Tuesday, October 31, 2017

10 Ways to Balance Your Writing Life



Is it awful to admit I cringed as I typed the title? A balanced writing life? Me? That’s funny.


Up until this February, I’d been steadily gaining weight and growing dissatisfied with my writing output. I was envious of writers who seemed to have books releasing all the time while I was barely meeting my goals at the end of each day. I felt like I was working harder than ever. What was I doing wrong?


When I took a hard look at my daily habits, the problem became obvious. I was eating too much, exercising too little, wasting too much time on social media, and letting myself off the hook with light daily word count goals. The worst part? In my free time, I was spending hours mindlessly playing games on my phone, convinced I didn’t have time to do the things I wanted to do.

Little by little, I overhauled my day. I set higher word count goals and scheduled time for the writing projects I’d pushed aside. I started logging my calories and exercising to DVDs. And I deleted every game from my phone. *gulp*

These steps terrified me! But they worked. I’ve lost fifteen pounds, my body is toned, and I’ve doubled—doubled!—my writing output. Instead of releasing two books this year, I’m on track to release four.

Maybe you’re thinking, Well, goody gumdrops for you. You have no idea how challenging my life is. You’re right. I don’t. But I know all about excuses because I’ve used them all.

Ten Ways to Balance Your Writing Life

1. Believe your goal is attainable. Even if it feels impossible.

Sometimes jealousy can be a good thing. When I was still in poor-me mode, a few of my writer friends told me their upcoming publication schedules. My head reeled. These ladies had big goals. Yet, they didn’t seem to think what they were doing was all that special.

Instead of devouring a bag of Doritos, I played the what if game. What if I squeezed in half an hour each day to work on the book I’d been talking about for three years? What if I added a thousand words to finish my contracted books faster? What if I limited my time on social media? Committed to logging my calories? Deleted the game apps? Stuck to an exercise routine? Suddenly what felt impossible seemed possible and exciting.

2. Be consistent.

I knew I was going to have to change my habits. I already had contracted projects taking up the majority of my working hours. I forced myself to carve out thirty minutes every weekday to work on a side project. After two weeks, I was stunned to realize I’d written three chapters. All because I devoted thirty minutes a day to the manuscript.

Consistency made all the difference in helping me attain my health goals as well. My goal was no longer to “lose twenty pounds.” It was to exercise for thirty minutes five days a week and to stay within a calorie range by logging what I ate using the MyFitnessPal app. I knew if I exercised regularly and ate less, I would stick to the plan. I’m never hungry, and, though the numbers on the scale fluctuate, I continue to lose pounds because I’m consistent.

3. Find a role model.

Remember the writer friends I mentioned? I kept a mental snapshot of them in my mind. I told myself if they can do it, so can I. If I’m trying to hit a big goal and need an extra boost, I have a go-to friend I can text with updates on my progress. She updates me as well. We push each other simply by checking in.



4. Identify your time wasters.


Remember those phone games I’d play at night? And the time I spent on social media during the day? They sucked up far more time than I wanted to admit. They were a distraction. Easy.

I’m not one to sit down at my laptop and think, I can’t wait to write! Usually, I stare at the screen with a solid round of du-u-u-u-h playing in my head. Checking emails, Facebook and Instagram could be justified. I was building my platform, after all. But scrolling through angry political posts, book deal announcements, and friends’ vacation pics often made me feel worse about my life.

When I cut out the phone games and limited social media, my mood improved and my time was free to get more meaningful work done.


5. Replace your time wasters.

I replaced my social media habit with my beefed-up writing goals. Rather than scrolling through Facebook, I wrote an extra thousand words or added an hour of revising. At night, I read from a stack of books I borrowed from the library. Bought an art journal and fancy colored pencils. Recorded the television shows friends had recommended. Suddenly the list of things I never had time to do was getting done.

6.  Combat exhaustion.

Making changes takes energy. At some point, the initial excitement wears off and you get tired. Very tired. This is a danger zone. You’ll want to slip into old habits. No! Take a ten-minute nap. Grab a coffee or hot tea. Drink more water. Go to bed earlier. Be extra nice to yourself on the hard days. Consistency isn’t glamorous, but it produces results.



7. Give an extra 10%.

On the days you’re feeling good, push yourself to do more. Write another hundred words. Tack on five more minutes to your revising session. You’ll never regret that extra 10%.

8. Invest in the tools you need.

I purchased a footstool to keep my feet at the right height when working at my desk. I also invested in a wireless printer, extra toner cartridges, reams of paper, business cards, bookmarks, mailing labels, envelopes, and a day planner. I buy Success magazine every few months to keep me motivated. These are the tools I need. What tools do you need?

9.  Track your progress.

Every Monday I step on the scale and log my weight in the fitness app I mentioned earlier. I use Microsoft OneNote to log the words I write or the pages I revise. I also have a simple spreadsheet where I jot down my exercise for the day (you can download and print a blank copy HERE). Tracking my progress keeps me accountable and it also shows me how far I’ve come. It’s a huge motivator. Can’t recommend it enough.

10. Pray.

I listed prayer last not because it’s at the bottom of my priorities, but as a reminder that we’re not in this by ourselves. When I began making these changes, I prayed daily for God to give me the strength to meet my goals. It isn’t easy to overhaul our habits, but with God’s help, it is possible.

I have one more tip, and you probably already guessed it. All the changes you’ve made? Make them permanent. I changed my life because I wasn’t happy gaining five pounds a year, pushing uncontracted writing projects to the side, scrolling through social media feeds, and wasting precious hours on games that left me numb. 

I will likely always log my calories, exercise each weekday, limit my time on social media, and push myself to write or revise more every session. Why? Because it’s worth it.

