Wild Rider Magazine – Crush Procrastination, Boost Your Blog and Writing

Life Hacks * Tips * Blogging * SEO * Movies * Links * Inspiration

This is the second issue of Wild Rider Magazine. Bringing you discoveries from around the web and my wild life.

In school or out for good, here are a few tips and life hacks to help you beat procrastination and links to improve your next blog post or writing project. We all want to do that, but a lot of things can get in the way. Procrastination or lack of focus (Wait. What was that sparkly thing over there?), fear of missing out on social media, and the lack of new information can throw our latest WIP (work in progress), into a death spiral. We can only get so much from the internet.

I’ve put together Ten Ways to Help You Reach Your Goals.

Magazine issue explores procrastination, boosting your blog and writing

Fight Procrastination:

We’ve all faced procrastination. It can lurk in the shadowy background of any project. It comes out of hiding as soon as we don’t want to work hard, we lose interest, or can’t solve a problem.

Most of us find it hard to disconnect from the Internet. We plan to get our work done, but with temptation only one click away, it can be super tough. I looked into a few apps and then realized we could do most of this on our own.

Here are some tips on combatting this enemy:

Reset your notifications. Popups used to drive me nuts while writing. I tried shutting down a few of them, but ended up turning all of them off. If there’s a fire somewhere, I’ll get a phone call.

Set a timer for 25 minutes. I’ve done this several times to make myself settle down and start on a writing project. Once the 25 minutes are up, I either quit, reset the timer, or continue writing.

I also have use this method for writing blog posts, limiting myself to 25 minutes. Sometimes I spend hours and days on posts only to get the same amount of views. Nope. I didn’t use a timer on this one.

There’s a timer on your phone or you can use this site to countdown.

Make a list of goals. If I don’t write them down, I space out half of them. I bought a daytimer in January and make a list and check off at least a couple items every day. I have long term goals in the back of it along with contest entry deadlines. I know many people make lists on their phones and that’s great, but there is something about physically crossing them off that gives me an extra special sense of gratification. I’m all about gratification and rewards. Promise me a gold star and I’ll work for it.

#UNPLUG4HOURS.  Announce to your social media friends that you will “peace out” for a few hours. You’re on the honor system and could lurk, but if you comment or Like something, you’ll be busted. I use #unplug4hours on Twitter. It helps me stay on track when I’m having a hard time focusing. For more on unplugging check out my post called Unplug 4 Hours. It works!

Twitter. Find a posse of writers trying to finish a project and meet up on Twitter or Facebook. Do a writing sprint and meet up again to give your buds virtual high fives.

Check Out These Links for Writers and Bloggers:

Read on to find a list of links to great websites, podcasts and classes. But lets start with a movie. Didn’t you love watching movies in school?

What the movie Blair Witch Project can teach you:

The first Blair Witch movie proved you didn’t need a stellar cast or elaborate sets to make an intense movie. With one view from a movie camera lens it created and executed tension so taught, it was exhausting to watch. Have you been told you need to create tension in a scene? You need to make your reader care what happens to your protagonist? This is the movie for you. The sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, comes out September 16th although this one seems bent in the horror direction.

Links for Writer’s Conferences and Podcasts.

It’s not too late to find a writing conference. Check out the Association of Writers and Writing Programs at AWP.org. I will attend The Colorado Gold Conference in Denver September 9-11. See you there!

The Writer’s Life will link you up with 15 writer podcasts. There are many tips and interviews to explore.

Use iTunes? Then check out The Open University for all kinds of free classes. Don’t have a Mac? Check out The Open University website and search for a variety topics.

Follow this Website. You’ll be glad you did:

I found Donald Maass’s blog, Writer Unboxed, and check it frequently for insightful writing and business tips. I also use their search bar if I’m looking for something in particular. Donald posts once a month and always blows my mind. A new article is posted every day by knowledgeable Writer Unboxed authors.

See How Your Site Ranks.

Ever heard of Alexa? Well there are probably quite a few in the world, but only one ranks your website. With Google constantly changing their logarithms, mine has been on a roller coaster ride for months. I still check once in a while for kicks and giggles.

Content is key, so the aforementioned links could help you.

SEO information from the experts. 

Now that you’ve returned from summer distractions, posting more regularly may also help your rank. Who knows? For SEO information, read MOZ’s Whiteboard Friday. Let me know if something works for you.

So now you should be ready to rock your new projects and learn something new. You can kick procrastination, and take your blog and writing project to another level. You might want to start by making a list.

Click here for last month’s issue of Wild Rider Magazine.

Click for more of the Wild Ride.

Any comments or questions? Maybe you can think of something to add that may help another Wild Rider.

