Sunday, March 01, 2020

Who Do You Think You Are? Getting Past the Accuser to Dare Creatively



You might not think daring creatively is something you can accomplish in 6 easy steps. And while the daring itself requires bravery; the steps can be tackled even before you feel ready to do so. Which is good news for any writer feeling afflicted by Imposter Syndrome (the worrying that you are not worthy of this thing you feel called to do). Know that it is not uncommon and you can work through it. Here’s how:

1.       Think big
What is the thing that if you were brave, you would do? Don’t dissect why it is you’re not doing it. Or shame yourself for not being closer to it. Or compare yourself to someone else who seems to be farther along than you. Just start moving toward it. Tell yourself you’re going to do it. And commit. Whether it’s X amount of words per day, or scenes per week; make those happen.
2.       Scale up
Either from where you’ve just started or from where you’ve been working; scale up to the next level. What would that look like? You might talk to a group of young writers about what you’ve learned so far, host a writing sprint, or offer a guest post to a newsletter or newspaper you have the contact for. If you don’t have the contact, look it up and cold call. Yes, it’s supposed to be terrifying. That’s why not everyone will do it. But you will.
3.       Accelerate
Instead of being satisfied with your current pace, give yourself a tight deadline for a component of your project. Hit it and then set the next deadline. It doesn’t have to be dramatically bigger or faster, just enough that it is moving the momentum along. With progress comes another level of enthusiasm than can get you past doubts and excuses that occur to you.
4.       Take action
Sending the email, having your website go live, promoting your upcoming event, booking your upcoming event –these all qualify. The key is to make a list of the things that will move your project farther and then go in that direction.  A movement that you can’t take back and have no choice but to move towards is the one that will take you farther than you dare to go.
5.       Bring in Others
Building a community around your efforts, whether it’s getting creative with others or offering to cross promote is scary, but pays off in spades. It multiplies your audience and the chances others will discover your work. If you think of it in terms of service, and helping others by sharing what you know, it helps to get ego out of the way and reduce the accuser’s voice.
6.       Persist
Simply carrying on is an act of daring creatively. Persisting in going after your dreams is an applaudable act in a world where a few dream and even fewer act on those dreams. Keep on and you will be glad you did. Your projects which are now mock-up covers on your vision boards will be real stories you share down the road.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

How to Get Going: 4 Easy Ways to Structure Personal Writing Goals



Crafting structure for your personal output goals is like hiring a personal trainer for your work. You won’t regret it. Here are 4 easy-to-employ approaches to choose from.

1.       Date deadlines

You can make these weekly if you like. Having an agreement with yourself about what you’ll produce and when (ie, article queries, chapters, scenes, or blog posts) and a regular calendar with next steps (adding them to the larger document in waiting, submitting to publications, or posting on your blog) means you will gain a sense of accomplishment and achievement without experiencing overwhelm.

2.       Micro assignments

Breaking things down into the smallest components of each larger part is the quickest route to beating paralysis. Drafting 100 words is achievable. Do that 5 to 7 times and you have an ideal blog post. Do it 25 times and you have a chapter. Assign yourself many of these over your week and you’ll be making the most of small chunks of time.

3.       Public countdown

Holding yourself accountable by having others invested in what’s upcoming also takes care of promotion at the same time. There are html code plugins you can use for your social media pages to keep it constantly real and looming. Coupling this with a regular practice or set goal makes things happen.

4.       Daily commitment

Making your creative practice a short achievable regular occurrence will make natural progress. By incorporating several strategies here that work together you will be hitting your goals without needing to drastically rearrange your daily schedule.

Your art is something that adds to your life organically. Finding what works best for you and is most likely to be regularly repeated will be key to your success.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Building Your Creative Community



      Creative community is something that will be a big help to you.
      It will keep you lifted when you want to throw in the towel.
      It will convince you of your artistic calling.
      It will keep you company on the journey.
      You can do it before you feel like you're a master at your craft.
      In fact, that's when you should.
      Because it will help you get there.
      Here are 6 steps to help you build your creative community (& practices).

          Focus on productivity and creation

It is good to come together around a love of creativity. Whether it is meeting up to share your latest work, inviting others to collaborate with you on a project, or simply joining a creative productivity challenge together; there are many ways to meet up creatively without falling into the rut of simply talking about what you love to do.

Embrace a variety of genres and mediums

There is no need to limit who can join your creative group. Often the inspiration that comes from interacting with other projects or work drastically different from your own is a catalyst for further creativity. You will each be seeing with new creative eyes.

