The Ericksons

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Goal Posts Planning Your Year

As we approach the end of 2018, you may be asking where the year went. Did you set goals for 2018? If you didn’t, why not? If you did set goals, did you reach them? In this series of “Goal Posts,” I will be breaking down the process of setting SMART Goals. For a general overview of what SMART GOALS are, check out this post that I wrote a year ago. We are going to dive deep into the process of planning your year as we close out 2018 and begin 2019. We will make it more manageable by tackling one step each week. Today, we’re going to brainstorm the “what” and the “why” of your goals.Last week’s “Goal Post…”…looked at what’s working in your life, specifically in the areas of relationships, career & finance, as well as your personal goals. As you looked for the blessings you have in these areas of your life, you probably saw some things you would like to improve, as well. That will be your starting point for planning your year. World-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, Ray Edwards, asks the question.“What do I most want to be thankful for a year from now?”[1]Take a Read more…


Blessings

Now that we are well into November and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I want to focus on gratitude and goals. We are going to start by looking at the things we already have that make our lives better. Sometimes we earn the things we are grateful for. Other times, we don’t seem to deserve them at all. Either way, it’s important that we recognize them and take stock of the blessings in your life. This exercise will lay the foundation for goal setting. We are going to focus on 3 areas of your life: relationships, career/finances, and who you are, as a personBlessings in Your RelationshipsBlessings of FamilyPerhaps the thing most people value most is their family members. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Who you choose to include in your family circle goes far beyond blood relatives. Family fluctuates throughout your life. Marriages, adoptions, foster children, and births add to the number of people in your life. Friends can become as close as any blood relative. Death and divorce pull families apart, but memories remain. Even through the veil of painful separations such as these, we often have grown. Who in your life are you thankful Read more…


Unplug from technology

How would you like to have more time, less stress and feel more at ease every day? Today I am going to look at one way to approach technology that could revolutionize your life. We are going to look at what it would mean to unplug from the constant connection that today’s ever-present technology represents. Don’t worry. You won’t have to hide in a cabin in the woods (although that can be fun). I will give you some simple tips to help you unplug in moderation—just enough to change your life.Email“On average, office workers receive at least 200 messages a day and spend about two-and-a-half hours reading and replying to emails.”[1]As someone who has battled her inbox and found some success, I have a couple of tips for this time-sucker. Schedule 2 times each day to check your email and limit those times to 15 minutes. You can do it! Here’s how:Don’t answer emails that don’t require a response. It’s not rude. It saves both you and the other person time.Don’t send emails unless they are necessary. The fewer emails you send, the fewer you will get.By limiting your “inbox appointments” to 15 minutes, you will feel a sense of Read more…


It’s the 1st Wednesday of the month again. That’s when I take part in Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I encourage you to check out their website and even sign up for the IWSG Newsletter. Today, for the first time, I won’t be answering the optional #IWSG question of the month (How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?). I just couldn’t come up with an answer. And, after all, it is “optional.” But I encourage you to check out some of the answers the other fabulous insecure writers have written. I will be writing about empathy.One of the best things you can do to help your reader feel invested in your writing is to elicit feelings of empathy in them. How do you do this? And, what is empathy, anyway?A recent surge of empathyAs our Minnesota summer began drawing to a close, our family filled as many open calendar squares as possible before the kids returned to school. Due to uncertainties about my husband’s health, we chose to stay home this summer rather than take our annual family road trip. I had some regrets about this. The summer felt a little less like it usually does. Read more…


Social Anxiety Introvert

There are thousands of phobias and fears in the world. Most of us only have one or two, and they are as individual as we are. I once knew a woman who was petrified of cotton balls. I’m not joking. I witnessed one of her employees trap her in her office by simply putting a cotton ball on the office doorknob. All it took to free the woman was to remove the offending fluff ball. What’s the scariest thing of all for me? Social interaction. As I conclude this month’s frightening series on authenticity. I’m going to talk about my biggest fear and how social anxiety is different from being introverted or shy.What exactly does it mean to be an introvert?If you’ve read a few of my posts, or follow me on social media, you probably know that I’m an introvert. “Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits. Their disposition is frequently misconstrued as shyness, social phobia, or even avoidant personality disorder, but many introverts socialize easily; they just strongly prefer not to. In fact, the self-styled introvert can be more empathic and interpersonally connected than his or her outgoing counterparts.”[1]I don’t view my Read more…