Stop Negative Thoughts and Be Creative!

How think more creatively

Most of us would like to think more creatively. I would. As human beings, we dream every night and play out all kinds of creative scenes. Writing is my thing, so I want my mind to be filled with new thoughts. I love it when new characters, scenes or plot ideas pop into my head, but I wish they would appear more often. With such an over-active mind, how do I do that?

In one of my first meditation classes at Wanderlust Yoga Festival, I learned that up to 90% of our thoughts are old and repetitive.

Wow. I consider myself a creative thinker, so I was horrified that much of my time is wasted.

The instructor explained there are many kinds of old thoughts. The most common are negative. We play out scenes where we have felt loss or have been wounded long ago. They’re on a loop. We replay them over and over again. There is nothing we can do about these scenes. They happened. They’re in our past. Most of the time these loops make us feel bad, guilty, or fill us with regret. Not only do we hold them in our minds, we hold them in our muscles, our gut, our heart, our bones. It’s not healthy.

We think about the people in our lives that don’t understand us.

They can live in the present, but the memories imprint and then we regurgitate our latest conversations. They may be one of our acquaintances, a co-worker, or a neighbor. Their negative impact can hold us back in some way when their unkind words make us doubt ourselves. We don’t need more doubt. We have enough as it is. Everyone is on a path, but these people seem to trip us up. These “viral” loops in our brain make us feel inadequate. For some strange reason, we continue to regurgitate them anyway. We add them to our already heavy load. We are sensitive human beings.

On top of that, we have worries and fear.

Oh, my God. They are the worst. We all have them. They live in our future. We make plans and try to control what happens. A certain amount of planning is important, but what if the expectations become huge? It can paralyze us. I have held off sending emails that could further my career in writing because of the fear of a typo, an awkward sentence or a rejection. Instead, I hesitated and had to build up my confidence before pressing send.

There is also the fear of choosing the right path. What if we made a wrong turn somewhere? We may have faltered, twisted and turned around, or may have been seduced by sparkly things along the way. How do we know?

resolutions illustrationAll of these thoughts weigh us down. They take up the majority of our time. In order to free up space for creativity, we shouldn’t think about something that happened last month or ten years ago. The negative people in your life? They aren’t worth your time either. Obsessing about the future doesn’t help since it’s more out of our control than we think and it never turns out exactly how we plan, anyway. So make your plan and move along.

Sound easy? It is.

I say this because I stumbled upon part of this technique before the yoga adventure.

When I received a request for my full manuscript, I was so excited! Then I panicked. Over the previous two weeks, a few new ideas had popped into my head. There were a couple inconsistencies that needed to be fixed. Since they had bubbled up at weird times during the day, I hadn’t written them down. I couldn’t remember what they were. I was leaving town! I had a doctor’s appointment at 2:00! It was noon! I had two hours!

What would I do?

My stomach knotted while all kinds of negative thoughts popped into my head. I didn’t have time to sit and read through 370 pages, but I wanted to send it as soon as possible. Timing is everything.

I stared at my laptop on the kitchen counter and then I looked down at the rug. It was worth a try. After getting comfortable on the floor, I took a deep breath and tried to clear my frantic mind. I concentrated on my breath (this may sound weird), and stared at the insides of my eyelids. I took several deep breaths and thought about my main character. Then I drifted over (and I mean barely thought about), a few plot points and BAM! Those five corrections popped into my head.

Instead of thinking, I freed my mind and listened.

This happened because I calmed myself and stepped away from the source of stress. Breathing does that. In two three, out two three. Over and over until the heart rate slows and our brains fill with oxygen.

In the case above, I had thought about these corrections before, but only momentarily. I had been in that creative space when they were formed, so I had to get back into that level of calm and relaxed thinking in order to bring them back.

If you’re facing a brain block, sometimes it gets worse if you try to force it. That’s when we are using the wrong part of the brain. I don’t believe good books get written with the cerebral cortex. It’s too logical. Creative thinking has to come from that dreamlike state where the book flows like a movie. I write what I see in my mind’s eye.

I set aside time to write creatively and try to hit between 1000-2000 words. If I’m having a problem settling down, I do what I did when I panicked. I slow my breathing. I think about my last scene and the characters. I try to come up with the most interesting event that could happen, the worst-case scenario, or a way to reveal something new. Then I start writing.

At the festival, I learned another way to become more creative. By letting go of all those negative, unwanted, or unneeded thoughts, the brain can flow to new ideas . The process of letting go makes room for them.

Imagine them as black smoke deep inside your bones, your muscles, your gut. Breathe them out. Get rid of them. You don’t have the time for old negativity.

