Much of our success as authors depends on our mindset. If we’re not in the right mental place, we can struggle with the creativity needed to write, we can suffer from even the most well-intentioned feedback, and we can let obstacles of every type hold us back.
But changing our mindset isn’t easy. Just like our characters, we have reasons for the way we feel, and those reasons often don’t disappear on their own.
That’s why I’m so happy to welcome J. Rose here today, who’s filling in for me during NaNoWriMo. I knew she was a master of productivity when, after she attended my Lost Your Pants? workshop several years ago, she gave a testimonial praising the tools I created for the class and mentioned her amazing word counts:
“Writers! This is the BEST online workshop I’ve taken thus far. She provides guidance (and materials) on how to fast-draft a story with a basic outline (and more!). Using this method, I was able to fast draft THREE 100k manuscripts in 2-months a piece (over only 8 months). RECOMMENDED!!”
— Jennifer Rose
Student of “Lost Your Pants?” workshop
But believe me, my workshop tools aren’t solely responsible for her super-productive word counts (or I’d have the same results *grin*). To fill in the blanks, she’s sharing her tips on how to improve our mindset and increase our productivity.
Please welcome J. Rose! *smile*
Productivity and Mindset to ROCK NaNoWriMo
By J. Rose
Instead of going over tangible productivity tools today, I want to touch on a different angle—that productivity starts with mindset.
And these tools work: along with getting up at 5:30am every morning before work *night person* and using Jami’s Story Planning tools, I was able to write four 100k word novels in one year — even with a chronic condition that caused me to lose about 2-3 months out of every year. For NaNoWriMo 2013, I wrote 80k words.
5 Steps to Align Our Mindset with Productivity
Let me share some steps to help you get the most out of our powerful mind:
#1 – The Power of Assessment
- First you need to know where you are now, before you can move forward.
- Second, write down where you see yourself in ten years.
It is important to think big and develop a vision that you are passionate about. Once you know these two things, then you can create a game plan to bridge the gap.
Let’s talk about the Writer’s Journey for a moment. We are all on some portion of the path. There will always be someone in “front” of you and someone “behind” you. Take solace in knowing that feeling bad about where you are in your writing journey is something everyone deals with—no matter where they are on the path.
Here are a few tips to help you feel better about where you are on the path:
- Remember that writing is a craft—it’s a skill you learn—and only over time do you get better!
- It took me 8 years to finish my first book, but with practice, I was able to write a 66k word book in 11 days from Idea to The End a couple years ago.
Final note on assessment, pain is often caused by a difference in expectations—where you expect to be, and where you really are. To overcome this, you need to both honor where you are and make a passionate plan to reach your big vision.
There’s this great tool Tony Robbins created: The Pyramid of Mastery. I don’t hold the picture copyright, but you can see it here.
The order of the pyramid from the bottom:
- Physical Body
- Emotions and Meaning
- Career & Mission
- Contribution & Spirituality.
The exercise is to score yourself on each of these items on a scale from 1-10.
Focus on your basic struggle for the rest to fall into place. Click To TweetThe idea of this tool is that each item builds on the prior aspect. So if you don’t score high in “Physical Body” because you are sick (for example), it will be more difficult to have a high score in emotions, and so on up through the pyramid.
Whatever your lowest score is, I recommend focusing on that item first thing every morning. Dedicate more time to that item, and the rest will fall into place.
#2 – The New Attitude of Productivity
I’m going to say it: The Western mindset has it wrong.
We’re trained to work ourselves to the bone, and that we should best each other about “who’s the most busy” or “who has the least amount of time.” I challenge you to step away from this game! Do you really want to be #1 at being stressed and being busy all the time so you don’t have time to enjoy your life?
This is one reason assessing where you are and having a big vision are so crucial to productivity. Knowing those two things can help you stay on track—towards the outcome you truly desire. I know we all loathed the “busy work” homework that seemed to have no real purpose. *grins*
So, if you want to be more productive, focus on doing meaningful tasks that will lead you closer to your big vision. Cut any tasks that don’t take you there.
Breathe. Stop. Take short breaks.
Increase productivity by taking breaks. Click To TweetFor the next week, experiment with focusing for 90 minutes, then taking a 10-15 minute break. Some people like using the Pomodoro method—I like to do three Pomodoros in a row, then take a break.
You will come back more refreshed and ready to tackle the next chunk of work. *realizes it’s been two hours, and a break is needed…*
#3 – The Power of Silence and Calm
Taking short breaks to breathe can help reduce stress and bring clarity to the mind.
Here is a great quote on breathing:
“Improper breathing is a common cause of ill health. If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly. There is no single more powerful—or more simple—daily practice to further your health and well-being than breathwork.”
