Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TED Talk Tuesday: Salman Khan Uses Video to Reinvent Education

First off, this dude knows everything. :) And is so funny!

Watching this TED talk brought some interesting things to mind. I love how this amazing huge learning community started as a few videos so Khan could tutor his cousins.

Khan talks about the importance of reducing the embarrassment of learning. Even now, even after years and years of people critiquing my work, I still feel that tug of shame when someone points out a weakness in my manuscript, especially when I think I should have mastered that particular skill by now. So, I get that. I get the exquisiteness of being able to learn privately, to go over something again and again until I own it.

And I love the parallels between this talk and John Green's, which also discusses the value of community video learning. (When super smart people start saying the same thing, it makes me take notice!)

What would writing novels (or Picture Books) look like if we could watch videos on all the components, at our own pace, with examples and practice? I would love a Khan academy on writing!

I think the applications he talks about for self-paced learning in the classroom is amazing, especially since in the new model (dare I say-- Common Core) kids do not move forward until they master a skill. Which is a great idea, but so hard in practice, unless a model like this is adopted.

This idea of humanizing the classroom has lots of implications. It may change how I think of what we do at the Writers' Loft.

Do you use Khan Academy? Have you taken any online writing classes with video as the means of giving information? Did you find it as useful as the Khan Academy model?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

TED Talk Thursday: Kelly McGonigal and How to Make Stress Your Friend

So, I first saw this post at The Styling Librarian's blog, so please, pop over there and give her some love!

It's an excellent TED talk, and one that I am using on a daily basis right now, as I manage my longer to-do list this year. If you see me around and I am mumbling "stress is good...this is good stress...stress is good..." please don't think I've gone off the deep end (yet).

So thank you to Josh Funk for pointing me in the right direction and thanks to the Syling Librarian for putting it out in the writing/reading blogosphere.

Love it when she asks us to trust ourselves to handle life's challenges. So powerful.

Interestingly enough, Kelly is the twin sister of my other favorite TED talker: Jane McGonigal. Would love to hang out at family dinner with those two!!

How do you deal with stress? Before this talk, did you view stress as a damaging force?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

TED Talk Tuesday: Alison Ledgerwood with Getting Stuck in the Negatives (and How to Get Unstuck)

I feel like I have to withstand a lot of rejection on a daily basis, and no, it's not what most of you are thinking. :) It's not from agents. It's much worse.

My kids are growing older and each day they find ways to reject me. :) Some of it is that good, growing up, we-don't-need-your-constant-guidance rejection and some is the hormonal, I'm-mad-at-the-world-so-I'll-start-with-mom rejection.

And, yes, as writers, rejection is a pretty common theme. And one that doesn't go away as you climb the success ladder.

Today's TED talk is about how our brains are wired to hold onto the negative and how it takes work to see the positive.

Take a look and see if you can identify:

I'm going to try to catch myself in the negative, and be more thankful for the positives. Because it's the only way I'm going to survive my kids' puberty. :)

And survive all the rejections.

How are you doing? Do you find yourself getting stuck? What does it take to you get unstuck?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

TED talk Thursday: John Green's The Paper Town Academy

Oops, the blog post title led you to believe that this blog post would be all about John Green's awesome TED talk about how community learning is alive and better than ever because of online communities like youtube? (You didn't think youtube was a learning community? Better skip down right to the TED talk.)

And this post is. It is about how John Green is so wonderfully meta and smart and *gets* how to inspire people and understands that what we put into the world changes the world.

But it's also about THIS ARTICLE on writerly envy, subject: John Green. (See how it all ties in?)

And I don't want to judge or shame anyone. Everyone is allowed their Feelings. And writing is such a tough industry--rejections all around, all the time. So, by all means, have the envious Feelings. But also know that there are ways to not wade into and get swallowed up by those Feelings.

With this perspective, our mental state would be so much healthier:

Courtesy of Aish.com

I think that video stands for itself. Without further distraction, here is John Green's fantastic and eclectic TED talk on paper towns:


I love how Aslo became something, just because people believed it already *was* something. :) Just makes you want to write, right?

