In Praise of the One Word New Year Resolution

Before I give you the secret to the one word resolution, lets take a sympathetic look at how difficult others make the task of setting annual New Year’s resolutions  🙂

One Word New Year Resolution

The USA.gov website lists the ten most popular resolutions Americans make. Number one is spend more time with family and friends, and number two is fitness. Click here to see the other popular resolutions in America.

Statistic Brain is a website of statistics, percentages, rankings, and all things numbers. They site that a mere 9% of people who make resolutions are successful in achieving them! People in their twenties have a 38% rate of success compared to people over 50 who achieve at 16% rate. Click here to read all their Resolution statistics.

And Forbes has a piece about making your New Year’s resolutions stick. The author, Amy Morin, gives four keys to help. I like number two: Believe You Can Do It, where she talks about reducing negative thinking. Click here to read her article.

According to Business Insider, there are even apps to help people accomplish New Year’s resolutions. Each of the five apps they highlight are for a specific resolution such as wanting to reduce stress or learn a new language. The idea is that whatever your resolution, you might find an app to help you achieve it. Click here to read their piece.

I should say I’m not against writing a long list of resolutions or goals each year. But I’ve found this one word method really kept me focused and centered. It’s a daily reminder–or however often you want to look at it–of what matters to you. The one word does not cause stress. There aren’t lists of items to check off. There’s no guilt as the months progress. There’s no time required to read through lists, adjust goals, cross off items, or add new items. The one word needn’t require a “to do” rather the one word can invoke a “to be” where you can easily identify if you are or are not being this word.

I learned about the one word approach at a New Year’s brunch with a few dear writer friends at a time in my life when I was incredibly overwhelmed and I didn’t have the energy to create a list of goals. But I could resolve to be one word. That was about all I could handle.  Now looking back I see that my one word goal was so simple that it was both achievable and inspiring. The trick is selecting the one word that truly represents your most important goal. Here are some examples: productivity, organize, appreciate, balance, discover, fearless, flexible, and declutter.  Here’s one I wish a friend of mine would adapt: No. She says yes to everyone and has little time left for herself or her writing.  Writers might pick a word like: prioritize or diversify.  Last year my word was submit.  It helped me focus on a weakness: I would write and edit pieces, but never spend time researching markets or submitting my work.  And last year, with this one-word goal, I had the most submissions, rejections, and acceptances, in my career. My word for next year should be sleep, since I didn’t get much of it.  Instead my word for the new year is thrive.  When I’m presented with an invitation or opportunity I can ask myself, will this activity help me thrive?  Then I can decide if I want to accept it or not.  If you’re one who enjoys writing several New Year’s resolutions, go for it.  Then see if you can find one word that sums up the most important ones.  And tell us your word for 2018 in the comments below.

 

How to Write a How-To Book

I’m offering a new How-To class for writers.  Space is limited.  Register today.

How to Write a How-To Book by Victoria M. Johnson

How to Write a How-To Book

Oct 30, 2017 to Nov 20, 2017

Do you want to write a book that will help people? If you have experience or knowledge in a topic for a book that gives instruction, guidance, and tips to inspire others then come learn how simple and fun it is to write a How-to book. How-to books are among the most popular with readers. They are seeking your wisdom and know-how to improve their lives. Discover the types of how-to writing and find the best one for your topic. The motivating instruction, handouts, and in-class writing exercises will provide you with a blueprint to write your own how-to book.

Register online NOW!   click here

Held at Capitola Community Center from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  4 Mondays.

For More Information or to Register by Phone: (831) 475-6115

Instructor Bio:  Victoria M. Johnson is a published author and filmmaker. Her published works include The Doctors Dilemma (Avalon Books), the nonfiction work Grant Writing 101: Everything You Need To Start Raising Funds Today (McGraw-Hill), and four other books. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies. Victoria is both writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries. She has presented workshops on writing in the Bay Area; Chicago; Washington, DC; Vancouver, Canada; and New York.

