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Confidence: 9 Aspirations for 2018

Baronne Prevost Rose

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. – Audrey Hepburn

When life goes the way we planned and all things are roses and rainbows, the above statement isn’t so hard to envision. But when life doesn’t go as we planned and all things feel terrible, to rise above a situation and be clothed in strength and dignity is difficult, and almost impossible.

A few weeks into 2018, I want to remember what it is I aspire to be: secure and confident, despite all that is not secure or under control. These are nine things I believe define someone who is strong and confident:

9 Facets of Confidence to Aspire to in 2018

1. Happiness

“Never tie your happiness to the tail of someone else’s kite.” – Beth Hoffman, Looking for Me

Instead of happiness coming from external things or from someone else, her joy comes from within. She hopes and believes and dares to be happy.

Baronne Prevost Rose

2. Gratitude

“True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.”” – Oprah Winfrey

Being able to say Thank You frees us from the negative things which would weigh us down and frees us to be positive.

3. Yes and No

Our yes comes because we really want to, and our no is spoken with certainty. We don’t need to worry about what others think when we speak with grace from the heart. Instead, she works to keep a bigger perspective, invests her time in things she really wants to do, and works to make the world a better place.

4. Seize the day

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward. – Martin Luther King Jr.

When there is an opportunity, whether it is to better herself with exercise, to pursue a dream, to be with friends and family, or to travel, a confident and secure woman goes for it. She just does it, because she can. There is risk, of course, but she is okay with that. The rewards are greater than the fears. And her life and those around her are infinitely richer for it.

5. Generosity

With generosity, she listens more than she speaks, gives more than she takes, seeks out ways to help those who need it, and appreciates those around her. She knows that everyone has something to offer, is a human being of high value, and gives them the benefit of the doubt.

6. Kindness

She isn’t focused on being right, and is unafraid to be wrong. She instead believes kindness is imperative in all situations. Because everyone has a burden they have to bear, too.

7. Laughter

“She is clothed in strength and dignity and can laugh at the days to come.” – Proverbs 31

A confident woman doesn’t take life too seriously. This, too, shall pass, she says when things are tough. She prays, she trusts, and she can laugh, because she knows who holds her days.

8. Connects

“Paradise has never been about places. It exists in moments. In connection. In flashes across time.” – Victoria Erickson

Friends and family are paramount in her life. She leans on them and they lean on her. She allows herself to be vulnerable, even when it is uncomfortable, because she knows that when we share our stories, when we share our lives, two and three and more are much stronger than one. She loves and is loved.

9. Boundaries

Boundaries are essential for a life well-lived. Not everyone is kind and thoughtful. Many come into her life and take more than they give. Some gain her trust, but then do things that shatter her. It is when that occurs–because those who are in pain and hurt others are plentiful–she knows that she has a choice: to become destroyed by the actions of others or to choose to forgive.

It is when she can forgive, she draws a firm boundary with those who have hurt her and and does not let them cross that line again. Then, when she picks herself up and moves on, she is enriched by experience, strengthened by new resolve, and more enlightened to who she truly is.

It is impossible to arrive, but instead success to me involves continuing to move toward the person we aspire to be one day at a time. It is a journey.

Do you have a quote or a trait you aspire to that you would add to this list? I would love to hear them! Please share in the comments below.

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2017 Word, a Guidepost

Tennessee Williams quote on love


At the beginning of every recent year, I search for a word and / or quote for my year ahead. It’s something that is a balm to me for the coming changes and the daunting climb ahead through a new year.

The team at all talk about our words / quotes / or lack thereof. I’m fascinated by others’ choices and reasoning behind them. Definitely, listening to friends working through their hopes for the year ahead affects me. This year has been one of a prolonged search.

I first found this quote by Saint Teresa of Avila:

It is not a matter of thinking a great deal but of loving a great deal, so do whatever arouses you most to love. – Teresa of Avila

Guidepost: Love

My word for 2017 is love. Love works through and in everything for the better. There is no one situation that love will not solve. Even (especially) in a house full of teenage boys, love smoothes out each day, each interaction, each word.

I tend to overthink things. I appreciate Teresa’s words on not thinking a great deal, but simply doing what brings us to act in love. Yes.

Another Outtake

A writing friend I met several years ago at a conference, and have stayed in touch since, has been through tremendous pain and suffering in the past month. Her daughter, who had cystic fibrosis, was put into surgery for a lung transplant after more than 2 years of waiting at the hospital far from their home. She didn’t make it, after all the complications. My friend has written prolifically since then. Part of their story can be found here:

One of Maryanne’s photos she shared was of a quote by Tennessee Williams, which her daughter Caitlyn wrote out. This quote has not left me. This is the truth of life …

Tennessee Williams quote on love
written out by Caitlyn O’Hara,

Isn’t this the truth of life?

