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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone And Challenge Yourself

July 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

Have you ever done something out of turn? Just you – where you had to depend on yourself completely? Step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself?

Blog header with title Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Challenge Yourself by Denise M. Colby, brown with cream text over old wood background

Not necessarily with your writing, but with yourself.

Possibly going on a trip, or learning a new hobby.

Over the fourth of July, I got this opportunity.

I traveled for six hours by myself, driving to meet my sister to go camping. It’s been a long time since I have been in a car by myself for that much time.

What I found out about myself, was that at first it was uncomfortable. I wasn’t necessarily worried, but it didn’t feel natural. Since Covid hit, my husband and I have run errands or picked up food together. Most of the time, he drives. Rarely have I gone out by myself.

So it felt a little strange and exciting to be loading up and heading out all on my own.

There were moments on my drive where I felt unsure and maybe a little weak. 

But as I kept driving, those unsure moments turned into empowering moments. I sang at the top of my lungs to music I love, and found my mind swelling with creative ideas and thoughts related to my writing and other things I haven’t thought of in a long time.

It was such the confidence boost I needed.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and grew more confident with myself

I found it interesting to have the freedom to allow my thoughts to grow and flourish. Because I wasn’t reacting to anyone else or anyone else reacting to me, I could do that. The time was my own the entire time. 

Which I found very interesting. 

When was the last time, I could finish a thought for myself and see where it led? 

The rest of the weekend was much of the same. Camping, hiking, biking and enjoying nature. I allowed myself to experience as much as possible and when it was time to drive back another six hours, there was more confidence, more thoughts, and more positive emotions coming out of the experience.

Denise M. Colby stepped out of her comfort zone and challenged herself by driving to Mammoth to camp with her sister and hiked Sherwin Lake Trail at 8,269 feet
Camping & Hiking in Mammoth with my sister, was a great challenge that helped my creative side

So many great rewards reaped from the entire experience.

Much like I have gained from this writing experience I’ve embarked on all these years.

I stepped out my comfort zone and learned something about my writing

And a thought occured to me that much like the emotions I experienced on this trip, it was not dissimilar to my writing journey. 

There are many times I feel scared or unsure of what I’m writing or doing with my writing. Where will it all lead? Am I cut out for this? Should I stay or should I go? But like embarking on a new experience, trying something new, builds confidence and empowers us to do more. I have definitely felt that with each blog post I’ve posted, contest I’ve entered, goal or milestone I’ve achieved.

This year I have mostly stopped writing on a regular basis. This is due to the full time day work I’ve been doing, juggling my family, and trying to find balance. Mentally, my creative side was spent. But in stopping, I’m not moving forward and the scary, unsure, and weak moments (i.e. doubts) have popped up again.

And a correlation appeared. Similar to each mile I drove onward during this trip, I need to keep moving forward with my writing so that I can once again be empowered and confident in what I am doing.

So I asked myself…

What was it about the journey that was so empowering?

One of the things I liked about the journey was getting from one position to another. Moving forward. I also liked knowing the rules.

  • Traveling with other vehicles going in the same direction
    • I love sharing the writing journey with other writers
  • Showing courtesy and kindness and friendliness with each vehicle I passed or passed me
    • Cheering on my fellow writers in their own journey encourages me
  • Moving right alongside others
    • Buying a book, writing a review, providing a critique, and checking in on goals means I support you and we are in this together
  • The art of the drive
    • There is much to learn in the art of writing and it’s fun to use what I’ve learned, too
  • The game of counting down miles till I reached my destination
    • Setting milestones and reaching them encourages me to do more
  • Memories of learning by my dads side with how to read maps, understand the road, and know the codes
    • Learning from other writers helps me be a better writer and we have a shared investment in how my journey continues

And last but not least:

  • It’s all about the journey, not just the destination
    • It’s all about the journey – enjoy it and make the most of it – and embrace the little things along the way

I hope you can be encouraged to keep going on your writing journey. I know after this trip, I’m jumping back in and enjoying where I’m at and what I can still accomplish.

Blessings,

Denise

I like to write words to encourage, enrich, and engage. Check out my other posts related to Finding Motivation to Accomplish Your Goals or Why I chose Wisdom for #Myword2021.

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Writers Make Amazing Teachers to Both Writers and Readers

October 12, 2020 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , , ,

I truly believe that writers make amazing teachers. I could not have gotten this far in my writing journey without my wonderful writer friends teaching me what they know.

