Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Poisonous Thoughts

Don’t you just hate it when people say mean things about you? It’s much worse when you’re the one saying them—or thinking them. And yet we all do it. It’s quite common for us to slip into “negative” patterns of thoughts, which are like poison to our emotions. Here are a few of the most common disruptive patters of thinking. Any sound familiar?
  • Filtering: magnifying the negative details and ignoring the positive aspects of a situation. EX: Instead of celebrating that you got the job you wanted, and that you’ll have a raise, you focus only on the idea that you’ll have to drive six miles farther in traffic, which means you’ll have to get up half an hour earlier, and that means you probably won’t sleep well at night….
  • Overgeneralization: Because it happened once, it will happen again (especially in bad situations). EX: “I went out on a date that ended badly, so that must mean they’ll all go bad. I might as well stop trying.”
  • Castastrophizing: What if the worst? (this is my favorite, probably because I hear my friends use it all the time). EX: What if the car breaks down on the way to work? What if my phone dies? What if someone stops to help, but they turn out to be a serial killer and they kidnap me and no one realizes I’m missing…
  • Polarized Thinking: (Here’s one I’m guilty of) Everything is either good or bad. You’re either perfect or a failure. EX: "If I don’t make an A on this assignment, I must be stupid."
What to see more? Check out 15 Common Cognitive DistortionsIf you find yourself guilty of any of these, the best thing you can do is notice when you’re doing it. Identify it as false, illogical, or silly, and talk yourself back to a more rational way of thinking. Good luck quieting those voices!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sticking to It

(Image from
Have you ever told your self you were going to make a change in your life? Be it sitting down and writing every day, exercising more, or going on a diet, we all know incorporating a change is hard. But have you ever made it to that goal, made it to that point where you didn't even have to think about the change anymore, you were just doing it and then... all of a sudden, you're back to where you started: not writing, not exercising, and pigging out on chocolate cake.

Psychologists would say that's thanks to the sixth stage of change: relapse. Change, no matter how big or small, is thought to go through a cycle: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and then relapse, which takes you all the way back to the beginning. You can think of the first five as the steps of a ladder, and the sixth being a thunderstorm.

While it's hard (if not impossible) to prevent relapsing, there are steps we can take to try to keep it from happening. For one, being aware of it can help us prepare. On those days where you feel like taking "just one little break" have a plan in place to make it up, or trade it out for something else instead. It's also great to have a new start date. For example, if you know you're going on vacation and won't get that writing or exercise time in, plan to start back two days after returning (that way, if you feel burnt out on the return day, you wont feel bad about taking one more day off, and if you feel up to getting right back into the swing of things, you'll feel great that you're ahead).

Also, know that if you ever do slip up, it doesn't mean you can't get back to where you where. If you made it a first time, you know you can make it a second!

So get back to those new years resolutions that started slipping last month. Try sticking to the goals you set for yourself, or try setting goals in the future.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reviving old stories

Have you ever gone back to something you started wring years ago? Maybe it was something you thought would never go anywhere, or maybe it was something with a lot of potential but other events got in the way.
I’ve been looking back over my earlier writing lately, and though I’m not impressed with the quality of the individual sentences, some of the content is decent, if not solid. I’ve started to notice that some of my more recent pieces are actually extensions of older works, as if I’m retelling the same story in a different (better developed) way.
If you’ve been writing for a long time, I’d encourage you to look back over your incomplete projects. Even if they aren’t masterpieces, there’s always something salvageable. You might be surprised.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Once Upon A Time, Merlin, and The Joy of Fantasy

I’ve been busy this week, catching up on Once Upon a Time and Merlin (I just started season 3 last night—I saw the first episode less than two weeks ago and it’s occupied my free time ever since). In addition to the usual psychology lectures and class essays, my thoughts have been overtaken with all things fantasy. So I guess you could say I had no choice but to post about it.
There's just something about epic fantasy stories that become addicting- even when you already know the ending! I mean, we all know the classic fairy tales Once Upon a Time is based on, but we get sucked in anyway. And the legend of King Arthur has been told so many times in so many ways, but it hasn't lost it's strength. Is that the secret of fantasy, it's timeless?
For some reason, fantasy has become a bit of a derogatory term in the literary world. People have come to associate it with children’s literature, assuming adults are too grown up for it. Well, because fantasy is escapism, hope, and adventure... no one is too grown up for it! Other people have come to believe they are cheesy, predicable, and take little talent to write. Anyone who says a fantasy book can’t be literary hasn’t read Tolkien (or anything fantastical beyond children’s bedtime stories). Tolkien himself summed it up very well with his quote: “However wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the 'turn' comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality." As with any genre, you have fantastic fantasy authors, and a few who must have bribed their editors to publish them.
What are some of your favorite fantasy books? What is it about fantasy that makes it so appealing?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Read an E-book Week

From now until Sunday March 10th, numerous e-book venders and readers will be celebrating. The goal is to help promote e-books and their value. As part of this event, Smashwords is holding a special with anywhere from 25%-100% off e-books. That's right, some books are entirely FREE!  So if you have some time or are looking for something new to read, check it out and maybe support us indie authors while you're at it :)

Check out e-book week specials here at Smashwords (In case you're interested, here's a direct link to my book: The Chronicles of Vallanie Sharp)

Visit the E-Book Week website for more ways to celebrate, including challenges, contests, and more.

Anyone else celebrating? Anyone download any good books you'd like to suggest? Happy e-Reading :)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Friday

Just thought I'd share some funny memes (I didn't make any of these; they've just been floating around the internet):

Have a great weekend :)