January Reset: Let’s try that again

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New year …. New start. THANK GOODNESS!

Last year about this time I was collaborating with my friend Allie on a digital kit specifically for helping document the new RESET beginning of January. It was wonderful and I loved it.

I LOVED the intentional way I really spent time with my goals. I loved making time to reflect on the previous year. I loved giving myself the focus on RESETTING.

I loved this project for the 4 weeks I spent with it.

And then at the very end of January everything in my life changed and I was struggling with day to day stuff, let alone working on bigger goals. So I gave myself permission to give up on the RESET project. I was far too deep in the messy middle to really be resetting anything at all.

I’m not going to lie — it makes me sad to look back over those goals and action steps and think about how differently my 2015 turned out from what I had hoped.

But, on the flip side …. I am so genuinely excited about what is next. I am so so thrilled to have this opportunity to start over and reset. This January will be so much more truly a RESET than last January was.

This year will me so so much better in every way, and my January RESET project will be such a magical way to begin it and really set the tone for 2016.

You can also see some examples from Allie on her page here.

We’re both using the digital kit. It’s **super** flexible. I am using some of the cards/pages straight out of the kit, I am creating my own cards with some of the kit elements, and I’m also adding in products from other creators (Ali, Kelly, Kristin, and more)

GRAB YOUR DIGITAL KIT HERE
(it’s ON SALE right now for the beginning of the project)

 

I will be posting about my own RESET project here on the blog in January, occasionally on Instagram, and also throughout the year on my newsletter.

Allie is also hosting an Instagram challenge throughout January and we would LOVE you to join us!

Begin your 2016 with INTENTION. Join us for a January RESET!

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in TELL YOUR STORY

How Morning Pages changed my brain

I’m having a hard year.

Things started falling apart in January, and by mid-year I was determined to do something. Anything. There was not a lot I had control over, but it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something I have been hearing about for years.

I admit I have not (yet) read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, but basically everything I’ve heard about it praises Cameron’s concept of Morning Pages.

I’ve been doing Morning Pages since about mid-May 2015. At the time I was in the middle of a course on prosperity, and our coach challenged us to just try what she was suggesting. To commit to the process, in spite of what we might think is silly or outside our comfort zone. I approached Morning Pages the same way.

I began them when I was going through a giant life upheaval and I think I’ll always wonder how much harder that experience would have been without the quiet, calming, letting go practice of writing every morning.

I had heard about Morning Pages for years beforehand, but I always thought ‘I don’t have time for that’. The first week or so I timed myself — 20 minutes.

20 minutes of journaling instead of 20 minutes of Twitter? I can handle that.

In the months since I began, I’ve missed maybe a dozen days. The first one because I just couldn’t handle thinking about things for any more time. The others because I was traveling and already getting up VERY early.

WHY

Morning Pages are my form of meditation. I have so much going on in my brain at any given time, I have had an impossible time trying to do real meditation, but taking 20-30 minutes to empty my brain writing longhand helps in a very similar way.

I love this post about the benefits of morning pages. I have absolutely found the same thing to be true.

Granted, I don’t really have a control-level to test it against — my whole life was a disaster when I started. But I totally believe I would be more of an emotional wreck without the daily brain drain as I pour everything on to the pages.

It’s part “dear diary”, part walking myself through that day’s to-do list, part big-picture future dreaming. I don’t know that I have come to any lighting-strike-realizations, but I certainly feel more calm and more in control of my life after starting morning pages. Both VERY important considering how the first half of my 2015 was.

How I do it:

  • Silence. No music. No one else awake in the house.
  • I write the date and exact time at the top. My morning routine is important to me and my productivity, so recording that data is an easy way for me to keep on track. It also serves as the perfect writing prompt at times. “Late start this morning because …. ”  or “I love being up before the sun. I feel … ” or similar.
  • Same place every day.
  • This pen. This notebook. 3 sides of paper. Fast handwriting. No editing.

I never put it “away.” I never have to hunt it out. I don’t have to think. I just start the coffee, then sit in a nearby armchair where my notebook sits the rest of the day. I usually finish my 3 pages shortly after the coffee is done brewing.

