The Power of a Good, Long, Concentrated Dose of Shhhhhhh.

We're enjoying the beautiful benefits of a Distraction Detox today. (Take some time away from everything that's splintering your focus into a thousand little pieces. Yeah. ALL that. Then see how you feel.) | lucyflint.com

Hello you wonderful lionhearts. How is your Distraction Detox going? (If you missed Monday's explanation, check it out! It's not too late!)

I hope that you're feeling a little more space in your thinking and your attention, and that your creativity is showing up in bigger and brighter ways.

Oooh. That's always worth the effort, isn't it? 

It TOTALLY is. High five.

So I'm just going to leave you with two things today. A lovely quote, and a lovely image. 

The quote is from Elizabeth Berg, and I keep going back to it, because it sounds so magical to mega-introverted me. She says:

I believe that solitude, perhaps more than anything,
breeds creativity, breeds originality.

That's what we're after this week, right?

Finding our way back to our originality. Re-encountering the mass of untapped creativity we each have.

And the source for that: Solitude.

This little Distraction Detox is about protecting our precious mental space, so we can get back to a kind of solitude of the mind.

A short, healthy break from so many of the other voices that surround us. 

... Which includes mine.

So I'll stop chatting, and instead, let's look at these waves: 

Shhhhhhh. We're on a Distraction Detox. | lucyflint.com

Mmmmmm.

I hope you have a super restful weekendbrimming with creativity.

See you on Monday.

What to Do with Way Too Much Good Information

It happens to all of us: Suddenly you're in a deluge of excellent content (and social media, and classes, and webinars, and books)... and it's all really excellent, but you find you can't think straight. Ring any bells? Yeah, me too. Here's the cure. | lucyflint.com

I have to admit: The main reason I wanted to do a Spring Cleaning for Writers Series is because of this week. 

Mmmmm. Let's savor the moment.

Take a second to just breathe in, really deeply. And breathe out.

I'm about to propose something new. It's kind of a challenge within the spring cleaning challenge. It might be the very best part of it! 

I'm calling it: The Distraction Detox.

And here's why I've needed it so desperately (and maybe why you need it too... if any of this rings a bell!).

I've had a lot of good things going on lately—really good things.

I've just finished a quick bit of traveling, I'm working on some good new systems for better health, and I'm reading some excellent nonfiction books so quickly that I'm practically swallowing them whole.

I'm reading great email newsletters, falling in love with marvelous Instagram accounts, tuning in to all you lovely people on Twitter, scrolling through visual feasts on Pinterest, filling my ears with Spotify and podcasts, texting pals on my writing breaks, and tumbling down the Netflix rabbit hole.

It's all so good. It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet of words! information! sound! ideas! 

And (not super surprisingly) the inside of my mind is feeling a little ... jittery.

I'm not talking negativity—we cleaned that out already!

I mean there's just too much going on in there. Too many new ideas, too many sound bites, too many concepts I want to rearrange my life to include. 

My lovely work-in-progress is quiet. And it's not really interested in jostling to make itself heard above the rest of the (exciting, wonderful) crowd.

I'm craving the sweetness of singleminded focus. The beautiful quiet of an undistracted mind.

The quick pace of all that media is exciting and inspiring. But my creativity truly flourishes the still moments.

The gift I really want to give myself (and you too, if you're up for it!) is a week off from distractions.

What?! Yes.

Seriously. 

Okay: Let's define it. What is a Distraction Detox?

A break from anything that's destroying your ability to focus. Any times you have competing projects. Anything that splinters your attention.

For me, it's a chance to: 

  • Break the habit of grabbing my iPhone and carrying it around with me everywhere.
  • Stop checking emails first thing in the morning. And also the moment they come in, all through the day. *slaps forehead*
  • Replace my nightly Netflix with something a little more creatively yummy. (I'm addicted to Columbo lately... I just love Peter Falk!)
  • Keep my desk totally clear of other notes, reminders, charts, etc.
  • Take a break from Spotify. (And listening to music with lyrics while I'm writing... oops!)
  • Put social media (all of it!) on the backburner. Just for a little while. Just for a week. (And if I simply MUST show up, I'll stick to a brief timed session.) 

And I don't mean just during my writing day: I'm talking all day long!!

I especially want to look askance at multitasking. I know it torpedoes my focus, but I've picked up the habit again, and it's time to set it back down. 

I want to be clear: All these things I've listed—the newsletters, the social media accounts, my beloved Peter Falk—are good things

But, because I haven't really put limits on the time I spend with them, they've been stealing my precious writing headspace.

... Until I'm getting more anxious about missing Instagram updates than I am about feeding my characters.

Which is why a little break sounds amazing.

How about you? 

Your Distraction Detox doesn't have to look like mine: your triggers are probably different. 

But grab a few minutes to think about all the different sources of information you're encountering: all the miniature narratives that intersect your day, all the virtual people you come into contact with. 

All of it. 

And ask yourself: What's going on when you feel an information overload in your head? Or when you feel like your attention is being fractured into three or four directions?

And then think about what a good, helpful, restful break would look like for you. 

Maybe just take a break from a few of the smaller things, things that it's easier to abstain from.

Or maybe you just take out your two biggest culprits.

Maybe you do it for a day or two, or maybe—like me!—you want to give yourself a WHOLE WEEK OFF.

You know in your gut how drastic or not drastic you need this to be. A small adjustment, or a big media/information vacation.

Your pick.

For me, this week will also be a chance to break my little addiction to new information. I can start believing that I just need a little more advice, in every single area.

... Because there's so much great free content out there right now! Have you noticed? Amazing webinars, classes, email courses, tutorials... I love it. 

But I can also get mired in way too many new ideas to apply at once. Too many lists of "3000 ways to optimize your entire life."

Okay, okay. It just feels like 3000.

You get my point. 

I don't want this week to be brutal: just the opposite.

I want permission to let emails accumulate through the day (and then zip through them in a half hour at night). I want to stop feeling twitchy when my phone isn't nearby. 

