Thursday, January 22, 2015

Work and Play, pt. 1

Our monthly meeting took place a week ago. What a meeting it was! SCBWI WWA's first gathering of 2015 met––and exceeded!––our wildest expectations, as our speakers addressed two competing states that wrestle each other constantly in our attempts to carve out creative lives as children's book writers and illustrators.


The WORK side was exemplified in the wonderful "Nail Your New Year's Resolutions" talk by author Laurie Thompson. "Work" is about staying on task. Work isn't drudgery, but obstacles distract and misdirect us at every turn, depending on our surroundings and our personalities. Laurie gave us all the equivalent of the Most. Encouraging. Inner Voice. Ever. Her tips for sticking to our Work, to staying focused, were stellar and memorable.

For those who missed it, Laurie has graciously sent her tips along for general broadcast:

First, I had to make some confessions… 

Confession #1:
I hate New Year’s resolutions! According to productivity guru Michael Hyatt, 25 percent of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after one week—60 percent do so within six months. The average person makes the same New Year’s resolution ten separate times without success. Depressing, huh? I prefer to think about goals!

Confession #2:
I proposed the talk not because I’m a productivity expert, but because it’s something I struggle with every single day. In fact, one of my favorite ways to procrastinate is to study ways to be more productive! (I love 99u. You might want to check it out, too, when you’re not too busy!)
Next, I shared some of my biggest productivity challenges, and a few of my solutions for each, including…

1. Low energy: The run/rest cycle is important—honor it, and don’t forget to BREATHE, HYDRATE, EAT, MOVE, THINK, SLEEP.

2. Overhelm: Break things down into smaller, more manageable pieces, make lists, and prioritize ruthlessly.

3. Distraction: Unplug, go somewhere different, use focus blocks (Pomodoro technique).

4. Perfectionism: Set a time limit/deadline (Write or Die, NaNoWriMo, etc.), get support (beta readers, critique group, agent).

5. Fear: Envision success, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, and remember that the more scared you are, the more important it probably is.

Finally, a few of my favorite tips:
1. Dream big, plan small. Have great big goals so your eye is on the prize, but keep your tasks—the steps to achieve those goals—simple and easy.

2. Make time to review and reflect on the past, and plan and prepare for the future. I do twice daily to-do list checkups, a year-end review, and a 5-year plan. (But these are all guidelines. We need to stay flexible!)

3. Build in rewards, gamify things, and remember to schedule and prioritize self-care.

Some additional resources I didn’t mention at the talk, but am adding in here:

Check out former SCBWI-WWA faculty and member Deborah Reber’s new book, DOABLE: THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO ACCOMPLISHING JUST ABOUT ANYTHING! Yes, the target audience is teen girls, but it’s a fantastic resource and I know everyone can benefit from her excellent advice about how to get clear on what your goals really are and then see them through to completion. I can’t recommend it enough. Also, all of the 99u books are fantastic, as is pretty much their whole website. If you don’t know about them, you should.


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