Michille: Procrastibaking

procrastibakeI’ve written about procrastination before, but I stumbled on a New York Times article: Why Work When You Can Procrastibake? I do this on a fairly regular basis but I never knew it had a name. In fact, my husband, a college professor, is getting his second teaching award in 4 years and he firmly believes it’s because he feeds his kids the baked good that I procrastibake.

Julia Moskin defines procrastibaking as the practice of baking something completely unnecessary, with the intention of avoiding “real” work and believes it to be a surprisingly common habit. Apparently, not all procrastibakers bake alike. Some make long, slow recipes that break up the entire day, returning to their work in between steps. Others whip up something quick to attempt to get the creative juices flowing. One person quoted in the article makes macarons because they can take several days. Jeez, I don’t kid myself with something that complicated. I usually do cookies, cakes, or brownies.

Procrastibaking is a thriving hashtag on Instagram so of course, I had to break and check Instagram. And it’s true. But, it’s not all good. Tim Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, says that procrastination is one of few situations in which people consistently make choices that are demonstrably bad. So I guess I can’t pass it off as being creative.

There was a quote from a romance writer, Mia Hopkins: “When I was schoolteacher, I used to procrastinate by reading and writing romances,” she said. “When I started writing romance full time, I had to find a new way to procrastinate.” Gotta love that.

What is your procrati-_________? Procratibaking, procrasticleaning, procrastisurfing (I’m also guilty of this)?

Nancy: May Accountability Thread

All right guys, gals, writers, other creatives, and readers who like to play along at home, it’s time for our monthly accountability thread! In my part of the world, April brought crazy weather, kicking off the month with snow and ending it with record-high temperatures. The month included hosting a fun birthday dinner and next-day brunch for one of my favorite people in the world (my daughter), and hosting a lunch for another favorite person, the lady who introduced me to reading and a love of books (my mother). I also got to engage with some good friends/fellow writers ‘in the wild’, via phone, Skype, and even in person.

That was all great stuff, but I also had a lot of writing projects and a few well-defined goals set for April. As you might recall, I hit a bit of mid-month turbulence in my writing life. Fortunately, I still managed to make some progress toward my goals.

April Goals with Outcomes

1) Get back to work on my Women’s Fiction project. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Muffling the Inner Critic

Okay, technically I’m not suggesting you go out and get drunk as part of your daily writing practice (unless you want to, of course, or you’re channeling Hemmingway), but there is a nugget of wisdom in the quote above.

It has been suggested a time or two, by people who know me, that with the addition of a little alcohol (a modest amount, not a “hold my hair while I retch” amount), I’m ever-so-slightly more charming and delightful.  I’m not much of a drinker, so just a small amount goes a long way toward giving the world a happy / soft-focus appearance and making stress and worry step back a bit.  It also does a great job silencing that inner voice that always seems to be worried about saying something dumb or doing something embarrassing.

When it comes to writing, your version of “drunk” may mean kicking off your process by listening to your favorite playlist, relaxing in a warm bubble bath, or doing a little mind-clearing meditation.  Whatever helps you get your mind in the story, and drowns out that voice that insists on judging every word you put on the page, is a good thing.

I’m out of bubble bath, but I’ve got a nice bottle of port in the kitchen, so I’m going give it a try (for research purposes, of course).  If it doesn’t help me get some words on the page, at least I’m likely to get a good night’s sleep.

So, what ways have you found to silence your inner critic so can focus on getting words on the page?

Nancy: There Is No Light Without the Darkness

A few weeks ago, I went through a rough patch in my writing life. More accurately, I started going through the rough patch, because I haven’t yet climbed completely out of that hole of writerly despair. At least now I’m close enough to the surface to catch a glimpse of sunlight filtering down from above me.

There were reasons I fell into the hole, of course. I had too many deadlines on multiple projects converging at once. I was running a low-grade fever (precursor to a virus that towered a whole weekend and then some). I came to the realization that I couldn’t stay on course for meeting my publishing deadlines and at the same time attend an amazing writers’ conference being held in paradise this coming fall. I bailed on paradise because it was the right thing to do, but sometimes the right think sucks.

