Zabowska's Blog

December 28, 2009

Staying Focused on your Writing is so Important

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 10:38 pm

This was part of the Newsletter that Suzanne Lieurance sent this morning to the coaching club members. I love it so much that I thought I would share it here.

Happy reading!

A Dozen Ways to Stay Focused on Your Writing~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

by Suzanne Lieurance

If you’re a freelance writer, a person who is trying to write a book, or just someone who has a big writing project to complete, try these tips for staying focused:

1. Schedule your writing for YOUR most productive time of the day. For example, don’t leave your writing for the very last thing at night if you’re an early bird who is most productive in the mornings yet tends to get worn out by 9:00 p.m. Your productive time is your “writing zone.” When you work “in the zone” your writing will be better and you’ll find it much easier to stay focused.

2. Set aside a specific amount of time for each writing project. When you do this you won’t need to rush or feel that you’re neglecting your other writing projects in favor of just one. You’ll be able to relax and give your full attention to that one project for the amount of time you’ve set aside for it.

3. Build some momentum for those larger writing projects. If you’re working on something big like a book, you need to keep at it long enough to see things start coming together and build some momentum. Once you do, it will be easier to complete the project.

4. Don’t try to write for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time. If you can only write for one hour at a time (or just one hour a day) that will be a good start. As you create momentum you’ll naturally increase your writing time. Too often, beginning writers feel they need to set aside huge chunks of time for writing. When they aren’t able to do that consistently, they give up. They don’t realize that most writers don’t write for 8 to 10 hours a day. Instead, they write every day for shorter periods of time. The key is they write consistently, not just when they’re in the mood or feel inspired.

5. Schedule something fun and relaxing to do every day AFTER you have completed your writing. This can be your reward for the day. You want writing to become PART of a wonderful life. You don’t want to put your life on hold so you can write. That’s no fun!

6. Find a writing buddy. To work with a writing buddy, schedule regular writing times and then both of you should write during the scheduled time. You don’t have to be in the same location as your writing buddy while you write. You just need a way to communicate. After your set writing time for the day is up, email or call your buddy to report your progress. Having someone to be accountable to will make it easier to stay focused for a specific amount of time.

7. Be sure you have a realistic marketing plan and work schedule every Monday morning BEFORE your work week begins. When you know WHAT you need to write and WHEN you need to write it, you’ll find it easier to get started each day and it will be easier to stay focused. Plus, you won’t waste precious writing time trying to figure out WHAT to write. Make as many decisions about WHAT to write on the weekend when you’re making your weekly marketing plan and your writing schedule for the coming week.

8. Set writing goals for each day. Plan to write just one page of your novel or nonfiction book per day, for example. Then, if you write more than that on any given day, you’ll be elated. If you only manage to eek out one page you’ll still feel good because you met your goal for the day. When you have specific writing goals for each writing session, you’re more likely t stay focused and you’ll usually meet those goals rather than just get a little writing done.

9. Record your progress. Are you writing every day? For how long? You’ll be motivated to keep going, and you’ll be better able to stay focused, if you SEE that you’re making progress. You don’t have to make BIG progress every day. A little progress consistently over time is what really adds up.

10. Learn HOW to write the type of thing you’re trying to write. If you’ve decided to write a novel, read books about writing novels, sign up for a novel writing workshop or course online or at your local college. If you know HOW to do something, you won’t feel like you’re just driving around in the dark with no destination. You’ll know where and how to get where you want to go, so you’ll be more likely to stick with it till you get there.

11. Stay relaxed as you write. Listen to relaxation tapes. Take a walk, do whatever you need to do to clear your mind before you sit down to write. If you write in a stressed or frazzled state the work won’t be as good. Plus, you’ll tend to freeze up and not get much accomplished.

12. Set your intentions before you begin your writing for the day. You might say to yourself, “Today’s writing will be easy and enjoyable and the article I’m working on will seem to write itself.” It’s amazing how much this affects not only the quality of your writing but also the writing process itself.

Follow these tips and you’ll have an easier time staying focused on your writing. You’ll enjoy the writing process more, too.


December 23, 2009

I did it!

