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Happy May 19th everyhone! Yes, it's #NationalNotebookDay and it's kind of like Cinco de Mayo for stationery lovers. Basically just a big ol' party Complete with margaritas if you are so inclined. We've had a lot going on Chez Munder, including FatBoy Kitty once again being ill and needing lots of time and attention, but I wanted to hop on and share my latest love in honor of this oh so momentous day. It's the Filofax Refillable Notebook. Available on Amazon in a great collection of sizes and colors! (pretty!pretty!) and in this clip, reviewed by Brian Goulet of Goulet Pens.

Did this video review make your heart beat faster? Can you imagine the possibilities? Wouldn't this make a great bullet type journal? A story notebook? A meal or fitness planner? Webinar or class notebook? With great colors, dividers, and refillable pages of all kinds (lined, graph, and blank), honestly, what's not to love? Are you celebrating #NationalNotebookDay? Do you have a favorite notebook you couldn't live without? Let me know!
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It's no secret I'm a recovering perfectionist and still struggle with the wide-range of side effects that come along with it. Recently a guest blog post by Amanda Cahill over at the LimeLife Planner blog caught my eye. Yes, she talks about planners, but she also twanged the perfectionist in me when she wrote about decorative soaps that go unused, pretty planner pages that she never writes on, and entire notebooks and journals that sit on her shelf, unused.

Why are we so afraid to *use* the very items we love? Why do we save them up, waiting for the perfect occasion, and then feel bad when the opportunity passes us by? An easy example of this happens every day at Chez Munder. Mr. Munder has a few favorite clothing items he wears regularly - usually when changing the oil in the car or cleaning the gutters. He wears them, enjoys them, and when they are used up, manages to find another favorite. I, on the other hand, battle the voice of my childhood which tells me not to wear my "good clothes" for everyday, but put on something old that I won't "ruin". Usually it's one of his oil-stained favorites that should have been thrown out ages ago. Truly, this is just another form of perfectionism. One we're better off without.

We can carry this behavior into our writing as well. Story ideas that never get past a few sentences, blog posts we never publish, social media plans that we continually tweak but never follow. It's time to stop waiting for the perfect opportunity, or the right day. My challenge this month is to pull my prettiest shirt out of the closet and wear it today - all day. Maybe even at the same time I pull that story idea out of my notebook and let it breathe.

How about you? Do you save items for the "right time"? Have a couple of journals that are too pretty to use? Maybe you are like Amanda and have a linen closet stuffed with decorative soaps and scented candles that you never bring out for the day to day? Want to take a bold step? Join me in using one item, it doesn't matter what - just grab one clothing item from your closet, a candle you've never lit, or a blog post you've left unwritten and let yourself love it. Then share how it felt. :)

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Happy  Monday, y'all! How's January working out for you? I'm neck-deep in acceptance that I have overbooked my January like a big dog - maybe even a small horse. *Sigh*. Go figure. But we'll get through. It's what we do, right? In the meantime, I wanted to share one of my favorite! favorite tools in my writing tool kit - Jamie Raintree's fabulous Writing and Revision tracker. You heard me - writing & REVISION tracking - on MULTIPLE PROJECTS. WhooHoo!!

Jamie has figured out a way to make this whole tracking my stats thing easy and she's done all the work setting up the spreadsheets. All I do is enter my (up to 8!!!) project names - this could be individual titles or even just categories such as blog posts, poems, short stories, novellas, etc. Then I enter my daily word count or number of revised pages. Boom! The magic of Excel does the work and I have updated daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly figures.

I've used Jamie's tracker over the last several years and it's been a fantastic aid in understanding my writing process. When she revamped the spreadsheet for the new year and added the revision tracking feature I knew it was time to share.

We all know the importance of tracking our writing progress through the year, and we all have our favorite systems. If yours isn't as seamless as you'd like, or leaves you hanging when it comes to edits and revisions you might want to explore Jamie's Writing and Revision Tracker. Then come join us in her Motivated Writers Facebook Group.