It’s funny, how it feels weird to let them go. It’s as if we’ve clung to them for protection, but they don’t protect us. They hurt us. They keep our wounds open, so they don’t heal.

The first three days of the festival, all of my old wounds broke wide open. It was scary, at first to be so vulnerable. I had to think about them, so I could finally release them.

Negative memories and thoughts hold us back. They undermine our confidence. We’ve learned our lessons. We don’t need reminders of misunderstandings or mistakes. They need to go back to where they belong. In our past.

resolution illustrationI thought I had to go out and fix everything by doing, but I was wrong. I needed to accept who I am and chill. Everything will ebb and flow the way it’s supposed to if we trust we are on the right path and keep working hard toward our goals. We need to quiet our minds, so we can listen to our sub-conscious thoughts, stop forcing everything to solve problems, and be.

We are human beings after all.

Are you able to let go of negative thinking? How does the creative process flow for you?

 

Click for more adventure on my Wild Ride.

Another inspiring post for you!

 

A Shia LaBeouf Hitchhiking Update #TAKEMEANYWHERE

Good morning Wild Riders and Happy Summer to you!Shia LaBeouf and Susie Lindau at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Remember when I met Shia LaBeouf in May? Well he, Nastja Ronkko, and Luke Turner have been hitchhiking since May 23rd. Every day, they have posted their new coordinates at noon on Twitter and have taken a ride from whomever picks them up first. GPS placed them north of Seattle, Washington yesterday. Today at noon, they were further north near Maple Ridge, British Columbia. My guess is they will head to Los Angeles, but who knows? Maybe they’ll complete their weird loop by hitching a ride back to Boulder.

#takemeanywhere hitchhiking map LaBeouf, Turner, Ronkko

These are their last few days of hitchhiking. My husband, Danny, and I are road-tripping on Sunday and will just miss them. Dang!

I found the coolest video of Scott Daly and a friend who set out from Utah to track the team down. Being super fans, it soon became a cat and mouse adventure. If you’re a writer, this video includes every step in the making of a great story. It is very suspenseful and worth a view.

Take a look:

Would you have gone this far? Can you see how Daly’s adventure plays out like a great short story?

I wonder what LaBeouf, Ronkko and Turner will do with their #TAKEMEANYWHERE hitchhiking adventure. Will they do something with the GPS coordinates? Will they document their journey in a video or photos? Or is the journey the art installation? Stay tuned. When I find out, I’ll let you know.

Everyone is a super fan of some celebrity. How far would you go to spend a day with your favorite star?

 

Watch for all kinds of Wild Rider adventures this summer. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram too.

 

What Dreams Teach Writers

“Sweet dreams,” our mothers said while tucking us into bed.

Pshh! When was the last time you had a sweet dream? Do your dreams come true in your dreams? Are you accepting a Hugo or Edgar award for exceptional writing? If you do, I would love to live in your subconscious.

My dreams are nothing like that.

I look forward to going to sleep. It can be such a relief after a hectic day, but my dreams seldom are a place where I rest. I never, ever get what I want.

DreamscapeDream #1.

I am lost and hungry as I thrash my way through the jungle at night. Dirt clings to my body, slick with sweat. I’m tired and want to sit down to rest, but am desperate to find civilization. A warm light flickers through the dense understory. It’s a campfire. Relieved, I run toward the clearing.

A haggard man turns a spit. Other dirty campers lift their gaze as I approach them.

“What kind of meat is that?” I ask.

He looks up at me and says, “Human.”

Dream #2.

Tuesday night, I dreamed of a lyrical stone village seen through a dark arched walkway. The contrast of cool and warm colors resembled a Maxfield Parrish painting. I pulled out my camera to capture this amazing sight. Then a huge sweaty man with camera bags dangling from his shoulders and a backpack full of supplies appeared. He stepped right in front of me. After he pulled out a tripod, he set up MY SHOT.

Dream #3.

I’m in a big city and am shopping in a boutique when I realize I’ve been separated from my family. We’re on vacation and have no way of communicating. I hear a bus roar from the curb and see them through the back window.

Wait. That actually happened to me in Ireland fifteen years ago.

Do you see a pattern?

I want something, but can’t have it. BOOM! That’s conflict. It’s the basis for basic storytelling.

I’ve read so many books where terrible things ALMOST happen. WHY??? A fictional character is a figment of the writer’s imagination. She is NOT real. These terrible things are NOT happening in real life. They are NOT your younger siblings or your children.

If you let your subconscious take over, it will do a better job of creating conflict and writing a book.

