Wednesday, December 4, 2013

7 Biggest Threats to Writing

Everything that can potentially stop you or distract you from writing is a danger. Those threats might seem innocuous, you might label them as unavoidable, but the truth is, if you want to make writing your career, then you’ll need to be able to recognise them so you can do something about them. Besides, when writers don’t write, they grow discontented and even insecure about their work. To avoid this, I’ve written up a list to help you spot the warning signs.

The internet: This wonderful tool is an amazing resource for research, for connecting with writers and readers, and taking a much needed break. However, as we all know, the internet can serve as a massive distraction from writing. When you say you’ll just pop on for a few minutes, and those minutes turn to hours, you know it was a mistake.

The doubts: This is perhaps the most obvious threat, but also the most devastating. Doubts can range from those little niggling doubts about whether or not others will like your story, to the massive belief you aren’t good enough to write. Whatever form they come in, they can cripple. The only way to get past them is to simply keep writing. You don’t have to keep writing the same project, but you do need to keep writing.

Family and friends: It won’t matter how supportive family and friends are, they can still distract us from our writing. This is a good thing, of course. We need family and friends. We need to enjoy their conversation, fulfil our commitments, refresh in their company. It’s not good when they become the excuse not to write.

The Muse: Yes, that pesky little critter is one of the biggest threats to writing. Why? Because all too often writers wait for him to appear before they write. If I waited for my muse I’d need to invest in a waterproof computer and I’d never get any sleep.

Illness: Yes, sometimes we are too sick to write, but I’m talking about those times you’re feeling lethargic, you might have a headache, you’re so tired you just want to collapse into a pillow. Even if you have a chronic illness, there are still ways of finding the time and energy to write. It may not be for a two hour stretch, but do what you can.

Cleaning: So what if there are a few dust bunnies hopping around? Don’t let them coax you from writing, no matter how much they tease you. You can round them up once you’ve finished your writing session.

Time: The biggest threat to writing is the lack of time. No matter how much we have, there’s never enough time. When it comes down to it, “I don’t have enough time to write,” is simply another excuse. We have to make time.

I don’t know why writers are so skilled at coming up with reasons why we can’t do the thing we love so much. Too often we put our writing last, behind the commitments, behind our homes, behind the little things that distract us, behind switching off in front of the television. Perhaps it’s because it’s easier than writing, or safer than reaching for the dream in case we fail. The way to beat the excuses, the dangers, is to recognise them for what they are, and to remember how much writing means to us.

What’s your biggest threat to your writing time?

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This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. On the first Wednesday of every month we post about our insecurities or offer up encouragement. Join this awesome community HERE.

We are also running an exciting giveaway. For more details, check it out HERE.

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Note: I will be taking a much needed break over December so I can spend the time finishing the first draft of my NaNo novel, enjoy some family and friends, and perhaps travel a little. I’ll be back on January 8th for the next IWSG post (No, IWSG will not be posting on the first day of the new year). Please have a safe and wonderful Christmas and a brilliant New Year.

96 comments:

  1. I'd say that doubts are the underpinnings of all my little delays and procrastinations. It's really terrible how doubt eats away at you. Enjoy your blogging break and good luck with your draft--merry Christmas!

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  2. I don't let cleaning distract me!! As my wife will attest to...
    My guitar can be a distraction, even though I have to practice for my band. But sometimes I'm just goofing around with it.
    Lynda, enjoy your break! Although sure the IWSG admins will be chatting in between.

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    1. I won't be disappearing altogether, but I do plan on enjoying that break :)

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  3. To be honest, I tend to avoid thinking in those terms. Real life isn't a threat. It's not a distraction. It's a wonderful, interesting thing worth immersing ourselves in.

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  4. The Internet, doubts, and time are what I struggle with. I'm working on a better blogging schedule for next year and hope to balance social networking better to give myself at least a little time to write.

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    1. Yep, that's what I'm planning to do as well.

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  5. Good luck whipping your latest novel into shape! Hope it behaves. Internet and other obligations are a daily struggle as you point out. I referenced your IWSG site post in my blog post today. You're chock full of words of wisdom.

