Stop using this word

Are your thoughts bringing you down without you even knowing it?

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I was able to run for three miles without stopping on any of the major hills. As I was running, I thought “wow, I’m really surprised I could do that.”

On this run, I was also thinking about how surprised I was to make a profit from the writing conference I’m organizing and hosting (Next Saturday!!!).

That’s when I realized how much I use the word surprised. Using that word subconsciously implies that:

1. I didn’t think I was capable of that action, i.e. reveals low self-regard.

2. That it was a miraculous occurrence that had nothing to do with hard work and dedication.

Why not use the word impressed instead?

I was impressed that I was able to run up hills without stopping. I was impressed that my conference is a financial success.

Using the word impressed celebrates the hard work and success and implies respect and admiration for yourself.

It’s a small tweak, but it’s worth the effort. Words have meanings beyond their definitions. They reveal what we actually think about ourselves and the world. If said enough, they can change how we feel. Gandhi said it best:Gandhi

Today I challenge you to really dissect your self-talk and see if there are any words that are bringing you down. I’d love to hear which words you come up with, what you realize about them, and which word you are going to replace it with.

How writing conference organizers embarrass themselves

Tracy:

Here are a few words from one of my speakers at the upcoming June 27 conference. If anyone is thinking of a freelance writing career, or looking for ways to boost their career, you should definitely come and hear her talk.!

Originally posted on April Greene:

By asking me to speak!

Oh, I joke. I’m really hoping to not embarrass my friend and fellow writer Tracy Sayre at her next awesome Writers Work conference, coming up on Saturday, June 27 in Manhattan.

Her excellent conferences provide newb and experienced writers alike with opportunities to network, hear useful advice from interesting speakers, and sometimes even take a few minutes to write on the fly and share what happens.

I’m super touched that Tracy asked me to hold court on the topic “How to Pay the Rent with Your Writing”—something I suppose I have been managing to do for a while! Now, I just have to think of what to say…

There are still a handful of tickets left as I type this. Git yer hands on ’em now and I’ll see you there!

AFG

Writers Work

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You are the solution

Two years ago I was browsing the internet trying to find a solution. I had hit a wall with my writing. I needed to meet other writers who knew what I was going through. I needed to meet agents and editors who could help advance my career. I needed to get inspired and motivated. A writers conference was exactly what I needed.

After researching several writer’s conferences, I realized a loan was actually what I needed. Most of them were upwards of $500. Plus, when I read the reviews people complained that the conferences were too crowded and the guests left feeling overwhelmed and even more anonymous.

That’s when it hit me.

I already had a lot of connections with the publishing world and I already knew lots of writers. What was to stop me from creating the exact conference I wanted to attend? Nothing!

So often we look for solutions outside of ourselves, ignoring our own resources and abilities. We forget that everything out there, everything that is well established and perhaps intimidating, started out as some person’s crazy idea. The only difference between a crazy idea and an established event is action and time.

Cut to the present moment. I am now gearing up for my third conference for writers. It’s small-scale (under 50 people), affordable ( $115-$160), and, most importantly, inspiring. I created exactly what I needed and I’m helping other writers in the process.

I’m not going to lie it’s been extremely difficult. I spend hours contacting potential speakers, putting together the perfect schedule, researching venues, promoting the event, preparing all the materials, and hosting. I spend countless hours on each conference and I’m still not breaking even. BUT it’s worth it when I get messages like this from former guests:

IMG_3217“This was the BEST writing workshop ever! It learned so much!”
“A fabulous, relaxing, well-organized event for inspiring, connecting and educating aspiring authors.”
“A meeting of writers and aspiring writers with meaningful speakers and opportunities to mingle and network. I felt invigorated and inspired by the day.”

Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is give what you need to others. Never underestimate the tools you already have!

***If you are a writer in the NYC area, I’d love to see you at my next conference on Saturday, June 27. Use this link for 10% off! Please share this with any writers you know. For more info, check out my website.***

Purple Hair (Part 2) the reveal

Apparently I chose a color that’s on trend and impossible to find. I wanted a look that went from black to dark violet to silvery lavender. The fist beauty supply store didn’t have the colors and told us to go to Wigs and Plus to get the lavender dye. Ashley, ever the trooper, made the trek only to find out they have been sold out of lavender for three months. While searching high and low for this dye, Ashley ended up running into the actual Ricky of Ricky’s NYC, a specialty beauty supply store that’s awesome. He told her there was no way she’d ever find lavender dye and gave her the recipe for making it (3oz of clear dye, 1 oz of pink and a drop of violet dye).

