by Mlissa | Jul 20, 2021 | Inspiration
I watch a little bit of everything on YouTube. Movie reviews, technology reviews, interviews with actors or authors or musicians, day in the life, coffee making or coffee products, music videos, creative life, writing advice/motivation/inspiration, how-to’s, productivity, meditation, exercise, and some what-i-eat-in-a-day…
One of my favorite channels is called The Cottage Fairy. She lives in a rural area in the Pacific Northwest. She’s young and talented and lives a life I wish I had been brave enough to embark on myself. Her videos are beautiful and full of gorgeous music and images, full of nature and slow, intentional living, and creativity.
Another favorite is Chris Fox‘s channel. He’s a science fiction and fantasy author who puts many things about being an author, having a business as an author into perspective and into terms that are easy to understand. He’s got a couple of courses, a non-fiction book series on writing and marketing, and his videos are short and educational. He’s got an approachable way about him and his content that isn’t a my way or the highway style. I appreciate him and have learned a lot from him over the years. Of course, I should put some of that into practice and I might be able to turn this writer ship around.
Mel Robbins is a motivational speaker and author. She puts short videos out there that are often very pointed in the message they’re trying to convey. They are actionable. They give you, me, whoever is watching an action to take to get out of our own way. She doesn’t sugar coat and I like that she’s my age and when I listen to her, I don’t feel like I’m too late to the party. Her thing is do the things you don’t want to do… Just get up and do it. Her book is called The Five-Second Rule. Count backwards… 5-4-3-2-1. And when you get to one, get moving. This hack has helped me a lot.
Morgan Drinks Coffee… She’s lively and fun and makes coffee drinks. She’s a barista in real life and loves what she does, loves coffee. She’s not a snob about it, she’s not pretentious. She’s fun and her videos are both educational and just plain fun. Another coffee channel I follow is James Hoffman and he is pretentious, he is a snob, and he is delightful and fun and I learn a lot from him, too.
And my favorite movie/television review channel is The Critical Drinker… He’s not family friendly. He’s not woke and he’s not politically correct. But he picks apart movies and shows from the perspective of a writer because he is one. He’s not kind or generous with his thoughts unless it’s deserved. Some of his opinions are hard to hear if he’s taking apart one of your favorite movies, but I’ve found a lot of times, that that’s not a bad thing. He’s funny and direct and he seriously doesn’t give a fuck. I like that about him. He’s not pandering to anyone. Plus, his accent is just…delightful. And that is the only thing delightful about his channels.
I love YouTube. It’s currently the only social-type media that I visit and spend any time on. I don’t feel any sort of comparison or stress when I’m there. I do feel a bit of ‘Wow. I wish I could do that. I wish I wasn’t scared to try. I wish…’ I try to watch a variety of channels because there’s so much good information, so much relevant information, so much incredible creativity and inspiration and motivation to be found on YouTube.
I used to only use the site for music videos, or movie trailers, or Ted Talks. But then I began exploring other things that were of interest to me and found a viewing home for myself. I often have videos playing in the background while I’m doing something else, like writing this blog or cleaning or the dreaded eating while watching.
Here are the links to a few other channels I really like and subscribe to… Trust me, there are many, many, many more than this.
Amy Landino…productivity and motivation
KDP Univeristy @ Home…publishing
Becca Syme…writing, motivation
Exploring With Josh…exploring and documenting abandoned places
I Am Athlete…podcast with four NFL players who interview other athletes and talk life.
Taylor Swift…do I really need to say anything here?
Therapy in a Nutshell…mental health
Abbey Sharp…food, what i eat in a day reviews, general nutrition knowledge
vlogbrothers…authors John and Hank Green who also run the fantastic Crash Course series of educational videos.
And with that, I don’t have anything else for today. Well, nothing else here. I do have revisions, writing, and a few other things to do. I’ll catch you on the flip side.
by Mlissa | Jul 13, 2021 | Productivity, Reading
Earlier this year I read a book called Deep Work by Cal Newport. I loved it so much that I decided to read another of his books, Digital Minimalism. I’m still in the process of that one, but so far, I’m loving it, too.
I know productivity gets a bad rap, but I love learning how to improve, how to be better at, more efficient at, and yes, more productive at because I haven’t been in such a fucking long time that everything and everyone has shot right on by me in this world of being a romance writer. And though comparison is a bad thing… I know this first hand and I know what it can do to creativity and mental health, it’s not hard not to see that my writing career stuttered to less than a crawl in the last…too many years.
I am not satisfied with this.
I am no where done with telling stories.
So, for me to apply deep work (focus) to my writing, I needed to go on a digital minimalistic journey (eliminate some or all of the distractions that had me reaching for my phone or the tablet or the remote control…social media on my phone, in my case). Has it helped? Some, yes.
