Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

What to Do When Life Interrupts Writing — January 14, 2014

What to Do When Life Interrupts Writing

I could just as easily have titled this post “Writing Life and Goals Interrupted.”
Silhouette of woman running

When I posted recently on my goals for 2014, my enthusiasm and intention to hit the track running full speed ahead and keep up that pace was undeniable.

Life had other plans.

Often life does. Somehow it manages to stay far enough in the background that you don’t sense it moving in to your plans.

2014 started out with interruptions.

My husband and I were both hit with health issues. For him the issues he’s facing are enough to change the “who does what” around our home. I have assumed the tasks he usually does on top of my own. My appreciation for what he does regularly is growing daily.

Each day I have looked at the list of goals I carefully wrote out, and I’ve despaired that I’m falling behind. But I don’t want my husband to feel guilty. So, I say nothing and my mind whirrs with the schedule that’s already off.

But wait — should our goals be so rigid they make us miserable? 

Where does it say that attainable goals should be met on a given day, unless an outside source has set a deadline?

Is it healthy to be so inflexible as to ignore circumstances around you in favor of goals?

One can strive to complete the goals, ignoring life’s needs, or
one can be flexible enough to adjust those goals to fit them into
the current circumstances of your life. 

I would rather have not been faced with choosing to adjust my goals or set some of them aside temporarily. But it would have been my greater choice not to have my husband ill.

When thinking of goals, we must also think of flexibility, patience, and resolve:

  • Flexibility to accept and adjust;
  • Patience to wait out the current circumstances; and
  • Resolve to return to our goals and continuing striving toward the finish line.


Do you have thoughts about the rigidity of goals or resolutions? Are you willing to make adjustments and allow the circumstances to take over temporarily?

Save Time on Social Media by Using Shortcut Keys — September 26, 2013

Save Time on Social Media by Using Shortcut Keys

Via Flickr
Via Flickr

Using social media can lead to a love/hate relationship.

We love social media for its ability to connect us with others with like minds and interests.

We hate social media when its allure mesmerizes us into wasting time better used for something else.

Time spent on social media can be made more efficient through the use of shortcuts, or keyboard shortcuts, or as some call them hot keys. Whatever their name, they can increase your efficiency while you try to make the most of your social media connections.

The first step in using these magical shortcuts is finding out what they are for each social media outlet or software you’re using.

Yesterday I spent some time researching these little secrets, and although some of you may have found them already, there are those of us who may be a bit behind the curve or who need a refresher.

Let’s start with social media shortcuts:

The following infographic was created by Quintly, a professional social media analytics service. This infographic includes only Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ shortcuts, so I will follow the infographic with links for social media outlets.

Via Quintly
Via Quintly

Following are links to shortcuts for the social media outlets listed:

If you know of other social media keyboard shortcuts, please mention them in the comments below so others can benefit from using them.

Now a quick look at other keyboard shortcuts that will make using your computer more efficient:

Once again, if you know of other software keyboard shortcuts, please mention them in the comments below so others can benefit from using them.

Without experience using Apple’s Mac systems, I did not delve into researching keyboard shortcuts for social media or software.

Hoping this information will help you cut down the time you spend on social media, offering you an opportunity to spend more time writing.

What Happened to Yesterday? — August 7, 2013

What Happened to Yesterday?

Often I find myself asking this question:  What happened to yesterday?

I wonder where the time went and why I didn’t carry out what I set out to do yesterday. I look at the work I needed to do, and it’s all still waiting for me. So, I usually sit down with a cup of coffee and start sorting through my to do’s from yesterday as well as today’s. Trying to figure out how to get it all done in this 24 hours I’ve been given.

And you know what? It’s likely impossible to get two days’ worth of tasks done in one day. I know that. You know that. And yet we sit and try to juggle things into one day, maybe 24 hours, maybe less if you like to sleep.

Attribution: Gigi Meyer
Attribution: Gigi Meyer

A couple of weeks ago we were driving by a church in our neighborhood and saw the quote on this image. It struck me I’m guilty of doing just that.

