blogging · books + reading · writing

Accidental Hiatus

After an impressive streak of biweekly blogging, I haven’t published any posts since July 1. (It’s July 6 now!) And even my July 1 post was a day late.

This was a completely accidental hiatus. A lot of different factors combined to get in the way of my writing routine these past two weeks:

-Waiting impatiently and anxiously to hear about a potential new job.

-Finding out that I GOT THE NEW JOB! And subsequently dealing with related tasks like resigning, fingerprinting, and planning my summer sabbatical.

-Participating in fun life events: weddings, birthdays, parties, visitors. All good things! But they disrupt my writing routine, for sure.

-Reading a great book called The Heart’s Invisible Furies. LOVING it so far!

-THE WORLD CUP! I didn’t follow the group stage as closely as I usually do, probably because my home team did not quality. (Sad face USMNT.) I miss soccer like crazy, and watching the World Cup is getting me excited to start following MLS and the USMNT and USWNT again.

This accidental hiatus brings up an important question that I am hoping to answer during my summer sabbatical: How do I maintain my writing routine despite any demands or distractions life tosses my way?

Sigh. That’s the big question, especially for a Rebel like me. How do I form and maintain habits? Even if I really want to form a habit, it’s hard for me to make it work consistently.

The best idea I have (I think) is my weekly planning date. I really want to sit down once a week and think about when I can write, and which writing I can work on at each time. Same for the other habits I want to maintain – running, meditation, yoga, meetings.

There will always be THINGS – things that stress me out, things that get in the way of my writing. I’m proud of myself for not throwing in the towel when I got a few days behind. My schedule might be a little off – but I’m here, and I’m writing, and that’s all I can do.

blogging · writing

Prioritizing

I’ve been feeling really optimistic and strong about my writing goals.

I actually wrote them down today, and that felt simultaneously scary and awesome. My two big goals for 2018 are to post consistently on the blog, and to finish a draft of my novel.

I’m feeling optimistic – but the actual writing is not getting done to the extent I’d like at the moment, and that scares me.

The thing is that I have limited time in my week for everything I want and need to do, and I’m having trouble balancing the needs for family, friends, recovery work, writing, reading, farming, and mindfulness. And, you know – anything else that needs or wants to get done.

The blog posts have their own implicit deadline, so that’s easier. As long as I stay committed to posting twice weekly, that’ll get done.

But how do I make sure I’m getting novel time?  Especially when (like now) my fingers aren’t exactly itching to write it?

I don’t have any good answers right now. All I have is my optimism, and I’m just going to hang on to that and hope for the best.

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writing

You Can Control How Prolific You Are

I jotted down several goals for myself to accomplish during Edgar’s naptime today, but also I am so tired and sort of want to lay on the couch and watch Donald Glover on Netflix.

I may do that, eventually. But for now, I am attempting to tackle Goal # 2: Figure out how to have a productive and prolific writing routine.

LOL. Best case scenario, nap time is three and a half hours long. I don’t realistically think that is enough time to accomplish this task. In fact, from what I hear from other writers, this might be a lifelong goal of mine, and not something I’m going to solve in the next few minutes.

That being said – here’s my current writing situation:

-I have limited time to write. Most of the time, I am either working at my day job or parenting a toddler. So my writing time is limited to two hours every evening, and an extra six hours (ish) over the weekend during nap times. So, the max amount of time I’d ever have to write would be 20 hours a week.

-I do other things besides writing. Including bathing myself, running, reading, cleaning my house, going to recovery meetings, and talking to my wife. So I actually have way less than 20 hours per week to write.

-I don’t know how to decide how much time to devote to writing. I also don’t know how much time to devote to all the other things. How much is enough?

-I have two big goals for this year – to continue posting twice a week on my blog, and to finish a draft of my novel. I don’t know how to make sure that I am devoting enough time to each.

-I don’t want writing to be on the backburner. However – sometimes writing is the easiest thing to just plug in ‘wherever.’ I can do it at any time of day – I don’t need to rely on anyone else’s schedule – so all I really need is for Edgar to be either occupied (ha, rare) or asleep. But – writing is SO IMPORTANT to me. I don’t just want to be plugging it in whenever there’s an empty spot that’s not already filled with running or meetings. I want to be intentional about it – I want to give my writing the best of me.

-Crafting blog posts provides it’s own challenges, because it’s SO easy to get distracted, and not even by the internet or by non-writing activities. I have trouble focusing on just one post at a time. I sometimes have four or five Chrome windows open, each with a different drafted blog post, and when I get stuck or bored working on one, I move to another. Same when I get a bolt of inspiration about one – I just run over to that draft and start typing.

