Fri. Sept. 20, 2019: Commitments

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What I WISH I was Doing
image via elle_kh courtesy of pixabay.com

Friday, Sept. 20, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I have a commitment this morning. I’m not sure how long it will last, so I’ve scheduled this to post, rather than worrying about when I’ll get a post up.

Please hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, the blog under the Ava Dunne name, where I talk about building the passenger ensemble for Savasana At Sea.

Have a lovely weekend. It’s supposed to be beautiful here, and warm. Monday is the Autumn Equinox.

Published in: on September 20, 2019 at 8:31 am  Comments Off on Fri. Sept. 20, 2019: Commitments  
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Mon. July 15, 2019: When Commitment Becomes Harmful — #upbeatauthors

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image courtesy of Open Clipart via http://www.pixabay.com

Monday, July 15, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

For the past few weeks, we’ve explored how important it is to keep your word once you give it, and the importance of commitment to your writing.

But there are times when we must break a commitment, and that is when the commitment hurts us.

Most of us have been in negative job or personal situations, where we feel trapped. We build a case of misplaced loyalty to a person or a situation that doesn’t deserve it. Perhaps it worked for us at one time. But people grow and change. We are as likely to outgrow people as we are situations.

Ask yourself the following:
What portion of the day am I unhappy?

How does my physical body respond when I think of this person/situation, or when I know I have to deal with it?

Do I need a rest/break/sabbatical, or do I need to leave?

Why do I think I have to stay?

What steps can I take to improve the situation? Can I discuss problems or challenges, can I ask for what I need?

What do I need to do to get myself out of this?

Do I need outside help? If so, where can I get it?

It can take weeks or even months to find answers to these questions, but if you keep at it and genuinely explore, you can do it.

Sometimes, you can improve the relationship or situation. But if you can’t, and it puts you in physical or emotional danger, ask for help and get out. It’s not easy, it often takes longer than we want it to, but it’s vital.
If you need to break the commitment, do your best to be both kind and honest. Too often people claim they’re being “honest” when, in fact, they’re being cruel. Be clear, don’t over-explain, and, if it’s warranted, make a clean break. Lying, procrastinating, avoidance all draw it out and make it more painful for everyone involved.

Treat the others in the situation with the gentleness you would wish, if the situation were reversed.

Commitments are important, but your well-being is even more so.

How do you deal with respectfully breaking a commitment?

Published in: on July 15, 2019 at 6:09 am  Comments (1)  
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Mon. July 8, 2019: Commitment To Your Writing #UpbeatAuthors

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Image by Stocksnap via Pixabay

Monday, July 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Enough retrogrades for you? Buckle up, buttercups, it’s a rocky month. But the retrogrades will also help clear out a lot of the deadwood and make way for new growth.

We are Upbeat Authors. We want to make the world better through our writing. That doesn’t mean denying that bad things happen. It means exploring and sharing ways that we can work through the bad and build something better.

It means nothing if we can’t finish anything. If we perpetually start things and let put them aside when the next Shiny Idea floats in front of us.

Those of us who write full-time know that we have to juggle multiple projects and meet our commitments to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. Part-time writers and hobbyist writers face different challenges to also keep sheltered and fed.

Finishing projects is vital.

It’s great to play with ideas. Some of them will work. Some of them will not. You don’t want to hang on to a project that’s not going anywhere and drains energy.

But unfinished projects drain creative energy, and if we let too many unfinished projects hang around, it’s like drowning in quicksand.

I actually teach a course on this, and have a Topic Workbook called THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS.

Also, some ideas formulate before they are ready to bloom into full projects. I have pieces where the idea arrived years before I actually write the project, and I’ve often had several false starts along the way.

There’s a big difference between DECIDING to put a project aside and just LETTING it slide.

Contracted projects on deadlines always get first attention. They have to. That’s the deal of being a professional writer. Earliest deadline/highest pay = first attention.

But there are always other projects begging for time that need to be slotted in around it. You need to be a time management whiz without feeling like you’re trapped and never have a minute to do anything fun with friends or family or just hang out and do nothing. All of that is important.

Ideas tend to come in batches. Some ideas demand to be spun out a bit. Some won’t work.

How do you handle it all?

I’m offering some suggestions that work for me, and there are specific exercises in the workbook.

When I get an idea, I jot it down as soon as possible. I try to keep a “Fragment” or “Whatevers” notebook with me at all times.

I DATE each entry. Like a journal. Because sometimes, when I go back to the idea, the context of WHEN it hit me winds up being important.

Contracted projects, like the Coventina Circle, Gwen Finnegan, and Nautical Namaste series, are outlined in advance. I need to be able to drop right down into them the moment I work on them, and not have to wonder about what happens next.

However, I consider outlines roadmaps rather than prisons. I deviate often. I follow where the story leads. Sometimes it leads back to the outline, sometimes not. Sometimes the tangents are cut, although I learn something important from writing them.

Remember, as a writer, nothing is ever wasted.

Uncontracted projects that have to work around the contracted ones, have a different process. Sometimes I’ll outline the whole piece. Other times, I’ll make notes, and then write my way into the book for about four chapters to see if it’s viable.

If it is, I find a way to work it into the schedule.

If it’s not, I write a temporary ending scene, wherever it stops. I either retire it or put it in stasis, and turn my attention back to the viable projects.

Every few months, I review the projects in stasis. Is there a project in there that’s calling? Has it reached its time? If so, I read through it, make notes, and fit it back into the schedule. If not, I leave it in stasis. Because it has a temporary ending, it’s not an unfinished project that’s draining energy through lack of attention.

Every couple of years, I review retired projects. Often, they stay retired. I needed to work on them to learn something — readers don’t need them.