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  6. I think my muse has zapped me this year. Plus the issue of time, as I've piled too much on my plate yet again.

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  7. A much needed break in December? Sister, I thought you've been on a break for months :PPP

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    1. Aw, Dezzy... I've been trying to juggle more projects than usual this year. I'm hoping they pay off next year. :)

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  8. Lynda,
    Time is a biggie for me and like you pointed out, we find ways to hamper ourselves. The internet is the humbug for me. I have to bribe myself. Write and then surf.

    Enjoy your time away from blogging. Happy Holidays!

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  9. The ability to only type with one arm can be kinda a hindrance lol

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  10. Great post, and those distractions can be quite time-consuming, can't they? I especially get distracted by all the work that needs to be done. It's so hard for me to do anything if my work area isn't immaculate. It used to be an office...now it's my house.

    Take care and have a Happy Holiday! I think I may do the same. And congrats on completing NaNo.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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    1. You'd go into fits if you saw my work place...

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  11. I'd say the internet is my biggest detraction. But this year illness has taken it's toll and several personal losses.

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  12. You are soo right, Lynda. The distractions are endless, and my family is my biggest distraction.

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  13. I suffer from a couple of those. If you're determined, you'll find a way to get it done.

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  14. I have used all of the above to avoid doing what I enjoy!!! I think that must be a record?? No??

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  15. What a great list! Though the Internet is an integral part of my business, it is still very much a distraction. For me it's Netflix. If I'm tired of working or just don't want to work, I'll go into veg mode and watch some of my shows.

    I'd love to syndicate this post on the Masquerade Crew. If interested, see the following link.

    http://masqueradecrew.blogspot.com/2013/11/would-you-like-us-to-syndicate-post-of.html

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  16. Enjoy your break Lynda, for me the internet is a huge distraction and now its Candy Crush (I am searching for my Australian writer friend who suggested this game and was indirectly responsible for hooking me to it ;)

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    1. If I mentioned Candy Crush, I'm pretty sure it was to steer you away... I'm up to level 288 (or something like that)

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    2. Lyn, you have me hooked on Candy Crush big time. I finish my writing fast so I can play a few games. Hugs, writer pal, blog buddy and now co candy crusher :)

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  17. Have a good break Lynda!
    Fortunately, I can rule out TV (I'm not a TV person) and cleaning (I have a domestic worker a few days).
    It takes self discipline to ignore the distractions. Difficult, but can be done.

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    1. What is this self-discipline thing you speak of? ;)

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    2. POP!
      What's that sound, you ask?
      The sound of a bubble bursting. Here was I, under the impression that you had the self-discipline thing in the bag... LOL

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    3. It was in the bag, then the bag burst and its contents messed up the place... I had to clean it up, then I had to take a break because the cleaning was so exhausting, then because I did such a great job of cleaning I treated myself to some relax time and some internet games, then I had to cook dinner... then... then... I think you get the picture. ;)

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  18. Great list. I think illness is the one that gets me. With young kids I might be up several times during the night, then be hopping around all day taking care of them. By the time I get to writing I would much rather be sleeping. I'll admit that I often fall asleep at the computer. But at least I'm at the computer and got a few things done first, instead of giving up and laying down for a nap.

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    1. Yes! There are some things that are just unavoidable in life, and they often feed our creative muses anyway. It's about not giving up or giving in.

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  19. 'What’s your biggest threat to your writing time?'

    Ambivalence.

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  20. I struggle with all of these! LOL The Internet is such a double-edged sword for most of us. It's hard to write without the resources it provides, and almost impossible to reach an audience without it these days.

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    1. I may quote you in a future post. Your words have inspired me....

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  21. Internet, sickness and time are my biggest threats in writing. All writers have to try and get their words down on the page. Which is both a joy and a pain.

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  22. I think you hit the mark of others such entertained notions. But for me, the idea of the spontaneous combustive creating my writing extends has a way of making one quite jaded to the book world notion I gotta start from somewhere.

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  23. I would say doubts are the biggest threats for me. Also the internet and tv!

    Enjoy your break and have a wonderful holiday season. :)

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  24. I do get distracted by the internet but mostly it's family interference that slow me down. Enjoy your break.

