Category: Motivation (page 1 of 3)

Do You Take Time to Rest and Recharge?

Things aren't this bad. Yet.

Chores. Ugh. At least things aren’t this bad. Yet.

I spend a lot of time working. A LOT. Much more than my family would like. I work more than 40 hours a week, and then I still find time to turn around and work on my fiction. And then there’s social media… I love talking with all of you. My family doesn’t always appreciate that, though. And my household chore list is woefully long because of my hours. But I digress…

After all that computer time, the eyes get tired, the body gets sore, and the mind gets muddled. At least, that’s what happens to me. And after several months of that? I’m pretty useless to anyone.

At work or at home.

Surf and sun... all to ourselves. Gorgeous!

Surf and sun… all to ourselves. Gorgeous!

That’s why I jumped at the chance to vacation at a private beach. Two weeks, surf and sand and silence. Lovely!

I didn’t expect to have no Internet or cell service, though. I admit, that gave me anxiety for a while. But then I embraced the concept. It was like my childhood again. I wasn’t attached to any tech. It was liberating.

Yeah, my kids didn’t necessarily agree, but I needed the downtime. The sunny days, the lull of the waves… how could anyone not love that? (tweet the thought if you agree)

Then Tropical Storm Bill hit. We lost power. We lost beach days. But we still had fun. Card games, jigsaw puzzles, old stories… It was wonderful. And yes, I think even the kids enjoyed it.

And then I came home, where I found over 4,000 emails had backed up, my company had reorganized, and my work had piled up. And the anxiety came right back.

But I was able to better deal with it. Because I had rested, recharged, refocused.

I’d go back to my private paradise in a heartbeat. But I’m glad to be home. Back in the familiar. Back with my characters. Back with you.

medici protectorateMy novel Bleeding Heart will be coming out soon. And now I’m around to actually talk about it, so that’s exciting. Visit often; I’d love to talk about it with you.

What about you? What do you do to recharge? Do you have a favorite activity? Or a favorite place to visit? Tell me about it.

In the meantime, if you can’t get to the beach, maybe you’ll enjoy a few pictures from my trip.

Casey loved to jump the waves.

Casey loved to jump the waves.

Sammi reenacting a photo from her infant-days.

Seth and his dad posing for a picture like Corey had taken with his dad years ago.

Max had a blast... until he swam out too far and got frightened. But he rebounded soon and got back in.

Max had a blast… until he swam out too far and got frightened. But he rebounded soon and got back in.

After the storm passed, this was my view.

After the storm passed, this was our view.

What Defines Success?

The Red Vineyard---Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Red Vineyard—Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Legend suggests Vincent van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime—The Red Vineyard. Investigation into the matter shows that it’s likely he sold two paintings, as well as some sketches.

Regardless of which story you believe, one thing is certain. Van Gogh killed himself at age 37, believing himself a failure.

Today he’s known as one of the most prolific artists of all time.

By van Gogh’s standards, I know plenty of artists who achieved more “success” than him in their lifetimes who will never be famous. I know bands that play at local establishments and sell CDs of their work. Artists who have sold work and been commissioned to do more. Authors who have sold more than one copy of their books, who have multi-book deals. Heck, I fall into that category.

I don’t know if any of us will ever be famous. And, while I can’t speak for everyone else, I don’t feel like a failure. I don’t measure my success by number of sales. Sure, I’d love that number to be in the millions, but that’s not why I write.

I write because I have stories to tell, themes to explore, concepts to share. I write because I want not to only entertain people, but to get them thinking about their lives and their roles in the world. I write not for notoriety, but for legacy. This is my skill set, and this is what I can leave to the world. Hopefully I’ll leave it a better place than I found it.

For me, success is completing the tasks I set for myself. I wanted to share my words with the world, and I have. That, to me, is success. (click to tweet)

However, if you want to encourage thousands of people to buy my work, well… that’s just icing on the cake. 🙂

medici protectorateI have a new novel, Bleeding Heart, releasing this month. Tuesday, May 19, to be exact. When it is published, I’ll be sharing a story that’s important to me, because it is inspired by a story of my grandfather’s heritage. Through this story, I have immortalized his legacy. And I can’t think of anything more successful than that.