Without spending time scrolling Instagram, I’ve recovered some hours in my day. I’ve started exercising with a little bit more focus, caught up on household chores that I’d let slide, relaxed more (physically and mentally), and have had an increase in book ideas, story fixes, and overall the creative thoughts have begun to return.
I haven’t written as much as I hoped by this time of the month, but honestly, I’m still happy with the small progress because I’m enjoying writing again. I’m not influenced, nor am I concerned with what anyone else is writing or reading. I’m not listening to any you should or shouldn’t advice unless I’m specifically seeking out information on certain things. I’m just concerning myself with…me in this writing space.
When I started out way back when, I wrote the stories I wanted to write without thinking about marketability, or reader interest. Is this the smart way to do it? Most would say no, especially if publishing is the goal. But here’s the thing I’ve learned… If there’s no love in it, if there’s no joy in it, if I’m not interested in reading it, then there’s not going to be any writing. And the reader I used to write for was me, which means, the reader I need to write for now is me.
I’m listening to music, using a timer for sprints, and just writing where my heart and head lead me. I’m more focused on just telling the story I want to tell and deleting Instagram has helped me do this. My brain and spirit needed a bit of a break.
So… We’re basically halfway through July and I’ve read a few more books than previously, and I have something like…13 active stories that I’m writing on with each in various stages of completion. A couple of them are around the 2/3 – 3/4 mark, some are nearing the 1/2 way mark, and a number of them are in the early chapters. There are novels, novellas, and short 5K word stories (I have plans for these short pieces that I’ll share soon). All of this… I was so distracted from it all and now that I’m not, I’m in a happy place, mentally and creatively.
Not being on social media… Facebook has a lot of author and publishing and collaboration information and I know I’ve missed out on a lot, but I couldn’t trust myself to just stick to boundaries I set for myself. Will that always be the case? I hope not because I’d love to be part of a community of writers who learn and encourage and support and share with each other, but the drama shit was too mentally draining. Book Twitter became a place for judgment and gatekeeping and it was no longer enjoyable for me. Instagram just made me feel like I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, extroverted enough, productive enough, or anything else enough.
I was hella distracted by all of these and with each one I deleted, I gained more of myself back.
I’m digitally minimal right now with regards to social media. I don’t know when or how that’ll change going forward, but for the time being, it’s what I need.
I’m learning to apply deep work to the things I want to get done with regards to my writing career, focusing on the things that will get me where I want to go, and learning to enjoy the journey again without the distraction of shiny things or the creativity killer, comparison.
I’ll talk to y’all soon.
by Mlissa | Mar 6, 2020 | Writing Life
I wanted to be. I still do want to be. But the honest truth, y’all? I’m not.
And it’s not because I set unrealistic word count goals. At least, not anymore. I used to. But then I’d fall off the wagon a week in and I’d be running to catch up, only to be left in the dust because I didn’t run fast enough or hard enough or consistently enough.
Being a consistent writer… Well, what do I consider consistent? Every day? Yeah, sure. I’d love that, but again, that whole honesty thing and no. I’m not an every day writer. This is something I’m still coming to terms with. I’d like to think that I will one day be an every day writer, but… Now, some people consider any writing, writing… Journals, blogs, books, short stories, essays. And if that’s something I adopt as a truism, then I am an every day writer because I journal, whether it be my regular empty my head of the shit journal or my gratitude journal daily.
I am always thinking about writing, whatever book or books that I’m working on, how to re-write a blurb, what’s coming, what plot point needs fixing… An author I love, V.E. Schwab considers these ruminations writing and well, who am I to argue?
So, if I’m not a word count writer, what am I? And can I aspire to certain word counts?
The answer to the second question is yes. A group on Facebook that I’ve joined has a 10K Words in a Day challenge. I have tried it once. The other days they did it, didn’t work for me as I was either on the road or had family things come up. But I did try it and I did do well. Not 10K well, but over 6K that day and it was good. Of course, my brain was fried afterward and I didn’t write for several days.
Not being a word count writer I think is also why I don’t win NaNoWriMo, even though I try every year. But if I approach it differently this year, maybe… If I approach it the way I plan to approach Camp NaNoWriMo, I should be able to pull it off. We’ll see. (I did not pull off Camp NaNoWriMo, this year.)
I tried doing 10K Weekends and I loved this idea so much, but I couldn’t seem to get my ass in gear consistently enough to do it. I’d put it off on Thursday, and say that I’d make it up on Friday, and then oh look! it’s Saturday and then Sunday and well, I’ll try next weekend. Yeah, that sucked. It sucked hard. I haven’t attempted it in a long time.