Have you struggled with looking into someone else's bowl? Have you ever joined in the online learning classroom? I know it helps my research as a writer--what did writers do before the internet?!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

TED Talk Thursday: Jia Jiang and 100 Days of Rejections

As a writer, rejection is an every day occurrence. It's literally what you do with the rejection that makes the difference. And Jia Jiang found something fascinating to do--he decided to seek out rejections.

This TED talk is about what happened when he started trying to desensitize himself to rejection so he could succeed as an entrepreneur.

Does it sound familiar when he says that when he got the rejection that started it all, they told him no, but didn't say why they were saying no? I have to argue that the unknown quality of the rejection makes the rejection that much harder to deal with.

I like to think he started having some fun with rejection. :)

I love when he says he learned that when he opens up to the world, the world opens up to him.

And, how cool is Jackie?

Between Tuesday's TED talk on sharing secrets and this TED talk on rejection, do you have any rejections you are brave enough to share with us?

How many rejections do you think you have to endure before you get desensitized?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

TED Talk Tuesday: Frank Warren and Half Million Secrets

Writing at its best is the revelation of secrets. The deepest connections I've had with books were moments when I recognized something that I didn't realize about myself, and there it was, in words, in a book, written by someone I don't know.

Here is Frank Warren, with whom strangers trust their deepest secrets.

I think they are in good hands, don't you?

Some of these secrets gave me chills. Some made me laugh. But, in each secret I think about the people, the stories, the raw truth behind them.

I dare you to go to postsecret.com and not be enthralled. :)

Would you send him a postcard?

Do you save voicemails? I have one of my grandfather, who died this year.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

TED Talk Thursday: Seth Godin and the Tribes We Lead

Tomorrow, Friday, August 22nd, I am a guest over at the Writers' Rumpus blog, sharing the story of how The Writers' Loft got started.

In honor of tribes like the Loft, I turn to a TED talk about making change through building connections.

Seth Godin talks about how we change the world now through connecting with people who are true believers in whatever it is we are passionate about. I think it is an extremely hopeful, grass roots kind of movement, and one that we can all be a part of, no matter what our passion might be.

Check it out:

Can't see the talk? Click here.

What are your favorite writing tribes? What places do you go to when you need support?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TED Talk Tuesday: Andrew Fitzgerald with Adventures in Twitter Fiction

Summer has hit full swing at our house, which means swimming in lakes, playing at playgrounds, and a fun dose of Mario Kart. It also means bee stings, burns, and a black eye from an unlucky collision with a trapeze swing. :) Hoping my kids get their summer legs underneath them soon!

This is a great TED talk, today. I love the idea of exploring what tech is available to enhance and help us tell our stories. If this talk doesn't inspire you to create using social platforms--I don't know what will. :)

Andrew Fitzgerald works at Twitter, so he's very knowledgeable about the medium.

He says:
I actually believe that we are in a wide open frontier for creative experimentation, if you will, that we've explored and begun to settle this wild land of the Internet and are now just getting ready to start to build structures on it, and those structures are the new formats of storytelling that the Internet will allow us to create.
And then he gives examples of storytelling through twitter.

Can't see the TED talk? Watch it through this link.

Having fictional characters that engage with the real world? What a cool way to use twitter. What would your characters want to say to the world? Have you considered using social media to explore creativity?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

TED Talk Thursday with J.J. Abrams: The Mystery Box

So, I'm taking a writing class with the amazing Erica Orloff. A part of the first assignment is for us to think about why we write what we write.

J.J. Abrams starts out his TED talk the same way--talking through why he does what he does.

He starts painting a picture of his influences--a grandfather who opened up machines with him so he could explore what was inside, a love for magic, an assisting grandmother, and we start to see why he does what he does. We start to understand why he creates what he does. It's fascinating. But the talk doesn't end there.

J.J. explains that "mystery is more important than knowledge." And I see it--his perspective--in every show that he makes. The mystery is the ride.

And generally, mystery provides us with the hook to pull us forward in stories. Suspense is all about what you DON'T say.

The whole talk is marvelous, and he shows my favorite scene in Jaws (and the shark isn't in it).

Check it out:

Can't see the talk? Click here.

