commitment

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!

Making Dreams Happen!

reamsNearly two years ago I had the desire to create an inspirational conference for my readers. Writing a novel, starting a businesses, and getting married were huge (and happy) distractions from this dream. Now I’m proud to say on Saturday, May 17, I will be hosting a conference for writers!

This is a fast pace conference with 7 presenters sharing a wide range of writing expertise, from freelance work, to mentoring, to getting an agent, to publishing.  After the presentations, there will be an hour to socialize and network with the presenters. My hope is that people will leave this conference with practical tips, motivation, and a larger support network for their dreams. And it’s FREE!

Here’s the link to register. Space is limited, so please only register if you’re absolutely positive you can come.

So how did I get this dream rolling?

  1. I developed the idea as I went along. All I knew was that I wanted quick presentations with lots of socializing. When I started asking people to join me, they shared their ideas and it was easy to incorporate them into my general concept.
  2. I focused on the little steps. If I had thought about everything that I had to do to organize the event, I probably would have gotten overwhelmed. Instead, I only emailed one person a day.
  3. I thought about it like it was already successful. For a while I only had one person confirmed, but I talked about the event like it was already well established. This sense of delusion not only helped others believe in the idea, but it helped me stay committed.
  4. I was selfish. I kept thinking about what I wanted to see, and what I wanted from a conference. Now I have a conference that I would love to go to, and I’m certain others would enjoy as well.

I hope you can join us at the conference!

Improvising a better reward system

wpid-20130603_113238.jpgLast year I wrote that if you have a long-term goal, it’s important to reward the milestones. This helps you celebrate the process and not just the outcome.

My two long-term goals are publishing a novel, and launching a career from the HeSo Project. I came up with my milestones and rewards and taped them to my desk so I can see them whenever I work.

It was really hard coming up with rewards and I found myself just listing the nicer version of everything I already own. A few months ago, I reached one of my goals (1,000 blog followers) and bought myself a pair of boots. My trip to Idaho was a reward for finishing my first draft of the novel. While I love my boots, rewarding myself with an experience that will have a long-term impact on my creativity was much more …well…rewarding.

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As I reach another goal (2,000 followers!), I decided to cross out all the materialistic rewards and replace them with fun experiences I’ve always wanted to try.

My husband took an improv class at The Pit last year and he had so much fun. I’ve always wanted to take an improv classes but I used money as an excuse not to do it, when the real reason was I was an intimidated by it. Well I already have a bunch of purses, so I crossed that off and signed up for a four week improv class!

I’m a little nervous, but I can’t wait to share with you all the amazing lessons of improv.

By the way, if you’ve never read this short little gem, Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up, I’d highly recommend it.

1,000 People Bought Me a Pair of Boots

wpid-20130603_113238.jpgA while back, I wrote a post about pinpointing milestones that lead up to a major goal, and rewarding yourself when you achieve those goals. So often we set our sights high, and don’t celebrate all the little steps it takes to reach the final destination.

On a stack of note cards, I wrote out the my short-term goals for my novel and for my blog. Under each goal I wrote the reward I would give myself for achieving that goal. Then I stuck those note cards in a place where I could see them whenever I work.

One of my goals was to have 1,000 email subscribers to my blog. This past Monday, I reached that goal! As my reward I’m buying these pretty little boots I’ve had my eye on for months. Ye haw! I’m going to think of all my awesome readers whenever I wear them 🙂

I cannot thank you enough for reading my posts. It makes my day when I get a notification that someone is following my blog. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you! If you happen upon a blog that you like, I suggest you follow it because you have no idea how encouraging that is for a writer.

Now the main question is: what should I reward myself with when I get 5,000 followers?!?

Two very important anniverseries

When Mike and I first started dating, I sent him a copy of a story I was trying to publish. I was really proud of it and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t hearing back from any publishers. Mike read it and pointed out the areas that could be stronger. I’m not going to lie, I was hurt at first, but then I was blown away. This guy had the guts to tell me the truth, the brains to offer great suggestions, and enough faith in me to know that I was capable of so much more. I decided I would never let him go.

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Couples that dance together stay together!

On Monday, we celebrated our 5 year anniversary of meeting. We met on Match.com. After emailing back and forth for a week, and then talking on the phone for hours, we met in person at a little cafe in the West Village. I was taken by his big smile, and his willingness to talk about everything you’re not supposed to talk about on a first date (politics, religion, sex, money, you name it). Before the date ended, he asked me to go with him to the Middlesex County Fair in New Jersey. We had our first kiss on top of the ferris wheel: it was the kind of date I dreamed of as a little girl.

Two years ago, Mike told me to stop procrastinating and just start a blog already. After hemming and hawing for weeks, I finally posted my first ever Heso Project entry. I cannot believe I’ve been blogging for two years now. First, I can’t believe I have so much to say, and second, I can’t believe people are reading it 🙂 I owe Mike a huge thanks for his encouragement.

Happy 2 year anniversary, The Heso Project!

 

Between Goals

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My desk

When you have a lofty goal it’s crucial to set goals along the way, and then reward yourself for reaching those goals. It could take years to reach my goal of publishing my novel, In the Pride, so why should I wait that long to celebrate my hard work?