So yesterday we got started on the purple ombre!

20150521_180023

I washed out the dye and started styling. I love how it came out! Mermaid hair!!!

Now that it’s done I have no idea why I waited so long. A HUGE thank you to Ashley for your time, encouragement, and artistry!

Purple Hair (Part 1)

Saying goodbye to my boring hair!

Saying goodbye to my boring hair!

If it’s a not broke, don’t fix it.

This old adage plays in my head whenever I think about doing something fun with my hair. I have beautiful hair. It’s something that I always get complimented on. It seems crazy to destroy good hair with bleach and color, but that’s what I’m doing. For the last few years, I’ve been itching to do something different and now’s the time!

With the help of my wonderful friend, Ashley, I’m adding some purple, my favorite color, to my hair!

Yesterday, Ashley came to my apartment and spent nearly five hours bleaching my hair. I wanted a lavender ombre (gets lighter at the tips),  so it required a few steps. First Ashley bleached the bottom half of my hair.

I washed it out and dried it. But we're not done...

I washed it out and dried my hair. But we’re not done…

I love the way the two colors look braided together.

I love the way the two colors look braided together.

Stay tuned to see what it looks like once we add the purple!

Why did I start this blog?

recommitment-monthI have a confession to make. I haven’t been writing much lately. Actually I haven’t worked on my novel since March when I received disheartening news from the agent I thought I would be working with. After four months of correspondence, my hopes were dashed with this brief email:

I’m sorry to say that I’m going to have to step aside, despite my admiration for your work.  The past few weeks have been extraordinarily busy, and I have not been able to get back to your manuscript.  In any event, I cannot imagine you’ll have any trouble finding an agent to handle this—what I’ve read is quite wonderful.

OK, I know that this is overall positive, but that doesn’t make it any easier to face the fact that I have to start the long submission process all over again. But more over the writer inside me was broken and depressed by the rejection – writers have very sensitive egos. I couldn’t even look at my story.

But today, cooler heads prevailed, and I decided to open the document and read through parts of it. And guess what?!? It’s f’ing amazing! I needed a little break from it to realize what a great story I wrote. So now, before you all, I newly recommit to getting my novel published.

I am also making a promise to you virtual friends that I will write the second draft of my screenplay and enter it into a film contest by August 30. By the way, this is the feedbackI received after I entered my first draft into a film festival contest:

Your script made it through to some of the last rounds and saw many extra readings. The overall level of craft was remarkable, and made for some stiff competition.This screenplay’s concept is tremendous. And this script brought a dense and complex story alive. In the end, however–we had to pass. We found this to be a very promising screenplay. Thanks again for the honor of reading your work! And please keep writing.

I started this blog to hold myself accountable. I realized that once I state something publically I much more likely to do. So please send me lots of good vibes and encouragement. This summer it’s ON!

What’s in your Calendar?

busy calendarIf someone looked at your calendar, what would they think?

You work too much?

You don’t do enough?

You really make time for family?

You need a vacation?

Your calendar reveals your priorities – it shows what you are willing to devote your time to.

A few weeks ago I realized that it was easy for me to schedule time for networking, time for meeting up with friends, and time for work, but I wasn’t scheduling the personal activities I wanted to do. There was an exhibit at a local museum that I wanted to see for weeks but somehow I kept forgetting to go. Finally, I chose a date and time to go and put it in my calendar. Once I put it in my calendar, I noticed that there were so many times people asked me to do something on that date and I got to say, “sorry, I already have something planned.” If I hadn’t made it a priority and put it in my schedule, I would have ended up doing one of the other activities and ignoring my wishes.

Tonight I’m going to the Mad Men exhibit at the Museum of Moving Image! In three weeks I’m going to Selected Shorts to hear a tribute to Chuck Palahniuk. If I hadn’t put these events on my calendar, I would have missed them. I’m looking forward to scheduling more fun things just for myself. Now when I look at my calendar I think, “that’s a nice balance!”

Let me know what your calendar says about you! Leave a comment below. I hope you start adding some fun activities and treating yourself well!