I’ve missed some days, but they have pretty much all been when I was traveling and my schedule was thrown off.

I have been LOVING this practice. It has totally changed my brain for the better.

Further reading about Morning Pages here ….

Try it this week.

P.S. I’ve started this Pinterest board about Notebooks and Journaling. Have any more good resources for me?

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in Amy, dreaming and planning, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, Onward and Upward, writing

Self Education: Never stop learning

I want to know ALL THE THINGS! I read at least 50 books a year, but still have more books on my to be read shelf than most people. I’m making up a U.S. History class for myself (going on 7 years now). I tell people to ‘assume I know nothing’ so I can get them to teach me all kinds of things.

If being a professional student was a thing I would totally do that. My favorite part of every semester was getting the syllabus at the beginning, and poring over the reading list and having that long list of things-I-will-be-learning to look forward to.

I don’t ever want to stop learning.

Turns out this is a common trait for both INTJs AND Enneagram 5s. Both me.

All I need is more time for all this info-absorption.

I have a few methods for finding more time to read — which sometimes includes reading-as-procrastination on work. I read on any break/lunch I take during the day. I don’t spend much time watching movies or TV. I go to bed early just to have time to read before I fall asleep. I take my kindle most places. Just in case.

I don’t take notes, and lately I’ve been reading some kind of fast, mindless, non-literature books. But for me really, I don’t have a goal for a certain number of books to read each month. I just will continue to read and read and read.

I want to know all the things.

Why? Well, among other reasons, a certain billionaire you might have heard of, Warren Buffet, estimates that he spends 80% of his working day reading and thinking.

I’m not saying reading a book about Pixar is going to make me a billionaire, but I do believe that the smarter I am the more chance I have at success.

At the time of this writing, I’m currently reading a book about storytelling and have just started a book about President Polk.

What are you learning this week?

P.S. Have you heard of the Feyman Technique? Looks interesting. I miss graduate school and having a reason to invest so much time in super-close-analysis of novels. I can’t justify that time investment right now.

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in FIND YOUR GREAT WORK

Set aside time to create

What did you do this morning? First thing, as soon as you started working? Was it answering email? Maybe checking in on a Facebook group you help manage? Scrolling through Instagram?

Or was it creating? That big project you’ve been trying to chip away at? The one that you’ve been planning for a few weeks at least?

Up until a few months ago, I started my mornings slipping into the magic social media time warp and somehow spent all the time answering other people.

99U calls this Reactionary Workflow.

Maybe you do this too? You’re just filling your time reacting to what other people want from you or ask of you.

So once I got my head on a little straighter and realized I was making little-to-no progress on the major creative endeavors I was in the middle of, I made myself stop. I had to force myself. I LIKE feeling like I am helping. I LIKE the feeling of productivity that comes from answering emails and clearing out the inbox.

But those little things aren’t helping my long-term goals. Instead, made the concerted effort to remove myself from that loop of responding to what everyone else was asking of me.

I turned all notifications off of my phone — including (and especially) the notifications from my company’s instant messaging profile. I don’t work ‘on call’ so there’s no need to know the exact second my boss asked me to tweak a book’s product description. I took work email off of my phone. I made sure to close the email and internet programs on my laptop, so when I open it in the morning, I’ve only got my writing project open.

Most importantly ….  over the last 6 months I’ve been doing Morning Pages (as prescribed by Julia Cameron). That’s a subject for a whole post on its own, but let me tell you …. It has been so great for my brain to have ~20 minutes first thing every morning just set aside to clear my head and write something.

So I wake up, feed the cats, start the coffee, and then sit down and write by hand for about 20 minutes. Then (usually) I get to work on my writing project of the day.

I can get away with this schedule for a lot of reasons — I work part-time, from home on my own schedule. I get up SUPER early, so no one expects me to answer email at 6:30am ET when I am beginning work.

