Zabowska's Blog

January 11, 2010

New Blog address for me

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 10:54 pm

Hi Fellow writers,

  I am writing to let you know that I now have a new writing blog.  It is: irenesroth.wordpress.com. Please visit me there from now on as I won’t be using this blog any longer.

See you at the new blog,

Irene

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January 10, 2010

Is Writing Mostly Rewriting?

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 10:10 pm

  Writers find that after their initial burst of raw writing, much of the
   final product is the result of revision. Most writers spend as much time
   revising as they do writing. This goes for writers who write books and
   articles and novels.
  
   However, having said that, most writers spend some time at least in
   the creation phase when they are trying to get as many words on the page
   as possible. That is part of the fun of writing and it is the inspiration
   stage of writing.
  
   For myself, this is the best stage of writing. I just love to be able to sit
   at my notebook computer and just type whatever comes into my mind.
   There is nothing more liberating than that for a writer. However, this is
   not the be all and the end all is it? After the writer has typed the words
   on the page, then the arduous task of revision starts in earnest.
  
   Some writers not only accept the importance of revision but accept it
   with gusto. I will be honest I accept and know importance of revising in
   my own work, but I don’t like to revise. I just know that it is a necessity. I
   actually find revising boring, and did for a long time until I had a real
   revelation a while ago.
  
   Revision is like tidying a messy drawer or cleaning a cluttered room.
   What you are really doing is getting rid of what you don’t need in your
   manuscript as you would get rid of things you don’t need in a room such
   as pop cans, water bottles, extra books that you will not be using right
   away, and extraneous files. When I started seeing revision like a
   cleansing process, I started viewing revision with the same kind of
   necessity as keeping my study decluttered.  And that is when I excelled at
   the process of revising.
  
   So, writer, declutter your manuscripts by taking the time to revise
   them. Get rid of all of the extraneous material such as redundant words,
   passive phrases, typos, grammatical errors, repetitions, and so on. Your
   manuscript will feel much lighter and cleaner. 
  
   Irene

January 7, 2010

Finding Balance

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 11:12 pm

   For myself, there is nothing harder than achieving some kind of balance
   in my writing life. Last year, although I got a lot of writing done, I got
   desperately ill a few times because I didn’t care for myself properly.
  
   This year, I vowed to make sure that I don’t repeat my mistakes from
   last year. And for the past week or so, I tried to make sense of what
   ‘balance’ really means. Then I read Kristi Holl’s entry for today on her blog
   and I found it so useful that I have included it for my reflections today
   about balance.
  
   I think all of us need balance.  But how do we achieve it?  That is the
   million dollar question. Below Kristi Holl has the answer. Now all we have
   to do is follow her advice.
  
   Thanks so much Kristi for your words of wisdom!
   Irene
  
   Critical Questions
   By Kristi Holl
   January 6th, 2010
   www.institutechildrenslit.net/Writers-First-Aid-Blog

My biggest goal for 2010 is finding balance in my life.

Last year my health got out balance (no time for self-care) because my volunteer work grew beyond healthy proportions. There wasn’t enough time for my writing, and I found myself emotionally burned out too often.

This year I want to find the balance–and make changes that will support it.

It’s Pretty Simple

One of things I’ve picked up and used from the Simple•ology course I’ve talked about was the importance of two basic questions. Before making each choice of activity–and we make hundreds of choices some days–we are to ask ourselves:

  1. Will this action take me toward my goal or away from my goal? 
  2. Will this behavior strengthen me or make me weaker?

Every action has a reaction, or consequence, attached to it. Usually there is a positive consequence and a negative one. (Think long-term here.) Before making a choice, just ask yourself those two questions.

Choices, Choices

For example, let’s say your dream is to finish and sell your novel and your goal for today is to write the climax scene. You can choose between two Krispy Kreme donuts for breakfast or a high fiber cereal and fruit. (Think long-term.) A high sugar, low fiber diet will hurt you in many ways, and an important one is your ability to think clearly and have enough stamina to do your writing. One choice weakens you, and one makes you stronger.

