How Do YOU Self-Motivate?

For me, it’s suspended disbelief. Fiction – it’s what I do. For example, today is April Fool’s Day, and there’s little that I enjoy more than getting my mom. She’s the master of April Fool’s Day pranks, so I’m always on my guard on April 1st. Well, I got her good today. First, you begin with something that could happen. Probably won’t happen, but could happen.

I’m a sucker for those alien conspiracy “documentaries” and I know my mother watches them too. Not for real, not because we believe in the credibility of the documentary hosts, but because it’s fun to suspend disbelief. So today, I shared with her the top secret news that someone we know was assigned the task of tracking UFOs, and they found something so big, they had to break silence to share it with me. 😀 Hook, line, and sinker… and I’m a terrible actor! (If you know my mother, she’s coming your way. Don’t fall for her story.)

The good news is, this suspended disbelief ploy can really work to motivate yourself and others. There was a game I used to “play” with my kids when they were little and I wanted the house to get tidied. In order for this trick to work, you kids have to be all-in, suspended disbelief. I would tell them that Dumble***e, from a particular book series, was coming over and we should tidy everything and prepare tea and dessert for his impending visit.

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, I’m a jerk who lied to her kids to benefit from some child labor. Let me be clear, they were suspending their disbelief. They were old enough to know that Dumble***e wasn’t really coming over for tea, but it was just enough of a push for everyone to get into the fun of this game of make-believe. I merely motivated child labor to get the whole house picked up, vacuumed, and the dining room table cleared and set for tea. (We would have real tea afterwards, real food – muffins, cookies, croissants – whatever we found in the fridge.) There was a real reward at the end of the manic cleaning, but the game of make-believe was the reward. It was a side benefit that the cleaning sometimes went on for more than an hour! Do you know how much cleaning an adult and two children under the age of 10 can get done in an hour? It can be impressive; beds were made, toys put away, flowers on the table… and I never think to put flowers on the table.

(Some DIY Environmental art outside the Word Crone Cottage, inspired by Nigel Dunnet, U.K. landscape designer.)

I use my suspended disbelief daily to motivate what could be an odious task. Yesterday, I was picking up sticks around the yard that fell in the last storm. (I’ve got LOTS of sticks and a bad back.) I’m not a big proponent of burning debris. I’d rather use it in some artful way. So yesterday, I prepared the yard for a joint visit from Monty Don and Nigel Dunnet, U.K. gardeners extraordinaire. I think they would be horrified by my homage to Nigel Dunnet’s Environmental Artistry and Monty Don’s “garden rooms.” Good thing they did not show up at the end of the day.

In order for this to work, there has to be a pay-off at the end. In the case of yesterday’s project, I guess the little witchy stick garden is my payoff. The jury’s still out for deliberation. And so it goes with any big project – cleaning the house, renovating a studio space, writing a novel… or preparing for a wedding that is in just seven weeks!!!

So I’m psyching myself out, to complete some other big tasks, (like finishing the current work-in-progress) before the wedding! And don’t tell me there won’t be a special guest at the wedding. He might magically appear! I’m gonna be ready for him, if he is, because I’m all in, suspended disbelief!

In the meantime, I think I’ll make some art, read a book… and write one!




Time Management in the Word Crone Cottage

Time management is always a struggle for me. Lots of ideas. So little time to actualize. Okay, actually a lifetime of time, but if I am living every day as if it’s my last, then that’s not a lot of time! 😀

I do try to tackle large projects by breaking them down into tinier projects. It’s a skill that I guess every novelist learns to employ: plot novel, breaking it down into plot points that show character growth, write one word at a time to form sentences into paragraphs into pages into chapters into a novel. Slash and burn, edit, repeat.

So after posting my Friday post on Thursday night, I got the big idea to move my fish ponds. You know the type – hard plastic, 6ft X 4ft, amorphous with a deep center so the fishies can over-winter outside. I’ve never really liked where I put those ponds.

Breaking down a big task into tiny tasks…

So I broke it down into tiny tasks. Day 1 – empty water, rocks and wildlife out of pond 1, move pond 1 across the yard and refill with water, and rocks. (Gotta wait a day to make sure the water is the right temperature for the critters. Day 2 – migrate critters to pond 1 in new location. Booyah. Done. Day 3, empty pond 2 of water, rocks and any critters I may have missed. (I’m talking about you, Mr. 7-inch salamander and four bull frogs. How did I miss four bull frogs?) Day 4 – look at both ponds in their new potential location. Decide I hate the new location, and begin the process all over again to the new new location on either side of the foot bridge over the dry stream bed. Move pond 2. Dig the massive hole in the yard and refill original holes. Day 5 – move fishies, frogs and … where is that salamander? Day 6 – move second pond to new new location, digging another massive hole. Day 7 – edge with brick and later decide that looks weird. Start the process of replacing with stones from around the yard, then realize you’re due to finish a blog post in a few hours.