But you can do something similar:

Give your brain a break from input — resist taking out your phone when you are just waiting in line
Close out your Facebook tab
Turn off notifications from your phone
Schedule your creating time on the calendar
Meditate
Take your lunch break outside (without your phone)
Take a nap
Go for a walk (without your phone)

There’s a ton of ideas to take yourself out of the cycle of constant media absorption. Not every single second needs to be filled with entertainment.

Set aside time to make something instead. First thing. Before anyone gets in your way.

I’m still not winning this game. I’m still working on this every day and all the books I wanted to have done this year? Yea, not even close.

But I’m working on it. And every day I get better at it.

P.S. Be sure to register for 30 Days of Lists if you want a fun and EASY creative challenge for next month. You only need to set aside 5 minutes each day to create.

You can totally manage that.

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in FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, TELL YOUR STORY

I’m not doing December Daily this year. I know. *Gasp!* *Shock!* What kind of Ali Edwards fangirl am I REALLY?

I am, however, doing 30 Days of Lists in December (click here to register and join me).

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The truth is …. I need a break. I’m having a rough year. I am never going to finish my December Daily album for 2014. The memories associated are just too painful.

But I need something. Something easy and finishable. Something JUST FOR ME.

I can’t wrap my head around anything more than that.

I currently live with my parents. My family will be going on a vacation together AND my parents will hopefully be buying a house in December sometime and may need to do some work on it, or maybe we’ll be moving or … who knows.

Honestly. I don’t have anything for sure planned for December except 1 trip — and that gets its own album.

I don’t need to do December Daily.

But I DO need to record my right-now story. I need to not let this weird time of transition just pass me by. I need to make sure I have a project that is just for me, since the last 10+ years of my life I’ve been recording the story of an ‘us.’

So thank the lord for 30 Days of Lists.

I plan on just being …. simple. Easy. Low-key. Totally 100% doable in 5 minutes each day. Because oh man will December be busy anyway — even without anything specifically holiday-ish planned.

Maybe next year I’ll be ready for December Daily again … but in the meantime 30 Days of Lists is perfect for me.

Register here to join us

 

P.S. How are you documenting your December?

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in TELL YOUR STORY

A year of PRACTICE: Working for writers

This year I am working on PRACTICE. My One Little Word. My focus and foundation for the year. I haven’t been doing a ton exactly, but the idea has been percolating in the back of my brain all year. Like when I chose the word BRAVE, I think PRACTICE will remain long-term as an anchor for me.

Part of my year of PRACTICE is building up my daily writing practice. So I have been so lucky this year to surround myself with writers on all sides. Not only do I work for 3 full-time writers, but I have been embraced into the whole community of writers that surround them and their podcasts.

It was all kind of a stroke of luck. Last November (before I had even started thinking about my 2015 OLW) I emailed one of the writer guys I *kind of* knew and basically said, “Look. I’m awesome. You should hire me.”

And he did.

(for the record, the email said more than that, but that is the gist)

So for 10 months now I have been working very very part-time for 3 full-time self-published authors. It really is only 10 or fewer hours per week, but I have learned SO MUCH. I have more or less built my job into being their COO+Team Mom. I get to see behind-the-scenes as they build out their assets, decide how to market and leverage them, spend their resources, and so much more.

I get to see what a business looks like when you write 5000+ words/day. I get to see what consistency can do for you practically.

Every day these guys produce more before I’m done with my coffee than I will all week.

It’s amazing and so inspiring.

I’m still working on making my own fiction writing a daily practice, but the example I see in working for these writers is a huge inspiration. My plan for the rest of the year is to publish 2 novels and write the 1st draft of a third. Not too shabby (especially compared to what I produced the first part of the year).

What is your One Little Word this year, and how can you surround yourself with the people that can help you with it?

P.S. A few books I can recommend on building a writing habit are The 8-Minute Writing Habit by Monica Leonelle, 30-Day Author by Kevin Tumlinson and Writing Habit Mastery by S.J. Scott

P.P.S. I also know all 3 of those authors mentioned in the P.S. I’m telling you… surrounding yourself with the right people pays off SO MUCH.

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in FIND YOUR GREAT WORK

Am I Failing with my One Little Word?

