Showing posts with label Mary Jo Guglielmo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Jo Guglielmo. Show all posts

When New Year's Resolutions Don't Work

Usually, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  I never keep them.  This year I decided I’d make one resolution.  It seemed like an easy one to keep.  My resolution was to give up my gym membership by the end of January.  I had joined the gym in July with every intention of working out twice a week.  I didn’t show up in July or August or September.  As a matter of fact, as December rolled around 'I had not yet stepped into the gym'.  Why didn’t I cancel my membership?  Because each month I thought, this is the month I would get on track.  So by the end of December, cancelling my membership seemed like an easy resolution.  Unfortunately it took me to the beginning of March to cancel my membership.  I have a busy life and resolutions don’t work for me.  That said, when I clearly define a goal that is important to me, I have learned how to support my goal.

If your writing life is stuck, maybe it is time to step back and redefine what it is that you want to achieve.  Why are you writing?  What are your goals?  Dig deep and determine what it is that you really want. Once you are clear on your true desire, I have found that the following strategies will support achieving your goal.
1.       Define your desire as a SMART goal.  Setting a goal that is Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and realistic, and Time bound is the first step to success.

2.       Have daily visual reminders of your goal.  Daily visibility is a key to success.  Use post-it notes on your bathroom mirror or have a vision board above your desk.  You can also set your goal as a daily alert on your phone.  It’s easy to forget about your goal, if you don’t see it each day.

3.       Identify a goal buddy to help hold you accountable for your progress.  Having someone to check in with each week will nudge you towards your goal.  Sometimes it’s not an individual but a critique group which holds you accountable for your writing goals. If you don't have a critique group and you can’t identify someone you know as a goal buddy, consider joining one of the following online communities.

               i. is an online community that matches you with a goal buddy who is striving to achieve a similar goal.

             ii.      Habitforge has an online community and potential for a goal buddy, it is also designed for someone who wants to work on their own.  Habitforge provides daily email encouragement related to your goal.

4.       Track your progress.  You can also use software to keep your goals on track.

               i.       Lifetick is a goal tracking program.  It not only helps you track your goals but allows you to invite others to view your progress.  If you have identified a goal buddy, this is a great way to track each other’s progress and hold each other accountable.

              ii.      Goals on Track is a goal setting software that will help you set SMART goals and track progress. It works with IPhones and androids and best of all it’s free.

5.       Use negative incentives.  Sometimes we need something a little stronger to nudge us on our writing journey.  Try stickK—A commitment contract designed to help people achieve their goals.  According to stickK, people don’t always do what they claim they want to do and incentives get people to do things.  They have found that having a financial stake increases your chances of success up to 3x and having someone as a referee to monitor your progress increases your success 2x.  StickK asks users to sign a binding contract where they commit money that they lose if they don’t achieve their goal.  This is definitely for someone who needs a stick instead of a carrot.

Try a few of the strategies above and your goal just might become reality.  If you have other strategies you use to achieve your goals, I would love to hear from you.

Mary Jo Guglielmo is a writer, educator, and life coach.   For more information check out

Ten Climbing Lessons for Writers

I’ve been dabbling in a new hobby—rock climbing.  It’s not the type of activity that I would come up with on my own and is definitely out of my comfort zone.  But, my husband and two adult sons were climbing, so I finally decided to give it a try. It’s been six months and I really enjoy climbing.  Most of my climbing has been in a climbing gym, though I did venture out on the rocks of Sedona.
Usually we will start by bouldering— free climbing on a low wall without ropes.  For those who have never been an inside climbing gym, paths are created by colored boulders and you can only put your hands and feet on the color you are attempting to scale.   It took me a while to get comfortable bouldering.  Going up was fine but I was scared trying to get down.   I find the higher walls where you have a harness and ropes much less stressful.  

About a month ago, we went to the gym and I started to boulder.  Half- way up, I came down.  It just   I thought to myself, I don’t think I should climb today.  My husband suggested I try an easier route.  I took his suggestion made it to the top and down, but something still felt off.
Falling Off Wall
didn’t feel right.

One more try…then if I still didn’t feel right, I would stop.

Three quarters of the way up the wall, I reached for the next boulder and fell (about 15 feet).  Dazed,  and neck when I landed.  I knew I shouldn’t have been climbing that day.  I also knew after the fall, that I better climb one more time or I might never climb again.

I stood up, the inside of my head and my neck hurt from whipping my head
I discovered that the lessons I learned about climbing apply to writing.

1.       Stay on the Path – Like following a colored coded trail when bouldering in a gym, you need to create your writing path and write.  Identify a dedicated time for writing in your week.  Your writing time is not for emails, surfing the web, or social media. Just write!

2.       Find people to encourage you and guide you – Climbers watch each other scale the wall and provide suggestions on how to master a trail.  An effective critique group can help you find a new direction for your story or polish your manuscript.   Critique partners are there to urge you on, when you’ve hit the writing wall, or cannot muster the physical intelligence to complete a climbing route.

3.       Listen to your internal voice – The day I fell off the wall, I should have listened to my internal voice and called it quits for the day.  Sometimes when working with agents and editors, you can get conflicting advice or be asked to do a rewrite that just doesn’t seem right.  A friend of mine’s agent recently had her rework her manuscript before she sent it out to publishers.  She didn’t agree with the changes, but made the changes.  After it was shopped around to a few publishing houses, the feedback she received was to go back to her original approach.  Sometimes too many voices get in a writer’s head.  It’s a delicate balance to know when to follow your intuition and when to listen to the critiques you are receiving.

