Category Archives: A Room Of Your Own

Lessons from the Lowitt Trail

I come from a long tradition of writers whose creativity seems to depend on movement. Long walks clear my mind, creating space for the seeds of stories to grow unchoked by the weeds of surface worry. Running cuts through my self-doubt and overthinking. Yoga feeds my intuition and cultivates mindfulness and self-acceptance. These are key qualities of mind to induce states of flow. I lean particularly on lessons learned in yoga while in revision mode. Hiking and/or backpacking cultivate the resilience to trust in the messy process. In late July, I backpacked around Mount St. Helen’s, along the Lowitt Trail,  with two friends. The trail offered several physical and mental challenges, plus some nuggets of wisdom that I carried home with me to use when I returned to the page. Let me try to break them down here in a few key aphorisms. 

In this moment, there is peace.

No matter how hard I try to avoid it through careful preparation, I always seem to pack heavy. This was a topic discussed often on the trail as other hikers seemingly sped by us with comparatively petite backpacks. We asked each other: What would you leave behind to have a lighter pack? Answers were–not much. So, our packs were heavy. Except for the first overcast morning, the sun shone fiercely. We spent four days and three nights on the trail. At times the trail seemed to be a mere scratch on a cliffside, the ground just shifting sands underfoot. We trekked up and down many rock gullies. Three of these were so steep that they required ropes to navigate the trail. In a couple of places, the trail seemed to disappear before our eyes as we walked across boulder fields that stretched on and on into the distance. We scrambled our way from trail marker to trail marker, following the dusty footprints or cairns left behind by hikers before us. So much of the trail was exposed that you could see the routes ahead for miles. But here’s the thing: there is a lot of discomfort that comes with thinking about those miles ahead. Just as there is discomfort in thinking of how much further you need to go on your journey to finish your book, or to publication. For the most part, worrying too much about the future makes everything harder. During rest stops, I would pull out my map and think about the road ahead, but when we got to walking again, I tried to stay in the moment. I literally counted the number one to myself over and over to myself at times as a reminder. In this moment, there is a three-headed tigerlily proudly lit by the sun. In this moment, the lavender lupine carpet spreads out along the base of the hills and along the trails. In this moment, I can turn and see any of three mountains and feel a rewarding breeze at the top of a hill. 

In writing, there is the ritual of the warmup. I feed and walk my two dogs, do a moving meditation, and prepare the sacred coffee. There is the feel of the keyboard under your fingertips, the sound they make when you get going. The pause of thinking, too. There is the moment of the story unfolding in your imagination. The stall when you get to a sticky part. The breakthrough. It’s counterproductive to the work in these moments to think too much about the miles ahead. Doing so has been known to sabotage an entire writing session. If I’m honest? It’s enough to do in a whole week of them. 

India paintbrush flowers on the hillside at sunrise

Turn up your senses.

The mind wants to worry about the future (or to rehash the past). On the trail, this becomes strikingly tedious. There is so much more joy to be had in turning up the senses. Notice the bright red miniature strawberries along the trail. Then bend over to pick and eat one. Identify plants and trees. Take in the panorama of trees, sky, and earth. Listen for birds, the sound of flowing water, the voices of other hikers approaching, who might have intel on upcoming water sources. 

The days were long. The water sources were sparse. Our bodies were more tired and sore each day. Our feet hurt, then blistered. But what do I really remember when I look back on all that? The moments, when I had my senses turned up to the volume of awe. Every night we sat under an open sky, trying to name all the constellations we could remember knowing. That is the sort of thing we need to do as writers: turn up our senses in the spirit of constructing our stories so that the places, characters, and scenes come alive in our imaginations. 

Lupine flower blanket and Spirit Lake

Take care of others.

I know some people who like to hike alone. I’m not one of those people. When we stopped for water, we stood in a line so we could remove each other’s water bottles from the sides of our packs. At one point, my shoe was untied, and my friend said, here, put your foot up on my knee so I can tie it for you. We told each other stories. We pointed out what we saw along the way. We all paused when one of us needed a break. We shared snacks, sunblock, and moleskin. The end of every day was spent sitting in our camp chairs, sharing a meal, and laughing. Well, except for the night when we were too tired and possibly dehydrated to eat. But even that night, we laughed. 