Seven Ways Writers Lives Have Changed

While attempting to declutter my office–to make room for more necessary things–I came across a box of cassette tapes of workshops given by some of my favorite authors.  There was a time when I did not get in my car unless I had a cassette to listen to while driving.  Times have certainly changed for me because now I get in my car for silence.  The beautiful, though temporary, silence.  That box of cassettes got me thinking about what else has changed for me as a writer.  I began writing in the early nineties–not that long ago, I know–but I work so very differently now.  See if you can relate to any of these obsolete activities.

  1. I knew librarians not only at my branch but other branches, too. I often asked for help locating material for a topic I was researching. (Well, I still know my local librarian’s names but they don’t point me in the same direction they once did).  Back then, the source for research usually started with one of the big sets of encyclopedias.  Now libraries don’t carry these bulky sets. Seven Ways Writers Lives Have Changed
  1. I typed on a typewriter that had ribbons that needed to be replaced when the ink ran dry. We were poor (which is why I had an old typewriter) so I always rewound the ribbon and gave it a second, sometimes third, life before I replaced it. Read fellow author Sheila Claydon’s experience about typing her first manuscript.
  1. I befriended the copy store staff. I even had an account because I made so many copies they gave me a discount. Don’t forget we didn’t have multifunction printers in our homes.  Copies of chapters for critique groups, contest entries, and manuscripts had to be made at a copy store.  Seven Ways Writers Lives Have Changed
  1. I befriended post office staff. In those days manuscripts had to be mailed along with an SASE (self-addressed-stamped-envelope). The post office staff always inquired on what I was writing and mailing out, and I put one or two of them in my stories.
  1. Another thing I did was wait for the telephone to ring. Email wasn’t invented yet so writers either got a rejection letter by mail or an offer by telephone. This hopeful writer waited by the telephone, not the mailbox. Seven Ways Writers Lives Have Changed
  1. I never had to think about book promotion. This is a state I miss most about the early days of my writing career. I just focused on writing.  What a novel concept.  Seven Ways Writers Lives Have Changed
  1. I had a drink. If a rejection letter did arrive I would have a cocktail such as a frothy, salt-rimmed margarita and I called a dear friend for moral support and to commiserate with. Oh, wait. I still do that.

Popular romance author Leigh Michaels shares the nostalgia of her first home office (clickhere).  How about you?  What has changed in your writing life since you first started writing?  Share in the comments below.

 

I Am Writing

I’ve been busy typing away on my newest nonfiction book.  So happy to be in the zone.  How about you?  Are you making progress on your latest creative project?  How does your space look when you’re in the throes of creativity?  My space tends to get a bit messy, but I don’t mind.  Tap, tap, tap, my fingers race to keep up with my thoughts.  Today I am thankful to be a writer.

  As Lawrence Kasdan says, “Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.”

Top 10 Signs that You’re an Author Entrepreneur by Beth Barany

Top 10 Signs that You’re an Author Entrepreneur by Beth Barany

You’re a creative writer, a novelist or short story writer, or maybe you write novellas, too. In any event, this article was especially written with the fiction writer in mind. If you write creative nonfiction and use the tools of story telling in your work, you’ll probably relate to these signs as well. If you’re any other kind of writer, I’m sure you’ll find some value here too!

#10: You notice the bestseller’s list in the newspaper and online.

You track the New York Times, USA Today’s, your local newspaper, and Amazon’s bestsellers’ lists and day dream about having your book on the list.

Secret: Author entrepreneurs think big and aim for the top.

#9: You’re fierce about protecting your writing time and get upset or cranky or [fill in the blank with something not fun] when you don’t get your writing time in.

Creativity is a habit and when we go off our good habit we don’t feel right. Okay, I’ll speak for myself; I do get cranky, and a little bit snippy to my husband. (Good thing he’s a writer too, so he gets me. But still! Sure sign I need to get back to my writing routine if I start snipping at him.) As a good friend once said to me, “You need to work on grand projects, otherwise, you get crabby.” What could be more grand than creating whole worlds in novel form?!

Secret: Successful authors are productive.

#8: You have a million story ideas a day.

Okay, maybe not a million, but lots. I’m working on one story and another clamors for my attention. My system is to note the new idea in my journal, or if I’m at my computer, in Scrivener (a cool and affordable writing tool). When I’m really on fire about a new idea, I’ll take the time to research and document my findings and story ideas.