Blog header titled Writers Make Amazing Teachers with crumpled paper in the background and photo of a t-shirt with motivating words by Denise M. Colby

When I first started, I had no idea how much tie in there was between writing and teaching. Well, I sort of did. I remember sitting at my first OCCRWA meeting and taking in everything the speakers were saying. I had so much to learn. And these speakers were experts. I remember thinking to myself, “I would love to someday know as much as them, so I could share like they do, but I know nothing about this industry and writing a novel.” And I felt like I would never know what I needed to know.

Fast forward eight years later and I’m now the one in front of a room and teaching. Who knew! And who knew how valuable us writers are to teach what we’ve learned and share it with our fellow writers.

How are writers amazing teachers?

Wikipedia defines a teacher as the following: A teacher (also called a school teacher or, in some contexts, an educator) is a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue. Informally the role of teacher may be taken on by anyone (e.g. when showing a colleague how to perform a specific task).

We, my dear writer friends, are all colleagues showing one another how to perform tasks!

As I thought on this topic further, I came to the realization that us writers teach to two different groups.

1. To other writers.

2. To our readers.

Writers love to help other writers

Let’s talk about other writers. If you are part of a critique group or have ever judged a contest, you are in some form or fashion, teaching. You provide feedback and make suggestions. You are helping another writer learn how to make their manuscript better. You are taking your experiences and sharing them with other writers.

This is yet another way writers make amazing teachers.

I have been blessed with so many writers who have offered their input and suggestions throughout the years, either through contests or from the many different organizations I’m a part of. This is either by being the main speaker at meetings or conferences, or in a table discussion during the lunch break. I have learned many, many, many things from all of it.

This is another way writers are amazing teachers.

And to all my writer friends, you have taught me much!

Again, taking me back to my first meeting, I thought I had to keep my story ideas close to the vest. But that’s not the case. Writers love to talk about stories and there are so many stories out there waiting to still be made up there are not enough days in a year to write them all.

So, as writers, we share. We share ideas, concepts we’ve learned or tried, information we’ve gleaned from a conference, meeting, or blog post. We share encouragement. And we celebrate every single milestone hit by fellow authors. We motivate, innovate, and believe in one another just like the t-shirt says in the photo at the top of this blog!

This is yet another way writers are amazing teachers.

Writers teach readers about places, people and relationships

As writers, we also teach our readers. We research specific locations, jobs, diseases, and disabilities, and we incorporate that research into our books. We look at cultures, relationships, and history and add that in as well. Sometimes readers will not be aware of any of the things we write about and so we are teaching our readers about how other people might live.

Writers are amazing teachers.

We also might inspire our readers to make better choices, be kinder, open their heart to love, or any number of ways people can be inspired. That counts as teaching too.

Just like the t-shirt I recently bought says:

Motivator.

Innovator.

Believer.

Teacher.

We, as writers, are all those things and so much more!

Write-on….amazing teachers, write-on!

I love to encourage and motivate others. Check out a recent blog post here titled Find Motivation to Accomplish Goals, and Hang On To It.

I teach Author Brand and SEO at conferences and meetings. If you’d like to find out more you can go to my Marketing for Authors page on my website.

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Find Motivation to Accomplish Goals, and Hang On To It

July 12, 2020 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

There are just some days I find it really hard to sit down and work on my manuscript. But, I have goals to reach. And somewhere, somehow, I have to find motivation to accomplish those goals. Otherwise I get frustrated and want to give up.

Blog Banner by Denise M. Colby Titled Find Motivation to Accomplish Your Goals; includes a line that goes A to B; wood panel background

Writing a book is a longggg process. I’ve been working on mine for over seven years. Granted, I have a day job. I have a family. And I have volunteer requirements. And in the beginning I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t know what were realistic measurements or tasks I could expect myself to accomplish.

But I’ve learned a lot in the past seven years, including what works for me to keep moving forward.

Here’s how I motivate myself to accomplish goals:

Break up tasks into manageable chunks.

Photo of planner page to highlight daily tracking for writing by Denise M. Colby
Tracking my daily goal of touching my manuscript is fun and helps keep me on track

Choose to track word counts or time. Sometimes just spending 15 minutes (Flylady anyone?) is enough to move forward and keep my mind in my story. My planner I use has little images in the front of each month. If I touched my MS that day, I color in the image. Didn’t matter how long or what I did. It sure helps take away the feeling of being stagnant.

