Always the Write Time to Simplify

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Last week I wrote about minimizing daily distractions in order to make my dreams come true, and how simplifying my life is the first step to ensure this happens.  I have only interned for two days so far this week, but combined with my transcription work and applying for substitute teaching positions, I’ve already had some practice at simplifying.  The biggest thing I’ve currently managed is to reduce the number of nights per week that I cook meals, allowing for leftovers on the other nights, and oftentimes enough for lunches, as well.  This way as soon as I’m done working, I can spend time writing, or head over to the gym, knowing that all I’ll need is a matter of minutes to heat up dinner. 

Another way I’ve simplified my life has to do with my daily routine.  First, instead of taking time to apply eye shadow each morning, my bronzer doubles as blush and shadow.  Something as simple as this cuts my prep time by several minutes, while still providing me a healthy glow.  Second, I set my alarm 15 minutes early so that I have time to pick out my clothes and prepare a lunch and snack to bring to work.  Admittedly, I could do this the night before, but I usually change my mind about my selections in the morning, anyway.

And who doesn’t want a way to simplify household tasks?  In our home, we post a chore list on the refrigerator with each family member’s name and their assigned to dos listed.  Consequently, I don’t have to think about what needs to be done, and because the workload is delegated, not one person is stuck with all the work.  But since I always seem to end up with the dreaded (in my opinion) dusting, I keep it simple by taking just 10 minutes out of my day to dust a different room over the course of a couple weeks. 

A big area where many people find themselves in trouble when it comes to distractions has to do with over-committing or over-scheduling.  Now that I’m back to work, I am not able to just hop in my car on a whim to run an errand or two, or spread my appointments throughout the week.  Rather, I have been working on combining trips to be most efficient with my time (case in point: mixing vacation next month with a little business on the side).  And finally, sometimes it’s okay to simply say “no.” ~ cs

Common Sense Ways to Minimize Distractions…and A Whole Lot of Rambling

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Writing without distractions…is that even possible?  I mentioned in an earlier post that the laundry will always be there, piling up with the other interruptions vying for our attention.  And when it comes to the act of writing, itself, I do prefer solitude to companionship.  That means locking myself in my office with a “do not disturb” sign posted on the door.  And if I’m right in the middle of writing and think of something that will require my attention at some point, I simply jot a quick note to myself.

Sometimes music stirs up my muse, but what helps the most is silencing my cell phone and closing online chat boxes to reduce the number of distractions—common sense advice that is often much easier said than done.  I think that when everything is boiled down, however, it all comes back to priorities.  Is there a benefit to putting off the article that needs outlining, or the blog that must be written, the paper that is due a week from Friday, or the next scene your agent requested two days ago?

Since graduating from ASU last month, my schedule has exploded.  I begin an editorial internship this coming Monday at InWithSkin, a national beauty magazine and my third internship with a magazine—one of my dreams come true.  I also became a certified substitute teacher, and I returned to subcontracting as a transcriptionist after a year-long sabbatical.  I still write for Suite101.com, and I am always entertaining personal essays and stories in my imagination.  With all that said, one thing has become clear to me, and that is now—more than ever—I must minimize the distractions in my daily life in order to make the rest of my dreams come true.  And because it is always the write time to simplify, that will become my next order of business. ~ cs

What Comes First, the Writer’s Muse or the Writer’s Mess?

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Another day, another blog.  And a week since my last posting where I challenged myself to ask, “Where is my but(t)?” whenever I am tempted to say, “I should be writing, but…” 

So, where has my but(t) been?  This is a fruitful self-check I plan to run through on a weekly basis,  especially after an e-mail I received from a friend this morning which read:

“Now that you aren’t all tied up in homework, you probably have a lot of free time.”

Free time?  Does that include catching up on mounds of accumulated laundry, vacuuming weeks’ worth of cat fur-lined baseboards and seat cushions, or rifling through piles of paperwork that seem to reproduce like rabbits each day?  Or perhaps it means scheduling home maintenance, calling in prescriptions, requesting immunization records, exchanging a defective piece of clothing, or taking the car in for scheduled service. 

Additionally, this week’s free time has included writing and posting an article for my online writer’s network, working on essay revisions for submission to a literary magazine, looking for employment, preparing resumes and cover letters for a dozen jobs, scheduling two interviews and attending one, re-establishing a former working relationship, and writing this blog.

But—and there is that but, again—it seems the busy-work can and will crowd out the activities that should take priority in my days.  So that is when I need to accept that the laundry will always be there, and the vacuuming can be done another day.  And as long as the important things are covered, then I need to schedule the time to write…no buts allowed.  However, first I need to get my butt to the gym.  More next week on writing without distractions. ~ cs

Looking Ahead into 2011

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One week of the new year is nearly behind us, and I’m still working on “the plan”—or what I envision my life to look like over the next 12 months.  In the meantime, yesterday I received a dose of reality when I ran into a former colleague of mine after nearly a year of no contact.  “I finished!”  I called as we neared each other (meaning my degree requirements). 

“Congratulations,” she said (thankfully, knowing what I was talking about). 

“Are you still going to school?” I asked.

“No, and I’m not going back,” she said. 

Before I could ask why, she continued.  “I just signed with an agent!”

With those six little words, I felt the proverbial wind go right out from my sails, yet I kept the smile plastered on my face.  It wasn’t hard to do because I like this woman, and I was—and am—genuinely  happy for her.  And I shouldn’t be surprised at her accomplishment because when we worked together before, she had told me she was writing a book.  Of course, I’ve started many of these so-called books, too, but to hear that she actually finished it, and recently signed a three-book contract with an agent, was nothing less than amazing to me.  While I was going to school, she was living my dream. 

I have to admit that the remainder of the day found me in a funk; albeit, a funk of my own making.  For me, I believe the problem lies in something else my colleague said that really hit home: If your butt isn’t in your chair, then you’re not writing.”  So from this day forward whenever I’m tempted to say, “I should be writing, but…,” I need to ask myself the question: “Where is my but(t)?” ~ cs