Secret: Author entrepreneurs say YES to the creative flow, and know how to manage their time and focus.

#7: You know what you want and you go for it.

Let me get more specific. You want to be an author and make money from your books and other creative ideas and be able to sustain and grow your income.

Secret: Author entrepreneurs create goals and plans and know their numbers. Practice setting goals. Actually do it. Revise your goals as you go. Review them regularly and update them as needed. Numbers can include how much money you want to make, how many books you’d like to sell, and how may clients you’d like to serve.

Admission: Writing goals? I’ve done that, after over 22 years of practice. Growing a business? I’m relatively new at it, having run my business for just 7 years. Managing the numbers is a big growth area for me right now.

#6: Other people’s success encourages you to work harder.

When I go to my monthly Romance Writers of America meeting here in the San Francisco area, I am so inspired by the success of my colleagues, and go home with renewed focus and determination.

Secret: Success leaves trails. Who is successful in your specific genre and what can you learn from them?

#5: You’re coming to terms with how art and commerce intersect.

In the last few hundred years a myth has arisen especially in Western culture that art and commerce are like enemies and don’t even speak to each other. Yet, there has been a growing awareness in the business world that they need creativity. And now with the burgeoning DIY market for all artists, and most definitely authors, we’re seeing how we need the skills of business – sales and marketing most specifically – to succeed in this new world. I see learning these skills as an extension of what it means to be an author today. Just like we learned editing and — OMG — writing a synopsis, we can learn how to sell and how to market. Because, guess what, we creative writers already have some of the most highly prized and useful skills needed to succeed, which brings me to our last few signs that you’re an author entrepreneur. So read on!

Secret: Successful author entrepreneurs see the creativity in business and the business in creativity.

#4: You like to think of excellent ways to do harm to your lovely characters.

You are a novelist, or a short story writer, or somewhere in between. You daydream for a living, and not only daydream, but scheme and plot and think up marvelous ways to surprise yourself and your readers. That type of thinking, called lateral thinking in the business world, is key to your work, and to your success.

Secret: Apply lateral – creative — thinking, to how you can best market and sell your books.

#3: You’re in it for the long haul.

It takes, ahem, a while to write a novel. Yes? Even plays, short stories, screenplays, and novellas take time. Writers I know who have finished at least one book (Congratulations!) are persistent, keep going even after long breaks, and see things through to the end of the book.

Secret: Author entrepreneurs persevere.

#2: You finish books.

This point bears repeating. And leads up to the Secret:

Secret: Successful author entrepreneurs finish their books.

And the #1 sign that you are an author entrepreneur: You take risks.

Being a creative is risky business. You put your vision and dream out there for all to see.

Secret: Author entrepreneurs risk and risk again, growing and evolving with the times, trying new things, experimenting, playing, and enjoying the ride.

Do you see yourself in these signs? Share below. I’d love to hear from you!

Guest post: Top 10 Signs that You’re an Author Entrepreneur

Author, speaker, and author’s coach Beth Barany

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Beth Barany is the editor and publisher of the Author Entrepreneurship Magazine. She’s an award winning YA fantasy author, keynote speaker, and author’s coach. A certified Creativity Coach and a Master NLP Practitioner, Beth brings to her work with authors a deep experience and understanding of the creative process. Beth lives in Oakland, California with her husband, bestselling thriller author and speaker, Ezra Barany, and together they enjoy their two cats, watching movies, and travelling to the big cities of the world.

More about her products and services to help fiction writers create successful and sustainable careers at: BethBarany.com.

To sign up for the next issue of the Author Entrepreneurship Magazine go here: AuthorEntrepreneurship.com.

To get fun tips on creative writing from other creative writers, visit Beth’s blog, Writer’s Fun Zone: WritersFunZone.com.

Check out Beth’s courses for authors:

Blog Tour Course Beth BaranyBestseller Weekend Beth Barany

Check out Beth’s books for authors:

Writers Adventure Guide Beth Barany  Twitter for Authors Beth Barany   Overcome Writers Block Beth Barany

To learn about Beth’s award-winning fiction, go to her fiction author site.