Or let’s say your goal today is to send out five queries for the human interest Christmas story you finished. You can read writing blogs, you can research a current market guide for contact information, or you can see what all your Facebook friends did over the weekend. Only one choice will move you a concrete step toward your goal today.

Apply these questions everywhere throughout your day. Will taking time to stretch and do sit-ups before a writing session help you or hurt you? (Hint: you need strong core muscles and a supple neck to survive many hours at the computer.) But while exercise is good, taking three hours to drive downtown to a gym, work out, and go to Starbucks just keeps you from your goal.

BOTH Are Needed

Remember, you want to take actions that do at least one of two things: get you closer to your writing goal and/or make you stronger. If you only focus on behaviors that get you to your goal (but eat junk, never exercise, have a fight every morning with your spouse, and never have any solitude), you won’t be able to continue too long.

On the other hand, if you only focus on behaviors that make your body stronger and healthier (but spend your writing time forwarding emails, reading a hundred Tweets, and watching the latest YouTube offerings), you won’t get very close to your goal at all.

Temptation is Everywhere!

Every time you’re tempted to waste time online or eat a pint of ice cream for lunch or chat with every instant messenger who pops up, you are facing a choice. One choice will weaken you–one will make you stronger. One will help you reach your goal–one will push you back even farther.

It’s your choice. And with every good choice you make, it’s easier to make a positive choice the next time. Each choice you face is a potential step toward your writing goals. Take it!

January 6, 2010

The Importance of Having a Writing Buddy or Two

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 9:36 pm

  Working with a writing buddy or two has many advantages for writers.
   Many writers believe that writing is a lonely life and that having another
   person in your corner really helps a lot when the times get tough as a writer.
  
   I know that I would be lost without my writing buddies.They help me in
   so many countless ways. I sat down and reflected on a few of those ways this
   morning. And here are at least three benefits that I discovered that I
   enjoyed from my writing buddies.
  
   First, my writing buddies help me not to feel as alone in the unknown
   territory of writing. Feeling connected, especially when things go wrong,
   such as when you get a rejection letter or if you had an unproductive week,
   is really helpful to smooth out some of the rough edges of the writing life.
  
   Second, my writing buddy knows exactly what I am going through when
   I am having an unproductive day at my desk. I don’t have to take a lot of
   time explaining any of my hardships or difficulties. And that means a lot to
   me since endlessly explaining negative things about my writing frustrates
   me to no living end. Most of my writing buddies share the same frustrations
   that I do.
  
   Third, I could share and celebrate my successes with my writing buddies.
   This really helps me to feel better about what I have accomplished during
   the day or week. I could also set my sights on my future goals that give me
   even more reason for celebration.
  
   Lastly, I report on my progress to my writing buddy.  This makes me feel
   accountable and helps me to continue progressing with my goals. This can
   be just as beneficial for short term goals as for long term goals. Feeling
   accountable usually really helps me to focus on my goals with much more
   clarity.
  
   You don’t need to necessarily meet with your writing buddy in person. I
   communicate with all of my writing buddies via cyberspace on a daily or
   weekly basis. The important thing is that we communicate with one another
   and have access to one another for support.
  
   So, if you don’t have a writing buddy, I would suggest that you find one
   or two buddies that you could share your writing experiences with. You
   won’t feel as alone and you will accomplish so much more.
  
   Irene

January 5, 2010

Are we effective or efficient writers?

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 12:23 am

    Many writers work so hard and yet produce very little that is conducive to bring about
   their writing goals.  I know I have struggled with that this past year myself. I found an
   article on the Kristi Holl blog today that is so helpful that I thought I would include it
   as part of my blog. It is at: http://institutechildrenslit.net/Writers-First-Aid-blog.
  
   I encourage to visit Kristi Holl for more information on this blog and others as well.
   She is such a wealth of information.
  
   After reading this piece, decide whether you are an efficient or an effective writer or
   both.
  
   Irene
  
   Effective or Efficient
   By Kristi Holl
   January 4th, 2010
  
   Before making my list of writing goals for 2010, I did some serious evaluating last
   month to try to discover why I had accomplished so much less than I”d hoped in
   2009. I had worked harder and longer hours, doing my best to be efficient.
  
