Monday, February 22, 2016

Juggling Time or Tasks?

Can you juggle time? 

We might think so, but it's probably more accurate to say that we juggle tasksFrom the necessary to the enjoyable, we try to accomplish it all, but not always with great success. The trick is to keep these tasks airborne to create the illusion that we're getting it all done. But are we?

If you were to look at my to-do list, you'd see that I'm not getting it all done. Within reason, this is okay. Life happens, and it needs to be enjoyed too. But I've been reviewing my habits in relation to my goals, to write well and productively. There's one small issue, though - I am a master procrastinator, and with that, get distracted often. I need regular reminders to stay on task. So thought I'd share my observations and action steps on the off chance that you might have similar "juggling" challenges.

  • Ignore the internet. It's like a magnet. Facebook, Twitter, email, it's just crazy. Trying to write an article with my email open is a tangent waiting to happen. So I keep those windows closed, or bribe myself. Article done = dark chocolate. Or something similar that helps motivate me. 
  • Ignore the phone. Or at least, screen calls. That way, if the Super Duper Contest Company calls to tell me that I won, I won't miss it. I also designate working hours, otherwise interruptions can hijack the day.
  • Ignore the chores. I don't mean ditching housework forever, only for a bit when it means getting a project finished. Saturdays are often my chore days to get general cleaning done. Knowing that keeps the distraction level down.
  • Ignore the "must-do-now" items. You know, like the files that want to be alphabetized, or the unfinished craft project mocking you from the next room. Focusing on the task at hand frees up time later to work on those other items.

Pretty basic, I know, but when keeping these things in check, a lot more gets accomplished. Which means I can enjoy the other facets of life, which are just as important. A balance of self discipline, flexibility, and determination makes that juggling act a lot easier. 

(Speaking of easier, one helpful resource is Jeanette Levellie's book, Shock the Clock. It offers great tips on time management for writers and other creatives.)

Are you a procrastinator? What tasks do you juggle? What helps you focus and get things done? 

Taking a break before heading into my 7th blogoversary celebration in March. We'll have a few guests and maybe even a giveaway or two. :) See you on March 7!

Happy writing,


Image credit: Free Images

Monday, February 15, 2016

Miscellaneous Monday

Have you had snow this winter? I suspect many of you have. The second portion of the winter here in north central Kentucky has been colder, with more snowfall too. Not complaining, I don't mind the white stuff as long as the roads are clear in a timely manner and I can get out to replenish my dark chocolate stash. :)

For those of you who don't care for winter, take heart. Spring always comes! Here are a few links that might help take your mind off the chilly weather.

Who doesn't love great characters? Creating them however, is another story (no pun intended!). Jerry Jenkins shares his insight in 3 Ways to Create Unforgettable Characters.

Speaking of characters, do you know what head hopping is? Susan J. Reinhardt explains how to avoid this pitfall when writing fiction in this post, What is Head Hopping?

Looking to step up your freelancing game? 125 Quick Tips to Sharpen Your Copywriitng Skills might offer the assistance you need.

Dual versus duel - Laurel Garver helps us keep these tricky homophones straight in With Me or Against Me? Using Dual and Duel. 

How do you handle transitions when writing? My guest post, Making the Transition, discusses this topic at my publisher's blog. If you have a moment, please hop over and check it out!

What's the weather like in your part of the world? What are you working on this week?

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Free Images

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Write Balance

We all know that the writer's life is largely sedentary. While brainstorming and sorting out ideas can be done with a measure of physical activity, actual typing or writing longhand has us parked in one place. Writing gives our brains a workout, but it doesn't offer much in the way of burning calories.

Activity of some kind is essential for good circulation. Even short bursts of movement get the blood flowing, which provides a double bonus - for mind and body. We think and feel better, and have more to offer our loved ones. That said, what can be done to offset the less active times while at the keyboard?

Here's what tops my list. See if you agree. 

  • Get ample rest. We know this, but how many of us heed this advice? I don't always, but aim to make it a priority.
  • Eat right. This is another given. Poor eating habits will catch up with us. You know, like Mom always said, "You are what you eat."
  • Exercise. Given #3! From hitting the gym, to walking or running, to the exercise DVD, light weights, etc. there are a myriad of options from which to choose.
  • Maintain a "motion mindset". Our best writing results often come when we are healthy and alert.

