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Showing posts with label Chicken Soup for the Soul. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicken Soup for the Soul. Show all posts

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Kelly L. Stone, guest blogger

How To Find Time to Write Despite Your Busy Life
By Kelly L. Stone
When I tell people that I've written three books and started a freelance writing career while holding down a full-time job, their jaws drop. Then the inevitable question follows: how did you find the time? That is the basis of my book Time to Write: More Than 100 Professional Writers Reveal How to Fit Writing into Your Busy Life. In that book, I reveal how I and the other authors managed to find time to write and get published, all while holding down jobs, caring for families, juggling household responsibilities and managing to get sufficient amounts of sleep.
The bottom line is, we're all busy, sometimes to the point of feeling frantic. But finding time to write can be done, no matter how busy you are. Here are just a few of the tips from my book:
1) Make writing appointments. Making time to write is similar to any new activity that you are attempting to fit into your life; let's use exercise as an example. How do you do it? You plan ahead. You decide that you'll exercise for twenty minutes, three times a week. You might choose Tuesday and Thursday at four o'clock and Saturday at nine o'clock. It's the same idea with writing. Decide when you will write, and then jot it down in your calendar. Whatever time slots you choose, write them down and then.
2) .keep the appointments. Just like you won't reap the health benefits that come with exercise if you don't regularly break a sweat, you won't reap the benefits of consistent writing if you routinely blow it off. So work hard to keep that writing appointment. Treat it like it's "real," just like an appointment with the doctor or at your child's school. The only way to do this is to exercise self-discipline and make yourself follow through.
3) Stay Focused. When it's writing time, you should be writing. Don't let yourself get sucked into surfing the Internet, checking e-mail or making a grocery list.
4) Plan your work. When you make the weekly appointments, also plan what you'll be working on during that time: Monday you'll use your twenty minutes to create plot points, Wednesday you'll use the hour for writing freely on your draft and during Friday's thirty minute session, you'll revise what you did that week. Maximize the time spent at your desk by planning ahead how you'll tackle that day's writing session.
5) Set long range and intermediate goals. Knowing what you're striving for (long range goals) will help you decide how much time you need to write and how much work you should produce during that time (intermediate goals). For example, decide what date in the future you want to have your book finished. Then, work backwards to determine how much writing you should do every week to meet that deadline. If the draft of your novel will be four hundred pages and you want to finish it in a year, then you'll have to write thirty-three pages per month (four-hundred divided by twelve), or roughly eight pages a week (thirty-three divided by four). If you write three days a week, that's two to three pages each sitting. Break your writing down this way to make time management seem easier.
6) Make up lost time. Let's face it--life happens. If you miss a writing appointment because your kid gets sick or your car breaks down or there's a family function you simply must attend, cut yourself some slack, but do plan to make up the lost time the following week if possible. This means you might have to make four writing appointments instead of your usual three, or write two hours one day instead of just one. Make every effort to stay on track with your weekly goal.
7) Reward yourself. This is an important step because you want to associate positive feelings with that self-discipline you've been practicing. It reinforces the behavior and increases the chances that you'll do it again. So at the end of each week that you kept your writing appointments, do something nice for yourself. Take a bubble bath, get a pedicure, have a romantic dinner with your spouse or buy your favorite author's latest release. You can even reward yourself at the end of each writing session. For example: If I write for thirty minutes, I can watch General Hospital.
Finding time to write is a dilemma that every writer faces, published or not. The tips above are based on my interviews with over one hundred professional writers on how they do it, and there are a lot more in my book. Give them a try!

Kelly L. Stone (www.kellylstone.com) began a freelance writing career while holding down a full-time job. Her articles and essays have been published in Family Circle, Writer's Digest, Cat Fancy, Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort. Her debut novel, Grave Secret, was released in September. Her book Time to Write: More Than 100 Professional Writers Reveal How to Fit Writing Into Your Busy Life is now in stores. Her next book, Thinking Write: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind, will be released in October, 2009 and demonstrates how to apply the power of your subconscious mind to your writing aspirations.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Simply Say Thank You

The following is a quote from Jack Canfield, author and CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Enterprises.