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 9:58 pm

   This year’s Christmas season has been like no other. I have been much
   more relaxed and much more focused than in previous years. And I have
   been writing and producing words and pages of manuscripts. I am really
   proud of myself!
   I think that part of it was forming an intention to write each and every
   day. About a week ago, the concept of ‘intention’ was introduced to me by
   several people. First, I have been reading a few books by Deepak Chopra
   and he talks a lot about forming intentions and how to bring them about.
   My second source came about intentions came from Suzanne Lieurance
   from the Childrens Writers’ Coaching Club in one of last week’s
   teleclasses. She said that we have to form an intention and then work
   positively work to bring it about.
   And that is what I tried to do for this past week. And it worked!  I
   actually did continue writing two hours every day, including today.
   Thanks Suzanne for that tip!  I really needed to hear that. And I was
   really able to apply it to my writing and make it work!
   I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very merry
   Christmas and may all your writing dreams come through in 2010. I will
   now take a much needed break and resume my blogging next week.

December 22, 2009

Plunging Closer and Closer to Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 10:52 pm

   It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is three days away and I am still
   writing and quite relaxed. No, the chaos hasn’t taken over yet. And there is
   less and less time for it to consume me now! So, I think I really could
   congratulate myself for staying calm and productive until now.
   I still did manage to write for two hours this morning. I also did about an
   hour of marketing research and promotional stuff, along with reading and
   other things. So, I am quite proud of myself. I hope all of you are writing as
   well and keeping productive.
   For the rest of this blog today, I would like you to spend a few minutes
   with me pondering the past year. How was your year? What would you like
   to do different next year? What would you like to accomplish both for your
   writing and personally?
   Every year around this time, I sit down and think about the year that
   passed and the year to come. There are a lot of things that I would like to
   change and some things that I would like to improve on. Here are a few
   First, I would like to take better care of myself this year so that I could
   write more and not feel overwhelmed with deadlines. I write both
   academically and creatively as some of you know. So, it takes a lot of
   juggling and deadlines to do both kinds of writing successfully in the two
   different domains.
   So, let’s see, how can I better take care of myself? For one thing, I will
   devote certain parts of every day for me. I will call this part of my day ‘my
   time’. And during this ‘my time’, I will journal, meditate, exercise, and just
   lay low in order to rejuvenate some of my lost energies. During ‘my time’,
   there will be no disturbances. I will make sure I tell everyone in my family
   when this time will be and I will expect this time to be honoured, unless it
   is an emergency.
   Second, I will do one thing that I find very enjoyable each and every day,
   regardless of how busy I am. During one of my journalling sessions in the
   past few days, I listed 100 things that bring me peace and joy. I have found
   that certain things just make me feel so good. Even the thought of doing
   them brings a smile on my face. So, I will make sure that I do some of these
   pleasurable things on a consistent basis.
   Third, I will be a bit more egoistical this year. I will do things that I need
   to do when I need to do them. I won’t let myself be bamboozled into agreeing
   to do something when my body or soul is yelling ‘NO’, for instance. I will pay
   much more attention to my inner voice than last year.
   So, these are the three ways that I will commit to taking better care of
   myself.  What will you be doing to take better care of yourself in the new
   I wish all of you a healthy, peaceful and productive new year!

December 21, 2009

Is it Feeling a Lot Like Christmas in Terms of Your Productivity?

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 9:43 pm

    How are you doing with your writing this week? Did you decide to keep writing
   despite the pending holidays?
   I have decided to keep writing and to keep on track up until, and including,
   Wednesday. In previous years, I wasted way too much time preparing for Christmas. Of
   course, it helps that I am not hosting the Christmas dinner this year. Also, I am buying all
   of my deserts, except for my shortbread.  So, I am making more time to write, journal, and
   to actually mentally prepare myself for the new year.
   Around November of this year, I decided that I wasn’t going to be as hurried and
   frantic around the Christmas season this year. Last year, I had a terrible migraine right on
   Christmas day. So, this year, I hope to avoid that kind of thing. I also decided that I was
   going to develop a different kind of mind set this year.  And so far I am still right on track
   and I haven’t felt that chaos in my soul that I felt every Christmas!
   I think I will use this Blog to let you know how I am doing in this domain and how
   much writing I am actually doing up to December 24th. This will be a way to keep me
   committed to writing and to keeping myself from jumping off the cliff to utter dismay and
   chaos. Further, by sharing this with my readers, I am making an intention to do things
   I am also taking the time to journal every day. I have done this in previous years.
   However, it’s been at least five years since I really journalled in any kind of serious way
   around the end of the year. So, this holiday will be my first time in a while to regroup.
   Today, I did my two hours of writing, one hour of marketing and promoting and half
   an hour of Blogging. I hope that you have the same kind of experience too and keep
   writing for a day or so more. It will be worth it in terms of you’re your output,
   productivity, and self-confidence. And if you are anything like me, I find that writing
   centers me and helps me not to get as flustered as I would normally.
   So happy writing for the next few days. And please let me know how you are doing.

