Michille: My Spirit Animal and Creativity

Great_Blue_Heron_LandingMy creativity has been ramping up lately. And it hit me while at RWA why that is. My Spirit Animal has been crossing my path almost daily. I’ve been walking/jogging in a park with nice walking trails near my house and I see a Great Blue Heron nearly every time I’m there. I live on a farm with several water sources nearby so we have herons in our neck of the woods as well. And while at RWA in Orlando, I jogged every morning and saw two every morning. Some of you are probably thinking, “Well, Michille has gone off the rails.” And if someone had seriously uttered the words My Spirit Animal to me before I took a Jungian psychology course for my master’s degree, I would have said the same about them. But that was before . . . Continue reading

Nancy: August Accountability Thread

jumping-hurdles

It’s the first Monday of August, which means it’s time for the accountability thread! Okay, okay, you caught me. It’s Tuesday. Life intervened and I couldn’t make it by the blog on Monday, but that doesn’t mean we get out of sharing our July progress and posting our August goals. Even though some of us (ahem) might really like to skip that part about sharing July progress, or lack thereof.

First, a reminder about how this works. The first Monday of each month, we’ll invite you to share your plans and goals for the upcoming month. (Okay, yes, I keep saying Monday and today is Tuesday, but just for this month we’ll call in Monday-ish. Monday-adjacent. You get the idea.) As this is a writing blog, we’re dying to know about your writing goals, but feel free to share other life goals as well. Learning origami, taking up daily meditation, or perfecting your crow pose? Tell us what you hope to achieve by August 31st, 2017. Then be sure to come back the first Monday in September to share your progress!

I’ll go first, but only because I have no choice. Fair warning: it’s not pretty, people. Continue reading

Jilly: Hands Off

How do you handle enforced inactivity? Do you have any tips for making the most of it?

I’m more than happy to spend a few days on the sofa with my TBR pile, or working on a puzzle, or soaking in a tub of bubbles, as long as the downtime is my choice. It might be a long-scheduled holiday or a spontaneous mini-break because I’m feeling shattered—either is fine, so long as the break isn’t forced on me. When that happens, I’m not good at making the best of it.

I had a fabulous time in Orlando with Jeanne, Kay, Elizabeth, Michille and Kat. I loved brainstorming, especially playing the Damon Suede game of choosing a verb to describe each of our main characters (see Elizabeth’s post for more about this invaluable trick). I attended a few excellent workshops, heard a brilliant keynote speech from Susan Wiggs, posed for an author photo, made new friends, had a great discussion about Alexis with Jeanne’s editor, listened to a hilarious Q&A from Ilona Andrews, Gordon Andrews and Jeanine Frost, and returned to the UK tired but inspired.

After a couple of good nights’ sleep I was feeling refreshed and raring to get to work—and I couldn’t, because I’ve somehow tweaked my shoulder and it hurts like hell when I write or type. It’s my own stupid fault. Continue reading

Jilly: Tips for Creative Problem Solving

What do you do when you’re chewing on a problem, any problem, and you can’t seem to find your way to an answer?

I’m just back from a routine trip to visit my mum in Derbyshire. The return journey involves a minimum of six hours driving, closer to eight hours this weekend. It almost always results in some brainwave, useful insight about my WIP, or some other problem if Real Life is getting in the way of my writing.

I don’t consciously use my driving time to problem solve—I try to keep my eyes on the road and my wits about me—but somehow when my surface concentration is fully occupied watching the traffic, the deeper levels of my mind feel free to work on knottier problems.

I write sequentially, which means that I use each scene I write to provide the impetus for the next one. The good thing about my process is that the story grows organically. The downside is that when I hit a problem, I grind to a halt and spin my wheels. I can’t move forward until I resolve it.

Over the last few years I’ve tried various tactics to rescue myself when I get stuck. Here are a selection of the ones which work best for me, though your mileage may vary. Continue reading

Elizabeth: I’ll Get Right On That

As I have said before, if procrastination was an Olympic sport, I’d be the reigning gold medalist.  Without a set deadline to aim for I’m likely to find a thousand and one things to do other than what I should be working on.   Case in point would be the eleven books I’ve read in the last three weeks, rather than finishing revisions on my Regency WIP that I was on my To Do list (I blame Georgette Heyer and Jenny Crusie for that).  The revision goal was something I had set myself so, other than being disappointed at not completing the task, there was no real consequence to it like there would have been had I missed a deliverable at the Day Job.

Way back in the McDaniel writing program days, I had my biggest word counts and most successful story development progress when there was a looming deadline.  That’s nothing new for me, of course.  Even further back, when I was doing software coding, I tended to do my best work when a deadline was closing in; often the night before something was due.  Back then, reading was my primary procrastination device.  “Let me just finish this chapter,” was my mantra.

These days, with so many things clamoring for attention – Continue reading

Nancy: July Accountability Thread

It’s the first Monday of July, and you know what that means! It’s time to set up our July accountability thread.

The first Monday of each month, we’ll invite you to share your plans and goals for the upcoming month. As this is a writing blog, of course there will be lots of focus on creative and writing goals, but feel free to share other important life goals as well. Training for a 5k, learning to crochet, reading a book a day? Tell us about whatever it is you hope to achieve by July 31st, 2017.

Be sure to come back the first Monday in August to report your progress! And now, it’s time to ‘fess up about how it went in June. I had very mixed results. Continue reading

Jilly: Brainstorm Ahead

Hope you’re having a lovely summer’s weekend, especially if you’re in the US, celebrating independence from we pesky Brits. Enjoy! 😀

There’s no time to party at Casa Jilly. We’ve now survived three weeks of building repair work, complete with regulation noise and mess. Many of the bathroom fittings are in the garden, looking like postmodern statuary. Everything inside the house is coated in plaster particles, including us. I have to clean the sofa each day before I sit on it.

I’d love to take a few days off until the dust settles (ha!), but there are only three weeks left until I fly to Orlando for RWA National, and I’m already behind schedule. I have to get my draft finished, and I want to spend some time planning how best to use my brainstorming session with Jeanne, Kay, Elizabeth, Kat and Michille.

Continue reading