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My Work In Progress, Applying My 2022 Focus Word

November 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

I love the play on words with the term Work in Progress for my 2022 focus word. With my word being “work” this year, I, myself am a work in progress. Just like what us authors call our current manuscript, work in progress (WIP).

I have found this word to be a great word to focus on. The word work can mean many different things, and I have focused on the noun.

Exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; productive or operative activity

My favorites have been the synonyms for the word work. These highlight what I wanted to focus on this year.

Books on bookshelf in background with the word Work synonyms in front by Denise M. Colby

Interestingly, for my manuscript work in progress, I have been able to focus on digging deeper into editing, reviewing each chapter with my critique partners and learning through editing their work as well. I also have entered additional contests and participated in classes and online learning. With the limited time I’ve had, I feel I have continued work on my manuscript and have made progress.

My Personal Work In Progress

Personally, I am always a work in progress, but especially this year my focus has been on my health. Even with a significant car accident earlier in the year that put me in physical therapy for many months, I have made great strides in my health. I’m sleeping better, I have more energy, and I can eat a larger variety of foods again. 

It has taken a daily commitment to build new habits in both of these work in progress areas. Sometimes it’s been challenging. Sometimes I wonder if I would ever get better (both in my writing and my health). But as days have become weeks, and weeks, months, I do see progress. The best complement I received recently from a dear friend; they could see how much healthier I look. And as I reflected on those words, I realized I do feel healthier and happier. 

Creating Fun with my word, Work

 I like to make my word each year fun and memorable and find all sorts of quotes and verses with that word in it. The last few years, I get to the end of the year and I haven’t posted as much as I wanted to about my word. That too, seems to be a work in progress. And then it becomes a mad dash to do just that. So bear with me as I share these quotes and verses related to my word work.

I hope they inspire you in your own work in progess, whether it is your writings or your personal life.

Denise M. Colby loves to write words of encouragement blog posts. She also loves to write about her word of the year she chooses each year. She created a page on her website on her 2020 word, courage, a blog post about her 2021 word, wisdom. She started 2022 sharing why she chose the word, work

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The Brand Challenge Introduction

October 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

This month, I’m introducing a concept called The Brand Challenge. It’s a way to encourage you to try something new on your website to help you build your brand.

Blog header with right side showing laptop and left with words The Brand Challenge by Denise M. Colby

Sometimes branding and dealing with your website can be challenging. The purpose of this challenge is to encourage you to just try. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It can even be something you decide to change later on. The idea is trying something new to keep propelling you forward in your Author career.

For a list to choose from, here are some ideas to help you with your Brand Challenge this month:

  • Create a new blog post this month about a character, your story theme, or genre you write in
  • Up your on-page SEO with each post and page (for help, I’ve created an On-Page SEO Checklist for you to download, and check out my past blog post Using a Blog SEO Checklist to Streamline Your Blog Post)
  • Create a book page on your website for every book you have or are working on
  • Link two or three pages on your website to one another using Anchor Text
  • Design a social media post about the genre you are writing in, or a book you’ve read recently

Pick One Task A Month For This Brand Challenge

Again, I encourage you to do one thing on this list above to help build your brand. It may not seem much, or it may feel overwhelming. But just stick to one thing only for the entire month. Then do another thing the following month. Pretty soon, you’ll have many months of blog posts or content you didn’t have before.

I’m always amazed at how slow and steady can be the right way to approach brand building.

Sometimes we feel this urgency to hurry up that adds extra stress we don’t need as we are busy writing our next book.

I’d love to hear other ideas that can help you build your brand. Do you like the idea of a monthly Brand Challenge? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Blessings,

Denise

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Consistently Write In Order to Meet Your Writing Goals

September 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

Each week my progress feels limited, but add the work all up together (it’s the 37th Monday of the year) and I’m finding that consistently writing a small amount week to week is working for me. It’s fun to check in mid-year, or in this case, September, and take a peek at the goals I set for the year. Am I even close? Did I miss my mark this year? Should I give up writing? 

Blog Banner with laptop on right side, and Left side text saying Consistently write in order to meet your writing goals by Denise M. Colby

And learn I HAVE made progress.

It’s just so hard to see when we are going word by word, page by page.

Be Encouraged to Keep Writing Consistently

I want to encourage my writing friends to not give up. Set realistic goals for yourself on a week to week basis and keep plugging along. Stay steady. Be persistent.

Have I reached all my goals? No. But the year isn’t done yet. And yes, I have some far-reaching goals that can overwhelm me if I try to hurry up and get them done all at once. But this is where breaking tasks into manageable chunks help. 