Recently I started posting my short-term goals next to my desk, and it’s a great reminder of the steps I need to take to get where I want to go. It’s also fun to keep track of the goals I have completed. Under each goal I write a reward. I’m currently on my third draft, so when I reach 100 pages (which I did this weekend!) I go out for a fancy dinner, for 200 pages I go to a writer’s conference, and for finishing this draft I will visit Idaho where a good chunk of my story takes place.

Another practice that has helped me stay motivated is logging the hours I spend writing. Sometimes it can feel like I’m working so hard with nothing to show for it, but watching the numbers accumulate is a great reminder of my commitment.

hoursspreadHope these tips can help with your goals!

Which kid are you?

Photo credit: BCI Burke Comp.

A little girl decides to take a risk and climb on top of the monkey bars. The other kids in the playground look up at her in awe as she balances on the metal rods high above them. She puts her hands in the air, basking in her glory. When she makes it across everyone cheers.

What would that little girl learn about taking risks?

What would she learn about getting attention?

What assumptions would she start to make about herself?

Photo credit: Chicago Phoenix

Her friend sees this and decides to try climbing the bars too. She’s so nervous her feet are shaking and she falls to the ground. Everyone sees this and laughs.

What would that little girl learn about taking risks?

What would she learn about getting attention?

What assumptions would she start to make about herself?

If those two girls were in the same class the next year, and their teacher asked for a volunteer who do you think would raise their hand? The second girl has already decided that it’s not safe to take risks. If she messes up, she’ll just confirm all the negative thoughts she had about herself. Even if she does well and everyone compliments her, but there are two girls laughing in the back of the room, she will focus on the laughter and not on the praise (even if that laughter wasn’t directed at her).

Do you ever focus on the one complaint rather than hundreds of compliments?

If those two girls were at a job interview, who do you think would get the job? If those two girls were on a date with a jerk, who do you think will realize they deserve better, and who will accept poor treatment?

We’ve all had moments in our lives that shape who we are and how we see the world. Some of those moments were big and impossible to forget. Oftentimes they were just small moments that are easy to forget as an adult, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a long-lasting effect.

The problem is these decisions we made about ourselves were decided by children who didn’t know better. We were doing the best we could to make sense of a world that is confusing and some times painful. As adults we need to take a step back and determine if these assumptions are true and if they are serving us. Are they keeping us from living a full and happy life? Are they keeping us in unhealthy relationships? Are we stuck in a rut because of them?

This is a huge lesson I learned from The Living Course. If you’ve ever talked to me, you’ve probably heard me talk about this course because it changed my life forever. I was the kid who fell off the monkey bars and decided risks were dangerous and attention could only be negative. I lived with this mentality for 24 years, and then in ONE weekend the light switched and I saw my life through completely new eyes. Rather than fear I embraced excitement. Rather than judgement I felt love. Rather than saying “I have to,” I said, “I want to.”

I wish everyone could take this course. I wish everyone could feel like the little girl on the monkey bars with her hands stretched out, soaking up everyone’s praise and feeling magnificent. You deserve to feel that way. The next course is May 31-Jun 2, 2013 in White Plains, NY. The courses are few and far between, so it’s worth canceling your plans. I assist at every course, because it’s incredible to watch people transform into the better version of themselves in just 30 (intense) hours. Go to their website right now and contact them for more information. I do not get paid to do this. The only reward I receive is feeling like I played a part in making someone’s life better.

Don’t waste another year playing it small. Whatever small voice in your head is saying “no” is the same voice that will keep you from having the life you want. When are you going to stop listening to it?

100 pages!

Back when the mega ball lottery was up to a record $550 million I had an idea for a story. Since I was already on a roll with the 750 words a day routine, I decided to write those 750 words on my new story idea. Now I have 44,158 words done. In other words, I’ve written 100 pages! It started out as an unambitious project, but now I spend most of my free time writing and researching for this story. I’m a little less than half way done with it, but I’ll share a tiny portion of it now, and another excerpt when I reach the 200 page mark 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

Laura walked into the break room with her McDonald’s bag in hand. She took a seat next to the nearly mute mail guy and began unpacking her meal. Most of the fries had fallen to the bottom of the bag so she fished those out. They always seemed to be the best ones.

Ashley, the young receptionist, walked into the room holding her Tupperware of baby carrots. She took a seat at the table across from Laura. “Did you get a Lottery ticket while you were out?”

Laura nodded no, and shoved a chicken nugget in her mouth.

“You know it’s up to $550 Million? You’d have to be crazy not try at least.”

Laura smirked. “You’d have to be crazy to waste a dollar on that. The chances of winning are like one in a million.”

“Actually its two dollars a ticket, and the chances are one in 145 million, but who’s counting?” the accountant, Jed, stepped in. He had a lunch bag filled with leftovers his wife probably packed.

