I surrender. I give up. I can’t do all of this.
Have you noticed that my blog posts have been few and far between lately?
As of right now I’m going to stop pretending I can keep up with these posts for the time being.
I’ve got some personal stuff going on which is taking up a lot of time, but ALSO I am 100% committed to completing my novel — a George Washington historical fiction — by June 30.
And it’s got quite a bit of ways to go.
So I hereby declare that I am putting L&R on hold for a few weeks.
I’m still posting a little on Instagram, but otherwise I’m burrowing down to get this work done.
I can’t wait for you to read the book!
- Before you decide what you want to do with your life, do this first
- 7 joyful journal prompts to find out what makes you happy
- Stop doing shit you don’t like
- Taking a travel break mid-career
- Don’t waste those tiny gaps in your schedule
P.S. Do I know anyone in NYC? I kinda want to plan a trip there this year just to see Hamilton (when Lin-Manuel is still in the cast).
Last September I went to a writing mastermind, a world-building summit where I met with a handful of writers over 2 days and helped create an entire fictional world. It was AMAZING. I loved it and it totally shaped my career going forward.
And, I’ll be honest — it was scary as hell. I didn’t know ANY of the other people (8 of us total), and I was 100% the least experienced of any of them. I was very VERY nervous, and if it weren’t for Andrew insisting it would be best for me I would have talked myself out of it.
The same guys/company put on another writer event just a week+ ago. It was totally different in a lot of ways — focused on business instead of story, no Dave, and WAY more people.
As an introvert, and an introvert that works from home and doesn’t have much in the way of co-workers, attending a live event is way way outside my comfort zone.
But I found a few ways to make it work without being totally spent and drained at the end of each day ….
How to attend live, in-person events when you’re an introvert:
Try to make sure you know AT LEAST 1 person going
This might mean planning ahead with a friend, or possibly reaching out to 1 or 2 people you know are attending. Online, ahead of time. In a 1-on-1 email basis.
Fortunately, I now work with Johnny and Sean (who led the weekend) as well as Monica and Garrett (who attended). Plus, since I actually did the planning and corresponding with attendees, they were all at least cursorily familiar to me. I didn’t feel like I was in a room made up ONLY of strangers.
And just that little bit of familiarity helped so much.
Sit in the corner
In the third image below, you’ll see a shot of the whole room. In about the middle of the image, at the very end of the table you’ll see a blue water bottle. That’s mine. That’s where I sat. In the corner, with my friend Monica next to me and no stranger sitting on the other side. That wasn’t 100% intentional (there actually was an empty chair on the other side of me when the weekend began), but it was very fortuitous.
This cornering of myself limited the amount of stimulation I was made to deal with at any given time, and allowed me to *almost* have ‘alone time’ in the middle of the full room. I didn’t feel drained from making small talk all the time. It worked out really well.
Let people approach you
The first morning, I came in, sat down in my corner, and three different people approached me to introduce themselves. If I didn’t write about it here, I really REALLY doubt any of the other attendees went home thinking, ‘That Amy girl didn’t proactively introduce herself to anyone.’ Who would know?
Instead, I STILL met new people, but one at a time, without feeling like I was bugging them or encroaching on their space or anything. I admit, I had an advantage because I organized the event and they all had an idea of who I am, but still.
Give yourself time
Time to open up, time to be alone, time to make new friends. Give yourself time in your hotel room at night, even if everyone else is staying up to chat. I stayed up MUCH later than I usually do all 3 nights I was in Austin. But each time I was very conscious about how I was feeling, how tired I was, if I would be better off sleeping more.
I still didn’t get a chance to REALLY talk to everyone there (the event was only 2 days), but I feel good about the way I did spend my time.
Really all these tips can be boiled down to — BE YOURSELF. Give yourself permission to be an introvert and try not to care what someone else might think about you.
I also realize that these tips make me sound cranky and anti-social. Which I absolutely am not. I don’t think any of the other 20+ people there would have ever thought I was being anti-social or trying to limit my exposure to them. It is all just a way of knowing myself, what I am comfortable with and in what environment I can best thrive.
