Wednesday, December 31, 2014

An Extra Month

The end is here.

Another year has come and gone. Like me, do you feel you could use another month to catch up with everything undone from 2014?

That’s one reason Gurutej Khalsa’s book, The 13th Month: How To Get An Extra 29 Days Each Year, caught my attention.

I first learned of this author through my yoga practice – I’ve enjoyed her video, Chakra Yoga, for many years.  So I knew the foundation of the book would be rooted in yoga practice.  However, it’s written in a decidedly accessible and conversational voice, and nothing in the suggestions would keep the average person from applying the techniques.  As I read each chapter, a handful of ideas resonated with me, and these are the ones I’ll apply or ramp up in the new year.

Let’s begin with the areas of food and exercise. I've long had a healthy diet, eating mostly organic (and often homegrown or locally acquired) foods. I exercise daily, in some combination of walking (3-5 miles), weight lifting, and yoga. According to the author, I could improve my energy levels by eliminating coffee entirely from my diet. That idea makes me cringe, but I’m going to give it a go.

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I already meditate, too, but I’m not as consistent in this area as with my exercise program. I’ll make an effort to meditate twice a day instead of only once, first thing in the morning and prior to my writing hours, then again in the evening before sleep. I know from practice that regular meditation keeps me focused and task-oriented throughout the day, and helps me sleep better, and sometimes less. (Gurutej herself sleeps only four hours per night.) I’m an eight-hour-a-night sleeper, so waking even one hour early each day would “buy” me 30 extra hours in just one month.

Perhaps the most valuable section of the book for me dealt with daily habits. I didn’t learn anything exactly new to me, but I did have an opportunity to face up to my own waste of time. Where do I spend my time every day? Doing what I believe is most important? Writing my novels?


What I usually do first thing in the morning involves all my social media errands, which include Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest as well as monitoring blogs. I consider this part of my work day, but the truth is, I sometimes spend more hours online each day, than I do writing or editing my books. I didn’t need my previous experience as an accountant to figure out that my extra month each year could easily be harvested from my social media hours each day!  I bet many of you can say the same thing. How are you planning to change your habits to maximize the time for more important things?

If you need some cheer-leading and advice on adjusting your own lifestyle to better meet your goals, I strongly suggest you connect with Gurutej Khalsa on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, then check out her website and blog for lots of inspiration and advice.  I promise you’ll get motivated to adopt some new and healthier habits, that will help you ramp up your writing life. 

But set your timer, and don’t let your day get away from you while you’re online learning! Or researching. Or connecting. Or any other excuse you come up with to avoid doing what you ought to be.

So what are you doing new this coming year to improve your writing life? Please leave us your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!

Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil, and plans to spend 2015 writing and publishing her own books. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and on her News From Nowhere book blog.


  1. Happy New Year, Dani. I love the tips in the blog. I think we all need a bit of a push into new habits. I plan to go back to writing first after my morning exercise, and saving social media and other business until later. I'll have to adjust my blogging schedule, but that is all doable.

  2. I think it is important to plant goalposts in your future, whatever they may be. But you should also stop and breathe in the day as well.

  3. I'm with you, Maryann. I'm going to meditate and focus first, do yoga and maybe walk (depends on weather), eat brunch, and then hit the writing table (not connected to the Internet) for two hours before doing my social networking. That means we need an early bird here to check the blog. ;)

  4. I do need to spend less on social media. Twitter is such a big time drain. Four hours of sleep seems pretty unhealthy. Most recommendations are for 7-8.

  5. If I just end the Spider Solitaire distraction, I'll be way ahead in productive writing and blogging time.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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