Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Review of 20,000 Days and Counting


In last week's post I mentioned that I had heard about a new book that claimed thinking about your life in terms of days, rather than years, could change your whole outlook and help you achieve more. Interested by the idea I ordered a copy right away and it arrived on my doorstep yesterday morning, just as I was wondering what on earth I was going to post today. It must be fate!

20,000 Days and Counting

Author: Robert D Smith 

Backcover Copy

Most people measure their lives in years.
But how would our thought processes change if we measured our lives in days? On the 20,000th day of his life, Robert D. Smith decided to put this concept to the test. He spent the next 48 hours planning his next 20,000 days - and walked away with life-changing information.

Through a combination of captivating storytelling and step-by-step instructions, Smith reveals a simple plan that will allow you to master your life, starting right now.

My Thoughts

The author does state on his website, and at the start of the book, that it was designed to be read in an hour, so I knew the book would be short. However, when I first picked it up I did  momentarily think "This is it? This is all I'm getting for my money?" That didn't last long. The fact that it can be read in an hour (I read it in a few snatches of time while my toddler was pre-occupied) is actually a big bonus, because I know that it is a book that I will pick up and read again and again over the course of my life, maybe even several times a year when I need a bit of a boost. What you get out of this book is worth far more than the price.

The style is conversational and not only do you feel you get to know the writer but that he really is looking out for you and wanting for you to 'get' this new way of living. It feels very personal.

This book has indeed given me a whole new outlook on my life and what I want to achieve every day. In fact, I achieved more in the day I read it than I had done all month. It really is inspirational and I heartily recommend that you all go out and buy it or loan it from the library.

Today I am 11976 days old. I see 12,000 days as being my next milestone and I want to be able to celebrate on that day and see that I have changed my life for the better and I intend to spend the next 24 days putting everything I have learned into practice.

Rating: 5/5

How many days old are you today? Take a look at the website therobertd.com to find out more about the book and use the simple online tool for calculating your days and see what impact that number has on your life today.

Come back and let us know in the comments how many days you have been alive and how discovering this number has affected you. What is your next milestone and where do you hope to be by then?

Monday, 28 January 2013

Slay Your Own Resistance


“On the field of the self stands a knight and a dragon. You are the knight. Resistance is the dragon. The battle must be fought anew everyday.” - Steven Pressfield

Knight
Image courtesy of mac_filko / flickr.com

Some days you wake up full of ideas and can't wait to get to the keyboard. Other days, not so much.

Today I was definitely in the 'not so much' category. I already had the majority of this post worked out in a brainstorm, all I needed to do was write it up and give my thoughts a bit of cohesion. Despite that, I still spent most of the morning avoiding writing it and was even contemplating just posting a list of good quotes and promising to do better next week. Then I read the quote above once more and realised I was in the midst of this battle myself and I needed to win. I needed to stop thinking about the act of writing so much and just start.

Resistance can take on many forms, such as fear, time constraints, stress. But what we need to understand is that the resistance is actually a part of ourselves, we have created it. And if we have the power to create it, we also have the power to destroy it.

We need to question ourselves, find out why we are resisting so much and so hard. Are we bored? Stuck on a particular scene? Have we lost interest in the project?

Writer's can be a lot like children; they don't like having to do things they don't enjoy, they are easily distracted, their minds wander and invent great excuses for not doing things. When my son is in the throes of a tantrum and refusing to do something I have found that the best trick/method is a combination of distraction and making something interesting. Make the chore into a game. With that in mind, here are a few techniques I have found useful when I need to slay my own resistance:

  • Work on something else. If the project I am meant to be working on just is not holding my attention, for whatever reason, sometimes working on something else for a while will give me the space I need to then go back to it later, feeling refreshed and ready to get on with it.
  • Word wars. I first came across this idea whilst doing National Novel Writing Month a few years back. The basic idea is that a group of you all agree to start writing for a specified time, and then post how many words you managed at the end. This can be fun and help unblock you because you are racing against the clock and want to beat, or at least not be pitifully far behind, the others taking part. It is a way of holding yourself accountable. You can easily find people to participate by searching #wordwar or #1k1h on twitter. I think they still run on the NaNoWriMo forums as well, even if it isn't November.
  • Timed writing exercises. Acknowledge that you are not in the right frame of mind and go easy on yourself. Say you will write for just 10, 15, or 20 minutes and that will be all. It is a lot harder to resist doing just 10 minutes. Set a timer and just start. Once the time is finished you can walk away and leave it at that or you can keep going. Very often you will find that once the hard part (starting) is over you are more relaxed and ready to write more. This is the method I used today.
  • Interview your character. If you are stuck with a scene or are not sure how your main character should be reacting in the situation you have put her in, interview her and ask what she is feeling/thinking right now. Don't have a rigid list of questions, just let the conversation flow across the page/screen and have fun with it. You may find by the end of it that you have solved the problem and can finally progress. You may not use anything that you have just written but it will help you get inside the mind of your character and that is always a good thing.
  • Write a letter to a friend. This is similar to the point above. If you can't think of where to go next with the story, or something just feels off about it, write down all your thoughts and worries as though you were writing a letter to a friend and asking for their advice. You don't have to actually send it, this is purely for your eyes only. Sometimes just writing the problem out can lead to a solution. 
  • Journal. Clear all the clutter that is rolling around inside of your head and dump it all out on the page of your journal (if you keep one). Sometimes we have so much going on in our lives that we find it hard to concentrate. Getting everything out can make room for the creative part of your brain to kick back into gear and the ideas to flow.
Each of these will get you writing, even if not directly on the thing that you were avoiding. Once you start, the creative juices may start flowing and you will go on to what you had planned. Or these exercises may have been exactly what you needed to unblock a story and get it moving again. If it doesn't get you back on the project, at least you can be proud that you wrote anyway, you conquered that resistance and got work done.

