How To Get in The Flow

Flow State AKA the Zone mental state in which a person performing some tasks is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity, in essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what you do and a resulting transformation in your senses of time. As a person who has found herself in a flow state on several occasions as a painter and as a writer it is a wonderful feeling. The question is how can you achieve such a state. I have twelve great ideas to get you started;

  1. Set a writing block. Block out time on your calendar to write. Keep the appointment with yourself as a sacred time.
  2. Create accountability by telling others you are going to write. Tell a friend that you will give $50 to charity if you don’t keep your writing time.
  3. Clear distractions by unplugging your router and turning off your phone.
  4. Start with a free writing session to get the writing flowing and you ready to write.
  5. Regular exercise will help you settle down when it’s time to write the nervous energy will have worked its way out and you will be settled and ready to write.
  6. Plan ahead to get your notes and research done before you sit down at the computer so you are ready to write when it’s writing time. Use the time when you are doing housework or driving to think about a plot or structure.
  7. Try the Pomodoro method write for fifteen minutes and take a five-minute break do this 4 times and then increase the time you work by five minutes.
  8. Get the soundtrack you need to help you write listening to music can help you get in the mood to write listening to the same music every time you write can train your brain to recognize that it’s time to write.
  9. Make sure you give yourself enough time to write and get in the zone. It could be frustrating if you just reach the zone and it’s time to stop.
  10. Give yourself deadlines to finish your work. This will make it necessary to work diligently on your projects.
  11. Create a habit. Working on the same day at the same time is another way to train your brain to expect this is work time.
  12. Virginia Woolf said it best when she said you need a room of one’s own. If you don’t have space for a whole room, try and get a corner of your own. You do need a space that is yours to work in.

Being in the zone is a wonderful place to be, but it is not easy to get there. It might take some practice so if at first you don’t succeed try again and each time will get easier. That’s a guarantee from a frequent zone pro.



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Get a Skill Bump Take a Writer’s Workshop

It all started when I was doing some research for a blog post. I discovered that my local library had free online teacher-led courses that I’d be interested in. The classes that I’m going to take include writing classes that are structured like workshops. The first class that I’m taking starts this week is Romance Writing and then Later there is one on Creative Writing. Each class is 8 weeks, and I expect this first class will improve my pacing and imagery. If you’ve never been to a writers’ workshop you may wonder what exactly a writers’ workshop is? A writers’ workshop is a method of teaching writing whose goal is to create a life-long writer. It’s based on four principles according to the all-knowing Wikipedia. Students will write about their own lives, use consistent writing processes, work in authentic ways, and develop as independent writers. So, that’s what a workshop is now this is what it can do for you:

  • Learning literary theory
  • Writing can be learned even if the skills are lacking
  • Meeting people with common interests
  • Reading develops your creativity
  • Learning from experienced writers
  • Testing  your limits
  • Having the pleasure of writing
  • Establishing a routine
  • It helps to overcome deadlines

These are a list of the positives of taking a workshop or writing class but there are also cons and you need to be prepared for those negative aspects as well. Developing a little bit of thick skin helps.

  • Some people will never understand what you’re writing about
  • Some people will want you to change your entire piece
  • You have to read some awful pieces of work and try to see the potential
  • Sometimes you have to follow writing prompts
  • When the teacher tells you to change something
  • Writing can be subjective
  • Your work can be considered abstract

There is both good and bad in everything and if you are prepared accept constructive criticism and ignore the subjective criticism by saying, ‘thank you for your advice.’ You may be ready to attend a writing workshop.

You can find writers’ workshops at your local library or community college or you can start your own by posting advertisements at bookstores and coffee shops or with professional organizations like the Rocky Mountain Romance Writers. In other words, find your tribe and hold them close.


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Critique Partners Who, What, and How

Critique partners are writer colleagues who provide feedback on your work in exchange for providing feedback on their work usually full manuscripts or individual chapters. A fellow writer or author who provides thoughtful and informed feedback on your work based on their knowledge as a writer in exchange you provide the same feedback to them.

How To Choose a Critique Partner

Critique partners should be chosen based on experience, likeability, and professionalism, they love your story, they write in a similar genre, and they have similar work habits. Matching these six categories will make a long-term critique partner match much more likely.

In my opinion, professionalism is most important. Your critique partner should take their writing as seriously as you do. It should be someone who shares a similar vision for their writing journey. Lastly, and most important someone who seems responsible, thoughtful, and hardworking in their everyday life.