But there were deeper reasons, too. Poking a stick into a story idea that’s not baked enough yet. Coming to the point in one of my stories where I realized it’s all complete drivel (this happens at several points per story for me; YMMV). Falling into the pit of despair known as imposter syndrome. I knew talking to someone would help, but I wasn’t ready to share with other writers (which makes up about 90% of my circle of friends and acquaintances IRL) for fear of hearing well-meaning advice or platitudes, neither of which would have worked for me in that particular state. In fairness, my wonderful friends who also happen to be writers would have known not to do that, but I was stuck down in that hole, not seeing things all that clearly.

Which left me with the small number of non-writers in my life, and led to the realization that not only did I not want to discuss the trials and tribulations of the writing life with them in that moment, I didn’t want to discuss those harsh realities with them ever. I really had to ponder my own reaction. These are good eggs, kind people, of the loving and caring sort. Why did I recoil from sharing these truths with them? Maybe I was afraid – to paraphrase Col. Jessup from A Few Good Men – they couldn’t handle the truth, because most conversations with non-writers that touch on writing reveal a lot of misunderstanding about what it means to pursue the writing life. Continue reading

Nancy: April Accountability Thread

Phew, we made it through March! At least the last week was more lamb-like in my little corner of the world, but it was not an easy month. It’s never been my favorite. In fact, it’s often 12 out of 12 for the year as far as I’m concerned, and in 2018 I found it particularly annoying. The silver lining to the dark cloud that was March was that my writing goals went so much better than many other parts of life, so it wasn’t all bad.

March Goals with Outcomes

1) Finish the damn website. DONE! As I reported a few weeks ago, NancyHunterbooks.com is up and running! I’m continuing to make tweaks to it, but until I get my book covers, the edited first chapter excerpts, and (eventually) ‘Buy’ links to add, I’m crossing this one off my list, it’s pretty well set. Words cannot express how happy I am to have this done, so imagine an interpretive dance of joy here ;-)! Continue reading

Nancy: Self Care for the Creative Soul

Self-care: the gift that keeps on giving.

Today, I have a good-news/bad-news story to share with you. First the bad news: I almost had a surprise for you, but couldn’t quite pull it off. You see, I’ve actually been working on my long-neglected, hella-frustrating, partially-broken website this past week, and I came sooooo close to being able to do a big reveal of the fully functional site today. Then it turned out I could only get so far without tech support doing something blah blah staging site blah blah DNS I dunno. Anyway, the support people I need don’t work on the weekend, so I’m in a holding pattern until later today (if you’re reading this on Monday).

The good news, in case you didn’t realize it, was actually buried in the description of the bad news: I have been working on my website. And it’s close, really, really close to being functional. Close enough for me to say I might actually be able to finish it without hiring outside help! I should know more by the time I do my next post, so stay tuned.

While I’ve been working on my website, I’ve also been finishing one book, starting the discovery/first draft of a new story, waiting for editor feedback on my novella and novel 1 of the romance series…you get the idea. There aren’t enough hours in the day and there’s always more I could be doing. The risk of burnout and stress meltdowns is high. But I don’t have time for that! So I’ve been trying some things Continue reading

Michille: John Grisham’s Do’s & Don’ts

By BJTJ1 - July 15 at the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project’s Second Annual Awards Luncheon., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40699787I read the New York Times every day. Well, not the whole thing, but I scan the home page and find enough articles that catch my interest to keep me on the site for a while. I’m not sure how I missed this gem from May 2017. John Grisham’s Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Popular Fiction. Some we’ve all heard/read before. Some are new to me. Even with the list, JG gives the caveat, “All suggestions can be ignored when necessary. I do it all the time.” Many writers do. But for those of us who aren’t multi-best-selling authors, it’s good to review every now and then.

Numbers 2 and 3 were new for me. Number 5 is a no-brainer. And Number 4 is very common and often ignored. Regardless, here they are: Continue reading