I understand the need to keep a main character alive until the end, but let her make mistakes, get into trouble, get hurt, and humiliate herself. The idea is to think of the worst-case scenario. Too obvious? Then let your subconscious go wild. Consider all the directions and see where another path takes you. Is it uncomfortable? Good. You’re on the right track.

Nobody wants to read about a fun day at Disneyland. We have Facebook for that.

But imagine a babysitter is trying to reel in five kids at Disneyland. She’s not getting paid enough. The children have been fighting all morning. One gets sick on a ride, then another gets hurt on Space Mountain. A child-trafficker is on the loose and has been stalking them. While the kid is getting bandaged, the babysitter counts heads. One is missing.

Now you have a story.

Make your characters suffer. If you make their journey easy, it becomes a travelogue or yawnfest.

You say you aren’t built that way? Yes, you are. Your sub-conscious makes you suffer every night. Working out conflict in your dreams is your brain’s way of making sense of the world.

When reading, we slip into another world seen through the character’s eyes. Their world should change after overcoming conflict. In turn, the best books should also change our perspective of the world.

I woke up after the camper responded, “Human.” But, what if I hadn’t?

First thing to come to mind? “Pass the barbecue sauce.”

Blame it on my Wild sub-conscious.

 

Are your dreams full of conflict? Have you read a book that didn’t go far enough? Do you have your Hugo or Edgar Award acceptance speech prepared?

Related posts:

What every writer knows about finishing

Think BIG!

Blogging Tips from a Wild Rider: How to Hook Readers

 

NEWS From The Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference

I attended my fourth writer’s conference. Although they are similar in format, this one always stands out in friendliness and inclusivity. A positive energy source emanates throughout the Colorado Spring’s Marriott. It must be built upon a special kind of bedrock. Agents, editors, and best-selling authors are willing to have conversations with people like me; the super fans of the conference.

Here’s what inspired me and what I learned:

If you write fiction: Your blog, social media presence, and overall author’s platform are meaningless to traditional publishers. The agents suggested focusing on writing books instead. After you’re published, they are grateful if you already have a blog since they’ll want to link you up.

If you write non-fiction: The polar opposite is true. You better have a successful blog with lots of social media followers as part of your author’s platform. You should be booked for public speaking engagements, interviewed on podcasts and in YouTube videos. Publishers look at anything and everything you’ve done to build your presence, following, credibility, and to show you’re a respected expert in your field.

Sign up for critique sessions. It can be unnerving, but the input is invaluable especially if an agent you would like to pitch is giving the critique. They are the experts who you are trying to impress.

Attend the agent panel. This is a top priority for me at every conference. They talk about their pet peeves, what’s new in publishing, etiquette, and include their individual stories. You get the most up-to-date info. Every one of them chose their career because they love to read books.

What I learned: Continue reading

Hitting the Halfway Point

Boulder Polar Plunge 2013 1

When I wrote my 25, 000th word for National Novel Writing Month, it reminded me of swimming through the Boulder Reservoir to touch the ice during the Polar Plunge on New Year’s Day. They’re both a sink or swim venture.  It got tough when I could barely touch the bottom. My legs and arms grew heavy with the cold and they moved in slow motion. In place of the silly grin I wore while splashing into the frigid water was sheer determination and a painful wince. One of the lifeguards standing on the pier shouted, “Do you need help?” It was hard to breathe, but I yelled back, “I can do it!”

I don’t know how many have dropped out of NaNoWriMo already, but the numbers have got to be high. I think writing 50,000 words in a month takes a certain kind of endurance. Crazy endurance. It’s for crazy people who have the time to commit, or in my case should be committed, but also have a lot of nerve and stamina. I love taking on new challenges and always have.

Not everyone can sit down and write on command. It can be intimidating to stare at a blank page. I’ve never had writer’s block. Maybe it’s all those Thursdays I found myself on a deadline and would crank out a Friday flash fiction or the stream-of-conscious writing exercises from a year ago when I woke up every morning for a month and wrote one word at time in a notebook until I filled a page. In both, I wrote the first thing that popped into my head. Continue reading

Unplug 4 Hours – It works!

SocialMediaIconcollage

I bet you’re addicted. Come on. Admit it. How many times an hour do you check stats, emails, social media or text messages? Is it hard to unplug? How long do you procrastinate before settling down to do real work?

Although I have found my passion in writing and always meet deadlines, I recognized my addiction to the endorphin rush of the internet. Reading blog posts, watching views roll in (or sputter) after blogging or checking comments on my latest Facebook photo had sucked me into the spinning vortex. Even though I start writing around 9:00 AM each day, I felt as if a party was going on and I was missing out. I had become a victim of FOMO.  Sometimes, I would stand and stretch at the end of the day, wondering where the time went. Continue reading