Mini Memoir Monday: Matilda

Reading didn’t make sense to me. I stared at the words on the page struggling to sound out each letter and guessing what the combinations of sounds could possible mean. My eight year old peers flipped through the pages of their books while I tried to remember what sound H made when it followed the letter T. The word that gave me the most trouble was “of.” No one could explain to me why the F sounded like a V – it all seemed to arbitrary. I could remember that the F was supposed to sound like a different letter but I couldn’t remember which one. Sometimes I’d think it was a T or a P so I’d pronounce “of” like Aught or Up. I remember sounding out the title Anne up Green Gables to my class only to be met by ferocious giggles.

Since it took me a few minutes to make sense of a sentence, I often gave up and refused to read. However, that didn’t stop me from taking out books at our weekly class trip to the library. In third grade it was considered cool to like books, so I made sure to always have a book in my hand even if its contents were like a foreign language to me.

MatildaOne day I noticed a pretty shade of yellow on the library’s shelf. I pulled out the book and was immediately enamored with the drawing on the cover. The girl was sitting with a book in her lap, seeming to have difficulty reading.

I checked out the library’s copy of Roald Dahl’s Matilda and immediately took it outside to sit on the park bench and pretend to read it. The illustrations drew me in. I quickly learned from the drawings that the girl actually loved reading. There were strange scenes with a hefty woman who always seemed angry, objects floating in the air, and a sweet looking woman who drank tea with Matilda. The drawings intrigued me so much, that I forced myself to decipher the words.

After an hour on the bench I was five pages into the book and captivated. On the school bus home I read another page. I was noticing that some of the words were used a lot and it was getting easier to recognize them. By that evening, as I read through the next chapter, I could skip the whole sounding out process for words like “the”, “on”, and “and.”

During class the next day I kept my copy of Matilda open on my lap under the desk. I stole glimpses of the words while my teacher taught the multiplication table. I needed to know what happened after Matilda put super glue in her father’s hat and I needed to know how Matilda caused the television to explode. I worked my way through another chapter during lunch. When I placed my bookmark to save my page I stared in disbelief. I was half an inch into a book. Half an inch of pages filled with words that I had successfully decoded. And I didn’t even have a headache!

That night, I made myself a cup of hot chocolate because that’s what Matilda did when she read. I read about the mean Miss Trunchbull, throwing kids like baseballs. I read about the FBI agents investigating Matilda’s father for his shady used car business. I read about Miss Honey’s sad past. What intrigued me the most was that Matilda had telekinetic powers. Her brain was so developed that she could move things just by thinking hard enough!

By page one hundred I was convinced that if I could become an avid reader like Matilda, I, too, could have magical powers.

As soon as I finished Matilda I went to the library and took out every book by Roald Dahl. I poured over James and The Giant Peach (to this day I think of this book whenever I take a bath), The WitchesCharlie and The Chocolate Factory and The BFG. I couldn’t believe that I was able to see the scenes in these books with greater detail and vividness than any movie or t.v. show. I thought about the characters for days after I finished the book, wondering what they were doing now that their stories were done. Each book became easier to read. In the span of a month I went from not being able to read to winning an award from my teacher for being a “super reader.”

Matilda changed me forever. It taught me that hard work paid off. It taught me that I could take as much time as I needed – the words would still be there for me when I was ready to make sense of them. It taught that I wasn’t stupid, I just needed to get over a hurdle before I could run.

Since that day in the library when I picked out Matilda for its pretty yellow cover, I’ve never been without a book in hand. I’ve come a long way from not being able to read the word “of.” In the back of my mind, a part of me thinks that my telekinetic powers will form some day if I keep reading, but the truth is reading is already magical. I don’t need to be able to move spoons with my mind when I can create worlds instead.

Why aren’t you listening to this?

earSometimes we need to hear something at the right time for it to click. Here are two things I listened to recently that I had to share with you and I hope it falls on your ears at the right time as well.

In this brief, one-minute illustration, Ira Glass speaks of the difficult growth processes of creativity. What he says is so obvious and true but I never thought of it that way.

Are you done watching it? Great! What did you think about it?

Next up, is a podcast my friend, Tricia recommended. A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment is by Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter, two accomplished and incredible authors. I loved hearing their candid view of the creative struggle and their vulnerability in sharing works in progress. The episodes are about an hour long, but well worth it.

I’ve been slow to jump on the podcast bandwagon but I’m starting to appreciate them. (In case you’re not familiar with the term, a podcast is simply a recording online. They’re usually free to listen to or you can pay to download them).

Do you have any podcasts you’d recommend? What do you like about them?