Practice appreciation. Studies of employee motivation inevitably find that feeling appreciated is the single greatest motivator in the workplace, even ahead of higher wages. Yet many people fail to put the power of appreciation to full use in their business and personal lives.

When you show people that you appreciate them, you not only make them feel better, you make yourself more successful. People are more likely to help you achieve your goals if they believe that you appreciate their efforts. There's no downside -- appreciation costs nothing, and no one has ever complained about being over-appreciated.


This quote was sent to me by a dear friend and relative. I believe showing appreciation is THE most important act we perform - not just for the person we thank, but for ourselves.

I especially find that thanking a clerk for her service or her help, even though she may just be doing her job, changes that person's attitude immediately. Recently a young woman in a copy store had a day's work stacked up. Although I was only in town for an hour, she said she could not help me until the next day. A man who was also waiting for help began telling me, where
the clerk could hear him, that this young woman had always helped him when he needed her, and she was the most diligent and concerned person who worked there. I'm not in a hurry, he said. I will wait for her because she knows her business better than anyone.

I immediately saw the difference in this overworked employee.
Her expression softened. She opened a conversation with me and asked questions about what I wanted. I told her my dilemma, and how much I would appreciate her help. I told the gentleman beside me that I always made a policy to tell companies when their clerks were helpful. I said I felt everyone should hear the good things as well as the bad. And I truly do. I've written letters to presidents of corporations in appreciation of a local employee.
It takes so little to say thanks. And it goes so far. The kindly clerk helped me with my copies and I was out of there within an hour.
I grew up in a family with a father who believed that giving compliments or open appreciation was either a sign of weakness or would be harmful to his children. He didn't want to make his kids think they were more important than they really were. There was no chance of that. We grew up insecure and thinking we were never good enough.
I don't know what made him this way. Perhaps it was just his generation and the way they were raised. I've heard others speak of parents who were the same way.

For years I didn't know how to show my appreciation. Embarrassment filled my mouth and words scrambled around in my head when I tried to give compliments or show my gratitude. But somewhere along the way, I realized how my spirit was lifted when I was told that my efforts had been recognized.
The employer who changed my attitude the most was T.W., a woman I worked for, part time, for five years. She not only told me how much she appreciated me, she told others in my presence. I was a grown woman, but I felt as happy as a kid chosen for the school play.
I had been told that if an employer showed too much appreciation for his workers, they would take advantage of him, become lax in their jobs. That didn't make sense to me.
I know I craved appreciation and acknowledgement of my work efforts. It was, indeed, more valuable to me than money. As T.W. made me feel good about myself, I worked longer hours than was required, I took work home to be sure it was the best it could be. Most of all, I learned from this smart woman that if I should happen to make an error, it was not the end of the world. She still appreciated me.

Once I learned how easy it is to say thank you and express my appreciation to others, and I saw how much difference it can make in a relationship, I try to make sure my gratefullness is evident to those I work with and to others.
Barry and I with other relatives helped my sister and brother-in-law leave the family home and move to a retirement center in Atlanta. I wrote a letter to my sister, my nieces and to the couple who had to move, to tell everyone how well they did with the jobs they took on in this re-settlement. And I told my sister and her husband how grateful I was for their cooperation, their patience, and lack of complaint in this trying business of giving up their belongings, their keepsakes, learning a new life style and making new friends. Both June and Charlie have been outstanding in the way they accepted the little glitches that occurred, our mistakes and ommissions. I thought they deserved a great deal of appreciation for making our lives a little less stressful. Maybe my note of thanks has helped them to be more patient as well.

I am thankful for all our Netwest members and the cooperation they have given me since I took office as Program Coordinator June 1, 2007. Because they show their support and appreciation to me, I work as hard as I can to do a good job for all our writers.