Do you currently track your writing stats? What's your favorite system and do you think you'll give Jamie's a try?

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What a weekend! I hope you were able to get out and take advantage of this beautiful fall weather. We did more than our fair share of hither and yonning, and I've continued editing like a house on fire. Yay!

We also spent some time packing up five of my over-filled bookcases and now have 37 boxes ready to donate to the library. The contents of four other over-filled bookcases will be finding homes with friends and family, and then I have to contemplate the upstairs bookcases. *Whew*

It's been hard. I won't deny that. And letting go is a process. (I can't tell you how many times I've heard that pithy bit of advice. Well, guess what - It's true.) Doesn't matter if it's clothes, books, fishing gear, or even unfinished WIPs.

It is somewhat reassuring to learn those of us who err on the side of potential hoarding aren't alone, and that we can gently, and humorously accept our enthusiasms sometimes outstrip our available time and abilities. In light of that, I want to share a discussion from Gayle Goddard I found surprisingly helpful (and a bit too on point) over the last couple of months regarding the relationship between us and our stuff.

Do you find it hard to let go of "stuff"? Do you dread the thought of downsizing in both your regular and writing life? What has helped you find humor and balance?



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I'm reposting an oldie but goodie today. Partly because this mousie is still kicking around and I tripped over him today, and partly because this still holds true.

Getting the Point Across - [originally posted April 28, 2010]

I walked through the kitchen this past weekend, nothing too unusual there. It was probably around 12:30 p.m. and yes, I was running late when it came to feeding the Vache. I don't know about your animal (should you have one), but Vache can tell time. When that first paw touches me in the morning a quick glance at the alarm clock shows it to be 5:19 a.m. on the dot. Every single day, weekends not excluded. So, I shouldn't have been surprised that Vache had been waiting for over a half an hour for his expected snack, or that he had found a way to communicate his displeasure when it failed to appear. Here's a picture of his method:

Simple. Effective. It got his point across:

You're late.

My bowl is empty.

All I can fill it with is this fake mouse.

Feed Me.

Wouldn't it be exciting if I could hone my writing to that level?

Could you imagine? No more run-on sentences, no more meandering away from the plot point, no more inability to define a character's motivations and actions leaving them open to misunderstanding.

Words as clear as a single image. Simple. Effective. Able to get my point across.

Inspired by the Vache.
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In July of 2014 I had an opportunity to join an Open Studio Co-Working Party courtesy of Cairene MacDonald at Third Hand Works. The experience was fascinating, and one I’d like to repeat in 2015. The session offered several helpful ideas on achieving a balanced workflow, but the one I found hardest to manifest in daily life dealt with celebrating accomplishments and replenishing energy. If you don’t understand why this concept was difficult for me, good for you. If however, you are nodding your head in understanding maybe we should try to understand why this seemed so hard.

I can recall relaxing in a bubble bath as a 20-something year old; an assortment of candles flickering around the edge of the tub while I skimmed through a magazine and wrinkled my nose at the article exhorting overworked women to take time for them. The author listed several small examples of self-care, which seemed silly. Who needed advice on something this simple?

Well, I’m no longer in my 20’s, and I can’t tell you the last time I kicked back in a froth of scented bubbles. Even if I thought about it, the only candles I have in the house are probably of the birthday cake variety. Pretty useless unless I paused to bake some cupcakes to use as candleholders. Sound familiar? Apparently, that article was written for women like us. And the advice? Even more important now. Because somewhere along the way of taking care of everyone else we forgot to take care of ourselves.

I’m convinced this concept of celebration and replenishment is as vital in our writing life as it is in our day-to-day reality. Too often the push is on a higher word count, the next chapter, the next release. We forget our stories are comprised of a series of baby steps, each one building to the whole, and each one deserving of recognition and celebration.

