pastels and waves

After delivering my husband and son to the airport for a “guy trip,” I stopped to pick up a fancy coffee drink and settled in for a few days of time alone with my brain. While I thoroughly enjoyed the family time that guided us through the holidays, I’ve been feeling some pressure to check in with myself and get my thoughts in order. I’ve got some great projects in the works, and I want to clear out some of the cobwebs: to make sure I’ve got the t’s dotted and the i’s crossed. (Yes, I know… been saying that way since by brief, unfortunate stint working in a real estate attorney’s office.)

Have I got the t's dotted and the i's crossed? Click To Tweet

That process can involve a variety of parts: retreat, research, recreational reading, meditation, review, and reflection.

Sometimes there are questions:

  • What do I have and what do I want?
  • What’s going well and where can I improve?
  • How do my priorities, values, and time line up?
  • Is there an idea, an urge, or a longing I’ve been ignoring?

I’m not wedded to any particular format or set of questions but instead, have found a hybrid process that seems to work well for me. It allows the logical left side of my brain to take a seat while the wilder, crazier, more creative right side takes front and center. And, since I can’t always do that well with the written word, I use visual art. Sometimes it’s photography, but most of the time it has been collage, something I started many years ago. I have a book full of what most people call vision boards, each devoted to a different concept or part of life.

It allows that logical left side of my brain to take a seat. Click To Tweet

Tearing paper, making a mess, letting intuition come out to play creates space for taking a look at my life. It’s a way to notice when my head and my heart are out of alignment. It’s also a way for me to set goals or intentions or resolutions or whatever you want to call them — without the mean girl who lives in my head (aka the inner critic) popping up to tell me I’m not doing it right.

And, while there’s no clear plan yet, I’m happy to see the way certain areas are rising to the top: health, my writing, travel with my husband, and my relationship with my partners in our new author services program: all wonderful stuff.

And, speaking of brains and inner critics… here are a few of my favorite posts on the topic:

If you've been trying to ignore self-doubt, stop by and download 3 Reasons to Stop Fighting Your Inner Critic Click To Tweet

How do you encourage your creativity to come out to play? Or enhance communication between the left brain and the right? Please let me know in the comments. (I’m going to go tear up some more paper and find out what else is on my mind!)

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January 10, 2018 Posted by Andrea Happiness, Self care, Thinking 7 Responses »

A local writer friend of mine introduced a recent blog post by calling it “the dreaded New Year’s resolution” post and, in the comments, I thanked him for taking one for the team.

I would have given just about anything to write “the dreaded New Year’s resolution” post this year. I’d have been especially grateful to give up the fever, the strep throat, the body aches, and the incessant coughing. My ribs haven’t felt like this since my sports car was rear-ended by a moving truck. Yes, my friends, apparently hanging around online with those erotica writers put me on Santa’s naughty list. Despite my focus on the business of writing and promotion, Santa brought me a big bag-o-yuck — something I would have cheerfully returned for store credit. It arrived the day after Christmas — eight days — and I haven’t even achieved boredom yet.

Santa brought me a big bag-o-yuck -- something I would have cheerfully returned for store credit Click To Tweet

Still miserable but no longer contagious, I insisted on going out for an hour for the island’s lighted shrimp drop. It’s a goofy, joyful celebration and I needed the updraft.

My family has been wonderful. They cooked and did laundry and enjoyed one another. They were great sports when, most nights, we chose a movie — and I was sound asleep before the second half. (And except for the Sooners v. Bulldogs in the Rose Bowl, the same held true for football.)

But I’ve wandered too far from my appreciation of Micah’s resolution post. (He did a good job — you should really read it.)

If you spend more than 2.5 minutes online, there is no way you can miss all the huzzah-huzzah about the new year. There are review questions, goal-setting advice, and, of course, your “word” or intention for the coming year. (And if you’re not careful, you can buy something to help make this all easier and more effective for you.)

I love reviewing the ending year and trying different methods to map out the year to come. Click To Tweet

Generally speaking, the time between Christmas and the New Year is one of my favorites. I love reviewing the ending year and trying different methods to map out the year to come. And I may still try to devote some time to the process when my husband and son set out for a “guy trip” in a couple of days. But, when I read my friend and fellow writer’s first post of the year, I had an important takeaway. Whatever we call it and however we do it, those clean slate rituals are nice but probably what matters more is my ongoing commitment to being a better human — whether for the new year or even for the rest of the day.