But, every once in awhile, a project from the retired pile shows promise, and comes back out. Dusted off, freshened up, maybe a new perspective, and becomes viable again.

My minimum goal for my own fiction, plays, etc., (separate from marketing writing, articles assignments, reviews, etc.) is 1K/day. I generally do that first thing in the morning, and the pages add up. I up my game as I need to when under deadline pressure.

Right now, I’m working on contracted fiction and play projects at 1-2.5K/day and another 750-1000 words longhand on an uncontracted projected. This is around the other paid writing assignments. I will have to adjust upwards on the contracted fiction a bit, but the uncontracted — there’s no pressure, no deadline, so as long as I do a little every day, no guilt, only pleasure.

There are days I don’t write. Most of those are planned days off, and then I try to write more in the days BEFORE planned time off (because if you wait until after, you never catch up). I lost a few days a couple of weeks ago, when I was unexpectedly sick and couldn’t even think or sit up, much less write. It happens.

But, for the most part, I keep a steady pace. It keeps the momentum going, the pages adding up. I keep my commitment to the work, the deadlines, but most important of all — I keep my commitment to myself.

If you don’t respect yourself and your writing, no one else has any reason to, either.

How do you keep your commitment to your work?

Mon. July 1, 2019: Commitment – Your Word Matters #UpbeatAuthors

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image by kabaldesch0 via Pixabay.com

Monday, July 1, 2019
Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

This month, we explore the topic of “commitment” together. What does it mean? When is it (if ever) okay to break a commitment? When is it an asset, and when is it a weapon?

One of the facets of commitment is keeping one’s word. There’s a saying “Your word is your bond” which means that your word should have more meaning than any signed contract. In this age of litigation and easily thrown out phrases with no meaning behind it, this saying should matter more than it does.

Don’t promise if you know you can’t deliver.

Too often, we say “yes” in the moment to save us argument or stress, and then back out later on.

That’s a habit we need to change.

When it’s appropriate, say, “no.”

Someone wants to assign you a volunteer job or a task that you don’t want to do or doesn’t fit your schedule without causing major stress and conflict? Don’t agree and then back out. Say “no” upfront.

When they try to shame you or challenge you into doing what THEY want (because it’s always “when” not “if”), just say, “Because I said no.” If they press, just stare them down and say, “The reasons aren’t your business.”

That is far healthier and more effective than to lie and say “yes” because you’re afraid to say no, and then back out later, leaving other people to hold the bag and clean up your mess.

Trust me, I’ve been the people left to clean up the mess, and I lost all respect for those who backed out.

If you have no intention of keeping the commitment, don’t take it on.

If you DO take it on, see it through. Too bad if it’s inconvenient. You gave your word. See it through AND THEN DON’T SAY YES AGAIN.

How often have you agreed to do something, had an awful experience, vowed to never do it again, and then been coerced into doing it again?

Once you say yes, see it through. Then don’t agree to do it again.

Remember, if you say, “I can’t” — you invite questions as to the why, with people who will offer solutions THAT BENEFIT THEM, not you.

Instead, say, “I won’t” or “I’m not.”

You don’t need to give an explanation.

Sometimes, we can’t say no, especially in a work-related situation. I’m talking taking on tasks outside our realm, not allowing inappropriate conduct. Sometimes, they change the parameters of the job, and we are forced to grit our teeth and deal, especially when we’ve voiced our discomfort and been ignored.

In that case, look for another job. Nod, smile, perform your duties professionally, detach, and look for a better situation. If and when the opportunity arises, let the person assigning the tasks know you are uncomfortable. Maybe after a few conversations, things will change. Usually, though, if they didn’t listen the first time, they won’t once they have you performing the task. Keep a log of when and how the tasks changed, and your discomfort. Should you need to offer proof, for any reason, you have it.

And get out.

The problem with being the person who keeps their word is that others flock to you and try to coerce you into doing what they don’t want to do because once you say you’ll do it, you do.

It’s important to keep your word, while, at the same time, learn how NOT to give it in situations that make your life harder, when at all possible.

Not giving your word up front, is much better, for everyone concerned, then making the commitment and then breaking it. Because when you do the latter, you’re hurting other people in order to spare yourself some initial discomfort.

Make people prove they’re worth your commitment, worth YOUR WORD — before you give it.

Remember, as writers, words matter. The words themselves matter, and what’s behind them matters.

How do you keep your commitments? Do you learn from bad experiences and refuse to repeat them? How do you feel about people who break their word?

 

Published in: on July 1, 2019 at 5:43 am  Comments (2)  
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Nano Prep: Oct. 31: Commitment

How badly do you want this?

That is a question each individual must ask and answer for him or herself.

There’s nothing wrong with writing on the side, or writing only because you enjoy it, not because you plan to make it your career. It’s simply a different approach.

If writing is to be your vocation as well as your passion, it must be a priority. There are no excuses, there is no such thing as “no time to write”. You re-shape your life and people in it with those who will support your work.

That doesn’t mean surrounding yourself with people who only pamper and praise you. Constructive criticism is important. Nor does it mean you get to be selfish and never consider the needs of anyone else in your life. But it means having people in your life who respect your needs and your boundaries.

If you want it badly enough, you make the changes in your life necessary to make it work.

If you don’t, take responsibility for that choice and act accordingly. Don’t blame others, and don’t use friends and family as an excuse because you don’t have the courage or commitment to go for it. Say, “This was fun, but only a hobby.” There’s nothing wrong with making that choice. It simply defines a different career trajectory.

You’re prepared — tomorrow, you begin.

Published in: on October 31, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments Off on Nano Prep: Oct. 31: Commitment  
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