“The world is violent and mercurial–it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love–love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.”

― Tennessee Williams


There are only so many days ahead to love well those who have been placed into our lives, whether they’re a passing stranger or a family member. More than anything, we need to love.

To love in 2017…

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16 Favorite Moments of 2016: A Photojournal

Happy, getting to ski Arapahoe Basin, CO

I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it. – Groucho Marx

Today is New Year’s Eve 2016, which makes it a perfect time to reflect back on the year. For me, I decided almost a year ago to make it my goal to keep my face toward the sunshine and let shadows fall behind me.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” – Walt Whitman

I tried, and though I will be the first to attest that no day was perfect, no week without frustrations and things which I did which I needed to apologize for. BUT, keeping hope, facing light, helped. The dark and negative tends to creep in if we let it. And facing the light, I found moments which illuminated my year.

Looking back, these are my 16 favorite moments of 2016 in photos and with quotes…

16 Favorite Moments of 2016

Manasota Key, Florida
Manasota Key, Florida — March 2016

Be present in all things and thankful for all things. ― Maya Angelou

Sailboat off the shore at Manasota Key, Florida
Sailboat off the shore at Manasota Key, Florida — seeing manatees, family time

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Garden Peonies, Sarah Bernhardt
Garden Peonies — favorite flowers from the garden

“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.” ― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Poppies in the garden
Poppies in the garden

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.”
― Maya Angelou

at a formal gala for work in New York City's Waldorf Astoria
at a formal gala for work in New York City’s Waldorf Astoria, March 2016

“Why do they not teach you that time is a finger snap and an eye blink, and that you should not allow a moment to pass you by without taking joyous, ecstatic note of it, not wasting a single moment of its swift, breakneck circuit?” ― Pat Conroy


Coldplay Chicago July 2016
Coldplay Chicago July 2016

“some moments are nice, some are
nicer, some are even worth
― Charles Bukowski, War All the Time

Countless evenings at the pool with my boys at sunset
Countless evenings at the pool with my boys at sunset

“Sometimes it’s moments like that, real complicated moments, absorbing moments, that make you realize that even hard times have things in them that make you feel alive.” – Nick Hornby

Waterskiing in Tennessee
Waterskiing in Tennessee

I love life because what more is there. – Sir Anthony Hopkins

Reflections on the River in Tennessee
Reflections on the River in Tennessee

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. – Henry Ellis

Crane Beach for the day with my best friend
Crane Beach for the day with my best friend

When it comes to life the critical thing is, whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. – Gilbert Chesterton

Lincoln in DC after a work conference
Lincoln in DC after a work conference

It is only when we realize that life is taking us nowhere that it begins to have meaning. – P.D. Ouspensky

First Bengals game, with my boys
First Bengals game, with my boys

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. – Anne Frank

a day at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado
a day at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. – Maya Angelou

Happy, getting to ski Arapahoe Basin, CO
Happy, getting to ski Arapahoe Basin, CO

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein

Skiing on the first open weekend of the season, happy!
Skiing on the first open weekend of the season before a work conference, happy!

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. – Henry Miller

Facing the Light, 2016
Facing the Light, 2016


To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends.
To appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have a happy New Year! Sending warmth and wishes for a wonderful 2017!

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A New Year: The Most Important Question

BBelieve in Yourself | Be You
“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Each year at this time, many of us press pause for a few moments in anticipation of the new year. All around the world, cultures and peoples celebrate the switch of the calendar year with parties, traditions, and time gathered with the people we love most. The word Resolution means new diets, new exercise plans, new budgets, and all things new. But this year, I’m trying something different, and I’d like to explain why …

Coach Argyle’s Infectious Encouragement

Last year, I sat on squat benches or gym mats to watch my older two sons play basketball for the middle school team in Prague. Basketball wasn’t a sport to be played in Eastern Europe–it couldn’t compete with the Handball, Futbol, and Hockey passions in Prague. But I remember the first game, watching the coach for our school. Coach Argyle was new, fresh from teaching and coaching in China, but he was American from the West, through and through. With height in the upper 6′ range, he looked like a basketball coach. But it was more than his height which affected me and countless others — it was his attitude and outlook which changed me, probably all of us, for the better.