It can be the same way in writing. You certainly can go it alone, and I suppose that’s a quicker way to dig into the deep dark shadows of your soul if that is what you are after. As for me, I am looking to connect to others through my writing and along my journey. This means cultivating friendships with other writers, taking time to read other people’s work and give feedback, offering encouragement, writing a blog to inspire other writers, being a part of a writing group or community, and reading and reviewing other writers’ work. It’s taken me some time to see that this part is at least as important as the writing itself. 

hiker helping hiker tie shoes

I’m taking August off from actively writing forward with my novel, focusing on rest and renewal. I’m gathering all the strength and commitment I will need to get back to my desk at 4 AM on school day mornings through the coming school year. I’m proud of myself for writing through June and July, and also for having the sense to take August off. It hasn’t even been two weeks, and I already feel the benefit of the pause. When I return to my characters again in September, I will be more present for them because I took the rest I needed to. The need for a rest may also have been inspired by the incredible effort it took to make my way all the way around Mount St. Helen’s in four days. And you bet your ass you would have heard the three of us singing that familiar refrain “She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes” when we got there. 

Interested in hiring me as a coach to get you boosted with your writing goals?  Find free resources and information here.

Some past posts to keep you making time: 

Adjust your pace accordingly.

It’s about the routine and how you shake up the routine

There are things you will have to give up

See it to achieve it

Washing the dishes

Write slowly

A celebration of the pause

Monday, a run through the driving rain

Zen accident

Get out of your comfort zone

Additional Inspiration: The Washington Trails Association pairs a few hikes with poetry!

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polka dot back ground middle finger

Dear Capitalist notions of worth, 

I was about to ask, when you see someone knitting a pair of socks, do you ask them whether they’ve sold any socks yet?

I wanted to illustrate my point. Then, I remembered Etsy and realized that even that analogy no longer works. If you’re a writer and brave and smart enough to call yourself a writer, you probably have encountered this question or some variation of it: Have you published any books? A recent version of that question I was asked recently: Did you self-publish your book? Because heaven forbid that you did not pass through the proper gatekeepers. Certainly, unless you have the right amount of luck, persistence through pain (rejection), and proper appeal to the target market, you can’t really call yourself a writer. Maybe, just maybe, if you work your social media connections and grab yourself a Patreon account, with enough followers, you will be worthy of your assumed title:

Writer

What I’m writing to say to you is that you are an insidious lie of the worst kind. Worth does not come from marketability or earning potential. Worth isn’t earned.

Worth is inherent and the subscription is free lifetime access for all. You are clipping the wings of too many fledglings with the insidious way you creep into our thoughts, cloud our dreams, and dominate the conversations. 

Writers might be asked far more interesting questions if it weren’t for your strangle-hold on the imaginations of the masses. For instance, Writing seems really hard. How do you do it? Or How do you decide what to write about? Or What do you hope people take away from reading your book? 

I get why so many people are caught in your deception. For some it’s a matter of putting food on the table. That’s one nice thing about being a writer with a day job. Making time is more difficult, for sure, but at least I can write and write and write and not worry a damn about how much money it brings in. 

I am writing this open letter in case anyone needs a reminder today about the things that actually make you a writer. The fact that you sit down regularly to write, for starters. The fact that you are constantly trying to get better at your craft through reading and conversations with other writers and readers. The fact that you believe in the power of words and stories to change the world. 

As for you, dear subject. You are a liar. A dirty liar. 

With a hearty flip of the bird, 

Liz 

Interested in hiring me as a coach to get you boosted with your writing goals?

 Find free resources and information here.

Some past posts to keep you making time: 

Adjust your pace accordingly.

It’s about the routine and how you shake up the routine

There are things you will have to give up

See it to achieve it

Washing the dishes

Write slowly

A celebration of the pause

Monday, a run through the driving rain

Zen accident

Get out of your comfort zone

Additional Inspiration: 

Handlebars by the Flobots

Feel Good Flow 

Oneliness–A meditation on poetry, a particular poem by e.e. cummings

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

I look forward to your reply. Sincerely, Liz.

Dear Friends,

I look

From here on out, I’m writing my posts in letter form. Sometimes I’ll write to you, dear readers, sometimes, I will write to others or even objects or subjects. This is a coming together of an old project from the past and a desire to get back to this space where I write about writing for two purposes: to invigorate my own work and to inspire you in your own story-making, whatever form that takes. 