Why You Shouldn’t Make a New Year’s Resolution

2015 new yearHappy New Year, everyone. I hope your 2015 is off to a happy, healthy, and productive start.

My last post was in December and was kind of a State of the Union address. Well, the part of the address that states where I’d been and what I’d accomplished. The part of the address that talks about where I’m going and what my new goals are should likely be today. It would include the ubiquitous New Year’s Resolutions.

This may come as a surprise to you, but I’m not making any this year. And I don’t think you should, either.

I’m not trying to tell you what to do. If you do/did make any resolutions, I really hope you hit your goals. But I’m going to tell you why I didn’t, and why I probably won’t ever again.

See, people have a fascination with beginnings. We have a tendency to wait until Monday (the beginning of the week) to start anything new. And if it doesn’t work out on Wednesday, we scrap the whole plan until Monday rolls around again. Starting over on Monday, again and again, is defeating on several levels.

  1. It gives us a crutch to rely on.
    If we know we have another beginning coming up, we can scrap our resolution and wait until the next beginning.
  2. It gives the bad habit more of a foothold in our lives.
    Instead of getting right back to our resolution when we falter, we wait until Monday. That just means the behavior we’re trying to modify gets several more days in our lives—instead of just one moment of weakness—and gets more of a hold over us. It also causes more damage to us, because we have those negative effects working on us instead of being immediately suppressed.
  3. Experiencing several defeats makes us fail at other things.
    When we try and fail several times, on some level we start to believe we aren’t ever going to be able to meet our goals. Failing at this one endeavor could cause us to fail on other levels, simply because we’ve taught ourselves that we don’t have what it takes to follow through.
  4. Not following through breaks our spirits.
    Not only do we teach ourselves to fail at other things, we get frustrated and depressed. We can’t understand why we aren’t able to reach our goals, and because of the failure, our opinions of ourselves plummet.

Mondays aren’t the only beginning, though. The new year is the biggest beginning we have. All of our goals are magnified. And so are our failures.

This problem is compounded when we make not just one resolution, but several. (Click to Tweet this idea.)

The new year is our Big Beginning. We spend the end of December evaluating our lives, and we always find things we aren’t happy with. Things we want to change:

  • weight (diet, exercise)
  • health (quit smoking, drinking)
  • appearance (complete image overhaul)
  • employment (get promotion, find new job)
  • home (redecorate, move)
  • car (upgrade for luxury features)
  • future prospects (continue education, save more money, decrease debt)
  • downtime (cut TV, enjoy weekends, relax, vacation)
  • charity (volunteer, donate)

In addition to the problems listed above, the evaluations of our lives lead us to not want to take on one of these issues, but several. If we struggle to initiate a single change on any random Monday, how can we ever hope to make multiple—huge—changes in January? It’s already a difficult time of year. We’re just coming off a holiday season, and our barren rooms without decorations seem stark and sad. We’re entering a stretch of weeks where we have no holiday breaks to look forward to. And (at least in this part of the world) we have nothing but short bleak days, long dark nights, and bitter winter weather to deal with. This is the worst time to try to make any change, let alone many changes… many BIG changes.

Finally, it should be noted that change shouldn’t be dependent on the day of the week or the time of the year.

If we need to make a change, we should do it. Anytime. Not because it’s Monday or January, but because we want to be better people. We’re far more likely to reach a goal if we are motivated by desire rather than time. (Click to Tweet this idea.)

So maybe I shouldn’t tell you not to make any resolutions. Maybe, instead, I should tell you to make them for the right reasons. And if you slip up, don’t wait for a predetermined beginning to start over. Make your own beginning. Right away.