December 20, 2009

Writing your Goals for 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 9:01 pm

   Every year around this time, I start thinking about my goals and priorities for
   2010 in all parts of my life. Since this blog is devoted mostly to writing, I will
   share my writing goals for 2010 below. Before I do that though I want to focus
   on why it is important to set goals and to state what these are to someone else
   other than yourself.
   For a long time, psychologists have said that the practise of writing down
   your goals on paper and having them visible so that you could refer to them
   often can really help you to accomplish them. Apparently, this visual
   representation of your goals helps remind you that these are things that you
   said that you would accomplish.
   Secondly, writing down your writng goals can help to reinforce them and to
   make you commit yourself to those goals. Now this doesn’t necessarily work for
   everyone. But it does for most. There is something about the actual ‘act’ of
   writing that poises your mind to focus on these goals.
   Lastly, the practise of writing down your goals, especially if you share them
   with other writers or friends, can act as a type of contract between you and the
   others that you are sharing your goals with. It makes you committed to them in
   a very significant way.
   This year I have an added advantage. The moderator of one of the critique
   group’s that I belong suggested that we each send our writing goals to the
   members of the group for 2010. She shared hers and then we were invited to
   share ours.
   I immediately jumped at the chance of sharing my writing goals because I
   always wanted to do this but didn’t have anyone to share my goals with. I did
   write them down for myself each year, but the act of sharing them with others
   was even a better experience for me. I felt as if I was going to be even more
   committed to my writing goals this year. Thank you Laura!
   And to be even more committed to my goals, I will also share them with all
   of you here. 
   My goals for 2010 are as follows:
   1. Write for two hours each day consistently
   2. Send one article out per month to magazines
   3. Write one new article per month
   4. Do a lot more marketing research every month
   5. Write three new picture books and send a query to publishers when I am
   finished the first draft for each of them.
   6. Fill out a marketing plan each week and try to follow it.

   What are your goals for 2010?  This may be a good time to write them down
   for yourself and share them with your critique groups.
   Have a productive and Healthy 2010!

December 19, 2009

Starting Your Masterpiece

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 6:57 pm

Today, I was reading over a piece by Suzanne Lieurance from the Children Writers’
Coaching Club.  She is so full of inspiring words for aspiring writers! 

Ponder Suzanne’s words and have a good and productive writing day!
And don’t forget to start your masterpiece today!


The Writer’s Life – Start YOUR Masterpiece, By Suzanane Lieurance



Over the Thanksgiving weekend, my husband and I attended a performance of Handel’s Messiah. It was quite a performance and it got me to thinking about masterpieces and how they are created. Despite the scope and length of the oratorio, Handel completed this piece in just 24 days, although he did later revise it.

What will you be doing for the next 24 days – or for the next 24 years, for that matter? What will you leave the world (or at least your family) to enjoy long after you are gone?

I think everyone has a burning desire deep down inside of them to create something wonderful. They may not be able to compose beautiful music or paint a lovely picture on canvas, but everyone can create something. And, if you’re reading this right now, chances are, you’re a writer. So your masterpiece will probably be something you write – maybe a book, a play, a short story, or a poem.

A masterpiece doesn’t need to be created overnight or even in just 24 days. In fact, I think a masterpiece should be something the creator savors working on, little by little, for weeks, months, or even years.

I’m going to think about what I can start writing in 2010 that will become MY masterpiece. I’ll also look forward to coaching many other writers to start their masterpieces. Maybe you’ll be one of those writers I coach. Better get ready. Start planning YOUR masterpiece now, too.

December 17, 2009

The Importance of Vision Boards

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 9:06 pm

  I discovered the notion of vision boards a while ago and I think it is very
important for writers to use some kind of wallboard to develop their stories and articles.
I know I will try and make sure that I try that concept so that I could keep a visual
reminder of what I am writing. What a handy tool.

