Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Three Tips to Banish Stress

Your editor is screaming for the changes to the article you promised her two days ago; the kids are yanking on your arm because they are bored; and you still haven’t figured out what’s for supper tonight.

Is it any wonder you have a tension headache?

According to a National Health Interview Study, abut 75% of the population feels stress every two weeks. Stress can affect your eating habits, sleeping patterns, blood pressure, skin appearance, and weight. In extreme cases, it leads to death.

So, what can you do about stress? More than you think.

Stress Trigger #1: I can never accomplish everything on time.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then you are probably spending too much time thinking instead of doing.

Tip: Create a to-do list. Write down everything you have to do over the next week and view it with a critical eye. Does everything on this list really need to be accomplished next week? Is there something that could wait another week? What tasks have deadlines cannot change?

Prioritize your tasks. Then work on them one at a time. Don’t think about the next thing on your list. Concentrate only on the task at hand.

If you will miss a deadline, don’t pile on additional stress by waiting until the last minute to let the editor know. This will keep you from wasting time worrying over what she’ll say.

Stress Trigger #2: My family believes I dedicate too much time to my writing career.

Finding the perfect balance between your home life and career is never easy, but there are many things you can do to gain the support of your family.

Tip: Have a family meeting. Explain to your family why pursuing a writing career is important to you. Share your dreams with them and what you hope to accomplish.

Ask for their help. You can’t do this on your own. Once you’ve shared your reasons for choosing a writing career, let them know how they can support you.

• Share household chores
• Respect your writing time
• Run errands

This only works, however, if you respect your family time. Create a writing schedule that works best for you and stick to it. At the end of your writing time, shut off the light and close the door. Your family will be more willing to help if they know that once you’re done for the day, they are your top priority.

Stress Trigger #3: I keep putting things off. Then I get stressed trying to finish by the deadline.

Procrastination is an issue for many writers. Reasons for putting things off vary: over commitment, lack of confidence in your abilities, and allowing distractions and interruptions to steal your writing time, to name a few.

Tip: Learn to say “no.” If you over commit, then you will feel stressed and put things off. Frequently turning in projects late can damage your reputation and cost you repeat business. Saying “no” does not make you a rotten person. You are only saying “no” to this one thing. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to help the next time someone asks.

Self-doubt, fear of failure, and fear of success are actual issues for writers because they deal with rejection. Use positive self-talk and focus on your strengths. Write a list of all your strengths and pin it above your desk. When you wander away from a project, read the list and then get back to work.

Two excellent resources that discuss ways to handle self-doubt and fear are You Are More Than Enough: Every Woman’s Guide to Purpose, Passion & Power by Judi Moreo and Page After Page by Heather Sellers.

Don’t let distractions and interruptions steal your writing time. Schedule a time each day to return phone messages and check email. Your writing time is for writing. Don’t use it to wash the dishes or run errands. Let your family know they are more than welcome to interrupt you for a genuine emergency, but they have to respect your writing time.

Reducing stress is not only good for your career, it’s good for your health. Take the time to identify what triggers stress in your life and never shy away from asking for professional help if you need it. You owe it to your family and your career to stay healthy.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of four children’s books including, A Christmas Kindness, released by 4RV Publishing. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at and her children’s book blog at

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Stop Self-doubt from Stealing Your Time

Self-doubt plagues many writers. Even bestselling authors like Cody McFadyen suffer from it. In an article he wrote for The Tome Traveller's Weblog, he said, “…the day to day act of sitting down and making the words appear … is a doubt-fueled activity.”

The trouble with self-doubt is that it is like an annoying parrot sitting on your shoulder constantly squawking, “You’re not good enough, bra-c-k.” Worse than that, we believe it—which leads us to procrastinate instead of sitting down to write.

Is there anything you can do to stop it?

You bet there is! Let’s talk about how you can silence that squawking parrot and end the cycle of self-doubt that steals your time.

Set Realistic Goals

So much depends on our ability to set realistic goals. We’ve discussed setting goals using the S.M.A.R.T. method in the past.

Unobtainable goals feed self-doubt. Discouraged by disappointing results, you begin to think you’re not up to the task, when the true problem lies in not setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Once you begin using the S.M.A.R.T. method, you’ll find how much easier it is to obtain your goals, which motivates you to keep going.

