Tag Archives: writing careers

Happiness Project Update 6: Get a Grip! You’re Not Single Anymore, It Takes 90 Minutes.

11 Jul

While still working on the aiming-high-career-path section of my happiness project, I realized that even though I continued having periods in my life that truly sucked, I’ve learned that I can have moments of peace during the chaos and this brings me momentary happiness.

I reached the Phil Jackson kind of Zen. But it’s not like I’m in an 80s movie and I’m living the happily-ever-after-roll-the-credits moment.  But I’m momentarily happy and that’s important when you’re taking it day by day.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

So when applying this day-by-day philosophy to my writing career, I took a good piece of advice from Rubin’s book and her section on career.

Work Smart. It’s not mind-blowing, I know. More like fortune cookie mentality, but sometimes fortune cookies are awesome.

Carving out time to be productive. This proved to be difficult when I, mother of two always working a double-parenting shift, barely had time to take a shower. But it was just difficult, not impossible.

Rubin mentions that as I writer, it was hard for her to set aside a good chunk of time, four hours, to write and this made her feel frustrated and inefficient.

Holy Crap! Me too.

I thought finally someone who gets that I need a couple of hours to get going and then begin my storytelling process. But then Rubin went on to explain that sometimes in that four-hour block, distractions appear and she doesn’t really use the four hours.

I’m guilty of that. I don’t know how many times I’ve decided to clean up, wash dishes, and put away toys during my writing time. I mean aside from the fact that I’m a little Howard Hughes, and I need a clutter-free environment to work, sometimes I go beyond that scope.

I decide to rearrange the clothes, which are not even in the same room. I decide that my car needs to be washed, or the toilet needs to be scrubbed. All great chores, but not really within my work space.

Procrastination is a writer’s Kryptonite. I’ve often been exposed to it. Sometimes too much when watching USA Network, FX or AMC.

So during this analysis of time and trying to be more productive, Rubin revealed her secrets. She did better when she had less time — like when you’re on deadline. You feel a rush. You feel the pressure, but you still have a surge of creativity, because you know your time is limited.

But let’s not get crazy, it’s not like you’re feeling the pressure of a college final either. It’s 90 minutes in your home — probably in your Costco sweats making a dent in your couch, with sandwich in hand. The only pressure you have is you — you and your crazy writer mentality.

These 90 minute intervals were the plan. At first I might have thought that wasn’t enough time, but once again if you know your time is limited, you’re going to use every second.

Then I thought about it in sports terms and it made sense. I mean if you’re trying to lose weight, be a better tennis player, swimmer, or triathlete and you workout 90 minutes every day or even every other day, you’d probably be on the cover of Shape Magazine with no airbrushing needed and winning all kinds of trophies in every division.

So as hectic as this ride is, I realized it was chaotic because my expectations still hadn’t been adjusted. I was living in my single-chick mentality. When I was single, not married, no kids those four-hour blocks came in abundance. Now that I’m living the adult life, I can’t find four-consecutive hours by myself on a weekly basis to save my life. So I decided that my four-hour expectation needed to be dumped. I thought I would try Rubin’s 90-minute interval strategy and see how it would work out in The Guat World — the you’re not single anymore world so stop thinking you have all this time.

I don’t know if that will make me crazier or happier, but it will sure make things different.

Stay tuned, we’ll see what happens.


My Happiness Project Update 5: Still Aiming for That Six Percent and Tina Fey.

5 Jul

Six Percent.

Somebody just threw that stat at me the other day. Six pinche percent. I don’t know where they got that number or whether it was an accurate study. Some disc jockey threw it out there in the middle of a one-hour commercial-free non-stop jamming session. And this person saved that information just for me.

Now, I don’t think it was the motivating you’re-one-in-a-million-kind-of-encouraging-you-can-do-it  sentiment that made them tell me. It was more of a as-a-matter-of-fact kind of statement. It was a I-don’t-know-if-you’re-aware-but-this-is-going-to-be-almost-impossible kind of statement.

Yeah. I was aware. I got the memo. No need to rub it in.

Image via Happiness-Project.com


All my fellow struggling writers know the percentage is low. But we have passion. Even when we get rejection letters at the end of the week and we drown ourselves in chocolate and Lambic Framboise we still have passion, it’s just regrouping.

And that’s the key: Keeping the passion and continuing to aim higher.

This was the next phase of my happiness project. As you recall, phase one dealt with my physical, spiritual, and mental wellness. Making little changes and sticking to my daily plan seemed to be helping me out. Now I wasn’t happy all day, everyday, but I had moments. And at the end of the day I tried to recollect these instances and hang on. Sometimes it worked, other times I turned to HBO as a distraction. I’m not crazy Mary Poppins happy yet, but I’m less miserable. And I wanted to apply that to another important facet of my life.

My career. Writing.

But you need a little misery for this gig. You need some of that to be a good writer. You learn to find the lighter moments during the crappy existences just so you can get through it.  At least that’s what I tell myself when I’m at the bottom — trying to squeeze out that juice from those lemons life left for me. But you also need sweetness, otherwise you just got cloudy lemon water and not lemonade.

One of the ongoing sour moments has been my failure in reaching the sixth percentile. The Successful Writer. The published one, or the one that sees her spec script on television. Either dream is fine by me. Both would be awesome. But let’s not crazy, I’m not Tina Fey … yet.

In order to get to six percent and Tina Fey status, I needed to continue fueling energy, creativity, and discipline. Well I also hear that luck and opportunity meeting at the same time rocks your career world. But I have yet to be at that intersection. I keep missing the bus.

So I’ve decided to concentrate on these factors — the ones I could control — during phase two of my happiness project. It’s only understandable that your career should be something that you’re happy with, you spend a lot of time doing it, might as well be happy right?

But I’ve already taken step one and I didn’t even know it at the time. I’m well on my way to the creative part. Even before I read Rubin’s book, I started a blog. And I know it’s only been about six months, but I can tell I’m a better writer now, than I was six months ago. Writing every day challenges my creative juices, and being challenged only makes you a better writer. So blogging has already helped me in phase two.

However I’ve got to get those creative juices into my fiction and press forward with finishing my second novel. The first one has yet to be published, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be. Just gotta keep trying. Aim high, right?

But the second novel, the one I’ve been working on for a while … that one is more me. And the creative juices must continue working on that. I can’t get to six percent, unless I finish, right?

Mission this month: Career. Aim High. Six Percent High. Tina Fey High.

How do I get there? Objectives.

This week’s objective: staying creative.

How am I going to do that?

Keep on blogging, so far, so good. It’s helped fine tune my voice. It’s also helped me live a little more so that I have something to write about. It’s helped me dig deep down into my adolescent and college experiences. It’s helped me use life — the good, the bad, and the ugly — in a more creative way. Sometimes bringing humor.

Step two: Write a chapter once a week so that I can finish the novel and start getting new rejection letters.

Step three: Keep reading blogs. I’ve discovered so many good writers out there. The more I read, the better I become. I remember my own experiences and flashbacks. This becomes the fuel for new stories.

The more I read, watch, and live, the more creative I’ll be … at least that’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes.

Stay tuned.

Giddy up!