For Writers:
Do you have any resolutions for writing this year? Complete a novel? Get a publishing contract? I wish you the best of luck. If you have any suggestions or progress you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

For Everyone:
If you made a resolution, I wish you all the best. If you want to talk about it, leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Control

controlIf you know me, you know how important family is to me. Being there for the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the holidays and the day-to-day. I never expected to live 1,000 miles away from my hometown; never thought I wouldn’t be able to be with my loved ones anytime I wanted, let alone on a holiday.

But I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving.

If you know me, you know I love to cook. You know I meticulously plan holiday meals and special event menus. I budget my time in the kitchen to maximize output, minimize work, and get everything on the table at the right time.

This year, I had a problem with the oven and the turkey wasn’t ready when the rest of the meal was.

If you know me, you know when I set a goal or deadline for myself, I meet it. I try to exceed it. This year, I determined not to miss a weekly post. Not for vacations. Not for holidays. I had a guest post scheduled for today, so I was covered.

But due to circumstances beyond my control, the guest post won’t be published today.

In the course of our daily lives, there are plenty of challenges in our way, obstacles to overcome, problems to solve. It would be ever so easy to throw our hands up in the air, howl in frustration, and give up.

I could have cried because I couldn’t go home for the holiday. I could have had dinner without the turkey or just scrapped the meal altogether in favor of takeout. I could have not written a post today and missed my deadlines.

But I didn’t.

I embraced my “phone” visits with my family. I even missed two birthdays and two “First Thanksgivings” with the new babies. But pictures made it easier. I made dinner work and enjoyed my husband, kids, and dogs. I even made a few new recipes, and they were well worth the experiment. And I wrote a post. It’s one I’m pretty proud of. And one I hope you can learn from.

Life gets so much easier when we learn to roll with the punches, accept the things that aren’t working, change the things within our control, and let the other things go.

I don’t consider myself a control freak (although my husband and kids might argue to the contrary), but control is important. It helps us feel in charge of our destinies. It gives us confidence in ourselves. It takes away uncertainty.

7 Ways to Conquer Challenges and Assume/Maintain Control

  1. First, you must always be prepared for a setback.
  2. If one occurs, you must be able to make an honest assessment of your situation. Once emotions get involved, it’s harder to be impartial.
  3. Next, you must decide what things you have no control over and what things you can affect.
    1. On the things you can’t impact, decide to accept them for what they are and move past them.
    2. On the things you can impact, analyze the situation. Then make  plan for solving your problem, or, if you already have a contingency plan, review it.
  4. Is your plan sound and viable?
    1. If so, implement it.
    2. If not, revise it until it is, then implement it.
  5. Make assessments on the fly, and adapt to changes in your situation.
  6. Be prepared to let go of your ideal and accept “well enough for now.”
  7. Learn to be happy with what you have instead of upset with what you don’t have.

For Writers:
We’ve all written that passage, scene, or chapter that simply doesn’t work. You may love it for fifteen different reasons, but “cutting our darlings” has to be one of the best lessons we can learn. The best way to control our writing is to honestly assess it (or listen to constructive feedback from others) and decide the best course of action. If that means deleting, then delete. If that means rewriting, then rewrite. If that means a minor tweak or leaving it as is, then tweak or let it stand. But to truly be in control, we have to be the ones who make the tough choices. Our work, and ourselves, will be better for it in the end.

For Everyone:
No one likes to give up control. It can be more than uncomfortable. Sometimes it can be downright scary. But with an action plan and a calm, rational demeanor, we can resume control of most situations and find a solution we can be comfortable with. For times when we have no control? We just have to learn to accept that and hope for the best.

Me personally? Maybe I am a control freak. I plan. I make contingency plans. I adapt. I admit it… I do like to be in control.

Today, I’m not. It’s tradition to decorate the house for Christmas on the day after Thanksgiving. I’ve tried to get out of it for the last few years, but my daughter has put her foot down. So I’m decorating today. As much as I love to be in control, I recognize a hopeless cause when I see one. And today, I defer to the force of nature that is my daughter.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where things didn’t go according to plan? How did you cope? Do you have any advice to offer? Let’s talk about it. Share your story here.