 Set a positive tone

The whole point of collecting creative community is to be encouraged to create another day. Each member needs to come with their own inspiration and motivation. Having a commitment to positivity at the outset from each member ensures everyone can continue working positively as they’ve arrived and are just benefiting from seeing others engage creatively as well.

               Hold on to your creative boundaries

You want to be producing more than talking about it, achieving more than dreaming, and engaging with your creative self more than impressing others. If you do not have creative boundaries in place, you may find yourself fooled into thinking you have done more creative work than you actually have. Put in the time and use your time with others to celebrate what’s been done already and to set achievable goals for the next time you meet.


                Accept virtual creative support as well 

           (digital platforms, books and magazines and blogs that feature creatives)
Whether you live somewhere remote or have little flexibility in your day to day schedule to be meeting up with others; you can still grow your creative community at a distance. Social media is a great outlet for connecting. Make it production positive by using stories as an opportunity to show step by step progress or word counts and engage positively with others’ accounts. Stalking is less inspiring than you might think and usually leads to draining comparison tendencies. If you are working up to or are augmenting a creative community; also consider creative living documentaries, books, blogs, and magazines. Seeing others’ creative spaces and projects can do wonders for your practice as well.


Get intensive with your creative retreats, both independently and communally.

Making your time together structured is a good idea. If it is a weekly meetup, add a critique component or a word count challenge with a prize. If going away for a retreat or signing up for a conference is in the budget, do that and make your stay writing intensive in the outside of workshop hours as well. Even setting up a great workspace in your home and timing your sessions there is bound to up your creative practice so the next time someone asks what you’ve been up to, you can invite them in to share in your creative process. Community achieved.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

5 Ways to Make Writing Sprints Work For You



Writing sprints are a go-to of writing retreats and intensives and there is good reason for that. Writing sprints force you to get on paper what is otherwise just running around your head. When engaging in writing sprints, one of several things is bound to happen. You will break open a creative spring. You will get more words on the page than you would have if you simply waited for inspiration to strike. Or you will flesh out your project more fully. 

Now that you're convinced; here are 5 ways to make writing sprints work for you. 

1. Decide on a word count or timed session. 

The benefit to a word count is that you know when you end and it is easy to work towards. Take 1000 words, for example. Start with one sentence, note the word count, then add 100 words to that, note the new word count, add 100 words and so on. Even for the very easily distracted among us (myself included) the constantly moving target and the achievement of hitting each 100 word mini goal will take you to the end of the sprint. If you simply must walk away mid sprint, it is also relatively easy to pick up where you left off. If you are truly forcing yourself to hit each 100 word target on a particularly distracted day, it may help to have a concurrent household project such as folding laundry and let yourself fold 10 items between 100 word outputs to recharge your bored or restless brain 

2. Decide on the subject matter. 

Getting your material to page directly fights and engages with the tendency to just daydream and think pleasant thoughts about your storyline, premise, projects, and scenes. It is the way you are forcing yourself to take the next step. Whether you are working on a scene, a chapter, or a blog post, deciding on content will allow you to get there in your head. It will allow your stream of consciousness to take over. It will theme up your output. It will allow you to more fully develop what has been mere concepts to this point. If you have distracting sub-plotlines or competing topics pop up, simply note them on a sheet of paper to the side of your laptop or notebook. Then you can use them as a starting point for your next scheduled sprint or file them away for future projects.

3. Decide on the starting point. 

Even once you know what you'll be writing about, you need to know where you are starting so you are not spending your time typing, deleting, and retyping or simply staring at a blinking cursor. You may find it is helpful to start with a dramatic sentence, a random word or a character name and then start riffing. Speak out loud if it is helpful. If you want to have a simple way to rush into each next paragraph when you run stuck, you can have a list of prompts pre-typed on the screen before you start and use them as you need them as you go along. If you find yourself wanting to write more on another scene or find a plot hole as you go along, write your questions or developments in brackets so you can find them and sort them out when you come back to the scene later.

4. Decide on the tracking mechanism. 

You can write your words as logged on an envelope and then the session’s list in your social media stories as I do. I find it helps my accountability and also scratches the affirmation itch I get by keeping public tally of my writing sessions (for my own benefit even if no one else notices). If it helps someone else pick up the habit, even better, but primarily I do it for my own motivation. At the end, I can put them into a story highlight and affirm the frequency to myself.  This same tracking habit can be completed on paper in a daytimer, calendar, or bullet journal for personal satisfaction and motivation. Do what resonates with you and doesn't cause extra in the way of steps. If you work it into your existing daily routines, it will be a lot easier to keep up with.