Author Entrepreneur Magazine Beth BaranyBeth loves staying in touch via the social media channels:

Facebook

Twitter     LinkedIn

Pinterest    Instagram

 

Creative Spaces — Post by Victoria M. Johnson

Creative Spaces

I love my writing space. I have a large Mac computer where I do most of my writing. It sits in a corner of my office surrounded by bookshelves, writerly magazines, and notepads. I wish I could say I keep the desk clean, but paper clutter is a constant struggle for me. I’m always working on something, taking notes for something else, and keeping track of things to do. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who fights the paper demon. I also have a weakness that often overtakes my office–I love books. I have too many but there is always another one I want. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, short stories and anthologies all beckon me. If I lived in a larger home that wouldn’t be much of a problem, but we live in an 800 square foot mobile home!  I’m happy here; it’s the perfect size home for us, set in the perfect location. I know I just need to read faster so I can pass the books on.

My office inspires me. When I first enter the room I see a few writing awards I’ve received hanging on the wall. I have encouraging quotes and affirmations around my desk area that I can easily see as I’m writing. And some interesting images and fun pieces of art make me smile when I glance at them. All of these things spark my creativity. But what about sparking my productivity?

I’ve had to resort to using an egg timer. That’s right. I have an egg timer on my desk. I use it to limit my time doing things that I find irresistible that aren’t writing. The major temptation that takes me away from writing is Twitter. Followed by Pinterest. Both of these distractions are so enjoyable that if I don’t watch myself, I can spend hours every day there. The egg timer is my only defense to ensure I stay productive and create new material everyday. I also use the egg timer to trick myself into doing tasks that I don’t feel like doing. I’ll say to myself, “You only have to spend 25 minutes editing this piece” or “Just take 15 minutes to read email.”  If I don’t do a little bit at a time, then the task piles up into a really unpleasant chore. So the egg timer serves a dual purpose, and I found a cool looking one.

Creative Spaces post by Victoria M. Johnson

Victoria finds inspiration in her small corner desk space.

My husband and I have lived in this home for nearly three years. I created a short story collection titled, The Substitute Bride, while living here. I’ve also written my first poem and several more poems since moving here. I’ve worked on film projects in this home. I’m editing two major pieces that were partially written in our previous house: one is a mainstream thriller and the other is a nonfiction book. And I’m working on a new short story collection. I’m eager to return to a romance novel that I entirely mapped out last year, but I got distracted by my publishing house (Avalon Books) selling to a new publisher (Montlake Romance) and I decided to wait until all that dust settled before writing it.

I don’t listen to music while I write, but I do like music when I’m on social media, tidying up my office, or handling the business aspects of writing. I don’t look out the window of my office because that distracts me. But I sometimes sit by the window of our dining room when I write poetry.

My office is my creative sanctuary. My writing style is reflected in this space.  One glimpse at my office and you’ll know this about my writing: 1. I have an optimistic outlook. 2. I believe in clearing away clutter and leaving only what’s absolutely needed 3. Timing is everything, and 4. I adore intriguing images.

No matter the size of your space, make it an inviting atmosphere. Then, once there, write. Fight off the distractions. Protect your writing time. Only you can control your productivity. You also need to fight off insecurities about yourself as a writer. Many writers experience doubts at one time or another. Write down affirmations and post them near your computer. One of mine says, “I have interesting stories to tell.” Another says, “I have a unique voice.” I see them everyday and these help boost my confidence. Write four or five and post them where you’ll see them.

Bio: Victoria M. Johnson is published in fiction and nonfiction. She also writes and directs short films. Read her full bio here. You’d make her happy if you followed her on Twitter and Facebook, or even Pinterest.

Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Beate Boeker

Creative Spaces

My workspace is one of the smallest and least impressive looking author offices you can imagine. It’s in the middle of the living room, and while writing, I’m reclining in a loom armchair with my feet up on a multi-cushioned stool, lifting my legs high. My keyboard is on my lap, and as I tend to freeze easily, I’m usually swathed in one to three extra blankets, with the occasional curl sticking out. Not that it’s always freezing in Germany, where I live, but it’s always good to have an extra blanket handy! I love that writing position and feel that it’s important for my health because I sit in an office all day long and all that sitting is not good. At least, while it’s technically still sitting, this gives me a bit of variation. It also makes me feel very relaxed. Basically, I don’t like to sit on chairs. I much prefer to sit on the floor!