ROFL--"10 years ago, if we wanted to do that, we'd have to kill a stuntman." He's a funny dude. :)

Oh, and this:
I realize that that blank page is a magic box, you know? It needs to be filled with something fantastic....You know, I love Apple computers. I'm obsessed. So the Apple computer -- this computer, right, it challenges me. It basically says, "what are you going to write worthy of me?" I feel this -- I'm compelled. And I often am like, you know, dude, today I'm out. I got nothing. You know?
Of course, he's brilliant, and he breaks it all down in a way we can all can get to it.

Do you know why you do what you do? Why you write what you write? There is a great exercise for figuring this out in the beginning of John Truby's The Anatomy of Story.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

TED Talk Tuesday: Patrick Carman on Blending Books with Technology

Happy summer vacation! My kids are out of school and so we're going to places like the zoo and enjoying unstructured time. I asked them to put together their summer reading book baskets, mostly because I wanted to see if we needed to head to the library today or not.
Superman's basket (He's 10)
Cowgirl's basket (She's 8)
One of these baskets is more eclectic than the other. :) Both of my boys are what I would call reluctant readers, simply because they would chose to do something else rather than read, every time. My daughter will choose books over other things. 

So, I make sure to carve out time for my boys to put away the other stuff and read. And they do. But I also seek out specific books that would compel them to chose reading over their electronics. And that is how I discovered Patrick Carman (@patrickcarman), years ago. I read the ARC of Floors as a read-aloud, and we tuned in to Trackers as an awesome adventure with movie content on-line. That got me hooked--the movies that accompany and enhance the books are spectacular. So, I went off to read some of his spookier stuff on my own.

I love Skeleton Creek.

When my older son (Euphonium Boy) saw that series lying around the house, I let him know that he was welcome to read them, but that the online movies are a little scary. They are spooky, blaire witchesque things. My son was twelve at the time, an age which is probably okay with Skeleton Creek, except that my son is a little sensitive--he has an elaborate imagination. So, he said okay, didn't pick them up, and time marched on. His next year English teacher handed him Skeleton Creek, and he read it in the classroom, without access to the extra movie content. When he finished, he came home and asked to watch the movie clips with me. 

I looked at my tender thirteen-year old, and told him I would, but that he might be scared by it. Did he want to wait? He did not. 

We watched the first clip, and at the end, something jumped out at us. (Spoiler alert.) My son screamed, jumped back, looked at me with sheer panic in his eyes, yelled, I HATE YOU, MOM! and ran to his room. 

And, fright aside, we both still love Patrick Carman. 

So, for your viewing pleasure, check out his TED talk about why he developed interactive books and his smart strategy of meeting kids where they are. I especially love the humor at 9:09. Kids are funny. :)

Can't see the TED talk? Watch through this link.

I love his point that no amount of technology will save a bad story, and his perspective that 75% of books should continue to be what they are--books. But that 25% or so should be trying to reach the kids who would prefer doing technology with that technology.

I also blogged about Patrick Carman's cliff hanger endings here, if you want more of my perspective on his other kid-hooking methods. :)

Would you consider supplying additional book stuff with your writing, like online content, or an accompanying app?

What's in your summer reading basket? Right now, I'm reading the 6th book of the Mortal Instruments series.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

TED Talk Tuesday: The Puzzle of Motivation with Dan Pink

I had a whole blog post written for today, then I read it and deleted the whole thing. I'm blaming my rash deletism on this morning's school rush. On trying to get the kids out of the house. (Well, the problem this morning was that they were already out of the house--playing with neighborhood kids. Not getting ready for school. Or the problem was that I was writing a blog post while my kids weren't getting ready for school....)

Anywho. The first post was boring, so I deleted. Welcome to post two. :)

I'm always looking at and trying to learn from successful authors (you can decide for yourself what kind of success you want to study). For me, success looks like authors who get to keep writing books for their audience.

Successful authors all seem to have at least one thing in common--they treat their writing like a business. Revising without their ego in play. Writing without their ego in play. Well, doing everything without their ego in play. :)

Their business is to write books, so they do so. But writing is still a creative business. We often hear about the muse and writer's block and things that keep us from reaching the end goal.

So, we talk about creative confidence. And now we talk about motivation.

And, in this TED talk, we discover what the business world has missed in their pursuit of motivation. What makes someone do a great job at work? What makes you keep your pen to the page day after day?

What works as motivation might just surprise you.

Can't see the TED talk? Watch it HERE.

