Ten Strategies for Organizing Your Writing Life – Part 3

As a review and reminder, the strategies I’ve shared so far are #1. Take Time to Get Clear, #2. Read and Research, and #3. Plot Out Your Time Line and Communicate It.

The next strategy is: #4. Have a Personal Action Plan and Prioritize Your Days

Henry Ford said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

Once you are clear on your project and have developed timelines and communicated them, break the project down into bite size pieces. Set goals. If you’re writing, decide on a specific word count that you’ll meet each day, or an amount of time you’ll spend each day, week, and/or month. If you’re still reading and researching; plan on a specific amount of time you’ll invest in those activities. Choose how much, how often, and when. And once you make a decision on what to do, stick with it, yet be flexible. Have a plan, but go with the flow. 

To counter the feeling of being overwhelmed; again, be flexible. In terms of prioritizing your days, make sure you know what’s most important to be accomplished each day to move your writing project(s) forward. To the extent you have the flexibility, organize your time to support your natural strengths, and accommodate your weaknesses.

If you’re a morning person it might feel like a relief to get the hardest tasks done first thing in the morning. However, if you are more mentally alert in the afternoon, let yourself ease into the day by competing your less demanding tasks first. Then get to the tougher ones once you’re feeling more hardy and clear headed.

Henry Ford put it well when he said, “Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”  

Two weeks from now I’ll share some specific ideas on how to physically organize your work. See you then! 🙂


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Ten Strategies for Organizing Your Writing Life – Part 2

Continuing with strategies for organizing your writing life… 

#2. Read and Research

Put aside time to read and research before you begin writing, and as you work on your project. Search the Internet, talk to family, friends, and neighbors. Listen. Interview people. Read books, articles and newspapers. Visit the local library. Librarians have a wealth of information at their fingertips and are eager to assist. Also, you can borrow a book and learn if you really want it. Then if you really want it, get it for a good price on Ebay or Amazon. Reading and researching can provide you with great writing tools.

As Henry Ford put it, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

#3. Plot Out Your Time Line and Communicate It

If you’re working alone, sometimes you don’t have to be specific with your schedule and timeline. There’s more flexibility, but it’s still important to schedule your tasks. If you’re working with others, it’s more important to assign tasks and deadlines.

Yet, there is a balance. Learn to get past the Wonder Woman or Superman Syndrome and delegate. Learn to let go of controlling situations and outcomes. Don’t micromanage projects. Be openminded and willing to approach tasks in different ways. 

Make sure everything is communicated well. Often “message sent is not message received.” Get in the habit of summarizing other people’s ideas to make sure you have understood them. Also, summarize who will do what, and exactly how and when you’ll move forward with the project.  

If you’ll need time to ponder, and for other people to edit, give input, or review your work, make sure to schedule extra time for those activities. And if you’ll need time to revise or do additional research on a particular subject, build that into your timeline as well. 

Wishing, hoping, thinking and talking about projects won’t get them done. Set time limits on brainstorming. Move past procrastination. Set goals and timelines, and stick with them.

Henry Food summarized working with others well, “Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

I’ll continue with organizing your writing life, strategy #4, next time.

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Ten Strategies for Organizing Your Writing Life – Part 1

Writing can be a pleasure; it can also be a pain. For inspiration, I’ve featured Henry Ford quotes in this series of blog posts because…

“When Henry Ford decided to produce his famous V-8 motor, he chose to build an engine with the entire eight cylinders cast in one block, and instructed his engineers to produce a design for the engine. The design was placed on paper, but the engineers agreed, to a man, that it was simply impossible to cast an eight-cylinder engine-block in one piece.

Ford replied, ‘Produce it anyway.’ ” 

Sometimes writing can be really challenging. You can get stuck and frustrated and silently scream, “Can I really do this?” Follow these strategies — each with an inspiring Henry Ford quote — and they will hopefully guide you painlessly through the process.

#1. Take Time to Get Clear 

Don’t rush into writing. It may end up muddled, and waste time. Slow down a little and first get clear and specific on what you want to create. This applies no matter what the project may be, or whether you’re working alone or with others.

There are a variety of strategies you can use to “court clarity.” Take a walk, meditate, practice yoga, or plant a garden. What do you use? If nothing; what could you develop? This strategy is about finding the balance between being and doing. Once you’ve spent some time in “being” mode, dig in:

Think, then DO. Ponder, then act in a focused and clear way.

Henry Ford said, “The way to learn to do things is to do things. The way to learn a trade is to work at it. Success teaches how to succeed. Begin with the determination to succeed, and the work is half done already.”