I’ll say it again. It’s worth it.

If there’s an imbalance in your life, take one step today to change it. Tomorrow, take another step. And keep going! I’ll be cheering you on.

How do you find balance in your writing life?

Thank you, Seekerville, for letting me be your guest today! And happy tenth birthday!


Jill is giving away one signed True Large Print copy of The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride to one US reader and an e copy to an international reader. Leave a comment to be entered. Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.


The Rancher's Mistletoe Bride

Coming Home for Christmas 

Wedding planner Lexi Harrington needs a manager for her inherited Wyoming ranch. Clint Romine is the perfect man for the job, but the ruggedly handsome cowboy soon presents a new dilemma—distraction. Lexi can't fall for a small-town rancher when she's planning to return to her big-city career after the holidays. Home has always been elusive for former foster kid Clint. Working alongside Lexi at Rock Step Ranch feels too cozy—and too risky. Opening up to her means revealing a secret about his past that could jeopardize everything he holds dear. This Christmas, can Clint learn to trust Lexi with the truth…and with his heart?




Jill Kemerer is a multi-published author of Christian romance novels for Harlequin Love Inspired. Her essentials include coffee, M&Ms, a stack of books, her miniature-dachshund and taking long nature walks. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two almost-grown children. Jill loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website, jillkemerer.com, and sign up for her newsletter.












And because this is the very last day of the BIG TEN YEAR BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION, Seekerville brought along another giveaway. Winner of the writer mug announced in the Weekend Edition too! 


This is your last day to comment and get your name in the drawing for the final $50 Amazon gift card and a Kindle Fire with Alexa.
 Two winners announced on November 4th.

We leave you with birthday greetings from Jill!



180 comments :

  1. Jill, one question. Have you been stalking me? These tips all hit home in a major way. I've used all the excuses and time wasters.

    I'm going to print this post and make copious notes.

    I want to be more productive.

    Thank you so much.

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    1. I felt the same way Terri. Gulp, gulp

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    2. Terri, hahaha! We must be related! All I can say is if I could do it, so can you!

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    3. Sandra, that was me last February--triple gulp! ;)

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    4. Yep, I bet many of us think Jill has been stocking us. The triple whammy - gaining weight, too much time on social media, silly games. Maybe in my case, silly TV. I’m also working on new habits.

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  2. Hey Jill!! Welcome to Seekerville :-)

    These resonated with me: Be Consistent, Identify your time wasters & replace your time-wasters. Yep, I can relate to social media (Facebook) being such a time waster for me. I scroll mindlessly through posts that really don't hold much interest to me and I berate myself almost constantly for it! I look at ONE thing and then two hours goes by...yikes! I really need to be so much more disciplined in that area of my life. Replacing it, I really need to think what I could replace it with. I have a stack of review books for the month of November & December that I am getting through, but not as fast as I'd like to. I could be spending a WHOLE lot more time reading them. I know I would feel so much more productive & accomplished. Or if I don't feel like reading, I have holiday baking I could be working on. My husband has been asking me to make homemade pumpkin bread or cookies to treat his co-workers with. I always love sharing my treats with others and I love baking...I think that could be therapeutic don't you? :-) As for being consistent...that could also work in my favor by setting new habits. I've wanted to set aside the morning to early afternoon while my husband is at work & my son at college for reading time. And then late afternoon to evening (not counting fixing supper) catching up on emails. I need to work seriously on this.

    I think if I take small steps to change some habits, and work to make them a daily goal, I could add some more as I go. I'd feel a whole lot better :-) You've inspired me to do just that, Jill!! Congrats on all your success on reaching your goals!

    No need to enter my name for your book, as you know, I've read, reviewed & enjoyed this one! Most definitely looking forward to the next one....hurry up and write it already...lol!

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    1. So great to see you here, Trixi!! I still do self-checks when it comes to Facebook. It's way too easy to get sucked in!
      I love that you found the things you "need" to do and "want" to do--reading and baking! Yay! And, yes, I can tell you're excited about making holiday treats, so I hope you make the space in your schedule to bake them!

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  3. Jill, welcome back to Seekerville. I brought healthy snacks! Kale chips with sea salt, avocado dip and a fruit tray!

    Terri is right. This post did hit home. Right in the paunch.

    Taking it to heart!

    Congratulations on your release!!

    Happy last day of our birthday month, Seekerville!

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    1. Did someone say, dip? Tina, dip of any kind is my favorite! Thanks so much!

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    2. Yay! At last, a vegan snack I can enjoy!! Thanks, Tina!

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    3. I'm adding healthy homemade "nutella" dip and sliced apples for our healthy snack this afternoon. :)

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  4. I was so late to yesterdays post that I get to be early to this one. Yay!

    I absolutely agree with your tips on balance Jill. As a matter of fact, my word for this year is "Balance". One thing that has helped me in attempting to get that balance is to take baby steps. I found that if I just started with a small step like exercise for 15 minutes or write 500 words a day, I was able to motivate myself to get it done. As you said, the key is consistency. When I make those small steps a habit then I increase or add to them. Exercise and writing were my baby steps this year and I am proud to say that I managed to finish my first draft and lose 30 pounds.

    Thanks so much for all the encouragement Seekerville and Happy happy birthday!

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    1. Loraine, Missy Tippens reminded me of this a couple of years ago. In the winter it's easy to get out of practice, out of shape while the farm trims us all down in the summer! But Missy's reminder to exercise for ten to fifteen minutes at a time, four or five times/day hit home. I can do that! And then I don't have to buy ALL NEW CLOTHES!!! Although I'd like to buy something new. Now and again. :)

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    2. Loraine, baby steps mean everything! Even on the days I only do a baby step, it is still more than if I had done nothing. That is SO awesome about finishing your first draft AND losing 30 pounds! Woohoo!! How exciting! Congratulations!!

