Take Time to Think

25 Sep

These past few weeks have been some of the least self-centered ones I’ve ever experienced—having a helpless little human who’s dependent on you will do that, apparently—yet, oddly, I find myself feeling more and more motivated to write, and even more inspired than before to achieve the goals I’ve set.

This doesn’t mean I’ve had much time to actually work on my projects lately…but, in a weird way, the whole not-being-able-to-work-on-things thing is actually contributing to my motivation!

What I have had time to do, lately, is THINK.

My sweet baby eats a lot—especially these past few days, thanks to a horrible, sleep-stealing growth spurt. Now, sometimes, I can manage to hold a book or navigate the Internet while feeding him…but not always. Most of the time, I’m just sitting there chilling and/or attempting to not fall asleep while he eats.

In those crazy-early morning hours, my thoughts keep drifting to my three works-in-progress (and, as if I don’t have enough ideas begging me to write them, my thoughts are also hovering around a fresh new idea). All this extra time spent dwelling on these stories has me feeling super-motivated to work on them!

Things are starting to settle down a little bit around here, thank goodness. Naps are getting longer, feedings are starting to space out a little bit, we’re (FINALLY) getting more sleep, and we’re starting to become more comfortable in our new roles as parents. All of this, plus my chomping-at-the-bit-to-get-back-to-work motivation, has me VERY EXCITED. Even the mere fact that I have time to write this blog post makes me hopeful that I’ll have the time and focus to work on my manuscripts again sometime in the near future!

All that to say, if you find yourself in need of a motivation boost, try this:

  • PERMISSION. Give yourself permission to take a break from your work, for a set period of time (perhaps a week or two).
  • MARK THE DATE. Set a get-back-to-work date that falls at the end of that break.
  • TIE UP YOUR HANDS. Twice a day, every day during your break, take an hour to do something mindless in a quiet room where your hands are occupied (like knitting, for example…or feeding a baby). Do not let yourself write anything, not even notes.
  • FOCUS. During this time, just THINK. Think about your project(s), your characters, your stories, your big-picture goals. Don’t act on your thoughts yet.
  • THE YOU-CAN’T-HAVE-IT! EFFECT. When someone says you’re not allowed to eat something (like cheesecake when you’re on a diet, or wine when you’re pregnant), what happens? ALL you want to do is eat that thing, right? Same concept here. If you tell yourself you aren’t allowed to work, yet you spend ten to twenty hours over those weeks doing nothing but get excited about your project, it stands to reason that you’ll be itching to get back to it when the break is over. Plus, dwelling on ideas before acting on them is beneficial in and of itself.
  • EXECUTE. So, the day after your break ends: WRITE. Write down all the notes that happened to stick with you over this period of time—the good ideas will stick, the junk will be lost forever. Make outlines, or note cards, or character sketches. Dive into the nebulous new scenes that have been floating around in your head.
  • FINISH STRONG. Don’t just be a project starter—commit to being a project FINISHER. Anyone can start a project, but seeing it through to the end? Much more difficult.
Happy reading and writing and creating to all of you!

Not Jim, or Jimmy, or Jamie…

11 Sep

…but James.

So, after this past week of sleepless nights and whoa-I’m-actually-a-mother newness, I think it’s safe to say that my life has changed drastically (in a good way, of course). Things that previously felt So Important don’t feel as urgent—and, on the flip side, Andrew and I are now responsible for feeding, protecting, and raising a baby human. (Side note: this? Not at all like feeding, protecting, and raising a baby cat.)

All that to say, this has been the most difficult, amazing, rewarding, lovely, challenging, prayer-dependent ten days of my life.

I’m starting to thank myself that I decided, about a month before James arrived, that I was going to take an official two or three month break from writing my novels. Once we’ve settled into some semblance of a routine—or, at least, once we’ve gotten more familiar with our new roles as parents—I’ll pick up the novels again. Writing and editing them now, though? That would be a total disservice to every element involved, from the books to James to myself.

It’s sort of weird to put my writing goals on hold for a while (and mark my words, they are not abandoned—not at all. Just on hold, for their own good.) after spending a good few years working so diligently at them. But, then I remind myself: no one says I have to finish my book today, get an agent tomorrow, get published the day after that. (Insert Rebecca Black lyrics here. You’re welcome.) 

Nope, no reason to rush: the publishing industry isn’t going anywhere. (I hope.) Whether I finish my book tomorrow or next year or the year after that is unimportant; what’s important is that I make it as good as it possibly can be. And, that I keep my priorities straight: this new, sweet baby is the most wonderful blessing I’ve ever been given (closely rivaled by the other most amazing blessing in my life, my sweet husband). Right now, I’m devoting myself to learning him, learning how to be a mother, and learning how to be a good wife to Andrew now that James has been introduced to the picture.

Anyway. Just had to get those thoughts out there, partially because they’ve been swimming around in my head, and partially because I haven’t posted much about my writing progress lately.

Hope you are all doing well—I haven’t forgotten you guys! I plan to keep posting here (albeit, probably as irregularly as I’ve been posting these past few months, at least for a while), and I’ll still be on Twitter. Happy reading and writing and awesomeness to you all!

It’s Time.

1 Sep

Today is the day.

We’re off to the hospital to meet our first baby.

Feels like this—

The highest roller coaster I've ever been on…except possibly even higher than that

and this—

Christmas! With cats who won't get out of the tree! Exciting! And painful! #helloclaws

but I’m trying to focus on this—

That was me, a year ago. Now, I'm summoning memories of sand, ocean, sky, and peace.

and this.