I’m a writer, but I also love taking pictures and doing collage. I hope to feature more of that work here in the future. The underlying assumption of this blog is that making time to construct our stories through our art leads to a more purposeful life, a better world. 

foreward

I am, as usual for the past seventeen years, at work on a novel. I wrote my first novel in 2005 for NaNoWriMo. I will be forever grateful for that challenge for giving me the impetus to believe that I could write an entire book. I’d been writing short stories and poems for fifteen years at that point. I write slowly, without excess, so it is still a bit of a shock when I write my way to the end of a book. I’ve written a number now, though aside from the one I self-published, they’re all in the proverbial drawer for now. I’m okay with that. You aren’t going to find much focus here on how you need to contort yourself to get published. You will find loads on how to get yourself to your writing space and do the work, how to do that work in a way that makes you proud of what you’ve done. You will also find some posts about the mind/body connection in this work. Movement has long been a conduit for me to story-making. I’ve got a book about this simmering on the back burner and my autobiographical novella certainly started that conversation. 

The search engines prefer that I include subheadings throughout my posts, so I’ve decided to embed some single words throughout that add up to a message to you for each post. The words will add up to the title of the post. Because–why not? 

During my day job, I’m a high school teacher. There are so many reasons to look forward to summer, so believe me, I am not complaining. However, when it comes to creative work, summer is often not the idyllic writing retreat people assume it must be. During the school year, I get up at 4 am to get my writing in before my day starts. This tight structure actually helps me focus and put in the work. Summer can be a bit more loosy-goosy, so I’m working on an approach this year that might keep me moving forward while also honoring the play and rest that summer is meant to be. I’ll keep you posted on what I come up with for that. 

For now, I am writing my way to the end of the school year as I have been all year. Up at 4 to write on weekdays. Saturday I fit in a couple hours of writing time when I can. That “when I can” hasn’t worked out consistently, so I’m strategizing about that. Though it took me a long while to admit it, I do better writing in the morning. 

to your reply,

Sundays sometimes are critique group meetings, but not always. It’s a tightly constructed plan to make time, with loads of grace built in, because we are people, not machines, and there will be times when your energy and momentum ebbs and when it flows for all sorts of human reasons, and it’s best to be the wave, not fight it. If you are a writer looking for an online writing network for accountability, critique groups, workshops, and the like and are willing to pay a small fee for that space, Inked Voices is a lovely place for that. 

I do this work because I started when I was fifteen years old writing little poems and observations in my notebook. Who doesn’t have an identity crisis at 15?! No exception here. That’s around the time I started having panic attacks. Thank god I discovered yoga and walking. I found some relief from the intense dread I felt if I walked or emulated the yoga poses in the book I’d gotten as a gift or the second book I picked up at the used book store. I would walk home from my job at Burger King rather than take the bus, sometimes I would walk just because. It took about 8 miles to walk across Aberdeen and Hoquiam and there was something about making that distance by foot that started a seed of hope.

I still feel sometimes when I’m walking like I just want to keep walking and not stop. Like I want to skip work, or just not go home. There’s an ease and a freedom I feel that is a relief. This quote from the Lit Hub article Walking Distance by Lizzy Stewart resonates, “I think about walking a lot and I have tried to work out why it is the only way that I can clearly visualize myself. I think it makes me, an uncertain person, into a machine in forward motion, definite and capable.” 

I am anxious this week because summer is so near. As much as I can’t wait for it, it disrupts the tight routine I mentioned earlier. Today, I’m going to sit down and make a summer writing plan and hope that will assuage some of this fear. In years past I’ve tried sticking to my school year schedule and it hasn’t worked out so well for me. Regardless, I’m going to sit down today and commit to something. I’ve got to. I’ll keep you posted. 

Mostly, though, I look forward to the ease of summer. The Seatlle Public Library published their book bingo and I planned out what book I will read for each category. I’ve started with a re-read of A Visit From The Goon Squad, my book group’s pic for June. What are you reading this summer? 

Sincerely, Liz

In summary, I am still here making time, hoping the same for you. I’m switching over the a letter format for future posts, because it just feels right. I’ll write again soon—

My light sees your light. Let’s keep making time. 

