) habits!

Routines get disrupted, yes, but not every day. Do first things first. Keep a separate list of the top three or four priorities for the week. If you get those done, even if something else has languished, you can claim success.

 And, of course, keep writing!!