January 2, 2018 Posted by Andrea Thinking 16 Responses »

From giant Thanksgiving meals to champagne at midnight on the last day of the year and a whole bunch of frantic in between… ’tis the season. And if it’s true that time moves faster as we age? It really speeds up in November and December, doesn’t it? From the Christmas displays that arrive before Halloween to the year-end reviews that now start before Christmas, time can feel like the pushing and shoving that comes about as a result of holiday airline travel. I don’t know about you but sometimes (in either circumstance) I want to yell, “Everybody lighten up… we’re all going to get there at the same time!”

Holiday airline #travel. Stop pushing -- we'll all get there at the same time, right? Click To Tweet

A remarkable thing has happened to many of my family members and friends: we’ve chosen to opt out.

But wait — before you picture us sitting in cold rooms with the lights off in some sort of depressed silence? That’s not what’s going on at all. We opt out of the “official” calendar and celebrate volition. (And grown-up birthdays that end in “0” or “5.”)

That’s right… we make choices. Well in advance of the holidays, we put our heads together and talk about things like schedules, budgets, energy, and preferences. And then we make choices. We spend some money… and lots of time.

We #celebrate volition. Click To Tweet

It turns out that we were able to celebrate one of those big birthdays several weeks in advance — by getting almost all of the family together for Thanksgiving. And missing one made the rest of us look forward to our international arrival in a few more days.

So, if we’re not running around shopping until we drop, what do we do? We spend a lot of time cruising neighborhoods to look at amazing light displays. We meet up at the zoo. Or the movies. Or the beach. We play board games and write love letters. We take turns cooking, share leftovers, and swap talents to move each others’ projects forward. We tell stories.

What happens when you opt out of #holiday customs? Click To Tweet

Mostly we laugh a lot and enjoy our time together. It’s the best of what happens when we opt out.

December 20, 2017 Posted by Andrea Thinking 2 Responses »

“What if…” It’s the beginning of a question that can lead to a big goal or a daydream. It’s also an incredibly useful question for creative people is “What if…” It is an important tool that can be used to open up the mind to possibilities and stir the creative pot.

Novelists might ask questions about character and plot. “What if I change the gender of my main character?” or “What impact would this setting have on the story?” Writers of non-fiction might ask “what if” questions as they relate to their ideal readers. “What if she is struggling with ‘x’ rather than ‘y’?” And, as far as I can tell, every single writer — regardless of genre — occasionally asks, “What if nobody wants to read my book?”

What if nobody wants to read my book? #indieauthors Click To Tweet

The anxiety surrounding that last question often leads us to do foolish things. They can range from seemingly “little” things like letting “a friend who teaches English” edit our books to Facebook posts or tweets begging people to “buy my book.” Or we enter into arrangments with unvetted coaches, leaving us with both lighter wallets and the same issues. Choices born of anxiety can make us look like amateurs and close off opportunities for progress.

Choices born of anxiety can make #writers look like amateurs and close off opportunities. Click To Tweet

Sometimes “what if” questions don’t yield much but sometimes they can lead us to very interesting and exciting results.

  • “What if authors could get help and support without paying too much for it?”
  • “What if writers could purchase only the services they need — at an affordable price?”
  • “What if we could find resources that had been successfully used by authors we know and trust?”

It was a brainstorming session full “what if” questions like these that led a group of friends to commit to developing a new author services site. We think it’s different from what’s already available because:

  • We’re not chasing every single dollar out there. Prospective members must apply to — and be accepted by– the team.
  • It uses a co-op model: members have simple ways to support others.
  • We maintain both public and members-only blogs and, in addition, provide members with tangible opportunities for increased exposure.
  • We support a hybrid publishing model, supporting indie authors in through the self-publishing process or referring them to a more traditional publisher if we know one that’s a good fit for their work.

If an author services site designed specifically for indie authors committed to producing high-quality work is something that interests you, it’s right around the corner. Beta testing will begin within the next 30 days, with the hope of a full launch this spring. And, finally, “what if” you’re someone who’s looking for this kind of support? Sign up for my so-far-never-used newsletter list (at the “contact” tab above) and I’ll let you know when we’re ready to roll.

Who's ready to roll? Click To Tweet

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December 13, 2017 Posted by Andrea Thinking, Writing and Reading 9 Responses »
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