Summer Motivation

Dune Daisies at Folly Beach. I took the picture when I wasn’t working.

Ever heard of the summer slump?  You know, it’s that time when productivity lulls because of vacations, too many distractions, or it’s just too darn hot to work?  I am always the least productive during the summer months.  My children are out of school, we are on the go, and I find it hard to squeeze in hours for writing, even though I desperately need to.  If I can manage to get everyone out of the house for two hours or more, I am motivated to work. And once I start writing, I am motivated to keep going because I want my characters’ stories to come alive.  I thought it’d be interesting to find out what motivates some of the other people I’ve interviewed here on Nerdy Chicks Rule. I asked a few of them to share what motivates them to work, when they don’t feel like working.  Maybe you will find motivation or inspiration in their answers!

Insanity? (or would it be more politically correct to say mental illness?) lol…i’m buried under a pile of work right now that i would be more then happy to ignore, but that little voice in my head keeps nagging me to get it done, people are counting on me, I have yet to figure out a way to plug my ears from the inside.  🙂 —Donna Farrell, web designer

If I don’t feel much like working, one trick is to spend a little time daydreaming about the final product — what the book would look like, who the audience might be, who the illustrator might possibly be, etc. Of course, I hold these daydreams loosely but it does help me to be hopeful about my work.  —Kristy Dempsey, author and librarian

My Visa bill. — Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, author

Variety is the spice of life! The same is true of my productivity. Should I tire in one area or lack the motivation in one direction I simply shift gears to another area or direction. Thus, if I’m not able to start or progress in a writing project I shift to another work, home improvement, reading or leisure activity. You might say I keep productivity on the table at all times by remaining flexible enough to allow it to transpire in multiple ways. I also view “unproductive” time just as valuable to the end game as productive time. I don’t fight it, I simply make the best of it. Having a healthy “to do” list on hand makes it easy to shift gears or reverse course when necessary. —Ann-Marie Adams, Aquabet PR

I think about how incredibly fortunate I am to be able to write and illustrate for a living and that usually does the trick! —Dan Yaccarino, illustrator

Inspiring others motivates me to work even when I do not want to! —Shanna Stanton, artist

Sometimes I use the kitchen timer to motivate me. I set it for fifteen minutes and make myself give a manuscript my all during that time. Almost always by the end of fifteen minutes, I am ready to go for hours. But when I don’t feel like working and just can’t get into it, knowing I only have to do it for a little bit of time somehow motivates me. — Kami Kinard

I hope you’re finding ways to stay motivated this summer. If you have any great tips, please share them in a comment! If you want to read more about the contributors above, click on their names to see their Nerdy Chick interviews or visit their websites.

Donna Farrell: Glasses Flaunting Web Designer!

This past summer, when my life was caving in on me a bit, I knew I needed a new website, but I couldn’t find the time to revamp mine. My friend Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen understood the pressure I was under, so she surprised me by researching web designers and calling me with Donna Farrell’s name. “Here’s who I found to do your website. Contact her.” I did. Donna did a great job with my site! Sudipta ended up getting her site redesigned by Donna too.  At this point, Donna has designed web sites for over twenty children’s authors and others.  She is also a wonderful illustrator. Thank you for joining us today Donna!

What is your favorite way to flaunt your brain power? 

I love to use my hands.  So anything I can fix, repair or create with my hands makes my noggin happiest.  From creating a visual world for a story from the tip of my pencil to taking apart the vacuum to figure out why it isn’t working, everything is a puzzle to me that I MUST solve.  I find natural curiosity leads to problem solving, letting your brain power shine through.

If you can take apart your vacuum and have the confidence you will fix it, you’re not only nerdy, you’re brave! Are there any social norms are you fond of flouting?

I’m really comfortable with who I am, so I don’t really worry about the norms, or what people will think. I focus on staying optimistic, running an honest business and treating others fairly. As a sole proprietor, I’m more concerned with my customer service and relationships then the bottom line, that’s about as against the norm as it gets.  Probably not the perfect business model, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

I love it when interviewees pick that flouting question! So how is brain power an asset to your career?

It has allowed me to be flexible and take opportunities as they come, in directions I might not have foreseen, embracing the changing landscape and carving out a niche for myself.  My creative path has been varied.  I hold a BFA in Graphic Design, but have also done hand painted furniture, murals and technical illustration. Currently I spread my time between my web design business, illustration work and freelancing as a graphic artist, this variety has been what has made me most happy.

What’s cool about being nerdy?

I get to wear glasses! I love different styles of frames the way others crush on shoes.  I figure if you have to wear them every day why not have fun with it!

I got my first pair of glasses this past summer. I like them too! Can you tell us about a well-known fictitious chick you admire and why you admire her?

Anne Shirley.  (aka Anne of Green Gables) L.M. Montgomery created such a great character with so many of the qualities that I admire. She is smart, imaginative, passionate and stubborn.  I love the notion of “kindred spirits”, that we can form alliances that run deep into your soul. Anne also struggled like most adolescents wishing she looked different, wishing for more wealth, only to find comfort in her own skin and the modesty of a simple life.

As a designer and an artist, how do the nerdy parts of your brain help out the artistic parts?I think what sets some of the really good designers apart, is their ability to work with a grid.  There needs to be some rhyme or reason to the placement and hierarchy of the text.  The grid is really a mathematical element.  Even with portraiture, there is math.  Eyes sit 1/2 way between top of head and chin etc.

Then you use your skills to try to make other people happy, a lot of them are authors! Since authors tend to be brainy folks, can you tell us what it is like to work on projects with so many people who have big ideas?

I have met very few in person and have only spoken by phone to about half.  I think because writers are comfortable communicating in text, it’s possible to pick up on their energy and personality through an exchange of emails. With each site I hope to create an online presence that is unique to them, their books and their writing.  Because I have studied the market of children’s publishing, attended SCBWI conferences and am in the trenches myself, my relationship with my clients isn’t all about design, but also advisor and comrade. Sure, at times I’m a little star struck, having the opportunity to collaborate with those whose work I have admired, and professional success I’ve envied.  I feel so much gratitude to be a part of the creative direction of their sites.

What’s something you like to do that might be considered a tad bit nerdy, but is actually really fun?

I love organizing.  All the labeling, sorting, compartmentalizing.  To take chaos, toss the reins around it and show it whose boss, now that is pretty powerful.  Evaluating and eliminating clutter, it’s like an episode of CSI for me.  It also has therapeutic benefits.  When my environment is unsettled and scattered, that’s how my brain feels.

Oof. I hate organizing. I only wish I thought it was fun! I think my life would be a lot better if I had your attitude toward de-cluttering. Oh well. If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

“Adolescence is when girls experience social pressure

Books Donna illustrated for Target.

to put aside their authentic selves and to display

only a small portion of their gifts.”

-Mary Pipher

To that I say:

You are original and uniquely you.

Be authentic.

Let all your gifts shine.

Very nicely said! To find out more about Donna and to see a snapshot of many of her sites, visit her WEBSITE!      

You can also find Donna on Twitter and Pinterest

I’m so glad to have been in touch with this particular Nerdy Chick! Her mad web skills made my life so much easier this summer. Thanks Donna.