Under his coaching, the middle school team, made up of scrappy players from far corners of the world, played well in the final tournament. Coach Argyle entertained all the teams with his larger-than-life antics, flapping like a bird and saying ca-caw to remind the players to have their hands up in defense. His goals for the team were stated often: to win, but more, to win the sportsmanship award. He showed the players how to encourage other teams, to talk with them and learn from them and cheer for them during other games.

Often, Coach Argyle would holler, “Believe! I believe in you!”, even when cheering for other teams. I will never forget the faces of those boys from Istanbul or Bucharest upon hearing those words. They made their shots. They played as if someone else believed in them, if even for those moments. Those simple words made all the difference. They make all the difference.

BBelieve in Yourself | Be You

I Believe in You

One of the most important things I hope to do this year and onward is to be someone who says to others, “I believe in you.” The gift of encouragement makes a tremendous impact, and can change the course of an hour, a day, a life. It is one of the most important things we can do.

Believe in Yourself

Yet the key foundation for being able to spread lavish encouragement is first being able to believe in ourselves. If we can’t believe we were born with something important to offer and be and share, how can we encourage others to do the same?

Be You

Believing in ourselves starts with knowing who we are. Knowing who we are comes from years of experience and persevering despite resistance, learning what it is that we love and what it is that makes us tick.

I believe travel, reading, learning, taking risks, and loving others all help us to learn who we are. I believe we are all born with specific gifts to share with the world, and we live most fulfilled as we use those gifts to help others.

In other words, our lives are most vibrant when we can be ourselves.

Looking Ahead to 2014 | Jennifer Lyn
Looking Ahead to 2014 | Jennifer Lyn

The Most Important Question for Each New Day and Year

One thing is for sure: our lives would be different and eternally better if we began each new year and each new day with this question:

Who do I want to be? And then become that person one choice at a time.

So that’s the question I’m asking myself today, tomorrow, and the next day, all year. Certainly, perfection is unattainable, but doing our best hour by hour is not. Let’s make this a year of wholehearted belief, infectious encouragement, unwavering faith, and unswerving dedication to being our very best.

Cheers, to a wonderful year ahead!


For day by day faith-based inspiration for every day of the year, see my books, the hardcover version published by Tyndale House (2007) still available as The One Year Mini for Busy Women at or Amazon, or the e-book version entitled ENJOY Today: Inspirations for Every Day for sale at Amazon for $3.62.

Enjoy Today: Inspirations for Every Day cover
Enjoy Today: Inspirations for Every Day cover
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Midyear Goals and Adjusting the Sails

One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox, from Tis’ the Set of the Sail, poem, 1916

Spinnaker and Sailboat on the Baltic Sea, Sweden
Spinnaker and Sailboat on the Baltic Sea, Sweden

Tis’ the Set of the Sail

In the summer of 2011, I stood at the edge of the Baltic Sea and watched sailboats tap into the violent wind and virtually fly across the water. The Swedish blue of the sea, the unfiltered colors of the land, the richness of the contours as they rushed out to the water still linger in my mind. The sailboats, though, had their own kind of beauty. They flew flags from most of the surrounding nations: Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Poland. When the boats crossed paths, they looked as if they would strike each other, from my perspective at Sandhammeren. Their sails billowed and flapped furiously in the wind as they changed tacks. The sea seemed wild, choppy, uncharted, until the sailors adjusted their sails, tapped into the wind, and once again raced across the water.

As I reflect back on this year, I realize I’ve been sailing that wild, uncharted sea. The wind has blown with gale force and made 2013 a wild ride.

My family and I moved back to our native US after almost 4 years in Prague, which, of course, has been huge in every way. But now, after much work, we’re feeling settled into our new home. My sons are ready for a new school year.

I feel as if I’m standing at a new threshold. My goals for 2013 again seem possible and within reach.

It is a delightful feeling.


No matter how achievable our goals may seem, the reality is that life is busy. The claws of activity, worthwhile or not, sink into our skin and pull us, quickly, from our goals …

… unless we stick to them, like anchors in the midst of the wild sea.

I’m sticking to my goals …

Sailboats, Baltic Sea
Sailboats, Baltic Sea

The Importance of Goals

There is still time to reach our destinations this year, and reach the markers we’d hoped to reach in 2013. Without realistic goals, it’s easy to get pushed off course and become overwhelmed with busyness and distractions. It’s impossible to reach a goal unless we’ve set one, right?

