Sunday, June 19, 2011

Notes from June 18 GRW meeting -- Kelly Stone!

The Galley at the GRW forums will have more details about the first part of the meeting; I'm going to post only what I wrote down at the time.

Does anyone have any connections that/who can give us cool stuff for the gift bags at M&M? Promotional materials can also go into goody room/gift bags.

If you do want to put promotional materials into gift bags, keep in mind that there will be ~250 registrants. You can email – coordinator of promotional/goodybag gifts. [I hope I got that address right.]

Someone had the idea of purple dresses as a theme for M&M, for the awards banquet. [I say, let's do it!]

And probably the most tweeted line of the meeting, from Nikki, describing the appeal of a man in a kilt: “Kilts are like hooters, for ladies.”


Kelly Stone workshop
Motivation and Mishaps: How to build resiliency into the writer’s mindset.

These are psychological techniques that can be applied to your writing life.

[again, just a jumble of what I could write down. The problem with taking notes at her workshops is that EVERYTHING OUT OF HER MOUTH IS WORTH WRITING DOWN. I should just buy her books already.]

What are mishaps? babies, surgery, health, job changes, health, losing loved ones.
What motivates: Money, success, other writers.

How to keep going, how to sustain yourself over the course of many years it might take to get published, how to stay published. A lot of challenges you face before published morph into similar problems after you get published [so it may never be entirely smooth sailing].

Promotional activities eat up your time after you’re published.
How to sustain drive once you’ve finished and face that next blank page.

“The burning desire to write.” It’s what you’ve got to do, then life barges in. Without action behind the desire, you won’t be able to sustain it/overcome mishaps/generate motivation.

The writer’s mindset: thought/feeling/behavior cycle: how you think is how you feel is how you act, or any variation of those three things.

Determine which of those components is the strongest in your life. Can you think/feel your way into doing something? For most people, strongest component is acting your way into thinking/feeling. Sit down to write even if you don’t feel like it, after awhile, you WILL feel like it.

Alfred Adler: “Acting as if”. (Dr. Phil: “Fake it ‘til you make it.”) Over time, you will become that. It influences your thoughts and feelings and it programs your subconscious mind. You can change your beliefs about yourself, but it takes some conscious effort.

Keep a journal for a few days -- any time you have a thought or feeling about writing, jot it down. Takes effort – things flit through your mind, have to pay attention to write them down. Usually the “flit” things are negative.

Look for the subtle, negative thoughts that will sabotage you.
Pick a day to pay attention to all those thoughts.
Enough positive thoughts will cancel out a negative, AND they’re more powerful.
If you catch yourself with a negative thought, switch it immediately to a positive. If you think, "Look at all these books in the store -- I'll never get one onto a shelf", you need to switch it to, "Look at all these books in the store -- someday mine will be here, too."

Feeling to go along with it: feel what it’s going to be like when that positive thought becomes reality. “It’s going to feel great when _______.”

Have to have enough repetition to re-program your conscious mind.
(Based on Napoleon Hill’s work. “The psychology of achievement.” Power of subconscious, how to reprogram it to manifest goals you have for yourself. “Think and Grow Rich” is his most famous book.)

Actions stem from your thoughts and your feelings, and you can act your way into thinking and feeling.

Have to give your subconscious mind a structure of goals that you’re pouring your actions into. BUT THEN you have to back your goals up with actions.

This is why you need a writing schedule. Even if it’s “I’m going to write when [something small]”, it has to be scheduled. Write it down – visual things are powerful to subconscious mind.
Whatever schedule is, FOLLOW IT. If you can’t, you need to get a new goal.

Actions must match up to goals, or it trains your mind in the wrong way.
If you can’t match, find out why: unrealistic goal, wrong genre, style/time doesn’t work, etc.

Actions are the only constant you can control to any degree. Thoughts and feelings about all kinds of things will change, but actions are controllable. That’s why they influence thoughts and feelings.

[Then we did this exercise:]
Write on paper: think about a trait of resiliency or motivation, or think of an author you admire who is resilient, motivated, etc. Think of a trait you would like to instill in yourself.
For example: Discpline, persistence.

If you could instill it in yourself, how would you feel? how would a writer like that act?