4.       The only way past your fear is through your fear.  To be honest, I’m afraid of heights.  I just had to climb to get past my fear.  As a writer, what frightens you?  Are you afraid of rejection?   The only way to get past the fear of rejection is to submit your  writing for publication.  When you receive a rejection, instead of being demoralized, celebrate the fact that you are one step closer to finding the right publishing house.

5.       When you reach…make sure you footing is solid.  – When I fell off the wall, I reached without being in a stable position.  New writers often are so excited about getting published that they submit their work before it is polished.  If you don’t know the basics of writing and the publishing industry, you are not ready to submit for publication.   WOW! Women on Writing is a great resource to develop a strong foundation for your writing.

6.       After a big fall, get back-up and try again. – Did you recently receive a rejection letter?  Have you been unsuccessful in obtaining an agent?  Just keep writing, revising and when you are ready, submit your manuscript. Keep doing it, and it will become a path you have climbed before!

7.       You need instruction and training – Whether you are writing or climbing, studying with experts will enable you to move your work along.  I had to take a ropes class before I could belay someone else who was climbing under my guidance. You will need to learn beats and rhythm before you can write a rhyming picture book. 

8.       Take a break – At the climbing gym, when I need a break, I go to something else.  There’s yoga, weights, juice bar, internet, big comfy chairs, or even a ping pong table. There are times during your journey as a writer when it’s a struggle to make a story work.  My critique partner was struggling with a piece and she said it was making her brain hurt.    She needed to put the story away and do something else.  Sometimes working on another piece is enough, but sometimes you just need to get out of your writing chair and move. 

9.       Practice…Practice…Practice – It’s been more than a month since I’ve been to the climbing gym and I know I won’t be able to climb routes that I’ve already mastered.  The more you keep climbing or writing, the stronger your writing or climbing muscles become.

10.   Enjoy the journey — It’s not about reaching the top, it’s about the climb.  Being a writer is a journey.  Have fun and enjoy the process. You will feel great the next day, even if a little sore!

Mary Jo Guglielmo is a writer, educator, and life coach.   For more information check out

Increasing Writing Productivity by Managing Your Online Activity

I had the following email exchange with a colleague this morning.
8:59 am   Friend: I am locked in a library all weekend doing research and writing.  Text or email if you need anything.  I can be in the office in 15 minutes if anything big arises.
9:01 am  Me: Happy Writing!
9:09 am  Friend: writer's block sucks!  looming deadlines suck more!! 
9:55 am   Me:  Be willing to write crap.  Then you can mold the crap into something useful during the editing process.   “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”—Margaret Attwood. 
9:59 am Friend: true, wise words.  i always have to remind myself that the search for brilliance is the enemy of finishing!  thanks for the support! 
10:01 am   Me: The other bit of advice I give writers--shut off your email and internet unless you need it for research during your writing time.  This is my last response to you today!
We easily could have kept the banter going. More emails would have seemed like short breaks from our work, but the truth is it would have been non-productive interruptions for both of us. As writer, how many times do we sit down at the computer and the first thing we do is open our email and check social media.  If you start your writing session by checking emails or commenting on Facebook, an hour or more can slip away before you write one word. This pre-writing routine can seriously decrease your writing productivity.

Blogger Michael Stelzner suggests tracking how you use your time to increase your productivity.  One way to do that is use productivity tracker software.  RescueTime offers apps and software to help track your computer use.  A free 14 day free trial service is available on their website.  Knowing how you spend your computer time will help you make changes and increase your writing productivity.

How do you maximize your writing time?  I love to hear what's worked for you.

Oh and one more thing..I might send just one email tomorrow morning to check on my friend locked up in the library with her computer. 

Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life coach. For more information check out:  

Gifts for Writers

It’s time for my annual gift list for writers.  If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping consider one of the gifts below.

  1. An online writer’s workshop from Writer’s Digest -- Writer’s digest offers affordable online writing workshops.  These workshops are taught by experts in the field and cover a wide range of topics (e.g. memoir writing, blogging, query letters).
  2. Books – A perfect gift for any writer.
  3. A subscription to writer’s magazine -- I have a digital subscription to Poets and Writers for only$2.50 per issue.
  4. 365 Affirmations for the Writer by Jane Hertenstein – A kindle book chocked full of inspiration for any writer.
  5. The 2015 Writer’s Market – If you know a writer getting ready to submit their work, the Writer's Market is an invaluable tool.  This compilation of information about publishers is a perennial on my annual gift list.
  6. A Journal – Even if the writer you know generally works on a computer, give them a journal and they are sure to write in it.   Check out for a wide selection of journals.
  7.  Scrivener - A great application for managing complex writing projects or keeping track of the research for that next project.

     All writers need readers.  So, here’s a few of the books I’m giving this holiday season.
                              Picture Book:  Before You Came by Patricia MacLachlan Charest
Middle Grade:  Bird by Crystal Chan
YA:  Pig Park by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
Cross over:  Where’d You Go, Bernadatte,by Maria Semple
Non-Fiction:  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

      Do you have any favorite gifts for writers?  What books are you giving this holiday season?

Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life coach. For more information check out:  

Honoring Your Voice

As a writer, your voice is one of your most powerful assets. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, novels, screenplays, marketing copy, y...