Category Archives: Psychology of writing

Tips for New Year’s Resolutions to Get Organized

Welcome back!

So, to pay it forward to those who helped me out over the years, I decided to do two blog posts about two common New Year’s goals: 1) Losing weight, and 2) Getting organized.

Last week we covered the weight loss tips that I found actually worked–i.e. I can vouch for the tips since I lost and kept off 25 lbs. (per doctor’s orders) over the last 18 months by using them. No diets. No extreme workouts.

Also, like I wrote last week, I’m not a professional expert on weight loss or organizing.  I encourage anyone with questions to talk to an expert. There are professionals out there who can be of great help.

Goal 2 – Getting Organized

  1. Every object we own has a yearly cost in time, space, and money. Pay attention to what those costs are. It’s crucial to become aware of these costs–if one gathers stuff long enough, one ends up running out of room in one’s residence. It’s a lot cheaper to get rid of stuff than to pay to move to a bigger place or pay the monthly rent on a storage unit.
  2. Shopaholic and/or hoarding symptoms are warning signs that the help of an expert is needed. Don’t go it alone if you or someone you care about shows signs of either. An experienced therapist is needed to help tackle the underlying problems.
  3. Organization is a learned habit. Learn how to do it. Read a great book on organization, such as Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I stumbled across her book in an airport bookstore while on my journey back from Tel Aviv, and read it on the plane. She does an excellent job of summarizing the key techniques needed to get organized.
  4. Keep what you love, get rid of the rest.  Marie Kondo’s book does a terrific job describing the sorting & discarding process in detail, and the emotions involved.
  5. File folders are your friend. Whether it’s file folders for an actual filing cabinet, or on your computer, create a filing system and use it. I have saved countless hours searching for tax records and other documents by doing so.
  6. Organize and store medical records in a portable binder … or scan them into pdf files that you can store in a specific folder on a portable device such as an iPad. This is especially critical if someone has a serious medical condition. Bring that binder or iPad to every meeting with a new health professional. It can speed up the diagnosis and treatment journey when you’re able to swiftly provide copies of laboratory and medical reports. **I’m writing from personal experience on this–getting the medical records organized and easily accessible can literally save someone’s life. Do it ASAP.**
  7. Once the place you live in is cleared out and organized, there’s a high chance a relative, neighbor, or friend will ask to store some of their stuff there. It’s important to be emotionally prepared for this, or stuff will accumulate again … only this time, it’ll be other people’s stuff. Figure out what to say when it happens–will you say “No”; set a specific time limit; or charge them money for the storage?
  8. Celebrate that you’re making room in your life for The New.

Good luck to everyone with their resolutions for the New Year and I wish everyone much success in accomplishing them.

Cheers, Lynn

Tips for New Year’s Resolutions to Lose Weight

Welcome to 2016! I hope you are all well. It’s great to be back and doing a blog post. It’s been so quiet blog-wise because I went on overseas travel to Israel and Palestine to do research for future stories.

Mid-January is a good moment for me to pass on some learned wisdom about two common New Year’s Resolutions (at least here in the United States). By around now the excitement of possible change is fading away, to be replaced by the daily slog of reality. The two common resolutions I will cover are:

Goal 1 – Losing Weight

Goal 2 – Getting Organized

I’m not a professional expert on these two issues. I have, however, by trial and error stumbled onto advice from others that actually works and I want to pass that advice on as a way to pay it forward.

For this week’s blog post I’ll cover the goal of losing weight.

Goal 1 – Losing Weight

  1. Make peace with your body as it is today. Ditch the self-hate, because it gets in the way of feeling joy. Find outfits to wear that make you happy and confident now. Self-care needs to be a priority.
  2. Treat obesity as a disease, not a moral failing. It’s better to be dispassionate about this medical situation. Negative self-talk only increases the odds that stress eating and failure will occur.
  3. Schedule an appointment with your family doctor and talk about getting tested for diabetes, high cholesterol, thyroid problems, and other conditions. Also, you need a health assessment of how much weight you actually need to lose, if any. Eating disorders and unrealistic body goals are a genuine hazard.
  4. Before your body can permanently change, your mind must change. I strongly recommend reading a book on the psychology of weight loss before starting any diet and exercise program. Dr. Martha Beck’s The Four Day Win does a good job covering the behavioral and emotional issues involved with permanent weight loss.
  5. Food is fuel. Log the actual calories you’re consuming. Buy a food scale so you can measure anything you’re eating that doesn’t come with the exact calorie count. No self-shaming allowed. Watch yourself the way a scientist would and log the results each day.
  6. After an eating binge, pay attention to what was happening before and during the binge. Was there an emotional trigger? Log that information.
  7. Build a support team. If you need expert advice and guidance, get it. It’s a lot cheaper to hire a nutritionist and personal trainer for a few months than to pay the long-term medical bills involved with severe obesity.
  8. Aim for 1 tiny permanent healthy change in your life each week. One tiny change a week means that there will be 52 changes made in your life by the end of the year. They add up, fast. Really.  Also, a tiny change is easy to manage, even during a life crisis, and so going off track is unlikely to happen.

Next week I’ll be back with tips on getting organized.

 

Happy New Year, and a Frank Speech by me

First off, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. May 2015 be a joyful and peaceful year for you.

My New Year’s resolution–with regards to myself–is utter frankness, both in my personal life, and in my writing life. And so I am going to be frank with you. I’ve kept quiet about some things that happened to me in 2014, but I’ve decided it’s best I start being upfront about them because of the impact they’ve had on my writing commitments.

