Texture of Accomplishment

LonghandAndTeaIn early August, my laptop turned into a beast. It chewed through time like I chew through licorice whips. Snap, munch, yum, next hour, please.

It’s not like I was perfecting the craft of procrastination. Honest. I was working. I designed book covers, formatted ebooks and print books, updated webpages, created a whole new website. I was crazy busy and still not getting any writing done. Every morning, I put my butt in my  chair, and my hands on the keyboard and did everything except write story words.

And I was getting madder and madder at myself.

Then, I read a productivity book. I don’t usually like self-help books. I find most of them a little too “magical elixir” if you know what I mean. Just do precisely what the author says and you’ll sell a million books, lose a pound every time you blink, AND rule the world. Yeah. Right.

Anyhow, my dear friend Gina Storm Grant gave me this book. Gina has a very sensitive BS meter, so if she thinks something’s good, I believe her. So this book is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Talk about a whole new way of looking at your habits, good and bad. In the early chapters, Duhigg talks about the habit loop; cue, routine, reward.  A craving initiates a cue that prompts us to perform a routine that gets us a reward.

Here’s an example from the book; I hope I’m paraphrasing correctly. At work, in the middle of the afternoon, a woman is craving stimulation; she’s bored. She goes to the cafeteria, gets a doughnut and chats with her friends. She leaves the cafeteria feeling refreshed and ready to finish the day. However, she’s slowly gaining unwanted pounds.

Duhigg focuses on changing the routine of the habit loop. The craving is still satisfied, but without the unwanted side effects. Instead of going to the cafeteria, the woman goes for a brief walk, or chats with a friend at her desk.  The woman still satisfies her craving for stimulation, but doesn’t gain the weight.

For me, in the mornings, I craved the stimulation of creativity. My routine was to go to my desk and create all kinds of things. I was happy with what I’d created. My dilemma was there were no story words piling up on the page. So I changed my routine. Instead of going to my desk, I stayed at the kitchen table with my coffee and wrote my stories longhand. No distractions from email, Facebook, loops and groups, GIMP, WordPress etc etc. I wrote 200 pages of story, filling one notebook and making a serious dent in another.

Two hundred pages.

Totally blew myself away. Still can’t quite believe it.

So did this change of routine work for anyone else?

Here’s why Gina recommended the book: “At the time I sought out The Power of Habit, I was spending 10 hours a day at my computer, but rarely feeling I’d accomplished as much as I could have. I was also trying to form better eating habits and spending more than $50 a month at Weight Watchers to do so. I found this book helpful in both endeavours. I now accomplish more in my day and lost a total of 25 lbs.”

This is what my friend Wayne Tedder said after he took my suggestion and had been writing longhand for a while: “My heart opens up and expresses itself when I’m holding a pen. Since neither my heart, nor my pen, have a backspace key, or the ability to cut and paste, my word count while writing longhand always eclipses what I can accomplish at the keyboard. In writing longhand, I often feel that I’m not only writing a poem or story, but like I’m composing the music of my heart.”

Wayne is also the source of the title of this post. Don’t you just love those words? The texture of paper does change when it’s loaded with words, and so does the sound it makes when you turn pages. It’s such a tangible marker of progress. Somehow, more real than a number on a screen.

It’s tough job to change a habit. Understanding habit building, breaking, and rebuilding will help you get the job done.

There’s no magical elixir involved.

You can get The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg on Kobo, Amazon and other fine retailers. Gina and I recommend it.

© Joan Leacott, 2014

New Name, New Home, Same Great Course

Tips 4 WIPs + POD has a new name and a new home.

You can find Mastering Word for Fiction Writers at Woven Red Author Services. While you’re there, register for the next online class at Savvy Authors using the link in the sidebar.

On our new home page, you’ll find a Quiz to Test Your Word skills, a Tip Sheet for eBook Formatting, and a Reference Guide for Print Book Formatting.

So come on over and click around the new place.

link to Woven Red

© Joan Leacott 2014

Snakes Need Safety, Too

HalfRattlerI was out for a walk along the shores of beautiful Georgian Bay and came across this poor creature.

The massasauga rattler is a threatened species. It’s kind enough to tell you when you’re too close. Just back away and leave it alone. Choose another direction for your walk. Don’t kill the snake. He deserves a peaceful home just like you.

For more information, check out http://www.massasauga.ca/

FREE Books! July 14th is Digital Book Day!