I want to come back to those lovely old-fashioned concepts like, an actual attention span.

And I want to listen to what's going on in my own head—my relationship with my work-in-progress, and my sense of how much internal space I need. 

Instead of trying to juggle hundreds of competing ideas and tips in my head all at once. (Anyone else feeling this way?!)

Ahhhhh. Distraction Detox. I'm so excited.

Whatever this looks like for you: Give yourself the gift of a bit of extra space this week.

Pause the information rush (especially good information! that's the hardest to resist!). Ease back on social media (just a smidge).

Don't do anything that cuts you off or causes you anguish. Just give yourself a lovely little vacation. 

And when the vacation is over, you can re-evaluate. You can add things back in as needed... or not!

The point of the detox is to just give us room enough to think. To get squarely back into our own minds for a while, and to decide from there what information and media we need.

Instead of being, you know, constantly bulldozed by it.

Can you feel a little peace sneaking in? Or even a rush of restful, soul-restoring silence??

Mmm. That. 

Happy Distraction Detox.

The Counterintuitive Way to Protect Your Writing (from Everything that Gets In the Way!)

Ever feel like you're in a war, between your writing and the rest of your life's demands? Always defending one from the other? I totally get that. Here's how I found a resolution that frees me up to be a calmer, better writer. Let's dive in. | lucyflint.com

I can't believe that it was a year ago that I re-launched this blog as a place for lionhearted writers to gather and talk about courage, self-management, and an incredibly healthy writing life. 

A year of courageous writing! Let's all dig in to a big bowl of confetti!

So to celebrate this month, I'm coming back to one of my favorite things: quotes about writing.

If you've been around here for a while, you've probably noticed that I'm addicted to quotations.

I've done a series on helpful writing quotes, and I did another post on some of the best quotes for the "shadowy side" of the writing life. (Which I still loooooove. They are good quotes, y'all.) 

And this month, I'm coming back to them again.

Our writing lives are shaped by voices, after all. 

By the words of our teachers, our readers, our characters, our own selves, and all the books and writers that have gone before us. 

So many voices. So many words. 

And the awesome thing is, we get to choose which ones we'll hold on to. Which ones we'll believe in, and learn from. 

I love that. 

Here's the quote that's on my mind today: 

"One may achieve remarkable writerly success while flunking all the major criteria for success as a human being. Try not to do that." - Michael Bishop ... So, lionheart: What kind of a writer do you want to be? And what kind of human? | lucyflint.com

I love this quote. This reminder. 

Because this is where I've been lately, my friends.

Over the last month, I've watched my grandma's health decline to nothing. I visited her, read to her, and even sang to her (not very well) because singing was something that still got through.

I saw her the night before she died, and we all sang Happy Birthday and ate cake to celebrate her ninety-second year, even though she couldn't respond. 

I sat with my mom the next morning as we got the news that my grandma had died. I witnessed the flurry of preparation for a visitation, a funeral. I helped proofread her obituary. 

We welcomed my sister and her husband and their four incredible kids into our home; I talked with friends and family for five hours at a visitation.

There was a funeral, a burial, a luncheon. We brought home flowers from the church, and I woke the next morning to the scent of roses.

I stared at the obituary photo of my grandma (bright-eyed, smiling, content) to erase the memory of how she looked the night before she died—when she already seemed like a ghost.

Along the way, I totally neglected a head cold, which responded by turning into some massive sinus-infection-meets-bronchitis thing.

(I sound very elegant while typing all this, coughing like this and sniffling, sitting here in my pajamas and my robe amidst a pile of tissues. Real talk, y'all.) 

And oh yeah, I didn't do any writing. Not a scrap.  

My novel has curled into a tiny little ball. Its notes look like they were written by someone else. The current draft—my epic structural rewrite—is cool to the touch, sitting there at just 7500 words. 

Here on the blog, I had prepped the Love Your Writing Life series in advance, because we knew Grandma wasn't doing well. I checked in with the posts as they published and read them again, doing the prompts that I could manage to get to.

But for the most part, I felt very, very missing-in-action with writing. 

Which is why I love today's writing quote.

Because I can say: That is TOTALLY OKAY.

I had big plans for my writing in February. But it turned into something else.

It was a month for family. I was a granddaughter, a daughter, an aunt, a cousin, a niece, a sister, and a friend. I sang and prayed and held hands and matched faces to names that I'd heard of for decades. 

It was a month for relationships. It was time to be the human, more than the writer. 

And if this sounds very unremarkable to you, I have to explain: in the first several years of being a full-time writer, I divided my life into Writing and Everything that tries to interfere with writing. 

That's the dichotomy that I rode for years, and can I just say: Pitting the rest of your life against your writing gets exhausting.

It turned everything into a fight. It made me bitter. It made me a resentful crazy person. 

Please don't do that.

I threw out that paradigm a while ago, and now I try to live by something else.

I want to be a really good human. Someone who pays attention to the world around her. Who catches the nuances. Who loves people first, and then remembers what they say and writes it all down.

Yes, still a writer.  A writer to the core. Believe me, I was staring at pictures of my grandma, pictures taken ninety years ago in Puerto Rico, imagining stories for the faces and the places that they showed. 

I was absolutely noticing everything at the visitation, the funeral. What, after all, do people say to you, when you've lost someone? 

I soaked up the stories that were shared. The sweet moments. As well as the surreal sense of going through the motions.

I was a family member, first and foremost. 

Here's the thing, my friends. Splitting life into Writing and Not Writing makes it hard to live well.

So I've decided to choose a better focus. Now I protect both sides of the equation (the writer, the human) by trying to live an attentive life.

Because the heart of being a really excellent human and a really excellent writer is the same: To pay attention. To love big. To notice things. To show up.

When I live like that, I get to be the kind of person—daughter, aunt, granddaughter—I most want to be. 

And, when I get back to my writing desk, I find that I have stories to tell.

I'm more calm about getting my writing in, and my writing gets richer at the same time. How's that for a more pleasant way to live? 

So this week, my mission is to get well.