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  25. The internet can be a terrible distraction. Even blogging is very consuming. Writing posts. Reading posts. Commenting on posts. I can sit down at blogger and "wake up" three hours later.

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    1. Yep, easily three hours, which is a lot of time that could be spent writing...

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  26. Yep, can relate to that list all too well. My other biggest distraction is other people who always seem to need a favour just as I get into the flow of writing.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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  27. I think a big threat is lack of head-space. The day job sucks out all my energy and most of my coherent thoughts. If I get downtime I generally want to spend it in recovery position. But when I force myself to let my mind wander to my WIP, nearly without fail it will come up with something. It's amazing how our brains can keep going even when it feels like they can't.

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    1. And the more you let your mind wander to your WIP, the easier it will become. At least, that's what I've found.

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  28. For me, it's definitely confidence - but I'm working on it! :)

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  29. For me this past year have been doubts and illness in the form of depression. The internet can be a distraction too, but I used to not let it get in the way of my writing. Right now I feel like my writing is a big turd and it needs to be flushed down the toilet. I suppose doubts and depression go hand in hand.

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    1. Think of writers as alchemists. We can turn even the nastiest material into gold. We just have to keep working at it.

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  30. Good post. The doubt periodically snags me.

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  31. Right now, my computer is dead. But I'm using my iPhone and pen and pad to write.

    Hugs and chocolate!0

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    1. Ha! That happened to me yesterday! I got more writing done than I expected.

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  32. Life gets in the way doesn't it, and balancing publicity with the actual process of writing something is a problem!

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  33. I don't know if you listed those in order of threat-level, but if so, you were right about placing the internet as #1!
    I have more means of wasting time on the internet than anything else! What helps my productivity is simply establishing a routine. All I need is a little time here and there of solid writing and I can work wonders!

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    1. The order wasn't intentional, but judging from these comments, it certainly worked out that way.

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  34. Yes, the internet is my big distraction/threat. The key is discipline... Enjoy your break! This is a great list. :)

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  35. All of the above.

    Enjoy your break. Get lots of good writing done, and have a very merry holiday in sunny Oz. :)

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    1. I just came in from baking in the sun... :)

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  36. It's weird. Sometimes those things are terrible distractions for me. Sometimes, not at all. And I have no idea when it's going to an actual problem. Maybe the times when it's a threat are the times when my insecurity is high.

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    1. Absolutely. That's why I also listed doubts. That's part of our insecurities.

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  37. My day job (though I love it) is probably my biggest distractor and next to that my social life. I want to spend quality time with friends and family, but when you add that on top of a full time job and big writing goals, it becomes stressful to find balance. So even though those things are distractions, at least they're good ones =)

    Great list you made, thank you for sharing.

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    1. They are excellent distractions, and ones that will even inspire you to write even more too. It just takes a bit of focus and practice to balance it all.

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  38. That is some list. I confess I've used each as an excuse not to write at some time or another.Excuses are like the little bandaids you put over wounds so you can pretend the problem isn't really there. Great post - so true.

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  39. Illness is a huge threat to my writing. It is difficult to have enough energy to write many days so I try to take advantage of the days I do feel well enough to sit in front of the computer.

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  40. Hi Lynda
    I so agree with you on the internet. What a time suck. You sit down to write, jump on the the net for ten minutes and two hours later, you still haven't started to write.

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  41. I was nodding my head with every writing threat you mentioned. All of those have the power to zap away my creativity and put a giant writer's block in front of me.

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  42. I'm so guilty of all of these! The internet one, especially! I really need to find a way to block a few sites for certain parts of the day :)

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  43. I would say my stack of emails waiting for me each morning. Still trying to find a way to organize it all!

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  44. Mine is definitely the internet. I don't let cleaning get in the way at all.

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  45. My biggest threat is excuses. I look at that list and all I see are a list of excuses, some of which I have succumb to multiple times.

    It's just a matter of overcoming them, and getting to writing.

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  46. I know all about this.

    Taking the day job home, the need to nap, cleaning, and wanting to read are my biggest threats.

