How I developed the habit of writing regularly

A little while ago I wrote a celebratory post on how I’ve began writing regularly. This, along with reading regularly have been wonderful additions to my life. It’s weird but reading and writing regularly make me happier and better. I’m less cranky, more hopeful, always thinking and processing things. I used to have terrible success in doing things regularly that I didn’t need to. Writing my second novel (which I didn’t finish) happened because I needed to write it in a different sense. I had to get the images that were in my head, those scenes that described my life through this other character needed to get on paper as a sort of pensieve of that time in my life.


A friend left a question in response to that post that I want to reply to.


This is a good question. It was probably four years ago that I decided to take this desire to write seriously, even though I felt like I had nothing worth saying to anyone.

  1. I acknowledged that I would never make time for anything I didn’t feel like was a priority. There are lots of good things in life and many great things. It’s a personal decision what you prioritize. Just over a year ago I decided to prioritize some things that involved writing because I wanted to grow in these areas.
  2. Try Nanowrimo. Writing a novela in a month is a great way to develop the habit. It forces you to say no to certain things in order to say yes to writing. It’s thrilling. It’s hard. It’s a lot of fun. At the end of the month you’ve accomplished something that you might never look at again, or could be a good framework for an actual novel you continue to develop. I doubt you’ll finish the month thinking it was a total waste of time if you take it seriously.
  3. Find a project/venue to write. For years (read: since 2001) I’ve blogged. This was always a writing outlet. I’m quite confident it’s the reason I can put an idea on paper so quickly. Having a blog or a writing project with goals helps tremendously. “Who would read my blog?” Who cares? Don’t write for other people, write for yourself. Write about what you care about, develop your voice. If you want to write fiction, give yourself a project and a deadline and a friend to keep you accountable. It’s just like any other goal you’d have. One of the projects I started writing this year was really just a project for me to think through certain things. As it was developing, I realized it might be a helpful resource to people eventually. So I kept going and am working on editing it.
  4. It’s life giving to me. It’s hard to stop doing something that’s life-giving and that people give such positive feedback on. I now notice that when I don’t feel inspired to write or don’t feel like I have time to write, it’s because my life is slowly getting out of sorts. It’s a helpful compass.
  5. [edit] Track it. I forgot to add this one at first. I’ve noticed that paying attention to when I write helps. One of my habits that I’m tracking on Lift is “Write for 30 minutes.” If I can do that every day, I’m doing awesome. Even if I do that a few times a week, it’s a good week. Having that reminder on my app every day helps me plan to make time to write.

If you’ve ever wanted to write go open up a wordprocessor this weekend or the next evening you have free and start. No one has to see it. No one has to know. Do it for you because you want to and it is (if you acknowledge what’s going on deep down inside of you) important to you. Work on it for 15 or 30 minutes another day. Have a notebook or notepad app with you to jot down your ideas when they come. Keep plugging away at it. Soon you’ll be amazed at what you’ve accomplished!

Have anything else to add? Have you developed the habit of writing regularly? How did you develop it? 

eBook and Writing

reach-your-goals-screencapIt’s been a few weeks since my Easter Weekend Project and this past week I had some time to look over the book, make some suggested edits as per my brother’s recommendations. Willy took a quick look over it, gave me a few recommendations and the next step is to edit it for reals. I’m still debating whether I’ll let Willy edit it or not. Being edited is hard. I haven’t decided whether opening myself up to his criticism is better than someone else’s. He’s already read it now, so I guess he can already see it for what it is before being editing.

Both my husband and my brother agreed it’s something I can be proud of. This makes me smile.

Right now it’s a series of steps to help you dream big, decide on your bucket list goals/life goals and start making them happen — nothing particularly new for this blog except for all in one place. The working title is Reach Your Goals but that sounds pretty lame and self-help-y. I’m open to better suggestions.

