Monday, January 30, 2017

How to Listen for Inspiration

Writers have "The Muse." Runners have "endorphins." Call it inspiration, motivation, or habit. It's all the same thing really. Today's inspirational thought or motivational message has nothing to do with habit (more on that in a future post), and everything to do with this quote.

"Words make you think thoughts, music makes you feel a feeling, but a song makes you feel a thought." - Rob Kapilow || famous quotes | inspirational writing quote | somewhere over the rainbow

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere over the pages of your books or the pavement under your feet, you have no doubt felt the endorphin-filled Muse enter your soul. "Words make you think thoughts, music makes you feel a feeling, but a song makes you feel a thought." I just love this quote by Rob Kapilow, composer of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Writing, when in you're in the zone, takes on a music of it's own. In the middle of a good run, you feel the lightness of your feet, the rhythm of your breath, and endorphins conducting a symphony all their own. I don't know about you, but inspiration (not necessarily for new story ideas) comes to me most often through songs.

Choose a Theme Song, or Two...

I have a lots of favorite songs and I love to dance. Mostly in the privacy of my own living room. So when someone suggested to find a theme song for certain tasks, I took notice.

So, have a song for jazzing me up when I do live webinars. I have a song for hunkering down and getting to work, whether that be writing or more business-y marketing type stuff. I have a whole playlist for running. And another playlist for Quittin' Time, songs that make me want to stop working and get up and dance.

If you're having trouble creating productive habits, perhaps you should try grounding the action with a theme song. Or if you struggle with motivation to get something done, like go for a run? Theme song! Try it!

Finding Inspiration Through Other Means

Okay, so maybe music just ain't your thang. That's okay. Here are a few other ways people receive inspiration.

Ways to Get Inspired

  • Nature
  • Exercise
  • Journaling
  • Music
  • Reading
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Dreams
  • Brainstorming
  • Friends

What inspirational method speaks to your heart the most? Gardening? Traveling? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Friday, January 27, 2017

Episode 11: Do It Anyway, Even If You Only Have 20 Minutes

This writing tip will help you be more consistent in your writing. Fight procrastination by setting aside 20 minutes a day. Over time, you'll be amazed at what you've been able to accomplish.

How to Be More Consistent in Your Writing: Do It Anyway || writing tips | author advice | running | how to be a writer | writer inspiration

How to Be More Consistent

The trick to fight procrastination when you'd really rather only have 30-40 minutes or 2+ hours to write or go for a long run, is to "Just Do It." You only have 15-20 minutes? Do it anyway!!! Little steps more often add up to more growth over time. Do it anyway.

Set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes. How much did you write? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Writing Exercise: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Other Fantastic Tales

Looking for a fun writing activity, prompt, or exercise? If you've ever read one of Laura Numeroff's books from her famous "mouse series," then you'll know exactly how to do this exercise. I love the entire series by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond:
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
  • If You Give a Moose a Muffin
  • If You Give a Cat a Cupcake
  • If You Give a Pig a Pancake
  • If You Take a Mouse to School
  • If You Give a Dog a Donut
  • If You Give a Mouse a Brownie
  • If You Give a Pig a Party
But today, I give you a list of *new* potential titles for a fun writing exercise.

Writing Exercise: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie || writing exercises | writing prompts | activities for writers | writing humor

Circular Tales

The idea behind a circular tale is that the story ends where it began. In If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, the boy gives a cookie to a mouse. The mouse asks for a glass of milk. He then requests a straw (to drink the milk), a mirror (to avoid a milk mustache), nail scissors (to trim his hair in the mirror), and a broom (to sweep up his hair trimmings). Next he wants to take a nap, have a story read to him, draw a picture, and hang the drawing on the refrigerator. Looking at the refrigerator makes him thirsty, so the mouse asks for a glass of milk. The circle is complete when he wants a cookie to go with it. Now let's see if you can do it too!