To take this "motion mindset" a step further, I look for ways to stay loose and relieve tension. Perhaps you do some of the following too.

  • Take regular breaks. A trip to the laundry room or mailbox can stretch muscles and get the blood moving. Sometimes I'll take a brief walk around the house or yard, march in place, or scale the stairs a few times.
  • Stand up. You've probably read the articles about how standing (versus sitting) is better for circulation. I don't have a standing desk, but occasionally I'll take my laptop or pen and paper and work while standing at the kitchen island. When possible, I pace while on the phone.
  • Keep moving, even when sitting. Stretch or rotate your arms, flex your legs, stomp your feet, scrunch your shoulders up and down, or turn your head from left to right.
  • Lift weights. Stash 1 or 2 pound weights under your desk. Sit/stand and do a few bicep curls or overhead arm lifts. Even light weights provide resistance benefits.
  • Be your own masseuse/masseur. Massage your scalp, forehead or temples, neck, and/or shoulders, using gentle pressure or kneading in a circular motion to relieve tension and increase blood flow.
  • Stay hydrated. Did you know that dehydration can cause headaches? Keeping a healthy beverage handy, whether writing or not, is an easy preventative measure. 

Whether exercising our bodies or minds, it doesn't take much to reap helpful benefits.

How do you balance activity with the sedentary writing life?

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Free Images

Monday, February 1, 2016

Meet The Blogger with Jennifer Brown Banks

The February edition of Meet the Blogger features freelance writer Jennifer Brown Banks. Many of you already know Jennifer; she's the smart and savvy individual behind the award winning blog, Pen and Prosper.

What you might not know is that Jennifer recently published a book. It's entitled  7 Wide, Poetic Reflections, and is a collection of poems that is designed to appeal to a diverse audience. Ever keeping us in the loop of great writing advice and tips, Jennifer is as sweet and kind as they come. She's been a faithful friend and colleague, and I am excited to help her celebrate her newest accomplishment.

Welcome Jennifer! So glad you could stop by. :) What is your blog about?

Thank you, Karen! Pen and Prosper is devoted to helping writers at all levels and genres to grow more, know more, and reach their full creative potential. It's about the writing life and exploring creativity in all its myriad forms.

Your devotion is evident in each post. It's a wonderful source of practical info for writers. What benefits have you gained through blogging? 

How much time do you have? LOL I have gained so many tangible and intangible benefits:

  • A supportive community
  • A bigger, stronger platform 
  • Blogging buddies worldwide
  • A more experienced and well tuned writer's voice
  • The joy of connecting with and learning from others
  • Industry recognition for my work - I'm pleased to be among the "Top 100 Writing Blogs for 2016"
  • An added income stream (I set up blogs for other writers, conduct "Blog Audits", and sell ad space)

Blogging can be a great experience, I agree. We reap so many benefits. Congratulations on 7 Wide! What prompted you to write it? What types of poetry will we find within the pages?

Thanks, Karen! It's been long overdue. Though I have contributed articles, essays, and blog posts to numerous publications over the years, poetry is for me. It's a great way to measure emotional growth and chronicle the highs and lows of life. I realized upon reflection, that it had been quite a few years since my last poetry title had been released. So now just seemed like a good time.

 7 Wide is a dynamic collection of more than 40 poems on love, life, and social issues that will appeal to audiences of a diverse readership.

I'd not thought of poetry quite like that; your insight is helpful. What have you learned through the process of writing 7 Wide?

I've learned that poetry is cathartic. That writing a book provides a true sense of accomplishment and closure. And that poetry still remains one of my favorite genres in which to dabble. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to write a book?

Put out a quality product, even if it's self published. Like your kids, it's a reflection of you.

Excellent advice! Thanks again for sharing with us today. Wishing you well with your new book. 

Thanks Karen! 

More About Jennifer

Jennifer Brown Banks is an award winning blogger, award winning poet, veteran freelance writer, content creator, columnist, and seasoned bargain hunter. Her publishing credits include Pro Blogger, Men with Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, and South 85 Literary Journal. When not at the keyboard, she digs reading, cooking, music, shopping, herbal tea, and chocolate.

Visit Jennifer's blog, Pen and Prosper

Purchase 7 Wide on Amazon

Do you enjoy reading/writing poetry? Have any questions for Jennifer?

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Free Images