My 3 Big Goals:

  • My novel. This novel I’ve been working on for 1+ years is so important to me. I love the story. I love it so much, and hold the goal of getting it out into the world so dear, I’ve been getting up since May at 5 am every morning to write for several solid hours before my house turns to chaos. It’s getting close. The title: The Golden Willow. My goal: to get it out into the world, to esteemed literary agents, before the end of the year.
  • Physical. Movement is important to me. For many years, I’ve set a mileage goal and achieve it, step-by-step, day-by-day. This year is much of the same. 800 miles. A few thousand pushups. Several thousand situps. Some swimming time and some group fitness classes. Fitness is bliss now back in the US. One day at a time, I’ll get there again, and will feel energized each day. The benefits are endless.
  • Mental. Reading. 50+ books in 2013. I’m on my way … here is my reading list. Also, is going strong and growing. That was a huge goal for 2013, and thanks to Nina, Jess, Lindsey, and Hallie, we’re on our way! Have you seen our list of guest authors for the coming months?
  • +1: my manifesto

I’d love to hear about your goals, and how you plan to reach them … What are your goals for the remainder of 2013?

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Great Books: My 2012 Reading Log

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde

Way back in January, I set a few goals for 2o12. One of them was for exercise (800 miles in 2012), one of them was for writing (still working on accomplishing it), and one of them was for reading. 50 books in 2012, to be exact.

My Inspiration

Friend and fellow writer / Great New Books team member Nina Badzin inspired me to take up the challenge, as she has been doing a 50 Books Challenge for a couple of years. I love to read, and since I’m a novelist, reading helps me with writing, but I wasn’t sure how I’d do with such an aggressive goal.

After all, I have a house full of active boys, and live in a foreign country where life is everything but easy. But I love to set a goal and try, so that’s what I’ve been doing. Trying. Logging my books read at Goodreads, posting them on twitter at #FridayReads, and now reading along with running Great New Books. Only now, 9 months into the year, have I stepped back to see if I’m on track.

Jennifer Lyn King with Sarah Jio's Blackberry Winter beside the Prague Castle
Me, holding friend Sarah Jio’s new BLACKBERRY WINTER beside the Prague Castle

I’m so glad I’ve taken up the challenge. Below, a visual list of the books I’ve read so far in 2012:


50 Books in 52 Weeks: My 2012 Reading Log
50 Books in 52 Weeks: My 2012 Reading Log

Looks like I have 48!

When do I read? (How do I have the time?)

Continue reading Great Books: My 2012 Reading Log

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50 Books in 2012: Summer Reading List

A Pile of Summer Reading

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Suess

Last week, my middle son graduated from the 5th grade. Sometimes, moving up from 5th to 6th grade isn’t a big deal, but at my sons’ school it is. They celebrate the jump from Elementary to Middle Schools as if it’s the huge accomplishment it is. They’re no longer kids– they’re young adults.

At their school, at every Gathering (school assembly), a student reads a book in front of the whole crowd. Usually, the chosen book is a short picture book, with the illustrations projected for the audience to see, too. But at the 5th grade graduation gathering, the principals read Dr. Suess’s famed book, OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! And when I heard it read in front of a diverse crowd of budding children and important people in the audience, I remembered just how important books really are.

Books inspire us, move us, expand our ourlooks, take us on journeys, and show us a world of possibility outside our front doors.

A Pile of Summer Reading
A Pile of Summer Reading

I love to read. It’s true. And as a writer, it’s even more important that I read — to learn, grow, and become as a writer.

This year, I challenged myself to read 50 books in 2012. A tough goal, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s fun for a reader. (Who needs tv? Okay, except Downton Abbey …) I’m well on my way to meeting the goal. Now, at almost halfway through the year, I’ve logged 30 books so far (and a few extras). I keep track over at Goodreads.

My family and I have collected a few wonderful piles of books to read this summer (photo, above). For my soon-to-be 10-year-old, many Avi books. My 11-year-old has found his niche reading about basketball, in non-fiction or fiction. And my 13-year-old reads the most, on ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and other Percy Jackson-like stories. For me, I’m excited to read books I’ve heard so much about but haven’t read yet, like THE LIFE OF PI and Ann Patchett’s STATE OF WONDER. For my husband, we’ve collected a few Le Carre novels and Madeleine Albright’s new PRAGUE WINTER.

Other must reads for this summer:

A few great readers’ resources and links:

  • Shelf Awareness: A great site and bi-weekly newsletter with news on the latest reads.
  • Goodreads: the Social Media Facebook-like site for readers
  • The Book Reporter: recent reviews and recommendations for readers

What books are you most looking forward to reading this summer?

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Dig Deep, Live Large: 2012 Manifesto

1man·i·fes·to  noun ˌma-nə-ˈfes-(ˌ)tō  : a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer  -via

On New Year’s Day, 2012, I saw the Manifesto for the first time. It encourages the reader to live their life, and to live it well.