Some writers you may have the ability to let ‘er rip and say whatever you darn well please. Or maybe you question your conscience about whether certain things are appropriate to include in your fiction writing, or not. Things that might be sensitive include:Violencecontent of a sexual naturevulgar languagebiographical information which could harm the reputation or sensibilities of another living (or dead) personanything else that the particular writer is afraid to share authenticallyGenreSometimes it all comes down to the genre. There are certain genres where taboo topics and anything graphic is a strict no-no. For example, the first 3 items on this list of questionable content are off limits in children’s books and cozy mysteries (among other genres). When genre dictates what can and can’t be included in the content, it has nothing to do with being authentic. These are guidelines, rules which must be followed. Readers have certain expectations when it comes to the genre they read. For example, you would never put a sex scene in a Christian romance. In the Christian romance genre, kissing is fine. However, sex and swearing will completely turn a Christian romance audience off.Knowing what’s appropriate to include in your fiction writing isn’t Read more…


Judgments we Make

This month I’ve been looking at authenticity and what makes being authentic so scary for most people. Last week we talked about why the fear of rejection can make authenticity so elusive. This week we will focus on the judgments we make and those that are made about us. Once we have a deeper understanding of the judgments we make, every day, we can take control over that part of our psyche and overcome it, leading to a more authentic life and more authentic writing.We all do itEven though it’s not politically correct to make snap judgments about people based on very little information, we do it every day—in fact, multiple times a day. In many ways, it is a survival instinct of sorts. We have to be able to quickly sort through people and situations that are “safe” and those that aren’t.Imagine you get into an elevator at 10 PM after a long day of (shopping, work, hanging out with friends, you name it). There is a guy who has a really angry look on his face, like he’s on his way to confront the guy who knocked over his Harley. There’s also a 5-foot tall woman in a Read more…


Fear of Rejection

As Halloween approaches, thoughts turn to the frightening things in life (and death). So this month we’ll be taking a look at one of the scariest things for many new (and some seasoned) writers: Authenticity. One of the reasons it can be difficult to be authentic in your writing is fear of rejection.Fear of Rejection and JudgementThe fear of rejection in person, on social media, and in writing, is something nearly everyone has experienced (to some extent). Cyberbullying is on the rise. “In fact, according to the anti-bullying website NoBullying.com, 52 percent of young people report being cyberbullied and over half of them don’t report it to their parents.” [1] If you want to learn more, check out my friend, Jacqui Murray’s recent post.Fear of Rejection and the Family PortraitBecause of this fear of rejection, we show the world only what we want them to see. We have become so adept at this that often we don’t even realize what we’re doing.Recently we had some family pictures taken and I posted one of them (my very favorite) on Facebook.Beautiful, isn’t it? But I wasn’t in it. I was uncomfortable with the world seeing how much weight I have gained in Read more…


It’s the 1st Wednesday of the month again. That’s when I take part in Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I encourage you to check out their website and even sign up for the IWSG Newsletter. Today I’m going to explore self-publishing with print-on-demand, as I answer the #IWSG question for October –How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?Anything you have ever gone through will affect who you are personally, and as a writer. It will certainly color your writing in subject and tone. When life isn’t going well, it can be tempting to go negative in your writing. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be very helpful if the genre you write requires this dark tone. You can channel your writing in this way. It can be a bad thing. Instead of working through your issues, you can end up drowning in them. So have a sense of self-awareness and know when to turn off the faucet. I would like to talk about two positive ways to use writing during trials.A great way to do this is to keep a gratitude journalA little more than a decade ago, my Read more…


Creating a realistic setting

Creating a realistic setting doesn’t happen automatically when you write a story. Yet it’s one of the essential components to draw readers into your story so they can walk among the characters. Today I’ll share some ways you can simplify building this imaginary world and make it more real for your readers.Composite Method of Creating a Realistic SettingSometimes to get the perfect setting you need to combine aspects from different places you know or imagine. For example in a fictional town I created, I based the one in Litchfield, Minnesota, the town where my mom’s side of the family lives. I visited Litchfield frequently growing up. Each summer I looked forward to tromping through the town with my little sister, sitting in the band shell and even going to the town’s small history museum. However, that museum wasn’t the one on which I based the museum in my fictional town. That museum was the Homesteader Museum in Powell, Wyoming. And while different, I got the idea for the diner in my story, from Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul, Minnesota.Creating a composite isn’t only done in literary art. Any creative endeavor can utilize composites. A couple of years ago I was Read more…

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