5. Decide on the frequency. 

Whether writing sprints are something you want to practice daily or weekly or in spurts on set-aside days; build in the time and opportunity so that you are setting yourself up for success. Add them to your to-do lists, your lunch hours, your after work decompression time, or your early morning day routine. Not only will you be impressed with what you can accomplish in a relatively short amount of time, but you will also be affirming, in process, your writer identity. This is something you do and enjoy doing because you are a writer and because doing so helps you process your world and gives your creative spirit breathing room.

Best wishes  as you experience the joy of watching your word counts climb and your writing practice flourish all because of a simple process you can start on today.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Relaunching Your Writing Habit Without Waiting for the New Year



It is a natural thing at the end of the year to be thinking about the things we accomplished in the months past and the new heights we want to reach for in the New Year.
If you want to take this opportunity to fine tune your writing habits, good news is ahead. You don't have to wait for the confetti to fly to make your biggest impact. In fact, if you start now, you will hit your ninety day habit stride right as most people are abandoning their New Year's Resolutions.

Here are a handful of components that are each helpful in their own way. Combining them into one effective strategy magnifies the effect.

1. Deciding on the main focus area(s).

Keeping it to a minimum of one focus area and a maximum of two allows for a little flexibility without diluting your efforts. Think of what you want to make progress on. Is it article querying or blog posting? Novel drafting or poem crafting? Regardless of writing project type, what you want is momentum. Working in the same direction for a sustained period allows you to experience habit success rapidly and repeatedly. Doing the writing work day after day in a regular way means that before long, it will be a go-to habit and by the end of the project window, will be an entrenched lifestyle. That's when you will know you have secured your writing habits in a way that will position you for breakthrough over previous results in the coming year.

2. Establishing an overall project scope.

You know best what resonates with you. Is it word count? Timed sessions? Numbers of submissions or posts? Decide at the outset and execute accordingly by determining how that breaks down over the individual sessions. Having a tracking log on your fridge calendar, notes in your day timer, or notes (and corresponding reminders) on your phone means that you always know where you stand in terms of project completion and habit momentum.

3. Attach your to do's to your schedule.

The idea of getting these new tasks completed is just concept without action. The way to move from decision to execution is to create space and expectation for yourself. Making a check off box to complete 500 words of new material, come up with a blog post of any length, or a daily timed writing makes that much more sure that you have a way to make yourself before writing is an automatic response. Use the strategy that best fits your lifestyle and way you currently live and schedule those sessions in to specific days and times.

4. Expect your minimum. Surprise yourself with more.

Having a low bar you expect yourself to hit means you are more likely to experience success from the outset. A line of check marks marching across the page is likely the motivation you didn't know you needed. As the initial honeymoon phase of writing re-launch fades, hitting these minimum targets will feel like a smaller target to hit and much easier to get out of the way. Let yourself enjoy that without undue pressure to keep accelerating at an unsustainable pace. It is better to experience that low bar success repeatedly and occasionally burst out with more than to keep moving the bar higher and burnout before the writing habit lifestyle is entrenched.

5. Work steadily to the overall number of days you are aiming for. 

Whether you decide to make it 90 days (which is akin to a three month habit) or 100 sessions (conveniently also the number of stories that fit into one Instagram highlight -- my personal habit creator favourite); consistency is the key. Don't expect perfection, just presence. Allowing yourself to show up and deliver a variety of results is the best way to re-learn, re-launch, and re-new. May the New Year find you riding the wave of habit formation and writing to tell us about it.

For more on grace and growth on the writing journey visit https://www.instagram.com/michellevandepol/

Let the process do its thing and turn you back into a regularly producing writer.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

5 Ways to Ensure You Finally Write Your Book This Summer


When you hear your favourite author has released a new book or someone you didn't even know was writing one releases theirs, do you think I really need to finally write my book! ?
That dream of yours can come true this summer. It's not too late for you. You have everything that you need. Here are 5 ways to ensure you finally write your book this summer. Do one or do all. They will propel you forward.

1. Prioritize It.

Even if you are not willing to tell people you are writing your book, you are still going to have to unapologetic about finding a place for it in your life. That doesn't mean you have to carve hours at a time away from your real life. Just make it your go-to activity anytime you have a moment to yourself and have done the bare minimum on the rest of your to-do's. Much of the time others won't even notice. (If you want to do a time audit to see where you can sneak in writing, you can take a notebook or a laptop with you and duck out of the room and type furiously for as long as you can get away with. Do that for a day. Track when, where, and how long you were successful. See if you can do it without anyone noticing.) Getting up earlier than anyone else is a good bet. Or you can stay up later than them. How about going off-site for lunch? If you are a freelancer or are on days off work, try heading out for a meeting (with yourself where you write for the whole time). You can trade some of your internet, TV, and reading time for writing. You are already using that time. Just repurpose it.