Writing Prompts

My daughter and I were being silly one day and inadvertently stumbled upon creating this list for the universe to enjoy. Even if you write YA fantasy, or adult romance novels, you can still benefit creatively from this exercise of creating a circular tale. Try it! You just might like it, Sam-I-Am.

Choose a "title" to prompt your writing for the day. Have fun!

  1. If you give a bear a biscuit, he'll want some honey to go with it. (My personal favorite!)
  2. If you give a frog a fritter, he'll want some fruit to go with it.
  3. If you give a dog a donut, he'll want a belly rub to go with it.
  4. If you give a zebra zucchini, he'll want some salt to go with it.
  5. If you give a cow some candy, he'll want a costume to go with it.
  6. If you give an octopus an orange, he'll want to juice it.
  7. If you give a snake a sucker, he'll want another one to go with it.
  8. If you give a fox a flapjack, he'll want molasses to go with it.
  9. If you give a fish a funnel cake, he'll want strawberries to go with it.
  10. If you give a toad some taffy, he'll want to a friend to go with it.
  11. If you give a lobster a lollipop, he'll want a song to go with it.
  12. If you give a chick some cheesecake, she'll want some cherries to go with it.
  13. If you give an ape an apple, he'll want some peanut butter to go with it.
  14. If you give a horse a hamburger, he'll want some cheese to go with it.
  15. If you give a shark some sherbet, he'll want a bowl to go with it.
  16. If you give a sheep some sugar, she'll want some kisses to go with it.
  17. If you give a wolf a waffle, he'll want some berries to go with it.
  18. If you give a yak some yogurt, she'll want some granola to go with it.
  19. If you give a pelican some pie, she'll want some pecans to go with it.
  20. If you give a pet a pickle, she'll want some ice cream to go with it.
  21. If you give a goat a grapefruit, he'll want some sugar to go with it.
  22. If you give a spider some spaghetti, she'll want some sauce to go with it.
  23. If you give a bug some bubble gum, he'll want some music to go with it.
  24. If you give a mole a milkshake, he'll want some whipped cream to go with it.
  25. If you give a rat some Root Beer, he'll want some ice cream to go with it.
  26. If you give a jellyfish some Jell-O, he'll want a jellybean to go with it.
  27. If you give a sloth some salsa, he'll want some chips to go with it.
  28. If you give a slug a smoothie, he'll want a straw to go with it.
  29. If you give a skunk a sweet potato, he'll want some cinnamon to with it.
  30. If you give a squid some sushi, he'll want some chopsticks to go with it.
  31. If you give a seal some strudel, he'll want some icing to go with it.
  32. If you give a hummingbird some hummus, she'll want some veggies to go with it.
  33. If you give a bunny some veggies, she'll want some hummus to go with it.
  34. If you give an elephant a peanut, he'll want the circus to go with it.
  35. If you give an elf a hat, he'll want Christmas to go with it.
Got another prompt? Even if it has nothing to do with animals... Share in the comments!

If you give a teacher some chalk... 
If you give a runner some shoes... 
If you give a writer a pencil...

Keep on keepin' on...


Monday, January 23, 2017

How to Create a Gratitude Journal

Inspirational quotes are so... well, inspiring! That's why I love sharing them with you! Today's quote comes from the famous actress, Roma Downey. "A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles." Let's take it a step further, shall we?

"A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles." - Roma Downey || gratitude quotes | gratitude journal | tips for writers

Start a Gratitude Journal

It doesn't have to be Thanksgiving, or even November, to have a heart full of gratitude and thanksgiving. What's the difference anyway? Gratitude is more about the feeling in your heart. Thanksgiving is about expressing those feelings outwardly. One way to do both simultaneously is to keep a gratitude journal. When you feel grateful for something, you'll want to write it down. When you write it down, you're expressing thanks for it. To create your own miracle magnet, start and keep a gratitude journal. It's easy!