The Best Friends I Never Met

worldThey say the world is shrinking. And I’ve never believed that more than I’ve come to believe it this week.

You’ve all read in one post or another that I currently live one thousand miles away from “home.” That doesn’t mean that I don’t keep in touch with family and friends. I still talk to my parents every day. I talk to my sister all the time. You all know I’m in frequent contact with my beloved grandmother. My brother is really more of a Facebook commenter or a texter, but I still know what’s going on in his life. And I still keep in touch with friends I’ve known all through school (college all the way back through kindergarten).

But that’s not why I say the world is shrinking. Continue reading

Spring Cleaning: Three Tips for Writers

daffodillsMarch 20 was the Spring Equinox, which means spring is officially here! It doesn’t matter that it was actually snowing on March 20 in some parts of the US. It’s spring; I’m claiming it. I think most of us have had enough of Jack Frost, Suzy Snowflake, Old Man Winter, and Polar Vortices to last a lifetime… or at least until November when we’ll be glad the oppressive heat of summer is over.

Spring in my family means more than just winter’s end. We’ll be entering about a seven week glut of birthdays, not to mention sprinkling in Easter and Mother’s Day. We have a lot of celebrating to do over the next month and a half.

But before the parties commence, the cleaning begins. My family spends weeks stripping rooms apart and scrubbing them top to bottom. Nothing is skipped over. Painted surfaces get washed or repainted. Wood gets waxed. Carpets get shampooed. Shelf paper gets replaced. Crystal and silver get polished. Winter linens get laundered and switched out for summer ones.

As a child, I hated it.

As an adult, I avoided it for a long time. I moved so often that I was able to just wait the cleaning out, knowing that in another year, I’d be packing my house and starting over in a new one, essentially “spring cleaning” anyway.

This time, however, I’ve been in Arkansas for a while. The spring cleaning can’t be avoided. I’m grateful my kids didn’t lose too many snow days; they’ll be here to help. They just don’t know it yet.

Sure, the work is hard and time consuming, but the results are always worth it. The house always smells so good—like Murphy’s Oil Soap and lemons. And sometimes fresh paint. And it reminds me of my childhood. There’s no better feeling than resting tired muscles in a clean, clutter-free house and thinking about home.

Spring is a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, clean slates. I hope as this spring commences, it promises something new and wonderful for you.

For Writers:

It’s been a long winter. Many of us have been almost in hibernation, stuck in our homes or offices. And because we’ve been inside for so long, our patterns have become ruts, maybe even blocks. Our workspaces? Well, if yours is like mine, it’s getting out of control.

It’s time for a fresh start. Time for some spring cleaning.

Sometimes the easiest way to break out of a writer’s rut or writer’s block is to simply clean our space. It’s hard to be productive when we’re surrounded with clutter. It’s much easier to do our best work when our writing space is conducive to creativity and productivity.

  1. Desk space — Make sure your writing/typing surface is as clean as possible. Not all of us have dedicated office space. That’s okay if you don’t. It doesn’t matter if you have a glorious mahogany desk, write at the kitchen table, sit on your bed, or type at a coffee shop. Just be certain you have space around you. You want to be able to write in a notebook if you need to. Put down your cup without risk of it falling. Reach for a pen with no fear of knocking something over. Your surface space should be clutter-free.
  2. Wall space — When you write, you don’t always stare at your screen (or notebook). Sometimes you look around when you think. If your eyes can’t rest on something relaxing or helpful, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Do you have a bulletin board or whiteboard for your WIP? Organize it and clean it up. Do you have a picture hanging on your wall? Can you see it, or are stacks of books and papers in your way? Tidy the mess. Do you look out the window? Clean it, and clean your window coverings, too. It’s best to have no distractions.
  3. File space — Is your computer working correctly? If it’s running slowly or your performance is poor, it could be because you have a virus, or perhaps you just haven’t done any maintenance. When was the last time you ran defrag? Are you spending fifteen minutes looking for a file because you don’t remember where you saved it? Spend some time cleaning up your system and organizing everything into the appropriate folders so your work is more methodical, and therefore faster.

