Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Frustration IS the Process

I recently read two very different books that both emphasized one very similar point -

Stress, frustration, feeling stuck or lost...this is the creative process.

It's something you have to go through to get to the good stuff. We all want to find an easy, step-by-step process for creativity and art. But it doesn't exist.

A solid process is great for the act of research, scheduling your writing time, and goal setting, but when it's just you and the work, it's pushing through the questions and uncertainty that lead to creativity.

 So don't give up. None of us have this figured out. We're all in it together. Keep working.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

How to Focus

It seems so easy, doesn't it? You need to write that term paper, edit the chapter of the novel you're working on, or finish your taxes. It has been on your to-do list all week. But things keep getting in the way. You get busy, someone interrupts you, or you sit down to work on it and you just get stuck. What do you do?

1. Use the timer on your phone. Tell yourself you're going to work on it with complete focus for 5 minutes. Don't allow yourself any distractions for the full five minutes. If the doorbell rings, ignore it. Turn your phone off. You can do anything for five minutes, right?

2. When the timer goes off, congratulate yourself. Getting started is by far the hardest part. You did it!

3. Do you have another five minutes in you? Yes? Reset your timer and do another five minutes.

4. You hit a point where you feel that tug that tells you to stop. You want to check your Facebook, refresh your email, get a snack. You have an unexplainable urge to google the song lyrics you've been wondering about. Take a deep breath and identify what triggered that feeling. Did you just run into a question you couldn't answer? Are you experiencing self-doubt? Once you recognize what's causing you to want to quit, it has less power over you. If you have a pen and paper nearby, write it down.

5. Keep going. Can you press through the rest of the five minutes despite the resistance you feel? Yes! And every time you overcome this resistance, you're making it a little easier to overcome the next time.

6. Do you think you can do more? Reset your timer for 10 minutes or 15 minutes, but try to keep the intervals short enough that they seem easily attainable. We want your brain to think - Pshaw! That's easy. I can do that. Not - Whoa! Let's go watch those cat videos on youtube again.

7. Keep going. You've got this.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Making a To-Do List

To-do lists are great. Writing down our plans for the day is useful, but is it enough?

Have you ever made a to-do list and then only accomplished the easy stuff, leaving the two or three big, important tasks untouched.

Here's one tip for a good to-do list:

Make your list the night before. Make sure you put some kind of limit on each item. If it's small, like paying your electric bill, you can complete the whole thing. If it's editing your novel, you'll need to put a limit on it such as, spend 30 minutes editing or edit one chapter. Make it small enough that you can do it in one sitting. If you need to, sprinkle several of these smaller tasks throughout the day.

Then number your list in the order you plan to do it. Do this the night before. We tend to be more optimistic about how we'll feel the next day and will put the more important tasks up front. If you wait until the next day, they easily get pushed further down on the list. Make sure to mix some easier tasks in with the bigger, more difficult tasks to give yourself a break.

The next day, you don't have to come up with the willpower to convince yourself to work on the important stuff. Just start working on your list in order.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

One at a Time

What's one thing that will derail your goal faster than anything else? 

Taking on too much. 

Why do resolutions fail? Because we usually make three or five or ten. That's a list of wants and wishes, not a goal with a strategic plan. 

Try this. Make a list of things you would like to accomplish. Maybe it's losing weight, getting organized, volunteering, and writing a book. 

Now, pick one. 

Yes. Just one. Mark everything else off the list. 

Now, make a list of strategies to make that one thing happen. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, you might list things like, take up running, go to the gym, eat healthier, give up desserts...

Okay. Let's take it a step further. Pick one thing and mark everything else off the list. 

I can hear the groans. It will take too long! I want results now! But we all only have so much will power to go around. Focusing on one thing increases our odds of achieving our goal.

So if you go to the gym, focus this entire month on getting to the gym three times a week. No matter what happens, that's your number one goal. If you happen to eat a little healthier too, great. But your only goal is that one thing. 

Next month, now that going to the gym is starting to feel like a normal part of your routine, choose one more thing to add. 

Now imagine how your life might look different this time next year. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Release - The Wedding Barn

I'm excited to announce that book #2 in the Taste of Texas series is now available:
The Wedding Barn Cover
In book two of the Taste of Texas series, Julie Jarnagin invites you to slow down and experience life on a rural Texas ranch. And fall in love, all over again…
Paige Morgan’s career is in shambles. What kind of wedding planner gets left at the altar? So when a job planning parties on a ranch in rural Texas comes her way, she jumps at it. So what if the cowboy who runs the place isn’t happy she’s there?
Rancher Nick Reid risked his heart once… and lost. Who needs love? He’s got a great life on the family ranch—so long as Paige Morgan and her city ideas don’t ruin it all. If only his family didn’t need her help to save their livelihood. And if only he wasn’t so darned drawn to the woman. But no sooner does Nick start to believe in love again, than a socialite shows up looking for Paige. Asking her to plan an elaborate wedding. Back in the city.
Both Paige and Nick need a second chance at love. But what will it cost them to take it?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy 2016!

Dear readers, I can’t believe another year has passed. It was a wonderful year full of blessings, which included finding new readers and writing new books!
2015 Highlights
2016 Excitement
  • The Wedding Barn will be released later this month
  • I’m working on a brand new series
2016 Goals
  • Learning to spend more time being still and quiet
  • Getting better connected with You, the readers
  • Reading more
  • Spending more time outdoors with my family
I hope this has been a great year for you. I’m praying for blessings and good things to come to you in 2016!