What methods do you have for tricking yourself into writing?

Friday, 25 January 2013

Weekly Inspirations #2


This is the second of what will become a weekly post featuring various things that have inspired me during the week. There will be snippets from my own writer's notebook, as well as links to any sites I have tweeted or re-tweeted. You can read #1 here.

These Hands
Image courtesy of PhotoCo / flickr.com

In My Notebook This Week


Hands - Hands tell a lot about a person and the kind of life they have led. What if the protagonist notices the antagonists hands and feels something is off about them but doesn't click until later on that they don't fit with the job he claims to do or the backstory he has given them? For instance, they are clean and well kept but he is claiming to be a mechanic, when she gets talking to a mechanic later on she notices how dirty and callused his hands are. These little telling details can be so important and help to flesh out a character. I have discovered a great site for helping with description called The Bookshelf Muse, they have a thesaurus for physical attributes (such as hands), another for weather, as well as settings, character traits, symbolism and more. I can highly recommend it.

Unusual sky - Between the hours of 9pm and 10pm the sky outside kept changing colour. It started off a deep orange, then went almost black (like it should be that time of night), then a sickly yellow to an almost lime green. The colour changes were due to the snow and fog that kept coming and going, but what if there was another more sinister or supernatural reason?

100 resolutions - I read a blog over on sar-rah.com that suggested making 100 mini goals for the year and I really like the idea. If I ever get around to writing one I will post it on the blog.

11967 days old - Robert D Smith has written a book called 20,000 days (see here). He claims that measuring your life in days rather than years can change your outlook and help you accomplish more. This idea really interests me and I have ordered the book. Once I have read it I will post a review.

Suicide hotline - This tweet had my imagination going into overdrive, there are so many avenues you could go down with this one. Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious American serial killer,used to work at Seattle's Suicide Hotline crisis center, in 1971 from @What TheFFacts

Melting snow - The snow has finally stopped and the 7-8 inches of soft white stuff is slowly starting to melt and reveal all the unpleasant things people have dropped or failed to pick up (certain dog owners I'm pointing at you). What if the melting snow revealed something more gruesome? A body at the side of the road, possibly covered accidentally by a snow plough? A severed human head inside that of a snowman?

Tweeted Links


Inspiring/Motivating

Are You Ambitious Enough For Success? |by Chad Howse on Addicted 2 Success  

Worth a read?: A Quick Lesson In Miracles   

What Are Your 18 Things? Blogfest  via 

Overcoming The Fear Of Setting (And Not Reaching) Goals @dancoachcreative 

do you know Irena Sendler? you should by  , everyone should know her name & what she achieved

How to Live a Legendary Life | Be Legendary by 

Who Am I?:  via  Good question

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Guide to Inspirational Copy

Put your personality unapologetically out there like a neon blinking sign of THIS IS WHO I AM.  

 confession, a challenge, and movie references in this latest post: Unexpected Lessons |  

30 Inspiring Dr Seuss Quotes  Definitely need to keep number 15 in mind when I 

How to Rock the World and Achieve Greatness as a Creative Person


Writing/Blogging

How To Get To The Root of Your Procrastination 

Brian Clark on Writing, Productivity, and Sitting Down to Dinner with William Gibson  via 

What's your theme? WOW! Women On Writing Blog 

"Some very good things have been written on an hour a day. . . "  

Query Critique CONTEST & Interview w/ Literary Agent, Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown Ltd!  