“You’ve written a lot this year!” Willy pointed out. I hadn’t really thought about it, but once I did, I realized that yeah I have written a lot. As it stands, this ebook is roughly 10,000 words. Another one I’ve been working on for the last 8 months (as ideas come) is 20,000 words. The novel I wrote in November was roughly 50,000 words and none of this is including all of the blog posts I’ve written and personal journaling I’ve done. The best part is, my life doesn’t seem to be interrupted by all this writing.

I’m celebrating a little bit in my heart as I write this for having been able to so easily work toward this goal of writing regularly.

Easter Weekend Project


I bought hydrangeas for Easter!

Four days off in a row. How awesome is that? This is the first year we didn’t spend with family. Usually we end up spending one or two days at my dad’s but this year we’ve stayed home in Montreal for all of our holidays except Christmas. I never knew how awesome four-days-in-a-row is when you aren’t obligated to do things other people want to. I was telling my dad this yesterday when I called him to wish him a Happy Easter. It was really relaxing to not have to visit family, even though I love them. They totally understood, which is very nice.

I spent a lot of the weekend writing. It was wonderful!

I’m slowly moving ahead on some of these smaller goals that lead up to (I hope) getting published one day. This one is the easy first step: an ebook related to this blog. Now, I know, it maybe doesn’t sound thrilling (or does it?), but I promise you it’s actually pretty not bad!

As I took all the most-popular posts from this blog and the other posts that are very key to what I think will help someone define goals and move towards them, over the course of the long weekend I wrote an ebook. It is meant to be short and to the point. It is meant to be given away freely. I think it does a really good job of streamlining what I’ve learned in the last several months about making life changes to structure your life to reach your goals.

So the next step is to get it edited and reviewed by a few people and then release that bad boy.

I’m excited!

Interview + Giveaway

About Us photoToday my friends Tim and Olive Chan are launching their book Then Came the Baby: The Wonder, Mayhem, and Hilarity of Our First Year as Parents this week. I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy which I really enjoyed. My husband, Willy, heard me laughing from across the house on a few occasions. The way they open up their lives to the reader, showing the highs and the lows, the funny and the difficult is really refreshing and helpful, especially for a not-yet-parent like myself. Tim has kindly agreed to an interview. As someone who also wants to publish one day, I was thrilled by the opportunity to learn from them

So without further ado, here’s the interview:

Describe how you guys decided you were going to write for a living.
There were a few factors involved. The first was that both Olive and I felt like we could not authentically live out our callings in our previous jobs, and were looking around for something else to do. The second was that the blog we started in November 2011 had been getting positive response from friends, family, and even people we didn’t know.

We felt it was a good time to take a risk, and trying writing full-time for a year. Writing allows Olive to be able to interact and influence people while having to expend too much social energy (which she does not have much of as an introvert). Writing full-time also gave me a chance to launch our own business, which was something I’ve been itching to do. Lastly, writing gives both of us the flexibility to work part-time and take care of our daughter part-time.

What has been the highlight and the lowlight for you guys in the process?
The highlight has been the chance to work together. Many people say that they cannot work with their spouse, but we’ve found it to be a positive and enriching experience so far. Working together has allowed us to see each other in a different context, and appreciate the strengths of the other person. As new parents, it gives us something to do together that does not revolve around our daughter.

The lowlight has been the stress and worry of attempting to make a living through writing. Often I struggle with the fear of failing. Though it’s difficult, it’s given me a chance to exercise living courageously.

What is one thing that has surprised you (good or bad)?
One thing that’s surprised me is the impact we’ve been able to make through writing. We’ve had many people tell us that they like reading our blog, and that it’s helped them with their marriage or as a parent. We’re humbled and grateful knowing that we’re making a small difference in the world.

What is one thing you would go back and do over if you had the chance?
One thing I would have done differently is to work on our blog sooner. Olive and I have been blogging for over 8 years, but it’s been something we do in our spare time. We’ve never really worked on building it until a year and a half ago. If we had started earlier, our impact might have been so much more today.