To sleep a whole bunch. Eat a lot of chicken noodle soup. Use those clever essential oils, and take plenty of vitamin C and zinc. I'm gonna banish the snot and the cough.

I've also cleared off my desk. I sat and stared lovingly at the outline I have for my novel on the wall. (Oh look! Characters! I have characters! Hello, you little beauties. Next week, we will dance and dance and dance some more.)

And then I showed up in this space to write some words, and to send love to all you lionhearts, and to say:

We are writers, but we are humans first.

That's how it's supposed to be. Let's not get the two confused.

Let's be present every single day, shall we? Let's pay attention to whatever life hands us.

Let's write by being alive, first. By being attentive, first. 

And then, let's trust that when it's time to sit at our desks again, our stories will be so much richer, because we've been such real and wonderful people...

Even when we weren't writing.

We're Playing for Keeps: A Lifelong Love of Writing

This is your last batch of prompts for the Fall In Love with Your Writing Life series...

Can you believe it??

Our last batch of prompts for falling in love with the writing life: We're looking long term and feeling all the warm fuzzy feelings. It's a beautiful thing. | lucyflint.com

One of the best joys of the writing life is that you can't ever be disqualified from it.

You can do this for the rest of your life. There is no aging out.

It's something you get to do forever: look at the world around you, look at the world inside you, and make stories out of it.

How freaking amazing is that? 

For these last few days, we're just going to camp out there, and get plenty happy about it.

If you feel like bringing some champagne along, do so.

Let's go.


February 25: Write a letter.

When we're working hard, we obviously focus on what writing goals are immediately in front of us. I've got some plans when it comes to 2016 and 2017, and I bet you do too. 

Most of my plans, though, are about production. Publication. Projects launched. New projects proposed.

All very exciting. My fingertips get all tingly when I think about it.

But for today, we're gonna think about goals in a different way.

Namely: What kind of a writer's heart do you want to aim for?

What kind of perspective? How might your approach to writing shift? 

What kind of writer do you hope to be? 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: One more letter to write. You up for it? 

Let's do a bit of thinking first. Get an idea of the kind of writer you want to be—what kind of writer's heart, what kind of writer's spirit?

What issues will you take a stand against, in your work? What causes will you give to?

Who will you dignify? Who will you write for? What kinds of worlds will you give voice to?

I know it's hard to dream in this direction, but I think it's worth our time to explore a bit.

... My best example of this is more of a cautionary tale: When I was wrapping up my English degree and getting all prepared (read: anxious) for a writing life, I met with a full-time writer who was about 8-10 years older than I was. 

I was full of questions. I was a little desperate and nervous and excited.

Here's what I remember about her: She was the most bitter and discouraging writer I've ever met. 

It was a miserable chat.

I walked away from that with no useable advice but this (and it's a biggie): I don't want to end up like her.

I don't want to wind up bitter. I don't want to trade in my peace of mind and happiness and joy. No matter what the publication game looks like, I want to stick with this for the love.

See what I mean?

So what does that look like for you?

When you have a sense of the kinds of virtues and values you want to embody, draft a letter. 

It doesn't have to be long. But try and capture that idea of You, the Writer, ten or twenty or fifty years further down the road.

Oh, and this time, you're writing the letter to yourself. In the future. 

(I know it's weird, but hey: a lot of our readers live in the future. When you think of it like that, no big deal.)

Start by saying something like: Dear Future Writer-Me, This is who I think you are...

And basically, sketch it out. Who is this future writer that's you?

(Personally, I'm dreaming of a future Lucy who is totally perfectionism-free, who has great writing stamina but also knows how to rest and enjoy the rest of her life, who gives courage to kids in story form, who...


February 26: A movie date!

I don't care if it's cheesy: I get so happy when watching a movie that features writing. 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Tonight, watch a movie that has something to do with writing, books, readers, or the writing life. 

Why? Because it's fun!

And that's all the reason we need around here, right?

My perennial favorites are Stranger than FictionMidnight in Paris, The Help, and Finding Neverland. Oh! And then Dan in Real Life when they meet in a bookstore... 

(If you have a killer recommendation, by all means let us know in the comments. I need to find some new ones!)

Tonight isn't about writing anything down.

Just watch. Have some fun.


February 27: Celebrate.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Today, sit in your writing space, or take a journal somewhere else that's peaceful, and just think about this:

You and the writing life—you're committed. 

You are going to spend the rest of your lives learning about each other. This is the long haul! 

There is so much more to the writing life than any of us can explore in a handful of decades.

More to learn about novels, about structure and form. More ways to break the rules.

There are more subjects to explore than any of us could cover... and an infinite number of subjects to invent!

That is a pretty amazing deal.

We're never going to be bored! Ever!

We get to keep the writing life. That's freaking fantastic.

Oh, and then there's you. You're pretty dang incredible yourself.

I'm just saying: The writing life got someone really special in you.

It will spend the rest of your life finding ways to spin everything you think and see and wonder about into words, into sentences, into strings of dialogue.

Bits of you will show up in characters and subplots. Parts of your thinking and your experiences will wind up in readers' brains, their ways of speaking. 

You'll be all over the place!

... If you feel like it, you can write about this. Or not.

You can also just sit there in the quiet and know that this is a life-long love.  

You have each other. And that's beautiful.

So pour yourself a toast, or throw a little party, or just sit there in the stillness.

However it looks to you, take a moment and really celebrate.


February 28: Stay close to your reading life, too.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: It's Sunday! You know what to do. Find yourself a patch of sunlight and a truly lovely book.

And fall into reading. 

The fact that we're lifelong writers means that we're lifelong readers. We're always learning, always absorbing.

Always wandering through other writer's brains, and taking snapshots of the scenery in there.

A reading life. It's one of the happiest, most connected ways to be.

And it's ours! To keep! Forever!


Thanks to Leap Day, we have one more prompt in the series, my friends!

(It thrills me to no end that we have a February 29 this year!! Trying to be dignified about that ... but failing. Leap years are cool.)

Anyway, check back on Monday for one last Love-Your-Writing-Life prompt.