I’ve been letting yesterday use up today’s time.

Fretting over what I didn’t do. Worrying over what is left to be done on my to do list. Make that plural — lists!

What if I took that energy spent letting yesterday interfere with today and just got on with it, whatever it might be?

I might get some things done. I might even get that memoir written I’ve been working on for how long now? I’d rather not talk about that.

But that is what it boils down to, isn’t it? Fussing about what didn’t happen 24 hours ago, what those hours didn’t see completed, isn’t going to add anything to today.

Instead, the fussing, fretting, hassling over yesterday’s unfinished work only hinders the completion of anything today.

Here’s my new course of action:

  1. If yesterday didn’t go as planned, let go of it.
  2. Take a brief look at what didn’t get done yesterday, prioritize it and move the most important items to the top of today’s list.
  3. Start working down the list, making the most of today to catch up.
  4. At the end of the day, whether I worked through every single item or not, repeat steps 1-3.


“Today expect something good to happen to you no matter what occurred
yesterday. Realize the past no longer holds you captive. It can only
continue to hurt you
if you hold on to it. Let the past go.
A simply abundant world awaits. (January 11)”

― Sarah Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

An April Reflection — May 1, 2013

An April Reflection

Sue Mitchell, The Memoir Muse at An Untold Story
Sue Mitchell, The Memoir Muse at An Untold Story

During the month of April, I challenged myself to carry out two major constructive changes in my writing.  First, I signed up for the A to Z Blog Challenge , a challenge which requires 26 posts during the month of April (every day but Sunday) on any topic you choose.  I chose to write about the development of a character’s emotions and feelings.

The second challenge I took on was to write at least ten minutes each day before looking at emails or social media.  My hope was to break a habit. Research has shown that it takes 30 days to break a habit, and that same 30 days can train a new habit.  This challenge had its genesis with Sue Mitchell, writing coach at An Untold Story.

The last letter of the alphabet, Z, is written and posted, and the 30th day of April has come and (almost) gone.  I survived both challenges and I’m a better writer for it.

Writing blog posts for 26 out of 30 days kept me on my toes and my fingers tapping.  Of course, some of my posts were written ahead and scheduled to post, but some days I wrote more than one post, or about 1,000 words.  Just think if those cumulative words had been for my memoir.  A few more days and I could complete my first draft!

With each letter and post, I could feel my writing skills improving daily.  I suppose you could say I felt I was finding my groove!  And I met some incredible writers and bloggers widening my writing community.  A win/win.

The real high comes from the fact that after 30 days (OK, almost 30 here in the Pacific NW) I no longer sit down at the computer and head first for emails, Facebook, Twitter or anything other than to WRITE FIRST. Priorities have shifted.  Oh, yes, they have!  I feel more in control now.  And if I don’t make it to Facebook or Twitter until later in the day or at all on a single day, I’m comfortable with that.

So, I challenge each of you to think about what I’ve accomplished in 30 days.  I know many of you don’t struggle with these issues of managing time for writing, but some of us do.  And when you get a handle on it, you just can’t help but brag a bit.

Q4U: What are you doing to make the most of your writing time?  I’d love to hear how you manage your time and challenge yourself to stay above the fray of everyday life.

Click on images for attributions.

Wanted: Writing Garret — March 18, 2013

Wanted: Writing Garret

Coming home from a recent writing conference, I pondered our discussions of quiet writing spaces.  Something set apart from the rest of the living space and the noises of living with others.
As I drove up Hwy. 101 in Oregon, my thoughts began to wander to dreams of having such a space and how I could make it work in our already crowded 1640 sq. ft. home.  Granted only two humans and one cat live in that space but we can get in each other’s ways.

Images began to dance in my head like sugar-plum fairies at Christmas.  First, I saw a garret in an old Victorian home. This space could work well, but we don’t live in an old Victorian nor do we have an attic.

Moving along in my thoughts, I couldn’t help but think of all the conversions I saw when looking for space for a sewing room — closets converted into sewing areas!

But which closet was I going to give up to make a writing space!

