Monthly Archives: November 2012

Holding it Together When Things Get Busy, Part II

 This is Part II in a series of tools for dealing with the busy times in life. Read the first post in the series here.

Move Unnecessary Stuff Out of Your Body

We all get information constantly.

Unless we have a way of releasing it, we carry it around in our physical bodies. We truly carry the world on our shoulders if we aren’t careful. A physical practice for getting rid of the stuff you don’t need to carry is very useful. Teachers of young children who have embraced the song “Shake My Sillies” out as a tool for getting kids to focus in class know this. Getting the breath moving with a deep inhale followed by a sigh and shaking muscle tension out is a very simple form of Exformation. Repetitive physical activities that you can do without mental wrangling can all be exformational: washing dishes, house-cleaning, knitting, exercising, walking, running. It is a physical form of meditation – letting what you don’t need pass through you.

When we have lots of projects going on, knowing what we need can be challenging, so we tend to hold on to everything and then we burn out, suffering information overload. Using a physical practice to release, we can trust that our bodies know at some subconscious level what we can release.

One of my favourite release techniques is one I learned in acting classes. Hold your upper arms parallel to the floor. Raise your hands and clasp your hands in front of you. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, let out a big, open vowel sound while shaking your arms. The goal is to relax your jaw enough that your lower jaw shakes with your arms. It is hard. Most of us carry huge amounts of tension in our jaws. It is impossible to do this exercise without looking and sounding ridiculous, and if you do it right, your whole body vibrates and all your muscles relax.

Do you have an active practice that helps you release tension or let go of unnecessary concerns?

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Holding it Together When Things Get Busy, Part I

When Things Get Busy

Have you ever found that all the projects you have on the back burner came to a boil at the same time?

It is exciting when projects move from potential to production. But, the transition can require some adjustments. When more than one project makes the switch, your routines may need more than a little tweaking. Changing habits is hard, and especially so with the pressure of imminent deadlines. How do you do manage the transition without tearing your hair out?

Everything in my life has been in overdrive in November except this blog. I have been working behind the scenes to set up several projects.

Coming in 2013, in addition to my writing and theatrical activities, I will be:

  • Training as a writing circle facilitator and setting up a new circle
  • Teaching InterPlay workshops at a new facility
  • Setting up a new business as a creativity coach

All of this started coming together at once. And although it has been an adrenaline-filled rush, it has had me drawing on all of my tools for managing a multivalent life.

If you have been reading this blog for long, you know that my favourite life-management tools come from InterPlay, improv, and theatre.

Coming up over the next few posts, I will share some of the tools I have been relying on heavily over the last month. But first, a quick look at getting started.

Show Up and Start Anywhere

It doesn’t really matter where you start, but you must start. When there are too many things that need doing, just pick something and do it. Activity builds activity. And it doesn’t matter if you could have made a better choice. Getting started will often reveal what needs to be done better than any list-making preparation.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, pick one small task you know will move a project in the right direction. Now go and do it.

Beyond Word Counts: How Do You Measure Progress on Your Novel?

It is November. The annual explosion of bad first drafts, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, is rushing towards its end.

NaNoWriMo is a great tool for folks who need to get past the hurdle of getting a large number of words on paper.

But, what if you want to get past the first draft phase? When you undertake the process of revision, tracking progress is harder.

A novel is a major undertaking. For a novice writer making time to write around a day job and a family, it can take years. A writer without an agent or a contract must  claim small victories to sustain enthusiasm and commitment through-out the process.

What progress can a novelist celebrate during the process?

  • Daily time at work
  • A successful scene
  • Creation of a timeline/an outline/a map or other support material
  • A thematic element repeated throughout the book to create a stream of unity
  • A comprehensive plot that holds together
  • A complete manuscript sent to beta readers
  • Revisions suggested by beta readers incorporated
  • Each time a revision is sent out for feedback and comments are responded to
  • First time pitching the novel
  • Each time pitching the novel
  • Each time the manuscript is sent to an editor or agent
  • Each rejection letter
  • Getting an agent
  • Getting a publishing contract

Some of these milestones are not in the writer’s control, but many of them are. Each incremental step forward should be acknowledged, and preferably celebrated. The small steps are what lead to the finish.

Am I missing any milestones that you celebrate? Let me know in the comments.

In Need of A Rapid Writing Revamp?

Over the summer, I made this image and immediately recognized that it has all the elements of a cover for my novel. I’m printing it out and posting it above my desk for inspiration.

I am.

I need to get my butt in the seat and start writing again.

For the months of September and October, my creative muses were busy directing The Mousetrap, but that show is running without my help now and it is time for me to return to writing.

I am creaky.

I need to stretch, warm up, and start slowly.

So, here’s what I’m doing:

  • Daily writing. I don’t care how much it is, but I will write something for my novel every day this month.
  • Giving myself permission to suck. After a break, I am rusty and I know it will take some time to sink back into the voice of my novel.
  • Shaking Things up a Bit. I need to feed my muse. In my case, I am reading political theory and attending World Fantasy Convention. The political theory will feed me indirectly, giving me material to use in building a world, if not in this novel, then in a later one. World Fantasy Convention will remind me of the breadths of my genre, rather than the specific limits of my novel. But, the key is not that they will be useful projects, but that they are projects that thrill me. Getting my muse revved up for a new project will help me find the discipline for daily writing.

What am I missing? What do you do when you need to get back into a groove after a break?

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