Laura looked at her coworkers and was amazed at how they fit the stereotypes of their jobs. The pretty receptionist, the nerdy accountant, the reclusive mail guy. And then there was her; the perfectly average executive assistant. Reliable, responsible, and lacking in any ambition or intrigue. “Well, I’m perfectly satisfied with buying two items off the dollar menu with that money,” Laura said, then stuffed another French fry in her mouth. She had promised herself she would leave more than half of the fries.

She loved her office, even if the girls gossiped too much, her boss did not deserve his job, and the temp that shared her cubical had bad b.o. It was a place where she could show up, feel useful for a few hours, and then leave it all behind. Work never crossed her mind at home. It paid her just enough to pay the bills and be able to go on one small vacation a year. She had no complaints.

“What would you do with $550 million?” Ashley asked Jed with what Laura thought a little flirtation.

“I’d buy you a pony of course,” Jed joked, which reminded Laura that he was just a dorky father incapable of flirting. He took out the contents of his lunch. His wife even packed real silverware. “And you, Miss Laura?”

“Ahh,” she blushed, “Let’s see. I’d help my parents to retire, and get Chase a sound studio so he could quit his job and make music. And Umm,” She looked off into the distance, “Maybe I’d buy a Wild Cat sanctuary and become like the Jane Goodall of cats.” She had no idea where that idea had come from and couldn’t help but laugh.

“Meow,” the flamboyantly gay Art director, Percy, interrupted. He put his hand up like a claw and silently hissed at Laura. Laura never knew how much of his personality was a shtick.

He popped his lean cuisine in the microwave and leaned against the counter. “Are you guys talking about the Lottery? You should just give up now. I’ve already won. My psychic told me.” One eyebrow was raised, challenging someone to mess with him.

“Well we must have picked the same numbers, ‘cause I know I’m going to win. Are you ok with splitting $550 Million?” Ashley was equally flirtatious with Percy. Laura wondered if it was part of the job requirement that all receptionists must be flirtatious.

English: Lady Gaga at the 2009 MTV Video Music...

English: Lady Gaga at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Deutsch: Lady Gaga bei den MTV Video Music Awards 2009 mit dem Moonman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Heeeell no. I need at least that much to pay for my plastic surgery. By the time I’m done I’m going to be the greatest Lady Gaga impersonator in the world. And if I have some leftover money I’ll buy a house for my parents too. You’re not the only goodie two shoes in the office, Laura,” he teased.

“Go eat your diet food. Everyone knows your desk is filled with Reese’s.” Laura was one of the only people who knew how to talk back to Percy. Most people just laughed awkwardly and then walked away.

“Hiss,” he said as tapped his fingers on the counter, waiting for the microwave.

Always good to fill the awkward silences, Ashley jumped in. “Well I’d pay off my student loans, and all of my friends loans, and I’d get a personal shopper, and I’d get a lifetime supply of Crème Della Mer,” She said to no one in particular. She popped another carrot stick into her mouth. She rarely had anything but fruits and vegetables for lunch.

“I’d send Maddie to private school, buy a house for my parents-in-law far far away, a sailboat, and I’d invest the rest,” Jed said.

The microwave beeped.

“This is ridiculous. Why do we talk like it could actually happen? We’d be more likely to get a raise, and yet none of us talk about what we would do with that extra fifty cents an hour.” Laura finished up her lunch, crinkled the bag into a big ball, and then threw it into the waste bin. She hadn’t managed to leave any fries.

“Please she acts like she’s above it, but you know she’s going to run to the store after work and get a ticket.” He grabbed his steaming entrée and left the break room.

Laura smiled because by the time Percy was talking about Lady Gaga she had already decided that she was going to buy one, and that she was going to win. She was already picturing herself tan and coming home after a long day of feeding the lions to make love with Chase on a bearskin rug in front of the fireplace in his studio. They wouldn’t be interrupted by her mom calling incessantly because she would be off getting a massage in Tahiti. “Alright, I’ve got to get back to work. How will George ever find his stapler without his trusty assistant?”

Follow up on 750

A few weeks ago I wrote about a great technique that helped me get through writer’s block.

  • Make an attainable goal of writing 750 words every day. If you’re not a writer you can set a goal of spending 30 minutes on whatever your creative endeavor is.
  • It doesn’t matter what you’re working on. The important thing is that you get into the habit of doing it.
  • Now the key is to find a buddy to email everyday when you’re done. Don’t email your writing, just the word “done” to let them know that you’re sticking to it.

This feeling of accountability was really helpful for me because I like having a deadline. I found that it was easier for me to blog than to work on my creative writing because blogging is public, and my creative writing is private. People would notice if I stop blogging, but no one would notice if I stopped working on a short story.

Most people do not have it in them to be their own boss. We need assignments, deadlines, and reviews. But with creative work, you need to be the talent and the management.

Since I started this process I have written over 70 pages. At first it was extremely challenging to write 750 words (approximately 3 pages), but now I’m so used to blocking out that time each day that I end up writing over 2000 words a day on average now. I’m working on two projects and both of them were intimidating concepts, but I figured I might as well get started on them, because I had to write about something.

I’m so glad I started using this technique, and I hope it can serve you as well 🙂 If you don’t have a friend to do this with, you can use this website.