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?" —Matthew 6:26-27 + "Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." —1 Peter 5:7

Your thoughts and prayers are much appreciated—I’ll probably have a mostly-offline next few days, but I’ll update when I can.

xoxo

A Little Update

25 Jul

How much stuff can you cram into a long, 100°F+, Texas summer?

A lot. Enough to make weeks fly by, apparently.

It’s been a…strange…summer, for me. Not bad, just different, thanks to the huge baby boy growing inside of me (henceforth referred to as Ninjaface). Lest you worry I’m about to turn this blog upside-down and go all Mommy Blogger on you, never fear. I created a separate blog for all things baby, so that those who are interested can check in as often as they like, and those who aren’t? Yeah. You don’t have to be annoyed. Here’s the link, for those who are interested!

Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t post anything baby-related—I’ll probably do the inevitable “he’s here and he’s huge!” post. And, today, simply because it’s fun, I’m sprinkling in some photos of the baby room we’re creating for little Ninjaface.

Suffice it to say, I’ve had major baby brain lately (for those unfamiliar with said malady, it’s the term I’m using to describe my self-diagnosed inability to focus on things that don’t have to do with—you guessed it—preparing for baby)(also known as: übernesting).

I’m still working on Tokyo, the project tied to the pictures in my last post, just…not very diligently. Oh, I’ve been diligent at other things—cleaning, sewing, knitting, buying things—but can’t seem to focus very well on my writing goals right now. Rather than beating myself up for this, I’m just trying to accept that this has to be a natural side-effect to babybaking, and that there’s bound to be a day in the near future where I will write like a madwoman.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading a lot. The best of these recent reads include Marie Lu’s Legend, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and debut author Meg Haston’s fun and fabulous How to Rock Braces and Glasses—I’ll probably devote separate posts to these books in the near future, and *possibly* even have another giveaway.

So! There you have it. Other than that, I’ve simply been trying to hang in there as the temperature climbs higher, my belly grows huger, and my energy-slash-motivation swings high to low and back again like Tarzan on a vine.

What about you guys? How’s life and writing and reading and EVERYTHING? Updates! Yours! I want them!

A Little Inspiration

15 Jun

So, this week, I’m working on Tokyo, one of my projects that’s currently in first draft stage. It’s such a fun book to write, and I wish I could tell you all about it right now.

Instead, I’m going to share some photos of things that appear (or, *will* appear, when I’m done) in the novel. Enjoy!

 

 

How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr

14 Jun

Coming October 18, 2011 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Is it possible to give a book six stars?

This book…this book, you guys. I don’t really know where to begin about it. I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian novels lately, among other plot-driven novels, and novels with paranormal elements to them. It was refreshing to read a novel that was straight-up contemporary. But, by “refreshing,” I do not mean refreshing like a trip to the spa, or a day at the beach, or something else lighthearted and fun.

By “refreshing,” I mean this book made me feel, moved me to compassion and understanding in ways I haven’t felt in a long time (if ever, possibly). Sara Zarr has this utterly incredible talent for writing about the world in ways that are just so real, ways that shine light on life—even the most common, mundane things—in a way you’ve never noticed before.

My favorite books are always the ones that tend to rock my world in some way. The Hunger Games trilogy did that—after Mockingjay, sad as it was, I felt hope. Across the Universe helped me appreciate sunlight, Earth, stars, fresh air, freedom. The Harry Potter books, due to—how do you sum THAT up? Their magical epicness, I guess—were the books that pushed me over the edge toward “I want to write my own novel,” something that has changed my day-to-day life in a very real way. Divergent was an adrenaline rush that made me think about human nature, about the impossibility of perfectionism, the prevalence of flaws in humanity, and the importance of bravery.

How to Save a Life reminded me to assume the best in everyone, and hammered home the notion that there are a lot of broken people in the world who would give anything for a hug, or someone who will listen to them, someone who won’t break their word. Also, it strengthened my appreciation for my amazing parents, wonderful husband, the baby I’ll give birth to in September, and all the little things I tend to take for granted.

Here’s a link to the Goodreads page, where you can read the blurb for this book and put it on your to-read lists.

Don’t Stop Now Contest Winners!

7 Jun

A huge thank you to everyone who entered my contest to win Julie Halpern’s Don’t Stop Now, in stores today! As you saw from the interview, Julie is fabulous—and her fabulousness absolutely makes its way into her novels.

When the deadline hit, enough individual people had entered for me to add a second prize! Wheee! I used a random number generator to choose the winners¹…

Winner of the ARC is…

 

#27: April!

Winner of the hardcover copy is…

#19: Aleeza!

April and Aleeza, please shoot me an email to kayla (at) kaylaolson (dot) com — once I have your mailing information, I’ll get those prizes to you ASAP.

I had so much fun reading everyone’s dream road trip ideas—it made me want to take mine (another Disney cruise, and since we’re dreaming big, I’d choose a l-o-n-g one to the Mediterranean)!

If you didn’t win, never fear—Don’t Stop Now is out TODAY! And, if you’re financially challenged, or want to show Julie your support, or maybe you’re just obsessed with contests—check out Julie’s blog post from today, where she’s hosting her own contests and has links to a slew of reviews from around the blogosphere!

Happy reading, everyone! I hope you all get to take your dream vacations road trips one day!

¹And, in case you’re wondering about specifics: there were fourteen individual entrants. I listed your names out in the same order they appear in the comment section. For entrants who tweeted and/or included their dream road trip stories, I factored in additional entries, which ended up at 29 total entries. (So, for example, Melissa was entry #1 and #2, Beth was entry #3, #4, and #5, etc.)

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