Crazy, that rewards dull thinking and block creativity. Did you see that coming?

And, if you didn't have time to watch the whole talk, I'll quote the most important part of Dan's talk here:
And to my mind, that new operating system for our businesses revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives. Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters. Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. These are the building blocks of an entirely new operating system for our businesses.
And, that's really great news, I think, for writers. Because we are largely autonomous. We don't clock in and out. We might have a support system, in the form of agents, editors, critique partners, but we get to say how, when and what we work on.

For most writers, mastery is built in to the system. We are constantly seeking feedback (critiques) and trying to figure out how to make the writing stronger. Nobody stops after a first draft. We revise. We edit. These are all built into the writing model.

And we have a purpose. Often as writers, we have a brand, and are trying to get across our world view to our audience. And each book has it's own purpose, as an extension of us, of our brand.

So, how can we enhance our motivation? If these things are built in, how do we continue to motivate ourselves?

Well, we make sure that we are giving ourselves time to do the writing. That we are being effective as autonomous bosses of ourselves. That our way toward mastery is always moving forward. Learn another way to fix that flaw in our writing. Seek writing partners who "get" us and our books. Have writing partners whose strengths are our weaknesses. Read books on writing. Use the internet. Take classes. Always be learning. And, remember to keep our purposes fresh. Know who we are writing for. Know why we want this book to be out in the world some day.

And, maybe, as I am on the rote path of finishing up a draft of a novel, I will spend 20% of my time just fooling around on something fresh and new. Because that will feed my next project. Or that will become my next project. Something zany and unlike anything I've ever written.

Do you give yourself 20% time? How do you motivate yourself when you are stuck? Are you surprised that rewards won't help the creative process?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

TED Talk Thursday: Building Creative Confidence with David Kelley

Recently, at the Loft, we've been talking about organization and productivity and about the personal practices that delay us in achieving our Epic Win in writing. (We planned a panel to talk about just that on July 23rd.)

But there is this other thing that keeps writers from writing, and that is an emotional, fear response, stemming from a lack of creative confidence.

Anyone who was lucky enough to hear Peter Reynolds (@peterhreynolds) read The Dot at #NESCBWI14 experienced how creative confidence could be inspired, rather than crushed--that moment when the little girl, sure that she is no artist, pokes her paper with her marker and shows her teacher who, in turn, tells her to sign it.

Just that. Sign it.

You are an artist. Take yourself seriously. Own wherever you might be on your writing journey and make no excuses for it. Everyone is somewhere, and you are here. You have every right to be where you are and love it. Just imagine where you can go from here!

Our job as writers is to grow our creative confidence, but I believe it is also to nurture the creative confidence in others. I've heard the horror stories. A writer who put their writing away for a year because a peer gave them a scathing, demeaning critique. Another writer who stalled out for just as long because their critique group's rules stated that they could only receive positive feedback, nothing that would promote growth and change.

But how do we do this? How do we cultivate creative confidence? David Kelley looked to a behavioral psychologist studying fears for the answer--guided mastery. Check it out:

Can't see the TED talk? Yeah, me neither. Blogger is finicky. Watch it HERE:

(We'll wait here for you!)

I love Dug Dietz's solution for fear of MRIs--I love the pirate ship adventure for kids!

So, how do we perform guided mastery for our writing process? It's about small successes. We need to acknowledge our small successes when they happen. Not berate ourselves because we are falling short of a polished, published novel.

I've been known to recommend treating our goals as a game (hence the Epic Win comment above).

And it's about getting that successful feedback from others. But I don't think that you can just ask any writer for that kind of feedback (I think it would be wonderful if you can!) you have to be selective. If you join a writing group, make sure they have clear critique guidelines.

Or take a writing class from someone who excels at creating successes in others. (Keep an eye on the Loft calendar--we are scheduling a revision class like this for the fall.)

And, make sure that when you give feedback, you are nurturing another writer's creative confidence, not destroying it.

If you enjoyed this TED talk, check out the other talks I've highlighted down in the sidebar of this blog->

Are you suffering a creative confidence crisis? What is the worst critique situation you've been involved in? Have you told anyone to sign their dot today? Why the hell not? :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Incognito No Longer

So, I've been MIA from this blog for a while.