Love, Liz 

Interested in hiring me as a coach to get you boosted with your writing goals?

 Find free resources and information here.

Some past posts to keep you making time: 

Adjust your pace accordingly.

It’s about the routine and how you shake up the routine

There are things you will have to give up

See it to achieve it

Washing the dishes

Write slowly

A celebration of the pause

Monday, a run through the driving rain

Zen accident

Get out of your comfort zone

Additional Inspiration: 

Handlebars by the Flobots

Feel Good Flow 

Oneliness–A meditation on poetry, a particular poem by e.e. cummings

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!
ocean waves

Putting goals in their place. A creativity paradox.

I am a firm believer in goals, as S.M.A.R.T as you can make them. Check out my 2022 Writing Plan document and file/make a copy for yourself while you’re at it. This document should be proof enough that I root for team have a specific plan and write it down

And.

I believe that when you sit down to write you should kindly ask your goals to go for a walk and get some air. 

When you sit down to write, you want to enter a flow. You want to be patient and stay in the moment. Future-tripping about whether you are going to meet your word count or deadline is going to hurt your writing. You will let things through that you know could be better just because you want to finish.  

When you sit down to write, you need patience and presence. You need to climb into the sentence, the scene, the place and be there: hear it, see it, smell it, feel it, taste it. Then, you need to sit back, read it out loud and ask yourself–In what ways does this scene develop my story? My character? What parts of this scene does neither of those things? 

Then, cut, cut, cut. 

You can’t also be thinking about your word count goal or deadline. That efficiency mindset will stifle your voice. Isn’t telling stories that matter to you in your voice the reason you wake up at the crack of dawn or write during your lunch break? 

Here are some things I do to keep my goals out of my writing time. 

Mood matters. 

For me right now that means I have an electric blanket on my lap. I’ve meditated, said my prayers, lit a candle. Even before that, I have a designated space where I know I will work. I have visual inspiration and affirmations posted everywhere. I have lists to keep me focused and to remember good habits. For instance, I have a post-it note with a no symbol (circle/slash) through it. Email is productivity straight up. Send it walking too. 

Sit for the time. 

Once you sit to write, do not get up for anything that isn’t a true emergency. So, basically unless there is a fire or you might pee your pants. I use a Pomodoro timer to keep me single focused in twenty five minute chunks. If a thought pops up screaming to be addressed now, I write it on a post-it and promise to take care of it after I write. 

Connect. 

Talk to other writers about your process. Listen to what works for them. Read craft books. Join a writing community or group. This will build your identity as a writer. The more you truly see yourself as a writer, the easier it will be to honor the time. 

Have a schedule. 

You can’t sit for time you have not scheduled. 

Practice.

It may never go perfectly. You might have five minutes of flow or fifty. Doesn’t matter. Keep showing up. 

I am here with you, showing up for the time. My light sees your light. We’ve got this. 

Let’s Make Time, 2022. 

Interested in hiring me as a coach to get you boosted with your writing goals?

 Find free resources and information here.

Some past posts to keep you making time: 

Adjust your pace accordingly.

It’s about the routine and how you shake up the routine

There are things you will have to give up

See it to achieve it

Washing the dishes

Write slowly

A celebration of the pause

Monday, a run through the driving rain

Zen accident

Get out of your comfort zone

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!
fireworks

Bring on 2022! Reflections and plans.

It’s important to pause, reflect, and shift routines and goals from time to time throughout the year. It can’t all come down to New Year’s intentions. And yet, there is something to be said for the potential a new year has for giving us permission to imagine our dreams coming true. Here’s a form I created to help you make those plans.

I filled out this form already and it did help me figure out where I’m headed next with my writing. As is usual this time of year, I’d gotten a little off the rails in terms of focus, plus I’d let some doubts creep in that threatened to seriously keep me from moving forward.

What will I be working on in 2022? Sending out queries for a book I wrote called It May Look Like Disaster, working on the second draft of a book called Scripts, and drafting some new short stories for a collection I started recently. That collection is tentatively titled Home Isn’t A Place. I’ve got my schedule tweaked and am ready to relaunch in full Monday 1/3. In the meantime, I’m getting organized and working like a person still on winter break, when I feel like it.

Interested in hiring me as a coach to get you boosted with your writing goals?