Write “I am” and then the trait.
Then write “I feel” [fulfilled, successful] when I am (trait)
Then write an action you’ll take to feel and act that trait.

[Mine was:
I am diligent.
I feel like I've achieved something when I am diligent.
I'm going to set a writing schedule that's realistic.]

One thing you can do this week to do those things above.
Hang this by your computer and read it every day. It's a way to program your subconscious.

Repetition: replace negative with positive, repeat.
This process is cumulative in nature. Takes repetition.

Feelings are fleeting. The subconscious has to have it [feel it?] over and over to make it a reality.
Make # [hashtag] in your journal for [negative] things that come up a lot – that’s what you need to tackle first.

Read statements into your own eyes in a mirror.
“I’m a best-selling author.” Nothing wrong with having that as a goal. Need the actions to back it up, but it’s a good goal.
Or a goal to write: “I’ll write X days/week for the coming week.” Put on a card under your pillow – giving the subconscious a concrete [thing] to hook onto.

Visualize lots of details for this goal BEFOREHAND. Every day. Visualize the details the night before for morning goals, visualize details at work for evening goals.

You have to believe that this process will work for you. Or at least try to be neutral towards it while you try it.

Hypnagogic state – the state just before sleep and just before wakefulness. (Hypnagogia on Wikipedia.)
You can induce it – lay down, but hold one arm up so you don’t actually sleep. Keep a notebook nearby. If you have a question, this is a good time to address it to your subconscious mind. Blocked? Ask your subconscious in the hypnagogic state. If will work IF YOU TRUST THE PROCESS.

Put together pictures on a bulletin board or make a collage that supports the writer’s self-image that you want. Anything that calls to you – don’t think about it too much. Pictures, words, anything related to that word you want to be [from the previous exercise]. Anytime you’re stuck, or when you get up, before you go to bed, just look at it. It will seep into your subconscious mind.

Write an author bio for yourself [as if you're already a successful author] and read it every day. “S has sold 50 books, won a RITA,” etc. It gives your subconscious something to grab onto, BUT then back it up with action.

Role-modeling: pick an author you admire. What would she do when faced with a problem in your writing? List traits that that author has. If you don’t know her traits, make them up.
WWND? (What Would Nora Do?)

That’s the hook to give your subconscious the images that you’re striving for.

Image incorporation: take traits of role model, get into alpha/relaxed state, ask your subconscious, “Help me to write every day like A.” “Help me to get great ideas like B.” Have to stick with it, have to suspend judgement. And you have to trust what comes.

Relaxation technique. Pick a role model, think of a question you want to ask her: What should I write next? How do I get an agent?

The point of this exercise is that your answers are within you. Also to give you an image of your subconscious mind.

[She said that she's reassured people in the past that tapping into your subconscious won't turn you schizophrenic or crazy. One woman said, "I can imagine I'm asking someone else, but any answer I get will be coming from my own mind. Kelly replied, "That's right. If you're getting those answers from someone else's mind, then you can start worrying."]

[I tried to visualize a writer I found online two days ago, but I haven't read anything of hers yet, haven't seen a picture, I just thought her books look really good and she's had quite a few published. What I saw was a kind of pixelated computer icon, which didn't give me any answers. So, not a good choice for this exercise. Maybe once I've actually read something she's written.

As the exercise was ending, I decided to go for a last-ditch effort, so I visualized Jayne Ann Krentz as she looked in one of her book jacket photos. The words came up immediately. She told me, “Have fun with it.”]

Last piece of action: Hold yourself accountable. Write down writing goal for next month, exchange with someone at your table. Email after a month, see if you’ve met your goal.

I exchanged goals with Anne Lovett. Her goal for the next month is to write 2 new chapters. [Hi, Anne, if you see this! :)]

My goal is to write something in the novel every day, even if it’s only 100 words. [It didn't happen yesterday, but it will happen today! Positive thoughts! :)]

[Something that Kelly Stone's workshop at last year's M&M influenced me to do -- my passwords for various writing sites used to be variations on statements like, "Don't write that" or "My writing sucks", things like that. But a month or so after really getting into RWA/GRW, I changed my passwords to more positive statements.]

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