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    3. Ruthie, being unable to squeeze into my "big" pants was the final straw for me to tackle my health. I didn't want to buy new clothes either! *high five*

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  5. Great post Jill! Congrats on the 15 pounds AND on the 4 books! Great job! These tips are perfect for readers like me too! I definitely have time-wasters!

    No contest entry for me - I've already read The Rancher's Mistletoe Bride. It's a great story!

    Pass the fruit tray Tina! Ooh pineapple and strawberries - yum! Nice and healthy! Here's some apples and caramel dip (not as healthy but yum) and peanut butter cups - the best Halloween candy!

    Happy Birthday Seekerville!

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    1. Love seeing you here, Dawn! Thanks so much for all your support! I have time wasters, too. And, let's face it, time wasters can be okay in moderation--it's when they're eating away at our productive time that causes the problems. :) Thank you!!

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  6. This is a great post Jill, for writers and readers. I'm sure we all can get caught up in social media and games if we let ourselves. I plan on printing this out so I can address each one. I would probably add another item to the list for me and that is don't procrastinate.

    Thank you Seekerville for hosting such a great month of blogs! Happy Birthday and here's to an awesome 11th year!

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Cindy, I could write the book on procrastinating! Sometimes I have to literally set a timer to force myself to start writing. :)
      Thank you!

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    2. Every day I say I'm going to write first thing, but I let so many other ... mostly important ... things get in the way, when writing should come first!

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  7. Fantastic tips, Jill! Working full-time, outside the home and caring for aging parents, I must guard my writing time. For me, the best way to do that is to stay off of social media. Thanks for visiting today!

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    1. AVOID THE BLACK HOLE OF FACEBOOK.... ;)

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    2. Congratulations on your debut releasing this year, Jill! Good for you staying off social media--with your commitments, I don't blame you!

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    3. "The black hole of Facebook"...hahaha!! Too true, Ruthie!!

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  8. What a great post that’s applicable to all of us! Thanks for the reminders.

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  9. Yes! Yes! Yes! I love this post I took inventory this year and found a bunch of wasted time. It is amazing how much you can get done when you purpose your time to things that matter. I’m bookmarking this to refer to for encouragement when I’m tempted to slack off.

    Your book looks and sounds amazing. Love me some mistletoe!

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    1. Whenever I find myself slipping into old habits, I take inventory, too. It's so smart! (Usually, I'm tired, overwhelmed or worried. Go figure.) Thanks, Sherrinda!

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  10. Oh my goodness, Jill. It's amazing how our impressions of people can be different. I've observed your output with envy, noticing how regularly you've had books out. I'm the one who felt like a sloth!

    And yes, I recognize way too much of myself in your post - namely the games for relaxation.

    I'm currently reading a book called THE POWER OF HABIT by Charles Duhigg. I'm planning on developing some good new ones, so this post is most excellently timed.

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    1. LOL! I get it, Cate! Just as I see other writers and think they have it all going on, I'm sure some people look at me and see the same thing. What they don't see is the tug-of-war each morning to exercise and the mental ways I push myself to JUST GET STARTED on my manuscript every day!
      I admire you and your writing output. I'm jotting down The Power of Habit. Sounds like a goodie! (Try Deep Work by Cal Newport--it's terrific!)
      Thanks!

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  11. BTW, that cover is so elegant and the hero so swoony!

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    1. I made that up. By noon it will be viral.

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    2. I adore it! My editor sees a resemblance to Adam Levine (Maroon 5), and I agree! Mm, mmm!

      Wait, Tina...I hear "swoony" is trending...

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    3. My reader friend and I say "swoony" or "swoon-worthy" a LOT...so it's nothing new! LOL!!!

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    4. I love that you thought you had to explain Adam.... Oh be still my heart! :)

      Adam and Blake on one show????

      Be still my heart twice!

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  12. Hi Jill,

    Thanks for the kick in the word processor. We can all use this advice. I just read your book and enjoyed it very much. You have left some big hooks about future heroes for this new series. I look forward to reading about the rest of your cowboys.

    I have enjoyed your latest blogs on your website. They have helped me as a writer. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Great to see you here, Bettie! Thanks so much for reading my book and my blog! I hope your writing is going well!

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  13. Jill. You are a survivor!!!! It's so easy to lapse into a pattern that self-destructs our goals, and it's hard to see it that way, but you did!

    GO YOU!!!!!

    I know it sounds like easy talk when we yammer about the 1K1HR as if everyone can write that much in an hour... and not everyone can, but if they TRY and stretch, maybe their 500 words/1 HR becomes 700... and being a math person, a gal who loves numbers, that's a HUGE INCREASE!!!

    What a great post, chock full of advice and common sense... and personal responsibility.

    I find that to be a constant underpinning when folks lament. If they're happy where they are, it's fine.

    But if we're not happy where we are, then that self-examination is clutch. Thank you for this!

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    1. Thank you, Ruthie, I appreciate your encouragement. There are days when it takes me seven hours to write 1200 words. Then there are days I can write and write and write...so I agree with you! Pushing ourselves to write just a few hundred extra words can make a huge difference.

      Good point, too, about being happy where we are. Last February I was NOT happy where I was. It's what motivated me to change. I hadn't been happy with my daily habits for quite a while!

      Thanks so much!

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  14. Great post. Thanks for the chance of winning.

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  15. HI Jill and Welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for finishing off ouir birthday month with such a timely and essential post. I really like your points and they are a good reminder for me. Sometimes I get off track. smile Have a fun day.