Til then: happy dreaming!

Are You Ready To Amaze Yourself? (Exploring Possibilities and Loving Writing. ... You Know. The Usual.)

These three prompts are gonna knock us out of any little ruts we've been in.

Instead, we'll practice being writers who see dazzling possibilities in the information we read, the places we go, and the projects we dream up.

It's going to be a lovely ride... 

Get your goggles on and let's get started!

We're investigating three simple ways to strike out in new directions with our imaginations and our words. Loving your writing life through new possibilities? Heck yes. Join us over at lucyflint.com

February 22: Be a sleuth.

I know, I know. I've already gone on record about my massive love affair with the reference section, and how it's like taking superpower pills for my imagination.

But it is so freaking worth it to make this a regular part of our writing lives!

So just go with me on this.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Pick up a reference book you don't normally grab.

Maybe something medical, or a botany index. A random chunk of the encyclopedia, or one of the incredible hyper-specific volumes in the reference section of your local library. 

Flip through it for fifteen minutes. And just write down everything that delights you.

This isn't RESEARCH. This isn't looking for FACTS.

This is about being exposed to and charmed by words and phrases and sentences that you aren't around all the time.

This is about wandering around, wearing your imagination's heart on your sleeve, and falling hard for the strangest and loveliest bits of information you come across. 

Go ahead. Let yourself geek out a bit.

(My latest delight? I just found out about the tradition of night climbing in Cambridge. Those photographs!! Swoon!)


February 23: Be a spy.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Go somewhere where you don't normally think of writing, exactly. Someplace that isn't overtly literary...

But bring the writing life with you.

Maybe you're sitting at the bar of a restaurant and watching the chefs zip around the kitchen.

Or maybe you're in a concert hall, an art museum, a church service, or a graveyard.

Wherever calls you most: Go.

And while you're there, imagine you're a literary spy. 

You're an emissary, a representative of the writing life.

Study everything, like you've just fallen into a novel. Like you could spin a story out of this moment, this place.

Bring a blank notebook and jot down phrases, notes on the atmosphere, or even just a single word that seems to sum it all up. Catch the juiciest bits of dialogue you overhear.

You don't have to write much. It can be just a few notes and scribblings... or it can be a huge, lyrical, epic poem.

But try to enter that place of having a writer's eyes in a "non-writing" place.

And just see what happens.


February 24: Be extravagant.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Start a dozen little projects today. Writing projects.

You and your writing life. Put your heads together, and dream. 

Yes, really.

Yes, even if you already have plenty of unused ideas floating around. (What's a few more, lionheart?)

These new ideas don't have to be more than one sentence, or even one word. 

Invent a series of books together. Maybe it's four novels, or sixteen quick chapter books for kids, or an epic saga cycle of five huge fantasy books.

Maybe it's a whole detective series based on the amazing bits of info you picked up on Monday, and the place you visited yesterday.

If this makes you feel crazy, just shake it off. Have a light touch. No sweat. This isn't "for real." You're not committed to any of this. It's just for fun.

This is like talking about the dream plans for a future house, or places you want to travel, or all the kids you want to have.

This is just about entertaining possibilities. 

So lean into it.

Suggest titles. Dream up the most off-the-wall protagonist ever.

Write a sentence or five for each of the ideas.

Or, just come up with a huge list of pretend character names.

Or invent the cities and empires that will rise and fall at your command. Make maps. 

Goof off together. Try to come up with bigger concepts, the more impossible the better.

Dream huge dreams, you and your writing life, together.

Give each other the moon, the world, a whole solar system. 

Dazzle yourself with the possibilities.

Isn't this dangerous? Nah. You can come back down to earth later, and have a renewed appreciation for the sweetness of your current work-in-progress. It's a wonderful thing after all.

... Or, wait. Yes. Yes, it is dangerous, incredibly so. We're playing with ideas, after all. It might as well be dynamite.

You might be laying the imaginative tracks that you will sail down in a year or two, on your way to becoming one of the most inventive writers of your generation. 

You daring lionheart, you!


We're coming down to the end of the month! Can you believe it??

Come back on Thursday for your last batch of writing life prompts... 

And in the meantime, happy dreaming!

Kicking Out the Negativity (So We Can Fall in Love with Writing!)

We're going to keep shedding the negative ways we think about writing... so that we can open ourselves up to a super healthy and, yes, head over heels relationship with our writing lives! | lucyflint.com

How are you feeling, lionheart? How were the first three days of the challenge for you? (If you're new to this series on Falling in Love with Your Writing Life, check out the first post right here.) 

My hope is that we're all shaking out some of the negative feelings we've carried around about writing. That we're shining some light on them, and scaring them out of their dark corners.

For the rest of this week, I'm hoping we can either squash them, or at least send 'em skittering on their way.

(Is anyone else thinking about roaches right now, or is that just me? Ahem.)

Sound like a plan? Cool. I'm excited. 

Okay, here are the prompts for the rest of the week... 


February 4: Write a letter.

There's something downright magical about writing a letter. Something about that format, that invitation to be honest.

Today, we're writing two letters. One of them is from you to your writing life. And in the other, the writing life will be writing back to you.

(Just go with me on this.)

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Take a little bit of time, and write a letter to your writing life. And begin by saying: "Dear Writing Life, I'm afraid that you will..."

And then go from there.

Tell it all the things that you're worried about in your writing life. All the fears you have—the big ones, and the really really little ones. Everything you'd try to dismiss if someone asked about it. The things that maybe embarrass you.

No one's going to read this—except your Writing Life, and it probably already knows all this anyway.

Dig deep. And be as honest as possible. Get it all down.

Because, seriously, you don't need those thoughts just scampering loose on their own in your mind. Grab them, drag them into the light, and pin them onto the paper with words.

Whew. 

Then, write that second letter. The Writing Life is going to write back to you, and answer your fears.

It can't guarantee things that it has no control over (audience response, family response, critics, money, fame). But there are a lot of other things that it can promise. There are a lot of wonderful things that it can give in return. And there is a lot of courage in it, just waiting for you.