Now, the answer to the first question… I’m a deadline writer. I think I’ve always known it, at least always as far as my decade+ long writing career has been going on. When I wrote just for me, or for Literotica, or whatnot, I wrote until I was finished. I wrote a lot in a short span of time. There were no expectations. No one cared. It was just me. And often in the middle of the night after the family was asleep. Once I began pursuing publishing and writing as a career, I wrote my own way. A lot here. A little there. A lot more somewhere else. So on and so forth until the book was finished. If there was a deadline, I rarely missed it. Except when it came to self publishing. I could move that date around all I wanted. And that’s pretty much what I did.
When 2020 began, I took author Sarah Cannon’s writing plan workbook and worked up a plan for releases, word counts, days off, etc… And within a couple of weeks, I’d once again fallen off the wagon. I raced to catch up. I modified my route to make it easier, but it didn’t work. By the end of January, I’d only written 24,448 words. I was 40,000+ words behind where I’d planned to be. I was discouraged. I was sad. And I wrote all of 1444 words in February.
I spent most of February depressed and aimless. I was falling back into this pattern that I have every single time I’d set word count goals. I tried to fight through it because my plan for 2020 was bigger than a single month. And then… I ended up spending 10 days in Florida. I wasn’t on vacation. My time wasn’t my own. My mom had knee replacement surgery the day before my 49th birthday and got out of the hospital on my birthday. That same day, my grandmother came down with the flu. Was taking care of two of the most stubborn women I know, alone. I didn’t get to celebrate my birthday and that kind of depressed me, too. I spent very little time doing anything but seeing to their needs and running errands they couldn’t. But it did offer me some moments to think…especially in the car on the drive down and back home. I wondered what I could do differently than I had been. What could I change? What inside my head would make any sense? That’s when it kind of hit me. I’m a deadline writer. And I didn’t know why I couldn’t see it before.
1K1Hr… That was the standard word sprint. For others. Give me an hour to write 1000 words and I’ll waste time until the last 30min. Give me a deadline and I’ll typically write a little here, and a little more there, and bust my ass the last two weeks to get it finished. I usually have multiple projects going, too. This is how I wrote as much as I did when I first started out in 2008/2009.
I kept telling myself that I couldn’t write that way anymore, and yet… Why not? Cleary the way I wanted to write wasn’t working for me, so why couldn’t I try going back to what I know did work?
I’m currently working on 5 different books. 3 new ones and 2 re-releases, along with re-writing 2 blurbs. I know what I’ll work on next month because it has a pretty immediate deadline. But the ones I’m working on right now, have later in the year deadlines. I’ll be putting things up for pre-order to seal in the deadlines from Amazon and that will help me out a lot. And yes, I could do the same thing and set daily word count goals, but that’s never been me as a writer. Facing the truth of how I write is not fun or easy. Not when I want to be some other way. But it’s also kind of freeing. I’ll enjoy it more if I don’t force myself into a hole I don’t fit in.
Have a great weekend, y’all.
by Mlissa | Mar 29, 2018 | 5 Things, Creativity
And sadly, no, tackling isn’t a football reference in this instance. And y’all, I miss football. I know there’s the draft and pro days and the combine and so on and so forth, but I miss GameDay on Saturdays and a full slate of football games from noon until midnight. At the same time, I’m getting a shit ton done in my creative life right now so I can’t complain too much … Football will be back soon enough! 148 days, 18 hours, and 58 minutes …
Okay, now that I’ve gathered myself together …
I’m working and creating and dreaming and putting into place and changing how I play the game. I’m doing a lot more embracing of change this year, facing my fears than I have in a very long time. (Then again, I got new computer glasses that I’m in love with I can’t wait to put them on). So, I thought I’d share with you 5 Things I’m Tackling In My Creative Life Right Now …
Creative means, according to Merriam-Webster, marked by the ability or power to create … As indie authors, blog writers, indie publishers, content creators, etc … We have an immense amount of power in our collective voices and at our fingertips. We’re limited only by our imagination. I was HUGE limited by my mindset for a long ass time. That’s no longer the case as I continue to learn just how much power creatives do have. Facing the fears, accepting them, and leaning into them to come out on the other side, that definitely takes creative courage and an open mindset. I’m still fighting against my limiting thoughts and I’m making progress every day, often, multiple times a day.
Approval from people who don’t matter … I fight this a lot. I tackle this issue day in and day out. Some voices are louder than others. I do a much better job now of surrounding myself and reaching out to people who have my back, who support me, who let me bounce ideas off them without judgment, who pull me out of my funks, who are constructive and creative in their criticism and not out to see me fall and fail. Seeking approval and advice from some people can and will kill creativity faster than you can say, well, anything. And this is not about competition and outside validation. This is simply about seeking creative guidance and sometimes, there are people, who you and I need to steer clear of or our creative desires and willpower will fly right out the window.
