Like many writers or others whose jobs require sitting all day, I get stiff and sore through my lower back and hips. I've been to the chiropractor and been given a series of stretches to do and they help. The problem is that I forget them or forget to do them and before long I'm back where I started.
Below is a video I found that gives five easy (and easy to remember) stretches for lower back pain due to inactivity and static posture. Give these a try and let me know if they help you.
I recently participated in a joint blog on the subject of keeping your focus while you work.
As with most creative people, this can sometimes be a problem for me because there are always so many interesting things to do and so many great ideas to pursue.
Here is my contribution:
Overcoming “The Blur” As a creative person who is easily distracted I sometimes get overwhelmed with little details and my focus goes out the window. I call it The Blur – when whatever I had to do becomes a blur. My trick to overcoming it is to pick one thing to work on and and give it a time limit. For example, “I will work on this book cover design for thirty minutes only”, or “just until 3:00 o’clock”. When I’ve finished with the time limit I can do something else if I want to. Often by then I have re-focused.
For the rest of the blog posts, go here.
Some time during my first year of marriage, my husband told me that in his family the children had been taught to wipe themselves down with the damp washcloth after a bath or shower. The idea was to remove excess water from the skin before drying off with the towel. After a while I adopted the same procedure, never giving the practice much thought - until recently.
One day last year, while standing in the shower wiping my dripping body with the washcloth, I began to wonder why on earth I was going through these motions. The more I thought about it, the more it made no sense. I began to examine the possible source of this habit to see if there was any validity in continuing. I followed the trail back through the family habit-history and figured it out.
My husband was born in England after the war where towels were few, heating scarce, the climate damp, hot water infrequently available and children plentiful. Under those circumstances it made perfect sense to keep the few towels the family owned as dry as possible as the kids filed through the bathtub on Saturday night. After all, mom couldn’t just toss the wet towels into the dryer to emerge fluffy and ready for the next wet child.
While Canadian-raised if not born, my husband still had parents who remained, in their habits at least, resolutely English until their dying days. They managed to pass on a great many of their English habits to their off-spring. Washcloth pre-drying was one of those.
So, some thirty-five years later when I stopped to ask myself why I did this I had to admit that the reasons behind the habit did not exist in my life. I have more towels than I can use at any one time. I have a clothes dryer, a warm dry house with forced air heating, and no one is going to use my towels after me. Furthermore, by dropping this habit, I shave about five minutes off my time spent in the bathroom at shower time.
I did a quick calculation and discovered (if I got the figures right) that I’ve spend a total of twenty-two days of my life just wiping the drips off my skin before wrapping up in my towel!
By now, I’m sure you’ve figured out that this is not about the washcloth. It’s about habitually doing things that have no basis in need but that we keep doing anyway because we never stop to examine why we do them. These little habit can get in the way of doing other things of more value. It’s also about questioning why we do the things we do and whether they hold any value anymore.
Last year I began developing my programs to help would-be authors to get their books written and published. I was responding to a need I kept hearing about. Many people wanted to write a book but their reasons for not doing it varied. Here are a few:
“I don’t know where to begin.”
“I want to tell my story but I’m not a writer.”
“Someday I’m going to do it.”
“My grammar isn’t very good.”
There are more but many of these potential authors have been in the habit of using their reasons or excuses to avoid doing what they say they want to do.
If you hear yourself say, “I can’t…” enough times, you’re going to believe it. “I can’t” becomes the habit you fall back on to explain your failure to follow through on your dreams. (I realize that not everyone wants to write a book but these thoughts apply to lots of areas of life.)
The truth is, when you examine why you are not doing what you say you want to do, you will always find a way to break the “I can’t” habit. For example:
In the meantime, these habits are costing you time that could be put toward writing your book. With my new programs you could be ready to publish in as little as one week, six weeks or twelve weeks. And no, I’m not kidding.
Whether to attempt to publish via the traditional model or to publish independently is, and should be, a business decision.
With traditional publishing, the publishing company is buying the rights to your work as their raw material to make money. They pay you a royalty for the use of your intellectual property but it is a licensing deal the same as Mickey Mouse’s mug on a t-shirt is. There is nothing wrong with this model. You just have to find the right company; the one that sees the value in your work as a money-making commodity.
With independent publishing you will have to buy services to help you prepare your product for the market (unless you know how to do it all yourself – with the exception of editing your own work). You have to pay for those services and it’s up to you how you want them packaged and what value you place on the services you purchase. The onus is on you to shop around for the best services to suit your needs.
Think of it this way:
You’re a farmer and you grow carrots. You can try to find a wholesale company that will purchase your carrots at a discount (so that they can mark them up and make a profit), wash them, package them, put their company name on them, distribute them to stores and handle the shipping and retailer relations. Your job is just to grow the carrots and find the right wholesaler.
Or, you can sell your carrots yourself. In addition to growing the carrots, you can buy a carrot washing machine, design and order packaging, bag your carrots, load your carrots into the back of your pickup truck and take them to the farmers’ markets. You’ll have to pay for your booth space and your signage and you’ll have to choose the right market for your carrots. (You’ll likely sell more carrots at the local farmers’ markets than you will at art markets or fairs.) You make all the profits, after you’ve subtracted your costs.
When you remove the emotion from your decision and look at it from a business point of view, you simply need to decide which model works best for you. You don’t need to defend the wholesale, big box model or you’re a bad grower. You don’t need to defend the farmers’ market model or you’re the little guy battling the big corporate monster.
For those who know their market and want to reach it themselves through their own efforts, who are willing to shoulder the costs and tasks of running a business (editing, cover design, marketing) and producing a product worthy of customers’ interest, the self-publishing model is a great alternative to the traditional model. If you’re not interested or willing to do that, then your choice is the traditional model.
Which one is more risky? It depends on you and what you want for your business and your writing and publishing career. Traditional publishing puts all the decisions in the hands of a company whose goal is to make money using your work. Self-publishing, or creating your own independent publishing imprint, keeps the decisions in your control and you make the profit from your work.
If you’ve decided that you can handle running your own publishing business and require a la carte publishing services that won’t cost the moon, I recommend Summer Bay Press.