– Andrew Weil, M.D.
To do a relaxing breath, exhale completely through your mouth, then inhale through your nose for a count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of four.
Now let it out slowly through your mouth for a count of four.
Repeat 3 times.
After a mindful breath or two, you may have less desire to distract yourself.
#4 – The Dichotomy of Change
This step is critical to your success. Before we talk about adjusting your relationship with your thoughts, I want to touch on an important aspect of change:
Find a way to be okay with you, as you are right now, not how you wish you would be in the future.
Here is a great quote form Carl Jung: “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely and I’ve found this form of radical self-acceptance to be the most constructive teachings of them all.”
Improve our mindset: Accept every part of ourselves. Click To TweetYou might be wondering how you can do this. It is honestly not the easiest thing to master—you have to stay on top of it every day. Doing Louise Hay’s mirror work is a great tool.
The first step is to have a wholehearted willingness to be what and how we already are. Forgiving yourself completely. Accept everything about yourself — I mean everything.
You can accept who you are now, and still want to do work to make changes to reach your highest passion and vision.
Find something you criticize about yourself, and say, “What if it’s okay that I’m ______.”
For example go deep into your heart and truly ask yourself, “What if it’s really okay that I’m only doing 30k for NaNoWriMo?” OR “What if it’s okay that I haven’t finished a book, while all my friends have?”
Here’s a little secret: No matter what (unless you are a hidden serial killer), it is all okay. Every. Little. Part of you.
#5 – The Power of Energetic Health
But taking care of your body will support you in reaching your big vision.
- Energy gives you a peak state, and this makes you productive!
- Your gut is called the “second brain,” and can actually effect your mood, depression, and anxiety!
- Having good health is not about being perfect. It’s all about balance!
Here are some great self-care tools that will help you be more productive because your body is more in alignment:
- Water! – You should drink half your body weight in ounces, daily.
- Read healing books (Such as “The Four Agreements,” “Radical Forgiveness,” or “Mirror Work” by Louise Hay, or anything by Pema Chodron.
- Find someone to help.
So there you have it, a few tips to help you be more productive by becoming aligned with your highest purpose. These are all things I have found that work for me—please know, it’s important to experiment and find what works for you. Everyone is different and that is the great part of being human!
Finally, every morning, do yourself a favor and read that big vision you wrote down. Then pull it out whenever you’re having a hard day.
Say you only get 100 words, or you discover you’re 5k words behind on your NaNoWriMo goal, or simply not in the mood to write after a long day, read your big vision aloud. Remind yourself why you are doing all of this!
J. Rose writes with the Rocky Mountains outside her window and her ferrets at her feet. In her other life, she’s a trained opera singer. She holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and studies other martial art styles for research, including Jujitsu.
When she’s not having fun on the twins’ story, she can be found hiking, biking, or spending time with friends. Since finishing her first “novel” at the age of 15, she continues to have a passion for telling stories that make a difference.
Her debut novel, Twins of Orion: The Book of Keys, was called “A complex, tightly plotted series opener that should enchant audiences,” by Kirkus Reviews. It is an epic middle grade fantasy for fans of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
About Twins of Orion: The Book of Keys:
Abandoned as infants, twins Peter and Rory have never known a real family. While Peter wants nothing more than to escape his abusive adoptive father, Rory struggles to not get kicked out of her twelfth foster home since she was separated from Peter seven years ago. All that changes when magical birds appear offering to help them reunite…and return them to the home they never knew.
But fate is cruel. They arrive on the planet Inara, on opposing sides of a brutal war. It is up to them to uncover the real enemy if they ever want to see each other again. Unsure of who to trust in a strange world of magic, hidden cities, and dragons, the twins must now face their childhood fears to stop an immortal being from escaping and continuing his dark mission.
Thank you, Jennifer! I love your insights into how it’s not about being “perfect” now but about making sure we’re focusing on the right things to bring us closer to the balance we want.
As I’ve been struggling with chronic health issues over the past year and a half, I’ve had to learn a lot about how to find that balance, but I haven’t gotten there yet. (Witness my pathetic NaNo word count so far.) But these tips have given me some ideas of what I can try to do better.
(Jennifer also wanted me to mention this previous post I wrote about finding our personal productivity style.)
Step #4 about accepting ourselves as we are now really spoke to me, as I know my frustration is certainly holding me back and negatively impacting my creativity. Hopefully these steps can similarly help us all! *smile*
Do you struggle to maintain a positive mindset? Does your mindset get in the way of being productive? Do you think these tips might help? Which step resonated the most with you? Do you have any questions for Jennifer?Pin It