Happy Halloween and Happy PiBoIdMo Eve

It’s Halloween!

As someone who makes her living in theater I love seeing people’s costumes. I’m terrible and I confess to giving pencils to teenagers who don’t wear costumes. Reading the Huffington Post story What You Need to Know About 6 Foot Trick Or Treaters I might start passing out little costume pieces to these kids- a mustache, a pirate eye patch, something these kids can add to their hoodies to score more candy at the next house.

 

I also love dressing up my cat.

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But it’s not just Halloween. Tonight is the eve before PiBoIdMo or NaNoWriMo. Do you have all your ideas ready to go?

I’m listening to a Katie Davis’s Brain Burps podcast for some inspiration before PiBoIdMo starts. Today’s episode features Tara Lazar, the fearless creator of PiBoIdMo. I loved hearing about her inspiration for PiBoIdMo and what she would give everyone if she had a magic wand.

Today I plan on decorating my PiBoIdMo notebook.

Today may also include a trip to the library to load up on picture books.

 

 

Ready for PiBoIdMo

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I love that November is a time for challenges.

Last year I signed up for NaNoWriMo. I actually did pretty well and made it halfway through my project before life intervened.

This year I am planning on participating in Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo.  Sign ups started today!

30 picture book ideas in one month.

Believe it or not I am not saying to myself, “This will be easy. You’ve written 1667 words a day for NaNoWriMo before.”

Actually I think this might be hard.

As a 12×12 participant I sometimes find myself struggling to come up with something to write about some months. Some months I write a picture book draft that is just no good or just doesn’t work out. Often those are the months where it has taken me a long time to come up with an idea or subject to write about. One that is unique. There is nothing like working on a draft and then finding out there is already a book similar to yours out there.

This year I’ve spent more time researching nonfiction subjects because I enjoy the research part of learning about a real person or event that took place.

I’ve also been looking in new places for inspiration. For example one week I found a National  Geographic magazine in the crew office. Between stories of heroic dogs, puffins, dinosaurs, and ufos my imagination was sparked. I might need to get myself a subscription to this magazine in the future. For now I just buy a copy whenever I feel like I need a little extra inspiration.

Now the only problem will be waiting until next week to start.

Tough Love or Operant Conditioning

Several weeks ago I bought a ukulele.

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It is purple and sparkly and I can already play recognizable versions of La Vie En Rose, All About That Bass, Happy Birthday, and Me and Bobby McGee. I am still working on a respectable version of Wagon Wheel.

But this post isn’t about how I’m clearly a ukulele prodigy. It is about the amount of time I spend strumming away at this instrument that some people consider the musical equivalent of the recorder. The other day I spent 90 minutes playing. 90 minutes.

I don’t want to be too hard on myself because I did spend 90 minutes playing a musical instrument and not 90 minutes playing Plants Vs Zombies 2 but still that was 90 minutes I wasn’t writing.

In some ways it is good. I love to write about music and some of the characters I write about play instruments so getting to experience the feeling of strumming my way through a Jason Mraz song is only going to make my writing better but not if I abandon all writing practice in favor of playing my ukulele.

I totally get why I would choose ukulele time over writing time. I seem to be progressing fairly well considering that six weeks ago I’d never played a stringed instrument before. I also have no aspirations that I will someday support myself with my ukulele playing skills or record a CD of my singing songs I’ve written on my ukulele. But I had a thought- What if I matched my ukulele time with my writing time. If I wrote for as long as I wanted to uke for?

So, starting this week, tough love, or as my friend who is getting her Master’s in Psychology calls it Operative Conditioning. From here on out I earn ukulele time by writing 500 words= 30 minutes of uke time. Hopefully this will help me keep my writing time balanced with all the other things.

Have you used operative conditioning to reward yourself for writing?

 

Knowing Your Audience

Sometimes when I read author bios at the end of the book or on a writer’s about page I am always impressed with the jobs we do that aren’t writing.

While part of me kicks myself for not going into a more lucrative career path, like investment banking, I know that all the waitressing, lifeguarding, amusement park working, swimming lessons teaching, and of course working backstage have given me great opportunity to work with people, to observe people.

It is the observing people that makes me good at the jobs I’ve held.

About a year ago I took on a job as a lifeguard and swimming lesson instructor to make up for less money coming in at my full time job. It has meant less time for writing but it has also helped my writing.

As a swim lesson instructor we mainly teach kids how to swim and tailoring lessons to different age groups and presenting material to the children in an engaging way has improved my writing.

When I sit down to write a picture book draft for 12×12 I have a better idea of my audience and the need to write in an engaging way for that audience.

In my job as a swim lesson instructor we engage the children’s imagination, we get them to answer questions, we let them shine and show off their knowledge.

Usually I leave swim lessons full of ideas of how to make something work better in my writing.

Does your day job make you a better writer?

 

Expanding my skills

For the past year or so in my journey towards publication I have had the feeling like I am on the cusp of something good happening.

As I keep track of my progress submitting my manuscripts in my Spreadsheet of Rejection I’ve noticed that several agents have taken the time to give small tidbits of feedback.

Since agents are people who open a million emails a day getting an email that feels like someone has read my story and liked something they saw enough to send a bit of advice/encouragement my way is huge. I hear agents speak at conferences. I’ve seen figures of the numbers of submissions vs. the number of requests vs. offers of representation. Knowing these figures has made these morsels of encouragement mean even that much more.

So feeling like I am on the cusp of something awesome happening has also made me think “How can I use my writing to support myself so I can write more?”

Much of this last year has been dedicated to finding the answer to that question. This spring I took an online copywriting course and I quickly found clients in my group of friends. I am currently taking a copyediting course to hone my skills in that area as well.

Since taking those courses I’ve gotten a lot of emails for offers on how to make six figures as a writer and live the life I’ve always dreamed writing from the comfort of a lounge chair on a beach wearing flip flops. As a Vitamin D starved Minnesotan who lives for the three months of the year when I can wear flip flops these offers are insanely tempting. Yes, I want to write on a beach! But, these emails have that to good to be true feeling. Always proceed with caution when someone offers freedom from shoes.

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When I got an email from Julie Hedlund on How to Make Money as a writer it felt different. See, I trust Julie. This is my third year doing 12×12 and the community she has created is amazing. I knew I had to take this course.

Julie’s email didn’t promise six figures or freedom from shoes. The lessons in this course are extremely helpful. So far the lessons have been a kick in the pants to reevaluate my website(still not sure the future of my previous blog) and include the services I plan to offer as a freelance writer on my site.

While my goal is to be a wildly successful children’s book author I feel like her advice is going to be helpful not only in marketing myself as an author but also as I help some of my clients spread the word about their businesses.

A New Blog

This isn’t my first blog. I’ve been blogging for years at Kiwi’s Life but I feel like it is time to create something that represents the writer I am now. Starting with something that uses my name.

See, back then I took a blog that I already had where I blogged about knitting, crafts, my cats, my life and just started writing about writing.

But I wanted a place where everything could be in one place. A place where I could build an author platform and promote copywriting services as well as write about writing. I may try to eventually move posts over from Kiwi’s life or I may leave everything there.

I’ve always felt like blogs, profiles, etc are like pets or plants. They need to be nurtured. The need to be tended so that they can grow. This is why I don’t go about creating blogs willy nilly (although it may seem like I do).

So I’m still figuring out what to do about my old blog (transfer posts or leave it where it is) but for now it would be nice if everything was in the same place and easy to find and follow.

Cheers!