RT : Body Language Cheat Sheet for Writers helps you avoid clich├ęd emotional descriptions:  

Interview with YA Author Sandra Cox     

A Sense Of Inspiration by  

RT : Worth a read?: Why You MUST Keep Your Eyes On The Prize   

RT : At The Window Again   via

Friday Speak Out!: Remember to Read, guest post by Mary Caffrey Knapke 

Write Your Life's Script: How Great People Plan Their Life | Be Legendary 

My Favorite Writing Advice ~ Inspiration Has To Find You Working - 

Operation Awesome: Starting a Novel from Scratch 

Do you keep putting your writing off till tomorrow? Read Start now by   

Discover lightning writing   

Blogging for Authors and How You Can Help 

Dean R. Koontz And 5 Things Every Genre Story Needs -  - 

Paperback Writer: Writerisms Ten  very funny

It's A Library Thing!  Inspiration, pride and fond memories.   

 5 Top Tips For Approaching Book Reviewers by Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer  

 9 Twitter Basics You May Not Know via  

How to Monetize a Blog  via 

5 Tips to Create a Page-Turning Plot by @JEFISHAM guest posting on Mystery Writing is Murder  

Monday Question: WTF WIP? via  

RT : Writing, Running, and Saving Oneself from Lunacy.  Guest post on 's blog.

OneWord 60 Seconds: Sound  via 

3 Ways to Change Your Thinking Today by 

Excerpts from "How to be Perfect" by Ron Padgett via  Love this

Behold My Cringe-Worthy Blogging Fails (and Why They Don't Matter) by  

The Other Side of the Story: How Do You Teach Writer's Instinct? By 

Goal-Keeping from the Greats -  

Dear Abby: Writing Exercise - Los Angeles Mystery via 

 This is my inspiration for today. It just might work :D 

"Welcome to the World of Writing: My Advice for New Writers" New post    

10 Things To Do Before You Give Up On Your Dreams - Guest Post by Gideon Stevens - Archived Blog Post  

Good  RT  "How To Write Without Thinking - Seven Sentence Tips" | 

How to write when you can't get motivated  

4 Areas of Mental Focus for Writers - 

Enemies of the Art Part 1--Approval Addiction  via Really struck a cord with me 

"The Best Kept Secret To Being Original" |  |

50 Simple Ways to Build Your Platform in 5 Minutes a Day via    

Sympathetic Characters Part 3: Noble Souls via 

Writer Unboxed » Can Acting As If You’re a Writer Make You a Writer? Via  

CALLIHOO Writing Helps--Feelings Table  Need a better word than 'happy' to describe a character's feelings? Useful table

"The Most Important Blog Post I've Ever Written" | SHARE |

"What is your mind like when you sit down to write? How do you tame it so that you can write?" 

 Want to write an ebook? Do it in a week 

Characters Who Surprise Us by  

Brilliant interview RT  "I deliberately seek out books that challenge my worldview."  

Look Again—Writers Doing Nothing 


Quotes

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

"Have the courage to be who you are and pursue it with passion. Be different. Be bold. Embrace your ambition." David Howse 

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” ~John Steinbeck

RT : "Respond to every call that excites your spirit." ~Rumi

"If you want to write, write. This is your life..."  

"Words need to be crafted, not sprayed. They need to be fitted together with infinite care." ~ Norman Cousins  

"If a sentence, no matter how excellent, doesn't illuminate your subject in some new & useful way, scratch it out."~Kurt Vonnegut

It's hard to beat a person who never gives up. -Babe Ruth

So true RT  "It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else." - Erma Bombeck

I need to stick this one to the side of my screen RT Nothing will work unless you do. - John Wooden

"No matter where you go or what you do, you live your entire life within the confines of your head."Terry Josephson - Especially

Don’t get it right, just get it written. JAMES THURBER  

"Keep writing, keep faith in the idea that you have unique stories to tell, and tell them."-Robin Hobb 

So true RT  "The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." - e.e. cummings


Pictures/Funny/Cute/Other

best animal photobombs ever… | clayzmama says……  Brilliant

the cutest faces EVER…no, seriously….EVER! | clayzmama says……   They really are 

Adorable pic 

Famous Wrong Predictions – How Could They Be So Wrong!!!!!!!–Seven Sentences  

Ha! What an idiot RT  Football fan caught on camera reveals 1) He's an idiot, 2) He's an idiot who c... 

Heh heh —> How many writers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? via 

Laugh Out Loud Life Lessons: Week 2 w/Yours Truly  

15 Perfectly timed Photos from @wherecoolthingshappen Some of these are hilarious, all of them are amazing.

Curiosities: Cats Don't Care  Funny and cute 

10 Beautiful Frozen Lighthouses  Stunning and a little creepy


What have you written in your notebook this week? Have you read anything inspiring or helpful, or just plain funny? Share in the comments below or contact me directly, I'd love to here from you.