LOTS and LOTS of FREE books at www.digitalbookday.com. But only ONE day. So click now.Link to Digital Book Day FREE Romance Books


Or go direct to Kobo for Above Scandal.

Instant family: just add daughter.

link to buy

Three generations of Rossetti women are hoarding secrets.

Cathy Rossetti’s secret is Hayley, her outspoken ten-year-old daughter, who’s about to meet her family for the first time. Sadly, it’s taken a terminal illness to bring Cathy back to her home town.

The elder generation of Rossetti women guards a thirty-year old secret with the power to rock Cathy’s world. Will her mother take their secret to her grave, or will her aunt break her punishing vow of silence?

Hayley hates secrets, so she’s sleuthing around Clarence Bay looking for her daddy. Is it her new BFF’s father or mayoral candidate Ryan Chisholm or Ryan’s handsome campaign manager?

Ryan has a secret, too. He’s still in love with Cathy, his high-school sweetheart. For a man running his election campaign on a platform of honesty, this could cause problems. Will dumping his popular fiancée cost him the election? And if Cathy still loves him after eleven years’ absence, she’s not telling.


Microsoft Word Techniques All Authors Should Know

word cloud 5Are you looking for a class that will help you to:

  1. improve your efficiency in Microsoft Word
  2. master advanced Word techniques
  3. create pristine Word files ready for e-formatting and print-on-demand?

Then sign up for the March 2014 Tips 4 WIPs + POD at Author E.M.S.

But don’t wait too long. The classes fill up quick.


Note: The Tips 4 WIPs + POD course is now known as Mastering Word.


Writing Process Blog Tour

Welcome to the continuing Writing Process Blog Tour where authors are invited to answer the same four questions. Wonder if there’s any common ground? My thanks to Charlotte Copper who invited me to join the tour group.

What am I working on?

I’ve just finished a blog tour for my second story in the Clarence Bay Chronicles, Sight for Sore Eyes.

Blog Tour Event for Joan Leacott

Emma Finn has had enough of life-altering changes. Stability is all she wants right now, no matter how boring. Ophthalmologist Asher Stockdale wants her to dust off her old dream of globe-trotting photographer, no matter the cost to his new dream of home, family and small town life. Carpenter ants, a rescued Pirate, and a pair of scheming seniors help Emma and Asher to see what really lies before their eyes.

By the way, the Tasty Tours blog contest is still open. If you comment on one the blogs, you can win a $10 gift certificate. You can also enter to win one of two print copies of Sight for Sore Eyes.


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write Romantic Women’s Fiction. That’s contemporary stories of real people dealing with real life issues, just like you and I; families, jobs, personal growth, and romance. To further reflect real life, I add multiple generations. For example, in Sight for Sore Eyes, a pair of scheming seniors have matchmaking on their minds. Jean is the heroine Emma’s grandmother and Horace is the hero Asher’s grandfather. Little do Jean and Horace know, they’re about to get caught in their own trap.

Why do I write what I do?

Like many authors, I started writing because I couldn’t find a story that truly pleased me, so I wrote my own. ;) I write multiple plot lines because I’m fascinated but the intertwining of events; how a slight bump in the road can turn into a major detour. I’d like my readers to take away a smile, perhaps a bit of insight, and a sigh of romance.

How does your writing process work?

With each new story, I first write a backstory document to record the events in each character’s life that has lead them to the opening of the book. I move on to a scene-by-scene outline showing, in two sentences, the events and outcomes of each scene for each plot line in the book. Then I braid the plot lines together to shape the story. Then I start to write. Yep, I’m a plotter.

This year, I’ve started exchanging daily goals with a good friend. It’s a great way to keep track, and stay on track, of all the facets of the writer’s life. Real life is included in our goals as well; e.g., walk the dogs, go to aquafit and yoga, run errands. We exchange high fives for our successes and develop strategies for our problems.

Thank you for stopping by! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Your next traveling companions are:

Lynn Cahoon a multi-published romance and mystery author who lives with her husband in a small river town where her mind tends to wander around the depth and experience of small town life and love.

When not imagining far away worlds and scorching hot encounters, Tina Christopher can be found on her sofa working through her never-ending TBR pile or venturing into the real world—whether to a nearby café or a passport-required destination.

Jessica Aspen writes paranormal, twisted fairy-tale romance near the foothills of the Colorado Rockies.