Mostly because I have lost my voice. Not my Voice, that elusive thing all writers strive to achieve first and foremost in their writing, but my stand-on-a-soap-box-have-something-to-say voice.

And it's not at all that I'm NOT talking, but that I have laryngitis from talking so damn much.

I hate being in the spotlight. But right now, I find myself talking in front of people all the time at the Writers' Loft, and, omg, in front of almost 650 people at the NE-SCBWI conference a few weeks ago.

See, proof:
That's Natasha and myself, courtesy of Pam Vaughan, our rockin' conference photographer. Want to see more NE-SCBWI pics? https://www.facebook.com/events/271532143005675/?ref=br_tf
At the conference, I wrote down what I needed to say on the palm of my hand so I wouldn't forget in front of the crowd. Can you imagine what I'm going to look like next year as co-chair? I'm going to be inked up from head to toe!!

This is not a post about getting over fears. This is a post about being in a certain place in our lives where we realize that it is our job to risk things. To have faith that we will learn what we need to know as we live, and that people will forgive our shortcomings as we learn.

To have faith that if we put ourselves out there, on a daily basis, then we will get the things we need to grow in return.

What does it mean to put ourselves out there as a writer? To query agents or editors. To be honest at a crit group. To start a crit group. To turn the writer sitting next to you at a conference and ask them about their work. To reach out to a writer you've met online and ask them to go out for lunch. OMG, can I tell you how many of my friends I've met this way? I always started the conversation with, "this might sound weird, and I am not an ax murderer...."

What risks am I taking right now? More than I care to admit. But the thing about risks, is that you don't start with a ton of them. One leads to another which leads to another which leads to me covered in ink, evidently.

And, since I might not catch you on Tuesday, I thought I might link to a great TED talk by author Karen Thompson Walker about learning from our fears.  (I can no longer get TED talks to embed.)

What risks are you taking? Do you have vivid fears? Share with me!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Surviving the Slow Build of a Writing Career

If there is one lesson I've learned about building community and building a writing career, it's that both can be painstaking--because it's all about the slow build.

Not that The Writers' Loft community has grown slowly--we've been open just shy of a year, and we have over 60 involved members. But the way we have grown has been by word of mouth and by paying particular attention to each person interested in joining. We hope to not lose anyone through the cracks. It's definitely a slow-build mentality.

And, I am sure that there are other ways to do it, but if you are looking to grow your own community, the slow build is a way to make it rock solid. If you are building a blog, for example, (and subsequent blogging community), visit other people, comment on their blogs, show them that you want a relationship with them, and most likely, they will join in the conversation you're having at your blog. Does it take time? Yes. Does it build a supportive community that you can rely on? Yes.

Building community is about building relationships, which, by its nature is a one-on-one activity. A slow build.

I argue that building a writing career is about the slow build as well, which is why it is such a difficult profession to survive.

The slow build: You have to write. A lot. David Edding says, it takes a million words before you are ready to begin:
“... A writer’s apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he’s almost ready to begin. That takes a while.” ~David Eddings
Then you revise, you get feedback, you crit someone else's work (I learn the most about my writing through critiquing other's). Then you query industry professionals, and then you most likely start the whole process over again. Bird by bird, my friend.

So, how do you survive this slow build? By treating it like a game.

I'm serious. Jane McGonigal, in this stupendous TED talk, nails the ways to keep sane and motivated. *Blogger is preferring NOT to embed this talk right now. Please follow the link. We'll wait.*

Now, I've talked about this TED talk before. Why do I think that treating your professional writing career build like a game is so important in keeping you sane and motivated?

Because if gamify your career, you will:

1. Create an awesome writer identity for yourself. This is akin to fake-it-'till-you-make-it, pretending to be more confident about your writing self than you might be, and will tell you, in a nutshell, what your author brand is. Who do you want to be as a writer? In you writing game, YOU ARE THAT PERSON.

2. Collect Allies for your writing career. These might be your favorite tweeters, your mentor who posts on their blog each day, your crit partners, or anyone who is supporting you as you write/revise/submit/lock the ms in the drawer. When you reach out to your people, you feel much less likely like banging your head against your desk.

