Friday, February 29, 2008

Spring Cleaning Tips

Okay, what is a photo of lilies doing here? And why have a post about spring cleaning? Because spring is here (it's even almost Easter) and it seems that the energy is out there for cleaning and organizing.

So, some tips:

1. Don't let it come into the house or office or writing space. Throw out all possible mail. Don't buy more supplies until you have almost run out, even if on sale. Be brutal. As creative people we all get caught up in possibilities so those advertisements are seductive. Be honest--yes, that one piece of paper might be an idea for an article, maybe, kinda--but how many article ideas do you have already waiting? How many paints, pens, journals do you have sitting around?

2. File everything as soon as possible--if possible, while going through the mail or as you are bringing it into the office. Try not to let it pile up. If you can't do daily, set a time weekly to whale through all that stuff and set a timer for only the time you feel you can devote to the task so you don't feel trapped doing it forever. Make it a game: beat the timer.

3. Don't spend all your time organizing for organization. Huh? By that I mean, don't spend hours figuring out creative titles for all your files or micro-filing so that you have 200 files, each with one piece of paper. If you've sorted well, trust that you'll be able to find what you need when you need to.

Are you trapped in "I'm creative so this mess is creative?" Do you have a functional way of organizing? Or non-functional, but you've been doing it that way for so long you're afraid of change? Or do you spend too much time organizing? Any additional tips?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Creative people's balancing act

This entry is inspired by a couple of recent blogs: the Muse on Inspired Day by Day and J. A. Konrath's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Both blogs are excellent about self-promotion and the different ways to do so.

Self-promotion is now required by writers, in fact by all creative people. And others as well. The expectation with classes and workshops is that the presenter will be the primary promoter. To be effective, one must have a "presence" on the Web. That can mean anything from a blog to a series of YouTube videos and more.

How to balance necessary promotion with the creative work? How to focus effectively? It can be tough.

A couple of tips:
1. Do the creative work first and foremost.
2. Do one thing at a time and focus on that task until done.
3. Be realistic about the amount of time and energy each task takes.

Perhaps the third is the most difficult. It can be hard to admit that a blog posting takes 30 minutes to an hour to write. Or updating a web page two hours. Or most importantly the length of time it takes for creative work. Or energy. Creative people tend to believe they have an endless supply of energy. They are doing what they love after all, aren't they?

So, readers, how do you balance your creative output and all the other important aspects of the creative life? Or what trips you up? Too much time on the Internet (very common). Too little time in the day to focus on #1?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What's in a Name? Or: Name Matters

Cleo the Egyptian dog

What does a basenji dog have to do with names? Because, as you may be able to tell from this photo, this dog looks like Nefertiti. But is not named that perfect name for a dog whose breed has been found mummified in ancient Egyptian tombs for one reason: the nickname "Titi." Ugh.

My good friend Kathy at Well Placed Words just blogged about "What Words Convey" and that's a perfect segue into this post. Names matter.

Some of you may have noticed that I am now using my full name in my profile, Conda V. Douglas, instead of just plain Conda. This wasn't changed without some thought and consideration. Conda is fairly unique, so why change it?

First, I'm a published writer. If you google my entire name, more of my published writings come up.
Second, Conda isn't as unique as you would think. Google Conda alone and there's lots of Condas out there, including the town my mother was named after.
There's a Cesar Conda that's an writer of economics.
Third, why Conda V. Douglas? My mother, Conda E., edited a cookbook that was published over 35 years ago but that is still popular. While I'm proud of her accomplishment, I don't want agents and publishers wondering just how elderly I am...

I hesitated for quite a while before using my full name. Friend bloggers didn't help: Kathy of Well Placed Words uses her first and last name, as does Jim of The Truth about Lies and David of Pics and Poems. But Beth of Beth's Adventures only uses her first name and Nancy of Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life delineates herself from other Nancy's by being Nancy P. Still others such as the Muse of Inspired Day by Day, don't use real names at all.

Perhaps this is tied to what the blog is about, and the more personal blogs do not need full names, whereas the more general blogs want the full names?

Readers, what name did you use on your blog? And why? What do you think about using a full name? Upside? Downside?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Running lists

The sun is out--time to get something done.

As in my previous post, how?

Here's a small thing that is inexpensive, fast and easy to use: a running list. Get a small notebook, one that you can carry in a pocket. Throughout the day, as you think of something that needs to be done, write it down. In no order. Then at the end of the day, look over your list and star the items that need to be done. Emphasis on need. If you want, you can mark the first top 3 with 1,2,3. And mark off any accomplished tasks and celebrate those tasks.

Now, here's how this really works: Train yourself to quickly jot down a list item. Only look at the list once during the day, when you prioritize, delete done tasks, and celebrate. If something isn't getting done that needs to be done, tear off a sheet, write the task in bold and put it someplace you'll see it, first thing the next morning.

This works.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Multitasking--to do or not?

When it is like this outside, it's time to stay inside and get things done.

Getting things done, always desirable and yet sometimes elusive. And getting a lot done, even more desirable. So, is multitasking a viable way to get it all done?

No question that we exist in a multitasking culture that adds tasks every hour of every day. Now the norm is to e-mail while talking on your cell phone while eating a breakfast bar while, etc. etc. New studies have shown that this can be an effective way to get things done--especially if you are young enough to be raised with computer literacy.

But it begs the question: what gets done? A lot of small tasks. What about the major ones? Writing a novel? Having an oeuvre of paintings? A portfolio of photographs? How to balance the myriad necessary tasks and still focus on the major work?

And as creative people, it's easy for us to come up with multiple major projects--but that's another problem for another post.

One tip: do the major work first and set a daily intention (this many pages/words or this much time focused) to work on the major work. No multi-tasking until afterwards.

Next post, another useful tip. But first, readers are you able to multi-task effectively? And still achieve movement on what matters? If so, how? If not, what are your particular pitfalls? Stumbling blocks? Walls?

Friday, February 8, 2008


Just a quick post to let my readers know that you no longer have to figure out what those insanely twisted letters are in order to post a comment. Should make it a little easier to do so.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Easy, free giving on FreeRice

This doesn't seem to be recently posted on any blogs. And it needs to be posted often. On FreeRice, every time you give a correct definition for a word, 20 grains of rice is donated through the United Nations. Don't worry about the small amount, it adds up fast. Do worry about how addictive this game is for writers!