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Hacking the Mornings

It’s the best of time. It’s the worst of time. Mornings. At first you are still fogged but when you do wake up, the energy is tremendous. For me, it’s better than any other time of day. (Okay, maybe, anytime after a candy bar, but that’s too short-lived.)  Lifehacker has a great post on morning productivity: http://lifehacker.com/5537478/top-10-ways-to-upgrade-your-morning-routine

Let me tell you which ones I do:

#10 I am saving the morning more and more for writing and thinking. Even the morning walk with the dogs, if I have already written something, becomes a time for contemplation of character, plot, scene development and such. The trick is to expand that time of writing.

#7 Eat less at night. I’ve begun adept at the nothing after 9 PM rule and it’s usually yogurt or a piece of fruit just before then. So, check, eating right at night. I’m also trying to read more good fiction at night and let the writing percolate overnight.

#6 I’ve read so much about the distraction of email that I rarely go on now before 11 a.m. or noon. Micheal Lewis, in Vanity Fair, talks about President Obama limiting little decisions because they use up decisional energy. I think emails use up creative energy and focus energy. They splatter and splinter your mind with little tasks that seem to be more urgent when they come from others. So, no email  until the writing is done.

I will not try #4, no caffeine, but I may do #5 and cut back a bit and watch its effect. Some mornings without that jumpstart I’d watch birds for an hour (not a bad thing, but writing time is precious).

I’m going to try #2, push-ups first thing. I usually do a P90X2 workout in the morning, but I’ll try the push-ups first thing.

And I may try #1, figuring out my peak energy times. I think I know them – mornings, late afternoon, later evening. Now to maximize them.

Which seem like they would work for you?

40 Issues for an Aging Society: A Guide for Students is Live!

Just in time for the fall semester, we have 40 Issues for an Aging Society: A Guide for Students. This work introduces key issues affecting older persons and important challenges for the society. It’s available as a PDF -see below. (If it doesn’t open right away, use the link below to save it and then open it from your computer). It’s also available in the iBookstore for the iPad. The iPad version has more interactivity and includes short videos introducing many of the topics. Best news of all – both versions are FREE. Check it out. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to a free lunch today.

We give a little background on each of the 40 topics, and discuss the implications for the society. For most issues affecting older persons there’s a lot of information out there and we offer some websites to explore (links should be good for a few months – if they don’t work, try to Google the site). We also suggest some places for more research from academic sources where the student can obtain more scholarly information about the issue. Gerontology, as everything today, is about entrepreneurship and we present some brief thoughts on which business sectors may prove opportune for a career. The final section offers thoughts on policy and political controversies that may emerge around each of the issues.

The goal of the work is to help many people learn a bit more about older persons so that they can better work with elders to build a better society and  to assist those who need it. Enjoy. Let me know your thoughts.

40 Issues for an Aging Society

FREE Download for your ipad from itunes:
ITUNES: 40 Issues for An Aging Society: A Guide for Students

View PDF
PDF: 40 Issues for An Aging Society: A Guide for Students

Images

Snow on dogwood branches, sound plot, beautiful structure.

Snow on dogwood branches, sound plot, beautiful structure.

Articles

Expect much!

What do we expect from our writing? It’s a question we writers maybe don’t consider enough. Step 2 of the You’re in Charge – Now What? by Thomas Neff and James Citrin  is Aligning Expectations. A writer needs to set expectations as much as a CEO. Isn’t a writer the CEO of their own writing business?

Expectation 1:  I am looking forward to is the challenge of writing. I expect it will be tough and fulfilling. The act of creating an alternative reality by scratching little symbols on paper mesmerizes me. I believe in the power of words to change us, to soothe us, to save us. My expectation is to work hard and write better.

Expectation 2: I’ll engage other writers in discussions of how to write, what to write about,  the future of writing and of publishing. It’s a privilege to be connected with the fine writers we have in Richmond. Networking is not a strength for many writers, including me, but will give it a better go this year.