Choosing someone with experience doesn’t mean choosing someone with the most experience it means choosing someone with the same level of experience as you or someone with slightly more experience than you. Someone whose comments on story technique and theory make sense to you where you’re at. Someone whose advice about your story gives you little aha moments of understanding.

Likeability is important in a critique partner and should be someone you like to be around even when you’re not talking about writing. It should be someone compatible with your work methods. Yet someone different enough to bring a new and interesting perspective to your work.

You want to choose someone who loves your story. You want someone who volunteers interest in your work. Someone interested in the type of story you are writing. A critique partner who genuinely likes you, your personality, outlook, and voice.

You’ll want a critique partner who enjoys and writes in the same genre as you. Someone who enjoys the same books and authors as you. A critique partner that can recommend books to you that you will end up loving. Someone that writes in the same genre as you and understand the sub-genres and tropes.

Make sure you choose someone with similar work habits as yourself. Someone whose workflow is similar. Someone whose critique preferences will fit into your own life. Someone willing to give you the speed and amount of response you’re seeking.

How To Be A Good Critique Partner

  • Be choosey about what you critique. Do you respect that person and their work? Do you like and respect that genre? Do you truly want to read that draft?
  • Ask questions first. What kind of critique can you give? What do you want me to do for you?
  • Read with your head heart and pen. Interject your responses as you read to add a note or an emoji to let the writer know what you are thinking.
  • Don’t hold back on the compliments.
  • Be kind but straightforward when it comes to the draft’s shortcomings
  • Remember it’s not your draft. Let the writer have and keep their style and voice.


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Failure Doesn’t Have To Be The End

Having failed to meet my daily writing goals this week has me thinking about failure, and what it means to fail, why we fail, and what constructively we can do when we fail. I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about goal setting and things like that, but why do we fail to achieve our goals?

Failure can be a way of evolving and learning. If we fail with purpose. Analyzing what went wrong and make corrections accordingly. The bigger question is why we fail. Here are ten reasons people fail.

Reasons We Fail

  • The goal isn’t specific.

My goal was specific I wanted to write 2000 words a day. But, not every goal is that way. Some goals are nebulous and can change and even hard to pin down into words they are more like wishes.

  • Doubting the goal can be achieved.

At the start of this week, I started a seven-book Romance series. I needed the first book finished by the end of September, That’s a tight writing schedule. But to be honest, I have never written sixty-five-thousand words. I have doubts that I am trying to overcome. Using journaling.

  • Not working toward the goal.

I worked toward my goal when I wasn’t interrupted and wasn’t distracted and wasn’t too tired.

  • The goal is not motivating.

I was highly motivated or at least I think I’m highly motivated, but I sure did get distracted easily compared to my other books. Where I sailed through and just knew what to write.

  • Not being committed to the goal.

This is a big goal with a bunch of little goals inside it.  Being committed to this goal is essential it will be the twenty-four hour a day seven day a week job for me for a whole year. 7 books in one year is a heck of a schedule.

  • Not being focused on the goal.

I thought I was focusing on the goal when I was focusing on the business. I  took care of the Author’s business instead of writing. It wasn’t a great choice.

  • They have too many excuses not to meet the goal.

As you can tell I have plenty of excuses and they are all little things that are on this list.

  • They don’t know how to handle failure.

I don’t know how to handle failure, but I’m getting better at it. currently, or in the recent past, I would ruminate on all my past mistakes not to search for solutions or patterns that could be broken, but to wallow in missey and punish myself for my past mistakes. Now I try and look forward.

  • They get distracted.

That is mostly what happened this week I got distracted by being an author and forgot about being a writer.

  • They don’t give up

I’m not ready to give up just yet, There’s always tomorrow. To-do better. There is a Mantra that I used to use when I was a runner. Good, better, best never let it rest till your good is better and your better is best. It takes a certain amount of courage to write and somehow I’ve found that courage. I’m not about to squander it.

Ten Ways To Handle Failure Successfully

Like I said before when I fail I tend to ruminate over my past mistakes punishing myself again for those mistakes and failures till I absolutely can’t stand it anymore. It is an unhealthy way to handle failure it can turn a bad day into a bad week without much effort. Below are some ideas on how to handle failure in a healthy way.

  1. Embrace your emotions. You need to feel the way your gonna feel for a while, but don’t let it go on too long set a limit on how long you’re gonna be sad or mad and then move on.
  2. Recognize unhealthy attempts to reduce the pain. Don’t go for the alcohol, or drugs, don’t even go for the pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Instead, go for a walk, or take a bubble bath.
  3. Practice healthy coping skills.
  4. Acknowledge unhealthy beliefs about failure.
  5. Develop realistic thoughts about failure.
  6. Accept an appropriate amount of responsibility for failure.
  7. Research famous failures.
  8. Ask yourself what you can learn from failure.
  9. Create a plan moving forward.
  10. Face your fears about failure.