It really doesn’t take much to get your workplace organized for spring. And just sprucing things up in a utilitarian manner might be all it takes to get those creative juices flowing again.

Mary NaccaratoThey call my grandma The White Tornado because (1) she has the most beautiful white hair and (2) she can blow through work like crazy, whipping any project into shape. She’s about to turn 96, and she still spring cleans her house. I wish she wasn’t 1,000 miles away; I’d ask her to help me with both my house and my workspace. I know she’d get both neat as a pin in a heartbeat.

What about you? Are you spring cleaning this year? Your house, your workspace, or both? Do you have any cleaning tips or tricks to share? Post them here.

Think Low, Think High, Give a Book a Try

by Staci Troilo

Dr. Seuss quote

Sunday, March 2 is Dr. Seuss Day, and National Read Across America Day, because it’s Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Schools will celebrate today, March 3. What better way to commemorate the birth of an American icon, a man who loved children and learning so much that he devised a method of storytelling using rhyme and nonsense while combining whimsical characters and important themes to teach the basic skills necessary for success?

Fox in SoxI loved reading Dr. Seuss as a child (and having his work read to me). My favorite book was Fox in Sox because I got to try to say all sorts of crazy tongue twisters while seeing what trouble was on the next page. When I had kids, they thought I was amazing because I didn’t stumble over the words in the book. They didn’t realize I’d had decades of practice. But we all delighted when they were able to say the rhymes in the book without error, and I don’t know who was more proud—them or me—when they stopped reciting the words and actually began reading them.

The LoraxAs much as I loved Fox in Sox, my children loved The Lorax. I read that book to them so many times, I could recite it from memory. It was one of the longer Dr. Seuss stories, but I didn’t mind. Not only are all Dr. Seuss stories easy to read, there are few better feelings than having a daughter in one arm and a son in the other, nestled against you under a blanket while you share a beloved story. Some of my best memories of my kids’ childhoods are of when we read together, and I have Dr. Seuss to thank for some of our favorite books.

Dr. Seuss booksWe had quite an extensive children’s library, and when my kids got older, we gave a lot of the books away. Not the Dr. Seuss books, though. My parents read them to me. I read them to my kids. And my kids and I will read them to my grandkids. Some stories never grow old. I just recently became a great-aunt (I’ve always been a great aunt, but now I’m a great-aunt; see the distinction?), and I can’t wait to start reading Dr. Seuss to my great-niece. We start them early in our family, and we start them right.

See, Dr. Seuss is a hero to writers like me because he not only touched our lives as children, but he continues to impact the lives of the next generation of children every day. I often credit my mother for sparking my interest in writing because of the word games she played with me and the books she read to me, and I still do give her that credit, but I also have to point to Dr. Seuss as the author who first influenced me. It was his work that first piqued my interest in books, and there are probably many other authors out there whose love of books began with Dr. Seuss.

Dr. SeussIt’s Read Across America Day. In honor of Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), I encourage you to read a book to a child, or read a book for your own pleasure. Nothing could honor him more.

How do you plan to celebrate Read Across America Day?

Need Motivation? Look No Further

snowWe’ve been having the strangest weather. My kids have missed eight days for snow already, and we’re in the south. I’m told that’s not unheard of for this area, but come on. What’s the point of living in the south—far from family and good Italian food—if not avoiding snow?

But I digress…

Gramma never complains about crappy situations. She just digs in and deals with what life hands her. And life has handed her some tough situations.

Her family, looking to escape harsh realities in a weak and oppressive Italy, immigrated to Colorado in the early 1900s. She was a young girl running errands for her mother when she encountered one of those tough situations.

When the Going Gets Tough, Gramma Gets Going

She was walking to the general store by herself to obtain a few provisions for her family. It wasn’t far, but the road was deserted for a stretch. She heard a horse and buggy behind her. Horses were her favorite of all animals, so she turned around to admire the animal.