Expectation 3: I’ll produce a couple of good works of fiction in the next couple of years. I’m coming off the publication of The Bridge Over the Bering Strait so I’m realigning my expectations based on that achievement. What’s next?

Some readers have asked for a sequel. I admit the idea is intriguing. Here’s the other projects I’m thinking on:

  • The Shelter is a mystery novel set in Richmond, VA about murders in the world of the homeless.
  • Cuba (working title) is a historical novel set during the American-Spanish War of 1898.
  • We (my fellow writing group members and I) are shopping for a publisher of our quirky, Southern tale, Our Lady of the Walmart. Many who have read the manuscript want more. Shall we do a sequel?
  • And of course, The Bridge Over the Bering Strait.  A sequel?

Let me ask you? What do you most hope I’d work on next? All votes counted and tallied.

Next time: Step 3 – Establishing a support team.

Images

What I’m Writing In – 2/12/2012

What I’m Writing In – 2/12/2012

I’m exploring this SMASH folio from K&Company Brands. The cover says “For the moments and musings that stick”. My good friends, Michelle, Dan, Maddie, and Patrick gave this one to me. I’m not a scrapbooker except maybe when I travel. This looks perfect for travel scrapbooking. I’m saving it for a trip to Istanbul. I can see how it could be a great tool to keep all those gibbles of receipts and souvenir coasters and postcards and tram tickets and what not. Lots of different types of pages, some designed, some ledger, some grid, some dot grid. The pages are perfect for sketching that monument, jotting down thoughts, drawing maps. You get the point. Lots of fun. The paper is very thick to stand up to the glue I assume. Thanks, you all!

Notebook: Mod Black SMASH Folio with embossed chipboard; 7.75″ wide x 10.25″ high, 40 pages, made in Shenzhen, China.

Pen: SMASH pen and glue stick, made in Ningbo, China. One end of the pen is a glue stick and the other end a fine point fiber point pen. I may end up using a more robust point but that’s just me.

www.kandcompany.eksuccessbrands.com

Articles

Jumping back into writing

We writers sometimes find ourselves in a position where we are ready to embark on a new project – a story, a play, a novel – or just a recommitment to make our writing a more important piece of our life. In this case we would be wise to prepare ourselves for a long effort. Yes, we have stories swirling inside us.. But before we jump in, perhaps we need to approach with an approach, if you will.

 

I’ve been reading You’re in Charge – Now What? by Thomas Neff and James Citrin. They focus on what needs to be done to master a new job or promotion. Yet, I think some of their “8 Point Plan” is helpful to writers who are taking on a new project.

 

After some changes in my job responsibilities – I gave up a management post and scaled back my hours, I’ve recommitted to writing. I have a couple of stories started and two half-completed novels. Time to clear those out and to pursue some new ideas and notions.

 

Neff and Citrin’s plan, as I’ve adapted it to my writing career, begins with:
Step 1: Preparing Yourself. This step centers on absorbing information and learning the challenges.

 

I’ve targeted key sources of information to explore – writing mags, markets, discussions with mentors, and blogs of admired writers. I’ve determined what skills I need help with – my usual ones of plotting, suspense, characters. I’m strengthening my support team – my writers group, family and friends, and especially my wonderfully distracting wife, Ayn. That journal I’ve been saving I’ll now use to track frustrations and insights of the craft. The new exercise regimen is intense so I can handle some long hours of wordsmithing. I think I’m ready to begin. Let’s go.

 

Next time: Step 2 Aligning my Expectations.

Images

What I’m writing in

Simple pens, simple paper: What I’m writing with.

This is my new general purpose writing notebook. It’s a Circa notebook from Levenger. The flexibility is great and the paper is smooth, especially when combined with a Rotring pen.

Notebook: Levenger Circa Leather Foldover Notebook – Black

Paper: 100 gsm, annotation ruled, also from Levenger

Pen: Rotring Initial Matte Black Fountain pen (using cartridge). Stainless steel nib with iridium.

Links: www.levenger.com, www.rotring.com, www.pensandleather.com

Quotes

Quote

I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.
Steve Jobs