All you have to do is get a notebook of some kind. It can be small or decorated; it doesn't really matter. But let it be especially for your thoughts of thanksgiving and gratitude. What I do is simply list 10 things for each day's entry. I try to let those 10 things be specific to that particular day. I usually don't include generic things that I'm always grateful for. Important things such as family, food, my home, friends, etc. I try to be specific.

For example, on 1-11-17, I wrote...
  1. it being Wednesday so I could serve on the line
  2. finding the paperwork and password for online login info for 401k
  3. Samantha being in a good mood
  4. taco salad for dinner
  5. my husband's sense of humor
  6. my new money mantra: "I can afford that. I can buy that. I have more than enough."
  7. Samantha filling out her own School Mall booklet so that I don't have to
  8. my banker
  9. 52 degree weather
  10. warm slippers to keep my feet cozy

What are you grateful for TODAY? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Friday, January 20, 2017

Episode 10: Help Someone Else

One way to help you get want you want is to help others get what they want. The legendary sales trainer Zig Ziglar once said “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want." While helping someone else may not be the fastest way to get what you want (ask, stop apologizing, persistence), it just might be the most fun.

How to Reach Your Writing Goals: Help Someone Else | author advice | writing tips | goals for writers

Help Someone Else

Sometimes the best way to help yourself is to help someone else. It's not really about getting what you want.

But if you're stuck and you don't know what you should be doing...
Or if you have too many problems to know what to focus on...
Or if you can't find your daily dose of joy...

THEN help someone else. If you help someone else up the hill, you'll get closer yourself. Helping someone should be about the other person.

Who has helped you on YOUR journey? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Anne Lamott on Productivity

If you've never heard of Anne Lamott, she's a National Bestselling American novelist and non-fiction writer. Her books include New York Times bestsellers Grace (Eventually), Plan B, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions, as well as seven novels, including Rosie, and Crooked Little Heart.

Among writers, probably her most well-known book is Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1995). She is widely quoted, including the quote as depicted below, "Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes... including YOU."

"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes... including YOU." - Anne Lamott | inspirational writing quotes | productivity | famous author quotes

Rest Days

Often times, we think of rest days being counterproductive. Or counter intuitive to our productivity. But really, they're not. In the fitness world, rest days are all the rage right now. Scientists have proven that a single day of a 20-minute foam rolling routine actually produces better results the next day. Most athletes know that rest days are essential to recuperate and repair sore muscles, and synthesize proteins. If you don't schedule in rest days, your body would always be in a state of breaking down.

For athletes, that shouldn’t involve merely sitting around doing nothing. The point is to help your body recover for your next workout. You can do this by getting a massage, stretching, or doing self-massage with a foam roller or "The Stick," a special type of massager that runners adore. Massage and stretches help to increase blood flow, range of motion, and eliminate toxins. By decreasing muscular tension, you can increase your ability for greater output in the days to follow.


For writers, you have to take rest days too. Children's book author, Jane Yolen, suggests doing character sketches, journal entries, title lists, or other such types of writing. Not every day has to be spent working on your novel. Remember to take rest days! Other types of rest for writers that can help increase productivity include physical rest and mental rest, not just writing rest, meaning that you DO something physical to take a mental break from writing. Or you do something you love to give yourself a mental break.

Physical Rest

  • Go for a walk or a run.
  • Garden.
  • Do chores.
  • Take a fitness class.
  • Go hiking.
  • Yoga or swimming.
  • Sex

Mental Rest

  • Go shopping.
  • Read a book.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Bake cookies.
  • Spend time with family.
  • Cook a new food/meal.
  • Take a trip.
  • Pray and/or meditate.


The point is to take a writing, or fitness, break. Repair the damage. Get unplugged. Rejuvenate. So that you can return to your work feeling refreshed and ready to put out more work. So that you can take that stubborn chapter to the next level. So that you can feel more productive. So take time every day, every week, every month to unplug for a few minutes. And when you get back to the work at hand, you'll be glad you did.