So…. It is now the middle of September and I JUST did my first One Little Word project from Ali Edwards’s course. Oooops. Totally ok, though. “Keeping up” is not a requirement to be able to get something out of the practice.

Oh, hey. See what I did there? “Practice” …. My One Little Word is PRACTICE and it seems like everything can come back to it.

[On the off chance that you are reading this and not familiar with the project, One Little Word was created by Ali Edwards. It is the practice of choosing 1 word to meditate and focus on over the course of a year. Go here for more info.]

Back on the very first day of the year — big plans, big intentions — I failed to write 1000 words of fiction, and I failed to hit my 10,000 steps. That’s ok. It was January 1 and I still had 364 days to get it right. And then other things happened and more life problems occurred, and all of a sudden several months had gone by without me even opening my novel file to work on.

I was clearly a big ol’ fat failure. Not even able to walk 10,000 steps in a day. Not coming anywhere near publishing the 4 books in 2015 like I had planned. What a loser.

Or not.

To be honest, when I began this year and chose my word I didn’t even *think* about the fact that PRACTICE can also be associated with the being-ok-it’s-not-perfect part of making. It didn’t even occur to me that the very definition of PRACTICE includes some kind of failure. That’s why you need to practice in the first place, right?

I wish I could remember what I was reading or what podcast I was listening to that reminded me of this part of the definition of PRACTICE — because it completely changed my entire view on how I was doing with my One Little Word this year.

I simply can’t fail at something that is meant to be an ongoing attempt. It’s just not possible. It is literally impossible to fail at practicing. That is the whole point of practicing.

Which, frankly, is a huge relief.

“If it doesn’t work out, it’s just an experiment.” — Elizabeth Gilbert in a recent episode of her new podcast

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Stamp from Kellie Stamps

So right now my One Little Word binder looks like this. Projects from 2013 and 2014 …. and this 1 envelope for all of 2015 so far. The letter written to myself for September’s project.

I might go back and do some of the monthly projects I missed. Or I might not. The projects are not the point. It’s the trying again and not beating myself up and starting up the practice that is the important part.

I’ve still got three and a half months left to PRACTICE.

How is your One Little Word going this year?

P.S. I’m sending out an email tomorrow morning about all the writing practice books I’ve been reading this year, if you want to be sure you’re on that list.

P.P.S. I’ve already chosen my OLW for 2016 and it’s going to be perfect and epic and I can’t wait.

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in FIND YOUR GREAT WORK

Get yourself in trouble

So it turns out, what makes for good novels also makes for an interesting and fulfilling life.

The basic (basic) rule of writing novels is to give your characters obstacles. Your characters have to experience conflict. They need obstacles to overcome. They need inner turmoil to wrestle with. Act 1: you get them up a tree. Act 2: you throw rocks at them in the tree. Act 3: you let them get down. If they’re not having at least some kind of a hard time, it’s going to be a boring book.

So when you get those obstacles in your own life? Be grateful for them. Those trying times are going to be the bits of your life you remember. The parts that you look back on and think, ‘Yep, that’s when I realized that I can do this.’ When you put yourself way out of your comfort zone you are forced to deal, forced to come up with answers that you didn’t have before. That is when you will find you.

Get yourself in trouble. Take risks. Be BRAVEIt’s taken me a long time to come around to this way of thinking. I chose Brave as my One Little Word a couple years ago, because that is not my natural inclination. Most of my life I have been generally risk-averse, talking myself out of things that might even have a tiny chance to fail. Taking safe, responsible choices and (honestly) living a pretty average life.

And I realized that mind set wasn’t helping me.

I want to be more than average. I want to be better than that.

Instead, once I started paying attention, all of my best decisions were brave and potentially very very risky. Quitting a day job, dropping several thousand dollars on a writing weekend, moving to Virginia… I don’t have a long history of brave decisions in my life, but I am committed to making more.

Honestly, the fact that I moved coast-to-coast, totally alone except with 2 cats makes me feel so tough. So strong. So proud. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I am so so glad I did it.

The same way conflict makes for a good novel, I welcome the harder parts of my life because they will help me grow.