Put in the work (my word for the year) and you will see results. If you are like me, figuring out what that work should be in each stage of the process can be challenging. I’m not able to focus on my writing full-time at this stage in my life, so my writing consistently has to be squeezed in between my day job and the family commitments. 

How do I do that? 

Find The Schedule to Help You Consistently Write

At first I selected a specific day and time, one day a week. But that fell through when other required events popped up. Then I tried to just touch my ms sometime during the week. Constantly touching your MS even if it’s one page at a time is better than no writing at all. But it was hit or miss how far I would get and there wasn’t any accountability to myself to keep going.

Then a door opened that was exactly what I needed (which is something that has happened a lot in my writing journey). A new critique group came along at the perfect time within one of my writing groups. Out of all the writing clubs I belong too, this was really where I needed to put in the time. But I was afraid of the commitment. Yet it’s the commitment to consistently write that helps us complete a book. So finding the way that works for you to do that is key.

So this critique group came along at the perfect time. Sure I wanted my MS completely edited and ready to pitch ASAP. But instead I’m focusing on a chapter a week, by relooking at the scenes, editing, submitting and getting great feedback. And learning how to provide feedback back to others. Which has helped in many ways as well. 

Overall, this has helped me streamline my story and make it stronger. And I’ve become a better writer. The bonus with working on this one writing task consistently every week? By the end of the year, I’ll have gotten feedback on every chapter. This was the accountability I needed.

Choose Your Own Way to Be Consistent

I’m not writing this post to encourage you to join a critique group. Maybe a critique group isn’t for you at this stage. For each writer, what helps you consistently write can be different. So know yourself. And spend some time figuring out what you need to do at this stage in your writing. What you need can change. Allow it to change. There just needs to be forward momentum (which happens when we consistently write) in order for us to reach our goals.

It’s the consistently writing, however we approach it, that counts.

Denise M. Colby loves to write words of encouragement blog posts. She also loves to write about her word of the year she chooses each year. She’s been working on her first manuscript for a long time and hopes to publish soon, since she has lots of other stories in her head waiting to be put on the page.

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When Our Confidence In Our Writing Wavers

April 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby, Writing tagged as , , ,

Have you ever had your confidence in your writing waver? Years ago I wrote something that really helped me in a very heavy doubt period. As I was discussing confidence in his artwork with my college-age son recently, I went and found this to encourage him to believe in himself. I needed the reminder as well. And I decided to share it with all of you too.

Blog Header with laptop computer, notebook, and person writing, with title When Confidence In Your Writing Wavers

Originally published on denisemcolby.com on June 6, 2017

This morning I was reading in 2 Corinthians and the following verse made me stop and pause, so I wrote it down on my handy 3×5 index card for future reference:

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.     2 Corinthians 3:5

I want to be a writer. Notice I said I want to, not I am.

I’ve only been writing things for over twenty years – either marketing copy or fiction stories. No matter which, the reality is I struggle with believing in myself. Having confidence in my writing. My takeaway from this verse is God’s telling me if I believe in him, I need to believe in myself.

After getting the kids off to school, I took a walk and the verse rattled around in my head. But for some reason the key word competence turned into the word confidence (I wonder who put that there?). As I mulled around thoughts about confidence, I knew I needed to come home and look up the word in the dictionary.

I love words. Definitions, synonyms – all of it. I also love seeing connections words have with other words.  So here’s what the website http://www.dictionary.com says about

CONFIDENCE: full trust; belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance:

And I love the example they gave in a sentence: His lack of confidence defeated him.

Is my lack of confidence in my abilities as a writer defeating me?

I think about my writing and the nudges I have had over the past five years and I know without a doubt God wants me to do this, otherwise doors would’ve closed on me long ago. However I’m not fully doing what he wants me to do because I have not had the confidence to just do it.

I’ve been saying for a while now, I would like to write devotionals. I have this strong innate desire to share hope, encouragement and God’s Word with others. What I haven’t been sure about is the how and what. So I haven’t done it, period.

When I took my walk this am something clicked and I couldn’t wait to get back home because I needed to do this right now. God has confidence in me. He has given me the desire. He’s nudging me to do this. Why have I not done this? Why?

I’m afraid – that’s why. What am I so afraid of? Putting myself out there? Looking like an idiot? Is that confidence then? I know I’m not looking for accolades, not looking for stardom. I just want to write and share my heart. But I’ve been too scared to do that. I have lacked confidence to go for it.

Then I saw the Synonyms for confidence – 1. faith, reliance, dependence.

And the Antonym – 1. mistrust.

Wow!

In a nutshell, my lack of confidence in myself (lack of faith) and the abilities God has given me (lack of faith, dependence) are holding me back from sharing something he wants me to share.