So – what do I do?

-Nap time is a good time for me, provided that I don’t need a nap myself. It’s not too late in the day – I can usually get a good chunk of writing done.

-I’ve been using my bullet journal to outline what I’m doing each day and each week, and if I’m setting aside time for writing, I usually specify what exactly I’ll be working on that day. Right now, it’s usually either the novel or upcoming blog posts. There are a few other projects on the backburner, but the novel and the blog are more than enough for the moment.

-Now that I’m not going to the gym at 4:30 a.m. (yay summer!), I’m thinking about getting up early to get some good writing time. The mornings are generally my most productive time of day. Maybe I’ll give that a try tomorrow and see how it goes!

That’s all I’ve got:

  1. Plan time to write every single day (and extra times if you need to skip a day because of travel or visitors).
  2. Be intentional about what I’m going to write when.
  3. Use your mornings – bonus writing (or running) time!
  4. Use other tools – voice memos, podcasts – to keep yourself in the writing mindset as much as possible.

I like this list of strategies. We’ll see how it works!

I’ve had a mantra in my head lately. It’s long, but I think it’s valuable.

You can’t control how well-received your work will be. You might not even be able to control how good it is. But you can control how prolific you are!

There are writers out there who write a book every year. Now, they might be writing full-time – and I’m not saying it’s an easy thing to do – but if they can do that, why can’t I?  There are probably a million reasons why I can’t, but I’m not going to entertain any of them. Because the one thing I can control is how much I write – HOW PROLIFIC I AM.

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blogging

Playful + Peaceful

Today, this little home-away-from-home of mine got a fresh new name: http://www.playfulpeaceful.com.

I just love it.

But I loved the old name, too, and I wanted to explain a little about why I made this change.

The previous name for the blog was heartsoulmindbody.wordpress.com – heartsoulmindbody, for short. It was a little bit of a mouthful, but the name stemmed from my original theme for the blog. I wanted to start a blog because I wanted to get comfortable with publicizing my writing, and because I wanted a creative outlet for all my adoption stress. Right around the time I decided to start it, I read a short children’s story with one of my group therapy classes. The story came from The Seven Habits Of Happy Kids by Sean Covey, and it was all about balance – about nourishing the four quadrants of yourself, heart, soul, mind, and body. I love talking about and writing about balance. I started writing blog posts and adding hashtags to the title indicating which quadrant I was writing about that day.

I really loved it – but I never felt like heartsoulmindbody rolled off the tongue very smoothly. And then, I decided that I wanted to purchase the domain name for my blog. It might seem silly, but I decided that it was important to me, and that it was a step that would help me to take the blog and my writing more seriously.  And heartsoulmindbody.com was not available – so that got me thinking about finding a new name for the blogcropped-14680701_10154635252274837_3446540224843695047_n.jpg, and revamping the way I blog. I’d still write about balance, but I’d move away from the hashtag bit, and I wanted to come up with a name that was a little broader. Because really – I write about EVERYTHING on this blog.

I tossed around a lot of different words and ideas before I came to playful + peaceful, and I mostly chose this title because I LOVE LOOKING AT THOSE WORDS. When I think about what I want from life, how I want to feel, this is it: playful and peaceful.

I’ve recently abandoned using the hashtags, too. I sort of liked them, but I think my blog posts look more professional and polished without them.

I’ve been strategizing about other ways to improve the blog. I want to take more original photos to use with my posts. (The photo I used with this post is a shot of the NCR Trail, which cuts right through our property.) I want the blog to be a blend of all the things I love – my family, my writing, books + reading, the farm, parenting, and so much more.

This blog kept me sane during the intense years of the adoption wait. The blog has been a way for me to slow down and take perspective of my circumstances, which is something I’m not great at in my day-to-day life. I have big writing goals, but even if I didn’t, I’d want to continue to cultivate this space. It’s an outlet for me to express myself. And it’s a playful and peaceful place to be.

 

 

 

blogging

Reconfiguring #mind

This is how blogging works for me:

HUGE BURST OF ENERGY. MANY, MANY POSTS IN A ROW.

SLIGHT SLOWDOWN.

LULL. NO BLOGGING. CAN LAST TWO WEEKS OR SEVERAL MONTHS.

Currently, I’m in the middle of a creative BURST, and I love it. I feel productive and prolific. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about ways to rework the blog, to maintain productivity, and to create more and better.