So say yes to that speaking engagement, or invest that money in manufacturing your new stamp line. Even risk being vulnerable with a new friend …

These last couple years when I have consciously tried to be more brave have been the most rewarding. Every day I feel more and more like ME.

Go get yourself in trouble. Take a risk. F*ck up and find your own way.

P.S. I love Kam’s From a Beginner series for regular examples of taking small risks and regularly getting out of her comfort zone.

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in courage and fear, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, great work

Creative challenge: 30 Days of Lists

Next Tuesday — one week from today — my favorite creative challenge begins again!

As a fun little warm-up to September’s challenge, we are hosting a blog hop!

I recently went on a coast-to-coast road trip (with cats!) so I had this list prompt down pat. No problem. In fact, before I even thought about this blog hop, I had been making notes to myself about what my road trip must-haves would be for next time.

List journaling creative challenge

This simple 3×4 journaling card will go in my Project Life spreads about that trip.

Supplies:

Some of our sponsors and ambassadors have posted about 30 Days of Lists today, so click through to each of their sites to see what they are Listing!

Best part? You are all invited to join us too. It is super easy to participate in the blog hop and any one can join in!

Here’s how to join:
— Visit the 30 Days of Lists March 2011 challenge site and choose a list prompt
— Complete your list prompt however you choose (digital, in your planner, elaborate 12×12 layout, art journaling, anything!)
— Post on your blog (or Instagram or somewhere else online)
— Leave a link to your list post in a comment HERE on our Facebook page!

Then, of course, be sure to click through to see how everyone else is listing.

We can’t wait to see what you make! And be sure you register to join us in September

P.S. I’m posting at Yes to New Adventures on tumblr

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in 30 Days of Lists, TELL YOUR STORY

Review: Prosperity for Writers ecourse and ebook

In January, I decided my current Core Desired Feelings are : Valued, Affluent and Brave.

Let’s talk about that middle one — I want to feel affluent. I don’t need Donald Trump money. I don’t even need to go shopping every week. I just want to FEEL like I have enough abundance and wealth in my life that I can support my vlogger friend, or not have to scrimp and save for a short weekend away.

I just want enough to not have to worry all the time. THAT would make me feel affluent.

Skip to May …. I had met business coach Honorée Corder at a conference and shortly afterward I took a 4-week course with her called Prosperity for Writers.

LOVED IT SO MUCH …. official description here:

Do you feel like you’re stuck in a “starving artist” mentality? What do you need in order to increase income, productivity, happiness, and overall success?

The Prosperity for Writers Course is the first program for writers that addresses, and eliminates, the cultural assumption that writers must struggle, strain and strive. This course teaches you to tap into the abundance mentality that best-sellers and rich, successful writers are already accessing, and it gives you practical, tangible action steps you will enjoy taking as you increase your productivity and your income.

I loved this course …. and now the author — Honorée Corder — has put the same information into a $5 ebook and you MUST purchase it. I guarantee it is not just for writers. If you are a creator trying to make money from your art this book will help you.

Prosperity for Writers by Honoree CorderI read an advanced copy of the book …. basically as fast as possible. I can’t wait to re-read it.

Grab the ebook here — it comes out today!

The course and ebook are NOT “how to budget” or “how to price your writing” or “what retirement accounts to open”. Nothing as nuts and bolts as that.

Instead you’ll deeply examine your mentality and attitude toward money, you’ll consider what your obstacles are keeping you from being more prosperous, and (most of all) you will COMMIT to changing those things.

The course and ebook are not even specifically for writers.

Corder uses writers as examples throughout the book, but any entrepreneur, any creator, anyone trying to move past a bi-weekly paycheck can benefit from the teaching in this book.

I really do love it. I will be getting the paperback copy so I can make notes, dog ear pages and really get involved in the text itself.

Grab your copy here

P.S. I’ve got a super personal email going out tomorrow morning about money and prosperity. Make sure you’re on the list if you want to read that.

Note: I am NOT an affiliate for this course, but the book link is my Amazon affiliate link

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in Business, dreaming and planning, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK