Tuesday Ten: 10 Writerly Thanksgivings

I will be spending lots of wonderful time with friends and family this week, so no more posts until the week after Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, for this week’s “Tuesday Ten,” I leave you with my writing thanksgivings for the year.ibm4381

I’m thankful for…

  1. My fantastic critique group
  2. Laughs from the Whiney Writer
  3. An inspirational writing coach
  4. A new story to play with
  5. Fantastic reads on my Kindle
  6. A new nonfiction book project
  7. An abundance of writing friends, both in-person and online
  8. A family who puts up with—and cheers for—their writer-mom
  9. A new website that has provided me with more fun than headaches
  10. Amazing research opportunities at this year’s SEJ conference

I think it’s funny that publication doesn’t appear on my list…What about you? What are you most thankful for in your writing life?

Writing Power-Ups

super better Have you ever heard of SuperBetter?* Now in Beta testing, this website/game is designed to help people recover from just about everything. From their web site:

SuperBetter is powered by the science of positive emotion and social connection. Every mission in the game is directly inspired by leading-edge research in psychology, neuroscience and medicine — research that helps us understand how we can increase our ability to become stronger and more successful in the face of challenges and the pursuit of our goals.

Although this project was initially inspired by its creator’s struggles to overcome traumatic brain injury, beta testers are now using its principles to make changes such as:

  • Losing weight
  • Overcoming addictions
  • Conquering post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Improving health in the face of chronic illness
  • Recovering from an injury
  • Meeting fitness goals
  • Improving sleep patterns
  • Lowering stress

power-upsIt’s pretty cool!

One especially cool aspect of the game is the idea of “Power-Ups”. They’re the real-life version of those little glowing spheres a video character can collect in order to restore health or energy in a video game, activities or items that re-energize, inspire, soothe, or otherwise make your life better. These are different from rewards. They’re intended to improve your “positivity ratio”, because research shows that positivity has numerous benefits, including increased creativity and decreased anxiety.

What does this have to do with writing? 

What can I say? I have a one-track mind, and when I find nifty tools for self-improvement, I like to think about how it might be applied to my writing life. This idea of “power-ups” is a great addition to the writer’s toolbox. They can be used fuel creativity, counter negative self-talk, energize, inspire—basically, to inject some positive into the day-to-day of being a writer.

SuperBetter inspired me to make a list of writing power-ups to help me keep my balance as a writer—and to give me a jump-start when needed:

Continue Reading

Do What You Can’t: 10 Writing Skills Worth Practice

I’ve been re-reading my favorite book on personal growth and development, Change Anything by Kerry Patterson and company, and once again I’m struck by how it applies to the writing life as well as to the standard life challenges of weight loss and credit card debt.

In the first half of the book, the authors discuss six sources of influence on our behavior (and out ability to change) based on our motivation and abilities:

6 Sources

I wrote about the first source of influence—“Love What You Hate,” or how to increase your personal motivation, here. The second source of influence is personal ability, which the authors call “Do What You Can’t.”

I didn’t get this one on my first read of the book. Do what you can’t? If you can’t, how the heck are you supposed to do it? Their point, however, is that if you want to successfully effect change in your life, you need to identify the skills that that change requires. Willpower alone is rarely the problem, and they go so far as to say “Personal motivation is the “big dumb one” in your personal-change arsenal. It hunkers down, toughs it out, and pushes hard against all odds, even when the easier solution might be simply to work smarter.”

This isn’t really a writing book, but I think its lessons are applicable to writing. I challenge you to ask yourself two questions:

  1. How do I want to grow as a writer?For instance:
    • Areas of weakness: Identify your weaknesses as a writer or person. It may be helpful to ask a friend or critique partner to help you see blind spots.
    • Craft skills: Do you want to write more quickly? Improve your ability to write dialog? Improve your ability to use metaphor?
  2. What writing skills do I need to do so?
    • These can include writing craft skills, such as those above.
    • They might also include strategies for dealing with obstacles you might face as a writer, such as distractions, rejection, and discouragement.

To get you started, here are some of the skills I think are worth practice—and some resources to help you start practicing:

Continue Reading