On my current favorite podcast, The Girl Next Door, the hosts (Kelsey and Erica) mentioned using an editorial calendar, and I am finding that to be a GENIUS idea. I don’t even know if I’m doing it right. I basically set aside a section at the back of my bullet journal for my official editorial calendar. Each month gets a couple of pages, and I’ve been jotting down topics that I plan to blog about for each month.

I LOVE IT. I never plan anything for the blog. I come to the blog whenever it feels right, and I publish a post whenever it feels ready to post. I think this is a completely fine way to do things. But, I think that planning ahead a little may help me to post more often and more intentionally.

I’m planning to do a short reflection once every month, just kind of a brief post about what I’m reading, what I’m listening to, and what I’m recommending to others for the month.

I’m also daydreaming about how to use more images and photography on the blog, but that might just be a pipe dream.  “Take more photos” has been a repeat resolution for me in the past, and it hasn’t happened, which makes me think it maybe just isn’t my thing.

I’ve been trying out a couple of new widgets, so we’ll see how that goes. I really don’t know much about designing websites. It sounds fun to try to rework the blog and make it look like something I’m really proud of. (I’m proud of it already, but it would be cool to take it to the next level.)

AND, maybe most importantly – I’m considering being more intentional and thorough with my posts.

That may sound kind of funny.  But when I started blogging, it was incredible uncomfortable for me to put my words out into the universe at all. Just pressing publish felt brave. Sharing a post on social media made me an absolute daredevil.

So, to keep myself from chickening out, I’ve often scribbled blogs real fast, quickly pressed publish, and then shared them on Facebook. All really fast. No processing. No proofreading.

It’s been three years since I started blogging, and I feel more comfortable having my words out in the universe. But it’s STILL nerve-wracking! However, I’m considering taking a little more time to think about IF MY WORDS ARE SAYING WHAT I WANT THEM TO SAY.

We shall see. Happy writing anyway!

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balance · writing

#mind #soul #body

Listen – this blog has been a little boring lately.

Which is weird, because this is one of the sweetest, loveliest, and most exciting times of my life.

I think all my creativity and unique thought is being sucked into the whole brand-new mommy experience.  And that’s where it belongs.  🙂  But the blog is getting boring as a result.  And – what’s worse – today I’m feeling a little bored.  I have that restless, unsettled feeling when I’m not sure what to do with myself.

There’s so much I can do today.

I can listen to my current audiobook, Mindfulness For Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and learn more about mindfulness, my current favorite academic subject.

I can read my current novel, The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey; I’ve read two chapters so far and I am ALL IN.

I can read my current professional literature, Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which I haven’t started yet.  (I’ve decided that I want to always be reading a book for pleasure and a book for professional growth and development.  When I only choose to read one or the other, novels win every time.)

I can do work – actual work.  I have 200 work e-mails to address, treatment plans to check, notes to read.

I could do a meditation or a yoga flow.  I actually set up my yoga mat earlier today, and after two moves my body rejected the plan.  I started listening to a meditation, and I decided that it wasn’t the right time of day for it.

So – what to do?

I decided to come back to basics.

Teddy and I took a walk on the trail.  Hiking on a beautiful cool, cajust-write-every-day_bradbury-quotelm November day helps me to feel grounded.

While we walked, I felt inspired to write.  In a very unmindful manner, I started typing out blog posts while walking.  Writing – any kind of writing – helps me to feel centered.

And – most importantly – I remembered an important lesson I’ve learned about myself as a thirtysomething.  When I have that restless, not-sure-what-to-do-with-myself feeling – the best thing for me to do, almost always, is to take a nap.  I wake up feeling refreshed and I come to the realization that my original restlessness was largely due to sleepiness and the crankiness that accompanies it.  Anyway – taking a nap helps me to feel refreshed. Grounded.  Centered.  Refreshed.  Those are good feelings to have.  That’s balance.

blogging · writing

Flexing My Blogging Muscles

I haven’t been blogging consistently over the past few weeks, which is understandable given how chaotic life has been lately.

When I don’t blog consistently, I sit down to write and instantly become overwhelmed by how much there is to put down on paper.

That’s what happened to me today.

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It’s been almost a month since I posted on heartsoulmindbody, and there’s been a whole lotta things going on since then – Christmas, my birthday, New Year’s, starting my new job.  I have a ton of things to talk about, and also absolutely nothing to talk about.  Like you do when you haven’t flexed your blogging muscles in a while.

The thing about writing is that you can always come back to it.  You may have stretch a little – you may have to work on your form and restart your habits – but you can always come home to your writing.  You can always find your voice again.  You just have to listen.