What do you like to do to unplug? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Monday, January 16, 2017

How to Write a Reverse New Year's Resolution

Whether you believe in New Year's Resolutions or not, whether you make them or not, you should consider reverse engineering. Buddha said, "No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again." This is true. But you can also look past the beginning to make it happen.

HOW TO WRITE A REVERSE NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION | "No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again." - Buddha | quotes about resolutions

In One Year and Out the Other

Yes, in one YEAR and out the other. Funny, I know (I didn't come up with it), but hopefully your years are filled with much, much more than empty promises and unfulfilled goals. THIS year, put your goals IN and let them continue going right into all the other years to follow.

Reviewing the Past

The first step is to learn how to review the past. Not so much in comparison to what goals you set and whether or not you reached them. Just review the past year. See how you did. Look at all the GOOD that happened. No downfalls allowed. No BUTs allowed. You wrote two new manuscripts? Awesome! Include it. Don't let yourself say, "But my goal was ten." That's not allowed.

What DID you accomplish? Did you land an agent? Did you revise a manuscript 20 times to near perfection? Awesome! Include that too. Did you attend a writing event? Did you run a new race? Did you take a fun family vacation? Did you overcome impossible odds? Overcome a bad habit you once had? In what ways did you grow, and learn, and achieve? Lay it all out there. You know you're awesome. Get it on paper. Or at least out in the open. Say it aloud.

Back to the Future

When you review the past, it is helpful to write it all down, but not necessary. But now we're getting to the nuts and bolts of how to write a reverse New Year's Resolution. And this part, my friend, you must write down. It has to do with dreams, goals, faith, love, happiness, feelings. It's like a vision board in words. Words make it even more real. Write a journal entry for December 31, 2017, as though it has already happened. That's the secret. As though it has already happened.

"Don't worry about the HOW, worry about the WOW," says Mike Dooley of Start your journal entry off like this, "This past year, 2017 (or whatever year you're doing this for) was the best year ever. I accomplished so much! It was amazing! I sold two books. It felt like I was on top of the world. Like I just finished a 2-mile run, but could have kept going for 10 more."

You get the idea. Have fun with it! Whatever your ideal life looks like, include that in your reverse New Year's Resolutions, as though it has already transpired. Whatever you want to have happen in your life, write it down. Don't write that certain things happened in certain months, just that it happened. Everything you write may not happen this year. But you'll be surprised at the end of the year at how much you did accomplish. Focus on the feelings of love and happiness and joy. How will each event, each accomplishment, each hurdle you overcome, make you feel? And that, my friend, is how you write a New's Year's resolution that won't leave you feeling like you gave up before the first day of Spring.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! What is one thing you would LOVE to have happen this year? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Episode 09: Yearly Writing and Running Rituals

What I really meant to say in the video is explained with more accuracy below. After all, they are completely unscripted and off the cuff.

Yearly Writing and Running Rituals | Do you know why you write? | writing habits | rituals for writers

Running Rituals

Every year, I look forward to going to at least two races that I plan a year in advance. My races of choice are:
  1. The Cooper River Bridge Run, a 10k in Charleston, SC at the end of March or beginning of April each year
  2. The Writers Who Run 5k/10k Race, in Fontana Dam each June
Having this race ritual gives me something to look forward to - and train for - all year long. Not that I'm training all year, mind you. But the dates are scheduled into my calendar. It's an experience I can't re-create on my weekly solo runs. These races are the highlight of my year, in terms of running. "So cool."

Writing Rituals

Just like the Canadian geese I mention in the video, when we have annual events we return to year after year, it's a way to return to our roots. My annual writing events are:
  1. The Writers Who Run Retreat in June
  2. The Carolinas SCBWI annual conference in September
These events are how I keep the ritual of writing and running alive all year long. The anticipation and excitement of creating your own writing or running rituals can help you stay close to the "why" of what you love to do.