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    1. Hi Sandra! Thank you! I laughed at "sometimes I get off track," because I get off track daily! Then I get right back on... You have a fun day, too!

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  16. Hi Jill, congrats on your new book. I've got it and waiting until a little closer to Christmas to read it.

    Thanks for being so transparent. This summer I had recorded some comedies to watch while exercising, but I ended up watching them when I got stuck. I deleted them and stopped recording them. That saved a good bit of time. I've also gained weight since moving, and started Paleo last week. I hadn't thought about writing down my food eaten, but maybe it's time to begin.
    Thanks for sharing your tips. They are just what I needed.

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    1. Oh, thank you, Jackie!

      My husband and I used to move every 2-3 years, so I understand how jolting a move can be. It throws off your schedule and makes it hard to get back on.

      Good for you for taking charge! I've always been pretty regular about exercising, but it wasn't until I reined in my portions that I stopped gaining and actually lost weight. It honestly wasn't hard--I don't deprive myself. Best wishes to you!!

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  17. Hi Jill...

    Great advice and lovely book cover!

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  18. Good morning, Jill, and thank you for the great tips. Perfect way to wrap up our birthday month and send us off on our own writing journeys.

    (My biggest writing time "waster" is my day job. LOL. But I hope it pays off in the end with MORE writing time on down the road!)

    Years ago, when I decided I wanted to REALLY write, I had to make a choice. I'm an artistic type, so there were a ton of "artsy" things I loved to do. But I could do X or write. Y or write. Z or write. So I gave up a lot of things I enjoyed doing because I couldn't do it ALL and have time to write.

    Love your cover! :)

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    1. I'm laughing, Glynna, at your time waster! Day jobs really get in the way of writing! Haha!

      You bring up a great point. Sometimes we're doing things we love that don't get us to our goal. How badly to we want those extra words? Enough to drop the weekly coffee date to a monthly one? Or declining being on the Boosters club at our kids' school? Sometimes we have to drop "good" things for something better. Such a great point.

      Thanks!

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  19. Thank you for those tips in how to clean up our lives. Some of them hit home for me! Time to make some changes.

    arlettaDOTboultonATgmailDOTcom

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    1. Bless you with whatever changes you make! THanks, Arletta!

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  20. Jill, thank you for these terrific tips on balancing our writing lives. Actually they're great tips for success with any goal. Writing is sedentary so it's easy to gain weight. Your post has challenged me to take a look at my habits. A writing career requires sacrifice. We just need to make sure we're not sacrificing the important, for the trivial.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes on this last day of our party!

    Janet

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    1. Hi Janet! I love your words, "we just need to make sure we're not sacrificing the important for the trival." True!!

      Hours of sitting kills my back. That's why I bought the footstool. I also get up at least every 2 hours. Our health is too important!

      Thanks!!

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    2. Timers help to keep us moving!

      Janet

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  21. Fabulous advice, Jill! I'm so proud of your success, and I'm making a few notes from your suggestions, too. Especially the one about games. dun-dun-duuunn

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    1. You're my go-to accountability gal, Kristina! Which reminds me...I need to check in! Thanks for keeping me on track--I'm thankful for you!

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  22. Jill, we need to hang out more!

    Yes, how any scenes have been neglected because some political post made my blood boil. And I know when I click on the link I'm going to be irritated. Why do we do that?

    I used to have a habit of thinking/saying that an author is a fast writer. (And some truly are.) I've changed it to they work hard. This last phrase doesn't let me off the hook. If I think as myself as slow and everyone else as fast, I can't blame myself for low output. (I just butchered what I was trying to say.)

    I love your cover.

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    1. I agree, Connie!!
      I'm not a fast writer compared to some, but I'm a speed writer compared to others. It doesn't really matter. What matters is putting the effort in. At the end of the day, I just want results whether they're fast or slow!
      Thanks so much!

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  23. Hi Jill,
    I love this post and can relate to so much of it! I'm going to delete my most time wasting app today. (Gulp) I read this post earlier while on my phone and I'm still giggling about "goody gumdrops for you." I haven't heard that expression in so long and think I might just use it today. :) Sounds like you're on the right path. Go you! And I'm determined to stop wasting sooooo much time.

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    1. Hi Alison! I always admire how much writing you do! I think we all have time wasters. And some of them are fine in moderation. I just don't do moderation well! Haha!
      Let's try to bring back "goody gumdrops for you"!!

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  24. Jill, great post. I need to heed every word of it!!!

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  25. Hi Jill. Congratulations on achieving your goals. I can
    relate to all your timewasters. I have to be careful of those too.

    Please put me in the drawing for the book and the cup.

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    1. Thank you, Sandy! My phone makes it WAY too easy to lose hours of time on easy, mindless things. Ugh!

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  26. This is a great post especially the day before Nanowrimo begins.

    I love the cover on your book.

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    1. Thanks, Wilani, and I'll be cheering you on as you begin NaNo! Best wishes!!

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  27. Jill, this is a great post...loved it! I need to work on my time wasters! I love to read and can't wait to read your newest book. On some blog, you mentioned the book had a border collie in it..so that really drew me into wanting the book (as we have a bc)!
    PS I have done my exercises this morning!!!

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    1. Thanks, Jackie! Yes, there's a sweet border collie named Banjo in The Rancher's Mistletoe Bride. I want to take him home with me! :)

      Good for you--already exercised--wow!

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  28. I loved all the advice, but I especially enjoyed, "Invest in the tools you need." Which means - invest in YOURSELF! That's huge. And most of us feel like we shouldn't - but we absolutely should invest in ourselves.

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    1. I agree, Sherri. And I'm telling you ordering a $30.00 footstool took me months to do (I kept asking myself if I really needed it) but has made a huge difference in my comfort level. I am way too cheap.

