Monthly Archives: December 2009

On Writing

24 December 2009, by A. Cedilla

  • Holly Lisle, acclaimed science-fiction and fantasy writer, has a free, 209-page e-book full of very memorable advice on writing, available for download here.
  • No Train No Gain, an online resource for newsroom trainers (in journalism writing), has a resource page to help improve writing.
  • The Purdue Online Writing Lab has writing resources and instructional material meant for writers and teachers/trainers.
  • Forward Motion, an online community aimed at helping writers get published professionally, has back issues available, with some as free PDF downloads

And these are just a few of the thousands of writing resources, communities, organizations and downloads available on-line. Are you getting an idea of where we’re heading with this now?

Writing is a skill. As with any skill, there are levels to writing that can’t be reached by any process other than study and deliberate application — practice, practice, practice.

Some of the resources above are meant to break writing down to its very nut and bolts, others attend more to the process of writing, and still others to a particular goal — getting published, or mastering journalism. All of these resources can help you write better, if you apply yourself.

Continue reading On Writing

7 Steps to Successful Change 3

18 December 2009, by A. Cedilla

Recapping the previous parts of this small series of articles, the first two stages on the way to making lasting change involves contemplation, analyzing what you need and want to change in your life to make it better, and then accepting that you’re going to encounter problems and resistance on the way.

The final stage is taking action.

Here now are the last two steps:

6. Practice, practice, practice.
Lather, rinse, repeat. After all, what is practice except constant repetition of a particular action? The resistance will come out in full force at this stage, and now it’s up to you to bear the discomfort as you train yourself to do what it takes to make your desired changes stick.

This includes not letting things distract you from taking the steps you need to take towards your goal, like your old habit of hitting the snooze button (even though you set your clock 15 minutes early so it’s okay, you know, there’s still time, sheesh.) in favor of actually getting up so you can do what needs to be done: exercise, write your novel, whatever. Continue reading 7 Steps to Successful Change 3

7 Steps to Successful Change 2

17 December 2009, by A. Cedilla

To recap, the first two steps to successful change are 1) paying attention and realizing that there is a need for conscious change, and 2) choosing to change. Or not.

The next three steps on the way to successful change moves you from the contemplation stage to the analysis stage. This second stage will involve you weighing your options and calculating just what it is you need to give up to get what you really need and want for a better life.

After taking stock of your life in the first two steps (hopefully you took very good notes), now is the time to pull up all the information you came up with and use them.

3. Check out the options.
What else is out there? And don’t just use your opinion as a guideline for what’s good enough.

An opinion is an emotional judgment on an issue based on your feelings, your experience and knowledge on a subject. Emotions can cloud judgment, and the experience is all on your side, so you won’t know the other side of the issue. Be cool. Don’t lock the possibilities out first off.

Ask around, ask for other people’s opinions (they’re not as involved as you are and that distance can help. But prepare a few grains of salt, just in case.)

When you ask people for information, you’re multiplying your brainpower effortlessly, tapping their experience and knowledge base to amass a more comprehensive picture of the options open to you, a picture you can’t make based only on your own experience. Continue reading 7 Steps to Successful Change 2

7 Steps to Successful Change 1

14 December 2009, by A. Cedilla

The year’s almost over, and now is the time to think about what you did well in the past twelve months…as well as the other things that didn’t quite go the way you planned.

The dying time of the year is the traditional time to remember and reflect on that year’s triumphs and mishaps, so you can learn from them and strive to do better in the coming year.

Here are the first two of seven steps to making a successful change, and make for an awesomer –yes, we know it’s a made-up word — new year.

1. Recognize a growing discomfort with what is, with the status quo.

As a rule, we are never fully satisfied with what we have for long. Once the shine wears off our eyes go back to looking over the fence, wondering what we’re probably missing, and checking to see the particular shade of grass on the other side…

It’s also ironic, and completely true, that we also tend to stay in uncomfortable situations for far too long.

Lest the two seemingly unrelated ideas confuse you, here’s where they connect: We often stay too long in uncomfortable situations because of various reasons, and in an effort to deal with the pain, we look to getting new stuff to ‘fix it’.

Only, the new stuff is new only for so long, and the makeshift solution only masks the discomfort, not addresses it.

So, to deal with the dissatisfaction, you keep getting more new stuff (“It didn’t work, there must be something wrong, better go get a better thingamawhatzit…”), not seeing to the root cause.

Look at your life, over time, and in the past 12 months. Feel free to change from present to past tense in the following sentences: What hurts? Where is it hurting? What’s happening? Continue reading 7 Steps to Successful Change 1

Begin With The End In Mind

11 December 2009, by A. Cedilla

In this companion piece to Work Your Way Back, we’ll start off and leave you with three questions to help you in your planning your best year ever.

  • Why do you want your goals? – This question flips your goals over to find out the motivation underneath.
  • Do you really know what you want? – This question focuses your mental spotlight on the images that represent your goals.
  • What are the needs that your goals fulfill? – This asks you to honesty face what’s behind your motives.

Why do you want your goals?
I guess it would be safe to say that somewhere at the back of your mind, there’s probably a running To-Do list of sorts…and a mental wish-list. Admit it. I have a wish-list, you have one too, everyone ever exposed to advertising has one.

Have you ever thought about why you want what you want? Sometimes we tend to fixate on an obvious goal without realizing it’s a smokescreen for something else, and while motivation can keep you going, clarity keeps you aware of where you’re going and keeps you on track.

It’s like choosing a meal when you’re trying to lose weight. A high-calorie meal will fill your stomach like a lower-calorie meal, but only one option fits with your end goal. Continue reading Begin With The End In Mind

Work Your Way Back

09 December 2009, by Ariadne Cedilla

Here’s a no-hold, no-BS method to cut out the dead-weight and fluff when you plan your goals (particularly helpful for getting ready for 2010). Ready for it?

Start at the end and work your way back. That’s it. If you want the expanded version, keep reading.

When you start with a very specific, very vivid end in mind, this jars you out of the usual linear thinking you use in your daily activities.

Think about a health goal. Say you want to lose weight, get healthy and all that. So while you do have a good goal… it’s still not very specific. And you know that specificity is part of making SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely).

When you start with the end in mind, use your imagination and visualize the day when you reach your target weight.

See your body at that weight. Imagine how it would feel to move in that body, live in that body, be that healthy. Then move back to see the steps you took to get there.

The shift from one direction, from Now into a foggy Future State, to a solid, fully fleshed out Future Goal back-tracking into the Now, literally gives us a different perspective that can show us the unnecessary stuff, unconscious roadblocks and actions we incorporate into the action plan when we use linear thinking. Continue reading Work Your Way Back

Don’t Go In Blind

07 December 2009, by A. Cedilla

Whatever business enterprise you’re a) thinking of starting yourself or b) thinking of joining up with, you have your own reasons for doing so — and whether it’s for the money, personal satisfaction or realizing a life-long dream, you have to have realized at some point that knowledge is power.

The more you learn and the more experiences you acquire, the better you can steer your life towards successfully attaining your goals.

Now, this isn’t a call to avoid perfectionism or deal with procrastination. Neither is it a call to action, either. You know what needs doing better than anyone else. If you have your own vision and you’re on your way to making it real, you’re old enough to decide for yourself what you want, what price you’re willing to pay for it, and where you want to go with our life. This is just a quiet reminder to know what you’re getting yourself into. This way, you can take steps to ensure that your dreams don’t go up in smoke. Continue reading Don’t Go In Blind