  Below I include Suzanne Lieurance’s discussion of Wallboards in her latest Newsletter
for the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club. I hope you find it as insightful as I have.

  If you would like to get more information on how to belong to the Club please go to: Since I joined, I have learned so much.


 The Vision Board as Writer’s Tool, by Suzanne Lieurance

Typically, a vision board is a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. Literally, a vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life. But a vision board can also be used a little bit differently as a writer’s tool.

I often create a vision board with images of the characters, settings, and other elements I wish to create in a new book or story. I’m a very visual person, and seeing my characters and settings in pictures helps me write about them in greater detail so I’m able to more fully bring them to life for my readers.

Before I start writing a new novel, I create a chapter by chapter outline of the plot. As I’m creating this outline, I learn who my characters will be and where the action will take place (the setting). As I’m working on the outline, I also leaf through magazines for pictures of people and places that look like the characters and settings I’ve envisioned in my mind for the story. I also search for pictures of other objects that might belong to my main characters – a car, for example, or a beautiful house on the beach, or a run down aparment. I cut out these magazine pictures and put them in a project folder. Once I finish my outline, I tack up these photos on the bulletin board that hangs on the wall over the computer where I write each day. Sometimes I put the pictures in some sort of order. For example, once I cut out pictures to represent each of the buildings on Main Street in the fictional town I created for a story. This way, as I was writing, I didn’t have to remember if the bakery was next to the dry cleaner’s. I just looked up at the vision board to see where everything was located.

As I write my story, I glance up at this vision board occasionally to remind myself of all that I know about my characters and the setting. When I’m writing about my main character, a look at my vision board reminds me that he drives a Mini Cooper, for example, and not just any old car.

A vision board also helps me get a “feel” for the setting I am writing about. When I write a scene that takes place on the beach, and I look up at a picture of the beach on my vision board, it’s much easier to include a variety of sensory details to describe the beach.

Creating a vision board for a novel can be both fun and productive. The trick is not to get so caught up looking for interesting pictures that you never get the novel written!

How Can You Write During the Holidays?

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 12:06 am

   Yesterday, I reflected on how we could make ‘space’ for writing during
   the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Today, I will reflect on how to actually
   write during those busiest times of the year.
   I am a member of the Children’s Writer’s Coaching Club. Last week, there
   was an insightful teleclass entitled “Writing In The Holiday Season”  by Simon
   Rose on this very topic.  I want to share some of his insights here and how I
   have taken some of his advice to try to make sure that I write during this
   holiday season.
   One of the first things that Simon Rose mentioned was the importance of
   time management during the holidays. It is important for writers to plan to
   write every day. For myself, I devote a certain part of every day to writing.
   The early mornings from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. work for me. I love waking up
   early and spending an hour or two writing before everyone wakes up.
   Secondly, Simon Rose asserted that writers must be ruthless with their
   time during the holidays. You can do this by cutting out any activities that
   will eat up a lot of time and that won’t really help you enjoy the holidays. For
   instance, are there office parties or other parties that you don’t need to go to?
   If there are, you could spend that time writing. Or, can you delegate some
   Christmas tasks to others?  If yes, this will give you even more time to write.
   That is precisely what I plan to do this holiday: delegate, delegate, delegate.
   It will become my new mantra.
   Third, when you set time to write, you should indeed write and not do
   anything else, such as cruise the Internet, answer E-mails, and so on. When
   you devote an hour to write, you must write for that whole hour. You must
   make every second count. That is a real problem that I have. When I get on
   the computer, the first thing I do is check my E-mails. Then I answer E-mails.
   By then, at least fifteen minutes have gone by and I haven’t started writing.
   From now on, I will make sure that if I devote an hour to writing, I will write
   and then check my E-mails. That way I will really get a lot more writing
      If you are interested in purchasing the interview, please go to the
   Children’s Writer’s Coaching Club at:, or
   you could email me at: and I will send you the link to purchase
   Simon Rose’s teleclass.
   Happpy Holiday writing!