First off, back in August 2014, as I was working on the revisions to the second half of Lies, Magic, and Nightmares, I was in an incident with a person who was suicidal. The safety of a child was at stake, and there were several times in the confrontation with the suicidal person when it turned into a physical fight.

However, I am very fortunate. I’d been through training with a good sensei in Aikido twenty years ago, and I also had gone through the Citizen’s Police Academy taught by good officers of the Los Alamos Police Department. That background helped me when I found myself a first responder to a situation I never dreamed I’d ever find myself in.

And I hope I never again find myself in such a situation. I am glad to say that both suicidal person and child survived with no injuries, and I got off with minor bruising and a mild injury to a thumb joint. I can thank the Aikido training for how minor my injuries were, for I instinctively kept my muscles relaxed.

I did develop post-traumic stress disorder (PTSD), though, and it wrecked havoc with being able to write fiction for months. Good counseling and support has made the PTSD subside, but the writing deadlines got dropped.

I put on a brave face to show to the world, but in private I found myself asking during these last few months, “Is fiction writing still worth doing? Is writing about imaginary people meaningful?”

I can highly recommend Stephen King’s novel Bag of Bones if you want to know what it feels like to be a writer who comes to question the value of fiction writing.

I discovered that the only reasons I want to start writing again are that 1) the imaginary people I write about seem real to me on certain days, and I want to find out what happens to them. (Hmm, that looks rather crazy when I type it out, but it’s the truth.); and 2) I’ve found I gain insights into human nature that make me a little wiser and kinder.

Both of these reasons have given me the push to get started again, despite the significant cost in time and energy.

So I fired up the computer; reread the first part of Lies, Magic, and Nightmares; and have gone back to work on finishing the second half of the rewrite. So it will be done. It will be late … but it will be finished.

The print versions of Cubicles, Blood, and Magic and Tales from the Threshold are also on their way now that I can mentally focus.

Another thing I’ve decided is that if I have nothing meaningful to say, I’d rather say nothing at all. The world is flooded with enough filler as it is. I will post on occasion about new stories that are being published, or special sales where you can save money on my stories, but I will keep them to a minimum because I hate spam and I want to make sure I don’t cross the line into being a spammer.

Best Wishes for a Good 2015 for all of you, Lynn

Since social media is becoming unpredictable at times in what it shows users, the best way to keep tabs on what I’m up to is to sign up to be notified of new blog posts. You’ll find an email tool for signing up, as well as an RSS feed tool, on the left side of my website near the top, next to the most recent blog post.

 

 

 

The Time of Turtle Steps

For the past month, every time I sat down to write a major post about goals, productivity, and other topics of interest to me, I’ve ended up tossing out what I wrote instead of posting it. Too much of it read like boring platitudes.

I was probably spouting too many platitudes because there were a couple of life crises that happened during the last two months behind the scenes, and as a result I had to hunker down and focus on using what little time I had to just write. Everything else–blogging; getting the editing done on stories to be published as ebooks; marketing plans–got temporarily paused.

I now call times like these the “Time of Turtle Steps,” because even when I keep working, I feel like a turtle surrounded by hares. It feels like everyone else is racing past me while I plod along far, far behind.

And yet, I’ve now learned enough to know that I’m wrong. Those turtle steps add up over time if I keep doing them step by step by step…the hard part is to keep going. Too often we stop out of despair.

Let me give an example from my own experience. In October, a couple of crises hit at the same time.

I wasted a lot of mental energy in October beating myself up for my slowed pace in writing and in working on my career. There was little time to write, and my final word count for the month was 23,255 words.

In November, I decided that while I couldn’t participate in NaNoWriMo since I wanted to keep working on my novel in progress, I could at least change my attitude and stop beating myself up. The crises continued to eat up lots of time in November, but once I accepted that I was a turtle, I found I could mentally relax and enjoy the writing more when an opportunity appeared to grab an hour to write, and I passed the 50,000 word mark for November two days ago.

So my productivity more than doubled once I stopped beating myself up about my writing pace and lack of time to do career tasks.

There are times in our lives when a crisis hits and we have to jettison everything but the most essential tasks. Be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up for the slowed pace. It’ll just make it harder to get anything done.

Be a turtle. Do each step by step by step, and keep going…and you’ll be surprised by how far you can get in a month. I certainly was.

The Power of Kickstarter and Other Links

I’ve been swamped with writing and editing work, so that’s why I’ve been so quiet here on the blog for a bit. But there’s some links I want to share before I forget.

Everyone has probably heard all about Kickstarter (the funding platform for creative projects), but if you haven’t, go and check them out! Kickstarter is proving to be a great way for professional artists to get the start-up funds they need and for people to support favorite artists and web shows. For example:

A writer friend of mine, Annie Bellet, was able to successfully use Kickstarter to help fund her tuition to Clarion this past summer.

The web show Put This On just successfully raised over $70,000 to film Season Two.

Travis Hanson, a fantasy/comics illustrator I got to meet briefly at Albuquerque Comic Con, has successfully raised the funds he needs to print his web comic in book format.

Money has always been an issue for artists, especially filmmakers and illustrators, so the rise of crowd-sourcing such as Kickstarter excites me to no end.

In other news, Dean Wesley Smith has an important technology blog post on how writers, publishers, and booksellers can use Book Cards to market an e-book cheaply and attract readers into independent bookstores to buy e-books for their e-readers. WMG Publishing and Lucky Bat Books were passing out the first ever e-book cards at Worldcon to show off this brand new marketing idea.

And 20+ year pro Bob Mayer has some blunt, quick advice on how to be a fiction writer that has a career that lasts for decades.