 Find free resources and information here.

Some past posts to keep you making time: 

Adjust your pace accordingly.

It’s about the routine and how you shake up the routine

There are things you will have to give up

See it to achieve it

Washing the dishes

Write slowly

A celebration of the pause

Monday, a run through the driving rain

Zen accident

Get out of your comfort zone

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

The Weekly! October 4-10 2021

My current goals

I am so close to wrapping up the first draft of the novel I am working on now. Let’s see…can I elevator pitch it yet?

Three women who were close in college are all at points in their lives when they need to take charge of their own stories and make some changes. They see each other through social media, which is a false and isolating view. Through their stories, we see how it might be possible to subvert the passage of time and bridge distance to restore friendship.

That’ll have to do for now. I haven’t even finished the damn book. My goal right now is to finish by the end of October, then spend National Novel Writing Month working on a new short story collection and submissions. I know, it’s not the program. It’s been a lot of years since I followed directions in November. My goal will be two new stories per week and six submissions. This blog update is forcing me to pin that down.

The routine

So far, fall writing has gone well for me. I’m up at 4 am, in bed by 8 pm. There are sacrifices I have to make in doing that, such as less time in the evening and just less free time in general. While the siren song of more leisure time on weekdays does call me at times, I keep reminding myself that this is a choice I am making so that I can pursue my passion. Other people sometimes say to me they don’t know how I do all the things I do, i.e. how I work as a teacher and still have time to write, take yoga classes, and go to the gym. It’s not magic. It’s a schedule, discipline, and a lot of sacrifices.

It helps that I am no longer drinking. Wine is a major time-suck, plus it mucks up your mood and energy. I’m on my second read-through of Quit Like A Woman, a book that finally spoke to me in a way that felt true to me about alcohol.

Last tidbits on how I’m making time

Sometime early pandemic, I found a new writer’s group online. That group is working well for me. It is one of times I am happy to Zoom these days. That group, guitar lessons, and an occasional “coffee date” or tarot reading with a friend.

My goal this week is 5000 wc, write two blog entries, submit three stories.

As for the blog posts, I’m hoping to shake things up a bit here. I’ve got years of posts motivating you to make time and I will keep talking about that, for sure. I’m also going to be posting more creative non-fiction this year as a themed experiment of mine. I’ve got themes lined out for every month, and I hope to post once per week. What’s the October theme? Stay tuned…

Want more inspiration?

Interested in hiring me as a coach to get you boosted with your writing goals?

 Find free resources and information here.

Some past posts to keep you making time: 

Adjust your pace accordingly.

It’s about the routine and how you shake up the routine

There are things you will have to give up

See it to achieve it

Washing the dishes

Write slowly

A celebration of the pause

Monday, a run through the driving rain

Zen accident

Get out of your comfort zone

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

It’s been a pandemic. How’s the writing coming?

It’s been a while since I’ve written any words of encouragement here at Make Time. I suppose just making the time has been all I can do. The idea of making time took on new meaning for me during the stay home orders of this pandemic. Time became this new resource that I suddenly had a lot more of. To be honest, at first, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I eventually found ways to fill all that time. The usual writing, reading, and movement (especially yoga), but I also got better about practicing guitar and started lifting weights. 

What I find most remarkable is how because I was no longer moving around in space as much (busy, busy, busy!), I found new space for self-reflection. I hired a life coach for a few months to help me with that work. I’m still the same old me, but I have learned to be kinder to myself and trust myself a little more. It’s an ongoing process. 

My writing plan for the school year is Monday to Friday, getting up at 4 am to do the work. This means going to bed at 8 for me, but it’s worth it because there is just no denying that morning is the best time for me. My mind is fresh and I have solitude. I’m working on a novel now that is slow-doing. I’m just about 30,000 words in and this is the work that I’ve been doing during the entire pandemic. 

The novel alternates between three points of view and at one point I decided to pull out two of the perspectives and just focus on one. I wasn’t happy with how that changed my story, so I’ve since put the other perspectives back in, plus added some flashback bits. I’ve also got a short story collection simmering on the back burner. I’m working with Home as a metaphor for inner peace and making connections between the literal physical space we call home and feeling at home in our bodies. 

I did publish two stories from another collection. You can read “Hungry” at Adelaide Literary Magazine and “Desire” at Penumbra Online.