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  29. Jill, Congratulations on your book! And thanks for an inspiring post. Seekerville's birthday has been terrific.

    I sit behind my computer too long, which is bad for someone who loves to be outside. Frequently the day is ending before I've done those outside things. Sitting is not the best way to stay physically strong so I'm trying to become aware of those time periods in front of the computer that produce diminishing returns—the ones where I've slowed and am in danger of face planting into the keyboard! That's a sure sign it's time to get up and move.

    Because I have critters that depend on me for their breakfast, I choose a time and schedule backwards for part of my day and that determines what time I'll get up in the morning (usually 5 or 5:30). And then I schedule forward much more loosely after I feed the horses. It's the 'much more loosely' time that needs to be corralled! Loosely will be tightened up since reading your post.

    The other day there was an ugly possum in the barn eating the cat food. He's getting me out of my comfy desk chair faster in the afternoons. I'm putting that cat food put up before dusk. Then I can go back inside and write.

    Thanks and here's hoping your book does exceedingly well.

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    1. Hasn't the month long celebration been delightful? So many great posts!!

      Bless you for taking care of so many animals. Their sweet faces are a wonderful reward!

      I, too, love to be outdoors, but we have 5-6 months of winter so I stay inside a lot. Last year I tried to take a 5-10 minute walk at lunchtime if it wasn't icy. Maybe you can take a quick break here or there to get outside. And if you do, remind me how great it is!

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  30. Oh I needed this today. Time wasting can become an art. Thank you,Jill.
    Have a great day and I would love to win your new book.
    Becky

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    1. Yes, we're "time wasting artists" hahaha!! Thanks so much!

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  31. Awesome post, Jill! I appreciate your authenticity and your tips have encouraged me to make some positive changes so I can achieve big goals, too. Blessings!

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    1. Congratulations, Heidi, on getting published this year! I'm so excited for you!! I know you'll meet your goals--hooray!

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  32. Jill!! It's so great to see you hosting! Love your post. Consistency. Yes that is the main key. Love that mug! Ask me about my book.

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    1. I think you need that mug, Sally! Thanks for all your help this year. I'm so thankful I had your editing skills for my sports book! Happy writing!

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    2. Yes! Me too! You are so welcome. I'm glad I could help!! Hoping our house gets put back together quickly so I can get more written.

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  33. oh what a relief... I thought I was the only one with time/goals/weight issues. I love this list and will apply it to what baby steps I've begun - but this is soooooooooooooooooo helpful. Thanks for sharing!!!! I feel less of a goober now.

    Love your book cover and the blurb is great too. Would love to read it.

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    1. Oh, Deb, I think most of us have these issues. And they are ongoing. A few weeks ago I was stressed out and started straying from my exercise routine and I was eating outside of my calorie range. I promptly gained weight. And you know what? I wasn't putting up with it. I went right back to being consistent. Feels good! Best wishes to you!!

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  34. Jill, I love your suggestions. As I read your post, I found myself thinking through the things in my life/writing life I'm not happy about. I need to revamp some things and re-start some good-now-gone habits. :) Thanks for the kick in the pants to get back on track.

    So happy for you!!

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    1. Hi Jeanne! It's smart to do a check every couple of months and think about what's working and what isn't. It's a whole lot easier to make changes when we're only slightly off track than when we're totally derailed!

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  35. I’m so sad this birthday party ends today! But you’ve given us a lot to think about Jill and all of it manageable. I’ve read somewhere that studies have proven that Scrolling Facebook gives our brains a similar dopamine pop that gambling and other fun activities do so it’s just as addictive and that’s why social media - twitter as well - are so hard to stay away from. When I feel my brain needing a break I’ll pick up my knitting because you’ll get the same dopamine “feel good” hit from that but without the addiction factor. I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject actually. Willpower isn’t enough to break the habit. But you’ve identified the most important step and that’s identifying ones own personal time-wasters so you can then decide what to do about them. Candy crush and Genie Gems give us the same dopamine hits. That’s why we play them like we’re hitting the slot machines in Vegas :) exercise has to be at a certain exertion level before we get that rush we used to call a “runners high” so it’s not nearly as much fun getting there! Has anyone experienced a “high” from a great writing session?

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    1. Hasn't the birthday celebration been fun, Laurie?? I've read similar things about social media. And I've also read that the longer you're scrolling on them, the less satisfaction you feel. I don't know how true it is, but for me, it hit the mark.

      And I think the fact social media and phone games are EASY make an impact. It takes effort to think, "hey, I'm going to knit," then find your knitting supplies, figure out where you left off and start up again. Same with exercising. But playing a round or 300 of Candy Crush requires almost no effort. I typically played games when I was worn out, but they didn't give me energy--they depleted it more.

      I get a "high" from meeting my word count goals and watching my characters come to life. But it's different for everyone!

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  37. As soon as I finished reading this, I deleted the games off my phone. I waste so much time on those dumb games! I also put the Scrivener app front and center on the home screen so that when I pick up the phone out of habit to play a mind-numbing game, the writing will be there to beckon me instead :)

    Thanks for the great tips! Just in time for NaNo!

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    1. When I first deleted my games, I panicked! I thought I was going to have withdrawals. But after the first week, I didn't miss them. At all. I've found so many things I actually enjoy doing that I'd let fall out of my life. I hope it's the same for you, Megan! Best wishes to you!!

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    2. I love my phone and iPad games, but I have honestly never been tempted to play them during my work time. I save them for later in the day, usually after supper, when I'm winding down anyway. Project Guy and I have 3 or 4 we play against each other, just one turn a day and we're done.

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    3. Megan, what a great idea to put the Scrivener app on your phone to remind you!