It wasn’t a local farmer, or even a neighbor child.

It was a “gypsy” family.

Her parents had warned her about such wanderers. They weren’t to be trusted.

She stopped staring at the horse and turned her focus back to the road, picking up her pace just a bit.

One of the men sitting in the cart called to her, “Hey, little girl!”

She ignored him. She could see the buildings on the main street of the town, but she wasn’t close enough to yell for help.

“Girly! Wait a minute!” She didn’t know if it was the same man or his partner, and she didn’t turn to find out. They were getting closer.

She broke into a run.

To her utter dismay, she heard the crack of a whip.

They were giving chase.

They were still pretty far behind her, but she knew she couldn’t outrun a horse. She’d never make it all the way to the general store.

Her only chance was to run to the first building she came to.

She ran for her life.

The first building in the street was the post office. She darted inside and, completely breathless, ran behind the counter, ducking down, out of sight.

“Hey! You can’t be back here!” the postmaster said.

She could only shake her head, completely unable to speak. She pointed at the door just as two men and a woman flung it open and dashed inside.

“Can I help you?” the postmaster asked them.

“We’re looking for… our niece,” one of the men said.

The woman spoke up. “She ran away from us.”

“I thought I saw her come in here,” a man said.

The postmaster was silent for a moment.

My grandmother didn’t breathe for a whole other reason. She was terrified he was going to give her up.

Instead, he said, “You’re mistaken. She must have run behind the building. Did you check out back?”

“Maybe if we could just check behind your counter?” one of the men said.

The postmaster held up his hand. “No, you may not. No one is allowed behind this counter unless he is authorized by the United States Government.”

Gramma released a soundless sigh.

“I suggest you be off,” the postmaster said. “You need to find your niece, and it gets dark early in these parts.”

The gypsies left without another word, and soon my grandmother heard the horse and buggy headed away from the post office.

“It’s safe now,” the postmaster said, and helped her out from behind his counter.

“I don’t know how to thank you,” my grandmother said. “How did you know I wasn’t with them?”

“You can always tell good from bad,” he said.

Certain Universal Truths

I always love it when my grandmother tells that story. You can tell good from bad, if you look hard enough. And you can do anything if you set your mind to it. Even get away from potential kidnappers. Or get out of a winter’s funk.

I’ve been feeling the winter’s blues. A lot of my writing friends have, too. But thinking about the hardships my grandmother has overcome is quite motivating to me. I’ve never had to escape anything so daunting as potential abductors. I don’t know if they were really “gypsies,” but I do know the threat was real. And I know she’s been through other tragedies in her life, too.

writer's blockI just had a minor bout of writer’s block. Not quite on the same scale, hardship-wise. Still, it’s nothing I want to keep banging my head against.

But overcoming any obstacle requires digging down deep to find that inner kernel of strength and determination that will see us through to the other side. I’d like to think I get that from my grandmother.

When you’re feeling a little out of sorts, who do you look to for inspiration? Why don’t you share that story here?

Giving Thanks for the Mental

thankfulIt’s week two. As I said last week, I’ll be spending the month of November writing my Monday posts talking about things I’m thankful for. I talked about a friend of mine who does daily Facebook posts in November, which got me thinking about doing this. That prompted a follower to tell me about Twitter’s #ThankfulNovember. I’ve started doing that too. It’s good to count your blessings once in a while.

So daily this month you can find me on Twitter under the above hashtag. And here on Mondays this month, I’ll be covering the things I’m thankful for by breaking them down into four categories: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

**DISCLAIMER** Things covered this month are in no particular order.

Week two covers mental things. I’m grateful for:

  • My five senses
  • My memory
  • The ability to write
  • Editing skills
  • Technological advances
  • Being able to read books both critically and for enjoyment
  • My aptitude for learning to play musical instruments
  • My (admittedly meager) artistic abilities
  • Design and special relationship capabilities
  • Critical and strategic thinking skills

I know there are so many more mental things that I’m thankful for but they aren’t springing to mind because I’m trying to think of them. Why don’t you help add to the list? What mental abilities are you grateful for?