You need to have a healthy attitude about failure and not be afraid of it you should learn from it even appreciate it. Here are some people who failed and went on to succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

  1. J.K. Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before her manuscript was picked up for publication by a publisher it went on to sell 450 million copies making her 1 billion dollars and a movie franchise and a Disney tie-in.
  2. Steven King threw the manuscript for Carrie in the trash can. His wife picked it out of the trash encouraged him to work on it was passed over 30 times.
  3. Dr. Seuss was going to burn his stories they were rejected 27 times he now has a national day to remember him.
  4. Agatha Christie’s first two novels were rejected the second novel was finally accepted with the agreement that the ending change.
  5. John Le Carre the author who wrote The Spy Who Came In From The Cold had his manuscript rejected.
  6. Luisa May Alcott was to keep teaching she couldn’t write and her book is now considered a classic and is enjoyed by children and adults and has been made into movies.

I guess the moral would be don’t give up and work hard. Stay focused on the right things. Do your level best.










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What To Do While You Wait for Your Writing DREAMS to Come True

Setting goals makes me feel better than a therapist and three bottles of antidepressants ever could. I mean literally and scientifically. Setting goals makes us feel positive about the future it’s important for our happiness.

Goals are a way we can turn our values and dreams into reality. Happiness doesn’t just happen it comes from thinking, planning, and pursuing things that are important to us. Research shows that setting goals can contribute to happiness in various ways

  • Being a source of interest, engagement, or pleasure
  • Giving us a sense of purpose
  • Bringing a sense of accomplishment

Goals help focus our attention.

Goals are most successful when they’re something we want to achieve and when we set for ourselves.

When I set goals, I allow myself to dream big. I visualize myself accomplishing my biggest dreams, and then I put my idea to work. So, as I wait for the Big dream goals to come true here are some things you can do to make the time go by faster and keep yourself engaged in your dream.

  1. Make a plan with a clear sequence of steps. Writing goals do not come true overnight and will remain unfulfilled until you make a plan to fulfill that dream.
  2. Identify helpful resources and systems. One of the easiest ways to begin fulfilling your dream is finding reaching out to support systems and resources like professional organizations that you might consider of which you might consider becoming a member.
  3. Set a timeline to review your goals progress. There is no set-in-stone deadline for checking in with yourself or how you choose to check in. But I do suggest early and often rather than late and rarely that way you can make adjustments as needed. If you are writing a novel you may want to check your word count daily but editorial page count weekly. If your goal is to grow your blog you may want to check that quarterly.
  4. Establish a system of evaluation. You need a system to evaluate your self will you check in with a friend or mentor? Will you just look at your statistics and see where things are? Whichever you choose just remember celebrating with a friend makes the victory twice as sweet.
  5. Be active in the writing community. Being active in the writing community can mean any number of things. It should include belonging to one of any number of professional writing associations. It can also include attending write-ins and critique groups.
  6. Celebrate progress and accomplishments. Big dreams are made of small accomplishments and we need to celebrate those small victories when they happen. Otherwise, it could be a long slog to your dream.
  7. Reevaluate and set new writing goals. You can have more than one writing goal. While you wait to make the New York Times Best Seller List have another goal being published in the New Yorker.

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What To Do While Your Writing Goals Come True

Setting goals makes me feel better than a therapist and three bottles of antidepressants ever could. I mean literally and scientifically. Setting goals makes us feel positive about the future it’s important for our happiness.

Goals are a way we can turn our values and dreams into reality. Happiness doesn’t just happen it comes from thinking, planning, and pursuing things that are important to us. Research shows that setting goals can contribute to happiness in various ways

  • Being a source of interest, engagement, or pleasure
  • Giving us a sense of purpose
  • Bringing a sense of accomplishment

Goals help focus our attention.

Goals are most successful when they’re something we want to achieve and when we set for ourselves.

When I set goals, I allow myself to dream big. I visualize myself accomplishing my biggest dreams, and then I put my idea to work. So as I wait for the Big dream goals to come true here are some things you can do to make the time go by faster and keep yourself engaged in your dream.