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  47. My biggest issue this year has been illness. I've been physically drained all year and still I'm no where near finding out why. But after a year of putting things off till 'I feel better' I've had to tell myself to just get on with it or accept that I'll never 'feel better' enough to write. I won't stop, so I need to make myself work regardless. Which is not easy when you feel like sleeping 24/7. The cleaning issues has never been, well, an issue! :) I just don't care enough unless visitors come! :p

    shahwharton.com X

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    1. I hope you find what's causing your low energy soon. And yep, sometimes we just have to push through. Hugs.

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  48. I can't think of any points you hadn't brought up, Lynda. Time and family are my biggest problems with writing. With six other family members, someone always wants something when I'm trying to complete a story or write an essay. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, too, and a successful 2014!

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  49. CLEANING. Yes. I guess that wouldn't be as big an issue if I didn't have 3 kids home all day every day, but as it is, I could spend 8 hours a day cleaning and probably still not have an immaculate house. I sent a 2 hour time limit per day. People just aren't allowed to come over, or at least, not without AMPLE notice. =)

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  50. yeah, i agree with the internet being a two edged sword.... great for research but SO easy to waste time! lol
    cheers, lynda

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  51. I need to write or I feel like a stopped up bottle. Better to blow on the page then all over the place--if you know what I mean. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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  52. My biggest threat is probably my own self choosing to be lazy instead of work on writing. That would be why it's taking me so long to rewrite one tiny little novella.

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  53. As I read through these, I wanted to comment on each. That would take forever, though. So let me just say that we definitely relate.

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  54. I was actually relieved when my internet crashed this year. I wrote. I walked. I talked to people without thinking I needed to get online. I think I'll just shut it down once in a while and catch up on my real life and my writing.

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  55. Social media and housework are my two biggest issues. It's so hard to find a couple of hours each day to just sit down and write!

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  56. Your posts always make me nod my head like a bobble-head doll, Lynda! Excellent points and reminders. No excuses!

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  57. You've said it in a nutshell, Lynda. And like you, if I waited for my muse to make an appearance, I'd never get anything written.
    Enjoy your break! I'm taking most of December off as well to write a new draft, and I'm going easy on myself since it's such a busy month.
    WIshing you creative vibes and a very festive season!

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  58. So true Lynda. Time IS the biggest constraint. Thanks for sharing a lovely post!

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  59. All of the above has hindered me at one time or another. One of the biggest distractions for me is the internet. It's maddening, but really, it still is up to me to do something about it. I am a big procrastinator too. Working on getting better at that.

    Have a great weekend! :)

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  60. Great post Lynda. Using your criteria travel is my biggest threat...but I do make time to write when on the road. And writing travel articles helps pay for my travels.
    I hope you love your NaNo novel. Can't wait to get home and work on mine.

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  61. Ah, you've basically summed up my whole year until uni was over and NaNoWriMo began. I always found something else to do, when writing should have been done. Yes, assignments and keeping my room clean were important, but staring blankly at Facebook for hours on end trying to convince myself that something mildly interesting, exciting, or important would happen is not a good enough reason for me not to have been writing instead. Beware the threats! Thank you for sharing and enlightening those of us who were still wondering where all of their would-be writing time goes.

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  62. Time, I think. Not in the sense that I don't have enough, but I sometimes have trouble with keeping balance between life and writing. :-)

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  63. I guess my biggest threat is my need to be outside. I often print out and take my ms on walks. Here's to more writing in 2014. Merry Christmas.

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  64. Have a terrific holiday season!!

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  65. Just stopping by again to wish you a Merry Christmas and best of luck for 2014, Lynda. :) X

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  66. This is a really great post! Because of studying, I've put off my writing time and again.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  67. The doubts. Oh, yes, the doubts. Those and illness seem to be my biggest problems of late. And time, of course. Always. Hope you had a lovely Christmas and holiday season!

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  68. Stopping by again to wish you a Happy New Year, Lynda!

    Nas

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  69. Just popping in to wish you a happy, peaceful and productive 2014, Lynda!
    Writer In Transit

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  70. My biggest threat is not making the time. But I know that's on me. I agree with what you said about time being an excuse. There are plenty of wasted minutes that we don't even think about. It's about being good at prioritization.

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.