My flat screen is fixed with a bracket to the wall, and I can swivel it around, depending on the jobs I do. When writing a novel, I turn it so that it looks more like a book. In doing so, I can make the print very large and still see a lot of text (which is necessary because I’m far away from the monitor due to my reclining position!).

Another essential is a mug with green tea next to me. I easily down half a gallon while writing without noticing it. My somewhat antique wooden desk is only there to hold my mug and my mouse and a notebook. It has roughly the size of a standard towel and boasts a tiny, overstuffed drawer. I like that it’s small because I don’t work well in cluttered surroundings, and I’ve learned that it’s easier to keep a small place under control than a large one. 😉

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Beate Boeker

German author Beate Boeker’s creative writing space is in the middle of her living room.

Usually, people say they can’t work when surrounded by people, but I like it because it makes me feel that I’m still with my family and not shut apart from them. I read them excerpts, discuss my plots and just continue when any immediate emergency (like finding those very important trousers or judging a brand-new drawing) is dealt with. It’s only when I’m writing very touching scenes that I need silence around me. I never listen to music while I write because music changes my mood dramatically, and that would reflect in the novel.

As to my books, I’m writing romances and cozy mysteries with mischief and humor and am just busy plotting the fourth novel in the series Temptation in Florence. The second novel (Charmer’s Death) will be free May 15 – 19, but if you want to start at the beginning, here’s the link to Amazon for the first, Delayed Death.

The most important advice I would give to any aspiring author: Learn the craft from professionals, and then, persevere. Never give up. It takes years to learn any other job, so give yourself time. While writing, little voices will tell you that it’s all crap, all boring, and that nobody will ever want to read this. Don’t listen. Write on. The little voices are wrong, and if you take advice from professional writers, your writing will shine one day.

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Beate BoekerBio:  Beate Boeker is a traditionally published author since 2008 and has 11 novels and short stories online available. Some of them were shortlisted for the Golden Quill Contest, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the “best indie books of 2012” contest.

Beate is a marketing manager by day and a writer by night. She has a degree in International Business Administration and her daily experience in marketing continuously provides her with a wide range of fodder for her novels, be it hilarious or cynical.

Widely traveled, she speaks German (her mother language), English, French and Italian fluently and lives in the North of Germany together with her husband and daughter.

While ‘Boeker’ means ‘books’ in a German dialect, her first name Beate can be translated as ‘Happy’ . . . and with a name that reads ‘Happy Books’, what else could she do but write novels with a happy end?

Although being German, she has chosen to write in English because she appreciates the professional support and training opportunities a writer can find in the US.  Contact Beate Boeker on her Website, Facebook page, Amazon author page, Goodreads author page, and on Twitter: @BeateBoeker

Also, check out Beate’s Book Trailer.

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Beate Boeker

Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Sayantani DasGupta

Creative Spaces

On Being a Woman Writer: An Open Letter to Virginia Woolf

Dear Virginia [comma, space, enter, I write]

Regarding the issue of being a woman writer, [pause, fingers poised over keyboard]

I am so screwed. [Appropriateness of using profanity with dead literary legend? Unknown.]

I am all asunder. [??]

It’s not easy, that’s all I’m saying.

Not only do I not have a room of my own (I’m typing this perched on the King size bed, legs tucked, computer leaning against my pelvic bone and the deep grooved C-section scar that seems made to help balance a laptop), but the room I do have is stuffed to the brim with:

1. books [nonnegotiable]
2. dressers [necessary]
3. a drying rack draped crookedly with a red and yellow kitchen tablecloth.
4. toys that are not mine
5. a husband that is
6. [most distracting] endless baskets of unfolded laundry

The heaps of tumultuous clothing whine and tantrum at me, but I force myself to ignore them [the parenting guides say you shouldn’t reward bad behavior]. To them, I am that very bad mother in the grocery line, at the park, on the street, who is able to look smoothly away even when a small, lost voice begs her to come make everything tidy again. But I know it’s a temporary respite; I can’t ignore them forever. Already my accursed third floor washing machine is swooshing and bucking in its closet down the hall, promising the birth of more chaos into this room which is where I write.