When’s the last time you took a moment to replenish? To celebrate any one of the many accomplishments in your harried day? Especially the small ones. If you have to think about the question, it’s been too long. A car doesn’t run on empty, neither does our brain, heart, or soul. If you already understand the importance of recognizing your accomplishments, great! Share with us one of your replenishing rewards.

But, if you find this a foreign concept, let’s stop and consider: What could we do to celebrate our mini milestones? And by mini milestone I mean anything from scrubbing the toilet, folding that last load of clothes, or reaching the end of a writing session.

Could we email a writing buddy? Tweet a quick "Go me"? How about tossing a handful of brightly colored confetti in the air, or my personal favorite, running around the house for 30 seconds with our arms raised in triumph? Okay, maybe the last one is a little heavy on the dork factor, but it’s seriously fun. Go ahead, try it. :) Give your inner dork some time in the sun.

No matter what we choose, the bigger question is, can we remember to make this type of replenishment part of our daily routine in 2015? What do you think? Could your life use a little more celebration?

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It's been far longer than I thought since I hopped on for a quick post. I'll blame the gorgeous fall weather (colored leaves! sunsets! deserted beaches to walk on!), the busy personal life, and of course, the writing and editing that I'm still wading through. I'm going to meet these 2014 goals or turn blue trying. :) We've also been hit with the generally icky funk going around, and while Mr. Munder is far worse off than I, it's not been a picnic.

NaNoWriMo is around the corner and I'm torn - I thought this was the year I was going to give it a try but there's still those goals I set earlier in the year to get through. I want to finish what I started and not get distracted by the shiny and cool. So I may have to pass this year and look forward to the next. I could try to work this into my already set goals, but that will depend of if I get the editing/rewriting portion of things done and can focus on new writing. Yeah, I'm still undecided.

Do you NaNo?

I'm also compelled to share a link I'm currently fascinated by: Binaurural Beats for Cold and Flu Relief. I can't tell you if any success I had was due to placebo effect or not, but I can say I listened to this with headphones on and by the time it was over my nose was unstuffed and I have so far (knock on closest wood surface) avoided any drugs. Since usually the slightest head cold zombies me for three weeks, turns into the infection from Hell, and heads immediately into my chest - I'm all for the placebo effect.

I'd love to hear from anyone who might try this themselves. Do you feel it did you any good? Did you feel remarkably silly? Am I just crazy? (No, please don't feel compelled to answer that). Try it and let me know. :)

Now, back to editing and those 2014 goals!
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I am. Even though there is a part of me digging my fingernails into the last day of July and shrieking, "No! No! More than half the year can't be over!". Okay, there's more than a part of me busy shrieking. But if I've learned anything, it's that I may as well get over it and get going.

To help me along I'm planning out my month with the free Monthly Action Planner from Charlie Gilkey over at Productive Flourishing. He offers a wide variety of daily, weekly, and monthly planners (for free! <3), and yearly packages for a modest price. I appreciate the monthly planner because I can lay out my rough expectations for the month without really boxing myself in. Lord knows, I need the flexibility.

I like that I'm able to see my plans quickly and at a glance. This format also helps me keep from the dreaded *over-planning*. A trap I often fall into.

Are you ready for August? Do you have a favorite format for planning your goals out? Do you prefer to wing it? Or have you evolved to the point where you look down and laugh at the silly humans trying to grab some semblance of control over their time?
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I have goals, dammit. And I'm determined to reach them. Playing around with the free time-tracking software Toggl as well as a timer and so far it's going well. If nothing else, I'm realizing when I'm sucked into something other than what I planned soon rather than later. I'll revist this in a week and see how it's gone. Do you have a favorite way to keep yourself on task?

Time Disappears in a Good Book
photo courtesy of cellar_door_films, via the Wana Commons Flkr Community
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Out of the 4 WIP's I have slated to complete this year I closed out the first run of edits on #1 yesterday. Yay!! I've set it aside to perk for bit and will edit through #2 before I go back for another run. I did go ahead and reward myself for my effort though. How do you like my fresh coat of paint?

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