Here are just a few photos from the weekend, so you can get a sense of the room and the amount of people in attendance. I’ll be going to a September event as well. It will be only 15 people, MOST of whom I already know. Easy
The guys want to put on a MUCH bigger 200-person event next spring! I’ll have to come up with a whole other set of tips for that!
What are your best tips for attending in-person events?
I want to start a small series of posts about living as an introvert! It’s a part of my personality I’ve only started to recognize and work with over the last couple years, and it’s fascinating to me. Check out my related Pinterest board here: How to be an Introvert
- The Freelance Scramble (specifically written for authors, but helpful for any freelancer)
- 3 exercises to smash your creative blocks
- Art for ants
- The most successful creative people constantly say ‘no’
- What if you tried really hard?
I mentioned the other day that my grandmother passed away last week. My last living blood-relative grandmother is now gone (although, my grandfather’s wife is pretty fantastic). All the stories from Grandma Jaye’s long life are now gone.
It’s so cliche, I know. But I so wish that she had journaled more stories about her childhood. She was almost 6 years old when the stock market crashed in 1929. She remembers having to downsize to a smaller apartment sometime in the 1930s. She grew up in Ohio and worked in nightclubs during WWII (and did her share of entertaining soldiers and sailors).
Don’t let your own stories disappear over time …. Journal about your childhood this week.
Pull out your photos
Hopefully you have at least a couple. I have a ton (or, rather, my mom has a ton and I need to get copies from her). Journal about what you are doing in that photo. Journal about who else is in the photo. Journal about what you are wearing, about how you got all your opposite-gender-cousin’s hand-me-downs. Journal about where you are, about how you lived 5 years in that house and only have 2 memories from it. Journal about who took the photos of your childhood. Journal about the visual, what you see.
I used to have binders and binders full of hand-written notes from high school and at some point, during one of my dozen moves, I threw them out. AND I AM SO BUMMED. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Rereading letters you received, or your early diary entries or even school progress reports will help kickstart your memories and remind you of stories that you would like to write about now.
Review the media from that time period
What movies were in theaters during your childhood? What bands and music do you remember listening to? What books did you read over and over before bed? What stories were going on in the news that you have memories of?
Revisit the physical locations
From your childhood home, to your school, to the 7-11 you walked to every afternoon in the summer to get a Slurpee. Here are some more tips on writing about your childhood home specifically.
Ask people who were there
Mom and Dad, yes, but what does your little brother remember about your 10th birthday party? What does your best friend remember about your 6th grade class trip? What about your babysitter? Your neighbor? Your Sunday School teacher?
This ecourse has a TON of pre-class resources and new prompts begin May 4. Over the next seven weeks we will share with you twenty different creative prompts to document the details of your life.
You’ll be inspired by over 70 unique and exclusive MyDetails projects, 30+ of which are brand new to the 2015 Edition.
Megan and Kristin have spread the wealth and will be sharing projects in the form of mini-book pages, pocket page spreads, traditional scrapbook layouts, art journaling pages and more!
Return to these prompts again and again to document your details at any point. Return to them at a later date and translate them into documenting the details of the other important people in your life.
I’ll be in the class! Hope to see you there!
As this post goes live, I will be embarking on a day of travel. Checking out of a hotel, catching a cab to the airport, waiting, flying, being picked up from the airport, fighting traffic and probably getting home late afternoon.
My weekend in Austin was work-related, I didn’t do anything touristy or even see much of the city other than the conference hotel.
But, you know what? STILL A TRIP. I’m counting it.
I have constant wanderlust and am always pricing out plane tickets or hotels or road trips or weekends away or SOMETHING. I love having travel plans in the pipeline. I love imagining where we’ll go next, what we’ll see, what I can take pictures of, what stories I will record when we get back.
Literally as soon as I started watching House of Cards, I started googling ‘Washington DC sublet’. I wish Amtrak went through Phoenix. I am so grateful I can work from anywhere, because lord knows I have a lot of trips on my wishlist.