Write out specific tasks that can be checked off.

showing example of how to accomplish writing goals by Denise M. Colby
Writing out actionable goals and checking them off motivates me

Back in March when all of sudden my home became work and school central for the four other people in my family, I had to get really specific with the tasks I wanted to accomplish each week. Part of that was to show my family what I was working on, and part of it was for me to stay on task when there was a lot going on around me.

I was editing my MS and wanted to get through four chapters a week. So on an index card, I wrote out each week’s dates and which chapter numbers were assigned that week, and then I stuck it to my little bulletin board, where I could see it. 

I’ll tell you, being able to check off each week when I accomplished those chapters was so encouraging. Yes, I will need to go through my MS again. But I’m not focusing that far ahead. I would derail myself if I did. Instead I focused on what I needed to accomplish that day (one scene or two) for that week. This makes it way more manageable. 

And for full disclosure, I had to change some of the dates. There were a few weeks where I just couldn’t get it done. The chapters needed more work, and we had family birthdays to celebrate. So I adjusted and kept going.

Figure out time blocks that work for you.

Simple clock on wood plank background, choosing the time you work to accomplish goals, matters
Adjust time to work when most effective

Are you a morning person or a night person? I’ve learned that editing in the afternoon right now doesn’t work for me. I get too caught up with work and everyone else is up and making noise, having conversations, and it’s challenging to focus uninterrupted. I enjoy the morning when it’s more quiet.

Although with 7 and 7:30am conference call meetings recently, I don’t get to start my day working on my MS, before I jump into work. I try, but realize that it’s not realistic five days a week. Instead, for now, I’ve adjusted my hours and try to work only 1/2 day on Friday and then work on my MS the rest of the day.  

This has given me momentum heading into the weekend to still accomplish goals. Sometimes our family dynamics make it hard to work on things all weekend, but by telling my husband I need some time to work on my book, it’s helped set up the expectation.

Take a moment to catch your breath.

Photo of My Brilliant Writing Planner page where there's a place to reflect and reset each day, which helps focus to accomplish goals
Taking moments to reset helps me focus on the task for the day

I find when life is crazy busy, I can’t slow down to focus on just one task. Too many things are screaming at me to get it all done, NOW. In my handy dayplanner each week, are two pages of daily inspiration. Some days I can only think of writing one word in the daily square – my word of the year. This year it’s courage and writing it out reminds me why I chose that word. Courage to keep going when it’s hard, courage to take risks, courage to trust God’s plan for my writing. 

Other days I write other things in the daily spots, whether it’s a Bible verse, quote, thoughts, or recently I’ve been focusing on 5 things I’m grateful for each day. It’s amazing how taking a few minutes to slow down and pause helps my mental state and allows me to refocus my brain on the next task I’m preparing for. (And I’ll admit, some days it’s toward the end of the day and I hadn’t written anything down yet. I still pick it up then and recenter myself).

Sometimes I need to just create without thinking. With Washi tape I add color and design to my planner pages. Maybe not everyone is like this, but I find it really helps center me and I get to see something for my efforts. 

Find something that causes excitement.

caption: motivating words helps me accomplish goals, screen shots of words emailed back to Denise M. Colby from the class she's teaching.
Positive words encourage and motivate me

I’m teaching an online course this month through ACFW on SEO Marketing. I love this topic. And so many people have responded to participate. As I reply to each one and read their comments of what they wanted to learn and their answers, I’ve gotten really excited. I get to share this topic with other writers, help them, and make a difference. With each email, I’m more motivated to keep doing what I’m doing.

There’s something to be said about having little wins in your corner that can help motivate. Interacting, helping and teaching other writers seem to be one of mine. 

wood panel background with the words Yay! Celebrate accomplished goals
Wins motivate!

I could keep going, but I’m off to participate in a virtual writing conference. It seems talking and sharing with other writers is another motivator for me. 

I hope one of these ideas helps encourage you to accomplish goals in your writing. When I set out to decide on my topic for this month, this one came to mind. I wanted to capture the positive energy that I’m feeling right now, so in those times when I don’t feel it, I can remind myself of what I can do to help myself through the more challenging times.