Military with FlagTwo more things… I didn’t forget it’s Veteran’s Day, and I do want to say that I’m eternally grateful for the military and their service to our country.

anniversaryIt’s also my parents’ anniversary, and I want to say to them Happy Anniversary. I love you. I’m grateful for you and all you’ve done for our family, and I hope you have a great day and many more wonderful years together.

Are You a Juggernaut? Five Ways to Become One

Samantha TennisMy daughter’s tennis coach calls her The Juggernaut. She hasn’t lost a match all season, and he says once she gets started (like a juggernaut), she’s unstoppable. That got me thinking about my vocation. Am I a juggernaut? Do I want to be?

As most of you know, I’m a writer. I wrote as a child, I got my BA and MA in writing, I was a professional writer for several years after graduating, and now I’m a fiction writer. So, in some respects, it’s easy to say that I am a juggernaut, because once I started writing as a child, I never stopped.

But what about currently?

I submit short stories to publications and contests. My first novel, Mystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir, was recently published. I have the first of a four part series with an agent, and I’m almost done with the second installment. I’m always writing. Or editing. Or reading.

Is that enough?

Is working daily toward your goal enough to say you’re unstoppable? (tweet this)

I say no, it’s not.

I write daily. But do I write long enough? Hard enough? With quality results?

Some days, yes. Some, no. I waste time on social media sites. I meet friends. I talk too long on the phone. Sometimes I even take a television break.

Not really qualities of a juggernaut.

The breaks I take could be good as moments of recharging. But some are just time-sucks. I know I need to do better.

But when I’m on? When the words are flowing from my mind through my fingers and the clacking of the keys beats an almost frenetic rhythm? Then I am The Juggernaut.

Sure. Breaks are okay. Too many are not. (tweet this)

I don’t know that I could sustain the pace of fulltime juggernaut writing, if I could maintain my sanity being in uber-writing mode all the time. It’s exhilarating, but it’s also exhausting. At the end of a productive day, I’m not just mentally wiped out; I’m physically beat.

So is there a solution?

You bet.

Here are the five steps toward approaching unstoppability without burning out.

  1. Set small goals.
    Telling yourself you have to clean the whole house, build a large pergola, write a whole novel… those can be monumental tasks. But telling yourself you have to dust one room, dig eight post holes, or write one chapter… much more easily attainable, especially before needing a break.
  2. Eliminate distractions.
    Your goals are smaller now, how do you make sure you reach them? Turn off your phone. Shut down your email. Don’t even think about turning on the television. Once you’ve taken your vice (or vices) out of play, you’ll find it’s much easier to get on a roll.
  3. Play music.
    This may not work for everyone, but I find if I have music on , I work better. And faster. Make sure your selections are in a genre you both like and find motivational. It would be kind of hard to train for a marathon if you were running to slow love songs. (And yes, I do have the Rocky Soundtrack in my playlist.)
  4. Reward goal achievement.
    Vices are vices for a reason: they’re hard to say no to. So don’t. Once you reach your new smaller, attainable goal, reward that accomplishment. Check your Twitter stream. Call your best friend. Just make sure you don’t give in to your time-sucking activity until you’ve earned the right.
  5. Don’t take long breaks.
    You did it. You focused, eliminated distractions, and hit your target. You just finished your reward. DO NOT START ANOTHER TIME-SUCKING ACTIVITY! You allowed yourself time to check your email. Maybe you returned a few texts. Instead of doing something else on your distraction list, start working again. When you hit your goal, you’ll get another reward.

We can’t be juggernauts all the time, but being one in short bursts much of the time will lead to more and stronger end products. Follow these steps and you’ll find yourself creating new habits—productive habits—that will benefit you for years to come.

Do you have any suggestions? A juggernaut story you’d like to share? You know what to do…

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