If you’re like me and are dreaming of an adventure, here are some resources to help feed your wanderlust:
- Why we travel
- Adventure and travel book recommendations
- Nomadic Matt’s website — Travel better, cheaper, longer
- Nomad List
- Travel ideas and resources (pinterest board)
- Make your dream trip a reality (free online class)
And some resources for recording your trip when you get back:
- Travel scrapbooking with Amy Tan
- TravelScrap HQ
- Clearly Kelly acrylic stamps from Kelly Purkey
- rukristin making a Wanderlust journal
- Travel scrapbooking resources (pinterest board)
- Ideas and resources for documenting your travels (link round-up)
So I’m right now coming back from Austin, I will be in Phoenix this coming weekend, I want to make plans soon to visit friends in the MidWest, I’ll be going back to Austin in September ….. and I’d like to plan another trip somewhere new soon too!
What are your travel plans?
- Words can make you sick or healed (a non-scientific experiment)
- How to spring clean your mind and your life
- 10 delightful photos of famous artists and their cats
- Hottest U.S. Presidents (#5!)
- Find your bliss — thoughts from Joseph Campbell
P.S. Today I am Austin-bound
Two days ago I told you I needed a little RIGHT NOW project. Here we go …
Currently I am….
Watching: Just finished House of Cards and The Jinx. Took myself to see Newsies (the stage musical version) for my birthday. Watched the first episode of the new Game of Thrones season. Next I’m thinking about Mad Men season 7 (part 1) that just showed up on Netflix. There are SO MANY great shows I need to see!
Reading: Just started Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein. Not too far in yet, but I loved her first 2 books. Also looking for and poring over actual court documents and transcripts and things for murder trials, since I’m writing a murder mystery right now. Next, I think I’ll start a history book.
Listening: I’ve been catching up on podcasts while I shower. Currently binge-listening to Stuff You Missed in History Class (Ethan Allen, Lady Juliana, etc). I love history.
Making: I haven’t been *making* anything lately other than lots and lots of pages of notes for this murder mystery I’m writing. Between the actual murder details, the investigation details, the characters, the town, all their secrets and betrayals and interactions …. PLUS getting all the legal stuff accurate….. There’s a LOT of planning going into this series before even beginning writing. It’s SO MUCH FUN!
Feeling: Behind. Constantly behind. That’s the thing about working for yourself — you always have work to do. You can just do 40 hours/week and call it a full time job, but in reality you probably have another 100 hours’ worth of work to do. Working on feeling ok with never being caught up.
Planning: To go to Phoenix next weekend. My grandmother died Monday morning, and we will be having a memorial for her. Also hopefully planning to visit some friends a few weeks after that, but nothing is set yet. I need to travel. I need to get out of the house.
Loving: Working for Sterling & Stone. It’s only a few hours a week, and it’s not even anything super impressive. But I KNOW I am needed and appreciated there. AND it helps me get in front of more readers (for whenever I do eventually finish the books I’m working on). This weekend I’m going to Austin for a live event with them and I’m really looking forward to it!
What’s going on with you?
I’m catching up.
February and March have kind of been a wash for me, but I am getting back in it! I need a little jolt of completing a project to get the ball rolling again. I need a little RIGHT NOW memory keeping project. Baby steps.
Here are some of my favorites …
This project — with cards and stamps — from rukristin papercrafts is the simplest project. I love it. I love it! I love how easy it is. I love that I just grab a card and jot down a list and then I’ve got a little bit of my right now story recorded. I don’t do these on any kind of schedule, but just whenever I am feeling it.
30 Days of Lists
You already know … this project is close to my heart. Kam and I have been running this jouraling challenge 2 or 3 times each year since 2011. I have lost count of how many times that is. I love my little stack of #30Lists minibooks.
For a 30 day period, you just commit to journaling a short list on a given prompt. Something like ‘books on my to-read list’ or ‘places I’ve lived.’ Easy. 5 minutes. Capture your RIGHT NOW.
One Little Word
Something simple like a little journaling or a vision board or a collection of photos. Just an easy RIGHT NOW project to represent the work done that month. This is the 3rd year I’ve taken Ali’s class and I still love it.
This project is new for me this year. I’m still feeling it out, but so far I love it and I think it could be a really great project to do year after year. I’m working on a 3-month check in now to add to this book and it’s so great to have this spot to record my progress on this year’s goals. I am so looking forward to what this looks like at the end of the year.
What are your favorite RIGHT NOW projects?
P.S. 10 projects to capture your summer (which is either coming up, or just finishing, depending on where you live)