If you have other ways to motivate yourself to accomplish goals, I’d love to hear it. Write it in the comments below. We can all use new ideas to help motivate us to accomplish our goals!

Blessings,

Denise

If you are interested in more, I wrote a post in January for this blog, that talked about staying on task. And over at my own blog, I post monthly on various topics related to encouragement, writing, and anything Disney

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New Year . . . New Word by Denise M. Colby

January 12, 2018 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

New Year . . . New Word | Denise M. Colby | A Slice of Orange

Happy New Year and Welcome 2018

I love choosing a new word to focus on each year.  It’s amazing how one word can communicate so much. My word fits exactly where I am both in my personal and professional life and I love to explore the word in depth, as well as find verses and quotes to encourage me throughout the year.

This year will be my fourth time selecting a word as a theme of focus.  Usually, I make a list, pray about it, mull it over and see which ones I’m drawn to continuously.  But this year?  It came up while I was reading the Story of With by Allen Arnold, and as much as I wanted to keep thinking of other words, it stuck to me like glue.  Lodged itself inside my heart and left no room for discussing any other option, no matter how hard I tried.

What is the word?

STEADFAST

 

Isn’t that a great word?

Just to be sure, I looked up the definition and did a quick search for bible verses and sure enough it encompasses everything I feel going into 2018.

Sure. Dependable. Reliable. Constant. Unwavering. Steady. 

See, I don’t want to look back.  I want to focus on what’s ahead.  In both my writing and my faith in God. It may be slow going at times, but it will be steady.  What’s that phrase we’ve all heard before?

Slow and steady wins the race.

I’m not going to rush, hurry, stress myself out over the fact I’ve been working on my novel for over four years.  It isn’t ready yet and only continuous steady work is what will make it better.  I will do what I can and when it’s time, it will be time.  That’s the idea, anyway.  I have an entire year to keep reminding myself of this.

To help, I always select a few bible verses with my word in it.  Last year’s word, strength, had an amazing amount of verses to give me encouragement throughout the year.  Steadfast only has five in my NIV adaptation.  And two really stood out to me:

Psalm 57:7 – My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.  I will sing and make music (and write words—my addition).

Psalm 112:7 – He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

Encouraging, aren’t they?

I’m super excited for exploring my word further.  Just now, I typed in the phrase slow and steady wins the race and a whole bunch of other quotes popped up.  I’ll have to go through them at a later time, but one grabbed my attention and I wanted to share:

Slow, steady progress is better than fast, daily excuses. 

I think I might print that one out for my entire family to see.

Oh, this year will be fun exploring #myword2018 #steadfast! You’ll see me post things to my social media related to my word, because I like to encourage others and it will help keep me on task.  To be steadfast in my writing. Continuously and sure.

For no matter what happens, I’m moving forward. Learning. Growing.

Have you ever considered choosing a word for 2018?  I would encourage you to think about it and try it out if you haven’t.  And if you have, I would love to hear in the comments what your word is for 2018.

 

Blessings,

Denise M. Colby


Denise Colby |The Writing Journey

 

Although new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors.

If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/

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Deb Dixon’s Book In A Day Hosted by Music City Romance Writers

August 8, 2017 by in category Writing Conferences tagged as , , , , , , ,

Debra Dixon | Music City Romance Writers | A Slice of Orange

 

Deb Dixon’s Book in A Day

 

September 16, 2017

 

9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

 

$45 for MCRW Members, $55 for all other RWA Members

 

Registration Deadline: August 31, 2017

 

https://musiccityrwa.blogspot.com/2017/08/september-2017-all-day-workshop.html

 

Mark your calendars for September 16!

 

Join us and spend the day with the one and only Deb Dixon, author of the classic GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict and publisher of Belle Books. Deb will lead us through her Book In A Day program.  This full-day workshop includes GMC  and the Hero’s Journey.  It’s affectionately called “Book In A Day” because the workshop provides all the tools a writer needs to pull a book together.  Whether you’re a new author or a veteran, you can benefit from her insights!

 

On August 8th, registration opens to all RWA members.

 

Space is limited, so register today.

Deb Dixon’s Book in A Day

 

September 16, 2017

9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

$45 for MCRW Members, $55 for all other RWA Members

Registration Deadline: August 31, 2017

https://musiccityrwa.blogspot.com/2017/08/september-2017-all-day-workshop.html

 

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