What annual rituals do have in place? Share in the comments! #SOCOOL

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Win Free Tuition to a Writer's Retreat

Let me ask you a question. If someone gave you a free writing retreat, would you take it? If so, now's your chance to win a trip to NC! Of course, you'd be responsible for your own airfare.

Win a FREE Writing Retreat in NC | writer resources | conferences | retreats | trips | working vacations | contests

Rural North Carolina

Imagine being with 47 other writers... and making friends that you'll cherish forever. You'll explore the mountains and trails. You'll eat S'mores. Visit the Fontana Dam and take a tour of Fontana Lake. This place is magical. Who cares that it's 3 and a half hours from the nearest major airport?

Rejuvenating, Educational, Productive, Social

With 8 faculty members to meet and learn from, you'll be able to revise your manuscript with renewed vigor. Two roundtable critique groups will give you direct and specific feedback on your first two chapters. Each evening, we'll be social... with journal making, swimming, boat tours, and a book signing party and book character costume contest.

Adventurous, Thematic, Charitable, Braggable

Two-mile trail runs each morning. A themed race: dress up like a book character! Great views! And get a medal. BLING!

Who will you invite to come with you? Instead of sharing in the comments below, share the emails of three close friends when you sign up for the contest and get 10 extra chances to win!

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, January 9, 2017

What Top 3 Challenges Do You Face as a Writer?

This is an ongoing writing survey I began in 2016. I've gotten some excellent feedback so far, but would love to grow my reach to include more input. I'll update the data as we go along.

Top 3 Challenges Writers Face | writing tips | author advice | how to grow as a writer

Success Means Different Things to a Writer

I love the feeling of completing a first draft. It's like the Muse is your best friend. Unfortunately for writers, there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle of success, and writing a great book is just one of those pieces. What are your biggest writing challenges? I'd love to know your challenges, dreams, and goals!

Sign Up For My "Go, Writer, Go!" Newsletter

When you sign up for my newsletter, I'll share the results of the survey thus far. I'll start you off with an instant download of my most popular tip sheet: Six Surprising NON-grammar Writer Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Amateur Author AND HOW TO AVOID THEM.

During the first few weeks, I'll send you a "Go, Writer, Go!" message every few days. After the first few weeks, I'll send you an email about every 20 days. Not too much, but not just a few times a year, either. Write Wild!!!

What's your #1 writing challenge that you currently struggle with right now? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, January 6, 2017

Episode 08: Prepare for Progress in Your Writing and Running

So far in 2017, my goal of blogging two times a week has been successful for week #1. This week's insight focuses on preparing for progress. Enjoy the short video. As always, run safe and write wild.

YouTube video | writing and running | how to prepare for daily progress | careers for writers

What ONE thing can you do to prepare for your goals? 
Wear a long-sleeve shirt, a short-sleeve shirt, check the forecast? 
Have a list of questions ready to ask your dream agent?

Keep on keepin' on...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Round Up: Best Blog Posts of 2016 (Top 5)

If you saw my last post about my New Year's resolution, you'll know that I only posted a measly 21 times in 2016. I had wanted to do a Top 10 Posts of the year, but I don't have that many to choose from, so here's my 2016 Round Up: the top 5 best blog posts I shared with you last year.

5 Best Blog Posts of 2016 | writer tips | author advice | new year's resolutions | blogging for writers

This year, my goal is 2x a week. And one of those will be a video. Easy peasy, right? Hopefully!

  1. Types of Nonfiction in Children's Books
  2. What's the Difference Between Writing Workshops, Conferences, and Retreats?
  3. Classic Toys for Summer - 40 toys that don't require batteries
  4. The Top 10 Writer Myths of All Time
  5. 44 Reasons to Be a Writer

What is one of your goals this year? Share in the comments below!

Keep on keepin' on...


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