  1. Make a plan with a clear sequence of steps. Writing goals do not come true overnight and will remain unfulfilled until you make a plan to fulfill that dream.
  2. Identify helpful resources and systems. One of the easiest ways to begin fulfilling your dream is finding reaching out to support systems and resources like professional organizations that you might consider of which you might consider becoming a member.
  3. Set a timeline to review your goals progress. There is no set-in-stone deadline for checking in with yourself or how you choose to check in. But I do suggest early and often rather than late and rarely that way you can make adjustments as needed. If you are writing a novel you may want to check your word count daily but editorial page count weekly. If your goal is to grow your blog you may want to check that quarterly.
  4. Establish a system of evaluation. You need a system to evaluate your self will you check in with a friend or mentor? Will you just look at your statistics and see where things are? Whichever you choose just remember celebrating with a friend makes the victory twice as sweet.
  5. Be active in the writing community. Being active in the writing community can mean any number of things. It should include belonging to one of any number of professional writing associations. It can also include attending write-ins and critique groups.
  6. Celebrate progress and accomplishments. Big dreams are made of small accomplishments and we need to celebrate those small victories when they happen. Otherwise, it could be a long slog to your dream.
  7. Reevaluate and set new writing goals. You can have more than one writing goal. While you wait to make the New York Times Best Seller List have another goal being published in the New Yorker.

So What’s your BIG Dream share it with us in the comment box below. Research shows that writing down your goals makes them 42% more likely to take hold and sharing them with others gives that an even greater boost. so imagine what would happen if we all just shared our big dreams today. If you like this content please consider joining my newsletter and receive a monthly newsletter with more of me and for a limited time a free novella.

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Hello Hyphen

Photo by Nickolay Frolochkin

Hello- Hyphen. Did you know there are rules for using the beloved hyphen? It can do more than just splitting words. The hyphen is a heavy lifter in the punctuation storehouse. Let’s see what all the hyphens can do.

  1. A hyphen can join two or more words serving as a single adjective before a noun.
  2. Use a hyphen with a compound number.
  3. Use a hyphen to avoid confusion or awkward letters.

     Re-sign   vs resign

  • Use a hyphen with prefixes ex-, self-, all-, with the suffix elect between a prefix and a capitalized word with figures and letters.
  • Use a hyphen to divide words at the end of lines if necessary, and make the only between syllables.
  • For line breaks, divide already hyphenated words at the hyphen.
  • For line breaks with ing, if a single final consonant n the rest of the word is doubled before the suffix hyphenate between the consonants otherwise, hyphenate at the suffix itself.
  • Never put the first letter of a word at the end of a or the beginning of a line and don’t put two-letter suffixes at the beginning of a new line.

This is not a particularly often used punctuation mark, but it deserves its day in the sun. If you found this article helpful and enjoyed it and would like to see more sign up for my monthly newsletter. and receive for a limited time a short story.

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Ten New Ideas For Writers To Write About

Photo by Fathromi Ramdlon

 When I started my new Romance series I needed to come up with seven new romance ideas. I researched tropes and came up with seven ideas that way. Of course my ideas will change as I write each book. But I have a starting point for each book. The first book was a simple girl meets a boy who has the complication love interest that is a single parent. I’ve added a subplot about a small-town bad girl who gets her feelings hurt and seeks revenge by kidnapping the love interest and the daughter. This is a pretty good story. It’s like nothing that I’ve ever read in the Cowboy genre before. I started with something pretty generic and as I wrote the story became more unique.

   Here are ten ideas to get you started if you don’t have any idea at all, what to write your next book or article about.

  1. Write about what pisses you off most. Think about the things that set your hair on fire and write a book about those things.
  2. Do something remarkable then write about it. The hard part here is doing the remarkable thing.
  3. Start a blog and write chapters one post at a time. For example, in a cooking blog, each blog could be one recipe and then in a year, you have a book.
  4. Create a podcast and then write a book about what you’ve learned from your podcast. If you interviewed lawyers about social justice once a week for a year at the end of a year you could write a book about what you learned from your Social Justice podcast or What you learned from your lawyer podcast.
  5. Ask your friends what they like reading most, and write something for them. If your friends are into a love triangle between humans and extraterrestrial vampires and werewolves then write them a book like that but give it a new twist.
  6. Jot down everything that makes you laugh for a week and write a story about that.
  7. Write about what makes you laugh hardest.
  8. Write about the most upsetting experience you’ve ever had.
  9. Write about the person who’s had the most impact on your life.
  10. Take photographs of your city and write about that.

This list courtesy of creative live

   Some of these ideas will give you enough to write a book others you will have to carefully choose your angle to have enough shareable information to write a book. For those of you who would consider writing a magazine article, blog post, or other publishable work this is an easy list for you to dig into and write to your heart’s content. To always have something to write keep a notebook of your ideas as they come to you. Always be prepared to have an article or book idea ready you never know when a writing opportunity may present itself.