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  38. Wonderful post, Jill - - thank you SOOO much!
    I've written one of your thoughts on a slip of paper and I'm keeping it beside my computer: Consistency isn't glamorous, but it produces results. ~ WOW! That was exactly what I needed to read today!
    I love how you realized the changes you needed to make, and you stuck to them. And CONGRATULATIONS on your writing success---I've got your Mistletoe Bride book and am reading it now (and loving it!). :)
    Thanks again so much for sharing with us today, and please enjoy the Georgia peach cobbler I've baked this morning---an extra-large one for the last day of Seekerville's party.
    Hugs, Patti Jo

    P.S. HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY, SEEKERVILLE!!!!
    You're the BEST!!!! :)

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    1. CatMom, I'm so excited to snack on your Georgia peach cobbler--yummy!! Congrats on your new grandbaby! I love seeing the pictures on FB!

      Thanks so much for your kind words!

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  39. Thanks for the tips Jill. That time management stuff is especially tricky for those of us who have full time jobs and/or little kids. Looks like you're doing a great job with it. Congratulations on your success!

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    1. I agree, Cindy. Full time jobs and small children (or big children!) leave little time or energy for staying healthy and other goals. That's why I'm a big believer in consistency and moderation. Everyone can squeeze in a Seven-Minute Workout (yes, there's an app) or walking in place for ten minutes once a day. And I wasn't willing to do any kind of complicated weight loss plan, so I decided to just track my food and stay in a calorie range. I make the same dinners I always did and, yeah, I still eat candy! I'm never hungry. Tracking what I eat every day does help me make better decisions, and it only takes about 5 minutes to do (if you use an app). Personally, I think the busier we are, the more we need to prioritize our health. It's important!

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  40. Wonderful tips, Jill! And congrats on the weight loss. My smart phone recently broke and I had to use a flip phone for 2 weeks. It really pointed out how much time I wasted on my phone. When I got my phone fixed, the first thing I did was delete all the apps on my phone that were time suckers. I'm going to put the rest of your tips into action ASAP!

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    1. You're so smart, LeAnne! Sometimes a forced break reveals what we couldn't see. Enjoy all your newfound free time!

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  41. Helpful post, Jill. Thank you for your insights.
    And Happy Birthday to Seekerville authors and the village here.

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  42. Jill, misery loves company, so I'm happy to see I'm not alone in my writing struggles. :) Thank you for sharing these tips. You're on track for four books...YAY you! I've started setting a timer when I get on social media, blogs, email, etc. Time passes so quickly when I'm online, and I was wasting valuable minutes (okay...hours). A timer forces to me to seek out the good stuff and pass on the fluff. What a wonderful party October has been, Seekerville!

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    1. I love this tip, Karen! Timers are great tools! Love it!!

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    2. Karen, you're so right about how time flies! I'll get online to check one quick thing and think I've been on for just a few minutes. Then I discover it's been an hour or more.

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  43. Hi Jill,
    Thanks for the solid advice.

    I use the Weight Watcher's app to stay on track. It costs a monthly fee, but it has proven invaluable to me, especially after I've gone off track and need to find my way back.

    A big time waster for me has been the TV playing in the background. A breaking news story hits and I'm 100% distracted. My engineer dh just implemented a new TV system to get off of cable. The 'problem' for me - not knowing how to work the THREE clickers required to turn on the TV, not to mention search for channels! WOW, have I gained TIME! A silver lining!

    Thanks for the post!

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    1. hahaha I am the same way. No clue how to turn on the TV that is hooked up to a computer and ALEXA. So I stream what I need and that narrows my viewing by 60 per cent.

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    2. Lyndee, I've heard great things about the Weight Watcher's app, and I'm so glad it's working for you!

      I get 100% distracted, too! And three clickers--no! I can barely manage one! Haha!!

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    3. Lyndee, I've been using the WW app, too. I love it! Especially the most recent update. I quit using it for a while, and the weight crept back on. So now I'm logging again.

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  44. BUSTED!

    Thanks for bringing to the forefront some areas I must address, Jill. Good list and congrats on your progress!!

    And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SEEKERVILLE!
    Y'all are just the best. :)

    If this posted twice, sorry 'bout that. Blogger seemed to devour the last attempt.

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    1. Oh, May, I think most of us struggle with the same issues. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  45. A very timely post for me, Jill--thank you! My daily routine suffered some serious derailment over the past year. I'm just now starting to take control again and looking at several areas that need addressing--diet, physical activity, and reclaiming the power to say no to time wasters and other writing distractions. Still some work to do, but there has definitely been progress over the last few weeks.

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    1. I understand, Myra. Life gets crazy and the routine takes the hit. Getting back into said routine feels IMPOSSIBLE sometimes! But I'm so glad you've made progress. Just think how great you'll feel getting through the holidays!

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  46. Jill, your post is the PERFECT ending to a very happy birthday celebration for Seekerville! Concluding with strong positive tips encouraging us to revisit our habits and make some changes is inspiring! Thank you! I really needed this today!!

    Congrats to you on all the wonderful improvements you've made in your life!

    I am working on tweaking a few things in my life too...with my business...so much better recently driving me in creative ways to work harder. Also, in my writing...seems like one constructive change leads to another and another!!

    Thanks again for your timely and affirming message today!

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    1. THank you, Kathryn, I'm so thankful Seekerville allowed me to join in their celebration! And check you out, working harder, being more creative--yes, one good change leads to another! Best wishes to you!

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  47. Jill, what a timely post! I was just thinking this morning that I should uninstall my two game apps...even though I have over a trillion points on one! Yikes!

