It's so easy, deciding to be a writer or artist.
And so romantic. Like being a cowboy.
Few years down the road, one either quietly surrenders or quietly rides on. I've hit my 'few years down the road,' too, and I have chosen to ride on. However, I also understand I need to take better care of myself so that I can keep going, so that my path isn't strewn with unnecessary tension to trip me up. We already have too much drama and insecurities to deal with, right?
Here are the habits that have helped me so far:
1. I break a project into many, many small parts.
For me, I break them into tasks that are so tiny they are sometimes laughable.
I've been writing my next middle-grade novel. A hefty task. So I've broken it down into small parts, and this is my smallest part to date: Write one line each time I think about this story.
Yes. Just one line. That's all.
Then, naturally, I begin writing more than one line. I write paragraphs or pages. But every time I feel slightly anxious about writing, I remind myself that it's just one line. I only need to write one line. I'm getting a kick out of it and so far it has worked very well for me!
And the best thing is, I know I will get this story written. Nothing else matters.
* This habit will only work when I fulfill my promise to accomplish each small task. I don't mickey-mouse around that.
2. I wake up earlier (Okay, I try ... I try.)
This has been tested.
Whenever I get up earlier than the rest of the household, I freewrite or read. Already, even before breakfast, I feel I've done something for the day. I've made plans. I've begun well. Give me a good breakfast, and I can go several steady miles.
Then on the days I wake up the same time as everyone else, I'd be struggling to keep up with the day. Do this. Do that. Eat quickly. No dilly-dallying. Pant. Pant. Gasp. I'd be exhausted in just two hours.
3. I work out.
I swim three mornings a week. Have you seen the surface of pool water at dawn, just when the sky changes colours? It's an amazing view. I just keep going after the colours.
Working out clears my mind from clattery-cluttery complaints and insecurities.
4. I leave my emails till later.
This is a new habit. I used to check my emails before everything else and it always eats up 2-3 hours. So many blog posts and articles to check out. So much administrative work to do. By the time I'm done, I'd feel sluggish and nothing substantial gets accomplished.
So now, I try to leave checking my emails till later, sometimes only in the late afternoon.
5. I make space for Solitude.
This pin says it all.
I used to be quite harsh on myself, thinking that if I wasn't forcing myself to write, write, write, or social-mingle, or comment on blog posts, or build my platform, I wasn't working hard enough. If I burn out, it means I'm weak. The thing is, we all need to find ways to help ourselves work better. Even with these habits, I know I will still have bad days. (Just had one this past week.) Good news is, those bad days fizzle out quicker now that I've had my 'few years down the road' and know what works for me and what doesn't. (It did.) Our most important, and truest, mission is to show up for work everyday. We are professionals. We show up. Sometimes we just need to help ourselves show up easier.
What habits or routines have helped you show up?
Share This Post
Connect with Claudine
JANE GETS STRANGER EVERY YEAR. I THINK SHE MIGHT BLOW UP THE WORLD. BETH ELLEN ALWAYS LOOKS LIKE SHE MIGHT CRY ...
CARRIE ANDREWS IS CONSIDERABLY FATTER THIS YEAR ...
AND LAURA PETERS IS THINNER AND UGLIER. I THINK SHE COULD USE SOME BRACES ON HER TEETH ...
PINKY WHITEHEAD HAS NOT CHANGED. PINKY WHITEHEAD WILL NEVER CHANGE ...
MY MOTHER IS ALWAYS SAYING PINKY WHITEHEAD'S WHOLE PROBLEM IS HIS MOTHER. I BETTER ASK HER WHAT THAT MEANS OR I'LL NEVER FIND OUT. DOES HIS MOTHER HATE HIM? IF I HAD HIM I'D HATE HIM.
Harriet M. Welsch is the bluntest, most spoilt, independent, funniest protagonist I've ever come across in children's literature. She scribbles down her observations about people which can often sound mean. I'm surprised at how much I like her. (Usually, I don't read far into a story if its main character throws tantrums easily. But with Harriet, I can't help it.)
She is truthful though tactless. She loves writing though she also adds a fair dose of judgments into it. She loves spying though ...
Though nothing. Most writers are good at spying. Or imagining.
WHEN I AM BIG I WILL BE A SPY. I WILL GO TO ONE COUNTRY AND I WILL FIND OUT ITS SECRETS AND THEN I WILL GO TO ANOTHER COUNTRY AND TELL THEM AND THEN FIND OUT THEIR SECRETS AND I WILL GO BACK TO THE FIRST ONE AND RAT ON THE SECOND AND I WILL GO TO THE SECOND AND RAT ON THE FIRST. I WILL BE THE BEST SPY THERE EVER WAS AND I WILL KNOW EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING.
Disaster strikes one day. The notebook Harriet writes in falls into the hands of her classmates.
Yes. The classmates whom she has written unflatteringly about. Even her closest friends, Sport and Janie, give her the cold shoulders now. Harriet needs to come up with a strategy quick!
Will she apologize?
But a true writer never apologizes for her observations.
Will she stop writing about her friends and other people in the neighbourhood?
Don't be ridiculous. A spy never stops spying. A writer never stops writing.
What then? Everybody seems to hate her ...
Have you read Harriet the Spy? I've found terrific descriptions in some of Harriet's scribbles. Like this one:
YESTERDAY WHEN I WENT INTO THAT HARDWARE STORE IT SMELLED LIKE THE INSIDE OF AN OLD THERMOS BOTTLE.
Takes one right there, doesn't it?
Connect with Claudine
This week's Pinterest inspirations should be fun for most of us writers, bloggers, artists and readers.
The quiet warmth of a good cafe always makes me feel safe, alone yet absolutely not lonely, and excited that fruitful work will be accomplished in the next hour. Hope you enjoy this batch!
The cafes here are from Europe, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan. (If you're interested in finding out more about them, click on the pictures to go to their Pinterest pages. The accuracy of the information there can't be guaranteed, unfortunately. But feel free to ask around. Pinners are generally quite friendly!)
Do you enjoy working from cafes?
Connect with Claudine
Grab My Button!
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.carryusoffbooks.com/blog.html" title="CarryUsOff Books" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.weebly.com/uploads/5/6/8/1/5681205/5653609_orig.jpg" alt="CarryUsOff Books" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
Hey, I'm Claudine. Welcome!
Want to know what children's stories can inspire & lead to?
by Kate Hanney
Really enjoyed the honest voice of this narrator ~ a teenager let down by his mother and the foster care system, and almost-picked up through his involvement with a gang.