December 16, 2009

The Holidays and Productivity

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 12:05 am

   Well, it’s to believe, but it is ten days to Christmas. Time has certainly
   flown by and so far I have been keeping at my writing rituals without any
   difficulty. I hope it continues that way.
   Most of us are so busy shopping, cleaning, entertaining and running
   around that we don’t take the time to keep up with our writing. This can
   leave us very frustrated after the holidays just knowing that we could have
   written so much but instead we were running around like little chickens in
   Last year in the month of December, I was productive until about five or
   so days before Christmas. Then the bottom fell out of my writing schedule. I
   couldn’t concentrate and all I did was run. Around the 20th of December, I
   started frantically baking, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and wrapping
   presents. Then I had to cook the Turkey and prepare a dinner for fifteen
   people and three kids. I became so exhausted that I developed a migraine
   right on Christmas Eve.
   When Christmas was over, and I took the time to reflect on the holidays, I
   discovered that I could certainly have done things very differently to avoid a
   migraine and becoming so frustrated and exhausted. This is what I decided:
   1.  I will write for an hour a day, even on Christmas day.
   2.  I will stick to my usual routines of exercise, meditation, alone time, and
   getting spiritually ready for the holidays. After all, Christmas is a spiritual
   time more than anything else.

   3.  I will NOT over commit to things each and every day. I will plan my
   activities each day the night before and I won’t do more than is on the list.
   And I will not put more than FIVE things on that list.

   4.   I will delegate as much as possible. I will buy my Christmas Cake, Log
   and sausage rolls, buns, and bread. I will not be baking until I drop. I will
   also buy my shortbread.

   5.  I will take turns hosting Christmas Dinner for the family. I won’t do the
   meal each and every year. And THIS year it is MY turn to NOT cook!
   So, hopefully this new routine will help me to write more and not be as
   exhausted this year. I will let you know around December 27th or so.
   So, please take care to have a happy, productive and spiritual holiday this
   year!  I will try to do so too.

December 15, 2009

Discovering your Completion Patterns for Manuscripts

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 12:10 am

   Discovering what tricks help you to complete your writing projects and
   what makes you not finish them can really help to boast your productivity as
   a writer. I know that it really did help me when I became aware of certain
   patterns of action and laxity in my behaviors and revision habits.
   Let me first focus on my habitual pattern for completing projects and
   where the problems start to arise. I usually have absolutely no difficulty
   writing a first draft of any article or book/novel. However, around the fourth
   or fifth stage of the revisionary process, I become quite frustrated and bored.
   Let me explain.
   First, I give myself a definite time line to have a manuscript revised. If it is
   a book or novel, I give typically myself six weeks. If it is an article or story, I
   give myself two weeks. After this time, I put the manuscript away for at least
   a couple of weeks before tackling revision number two.
   Second, since I know that second revisions are the difficult for me to get
   through because of boredom, I break up the task into smaller units. So, for
   instance for every hour that I revise, I spend another half hour writing
   something new. That works wonders in keeping me from getting bored.
   Third, once I have gotten through my second revision of a manuscript, I
   put the manuscript away for about a month. Then I give myself a spa
   afternoon as a reward for a job well done. I take the afternoon off and go for
   a manicure or pedicure. I also take the time to meditate and just do the things
   that I love. This is my reward for working through the second draft. 
   Fourth, after a few weeks, I go over the manuscript again. This time I just
   sit and read the whole thing as if I was an editor. I look for inconsistencies
   and redundancies and I just make sure that everything is in place. This is
   the most difficult stage in the revision process for me. Since I know that I
   have easily given up during this stage of revision in the past, I give myself a
   reward in the middle of the revision. I usually go out for lunch with a few
   friends or I do something special that really makes me happy. This way, I
   find it much easier to finish up the revision and put it aside.
      It is after this revision that I send the manuscript to my critique group for
   evaluation and assessment. This is the point at which I need feedback from
   others. Then it is time to do my last and final revision. For myself, this is
   usually the time that I abandon projects. I don’t quite know why yet. But I
   have at least five manuscripts in a filing cabinet that I have abandoned at this
   stage. For some reason, these projects just weren’t interesting or viable any
   more. And that is a real pity, because they were so CLOSE to being
   completely revised and sent out.  I am working on the habits and attitudes
   behind this  stage of revision to make sure that I can send off these
   What are your patterns of completion and incompletion for manuscripts?
   It may be really helpful to you to determine what they are so that you could
   avoid some of the pitfalls in the future.

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