I found a new writer’s group online through Inked Voices that is working well for me. It’s a small group and we use that platform to submit pages and give written feedback, then we also Zoom every couple of weeks. I haven’t been a fan of Zoom teaching, but I do appreciate being able to meet with writer friends from all over the country and go to my guitar lesson two minutes after I finish tossing the stir-fry I made for dinner. 

I will keep writing here about this extremely lonely work of making time to create in spite of the fact that you are often your worst enemy and the world doesn’t make it easy either, but I also hope to write here more about other aspects of my life. Such as, the fact that I’ve had a mostly booze-free summer and am feeling really good about that. Such as, I love to cook and am vegan. Fitness is an important part of staying balanced for me: yoga, running, weights, walks, etc. Such as, I’ve got some true stories to tell here. Point is, I’m letting this little blog grow. I’ll still be here with my encouragement and advice for getting focused and getting words on the page, but I won’t only be talking about that. 

This blog is not going to be a blog for you if you’re looking for advice on how to write a bestseller so you can quit your day job and write all day. I’m never going to talk here about canned plots, meta-data, or even finding an agent or getting published. I do aspire to get my work out in the world, and I do care about some topics related to that question about how to get published and be successful. This is not my main focus, though. I’m never going to quit my day job (well, until I retire) and what I want to talk about here is far more interesting to me than those practicals. What do I want to talk about here? How do we focus our distracted minds to get deep in flow? How do we keep writing when we get stuck? How do we renew our faith in ourselves as writers? How do we allow ourselves space to play and write whatever without self-judgment? How do we refill our creative wells? How do we write what’s true instead of avoiding it? Questions like that. 

If you’ve read this blog before, you probably already know that I am a high school teacher in the daylight. We just started a new school year, masked and in person. Having started last year on Zoom, I’m leaning in hard to the opportunity to connect to kids. I’m also taking some risks in the curriculum that involve more creative writing tasks. I’m emboldened as a teacher and a writer when former students come back and say things like they’ve held on to the poems they wrote in my class. This is just what a former student said to me the other day when I responded to the news that her book would be coming out early next year. I am of course delighted that the subject of this book is a topic near and dear to my heart, this blog, my own novella. If you are reading this, I hope you too pre-order a copy. 

Interested in hiring me as a coach to get you boosted with your writing goals?
Find free resources and information here.
Some past posts to keep you making time: 
Adjust your pace accordingly.
It’s about the routine and how you shake up the routine
There are things you will have to give up
See it to achieve it
Washing the dishes
Write slowly
A celebration of the pause
Monday, a run through the driving rain
Zen accident
Get out of your comfort zone

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

In case you need a reminder to keep going. I know I do.

I’m 25, 000 words into my novel, and I’m stuck. Worse yet, self-doubt is finding it’s way in despite the traps I’ve laid to catch it and snuff it out before it can take root. It’s the usual shit that can creep in during a first draft. Is there even a plot here? How will this all even come together? No one but you is going to find these people at all interesting. This is going nowhere. Why even waste your time? There are so many better books out there already. Stop embarrassing yourself. 

So, this morning I am reminding myself and you that the first draft is simple about persistence and pushing through all of this bullshit designed to stop you. Simply trust that whatever needs to be fixed can be fixed later. Do your best right now to get your characters from beginning to end. Stay connected and committed to the story you felt compelled to tell and, for now, don’t worry too much about the future. 

I am reminding us both. Now, go set a timer and get some words on the page. Today and tomorrow you may feel like you are crawling one word at a time through enemy territory, but you’ve got to focus on the words and keep going. 

Interested in hiring me as a coach to get you boosted with your writing goals?
Find free resources and information here.
Some past posts to keep you making time: 
Adjust your pace accordingly.
It’s about the routine and how you shake up the routine
There are things you will have to give up
See it to achieve it
Washing the dishes
Write slowly
A celebration of the pause
Monday, a run through the driving rain
Zen accident
Get out of your comfort zone

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!
woman at race finish line

Adjust your pace accordingly

A lesson that has been coming up for me again and again in various aspects of my life is the importance of paying attention and adjusting my pace accordingly. I’ve had some runs of late where I start to feel low on gas mid-run. As soon as that happens my mind starts to tell the story about why I’m too tired to run the full route. Maybe I didn’t eat enough or I didn’t sleep enough or whatever explanation my imagination can find for why that original feeling of low-energy means the run is over, I may as well start walking now. Here’s what I’ve started doing in those moments. I keep running, but I slow the pace and listen. I let go of my sense of urgency and expectation. Just about every time I do this,  I find my stride again.