Accept Horrible First Drafts

Whether you’re writing your next article or beginning the first chapter of a novel, the writing will not be perfect. Let the words flow off your fingertips and don’t waste time analyzing each word. If you get stuck, insert a little note to remind you of what you want to place there and move on.

Stopping to analyze your writing encourages self-doubt. Expecting even your first draft to be perfect will stifle creativity, and you will find yourself making excuses not to sit down and write.

Get Rid of Negative Self-talk

If there is one thing I am guilty of, it is negative self-talk. At this point, I don’t even realize what I’m saying, but when I hear my daughter shout in frustration, “Oh, I’m so stupid!” I know exactly where she gets it’s from.

Speaker, author, and life coach Judi Moreo wrote an article titled, "How to Develop Charisma." She states that in order for you to make a change, you have to stop putting yourself down. She suggests using regular positive affirmations to help build your confidence. Instead of saying, “I’m not good enough,” say “I can do this!”

Don’t think you’re guilty of negative self-talk? Carry around a voice recorder for a day or two and record yourself while you write. Listening to it might be an eye-opening experience.

Overcome Your Weaknesses

Many writers are stronger in some areas than others. I used to feel more comfortable writing non-fiction because I struggled with showing versus telling. That didn’t mean, however, that I could not write fiction. I simply had to work harder at it.

Many colleges and universities offer writing courses. In addition, the Internet has opened up the door for writers to take online courses to hone their craft. Improving those areas you struggle with will make you more confident in your abilities.

Ask Others for Constructive Feedback

We are often our own worst critics. Whether you write with a partner or join a critique group, constructive feedback can go a long way to ending that cycle of self-doubt. Local communities and libraries often have writer’s groups. You can also find online groups.

Self-doubt isn’t all bad. It encourages us to improve our work. There is a fine line, however, between letting self-doubt help you and allowing it to control you.

Using the tips found here, you can end the controlling aspects of self-doubt and be more productive than ever.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of four children’s books including, A Christmas Kindness, released by 4RV Publishing. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at and her children’s book blog at

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Writing and Perfection – Is There Such a Thing?

By Karen Cioffi

As with life, some people think everything has to be perfect before they start their writing journey.

It may be they don’t think they’ve mastered the craft of writing to perfection.

Or, maybe the writer has started her story, but can’t seem to achieve the perfection she’s looking for.  She believes what she’s written isn’t worthy of submissions. So, she keeps pecking away at it, hoping one day it will be perfect.

Well, if you fall under either of these scenarios, you’ll be waiting a very long time. In fact, your time of action may never come.

Meriam-Webster defines perfection as “the state or condition of being perfect” and “something that cannot be improved.”

So, perfection is something that you can’t possibly make better.

Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it?

What on earth can’t be improved upon? What is actually perfect?

Keeping this in mind, here’s what a few famous authors/artists have to say about the illusive perfection:

“Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.”
~ Salvador DalĂ­

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”
~ Margaret Atwood

"If you look for perfection, you'll never be content."
~ Leo Tolstoy

"The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing."
~ Eugene Delacroix

"Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection."
~ Kim Collins

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." ~ Vince Lombardi

“Striving to be the best person we can be and striving to do the very best we can in all our endeavors is the closest to perfection we can ever get.”
~ Karen Cioffi

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business.”
~ Michael J. Fox

My favorite is what Michael J. Fox says: “Perfection is God’s business!”


So, if you have these perfection tendencies, try to overcome them. Don’t let an unrealistic viewpoint or expectations stop you from achieving writing success.

But, what if you just don’t trust your own judgement or can’t overcome that perfection tendency?

One of the best ways to get some guidance on whether your story is at the point of submissions is to become a part of a critique group in your genre.

Having other writers go over your story can pick up lots of trouble spots and help you improve your manuscript. And, they’ll have a much more objective view of the story.

After you get all you can from a critique group, you might want to hire a professional editor.

While every author can continue revising a story, there comes a time when you have to let go.

If your critique group and editor believes it’s good to go, take their advice.

This article was originally published at: 


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and a working children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children. Check out the DIY Page!

And, check out my new picture book: The Case of the Plastic Rings – The Adventures of Planetman