The writing life is really wise. It's been around a long, long time.

Give it a chance. Listen hard. And see what it writes back to you.


February 5: Let's redefine "bad" writing days.

I recently came across this idea from Rachel Aaron, and I absolutely love it.

She explains that difficult writing days—days where our imaginations seem to go on strike, where the words won't come, or where we can't seem to get to our desks—are actually telling us something important.

And—spoiler alert—it isn't telling us that we're lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined, stupid, ignorant, blah blah blah.

That's not what bad writing days mean at all. 

She says: "Instead of treating bad writing days as random, unavoidable disasters to be weathered, like thunderstorms, I started treating them as red flags."

She realized that they meant: Her story had gone in the wrong direction.

Or, that she didn't actually love what she was writing about. 

The most effective way to get back into writing, to be writing with joy, was to fix those problems. Whatever they were.

Which did NOT mean: beating herself up. 

Isn't that an incredible shift? Such a game changer.

She comes from the point of view that maintains: Writing is enjoyable. Telling stories is fun.

This writing life is an inherently good thing, which means that, if it doesn't feel good, something's gone wrong.

And that something isn't you.

You're not the problem!! Isn't that a lovely thought?!

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Maybe you haven't had a bad writing day in months; or maybe you're having one right this second

Either way, let's practice shifting our focus. Let's take it for granted that a bad writing day doesn't mean anything bad about you, the person, the writer.

Actually, you're great. Let's just all accept that.

And it doesn't mean that the writing life is a terrible, stingy, horrific machine of punishment for the unsuspecting.

Nope. The writing life is great too.

Instead, let's assume that something else is going on. 

Let's assume that a bad writing day is more like seeing the first few symptoms of flu show up. 

It really doesn't help to be angry at ourselves for catching it. It doesn't help to rail against immune systems having a momentary weakness and letting those germs grow.

All that really matters is that partnership between Human and Immune System, and blasting those germs together. Yes? Yes.

The same thing goes for tough writing days. It isn't your fault, and it isn't the writing life's fault. Something else is amiss.

Today, take fifteen minutes and list everything else that might be contributing to a bad writing day for you. (If you're not having a bad one, think back to the last one you did have.)

What else is going on? Maybe it's external, non-writing stuff. Maybe you don't have enough energy.

Or maybe something's gone off in your work-in-progress. Do you love the subject? Has something shifted? Did you lose an element that made you happy? 

What is your absolute favorite thing to write about? Have you lost track of it, in this story, in this bad writing day?

You get the idea. Probe around. Try to find out what might have gone wrong.

Keep reminding yourself: it isn't you. It isn't the writing life.

Instead, explore what might have happened together, and play around with ideas for how to get it back on track.


February 6: Discover the best true advice.

I don't know about you, but when I'm in the midst of a problem, I can be totally blind to something I already know.

But if someone I care about goes through the same thing—I become a fount of wisdom. I have legitimately helpful things to say. 

Sometimes we don't have the right words for ourselves. Sometimes, we find them when we help other people.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: On your best day, on your absolute best day, when you are your wisest, happiest, kindest, and most content self... what would you tell someone else about the writing life?

Imagine that you're describing it to someone who hasn't really tried it on yet, but someone that you think would be an excellent fit. Someone who you know will be a good writer and will thrive... but who needs your nudge to get started. Someone you genuinely want the best for, and you believe that that's the writing life.

How would you sum it up?

What true things would you say about what the writing life has meant to you? What is it really like, this pursuit of words? What can your friend expect? What will she find?

Write it down. Write as much as you like. Try to write for about ten minutes, if you can.

Then look over your words, and choose a sentence or a phrase that really sums up what you've written down, and copy it separately onto a little sticky note.

And above your sentence, write: "This is what I REALLY think about writing." 

And then post it in your writing area. 

Those are your words. Your real definition of writing. And it's true.

Steer by it. On days when you're tempted to be frustrated at writing, let your own words remind you of what you really believe.


February 7: Enjoy the reward of reading.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: This is what we're going to do every Sunday this month. We're going to find about half an hour and we're going to read something lovely.

That can mean whatever you want it to. Grab a favorite novel or a new one. Find some really excellent non-fiction, or a book of letters, or poetry. (Mary Oliver and Billy Collins are my favorites!)

Or dive into some kids' books. Because language always sounds better after Dr. Seuss has been playing with it.

All I want you to do is make some space, and fall into a pile of words. 

Without envying the writer's skill. Without even a whisper of comparison. 

Enjoy the words simply because you enjoy them. Let them transport you.

Let yourself love the reading life with absolute abandon.

Because the reading life is always our way back to a truly wonderful writing life.


I hope this first week of prompts goes really well for you! Feel free to leave comments on how it's going, and please do share with anyone who might love this too!


Ready for more? Get the next prompts right here!

Let's Be Rebels: Take 15 Minutes to Upgrade Your Creativity

Sometimes radical things come in small packages: Here's a disarmingly simple idea for 15 countercultural minutes... which could shake up your day, your creativity, and (if you're like me), the rest of your life. This is big, exciting stuff: Don't say I didn't warn you! | lucyflint.com

I'm in the mood to try something wildly countercultural. After all: It's Monday. Still the beginning of a new year. And we're creative people: switching things up is good for our souls.

So why not try a little rebellion, right? Sound good? 

Cool. Here's what we're going to do: 

We're going to not be afraid of being bored. 

Unafraid of blank moments in a day. Not at all worried about those minutes that have nothing scheduled, and nothing happening. 

No more hyperplanning around the possibility of "nothing to do."

I don't know about you, but I apparently have this protective reflex anytime I have a spare few minutes: I'll immediately cram them full of distractions, media, and busyness.

Instagram, Twitter, random Internet searches. Music, podcasts, or a crappy TV show that I don't care about and won't remember.

And if all that fails, my brain runs a list of dozens of things that maybe I could think about. 

Not important things, but just busy stuff. Low grade distractions. To do items. Ways to Fill Time.