3. Give yourself positive feedback and and level up for all your small wins and each defeat of the bad guys. Constant high fives (with myself) throughout the day keeps me going. I don't pretend my writing is better than it is, but I do give myself credit for the small wins--writing 1k, revising a chapter, learning a new revision technique. Otherwise, it is way too overwhelming to think of writing a 75k book. And, I identify what obstacles stand in the way of these small wins, and defeat them. Procrastination, loss of confidence, feeling overwhelmed. Battle them. Show them who's boss. Level up. You are a better writer today than you were a month ago!

4. Keep focused on attaining the EPIC WIN. In gaming, you are never given a task you can't accomplish. I believe that if you put your mind to it you can accomplish your Epic Win. There are set-backs for sure. There are things that are out of your control, for sure. But, create an identity, collect allies, level up, and keep your eye on the prize, and you will be happier while playing the slow build game of writing.

I am using Jane McGonigal's app game SuperBetter to treat writing like a game. It's a ton of fun. Join me? Be an ally in my game!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year Writing Tips for When the Going Gets Tough: What I've Learned at the Loft

So, I was having lunch with a crit partner yesterday, and we were talking about possible workshops or craft chats for the Loft, and she mentioned wanting to do a chat about how to stick with writing a ms long enough to get to the end. I opened my big mouth, and said something like, "I've never understood why people have trouble getting to the end--that's never been a problem of mine." This friend is a multi-published author, and I had never seen her struggle to finish a manuscript. After a moment of her glaring at me, and perhaps mouthing a word that rhymed with itch, I backed up and we talked about it.

What she was saying is that writing is hard. And we all have our hang-ups. I have plenty of those. Plenty of things that get between me and writing "the end." While I do have a drive to always get to the end of a manuscript, I do find that writing is hard. Absolutely.

So, I thought of the tricks that help me write when it gets hard. And I thought I would share them with you.

Pip, the cat, trying to get into the car through the windshield. Talk about the going getting tough. 

1. Show up.

This is actually my goal in all areas of my life--perhaps I suffer from low expectations. :) I don't particularly know how to be an awesome parent, but I do know how to show up. I don't always know how to write the book that is in my head, but I do know how to open up that word doc. And when I open it up, I engage in the words.

2. Pair the dreaded activity (writing) with something awesome.

When the going gets tough, and you don't want to show up, give yourself a prize. I love drinking coke. No, love is not strong enough. I'm obsessed. Feel that it is something both medicinal and magical. So, if I don't want to write, then I crack open a coke once I show up in that word doc. :) (I leave a coke at the Loft, and it gets me out the door and to the office.)

3. Do it with a friend.

I exercise a lot. I'm not bragging here--it's just something I do. I do triathlons, pick up road races and generally am ready to compete at a moment's notice. And yet, right now it's freakin' cold outside. I don't want to go to the Y. Even though I've paired working out with a visit to the sauna, which is my favorite, I still resist this standard-to-my-life activity. It's SO cold outside. But when I receive a text from my friend, I can't not go. She's waiting for me and holding me accountable to show up. And when I show up, I work out. Magically. Medicinally. :) How do you find this for writing? Join Row80. The Blueboards. The Practice Room. NaNo (it doesn't just happen in November anymore). Find a crit group through SCBWI or some other writing community. Come hang with us at the Loft.

4. Still not feeling the desire to get to the end? Give yourself a deadline or a competition.

There are deadlines all over the place. Contests at Miss Snark's First Victim, or Cupid's site. Sign up for a conference, and note the deadline to submit something to be critted by an agent or editor. That's your hard deadline. Or, if you have an agent, you probably have deadlines built in to your schedule. Need help meeting your deadline? Join your friends in #1k1hr. Make showing up a game to be won. Join a crit group that demands pages every. single. week. That's awesome pressure for showing up.

5. Celebrate EVERYTHING.

Be kind to yourself. This is a long tough business. Celebrate things that are in your control. Celebrate showing up. Celebrate finishing a first draft. Celebrate a completed revision. And always celebrate the big stuff--even if it threatens to go by with minimal notice. Fourth book birthday? Have a nice lunch with a friend. That's how this whole blog post got started in the first place. :)

Speaking of celebrating, my oldest turned 14 this week. Look at all those candles!
So, what do you do when the writing going gets tough? How do you trick yourself into finishing a manuscript?