Thursday, July 15, 2010

Overcoming Writers Block

Have you ever just wanted to write, but for some reason or another simply could not think of what to put down on paper? Perhaps you are in the middle of some piece of work and suddenly you cannot find the inspiration that you had at the beginning. This is called writers block and it can be quite frustrating.

Fortunately there are ways around it. While it can be difficult at times to restart that feeling of excitement you first had when you came up with the idea, it is not impossible. Here are a few steps that work for me.

Get outside for a while. Sometimes all the inspiration I need is outside of my normal surroundings. Most of the time I didn't come up with the topic at the kitchen table, so why would I continue to be inspired there? Bring your laptop or pad and paper with you just in case the muse strikes again.

Get your heart rate up. Some of the very best ideas happen when you are exercising. It is a time when you have nothing to do but think. Sometimes thinking about anything other than the exercise you are doing helps you exercise for longer periods of time too, so it is a double bonus. Nothing forces your mind to move more than staring at the bottom of a swimming pool for lap after lap.

Move on to something else. It is a good idea to keep a couple of projects going at the same time just in case something like this happens. If you cannot stand looking at the page for one of your books, move on to the next one and see if you can think of something to say. This works especially well for the types of people that tend to read more than one book at the same time. Multi-tasking is just in your blood.

Avoid caffeine and the internet. Sometimes what may seem like writers block is just a massive dose of distraction. Caffeine can make your mind jump from topic to topic too quickly to write down, and lets face it the internet is largely just an institutionalized distraction machine. Instead try some nice calming herbal tea or a paper book down at the library related to the topic you are writing about.

Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Studies show that school children who have proper nutrition are better able to concentrate in school. That ability in our minds doesn't disappear the day we get a drivers license. Improve your diet and the rest of your life, including your writing, will be improved as well.

If none of the above work for your project then it may be time to file it away for a couple of days. Just give yourself a vacation from it and see if you can come up with some new ideas. Just make sure the vacation is not too long or you risk losing the motivation to write it at all.

Grant Virtue

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Don't Give Up Just Before the Reward

Years ago I used to garden using containers on my (very small) apartment patio. One of my favorite things to grow was corn because in the hot California climate you could almost see it growing. One time in particular I remember I switched to a different gardening soil that was much thicker than I was used to. The corn took so long to sprout that I was convinced I had a bad batch of seeds. So I start digging little holes again to replant with a new packet, and I find just below the surface bright green sprouts just about to peak out. Had I waited one more day they would have surfaced on their own and I wouldn't have ruined so many perfectly good plants.

I mention this because sometimes in life, business, relationships we put so much work into them and it seems like we sometimes are not getting much back. It can be frustrating to put that much energy and time into something with no guarantee of a return.

The good news though is that no amount of work is ever done in vain. Even if that particular project you are working on does not amount to what you expected, it still came out exactly the way it was meant to. Sometimes all it takes is just a bit more effort, one final sprint, to reach the finish line. So many times I have seen close friends who are just starting out with their own businesses or books and they get so frustrated that all of their advertising and submissions have not gotten them anywhere. Sometimes they are on the verge of quitting outright and going back to their old jobs or throwing away the manuscript, only for their project to just take off the next month. Suddenly they have as many clients as they can take and are having to refer people out or they have three acceptance letters from different publishers and they have to choose who they are going with.

The next time you feel that you have reached the end of your ability to wait any longer for your work to pay off, I implore you to just wait a bit longer and go for one final push first. You may find the sprouts were there all along.

Grant Virtue

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Finding Time to Write

How many of you have ever wanted to become authors but feel that you do not have the time? It is a very common reason people cite for not starting or finishing the book that they know they must write.

It is true that writing does take time. Some people are natural born storytellers and they generally can get a bit more done in a smaller amount of time than others, but the rest of us do have to put in some serious finger time with the old typewriter. So where is this time supposed to come from?

Actually it has to come from everywhere. If you try to find an hour of free time during your day to sit and just write you are unlikely to find it. Usually people get their routines so streamlined that there isn't anything that the average person is willing to give up doing on a daily basis to gain that much time. The secret then is to find ways to finish up what you are already doing a bit earlier.

One technique that I find helpful is to work writing into my normal schedule. If I am out and about doing my normal things I bring a pad and paper with me. I know I might have to sit down and eat lunch eventually and that is a good a time as any to get a few words down.

Finding time while you are at home is equally important if you want to finish that great novel of yours. If you typically watch a couple of shows after dinner, pick your favorite one to watch and then see if you can write through the next one. Even if you just sit and look at a blank screen (and believe me I have done that more times than I'd prefer) at least you are getting yourself into a routine of finding the time to be creative.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that if you do manage to snatch five or ten minutes to write, make sure that you do use that time to write. It isn't the time to vacuum the carpet or check your e-mail for the fiftieth time. That ten minutes can turn into a written page without rushing, and as my grandparents are so often telling me "A page a day is a book in a year."