I'm surrounded by a stream of noise that can be flicked on, with zero thought, to protect me from big bad boredom.

So I bring my smart phone everywhere, because I can always take a few seconds to check media. Keep Netflix up—I might want to watch something. Drag my planner around, in case I want to make some lists.

Whew. I can generate a lot of mental and media noise. 

And it drowns out this powerful truth, which I tend to forget: 

I am incredibly creative, when I give myself a chance to be.

I thrive in moments of intentionality. I flourish when I'm around quality.

In other words: not noise.

And the effect of all this self-distraction is to dull me to my creativity. To fill up my mind with more junk than it can digest. 

... Okay, before anyone gets worried, let me say: I am not anti social media. And I'm not trying to take some kind of stand against the Internet. (Big hug, Internet!!)

I'm not even against crappy TV. (I love some crappy TV.)

What I am very, very much opposed to is this:

Letting distractions bury what my creative mind might otherwise say. Filling my head with noise, at the cost of innovation, originality, or voice.

THAT is what terrifies me.

We're writers! We can't afford to suffocate our creativity. And certainly not on so flimsy an excuse as "but I might get bored," or "I had some time to waste."

Am I overreacting? I don't think so. Because something really cool happened to me recently.

In a group challenge (from coach Sarah Jenks), I was encouraged to give my brain some space and not fill every minute with some distraction. 

Instead, I would just listen. Not to all the mind chatter—like I said, I can make a zillion mindless lists, to fill up my time from here to eternity.

I was supposed to pay attention to whatever was going on under that. And if any big ideas showed up, I could jot them down.

I didn't think I really needed to do this, by the way. I write down big ideas from my brain all the time. (It's kinda my whole job description.)

But I gave it a shot. One evening, instead of browsing a dozen apps during a spare half hour, I just sat still with a notepad next to me. 

At first, it felt a little weird. I should be doing something. Right? 

And then, I started having a few quiet thoughts. Not for busywork, but actual intentional projects. They were little ideas, but they were sort of interesting.

I wrote them down, and then put the pad down and sat quietly again.

After about ten minutes, I started getting some amazing ideas.

Big dreams and directions for what I want 2016 to feel like. And I realized there are parts of my life that have been undernourished for a really long time, and maybe it's time to remedy that. 

With startling certainty, I realized that I want to create a lot more art, I want to make music on a regular basis, and I want to spend a ton of time outside. 

What?!? 

So, let's recap. I quit speeding through Instagrammed photos of art, I shut off Spotify, I stopped pinning pictures of other people's vacations.

And it only took half an hour of quiet to realize that I want to actually live those things, not just experience them third hand.

Well that's a pretty pithy revelation for just a little exercise. 

And when I act on that, and put it into practice during this year... well, it probably won't hurt my creativity as a writer. Might give me a little, no, a lot, more to work from.

Might even keep me sane while I do all that writing.

Oh, and P.S., I wasn't bored during that half hour of sitting.

Instead I felt very, very alive. 

It was so rewarding that I had to take a hard look at my habit of noise-making. Seriously, what's up with that? What am I so afraid of, that I can't sit quietly, that I have to have every minute filled with stuff?

... Why not stop?

How can we be fiercely creative if we're bombarded by noise?

It's a new year, and you and I have some really big goals. There are big plans afoot. 

And I'm guessing that those resolutions and goals are going to require a lot of our creativity. They'll need us to overcome new obstacles. We'll have to take fresh aim at our goals when we get knocked over, or find new information. 

Tackling a big project means we have to be problem solvers, we have to be hearty, we have to maintain our creative stamina. 

And if that's true... then I think we need to access our best ideas. Don't you? 

So let's give up our dependence on distraction.

Let's not be freaked out by the slightest chance that we may be bored with time on our hands.

Let's not underestimate the power of our creativity. ... It will probably have plenty to say when we quit drowning it in noise. 

Are you with me on this? Let's start small.

Try just fifteen minutes.

I'm not really interested in harsh decisions, or setting us all up for self-judgment. So I'm not saying "delete all your apps! this is a strict diet of silence!" or anything crazy.

So no worries. We don't need to outlaw all forms of distraction, all at once.

Instead, I'm looking for a small, sustainable shift. I'm going to find one place where I habitually rely on distraction and noise, and I'm going to replace it with a moment of stillness.

I'm going to give my mind a place to breathe.

I'm already excited about what might happen next.

Any of this resonating with you? What would happen if you swapped noise for silence? What if you risked "nothing to do," and ended up with some staggering ideas?

It doesn't have to be a huge time commitment: What if we found fifteen minutes of silence a day?

(Heck, if noise is as big a problem as I think it is, even five minutes could be huge.)

Let's be countercultural. Let's rebel against all this noise. Let's dare to give ourselves some space. 

... And then let's see what our minds come up with. 

Keeping Resolutions 101: How to Relish a Challenge

You and I, we have some BIG plans brewing in 2016! How do we tackle our resolutions with grace? How do we actually *enjoy* the challenge? Six strategies for weathering whatever is ahead. | lucyflint.com

Day Four of the new year: How's 2016 treating you? And how does that list of resolutions look? 

Are they still exciting? Still inspiring? What are your plans for these next twelve months?

I have some big ones. And the biggest is: I want to publish Book One of my trilogy by the end of this year.

(Holy crap, did I just say that out loud.)

No matter what. Come what may. In spite of all the dissenting voices in my head.

It's time, and it's happening, and by the last day of 2016, that book will be for sale, y'all!!

I am super excited, and yes, a bit daunted. Right now the novel is in teeny tiny pieces taped to my wall. So I have a bit of a challenge on my hands.

But I've also realized this: I want to relish this process. I want to actually enjoy the road to publication.

I don't want to drag myself through these next twelve months as a nervous wreck. Whining. Complaining. Venting all my fears.

I've tried those strategies for weathering challenges before, and I have to say: I'm not a fan.

Chocolate, dance parties, not taking myself toooo seriously, and laughing: those are my preferred strategies for 2016. 