2. Make it Real.

Making your book outline complete with story-line or table of contents, chapter and word counts and book cover mock-up gets you thinking about the writer you are. The authors that have completed their manuscripts were once where you are now. Talk about your project with others as long as you are doing the work you said you would do on it and are not simply satisfying yourself with the idea of it. Pick people to surround yourself with that will hold you accountable, be encouraging, and bring out your best productive habits. If you know of people actively writing, get into accountability pair-ups. If you don't, there are plenty of writers sharing tips on youTube. Just remember to use them as a timed reward after a writing session. You want to be producing content, not just consuming it.

3. Hire a coach.

If you want to ensure you are definitely going to stick to your project and get your manuscript complete, you might consider hiring a coach. Just like you would sign up with a trainer to optimize results at the gym; a coach can check that you are on track, help you shape up your idea, content, and sessions into a plan. With a coach, you will get a focused approach and follow-up you will be held accountable to. If you want to make sure you take yourself seriously in pursuit of your write your book goal this summer, set yourself up with someone who cares about your success.

4. Join a community

Joining a community can be as simple as creating a facebook group or joining an existing one. It might mean bringing together writers you know for writing sprints (either online or face to face). A writing community will understand your need to prioritize your writing to get it done and they will have ideas they have used successfully before and ones that are working for them now that you can benefit from as well. (As an added bonus, they will often make fabulous beta readers when the time comes for second and third drafts as well).

5. Experiment with your personal formula

You won't know what works unless you try a few different approaches. Let's say your first one gets you writing faster and better than you even anticipated. Great! Keep at it! You can wait until a writer's block sets in until you change it up. But don't worry if you have a stumbling start. The reason you've probably not written your book until now is because life gets in the way or you've been discouraged by your previous attempts. You are doing some new things now. You will connect with new people, try new methods, change up the setting or time of day, or vary the length of your sessions until you find what works for you. And then you will hit the manuscript stride you meant to all along.

If you are looking for an online setting in which to write your book, be sure to check out:

Write your book this summer.
How to, coaching, and online community through 
the University of the Fraser Valley's Continuing Education department.
July 5 - Aug 16
$380 including taxes
to register call 1-888-823-8734 and quote course reference number 40305


If you have questions about writing process email everydaywritingcoach@gmail.com .

Monday, June 17, 2019

Social Media StoryTelling Mindset - 5 Ways to Develop Yours



Whether it is platform building, audience communicating, or readership engaging; storytelling plays a big role outside of fiction writing. Developing your story telling mindset will make your practice feel more authentic and automatic. Gone are the days of trying to manufacture content and generating sales. Here are 5 simple ways to develop yours:

1. Consider what is on your mind and heart. Those conversations you roll around in your head or those characters you are putting through their paces. Sharing what is going on with you is like having a virtual coffee with a friend. Your readership will respond.

2. Be prepared for "How are you?" We respond so automatically to this conversational niceity that we land up missing its connection power most of the time. What if we used it to start an actual conversation instead of a fleeting greeting? Connecting on either side of what we post online in real life and tying them all together makes them all have authentic value and keeps the conversation going.

3. Giving kudos to people who have impacted you. It could take the shape of a book review or a thoughtful text, time in your family group chat, or a celebration of achievement or committed service. Studies show that people who participate in social media by contributing celebrating and positive comments (instead of passive viewing which is shown to decrease well-being and feed comparisons and insecurity) The same goes for in-person engagement. Give that compliment. Tell that charming story that paints someone else in a good light. You and everyone else around you will leave feeling even better. That's the point of story-telling.

4. Engaging your audience with questions whether in in-person discussions or a question of the day on social media means you will be meeting a need instead of talking to the air. Whether it is about genre or a life transforming concept, readers are looking for what they need. Connecting with what that is connects you to your audience and helps you to hone focus. Note: you will not meet everyone's reading needs all the time. If your readership fluctuates or changes; it is likely because you are getting closer to your core audience. Your writing could be evolving into a different direction and it will eventually find its way to people who are looking for it. Keep at it. Also keep in mind that you yourself likely have several authors and speakers you keep going back to and that who they are may change from month to month and season to season.

5. Seeing the purpose of everyday interactions with the world around you as you intentionally make your mark with storytelling that makes a difference is powerful. You hold the ability to connect people, build them up, point them in a positive direction, and make their lives easier and better. Don't discount that story you tell. It has been given to you for a reason.

Questions? Content requests? Send them to everydaywritingcoach@gmail.com