Thinking about these closet conversions to sewing spaces ignited the proverbial light bulb.

I have a marvelous sewing room! Yes, an entire room dedicated to sewing and quilting.  This room is large and not used on a regular basis except for occasional quilting. However, it is full of antique sewing machines and Victorian sewing items, but that can be managed by reorganizing a bit.  My dream grew as I drove home.

Now I’m in the process of shifting things in the sewing room dedicating one corner, already equipped with a corner sewing table, to my writing space.  Already a comfortable office chair is in place.  And there is adequate space for reference books nearby and items to show my love of writing.  Essential will be a candle and soft classical music, both necessary to set the mood.

Another discussion at the writing conference was on how to make the quiet time needed for writing.  I have struggled with this thing called “time to write.”  I don’t know where my mind has been all these years and months, but time was sitting right under my nose.

My dear and darling husband is a musician, both instrumental and vocal.  His rehearsals are many each week as he plays with two bands, one orchestra and sings in our church choir.  I have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings to myself as well as Thursday afternoons.

I see the elements I’ve been missing for my writing space and time coming together. Likely, my new space won’t look like this but it’s a rough idea.  Putting the space and time in tandem makes my writing life feel as if it’s been renewed!

Once the conversion is complete, and all real property divided equally between sewing and writing, I’ll share a photo with you of my new writing “garret.”

Image attributions can be seen by clicking on images.

Struggling with Time Management (Part 4 of 4) — October 23, 2012

Struggling with Time Management (Part 4 of 4)

This is the fourth and last post in the series dealing with time management and our personal struggles in balancing life and writing time.

Just a few days before posting Part 3, I began thinking that there must be a tangible way to look at one’s time and the demands on that time.  After all a clock can give you the time of day, but cannot tell you how to balance each hour against another.

In researching this concept, I came across something remembered from my growing up with my printer/publisher dad — an editorial calendar.  It’s a calendar used by magazines, newspapers and other publications to track articles, timing, and other details of publishing.

Why could it not work for a writer?  Someone attempting to find writing time in the midst of busy days, weeks and months, not to mention years.  Someone attempting to balance life as a young mother and wife with her wish to write.  Perhaps a retiree who has found the joy of more freedom lending itself well to too many pursuits.

So, I’ve found a few which may or may not work for you and I’ve provided links to download these templates.  Yes, someone else has done the hard work.  All you have to do is find the one you like, download it, and begin!

1.  Michelle at Scraps of My Geek Life is a 40-something trying to juggle four kids, tech blog, husband, running, living a healthy lifestyle and still find time for digital scrapbooking. Granted Michelle doesn’t mention writing, but she does have a blog and participates in online digital scrapbooking.  Otherwise, her life is busy even not counting blogging and scrapbooking.

Michelle’s template is an Excel document, and she provides several different versions for you to choose from.  Follow this link to Michelle’s informative post on this template and you can download it for free.  Just click here.

Michelle’s template is easily adjusted by making minor changes to accommodate activities you want to track.

2.  KBK Communications, a marketing and consulting firm, offers a variety of free resources for business bloggers.  Well, what are we writers but people looking for book business?  The KBK template is a simpler, straightforward template.  But if writing schedules and publication dates are all you need to stay on top of, I think it’s a very workable Excel calendar.

To look at this template and review KBK’s comments about it, please follow this link here to read more and download the free template.

3.  Lastly, Kelly Garrett of Ekcetera Design Studio offers the following template free.  It is designed specifically for social media uses but could easily be manipulated for your own purposes.  Linking here will take you to Kelly’s post outlining tips on how to use this calendar and how to receive the template.

If you don’t see what you want here, don’t forget:  Google calendar is a fine option to “design your own.”  Or if you use Outlook, it has a great calendar option as well.

Also a search on Google or any other search engine for editorial calendar images will offer a large choice to review.

I’m sure that you, like me, will find that just looking at these templates and studying how they’ve been used will move you along to working out your own editorial calendar and schedule that writing time.

So, let’s get writing!