I’m writing this to remind both of us that the same is true for writing. Lately I feel like I’m moving slow motion through molasses to even get a paragraph written. The longer this goes on, the longer my list of ideas and projects get. When this happens writing starts to feel like a chore that never gets done. Something responsibility that you have, but you have no time to do it in. I’m reminding both of us that writing is a choice and YOU get to set the pace. I heard a trainer say to someone at the gym the other day “you are not running a race” to get them to slow down the pace of each lift. 

This is true for writing too. You are not running a race. Be happy with a paragraph is that is what you get. It will be your bridge to the next sixth paragraphs tomorrow. 

If you’re like me, you drum up this sense of urgency. This desperate need to finish the book. For me, it’s about outrunning death, about meeting some imaginary timeline by which I should have accomplished such and such, but mostly about wanting to get through the difficult parts of writing as soon as possible. 

Here’s what I’ve noticed, though. When I slow my pace and listen? The work opens up. The writing is better. 

The picture I’m posting along with this blog entry is a photo of me at mile 26 of the first marathon I ever ran (2005). You might be thinking, but wait that doesn’t fit at all with your “you’re not running a race” analogy?! My only goal in that race was to finish with dignity. Endurance was the ultimate goal. Adjusting my pace is how I finished that race.

You are doing many other things while also trying to write and all of these things will impact your focus and energy. Adjust your pace accordingly. That will allow you to write through even the tough times, so that when your energy begins to flow again, you will be poised, warmed up, and ready.

Interested in hiring me as a coach to get you boosted with your writing goals?
Find free resources and information here.
Some past posts to keep you making time: 
Adjust your pace accordingly.
It’s about the routine and how you shake up the routine
There are things you will have to give up
See it to achieve it
Washing the dishes
Write slowly
A celebration of the pause
Monday, a run through the driving rain
Zen accident
Get out of your comfort zone

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

It’s all about the routine–and how you shake up the routine

It is about making a schedule and sticking to it. It’s about getting up before everyone else and setting aside all distractions to get to work. It’s about stopping at the coffee shop on your way home and claiming those two hours before you go home to your family, really claiming them. Not taking texts during that time. Deep-diving into that single focus during the time you have set aside for you and your work. It is about that. And yet, you will feel impatience because that time goes faster than you think and that goal you made is taking longer than you thought. When you feel that impatience coming on, you might be tempted to throw up your hands in defeat and take up binge-watching as a more suitable hobby for you. Why not shake up the routine instead?

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Set your alarm for fifteen minutes earlier than you already do.
  • Take one weekend and drop everything from your schedule except writing. Turn off your phone, and dive into a virtual retreat. Don’t make coffee dates, skip the Saturday appointment at the gym. Just for one weekend–single focus. Try this once a month if you are feeling particularly motivated toward progress. Here is a link to my virtual retreat form to help you get your goals lined up for this weekend. More forms available on my coaching page.
  • Make easy meals or do a family fend-for-yourself week and write during the dinner hour. 
  • Write during your lunch hour every day for a week. Reward yourself for your commitment at the end of the week. Plan the reward in advance and follow through with it. 
  • Try using audio memos to talk through your ideas when out walking or doing housework. Yes, you will look like you’re talking to yourself, because you will be talking to yourself. Own your crazy. 
  • What ideas do you have? I want to know. This list is for me as much as it is for you. 

Happy writing this week, my writer friends! 

Oh, and here’s a free Pomodoro timer to keep you honest. When you hit that timer, do just that one thing. Ah, ah, ah–put that phone down. Just that one thing. 

Interested in hiring me as a coach to get you boosted with your writing goals?
Find free resources and information here.
Some past posts to keep you making time: 
Adjust your pace accordingly.
It’s about the routine and how you shake up the routine
There are things you will have to give up
See it to achieve it
Washing the dishes
Write slowly
A celebration of the pause
Monday, a run through the driving rain
Zen accident
Get out of your comfort zone

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!