My lack of confidence is holding me back in my writing

I’m not really trusting God then, am I? If I have faith, I should have confidence in what he’s asking me to do. And I need to depend on Him when I do it.

So here I am today. Writing a devotional and setting up a specific devotional page on my website. Only God knows what will happen. I just need to have the confidence to do it (already the nagging doubts are creeping in). I must rely on God with the rest.

But wait, there’s more. When I grabbed my Bible to write in the verse, I realized I made a mistake (was it really?) and the word was competence not confidence. Oh no! Do I scrap what I just wrote? Does it even relate? See maybe I shouldn’t be doing this after all. I paused for a moment then decided to look it up:

COMPETENCE: having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, etc., for some purpose; properly qualified:

And the Synonym: 1. fit, capable, proficient.

No antonym. Interesting. There is no negative/opposite of being competent.  You either are or you are not. I may not be the best writer, but I know I am proficient. So what am I waiting for?

Then I looked at 2 Corinthians 3:4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.

If God has given you skills – you are capable to use them for his glory. You just need to have the confidence through Him to do it. 

What abilities (competence) has God given you?  Where do you put your confidence?  In your own efforts, schedule, skills, voices in your head? Or do you trust God?  Do you have the confidence to put yourself out there with whatever it is?

God has given us all skills. We are all competent in something. Being competent does not need to mean you are the best at something.

Being competent means you are proficient. You can get the job done.

We should have confidence in our writing if we are proficient enough

We let our own voices tell us we are not competent because we think we need to be the best or someone does it better than us and we let it affect our confidence which in turn affects what we do.    

Everyone’s path is different and God has one he wants you to follow. He has given you these skills for a reason. You just have to have confidence in Him that He is with you every step of the way.

God believes in you and I believe in you too!

Denise M. Colby loves to write encouraging words. You can read other posts by Denise in her archives here on A Slice of Orange

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Being Out of Balance Stifles Creativity

January 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

Do you ever feel out of balance in your life? Where you find your days lopsided in your to-do’s, and you aren’t able to dig into your well to do what you really want to do? Have you found yourself with the desire to create stuffed inside but no way to come out? Am I the only one who needed a mental and creative break at the end of last year?

Blog header with rocks stacked on top of each other and words Being Out of Balance Stifles Creativity by Denise M. Colby

When I say creative break, what I really mean is giving my brain a chance to catch up with itself. Taking the time to organize thoughts, goals, wins, and losses, and get out of the funk I found myself in.

Time to conduct a Sacred Rest Assessment

Susan May Warren added the Sacred Rest assessment in her 2022 Brilliant Writer Planner (that I love!). It’s a way to determine the rest you are lacking (and what you are not). It’s all about balance. And she organizes our needs into these buckets:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Creative
  • Spirutal
  • Social
  • Sensory
  • Mental.

When you find your life is out of harmony

For me, my mental and creative areas are sorely lacking. And taking time over the last two weeks to purge through some to-do piles, evaulate my year, and write out thoughts, made me realize I don’t schedule this type of downtime for my brain enough. 

And that’s exactly what the assesment is supposed to do. 

Help you figure out areas you should focus on this year.

For me, I like time to let my mind catch up with my inputs. Let my mind wander. With my scheduled life, I don’t get a lot of time to do that. Yet when I did recently, I found the creative juice I’ve been missing.

Ideas began to pop into my thoughts. Energy to dive in and get to work.

Finding Symmetry

And that what was so exciting, because WORK is my word for 2022. Something I chose because God isn’t finished with me yet. And I am not finished with this writing journey. 

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. Philippians 1:6.  

Noun: exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something

Dreams don’t work, unless you do.

My manuscript is a work in progress

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart….Colossions 3:24-25

Which is exactly what I plan to do for 2022.

I process my thoughts by writing. I explore what’s in my brain by writing. And what I found myself not doing at the end of 2021 was writing.

It takes work to write. And I’m now ready to get to work.

Figuring Out Balance

In her Sacred Rest Assessment, Susie May asks three questions at the end 

1. What areas do you need to focus more on this year?

2. Why do you feel you are depleted in those particular areas?

3. What activities can you pursue to refresh your life with Sacred Rest?

And just like that I figured out how and what to schedule (what I need to bring balance back to my life) into my week.

How about you? Are you in balance with your Sacred Rest?

You may want to schedule some time to assess to help you bring yourself back into balance this year and together, maybe we can help each other do just that!

Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, & engage. Every year, she chooses a word to focus on. Her word in 2021 was Wisdom. If you’d like to see more of Denise’s posts on this blog, you can check out her archives.

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