I always love a visual that inspires me, reminds me of what matters most. And so, moved by the fresh page offered by a new year, I set out to write my own manifesto. A few hours later, this is the result. It represents what I believe about life. I love it. I hope it will inspire you, too. So, I’m posting it here to share with you.

If you click on the link tag on the image, you can embed this manifesto onto your own site, or paste into Facebook or other site you might want to share.

Here’s to making 2012 great. Dig deep. Live large. And to catching the joy as it flies.

Jennifer's Manifesto

Question for you: What inspires you? Do you have a statement or manifesto that reminds you of what is most important to you? I’d love to hear about it! Links, etc. are great. Happy New Year!

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Explore, Dream, Discover: Looking Ahead to 2012

Throwing off the Bowlines (Sweden, Baltic Sea, summer 2011)

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.




– Mark Twain

Throwing off the Bowlines (Sweden, Baltic Sea, summer 2011)
Throwing off the Bowlines (Sweden, Baltic Sea, summer 2011)

To me, there is nothing like the thrill of growth, being stretched just a little further, reaching out toward the wind lashing my face as I race toward the goal, toward becoming my very best self. The feeling is a lot like the feeling of being aboard a sailboat, seaspray fanning out in rainbows with each slap of the bow against the waves, the boat tilting with the heave of the sails as the wind empowers the boat faster, further, out across the water. I love that feeling.

While we all have our everyday lives, the weighty routine of laundry and grocery shopping and waiting in lines, we also have potential to grow and learn and continue becoming, no matter what our daily routines, no matter what our age may be. And while I unquestionably aspire to goals and hopes and dreams with my family, as a wife and a mom and a friend, and to giving back to others as much as I can, I also aspire to becoming my best self. To become the best me that I can be, with the various gifts and passions and energy and time I’ve been given. It’s a step by step process … becoming. A process that happens one year, one week, one day, one moment, one breath at a time.

That is why, every year about this time, I take time to think back over the year behind me, and count up all the things for which I am thankful, proud to have done, and happy I invested the time in doing. Always, there are so many things to smile about in remembering the previous year. And looking ahead at personal goals, Mark Twain’s quote always comes to me as a thread running between the year behind and the year ahead. I always have to ask: What is it that I most want to do in this coming year? What are my goals? My hopes? My dreams? Continue reading Explore, Dream, Discover: Looking Ahead to 2012

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3 Tips for Wrangling Writing Time Out of a Kid-filled Summer

My Husband and our three boys -- Fun family time

“Like all creative endeavors, novel writing rewards practice. Many accomplished novelists sit down to write largely for the challenge of trying to write something bigger, better, more profound than before. For the dedicated novelist, there is no end of stories to tell.” -Donald Maass, The Career Novelist

My Husband and our three boys -- Fun family time
My Husband and our three boys -- Fun family time

About this time of year, at the end of the school year wrap-up, my three boys and I grab a few markers and sit down with a white board. Why? To make our “What do we want to do this summer? List.”

For me, I LOVE summer. I enjoy unscheduled days with the leisure of a quiet day with my guys. Tennis, bike rides through the forest, hours by the pool, working our way down the summer reading stack, time to veg out with good friends and good food … these are all things we love and look forward to doing in summer. But it always goes too fast. So that’s why we make a list. If we don’t set the things we want to do beforehand, they never get done.

It’s the same with writing, I find. I love to write … and I try to write every day, especially during the hours that my guys are in school. But now that summer is here, I have to make that writing time a priority for each day, even if it is a small allotment.

How do we, as writers and as moms, make a little time to do our work, to accomplish some writing, even during the busy fun of summer?

Here, three tips I try to follow to get a chunk of writing done each day:

1) Make a writing calendar, and write in a goal for the days, weeks, and for the summer (say, two months). Be reasonable, setting an hour or so aside for writing each day. Bite-sized chunks add up. The most important thing is consistency!

2) Determine a set place and a set time which will best work for your family and your schedule. Maybe the hour before everyone wakes up, or during a set hour of their favorite television show. After about two weeks, you will find that your mind is really ready to write at that time, because of the habit.

3) Spend the rest of your day enjoying time with your kids— going to the pool, getting together with friends, reading books, whatever you all enjoy! That way, summer can be fun and guilt-free. It’s been lived to the very fullest!

Just think– with one hour of writing each day, say 500 words, after 50 days or roughly two months of non-weekend writing, you’ll have 25,000 words. Stick with it each day and the accumulation of small chunks of work will be a great reward.

How do you get your writing in during the child-filled summer months? Any tips to share?