The Journey to Publication, Writing

Plan Happiness

As I’m looking back at many of the posts I write, I notice that first, this blog is older than I remember. 😉 And second, that I write a lot about overcoming frustration, remembering our successes, and moving forward even when we get discouraged.

Because here’s the thing: I get discouraged, too.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My first stories were kind of romances since I wrote about people meeting and “loving” each other (I didn’t know how to spell the word “like” and getting everything corrected by the teacher annoyed and slowed me down, so I stuck with words I knew.) I have written ten complete novels, with four or five more abandoned early on (though I do have plans to go back to them – really!) And when I tell someone I’m the writer, the first thing they ask is: are you published?

I know at this point hitting them over the head or screaming is not an acceptable response. After all, I am trying to set a better example for my daughters (I try, anyway.) I want to grind my teeth. Perhaps a bit of gnashing. But instead, I usually smile politely, and say “No, not yet.” I may even try to enlighten them a bit as to how our industry works, ie: while there is the option of self-publishing, it isn’t the path I wish to take just now, and it can take a long time to become traditionally published, etc, etc.

But you know what? Especially at the end of the year, when I have to look back at what I’ve accomplished, the “still not published” rankles. In fact, if I let it, it can blot out all the other wonderful, great things that HAVE happened that year. It can blot out the fact that while I may not be where I want to be yet in my career (and to be honest, I suspect no matter where I am, I’ll probably always keep wanting to reach for whatever the “next step” is), I am moving forward. I am always becoming a better writer. I have met some of the most wonderful writers, and consider some of them my friends, for which I am incredibly fortunate.

And so this year, I decided to do things differently. This is my jar of “Good Things” for 2016, and on into the foreseeable future. I am far from the only person doing this, nor is it originally my idea, but it’s one I liked. I made this jar and placed it prominently on my mantle where I can see it everyday. And I chose the saying “Remember…Life is Good” to remind myself of that, especially on the days I have my doubts. 😉

As you can see, there are already some pieces of paper in there. And so this coming New Year’s Eve, as I look back on 2016, I plan to read these pieces of paper with my family so we can remember all the wonderful things we enjoyed, instead of bemoaning anything at all.

It’s only January, almost into February. I can hardly wait to see what this year brings, and this time, to remember the great things.

What about you? Are you planning on happiness?

Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you a great week, and happy writing!

The Journey to Publication, Writing

8 Ways to Shake Off the Winter Slump

Remember last week (and possibly the week before) when I mentioned how I was kind of in a slump? Kind of down and into running away?

I think I’ve finally started to shake it. And I thought I’d share how, just in case you’re still stuck in a state of Winter-Blahs since spring seems oh so far away (first day of spring was Thursday here … and it snowed. Again. I hate snow is becoming a motto to live by.)

Anyhoo, some of these things are really not rocket science, and I’ve heard them before … but I have a very hard head, evidently, and sometimes it takes more than once (or possibly a small anvil) to get me to actually help myself. So without further ado, how to shake off the blahs and feel better:

  1. Connect to people. Talk to them. Meet new people. For me, this was and is hard. I like talking to people, 2014-03-22 22.39.37but I find actually putting myself out there to meet people a bit terrifying. I’m afraid of being burned, hurt, shut-out. But the reward of a funny conversation with someone new, a shared smile, is SO worth it. Promise.
  2. Let in the sun. Whether that means going out for a walk or even a drive, let the sun shine on your face, and let in good feelings. Sometimes we’ve been shutting them out without even knowing it.
  3. Give yourself something to look forward to. I have an upcoming vacation which does help, but I also found that I’ve been feeling down how to get through the weeks after, since spring seems soooo faaaaaarrrrr (note the more stupid snow on Thursday?). And then I got my new seed and bulb catalogue from a Garden and Nursery company, and just looking through those pictures started getting me excited about my garden, and what I’d plant, and what this year would turn out like. When you’re a gardener, seeds are naturally imbued with hope (they really are the future), but other things work, too. What about events that are coming in a month or so? Look for something to put on your calendar and start counting down the days.
  4. Put on some upbeat, happy music. Music seriously affects my mood, which is why I have specific disks I’ve made with “happy music,” some of it just music that I really love, some stuff amusing, like “He’s got high hopes.” Sometimes it’s just a great song on an upbeat radio station. (And if you’re looking to create a compilation for yourself, try showtunes, seriously. They’re so cheerful it’s almost nauseating … but fun.)
  5. Read or watch something funny. Read a funny book, watch a funny movie. Let yourself just enjoy, without over-analyzing or trying to be down (though that might just be me.) 😉
  6. Try to see the world with a child’s eyes. Ever notice that kids love snow? They love playing in the rain and out in the puddles. They love playing, altogether. And sometimes, it really pays to just get down with them and let yourself try and feel some of the sheer joy they feel. Because that’s allowed – and strongly encouraged! And it’ll probably at least give you a smile.
  7. Give yourself a little treat, especially a silly one. The little … “thingy” in the image? He was my treat one day, quite some time ago. He was free, I have no idea what he’s supposed so be, but he made me smile. On weekends, I love to go to dollar stores, just ’cause if I find something I like (craft supplies, home stuff, kids stuff, etc), I can buy something and not have to worry about the cost much. Those are my little treats. Do you have some for yourself?
  8. Go play! Take your play seriously, letting go and just having fun and shutting out all the voices that want to stop that fun (like inner editors when you’re trying to write, ambitions, to-do lists, etc.) Make something with no particular purpose. Write something just because you want to. Go jump in puddles. Just remember, play. Life’s too short, and way too dull otherwise. 🙂

Okay, so that’s my two cents and my likely reused advice. But know what? It works.

What works for you? Why not share?

Have a great week, thanks for reading, and here’s to sunshine, happiness, and some play. 🙂