Virtuosity 11.11

Where words become worlds…

Find your balance

Throughout this year, I will be posting frequent reminders to find balance in the things that we do. That balance is dynamic and contradictory (i.e., enjoy eating, but don’t eat junkfood; be successful, but don’t be obsessed). My balance isn’t the same as yours, and on some days, balance means something different.

That’s okay. If you watch someone on a tightrope, they do not stand still. Instead, they wobble to the left, to the right, they move forward, and sometimes, they almost lose it. Sometimes, they do, and fall (hopefully) into a safety net, and start over on the rope again. Life is like that, too.

Today, think about your balance. How will you accomplish your goals, but find the balance that you need in your life, and what does that balance look like? It may change each day, but at least, on some days, you are thinking about it. Like today!




Take care of yourself

Take care of ALL of you.

Do things to care for your mind, heart, and body. Try to find balance in all these things.

Today, do one thing for your mind, one thing for your body, and one thing for your heart.

Then, go to bed, wake up in the morning, and repeat!


Know your weaknesses

Critique yourself. What are your weaknesses, and what are you doing to improve them?improvement

I come from a philosophy where I try to be hyperaware of my weaknesses so that when the critique from others come, it is not a surprise. That way, my inner response can be, “I’m working on it!” rather than, “Oh, wow. I’m shocked!”

Being aware of your weaknesses requires a degree of humility. Set aside your ego. We are not perfect, but rather, we are always in a state of becoming better. So, starting today, what is one weakness that you will improve upon? How will you improve upon it?

Reflect on Criticism

“Lie naked on the table, and let them cut. Criticism is surgery, and humility is the anesthetic that allows you to tolerate it. In the end, the process will make you a stronger, more flexible, and truly creative writer. It will replace attitude with genuine confidence, and empty arrogance with artistry.” ~Molly Cochran

Recently, I took a personality test, just for fun, to see what it would say.  Now, I’ve taken this test before, from a different website, and both have described me as an INTJ.  For me, it sort of affirmed what I already knew about myself – that I have a thirst for applicable knowledge, and it can be hard for me to translate the thoughts that are constantly going on in my head.  Knowing more about myself meant that I could also understand more of myself – so that I could fix the things that I needed to fix.

As a grad student, our work is constantly being scrutinized, critiqued, and taken apart. Some of our reviewers are not kind, and a few seem to have a vendetta against any new academic. It helps to remember three rules: (1) don’t take things personally,  (2) their comments will make you better, and (3) take what you can use, and let go of the rest. For many, our first reaction is to get defensive about our work. After all, we are putting our very best effort forward, and to have it torn down leaves gaping holes in our ego. However, we need to learn how to take criticism without getting defensive. If we do not listen to our reviewers, we will not improve our work. So, learn to use critique in ways that build you up.

You may have given your best effort, but our reviewers are telling us how to get even better!

Do overs are do betters…


Be thankful you get to do them over.

Each failure is a step closer to your success!


Do one thing today that makes you happy and makes you smile.

The Happiness Project


Be grateful for a little thing

Today, find a small thing to be grateful for, and take a moment to appreciate it. Be grateful for what you have.

Practicing gratefulness is a way of finding awareness, and of being fully present in the moment. Today, what is one thing that you are grateful for and why?


Trust that you are enough


“there is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.” ~Miyamoto Musashi, Book of Five Rings

You have everything you need to fulfill your destiny. Despite what society tells you, getting better must come from the inside. Grit, motivation, persistence, flexibility, and indomitable spirit are what you need to improve yourself. If you have these things in yourself, the rest will come.

The Last Day of Writing Camp

One more day of writing from 9 am – 3 pm CST with 10 minute breaks and a 1 hour lunch. Finish today strong, and park yourself on a downhill slope to help jump start your next session.

By now, you may be feeling a bit of fatigue from the long week. Just think of how good it will feel, though, when you are done, today! Here’s some tips from Bolker’s (1998) book, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis, on pulling through those fatigued moments, or through writer’s block:

  • Go back to your old work. Maybe even look at the stuff you’ve written this week. Make notes, highlight, or code interesting things, questions, stuff you want to pursue. Use that as a way to get back into things – maybe expand upon some of those topics.
  • Change it up. If you write on the computer, try writing in a notebook by hand. Write on different pieces of paper, different colors, or a pencil – something you don’t ordinarily use. If you write in paragraphs, try outlines or bullets. You can graph, draw, listen to different music as you write, etc.
  • Save the best stuff for a reward. Do the unpleasant, hard bits, first. Commit to finishing them before you allow yourself to do the stuff you really want to do.
  • Evaluate and reevaluate your goals – make sure they are reasonable and reachable. Just like running too much can cause muscle strain and possible injury, the same can go for writing – you can get burnout! So, pace yourself.
  • Swap topics and tasks. If you are writer’s blocked, research and read, then shorten your writing time, but do not stop writing. This is a habit you are cultivating.
  • In writing, ask yourself questions and then answer them. Some questions I ask myself are:
    • Why is this paragraph/chapter/section so difficult to write?
    • Why do I feel procrastination/resistance or even dread, here?
    • Why do I feel so stressed, right now. What can I do to address the stress and alleviate it?
  • Reward yourself for hard work – can’t pull through this last writer’s camp day? Think of something indulgent to do as a reward at the end (like a movie, a really long bubble bath, a shopping spree, etc.)

You can do it! Just for today, get to your goals. …and remember that you are not alone!

Now, go on. Off you go!



Writing ideas for Thursday’s Writing Camp

Two more days left of writing camp! Today, we sprint from 9 am – 3 pm CST, and I will be posting sprints on Twitter using #writingsprint. Remember, we’re taking 10 minute breaks each hour, with a 1 hour lunch break (at around 11 am CST).

Here’s some suggestions on planning out a productive work day:

  • Make your schedule/to do list. Write out what it is you want to accomplish, break it into tasks, then put it into time slots.
  • Prioritize what you want to do first, identify where you may have “wiggle” space.
  • Close any distractions. Stick to staying off web surfing if possible. Remember, the purpose of writing camp is to write!
  • If you get stuck, freewrite! Use if you need an adrenaline rush to help you!

In Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day, Bolker (1998) suggests going back to some of the work you’ve written:

  • Pick out words, phrases or sentences in the writing you’ve got that seem interesting, or provocative, or resonant, and try writing beginning with them.
  • Ask yourself,

“What stands out for me most in what I’ve written?”

“Is there an argument in this mess?”

“Is what I’ve said here true?”

“Do I believe in this?

  • Try writing, repeatedly…an answer to the question, “What am I really trying to say in this argument/chapter/section?” (p. 52, emphasis in original)


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