Reflecting on a week of pond moving…

I didn’t manage my time very well, with the one set-back of moving both ponds to the wrong spot before finding the perfect spot. Sigh. Oh well, such is gardening. You try a plant in a spot, it dies or doesn’t thrive or looks silly in that spot, and you move it. It’s the same with writing. You write a sentence. You let it stew and grow ugly hairs and warts, you re-write it, shuffle it to another scene, fix it again, trim it and sometimes you just throw it in the trash. I shuffle things in the yard as often as I shuffle furniture in the house, and believe me, I shuffle furniture… a lot!

Speaking of shuffled furniture. I “shuffled” an entire wardrobe right out into the yard. I tried to give it away on Marketplace. Afterall, it was a serviceable, solid walnut wardrobe. Sadly, no one wants to move a solid walnut wardrobe, not even after you’ve moved it outside to the edge of the driveway, so I think that will be my next project requiring some time management. My daughter is getting married in two months, so my blog posts until then will be filled with awkward tie-ins to writing, of course, but lots and lots of wedding-related projects. And if the wardrobe transformation is a fail, well, it won’t make it into the blog post next week. Or maybe it will. You’ve gotta be willing to kill your darlings, in writing, and furniture flipping.

Did I mention that I also managed to move the firepit this week? Oh, and I was able to construct a sort of make-shift step into the gable door of my office. The hope is, when the weather is nicer, I can swing those doors open for a fresh perspective.

Hope you have a great, productive week. May you master the art of time management and make some art. Read a book!



Word Crone Cottage

Never mix plaid and floral?

The Magic of Space…

Whether it’s world building in fiction, or the physical space in which we work, I believe it can have an impact on what we do, who we are…

In continuation of the Friday tour of the Word Crone Cottage, this week, I finished the double doors on one end of my office. The doors are… were… the standard cheap double doors, treated plywood construction, that come standard in those little pre-fab sheds. There were not a lot of windows in the building, so when I thrifted four used windows, it was my plan to install them in the plywood double doors like full-French doors. Unfortunately, the bottom windows would cut into too much framing, so I decided against and opted to insulate, panel, and paint the bottom halves. The plaid is a work-in-progress. I underestimated the amount of time it takes to tape, paint, remove tape, wait for paint to dry, before doing it all again with the next color. I’ll add two more accent colors and next week’s tour will include the new, improved plaid panels, as well as the gable over the doors.

It’s the journey…

Word Crone Cottage

Cream, Two Sugars, and a Couple of Friends

If you know a writer, there’s probably a cup of coffee nearby. I take mine with cream, two sugars, and a couple of friends.

My day always goes – breakfast, at the keyboard in the Word Crone Cottage by 9 a.m., writing. Lunch. Then after meeting my word count, I switch gears to work on the Cottage (or house, or yard, or illustrations.) This week, I’m continuing to work my way around the Word Crone Cottage and it found me styling the area around one of the two armchairs. I like to think of my “style” as… intentional. Eclectic, for sure, but with a purpose. For this little corner of the cottage, the purpose is for hosting a friend or two, serving up a cuppa coffee, and enjoying writerly conversation.

The recipe:

Two friends and a bottomless carafe of coffee…

The upper half of the wall was painted in butter yellow with a dark gold fleur-de-lis stencil. The bottom half is striated navy blue. The trim is sage green. (Those aren’t the real names of those colors. I’ve no idea what the actual names or brands are. I tend to throw different pots of paint together until I’m happy with the result.)

The lamp used to have a glass “Tiffany”-style shade (irreparably broken of course.) I replaced it with a thrift-find. The fringe – isn’t a silk tassel at all – it’s made up of tiny metal springs! I can’t bring myself to replace the fabric covering. The chairs were also a thrift-find. They came from a yard sale at $50 each (including the shearling head coverings that are covering water stains on the backs of both chairs. The story I was told was that they found their way to Charlottesville, VA, USA by way of New Zealand. If walls… and furniture… could talk.

I hope you’ll join me on this tour of the Word Crone Cottage as I finish, paint, and style the other corners of my office. I’ll be back every Friday. So pour yourself a cuppa coffee and join me through the use of the “follow” button. There it is. Just below… 😀