   Even so, I wasn’t effective in many areas where I had set goals. I either failed totally
   or accomplished just a fraction of what I had intended. Why hadn’t I been effective? I
   was practically the most efficient person I knew!
  
   They Aren’t the Same!
  
   Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals.
   Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most
   economical manner possible.
  
   Most of us work hard to be efficient in our lives just to stay on top of ever-
   lengthening To Do lists. And efficiency is good  when it’s applied to the right
   things, the important things. It’s absolutely useless if it’s not.
   Important vs. Unimportant
  
   How do you decide which tasks are important to moving toward your writing goals?
   It all depends on what your ultimate goals are. Is your main goal to write books,
   perhaps even make a living at it? Is your writing goal to land a staff position on a big
   city newspaper? Do you want to bring your writing skills up several notches in 2010?
   Once you know your over-all dreams, then look at your To Do list with a more
   critical eye. Which things on the list support your goal? Those are the important jobs.
   Which things  if done later, done quickly, or (gasp!) left undone  wouldn’t affect
   your goals at all? Those are the unimportant tasks.
  
   Take a Step Back
  
   Sometimes we are so close to our To Do lists that we can’t see the forest for the trees.
   We don”t see that doing something unimportant really well doesn’t make it
   important. (I’m an excellent email organizer, for example, with all kinds of folders
   and tags and categories. I have the most organized unnecessary and unwanted email
   you ever saw.)
   Also, just because a task would require a lot of time to accomplish doesn’t make it
   important either. (The email query to the editor might take you an hour. Reorganizing
   your writing closet will take four hours. Only querying will get you that coveted
   assignment  making it the most important task nine times out of ten.)
  
   Effectiveness Trumps Efficiency
  
   Yes, it’s great to be efficient, but to repeat myself, it’s only helpful when you are
   being effective. For example, if you want to lose the holiday pounds you added,
   which supports your goal the best  efficiently organizing your recipe files or going
   for a power walk?
  
   If you want to finish your first novel, which action supports your goal  tearing
   articles from your writing magazines to file, or sweating over that first chapter?
  
   Are You Effective  or Just Busy?
  
   You want to make the most of your time available. I don’t know what your ‘efficient
   time wasters’ are, but you probably do. I’ll be talking more about this in the weeks
   and months to come as I cast a cold, unrelenting eye on each item on my list  and
   weed out some activities that look good or that “everyone” says you have to do.
  
   What’s the deciding factor? It’s this: Will it take me closer to my goals in some
   measurable way? Good! If not, it gets pushed to the bottom of the list. I may get to it
   later  or never!

January 4, 2010

Discovering your peak writing times

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 11:40 pm

   Each of us has times of the day when we are much more productive than
   others. These are the times when we are at our peak performance levels and
   we should schedule to do most of our writing during these times without
   interruption. Of course, interruptions are all around us. But it is important
   for serious writers to limit such interruptions to after they are finished their
   important writing tasks for the day.
  
   Many writers find that it is easier to write first thing in the morning
   when they are fresh. They usually refrain from checking email, opening
   their snail mail, or answering the telephone. They set a one to two hour
   block of time to do their writing consistently. Such writers are most
   successful in maintaining their writing regiment.
  
   I am such a writer. As some of you know, I wake up each morning an hour
   earlier than any of my family members and just sit and write for at least an
   hour. I find these times really quiet and I can concentrate most during such
   times. I have been writing in the mornings for over twenty years and it has
   become so ingrained in me that if I don’t write, I feel like something
   important is missing in my life.
  
   Some writers find that it is easier for them to write later in the evening
   once dinner is done and over with and the kids and husband are watching
   television.  All you have to do is skip one or two regular shows on television
   that you could do without and you have a writing schedule in place.
   Consistency is the key when you are setting up a writing schedule. And
   there is nothing more consistent than a daily television program.
  