    Here in Nevada our summer is our "winter"... no one goes out in 120* heat for exercise! So, I gain weight then, and now that the cooler weather has started, I can get out. Living a vegan lifestyle doesn't require counting calories, but exercise is important, especially when your an "old vegan"...lol.

    Congratulations on all your successes and goal accomplishments. When we do have a setback, we need to remember God's Grace, and not be so hard on ourselves. We all are still His WIPs.

    Blessings from a former fellow Buckeye!

    Marcia

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    1. Marcia, I wouldn't ever leave the house in the summer if I lived in Nevada! Haha! But, hey, your milder weather should be arriving any minute. :)

      I have a few friends who are vegan, and they've seen huge health benefits. You're right--no counting calories or really worrying about overeating!

      Thank you for the reminder that all this striving isn't to earn anything. God loves us as is. :) Thank you!!

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    2. Hallelujah! Next week is the start of our outside months around here too. WOO HOO!!! More neighborhood walking!

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    3. Marcia, my mind is boggled over a trillion points!! Wow. What game? :)

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    4. Missy, it's called Rhino Fever Slots...here are my actual numbers...1,963,146,479,598...I couldn't make this up!!

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  48. Goodness! I needed this kick in the pants. Thank you for reminding us to get started, no matter what. :)

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    1. Susan, getting started takes one little step! Go get 'em!!

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  49. I needed this pep talk Jill, thanks!

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  50. JILL, thank you for the great post! Finding balance in life is hard!

    I don't allow social media to eat up my reading time! *wink*

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    1. Thank you, Caryl! Yes, we must protect the reading time! :)

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  51. My biggest time waster is this pesky day job that I have.
    Especially because at the end of the day, I'm too burnt out to write, so I have to get up in the wee small hours to get my writing done.

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    1. I'm so impressed you get up early to write, Evelyn. That takes persistence! Go you!!

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  52. I LOVE This post, Jill!!! Stick to your goals and don't waste time. This is all wonderful advice. Now if I could just take this advice to lose weight . . .

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    1. Thanks, Melanie!
      The weight thing was really bothering me. I'd been steadily gaining for three years. And I saw some old high school friends on Facebook who looked better now than they did then! I was like, why don't I just try to stick to a plan? I didn't care how long it took to lose the weight. For the record, it took six months for me to lose 15 pounds. I'm glad it took me that long. I have a few more pounds to go before I hit maintenance mode, and I know maintenance will be a breeze because what I'm doing now feels great. No deprivation. No guilt. No forbidden food groups. Just moderation. Best wishes to you!!

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  53. Fabulous post, Jill! Prioritizing time while taking care of yourself is so important. Congrats!

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    1. Thanks, Beth! Why is it so hard to put ourselves first sometimes? Ugh!

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  54. Jill, did we save the best to last? Really...great blog! Important tips for all of us no matter where we are on the road to publication...or beyond!

    I need to up my game on counting calories and on writing! Thanks for a very gentle push in the right direction.

    Congrats on your plan and your success! I love reading stories that have a happy ending! :)

    Your lastest LI sounds delightful! :)

    So glad you could be with us today.

    Happy 10th Birthday, Seekerville!!! Love to all!

    Happy Halloween too. Eat lots of candy this evening and then count calories tomorrow!

    Hugs!

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    1. Eat only the candy corn. Fat free. And it's a vegetable. LOLOL.

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    2. LOL, Tina!! My kind of vegetable. :)

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    3. Thanks so much, Debby! I'm really excited about this book.
      Confession: I eat a little candy every day. Life without candy is...sad. So I don't live that way! Haha!!

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  55. Jill, I'm finally home and able to read your WONDERFUL post!! What great advice.

    I loved this: "Consistency isn’t glamorous, but it produces results."

    Amen to that! It's something I need to be reminded of continually. So thank you!

    Also, thank you for recommending Success Magazine! I checked out the website and got some great info! I think a site like that can help overcome negative self talk.

    Congrats on turning your life around!! You're doing an amazing job. And I loved seeing your beautiful LI cover!

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    1. Must check Success Mag. New to me! Thanks, Jill!

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    2. I LOVE Success magazine, Missy. Sometimes they even feature people of faith (shocking in this media culture!). I always get inspired when I read it.

      Thanks for your encouraging words!!

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  56. JILL!!! Welcome to Seekerville, my friend, and what an appropriate day for you to be a guest because this is truly a "scary" subject for a lot of people, me included!! ;)

    These are ALL excellent points, but #4 -- Identify Your Time Wasters -- is one I definitely need, so THANK YOU!!

    SUPER CONGRATS on the increased writing and weight loss -- VERY impressive, especially four books a year -- YOWZA!!

    You asked: "How do you find balance in your writing life?" Ironically, my balance in my writing life is not the norm. The way I know I'm balanced is if my family and God are taken care of first, which unfortunately, often means a less productive writing life. But I have learned that this is where God has me, so I'm not complaining. :) And neither is my hubby. ;)

    Hugs and HAPPY HALLOWEEN, everyone!!

    Julie

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    1. Aww, thanks, Julie!! I miss you! And I'm glad you know how to best balance YOUR life. There's no one-size-fits-all, is there? Thanks again!!

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  57. I also meant to say that tracking my food really helps me, too. I've used My Fitness Pal in the past. Right now, I'm using the Weight Watchers app. I really like them both!

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    1. Any app that automatically tallies my calories and breaks my food down into nutrients is my best friend! I'm so glad you've found what works for you!

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  58. Jill, fantastic advice! I've been whining about my weight and my imbalanced life so thank you for giving me the shove in the right direction.

    I use Fitness Pal in the summer but (hangs head in shame) not in the winter. So my goal is to get back on it because it is a great way to just pay attention to what I'm eating.