So this January, I want to psych myself up. I want to think about what it looks like to love a challenge: even a really big one like "publishing the beloved first novel." 

What's going on inside ourselves when we're totally up for something big? How do we weather a challenge with grace? And still have enough grit and fire to get the thing done?

I did a bit of digging and came up with six things that are all functioning when a challenge is handled well. 

1.) Get all that sleep.

It's an obvious one, but when I'm knee-deep in a challenge, sleep is the last thing on my mind. 

I need to stop messing around when it comes to getting a real eight-hour rest. It's good for the body, sure, but it's also incredibly good for our minds. And we writers want both to flourish, right?

Not to mention: emotional health. There's a lot less drama (shrieking, wailing, naysaying) in my head and heart when I've had enough sleep.

Getting enough energy for our bodies, minds, emotions: That's step one. And then we can bring all that power to bear on our challenge of choice.

2.) Take the ability to focus up a notch or two.

After reading The One Thing, I've become allergic to multitasking. Seriously. 

It seemed like I was always trying to do two or three things at once: Carry on a texting conversation while reading a book while checking in on Twitter. Watching a movie while researching a few things on my phone. Listening to a podcast while making dinner while having a conversation.

I felt like I was doing so many things, and nothing well. Ack.

The decision to do only one thing at a time has been huge. It sounds so small, but the change in my head is amazing. So much more ability to get something done. 

And if we're facing big challenges this year, why go about it with a totally diffused focus? With scattershot energy?

Try it. Give yourself a little dare. Do only one thing at a time. Step back from the noise, put away your phone, pause the music, and devote all your attention to just one thing.

And see what happens.

3.) And while we're focusing: don't over-challenge yourself.

It's so easy for me to want to overhaul my whole life, all at the same time.

Seriously. The last few weeks, I've been jotting down dozens of challenges and mini-challenges and goals and new habits. 

It's easy to go wild, to want to do everything, to make it all new. A fresh start. But that's one of the quickest and saddest ways to burn myself right out. 

So the other side of focus is: Try to limit the number of challenges you're giving yourself.

I am far more successful when I scale it back and try one major challenge at a time.

Or, if I have to try two or three big things at once, I keep them in separate arenas: One health challenge, one work challenge, one lifestyle change.

4.) Don't forget to play. 

When I'm starting something new, my terrified little brain will overthink. And overplan. And then overschedule the overplan. I will try to cover every single base, months (okay, okay, even years) in advance.

The funny thing is: I don't actually love to implement that overscripted plan. In spite of all the work that went into planning, that final arthritic schedule makes me a little nauseous. 

I need to leave room to play. Room for spontaneity, even in the midst of a serious challenge. 

Blanks to fill in "when I get there." Room to grow, to discover, to explore.

It can seem counterintuitive in the planning stage, but a bit of room in a challenge keeps me flexible (a valuable skill in itself!).

It helps me recover when my thinking has backed me into a corner. And it gives me the space to solve the new problems that come up (because they totally will).

How can you leave some room in your 2016 plans for a chance to discover? A chance to play with ideas a bit, a chance to incorporate information that you find along the way?

Can you leave some dots unconnected? A little wiggle room?

5.) Make space in your life for the challenge. And protect that space.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but I can't tell you how many times I charge into a big plan only to realize that it will take way more time than I guessed.

There are hidden parts to any challenge that take extra logistics, extra thinking, extra energy. 

(If you've ever had a mega computer malfunction in the midst of a writing deadline, then you're totally with me on this point.)

What has helped me so much in the last few months is clearing more space than I thought I needed. (Guess what. I totally needed it.)

We writers need a bit of solitude for our brains to sink into ideas. We need a bit of free space in our lives, space for ideas and thoughts to breathe a little. 

If you're aiming at something big in 2016, give yourself permission to clear the clutter from your life. The small nagging commitments, the extras that might have crept into your days.

Don't try to fill up every minute. 

Get yourself out of anything you don't need to be doing. Give yourself a lot of room. More room than you think you might need. 

6.) Find the deeper purpose.

I can't make an aimless challenge stick. Doing something "just because" has never worked out very well for me. 

The resolutions and habits that have actually stuck, have done well, have lasted: they've always had an extra purpose to them. 

They're always solving something at a deep level.

I used to think that "proving myself" was a good enough reason to write. That I could write "because I was good at it," or even "to earn money."

The last few years have shaken and kicked those ways of thinking right out of me. 

I'm writing harder than ever, but with a totally different motivation. 

I flat-out adore my characters, for one thing. They've taught me so much about the kind of human I want to be, about the family I want to have, about the changes I want to see in the world.

Telling their story has been such a privilege and a joy for me: and also a ridiculously good time. And so, yeah: I want to share that with people.

But also, this: being eleven years old totally sucked for me. It just did. It was a low point. ... Which is why I can't even tell you how happy it makes me to write a book for eleven-year-olds. 

A book about bravery, about fighting hard for what you love, about family, about adventures. About finding out that you are a bigger person than you ever dreamed. 

That kind of book.

It's a way of going back and doing something good about a tough time in my life. It's a way of solving something. Fixing something.

It used to be that I just wanted to prove all the naysayers wrong, and publish a whole bunch of books, and live happily ever after with my bestsellers.

Now it's about love. Loving the work, loving my eleven-year-old self, loving the kids who are that age now. 

Maybe that sounds soppy, but it's a much bigger, deeper, and more constant motivator for me than having some kind of credit by my name.

So what does that look like for you? What's the purpose behind the challenge you're facing? What's the real point of the story you're writing? What are you really trying to do?


Okay, lionhearts. So how are you feeling? Bold and brave? A bit nervous? Or all of that?

Are you on the brink of a big challenge in 2016? I'd love to hear about it. Let's cheer each other on this year!

The One Resolution that Really Will Change *Everything*

You got some big goals brewing for next year? Me too. SUPER excited. But let's not lose sight of the most vital resolution (and biggest game-changer) of them all. | lucyflint.com

Oh, I love the goal-setting, resolution-making days. I love that unique energy that fizzes around the end of the year.