If you are writing about a spiritual topic you might want to check out Doreen Virtue's Spiritual Writers Workshop, available on DVD at and

Grant Virtue

Monday, July 12, 2010

Helping Others by Helping Ourselves

Nearly all of us have heard the call to help others. It could be as simple as dedicating your spare time to listening to friends and family members, to quitting your day job and starting your own counseling practice or writing self help books. This is great, as there has never been a better time to start helping as many people as possible.

The thing is though that your angels do not want you to suffer for your craft. If you are not properly looking after yourself then you will not be in a position to completely help another person. The universe needs you to be operating at 100% and the only way to do that is to make sure that you are happy doing what you are doing and have the energy and finances to continue doing it.

Boundaries are probably the biggest paradox we face as light workers. We have to simultaneously shout to the world "bring us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses" while also making sure that we give ourselves enough breathing room to rest and recuperate from healing and enough financial remuneration to be able to afford the amount of time we give to helping without having to work two jobs to pay for it.

I may sound like a broken record but again the way around this is scheduling. Try your best to make sure that the time you spend helping others is scheduled into your day with a clear time to start and a clear time to end. Schedule payments with clients in advance, because after a long counseling session is not the time to be thinking about money for anyone. Schedule your vacations, and make sure you stick to them.

Remember the better you take care of yourself the longer you will be doing this work and the more people will be helped. As the flight attendants say, make sure to put on your own air mask before assisting others.

Grant Virtue

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Balancing Your Three Sides

Every person is made up of three equally important aspects of themselves. These are your spiritual, mental and physical aspects. Typically when a person finds themselves unbalanced or feeling out of sorts we find that one or more of these three aspects has been ignored in some way.

Just as it is important for a persons spiritual growth to engage in activities such as attending or teaching courses, reading books, and talking with other like minded people there are simple steps you can take to increase your physical health and general knowledge base.

This summer take some time to see what other types of classes you can take, along with the spiritual classes you are planning to attend. Take a short spin or yoga class down at your local gym or yoga center. See if there are any regular Tai Chi groups down at the park.

Now would also be a good time to finally learn that language you have always wanted to study. With online courses so widely available for those who prefer to study at home, to night courses and organizations such as the Learning Annex for those who want to meet and mingle with other students.

I have found, and I suspect that you will as well, that when I am growing across all three aspects I am a much happier person.

Grant Virtue

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Finding Time for Play

Sometimes it is far too easy to work the entire day away. An increasingly large number of people in the spiritual community are becoming self employed, and with that comes a rather large blur between work time and free time. All too often we can intend to just finish up a bit of leftover work and end up working right through our weekend.

This isn't such a bad thing when we are just starting off or are launching a new product, but if it becomes a pattern it can negatively impact your life. Balancing work and play can be one of the hardest things for a self employed person to do. Since we now make our own schedules rather than have someone else tell us what to do and when to do it, we must develop a tad more discipline to have a fully balanced life.

If you find yourself working more than you or your family feels is healthy, then set scheduled breaks into your day. You are much less likely to feel guilty about taking time out if it has already been planned. Make sure to take at least one day a week off, and have a relatively standard time at which your work ends for the day.

Obviously with a small business of any kind, but especially ones that involve helping so many people there will be blurred boundaries and it is best to be flexible. However if you do try to find time to play you may come to realize that you can have as much of both as you'd like.

Grant Virtue

Friday, July 9, 2010

Working Carbon Free

Angel University has been carbon free from the start. In fact because we use so little carbon and offset so much ever single course sold through comes with a negative carbon balance. Like the drink bottle says, it cleans up after itself and then some.

How does this happen and how can you work carbon free as well?

It starts with carbon offsets. We use the Carbon Fund to offset a set amount per year based on our company size, and then go one better. We use the mobile application CauseWorld to offset roughly 200 lbs of carbon per day. You can use CauseWorld on any iPhone or Android based phone. It takes a bit of time per day to check in enough to earn the karmas necessary to offset such a large amount, but it is worth it in the end.

Secondly we do not use our own gasoline powered vehicles. All supplies are delivered to us, which saves carbon because delivery trucks in Colorado for the most part use natural gas. Plus they are delivering things for many people so it is not a single use trip. This cuts down on the carbon per delivery significantly.

All outgoing parcels are delivered to the post office, FedEx and UPS offices either on foot in inclement weather or bicycle in good weather. The bags we carry the parcels in were supplied by Voltaic Systems and are made of recycled drink bottles and include built in solar panels to recharge our phones and PDAs used throughout the ordering process.

Never once have we felt that these small steps have inconvenienced ourselves (and the bicycles make for great exercise) and the end result is that we leave the air a little cleaner than when we started.

Thank you for helping us make this possible.

Grant Virtue