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I enjoyed writing for you today. I hope you find this information helpful. Remember to keep a running list of writing ideas. Till next time, I love you all, goodbye.

Freewriting It’s For Novelists Too

Free Writing is the practice of writing within a prescribed structure. Which means no outline, no note cards, no notes., or editorial oversite. In freewriting, the writer follows the impulses of their own mind, allowing thoughts and inspiration to appear to them without premeditation.

Freewriting was started by Dorthea Brande in 1934 in her book “Becoming A Writer.” Peter Elbow also gave Freewriting a push in 1973 in his book “Writing Without Teachers.” Most recently Julia Cameron which I have mentioned before popularized in her book “The Artists Way.”

 I first became familiar with the concept of freewriting in my first writing class in college a lifetime and a half ago. I had a professor who in her writing class had us free write at the beginning of every class. The result was a loosening of the writing wheels and confidence to write that I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise. Here is what she would have us do: she would have us write for the first five minutes of every class. There is sometimes an assigned topic I think I don’t remember anymore I think there was an assigned topic because I remember I wrote things that were too personal. I never would have written them without her prompt. But once the clock began,began, you couldn’t stop for any reason you had to keep writing. She would collect the papers not to grade them, but to make sure we were making progress. That we were opening our thought processes and our creativity was beginning to flow. That was 1996. I’m sure my professor was influenced by Julia Cameron I know I was.

I had no idea that Freewriting first of all was formally a movement and second was formally anything at all. I thought it was just something my mother did every morning at 4:30 AM and that I tried, but swear I don’t have time for. But to know that it goes back as far as 1934. It makes me wonder how much science is behind the art of freewriting.

The technique is simple enough and cheap by anybody’s standards. You just write and keep writing for a predetermined amount of time. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. You can, if you are so disposed, edit or read it looking for glints of your psyche or your next novel, or you can just put it in a drawer and never look at it again.

Writers use this as a way of collecting their thoughts and ideas on a topic. By writing on a topic and then going back and looking over their writing, looking for the gems in what they have written and using that as fodder for the next stage of freewriting. This freewriting and going back again and freewriting process yields good ideas when the ideas stop, then the free writing stops. You may have information on many aspects of the same topic that will melt together to make an incredible piece of one writing effort.

Like any skill set, the abilities required for effective freewriting will increase with practice. The first time you attempt to freewrite, you may end up with some unusable material. But with writing practice and a little healthy self-criticism, you can use your early freewriting practice to refine your technique.

There are fifteen emotional advantages to freewriting:

  1. Reduces expectation of perfection
  2. Provides unimpeded release of thoughts and emotions
  3. Brings out emotional blocks and emotional barriers to success
  4. Helps develop good healthy habits
  5. Builds self-confidence
  6. Offers blank slate for 100% honesty
  7. Provides practice in releasing self-judgment and judgment of others
  8. Increases creativity and inspiration
  9. Uncovers thoughts and ideas you never knew you had
  10. Assists in sorting through difficult situations
  11. Acts as a forum to be truly authentically you
  12. Allows you to be more present in your day-to-day interactions
  13. Fosters a greater sense of clarity and focus
  14. Changes your perspective on challenging situations
  15. Increases awareness of patterns and themes in your life

There are also three writing advantages to freewriting:

  1. Creative expression. Many writers use freewriting as a way to find unexpected inspiration.
  2. To heal writer’s block. Writers who feel in a style rut, or even those who actively experience writer’s block may benefit from a freewriting exercise as part of their formal writing process.
  3. Speed. Freewriting is typically faster than other types of drafting or outlining because you are simply writing without a strict form and without organizing your thoughts.

How to Freewrite

  1. Just write. When it comes to freewriting first drafts are repositories for ideas, however vague
  2. Gather topics beforehand to avoid using outlines. Freewriting doesn’t mean that you don’t have an idea about your topic or story.
  3. Time yourself. If you are experiencing writer’s block commit to getting something on the page in the first sixty seconds.
  4. Combine freewriting with traditional outlines or notes. Start a project with a considerable freewriting session. Use that information as formal notes or as a topic for more freewriting.
  5. Bring ideas to your freewriting sessions the most effective writing has thematic and narrative consistencies and starting with a germ of an idea may help you bring it all together.

I did my first freewriting in about twenty-five years. I had forgotten how beneficial it is I had forgotten the advantages of learning what you know about a subject before you start your research and then threading it all together. It’s been a long time since eng101. I’ll be adding free writing to my writing practice.

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