How's your 2016 looking? Do you have some really big plans? 

High five. I do too. Dreaming so big for this new year! It's going to be amazing—I can't even wait.

But lately I've been realizing that, in this storm of resolution-making, it's easy to overlook one of the most important parts of our writing lives.

It's the thing that is absolutely critical to your happiness and well-being as a writer. The thing that can transform the quality of your writing life entirely.

It's this super-obvious truth, but it's really easy to miss.

Ready? Here it is:

The quality of your writing life, and my writing life, isn't really defined by the Big Moments.

You know. Those big things like: Finishing the manuscript. Publishing the manuscript. Sending out the story. Sending out the query. Getting an agent. Getting a publisher. Hitting a sales goal. Hitting an income goal.

The big stuff. It doesn't define us.

Those moments are super important, obviously. Some of them are turning points. Some of them are just events that are nice but then fade away. Some of them, certainly, adjust how we'll be going forward.

So, please: I don't mean to say that they aren't important. 

But what I do want to point out is: while the Big Moments are worth moving toward, our writing lives are actually made up of days.

Little days of doing our writing. 

That is what the vast majority of our time is going to look like.

The writer + the project + the keyboard + a lot of hours over a long period of time. 

That's a writing life.

Which means that: the quality of our writing life will be immensely and overwhelmingly shaped by the quality of our writing days.

And I don't just mean writing excellent quality.

I mean having a happy writing day. A fulfilling writing day. 

Getting up from a writing session, whether it was twenty minutes or four hours, and thinking: That was good work. That was actually fun! That was creatively fulfilling.

You know what I mean?

I've realized in my own self that it is so tempting to focus on the HUGE things that I need and want to move forward.

It can be really easy to make the writing days slaves to the big writing moments.

And then suddenly, I have a long string of frenetic days. I'm running around feeling stressed and crazy, trying to beat myself into becoming a more disciplined person, all in the service of getting to the next Big Thing, the next Big Goal, whatever that is. 

Aiming for a big goal is really nice.

But using a long string of really sucky, miserable days, in order to get to that big goal? Not so much. Not so nice.

So I've fallen out of love with that way of thinking. With having really horrible days, all in the service of a really important goal. I've just stopped wanting to do that.

Don't get me wrong: Goals are vital. (Seriously, please read The One Thing if you haven't yet. You'll loooove it.) 

Goals are wonderful. But your individual writing days are EQUALLY vital, wonderful, beautiful, and important.

Especially the ones that don't feel important.

My writing life is made up of a very long string of very un-flashy writing days. 

I don't have any legitimately Big Moments yet, but I do have some highlights. Getting a call to say that my short story was chosen for first place. Monetary awards for words I'd written, work I'd done. A few times when I was publicly cheered on for what I do and how I do it.

That was nice. That was pleasant.

And that had absolutely no bearing on the quality of my writing days either before or after the event. 

It still came down to me, alone, with the words, with the insecurities, trying to work. 

I think that when we seek the next Big Writing Moment, it's pretty tempting to believe that the quality of our writing days will magically shift and change. They will absorb all that bigness and now be beautiful.

That we will be stunningly confident. That we will write with poise. That we will look really good while we do it. (All good hair days, from here on out.)

And while there might be some truth in some of that, and while opportunities do create a new direction, I think that, at the base of it, the quality of our days is really up to us.

This is good news, by the way.

It means that, if you want a really happy writing life, seek a really happy writing day. 

Not agents, publishers, movie deals, multibook contracts, six-figure sales, bestseller lists.

Aim for excellence, by all means. Focus on your goals, and godspeed. 

But if you want a quality shift, look at your days, not your goals. 

Nicole Johnson wrote, "The quality of my life is determined by one thing: my attitude toward it."

Whoa. You get to pick how awesome your writing life is. No one else gets to dictate that: just you.

So, if I could make a suggestion: Choose happy, and choose it right now. Love your writing life because it's your writing life.

Not for the things it will get you, the attention it might win you, or any kind of glamour that might be down the road. Not for the big moments. 

Love it because you love words. Love it because it's challenging and enjoyable and incredible.

Be happy today, be brave today, and write your heart out. 

That will be the biggest and best change you can make.


This idea—that we really live in the small moments and the days, and not in the big, once-in-a-lifetime moments—was first introduced to me in a talk by Paul David Tripp(He was talking about this principle in terms of marriage and spiritual life, but it's completely true for writing lives as well.)

I was shocked by how much I thought the big moments mattered, and how much I thought the little moments didn't. Totally backwards, haha! 

A Quick Happy Christmas from Me to You

The whole reason I write is right there in Christmas. | lucyflint.com

Dear Lionhearts, 

I'm just spending today being happy and floating about and enjoying the holiday. Not writing. Probably doing some cooking. Definitely hanging out with family. (It's my parents 35th wedding anniversary, so yeah, there should be some confetti for that!)

So basically, all I want to do today is wish you a Happy Christmas, wherever this finds you. 

It can seem like a weird thing to say, but honestly, Christmas itself is such a core part of why I'm writing at all.

I believe that stories have the power to change the world, primarily because that Christmas story—a true story, which continues to be told and retold—has done and continues to do exactly that: 

Change the world.

By spreading truth. By spreading light. And by spreading hope.

I think that stories are woven into who we are as human beings. That stories can and do shape us. That we are—wildly enough—part of an actual mega-story ourselves.

It's the kind of thing that makes me giddy. But it can also make me just sit in silence, amazed. 

A story-making life is such a beautiful one.

I'm acutely aware of the gifts I've been given this year, all year long. One of those gifts is this wonderful little writing blog. It has been so awesome to watch it grow from March til now! And it has given me so much joy to be talking writing with you.

Especially about a healthy writing life, and a ridiculously happy one. 

So thanks for being part of my year, and part of my own writing life.

It wouldn't be this bright without all of you!!

Merry Christmas, my lovelies!!

I hope you get lots and lots of books! :)