I’m not sure of when Tamara and I became friends via YouTube but it’s been quite some time… a few years now. She’s more than one of my writerly friends, and try as I might each time she’s come home (from Hawaii to West Virginia) I’ve wished I could make the trip to West Virginia to meet her in person. One day I will. For now though, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Tamara Woods, otherwise known as T.A. Woods or PenPaperPad on social media.
Tamara is a published poet and author. She’s a YouTube creator. She hosts writerly chats via Tweet Chat on Tuesday nights at 9PM EST by using the hashtag “writestuff.” (#writestuff) She also annually hosts #writetube every year in October to help people learn about and prepare for NaNoWriMo in November. Every year Mr. Rockstar and I look forward to Tamara’s weekly videos during #writetube–she makes them worth a second watch, and she’s one of the few people on YT that I watch that he’ll sit down and watch the video with me.
Over the course of several years, I’ve been refining my writing process, which includes ways to get inspired, stay motivated, and get shit done (productivity). Here are some of the things I’ve found that help me.
Clean up your work area, as well as other areas that bother you and/or need cleaning. A 15 minute clean in your work area, a quick clean of your living areas. A 30 minute clean for important areas. Sometimes it’s hard to work when there is clutter, especially if the clutter distracts you. So taking fifteen minutes to clean really helps.
Books that help inspire and motivate you to be creative have really helped me lately. Books like “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, or the one I’m working on right now, “Finding Water,” also by Julia Cameron. Another book that’s extremely helpful with productivity is “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.
Morning Pages are a great way to start your day. They help with clarity, are a great tool to get you in the mood to write, and are overall a great way to put those negative things that are rolling around in your brain down and then let them go–after a while you’ll see that what you write is less negative and more positive.
Music. Music is a great way to help you get in the mood to be creative, to write, clean, create (art, etc) and to keep you motivated. I often listen to classic rock while I clean, instrumental music or Rainymoods.com when I’m writing, and various kinds of music when I’m creating art.
An artist date. An artist date, as defined by Julia Cameron, is a solo adventure, that includes something fun, playful and are aimed at romancing or wooing our artist within. I like going for a walk in a park, swinging on a swing at a playground, going to for a cup of coffee and reading or writing or drawing, as well as going to lunch by myself and taking a book along with me. Most of my artist dates include coffee and a book or notebook and/or my camera.
Candles, Incense…I use these things to help get me in the mood to write, to help cleanse my work area of any negativity, and because they smell good.
Journal. I often write a few lines down here and there about what I want to do, as well as use my bullet journal to make a list of tasks for the day, week, month. I jot down projects, and then break them down so that I know what I should start with, as well as making sure that I have smaller goals to start with (which helps me feel better, more positive and less fearful–less self-doubt).
Vision board. This can be a physical vision board, one on Pinterest, in your journal using collage, or whatever works for you.
Read a book for fun. I often take a break when I feel a bit burned out with writing and read for fun. I now have a goal to read for at least 30 minutes each day just for fun, not for homework or for “working on my self,” but for FUN!
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Space for Writing/creating Art/etc. Whether it’s a corner somewhere, or an actual room, having your own space, a space that is for your creativity helps.
Limit Distractions. Block out a certain amount of time that is just for writing. That means no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google searching, etc. You and the page (and my cup of coffee or glass of wine.)
Get dressed. Get out of those pajamas, those sweatpants, and get dressed. It doesn’t have to be “dress” clothes, but it does need to at least something that you’d wear to the grocery store, to the craft store, the bookstore… It’s a mindset thing. I’m dressed and now I’m ready to go to work.
Writing buddies, or “Co-conspirators” as Ms. Cameron calls them. Find others with like interests so you can talk about those interests. For me it’s the #writestuff community, #writetube, FB…I have quite a few writer buddies and it really does help knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles (whether it’s with procrastination, self-doubt, editing woe’s, or trying to figure out whether your book should be in 1st or 3rd POV).