Comfort Zone … Boy. Howdy. I am tackling the creative comfort zone every second it seems. I am facing things that are pushing me out of where I am and where I’ve been. They’re affecting the bottom line and the momentum I had going when I started 2018 with a plan. But I also get stronger each time I take a leap. I believe more in myself when I put myself out there in ways I never thought I would. And sometimes it definitely takes having your hand forced before you’re even remotely ready in order to do the things. Don’t get me wrong here. The fear never goes away, but it when we lean into it, push through it, drown out the negativity of our own minds and that of other’s words, we gain power over it and we’re able to say ‘Bring It On’ even louder the next time.
Using multiple parts of my creative brain … At all times. All day. I’m changing how I approach Lissa Matthews, some from my own desires, and some from outside sources. A new pen name that I’m really excited to play with. She’s going to be a lot of fun when I get a point I can dedicate several hours a day to her. Some creative online business courses. Some of the information isn’t anything new to me, but the ways it’s presented is different and it’s allowing me to push against the frame of mind and limits I’d imposed on myself for years as a writer and creative. And a new venture about helping creatives see their to-do lists in a new light. (I’ll be telling you more about it later). The more I use these creative brain waves, the more creativity I’m dealt and that’s just fine with me.
Falling back into old habits of procrastination … So, yes, on the heels of a lot creativity flowing through me and facing fears, I still have to deal with old habits creeping in. I haven’t been watching television much. Sports, yes. March Madness. Golf next weekend, etc … But television shows? I’ve pretty much ditched them. I still catch a 30min one once or twice a week, but that’s it. I haven’t watched a Hallmark movie in months. Or binged on Netflix. (Though I do have it in my planner that I’m allowed to binge watch Bosch when it returns in April). But television doesn’t serve my business or me. Yes, one could get ideas from it every so often, but not enough to waste valuable time. And I’ll occasionally find myself playing Candy Crush and have to force myself to walk away. I don’t do Facebook much. I’m there only for specific things (a few groups and my Page). Instead, I read more. Business books, female entrepreneurial books, fiction, blog posts, articles that are relevant to what I’m doing, and the like. I’ve gotten to the point I can let my house go if necessary (but not for too long… I can’t work for too long in the equivalent of a college frat house). But putting my business and myself first has helped me add to my creative well and pull myself out of the time sucks. I’m a much happier person now that I’m not wasting so many precious moments on things that mean nothing. The caveat to this is, once again, sports. My son loves sports. Sports broadcasting is what he wants to go into when he goes to college. We watch sports together. It’s something we’ve always done. It’s one of the ways we connect and share time together. It helps that I like sports, too.
What are you tackling in your creative life or in your life in general? Leave a comment below! And have a great Thursday!
by Mlissa | Feb 5, 2016 | Creativity, Pinterest
I use Pinterest a lot. Still. I have 60 public boards and several private boards. I love the different things I find, the visual inspiration. The things that are most repinned are food. I’d like it if other things got equal representation, but food seems to be universal…
I started a new board recently and I titled it On Creativity. I’ve been feeling more and more creatively inspired this year. This is a change. And a good one. A really good one. I didn’t feel creatively inspired last year. Or even the year before. I was kind of slogging through the days, waiting to get to the next one. I wasn’t sure how to approach my writing or even if I could call it a business. I mean, other people did, but was it? Really? And that whole line of thinking has changed for me in the last few weeks. I do see it as a business and more specifically, I see it as a creative business.
Follow Lissa Matthews’s board On Creativity on Pinterest.
Enter my On Creativity Pinterest board. It’s not very full yet. It has links to some books I like, some links to articles I like, some links to infographics and such. It’s about how to find and get creative. It’s for those who need some direction toward creativity in their lives.
According to Merriam-Webster, the simple definition of creativity is: the ability to make things or think of new ideas.
Cool. I can do that. It doesn’t have to be crafts or books. It can be whatever inspires us… Coffee. Cooking. Making things with our hands. Music. Art. Dance. Meditation.
It can be in how we inspire others, too.
On the board is a Pin for TED Talks for Creative Entrepreneurs. I am in love with TED. And I love these because they’re given by people who were once like you and me. They once had a dream. They once needed a road map. When they didn’t have one, they created one. They inspire me to create my own.
I’m going to be talking about creativity throughout the year. I’ll hopefully be able to get a few people to come onto the blog to talk about what inspires creativity in them.
But if you need somewhere to start with creativity, try my Pinterest board, On Creativity…