   If you don’t yet know when you write best, you could discover your peak
   performance times by writing at different times. You could start by writing
   in the morning for a while. Set your alarm for a half an hour earlier and sit
   down and write for a few weeks and see how things go. Then try writing in
   the evening, and see if that is a better time for you. Then once you have
   determined what your peak writing time is, schedule to write during those
   times at least four times a week, and see your confidence as a writer soar.
  
   Once you discover your peak writing times, it will be much easier for you
   to get your writing done.
  
   To discovering your peak writing times!
  
   Irene

Planning for the week’s writing

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 12:54 am

  There is one important thing that writers should do every week before a
   brand new writing week starts writers should write down their writing and
   marketing plans for the next week.
  
   I usually determine my writing goals on Sunday afternoons.  I write down
   all my writing goals for the week. Then I write all of my marketing goals.
   Once I have done that, I type it up and paste it up on the wall in front of me
   so that I could follow it each day. That way when I sit down to write, I know
   what project I should tackle and when I plan to complete a particular
   project.
  
   I think this is very important for writers. I know that the weeks that I
   don’t take the time to plan out my week aren’t productive weeks. They are
   weeks that are quite disorganized and in which I sort of float from activity
   to another without any kind of intentionality or goal in mind. And that
   usually makes for a lot of wasted time.
  
   So, I would suggest that all of you create a template for yourselves. It
   doesn’t have to contain the same divisions. You may have to create a few
   templates before deciding which one will work best for you. If you create it
   on your computer, you could print it off each week and fill it in with the
   activities that you plan to do each week.
  
   My template has five main headings: First, I list all the contacts that I
   will make each day. Second, I list all the job boards, Ezines or newspapers
   that I will read and visit during the week. Third, I list all the promotional
   activities that I need to do during the week to promote myself. Fourth, I list
   all the networking activities that I will be pursuing. And lastly, I write out
   my writing schedule and goals for the week.
  
   You could use how I plan my week to create your own template. But
   whatever you do writers please take the time to do this.  You will be very
   glad that you did. 
  
   And let me know how you make out.  I would love to hear from you!
  
   Irene

January 1, 2010

Motivation is not the same as inspiration

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 10:57 pm

   Today, I would like to reflect on the difference between ‘motivation’ and
   ‘inspiration’. I think that the two concepts are quite different despite the fact
   that inspiration can propel motivation and help us bring about our writing
   goals.
  
   Motivation is the reason behind one’s actions or behaviors. So, for
   instance, if you intend to write a book in a year, you should be motivated to
   perform the regular writing tasks in order to produce the manuscript.
   Inspiration, on the other hand, is the ability to feel something behind the
   activity. Its like a coloured landscape instead of a grey and white one..
                                               
     Thus, it is not enough for a writer to be motivated to write; (s)he must
   also be inspired to write in order for the project to get completed. I believe
   that reasons alone are not sufficient for a writer to bring about his/her
   writing projects over the long-term. The writer must also be inspired and
   have a passion to write. Passion is very necessary in that it flavours the
   writers motivations and gives them significance. Let me explain.
  
   Consider the following scenario. Say you prepare a wonderful stew but
   you forget to put salt, pepper and some spices in your stew. Although you
   love stew, it tastes bland. You eat it the first day but it doesn’t give you any
   real enjoyment. The next day, you have some leftover stew but you don’t
   want to eat it. So, you decide to order Pizza instead and try to eat it the next
   day. However, the next day you can’t face the stew either. Ultimately, you
   throw the stew away because you can’t bear the thought of eating it.
  
   We can say similar things about writing with inspiration. When you write
   merely from a motive to do so, your writing may be bland. And although you
   may be able to stick to a writing schedule for a few days, you won’t be able
   to stick to it for longer than that because you are not inspired to write. It
   just becomes a bland activity that isn’t seasoned that you perform without
   much passion.
  
   So fellow writers, why not season your writing goals with inspiration.
   Your daily practice will be much more meaningful and consistent when it
   isn’t bland and you will look forward to it as you would look forward to a
   nice warm, salty and spicy slice of Pizza.
  
   Happy New Year, and may you find not only the motive to write but also
   the inspiration in 2010!
  
   Irene