    As I get ready for NaNo, I'm going to be slimming down that time on social media for sure to get my words count in.

    Thanks for the GREAT advice!

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    1. Hi SHaree! No head-hanging here! I only made the changes because I was so, so tired of being stuck. Yay for NaNo!! I'm rooting for you!!

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  59. This is all so good and I'm taking it to heart - thank you, Jill!

    Happy Birthday, Seekerville - it's been a wonderful celebration!

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  60. Jill, I love the tip about identifying your time wasters and the extra tip about doing something about them. Thanks for all the encouragement to help me focus on the writing and eliminate the distractions while I write.

    Seekers, one more thank you and happy birthday wish as the month comes to an end. Thanks for all you do!

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    1. Tanya, when I was bored or uncomfortable, I automatically defaulted to social media during the day and phone games at night. I had to brainstorm things to replace them with! Sometimes I still remind myself, "didn't you want to read such-and-such book?" or "when was the last time you added to your art journal?" and I don't mind! I'm a work-in-progress. :)

      Thank you!

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  61. Great post, Jill! Thank you :)

    Right now I am overwhelmed with major health issues so not writing much. But when I am healthier I have set writing times. I tend to be productive when I feel well enough to actually write.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. I'm so sorry you're dealing with health issues, Phyllis. Please rest and take care of yourself. I'm praying for you right now.

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    2. Thank you so much, Jill <3 Your prayers are a priceless treasure. God bless you!

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  62. Excellent advice on a topic so pertinent for me. I have so much going on with my life with school, college, reading, writing, chores... these tips are very helpful. I'll have to come back and read them in more detail later.

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    1. Nicki, you DO have a lot going on! When you're in a super busy time of life, I have one recommendation--get enough sleep! It makes all the difference! Best wishes to you!

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  63. It's 6:04 pm in OHIGHOOOO so I know Jill is enjoying the dinner hour. Jill, thank you so much for sharing this last day of our birthday with us.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SEEKERVILLE!

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    1. I just want to hug you right now, Tina! Thanks for letting me play on Seekerville today!

      Happy birthday, Seekerville!!

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  64. Okay, this post isn't just getting bookmarked, it's getting printed out and posted where I see it every day! Thank you, Jill, for the tips and excellent advice! My writing life (and weight) always suffers during the school year when I'm on teacher overload, but it's nothing more than excuses. I can still set reachable goals and accomplish every one of them.

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    1. Teacher overload! Yikes! You definitely have valid reasons for putting writing on the back burner, but I'm with you, you can set reachable goals. You've got this!!

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  65. A wonderful way to end the month. (And I've got to find that coffee cup.) :-)

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    1. Thanks so much, Walt! I love that coffee cup...

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  66. Great tips for writers but this reader feels very motivated to get up and get going! Thanks Coach Jill!!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hooray, Connie!! Wishing you a wonderful start!

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  67. What a month!!! Happy birthday, Seekerville!!
    Jill, thank you for the tips. I find balance through constant prayer :) God is good!
    Natalya kykla99(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Natalya, constant prayer is the way to go. God IS good! Thanks!

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  68. Wonderful post, Jill, with tips that can be applied to areas of anyone's life, not just writers - thank you!!

    It's all about motivation, change, and accountability.

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    1. Bonton, I agree. And when I get started, my motivation soars!

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  69. Loved this post, Jill. Thanks so much for the reminders!

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  70. You've been reading my mind. I don't play games on my phone but I have other time wasting habits.
    I hate tracking my eating. Even when I'm on a weight-loss program I skip the food diary. I need to be more consistent when it comes to adding extra words that is my heart goal but not always my mental goal. You've inspired me to get back on track and get it done along with more consistent exercise and less sitting around. DiAnn Mills writes on her treadmill. She has a special laptop table for that. I won't be doing that. But I can read on my kindle (all the books I promise to review for people) while on my lumbar bike or tread mill.
    Thanks for the reminder.
    Cindy Ervin Huff

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    1. Cindy, I love that you have a heart goal. One of the books I wrote this year was a heart goal for me, and it feels SO good to have it out in the world! You won't regret any step you take to that goal. Yay, you!!

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  71. Jill, I love your positivity and that you can stick to your goals. No wonder you are successful. I am a list maker and also an optimist. Reading your blog made my heart sing, I really need to get back on track. I usually walk four miles each day and my mind wanders enough to free my creativity. Now to incorporate writing goals. A college writing teacher said make a list of ten things to do today. The whole class listed writing as number ten. She told us to cross it off and move it to number one. Thus letting the other stuff fall down by one number. I never forgot her advice, but at times I need reinforcement. Thanks for sharing your column. P.S. My husband is came home from the hospital today for his full knee replacement operation. As a caregiver I stay home and find more time to write. Stay focused and write on everyone.

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    1. Suzanne, I'm a list maker too! Four miles of walking is amazing--and so creative! I love it!
      I'm so glad your husband is now home, but I'm sure the weeks ahead will be challenging. Keep taking time for you whenever you can!

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  72. boy, I can use these tips just to have a more balanced life in general! I've been trying to eat healthy lately and cutting out all sugar and junk food... it's a daily effort for sure with varying degrees of success. I can see how following this advice will be super helpful with meeting my goals! Thank you!

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    1. Oh, Heidi, I struggle with eating healthy too. I have a piece of candy (sometimes more) every day. But I've cut back on other sugary foods, so I don't feel bad! I'm cheering you on--daily goals--so important!!

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  73. Very helpful tips! I read some I really need to apply to my life today. (and not wait for tomorrow) Thank you so very much!!

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  74. Hi Jill. I. Needed. To. Hear. This. That is all.

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  75. These are such great tips, thanks for saying exactly what I needed to hear!

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