What advice (if any) do you have for someone who wants to publish an ebook like you are?
Write a little every day. Writing a book seems like a daunting task, but if you spend time every day to write, soon your book will be done.

Another piece of advice is to get people to help you edit the book. I’m not talking about someone to find grammatical errors (although that is important too), but someone to give you feedback on the direction and message of your book. We’ve been blessed to have many friends help us with this. The first draft of our upcoming book had 52 chapters. The final version of our book has 41 chapters. Through the editing process we cut out 11 of the weaker chapters, and most of the chapters that remain we rewrote. Our book is many times better because of the input of our editors.

What’s your next goal?Our next goal is to apply for the Aikman Opportunity Award. It is a book writing competition where the winner is awarded $20,000 and the opportunity to work with a publishing company. Our goal is for both Olive and I to submit book proposals for this competition. More details here:

Big thanks to Tim and Olive for answering these questions!

To celebrate their launch Tim and Olive have graciously given me two copies of their book to give away in Kindle format (which you can read on your tablet or smartphone if you don’t have a Kindle). Details of the giveaway are below the interview.

The Giveaway

  1. Entry method #1: leave a comment saying you want a copy.
  2. Entry method #2, 3, 4+: Share about the giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, G+ or on Pinterest (by pinning the book cover linking to this post) and come back and leave a separate comment for each social media share.
  3. Entry method #5ish: Follow my blog by email.
  4. Be generous! This book may not reflect where you are in your life now, but maybe you have a friend who is planning to have kids soon, trying, or about to pop! Share this with them.
  5. I’m looking into getting a self-hosted WordPress site so I can actually use Rafflecopter and none of this annoying make-you-comment-a-lot stuff.
  6. Go and share!Cover (Final)

Scratch that.

Having big goals requires having a bunch of little ones to check off the list to help you get there. I’ve written some of my smaller goals here that will help me get to the bigger, badder bucket list items. Today, I got to check one of those off. I now have some articles published somewhere other than my own blog.

It feels like a big day but maybe that’s because the sun was still up at 7PM.

The writing is different from what I usually write here. It’s more personal, or at least a different kind of personal. Also, it’s been edited! It’s weird seeing words that did not come from myself. It was also helpful to see how unclear I can write or how I can mix my points and switch topics mid article. Humbling.

Read on

Confessions of a Former McDonalds Addictmcdo-1
McDonald’s and I have had an interesting relationship over the years.
 I love McDonald’s and have had a tendency to lose self-control around it. At first it was infrequent during late-night study sessions with friends, entirely on impulse. Then it stopped being so infrequent.

I moved to Montreal after I graduated University and found myself in a new (big) city with few friends. My evenings after work were spent alone in those first few months. I didn’t have a lot of energy to meet new people at the end of a long day. So I watchedBig Bang Theory instead. During this time, I had moved right across the street from a McDonald’s. The mouth-watering scent of salty fries were carried on in the warm September breeze across the street and into my bedroom window.

I was doomed.

Click to read more.

It feels good, people. Now that the sun is down I can say confidently that it does feel good to scratch this off the list.

What smaller steps have you scratched off your Bucket list recently? Leave a comment here

Journaling challenge

Last fall I did a bunch of posts on journaling and gave a way a great hand bound journal. I just stumbled upon a challenge that I thought I’d share with you because it’s a great idea. Over at Cloud Productivity, they’re throwing out a challenge starting March 1 (that’s this Friday) to start journaling. It gives you some time to decide whether you want to write or type, to pick up a fresh journal or buy an app or just open a new window in Word.

Can journalling can make you more productive?” was my most popular post on journaling, which you might find motivating to start.

Have you recently started journaling? Have you tried before and quit? What did/didn’t you like about it? Do you think you’ll give it a shot this time? Comment here with your thoughts.

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