I have to write quickly, Virginia, before these pebbles I have been rolling around in my mouth all day, repeating and reciting and reforming, lose their nuance and their groove, and smooth over, becoming blank faced and heavy. By tomorrow these words will become inarticulate stones in my pockets, dragging me down into distraction, so that I will snap unnecessarily at my children, break my own rules about junk food snacking to keep them quiet, and most shockingly, turn on the television just because they ask, as I desperately scribble with pen, pencil, crayon — anything I can find — on the back of grocery receipts, cell phone bills, and yellow sticky pads which I’ve taken to keeping all around the house just for this purpose. I will write feverishly until my hand aches and still, like one of those dreams where your leaden feet cannot outrun the hungry wolves, the phrases slip through my fingers, sliding off the page into puddles on the floor, leaving me drowning and bereft.

Tonight, I’m losing the battle before I’ve begun. Soon my son will start to cough, cough, cough, the sound echoing with gaps through my fancy baby monitor that circulates through three separate stations even though I only have two children. Cough, static, static, cough. I will try and coax him to drink a little water from a sports bottle. Even in sleep he will protest at a sippy cup – “I’m a big boy.” But I know if I leave a real cup of water by his bed, it will spill and soak the bedclothes like the day I delivered him, when my water broke, as if in the movies — whoosh — all over everything, and then this mother-writer was born.

If I am unlucky, his coughs will awaken his sister, who is but a temporary visitor to her very beautiful, expensive Italian crib, and most nights takes up half of this King size, sleeping spread eagle horizontally between her parents as all children everywhere know how to do from birth. Her screams will inevitably interrupt what will feel like the very first sentence I have ever written. I will deftly try to keep typing with one hand, a trapeze artist, while lifting up my T-shirt with the other, shoving a nipple into her mouth. Then I will prop her head on a pillow next to my left breast — I’ve got the routine down — my left elbow carefully curves around the dark curls on her head, and if I sit just so I can reach the computer with both hands. Mercifully, she will fall asleep, as she does every night, undoubtedly wondering why sweet, warm milk so often comes accompanied by the rapid clickety clack of her mother typing 50 or 60 words per minute, filling up the equally hungry blank screen.

A cough, Virginia, a cry. From me and my darlings both. This labor of writing is equally painful and wonderful as those other pains that nearly split me in two before the surgeon’s scalpel did just so, cleaving tiny newborn from the open wound. Though locked in a battle of rivalry to match no other, they are all mine, all beloved, all of my body, these blessedly hearty children of flesh and blood — and their anemic, if equally demanding, literary siblings.

The laundry is done; here comes its final, vibrating shudder — like some mechanized orgasm. Which means, of course, that my time is almost up.

Until, my dear, tomorrow night.
I remain,

A Woman Writer

Creative Spaces guest post by Sayantani DasGupta

Physician, writer, and mother of two, Sayantani DasGupta uses her bed for writing.

Bio: Sayantani DasGupta originally trained in pediatrics and public health, Sayantani DasGupta’s teaching and scholarship is in medical humanities and feminist science studies. She teaches at the Master’s Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University and the Graduate Program in Health Advocacy at Sarah Lawrence College.  She is the co-author of The Demon Slayers and Other Stories: Bengali Folktales (Interlink, 1995), author of a memoir of her time at Johns Hopkins Medical School, Her Own Medicine: A Woman’s Journey from Student to Doctor (Ballantine, 1999), and co-editor of an award winning collection of women’s illness narratives, Stories of Illness and Healing: Women Write their Bodies (Kent State, 2007). Her creative nonfiction and fiction has been published and anthologized widely and she is represented by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency.  Visit her website at: www.sayantanidasgupta.com and her blog at: http://storiesaregoodmedicine.blogspot.com

Sayantani also writes for Adios, Barbie (www.adiosbarbie.com) and From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors (www.fromthemixedupfiles.com).

 

Creative Spaces guest post by Sayantani DasGuptaCreative Spaces guest post by Sayantani DasGuptaCreative Spaces guest post by Sayantani DasGupta