 I’ll continue with Strategy #2 on my next blog post. See you then!

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Treat everyone you meet like God in drag” Part III

IMG_2043Ram Dass said, “Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.” On my last blog post I linked this phrase with the Transactional Analysis concept of operating from your internal Adult, Parent, or Child. Although this way of looking at things originated in the 1970s, it is still very relevant today…

The Parent inside is your belief system. It’s the stuff you learned from others. It’s your conditioning. The Parent can be helpful in making sound decisions. The problem with it is that it can be very critical and judgmental. Remember the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons on TV? They sounded like “Waa Waa Waa.” They said stuff you wanted to tune out. The Parent “entity” inside of you is that thing, and it’s probably less likely to see the divine, or God, in people than the Adult or Child ego states. 

The Child inside of you is a set of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are based on needs that you had as a child but weren’t met. As you get older, you continue to try and meet the needs of the child within you. This can create a lot of conflict depending on what those unmet needs were. The best part of the Child inside is that it contains a lot of creativity, joy, and energy. Operating from the joyous child inside, you could probably recognize “the Great Creator” (or however you view God) shining within a person, no matter what they were wearing or doing.

The Adult inside is based on what’s happening right now. When you are able to be present in the moment, and fully listen to another person, you are probably operating from the Adult. This internal state would likely grasp the Great Spirit (or again, whatever your concept of God) inside another human being. 

If spirituality interests you, and if seeing God in others is something you aspire to — as I do — then pay attention to whether you’re coming from your Adult, Parent, or Child, and look for the best in others.

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“Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.” Part II

Screen Shot 2012-06-01 at 7.58.07 PMI have a friendship, like most friendships, where I feel uncertain of its nature. Though it is quite a good friendship, in some ways, there are serious downsides. Ram Das said, “Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.” Well, if everyone I meet really IS God in drag, and I really treat them that way, what would happen? Should I just be accepting? But, then where does the “courage to change the things I can” part come in?

Well, I’m not certain about the practical application of the Serenity Prayer; it’s a little puzzling. For example, in this particular friendship, it sometimes feels like I am in the seat of a vehicle, and the driver is a child. Children are not supposed to drive cars. Adults do. Sober adults drive cars best, really. 

It feels like I am in the backseat of a car, and it is lurching and and swaying, just like it did when I was a child in the back of my alcoholic father’s car, as he drove home from a family party. Scary and in the dark.

However, I am not a child. I am not a victim any longer. I have a voice. And I am speaking up about how it feels to re-create this scenario in my life. Not good.

In the old, fabulous Transactional Analysis model (Psychology from the 70’s). They used the paradigm of “Adult,” “Parent” and “Child.” For me this is a very relevant model, even today; and one worth applying to understand the source of behavior. It goes like this:

The Parent is an ego state that is a set of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors based on others ideas that we learned. It’s the past.

The Adult is comprised of a set of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors based on what is happening right now. It’s the present (a gift).

The Child is similar to the Parent in that it’s based in the past. It’s often in a chronic perpetuating cycle to try and meet the needs of the unfulfilled child. It is often, and indiscriminately, running the show. 

I’m going to write about this more next time. For now my work is to see to it that MY Adult is making good choices. That way, I can most readily embody the “Treat everyone you meet like God in drag” statement.

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“Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.”

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 3.33.54 PMRam Dass said, “Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.” 

I love that quote. It’s such a great reminder. And in the same spirit: Treat everything that happens to you as a gift from God.

I have had problems with anxiety since I was a kid growing up amidst alcoholism. For example, I was having anxiety in the form of panic attacks occasionally when driving. During meditation I realized the source was my dad driving home drunk from family parties. I was in the back seat, terrified as the car lurched and swayed.

Alcoholism is a disease and a form of insanity. It’s very hard for children to deal with it in a positive way. I don’t blame my father for the disease he had. He did the best he could with the conflicting circumstances in his life. My saying is: It may not be your fault, but it’s your responsibility.”

Identify the source of your problems, and then go solve them.

In that spirit, I spent this past weekend taking an intense, transformative workshop in New York. It was a powerful — and sometimes painful — experience. A lot of people who were there were definitely God in drag. The trainers were, too. One of them told me that instead of judging my anxiety negatively, I would be better served if I looked at it as my teacher. Cool. My new mantra: Anxiety is my Guru. 

Ram Dass sums up my weekend experience best: “I would say that the thrust of my life has been initially about getting free, and then realizing that my freedom is not independent of everybody else. Then I am arriving at that circle where one works on oneself as a gift to other people so that one doesn’t create more suffering. I help people as a work on myself and I work on myself to help people.”

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