(and last but not least) Schedule. This has been the hardest for me, yet it really is one of the top things I should be doing, should stick to so that I’d be more productive. I know this. I do, but the struggle has been real y’all. I know that I should block out specific chunks of time for writing, for art, for… and cut the distractions, and Just Write, but honestly, outside forces like Mr. Rockstar’s crazy schedule, which changes at the end of this week finally (he goes back to having a regular schedule instead of rotating shifts), or family, or things that happen, or staying up too late because I had insomnia or was in pain and then I don’t wake up until mid-day (or later)… But today is the start of brand new week, and last week I did better than the week before, and this week I’ll do even better than last week, and before long I should be back into my routine.
One last thing, if you’re striving for perfection then you’re bound to be disappointed, so instead of striving for perfection, especially with that first draft, remember this:
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ~Marilyn Monroe
I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, if you’ve read my blog posts or seen my videos or FB or Twitter posts then you know, and if this is the first post you’ve read then now you do 😀 (and thank you–all of you for taking the time to read my post),and part of the reason I love NaNoWriMo is because of the writing community. Whether it’s on the NaNoWriMo website and in their forum, or on IG, Twitter, FB, WP, G+, YT, Tumbler or whatever other social media that is out there. The Writing Community has been so supportive, motivating, inspiring, welcoming, and understanding. Because of the Writing Community I’ve slowly but surely realized that I’m not alone out here (well I am, I live in a small city, big town, and we don’t have a ML for NaNo, my county isn’t even listed on the “list.” But anywho).
I’m an introverted extrovert. I was born on the cusp of Cancer (my
sun sign) and Leo (my rising sign) , so I’m a bit of both, along with a bit of Aquarius, which is my moon sign. If you’re not into astrology, that’s okay–broken down into layman’s terms… I’m an extrovert when I’m comfortable with people, my true self, and physically my outward characteristics are more Leo, but on the inside, or when I’m not comfortable with people, I’m an introvert, a bit of a loner, and the person who sits back in the corner and watches, but if I’m at home (in my comfort zone) I’m out front, bold, sassy, and a talker.
It’s easier to be bold, sassy, and talkative when you’re comfortable with people. I spend so much of my writing life alone that having a place where I can socialize, learn, and share is refreshing, as well as both motivating and comforting–as in comfortable. It feels like a writerly niche.
Maybe it’s just that when I’m writing, I feel the most at home, as at home as I feel when I’m creating art, when I’m with my husband who is truly my best friend, or with my daughter is also my best friend, or when I’m busy working on DIY projects for our home. Though I prefer to be the one taking pictures–the whole behind the camera thing, since last year’s NaNoWriMo I’ve been vlogging, which means me in front of the camera. I couldn’t have done that if the writing community wasn’t so encouraging and supportive. Let’s face it, when you’re talking about someone who is an introverted extrovert with ADHD, Anxiety, and Depression the last thing you really want to do is make videos. I fidget, I stutter, I talk really fast or really slow, I lose focus and ramble, change subjects rapidly and then back to the original subject, sometimes without pausing.
Some people think that NaNoWriMo is all about quantity over quality, which is not a good thing if what you really want is to write a novel that will be publishable, but the first draft is not usually publishable even if you’re writing it on your own without NaNoWriMo. I tend to use description, notes to myself when I get stuck about what I want to do with the scene, character, setting, plot, etc, which increases my word count. I also tend to be long-winded anyway, which is helpful for NaNoWriMo but not helpful when it comes to editing. I’m writing because I have a story to tell, one that I would want to read, and I’m an avid reader of various genres.
One day I hope to have my book published, so I’m not killing myself worrying about my wordcount, but I am trying to make sure that what I do have is at least a decent first draft, BUT mostly I’m writing for me, because I love telling a story, because that story has been bugging me on and off for years wanting to be told.
I’m including a video I did in response to someone who 1. Doesn’t participate in NaNoWriMo 2. Believes that NaNoWriMo encourages bad writing habits, but I also did the response video because I believe that NaNoWriMo has helped a ton of writer’s start writing again, write their novels, whether they ever get published or not, and I’m a huge fan of their Young Writer’s Program. I hope you’ll watch. 😀